Online platforms should be held responsible for social media content: IBM

IBM has proposed changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230). If its proposals are incorporated into law, they will materially impact social media companies including Facebook, Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram as well as Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, to name a few.

In a significant development, International Business Machines (IBM) Corp has proposed changes to a 1996 law that protects internet companies from liabilities related to what users post on their platforms.

IBM has called for a fresh look at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230), which exempts developers of online services from lawsuits stemming from user-posted content such as restaurant reviews or social media photos.

“We simply believe companies should also be held legally responsible to use reasonable, common-sense care when it comes to moderating online content,” said Ryan Hagemann, an IBM government and regulatory affairs technology policy executive through a blog post.

Incidentally, Silicon Valley has since long opposed efforts to rewrite the decades-old Communications Decency Act, which has been credited with helping the rapid growth of internet companies in the last 2 decades.

Attorneys and lawmakers have opined that the statute, CDA 230, has been broadly interpreted to give companies too much leeway in avoiding responsibility for harmful or unlawful content.

According to Hagemann, presently the law offers an expansive liability shield for internet companies for actions that occur on their platforms, regardless of whether the platform turns a blind eye to illegal activity.

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