Section 230 and the stimulus
How Trump’s anger on Twitter is now costing him an important victory
For months, Donald Trump has been raging against internet companies like Twitter. With a law he finally wants to make them vulnerable – and now risks a significant loss.
Since the lost US election in November, President Donald Trump has only known two major issues: the alleged election fraud and the “unfair” treatment by the media and, above all, the Internet companies. In the last few weeks he tried several times to hold Twitter and Co. to account. Now that could be politically expensive for him.
Specifically, it is about the so-called Section 230. The amendment to the Communications Act regulates the responsibility of websites – and Trump is a thorn in the side. In his view, it allows Twitter, Facebook and the other social media sites to inappropriately tease him and other conservative voices. For example, like Twitter, they are increasingly hiding their posts behind hints that the content does not necessarily have to be correct. The company had done this more and more since the spring, with Trump’s increasingly absurd claims about election fraud, the number of hidden tweets also rose rapidly.
No wonder Trump has desperately used every opportunity since May to change the law. That could now take revenge. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, long a Trump ally, announced yesterday that he would vote on a change to the law. McConnell doesn’t want to let the change vote alone. Instead, bundle them with two other measures for which the president has been drummed up in recent weeks. But this is not good news for Trump.
Combined, the law could prove to be a poisoned gift for Trump. Because the three measures – the rejection of Section 230, an increase in the corona-related one-off payments to US citizens in need to $ 2,000 and an investigation into the alleged election fraud – may all be important for Trump. In the Senate and Congress, however, they are unlikely to find a majority in this combination: While the Democrats are likely to reject the investigation into electoral fraud, the Republicans have refused for weeks to vote on an increase in the payment from the current $ 600 to $ 2,000 per adult in need. The rejection of Section 230 is controversial on both sides of the political spectrum.
McConnell knows that, of course. “These three important issues have been brought together by the president in the past few weeks,” he said on Tuesday. Now you want to bring them together. Observers suspect that there is a simple calculation behind this. Should the Democrats want to prevent the investigation and the abolition of Section 230, they would have no choice but to oppose the increase in the payment as well. The Republicans could even risk voting in part for the payment – and thus acting like helpers to the little man who are only held back by the Democrat. If the Democrats surprisingly vote for the law, the fraud investigation that has been launched would still be a victory for McConnell.
The internet in danger?
A vote on Monday showed how unpopular the abolition of Section 230 is: because the measure was not part of the adoption of the defense budget, as Donald Trump called for, the President had blocked it with a veto. In Congress, the veto has now been lifted again – with a majority of both parties. Even two-thirds of Republicans preferred to vote against their president rather than comply with his demand for abolition.
If Section 230 is rejected, the consequences could indeed be dramatic. The law passed in 1996 regulates responsibility for content on the Internet. For example, it prevents social media sites from being held responsible for posts or comments on the sites and being sued as long as they do not violate applicable laws. Trump and some allies claim this is putting conservative opinions at a disadvantage, although internal reports on Facebook suggest the opposite. After initially considering a reform, Trump now wants to abolish the law entirely. Should that happen, it is conceivable that the major Internet sites would be sued from innumerable directions. Critics of the project therefore fear that it could mean the end of the modern Internet.
Presumably it won’t come to that anyway. The future president Joe Biden had also called for a change in the law, but a complete abolition should not be a majority for either Democrats or Republicans. Especially not if it is bundled with the hobbyhorses of the warring camps as planned by McConnell.
The bundling itself does not seem to bother Trump, however. “If the Republicans do not feel a death wish, they should approve the 2000 dollar payments as soon as possible. It is also simply the right thing. 600 dollars are not enough,” he raged on Twitter in response to McConnell’s first rejection in the Senate. And then put the topics together in the same tweet himself. “And get rid of Section 230 too. Don’t let the big tech companies steal our country and the Democrats the election.” In the end, he could be a loser on all three points.
Quelle: Washington Post,Twitter, The Verge, Techdirt