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Raging Ignorantly At The Internet Fixes Nothing

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses Jann Wenner's criticism of Section 230 and his misunderstanding of the law's purpose and history. It highlights how Wenner's arguments are based on false premises and lack factual accuracy.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Wenner's Misunderstanding of Section 230

1. What is the actual purpose and history of Section 230 according to the article?

  • The article states that the original intent of Section 230 was to enable websites to moderate content more easily, by knowing they wouldn't be liable for what they missed. It was a response to the Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy ruling, which found that because Prodigy moderated its forums, it could be held liable for anything that remained up.
  • Section 230 was written to (1) allow websites to host content freely without having to carefully review each piece, and (2) enable websites to moderate freely without facing liability for their decisions and non-decisions.
  • The article notes that Section 230 has been a boon for free speech, as it makes it possible for internet services to host third-party speech without having to review every bit of content for legal liability, while still retaining the necessary editorial control to remove what they dislike.

2. How does Wenner's understanding of Section 230 differ from the actual purpose and history of the law?

  • Wenner incorrectly believes that the original conceit behind Section 230 was that tech companies were not publishers of content but merely "pipes" or neutral conduits, like utilities.
  • The article states that this is the "exact opposite" of the actual purpose of Section 230, which was to enable websites to moderate more easily as publishers of content.

3. How does Wenner's misunderstanding of Section 230 impact the rest of his arguments in the article?

  • The article states that the rest of Wenner's article is "almost entirely based off of this false premise, and thus makes no sense at all."
  • Wenner uses this incorrect framing to suggest that Section 230 unfairly benefited the internet over magazines, and to argue that the law should now be "thrown out."
  • The article explains how Wenner's proposed "solutions" around Section 230 would actually make matters worse by severely limiting free speech online.

[02] Wenner's Flawed Arguments and Proposals

1. What are some of the other flawed arguments and proposals made by Wenner in the article?

  • Wenner claims that magazines were bastions of free speech because they could be liable for defamation, but the article explains that the law applies equally to both online and offline publishers.
  • Wenner bizarrely and "legally illiterately" tries to discuss the NetChoice cases before the Supreme Court, making claims not supported by evidence.
  • Wenner suggests that Section 230 should be thrown out, without understanding the consequences this would have for hosting platforms and free speech online.
  • Wenner proposes limiting Section 230 protections only for algorithmically recommended content, which the article explains would make search engines and other recommendation systems "ridiculously dangerous to run."

2. How does the article characterize Wenner's overall approach in the piece?

  • The article describes Wenner as "raging ignorantly" and "mistaking the underlying factors, misstating the nature of the law, and therefore offering 'solutions' that make matters worse, not better."
  • It states that Wenner's "column here is none of" the "spirited, sane, and fact-based" journalism he claims to have championed in the past.
  • The article concludes that Wenner's piece is just "misguided, mistargeted rage from a media old-timer, past his prime, who is mad at the new thing without understanding why."
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