What is “Article 230” of US law, and what is its role in the Trump and Twitter conflict?


US President Donald Trump recently tweeted that Article 230 of US law should be repealed, which could fundamentally change how the Internet works, as this comes after the president signed an executive order limiting protection measures for social media companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google on content On its platforms.

Trump revealed the executive order after Twitter added a fact-checking link to one of Trump’s tweets that incorrectly linked voting by mail to electoral fraud, and since then the president has tweeted of riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death after a police officer put his knee on his neck . Twitter considered Twitter to have violated its rules on glorifying violence and putting it behind a tag.

What is Article 230?

The primary purpose of Article 230 is to protect the owners of any “interactive computer service” from liability for anything that has been published by third parties, as the idea was that such protection is necessary to encourage the emergence of new types of communications and services at the dawn of the Internet age.

Article 230 was issued in 1996 as part of a law called the Etiquette of Communications Act, which was primarily aimed at limiting pornography on the Internet, and most of this law has been repealed by courts as an unconstitutional violation of freedom of expression, but Article 230 does not Still standing.

In practical terms, the law protects any website or service hosting content – such as news portal commentaries and video services such as YouTube and social media services such as Facebook and Twitter – from lawsuits over user-posted content.

When the law was written, site owners were concerned that they could be sued if they exercised any control over what appeared on their sites, so the law includes a clause stating that as long as the sites operate “in good faith”, they can remove content that is offensive or unacceptable, but not protected Law violations of copyright, or certain types of criminal acts, and users who post illegal content still bear responsibility in court.

The technology industry and others have long considered Article 230 a crucial protection, although the law has become more controversial as the power of Internet companies has grown.

What is the relationship of Article 230 to political bias?

President Trump and some of those rejecting Article 230 say it has given large Internet companies a lot of legal protection and allowed them to escape responsibility for their actions, as some conservatives, including the President, have claimed are subject to Internet censorship on social media, a claim that companies have generally denied. .

Article 230, which is often misinterpreted, does not require the locations to be neutral. This is the view incorrectly mentioned by many members of Congress including Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

The article has become a partisan issue due to Republican lawmakers’ belief that social media companies remove content from right-wing voices more than the left or the liberal, while Twitter CEO Jacques Dorsey has said in the past that employees have a tendency to the left, this does not affect how Twitter takes Decisions about the content on its platform.

Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that social media companies are actually providing more services to conservatives to avoid political bias, this includes a recent report proposing to Facebook conducting shelf research at the request of CEO Mark Zuckerberg to make the platform less politically polarized due to concerns about targeting Right voices that act in spam-like behavior.

Can President Trump order a change to Article 230?

No, Congress can only change Article 230, and in 2018, the law was amended to make it possible to prosecute the platforms used by alleged sex workers, as the power of Internet companies grew, some in Congress also called for changes to make companies responsible for the proliferation of content that celebrates business Terror, for example, or some kind of hate speech.

Instead, Trump’s draft executive order calls for the FCC to “propose and clarify regulations” under Article 230. The order proposes that companies lose their protection due to deceptive, discriminatory, vaguely or not consistent with their terms of service.

Do other countries have an equivalent of Article 230?

Article 230 legal protection is unique to US law, although the European Union and many other countries have a copy of what is referred to as “safe havens” laws that protect online platforms from liability if they act immediately when notified of content that is not legal.


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