Forget Section 230, We Need To Think Bigger

This take from Benedict Evans on the challenges of Section 230 and regulating social media is, as typical, really thoughtful. The key takeaway is that a fight over Section 230 is sort of aiming low, at this point. Trying to make regulations around social media based on old forms (newspapers, radio, TV, phone companies) works if you assume those old forms and the new things work the same way-ish. And, clearly they dont. The size, the scale the speed, the targeting, the volume of makers and consumers – all those are different than radio or TV or magazines or pamphlets or telegraphs or phones or whatever. We need some new, imaginative thinking to address a future media/comms tools. Keep 230, but get some new laws in place to regulate.

Meanwhile, here’s a useful take from Joan Donovan at Harvard Business Review on the fundamental difference between current social media platforms and the media of the past. Key point: A system that incentivizes and rewards items (content, features, mechanics) that produce high engagement at scale, with no limits on the bad actors in the system, will inevitably produce disinformation.

Deep in her essay, she gets to the heart of the issue, something that’s not being discussed at all (emphasis mine):

In every instance leading up to January 6, the moral duty was to reduce the scale and pay more attention to the quality of viral content. We saw the cost of failing to do so.

So, do corporations have a moral duty to do anything? Is there a moral and ethical dimension to the working models of companies? Do we hold them to a different standard?

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