In an interview with The New York Times on Friday, former Vice President Joe Biden called for tech’s biggest liability shield, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, to be “revoked, immediately.”
“The idea that it’s a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms,” Biden said. “It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false.”
This wasn’t the first time Biden criticized the immensely important internet law. In previous interviews with outlets like CNN, Biden has said that “we should be considering taking away [Facebook’s] exemption,” but has never ventured as far as saying that it should be completely “revoked.” The Verge contacted Biden’s campaign to ask if he stands by the statements provided to The New York Times; the campaign did not immediately respond.
Joe Biden: "I, for one, think we should be considering taking away [Facebook's] exemption that they cannot be sued for knowingly engaged on, in promoting something that's not true." pic.twitter.com/p8Moh2fyJy— The Hill (@thehill) November 12, 2019
The Communications Decency Act is over 20 years old, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have started to seek changes to the law as a remedy for all kinds of problems they have with platforms and moderation.
After the live-streamed mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand last spring, Democratic lawmakers sought changes to 230 as a method of ensuring that terrorist content is removed from platforms. They’ve responded to Facebook’s refusal to remove misinformation peddled by politicians in digital ads with threats to carve holes in the law as well.
Republicans have made similar criticisms against companies like Facebook and Twitter in recent months, calling the platforms out for what they believe is bias against conservatives. Both Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have floated changes to the law to address the alleged censorship.
These criticisms have been flagged by other Democratic presidential contenders as well. Former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke was the first presidential candidate to make changes to 230 an official platform position. O’Rourke has since dropped out of the race, but if his plans would have gone into effect, internet companies would be stripped of this liability shield unless they heavily policed their platforms for terrorist and hateful content.
No other candidate has called for 230 to be completely revoked.