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Facebook’s Pitch to Congress: Section 230 for Thee, Not for Me

 |  March 29, 2021

By: Aaron Mackey (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

As Mark Zuckerberg tries to sell Congress on Facebook’s preferred method of amending the federal law that serves as a key pillar of the internet, lawmakers must see it for what it really is: a self-serving and cynical effort to cement the company’s dominance.

In prepared testimony submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee before a Thursday hearing, Zuckerberg proposes amending 47 U.S.C. § 230 (“Section 230”), the federal law that generally protects online services and users from liability for hosting user-generated content that others believe is unlawful.

The vague and ill-defined proposal calls for lawmakers to condition Section 230’s legal protections on whether services can show “that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it.” According to Zuckerberg, this revised law would not create liability if a particular piece of unlawful content fell through the cracks. Instead, the law would impose a duty of care on platforms to have adequate “systems in place” with respect to how they review, moderate, and remove user-generated content…