Section 230 of the CDA: What You Need to Know

I was browsing through facebook today, when I saw that one of my friends had shared a post from a consumer complaints website. The post was a complaint from a consumer about poor service they received from a local business. My friend had shared the post in defense of the business, and over 35 people had commented on the link.

Most of these people believe that complaints should be moderated first, and that it was the website owners responsibility not to publish anything untrue on their site. This might sound great in principle, but it just isn’t possible given the size of the web today.

In fact those very people who wanted to stifle free speech, were in fact exercising that same right by sharing unverified statements of fact on facebook in the form of comments. Ironic huh?

I am always amazed at how ignorant people are of the web, especially when it comes to section 230 of the CDA (Communications Decency Act). Basically, this act protects publishers and website owners from what other people post on their website. A fundamental part of the internet, section 230 makes websites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter possible.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA)

Without this protection Google would have to verify the validity of every sentence in the world before it added that text to it’s index. Without Section 230 Facebook would have to moderate everything you wanted to comment on, before it was published live to your wall. Twitter would be liable for every tweet ever posted, and would no doubt be sued thousands of times every minute because of it.

Without this law, YouTube would have to close down commenting, and hire thousands of people to view every video in it’s entirety for accuracy. Are you getting the picture now? Section 230 is what makes the internet possible, and yet people still don’t understand it.