Brigham Young University Prelaw Review


Social Media, Communication Decency Act, Internet Service Provider, Section 230 of CDA, Internet Censorship, Freedom of Speech, novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 Misinformation, Big Tech Accountability, Tagging, Alternative Solutions to Censorship, Public Audit, AI Algorithm


During the era of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, social media sites have justified removing inflammatory opinions pertaining to COVID-19 in attempts to protect and promote public health and safety by automatically categorizing such opinions as misinformation. While the intention of such censorship is noble, it raises the question of whether social media sites and internet service providers in general have too much power when it comes to controlling information. In an age where social media has become intrinsic to the dissemination and formation of opinion, the free exchange of ideas on the Internet is of prime importance, and any threat to that process could mean a disruption of the free speech so necessary for democracy. We propose a solution that could resolve this problem: in order to address concerns about the power of social media companies in the online marketplace of ideas, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) should be amended to mandate removal of third-party content that violates individuals’ basic rights, while holding internet service providers liable for any removal of other third-party content and protecting users from misinformation by requiring companies to tag suspicious content.