DOJ protects Section 230 in Trump lawsuit against Big Tech

by Meredith Minto

The Justice Department intervened in the Trump lawsuit against Big Tech to protect the constitutionality of Section 230. Both President Trump and Biden have criticized the communications law.

The department stepped into the suit that President Trump had brought against Facebook after Jan. 6, claiming that they unlawfully suspended his social media accounts. He has also filed suits against Youtube and Twitter.

According to court filings, the department stepped in “for the limited purpose of defending the constitutionality of Section 230c.”

The surprising move comes after Biden said on the campaign trail that he believes Section 230 should be revoked. In May, Joe Biden revoked Trump’s executive order that called on multiple agencies to roll back protections on Section 230, the 1996 Communications and Decency Act.

The federal law protects different social media companies from what third parties say on their platforms, but some conservative activists and politicians say that it has been used to silence voices across most big tech platforms.

Many Democrats support Section 230 reform as well but have a different approach than most conservative critics do. Some introduced legislation early in Biden’s presidency to reform the 25-year-old law.

Sens. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., Mazie Hirono D-Hawaii., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced the Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism, and Consumer Harms (SAFE TECH) Act earlier in February.  

According to Newsmax, Sen. Warner claimed that “When Section 230 was enacted in 1996, the Internet looked very different than it does today,” Warner said. “A law meant to encourage service providers to develop tools and policies to support effective moderation has instead conferred sweeping immunity on online providers even when they do nothing to address foreseeable, obvious, and repeated misuse of their products and services to cause harm. Section 230 has provided a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card to the largest platform companies even as their sites are used by scam artists, harassers, and violent extremists to cause damage and injury.”

He claims that their bill does not harm free speech but instead holds social media giants accountable for allowing “often criminal” activity on their platforms.

The Trump lawsuit was filed in Florida, but judges have ordered that the lawsuits against Youtube and Twitter be moved to where the company’s headquarters are in Northern California. The moving of the lawsuits against Facebook to the same location is still under discussion.

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