To Curb Hate Speech Online, Beto O’Rourke Says Hold the Platforms Hosting That Shit Responsible

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To Curb Hate Speech Online, Beto O’Rourke Says Hold the Platforms Hosting That Shit Responsible

Illustration for article titled To Curb Hate Speech Online, Beto O'Rourke Says Hold the Platforms Hosting That Shit Responsible

Photo: John Locher (AP)

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke wants to stem the spread of hate speech on the internet after several recent mass shootings, including one in O’Rourke’s hometown of El Paso earlier this month, have been linked to online extremism. One solution proposed in a recent blog post on his campaign website would hold online platforms accountable for what their users post.

It involves amending a bill you might be familiar with at this point: the Communication Decency Act’s Section 230. You know, the one conservative lawmakers have been fighting to change for months now over perceived bias online despite not appearing to fully understand what the bill means.

This legislation gives legal immunity to websites and providers from whatever awful crap its users may get up to. It’s why a site like Twitter doesn’t face legal action if some rando egg tweets out threatening messages or libel.

O’Rourke’s plan would change this. In his post, he suggests eliminating this immunity so social media platforms and providers could be sued if they “knowingly promote content that incites violence.” So when a mass shooting is streamed live on Facebook or disturbing manifestos get posted to 8chan minutes before another tragedy, those websites could be held partially legally responsible for hosting that content.

Another of his proposals would also tack on a new requirement to social media platforms’ terms of service, demanding they ban hateful activities, which his post defines as those that “incite or engage in violence, intimidation, harassment, threats,

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