Leftist Lexicon Word of the Week

Have you ever known someone who is completely oblivious about a topic one week, but then gets super-attentive to it the next because it’s become a major controversy? Really, that’s Twitter in a nutshell.

Funny I should mention Twitter because this week’s Lexicon entry is related to the recent purchase of the aforementioned social media platform by one Elon Musk. I won’t go into the details because a) they’re not really important to the subject matter at hand, and b) I don’t want to relive the trauma of hearing that many Leftists screech at once.

Instead, we’re going to look into a portion of the takeover that isn’t getting that much attention, but it’s become a cause celebre for Leftists. I’m speaking of Section 230, the sexiest title involving technology ever devised. Believe me, I’m talking 50 Shades of Gray hot!

Okay, it’s not, but it’s still an important aspect of internet culture as a whole that has gotten a lot of attention without a lot of explanation. Grab a big cup of coffee, kids. This is going to be a toughie.

Section 230

What the Left thinks it means – an important regulation that needs to remain in force and enforceable to ensure the future of the Internet

What it really means – a mixed bag of ideas in an obsolete regulation

If you want a solid and balanced analysis of Section 230, I can’t recommend Ballotpedia’s overview enough. For solid and unbalanced analysis, read on!

The short version of what Section 230 does is it protects online services from being held accountable for what members of those services say while using them. It also gives these networks leeway as it pertains to what communication they will allow, even if the communication could be considered protected speech under the US Constitution. In the early days of the Internet, these protections were enough. Then again, back in those days getting a 28.8k modem connection while signing onto America On Line was reason enough to declare a national holiday.

On a side note, if anyone wants one of the free disks AOL gave out like samples at a drug pusher convention, let me know. I have 5 or 6 storage units full of ’em!

Meanwhile, back at the main point, Section 230 worked well enough at the time, but as technology advanced, regulation didn’t. I’m sure there’s a government agency somewhere resisting the trend to upgrade to Windows 95. Given what I’ve seen of the various “upgrades” that may not be a bad thing, but the point is expecting government bureaucracy to move swiftly to an issue is like expecting Joe Biden not to screw up foreign policy: it ain’t gonna happen!

One of the effects of the speed of quiet of regulations is it opens up opportunities to evolve without having to worry about someone telling you no. And online culture took that ball and ran with it. I’ve been online in one form or another since the early 90s and I can attest online culture has gotten very weird. And I’m not just talking about the porn! It’s a completely different world these days with people willingly or unwillingly putting their entire lives online with all the privacy concerns therein.

But the one thing Section 230 couldn’t have seen coming was the politicization of online content. Sure, you can still see pictures of kittens or the occasional funny meme, but outside of that is a nuclear wasteland that makes Chernobyl look like Salt Lake City. And when there’s ideological conflict, there are going to be people who will do whatever they can do to win the argument.

Including twisting the rules of the online road.

Twitter, among other social media platforms, has been accused of silencing conservative voices, and you’d have to be a Leftist not to see it. What started out as subtle biased enforcement of the rules to blatant “we write the rules and you can just fuck right off if you don’t like it” enfarcement. I mean, the Taliban had an active Twitter account as of last year, and their accounts promote violence and hatred. But, try to say men and women are different and you’ll get silenced, temporarily or permanently based solely on who is handling the Ban Hammer.

And therein lies one of my problems with Section 230 as it stands right now. When biases affect who gets to say what on a social media platform, it ceases to be anything but a political tool, which the Left sees no problem with as long as they’re the ones controlling the tool. The kicker here? This actually goes against the spirit and the letter of Section 230.

Funny. I think we’ve just found the first regulation on the books the Left doesn’t deify.

This fact inspired former President Donald Trump and his supporters to push to repeal Section 230 altogether. Given how social media platforms lean so far Left they are parallel to the ground, this seems to have merit. Now that Elon Musk has bought Twitter, through, the idea is gaining more steam on the Left, which doesn’t have merit given how they were in favor of reforming it all the way back in…let me check my notes…two weeks ago.

Obviously, this change of opinion is politically motivated because, duh, Leftists, but it reveals a fundamental lack of understanding, not just of Musk’s stated goals, but of Section 230 itself. Section 230 opens with a Congressional acknowledgement that the Internet is a place for political discourse and should be kept open to diverse points of view. Haphazardly applying terms of service depending on how a poster votes doesn’t accomplish that in the least. If anything, it makes discourse, political or otherwise, nearly impossible. Reversing that trend is what is best for everyone involved. Sure, you are going to have to deal with assholes who will take things too far, but I’d rather know where those assholes are so I can avoid them than to play a perverse game of Three Card Monte where the cards are a white supremacist, a BLM member, and a grandmother in Wyoming who just wants to post funny videos.

Where I deviate from the folks who want Section 230 to go the way of CNN+ is the protection of platforms from the things their users say. If some dumbfuck uses Twitter to call for the extermination of redheads, I don’t want to see Twitter called into court to answer for what the dumbfuck says. They should be busy applying the terms of service equally, not lawyering up every time a Twit posts an ignorant screed. Their business isn’t, nor should it ever be, to be the whipping boy for people looking to get a fast buck because their fee-fees got hurt.

Unfortunately, Elon Musk taking over Twitter won’t fix the fundamental problem with Section 230: the out-of-touch Congresscritters who still ask their staffers to find stamps for their emails. The fact no one in Washington has put forward serious efforts to update Section 230 and create better enforcement tells you just how little they care about the problems its current form poses. Now, if they tied it to pork spending back home, every Congresscritter would be fighting each other to get to a microphone and camera to let his or her opinions be heard.

Or, you know, use Twitter. Or have one of their staffers use it for them.

I’m not usually a fan of keeping regulations on the books, but Section 230 has a lot of good things going for it that would get wiped away if we did away with it completed. Beef up the enforcement a bit to keep social media outlets honest (or at least more honest than they are now), add some actual penalties for non-compliance, and have everything overseen by tech-savvy people who can put their politics aside, and we might just be able to make social media great again.

Then we can tackle the real problems in the world, like figuring out if Mark Zuckerberg is a real person or a wimpier T-1000.



Author: Thomas

I'm a writer and a ranger and a young boy bearing arms. And two out of the three don't count.

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