This post is part of our ‘Shielding the Messengers’ series, which examines issues related to intermediary liability protections, both in the U.S. and globally. Without these protections, the Internet as we know it today–a platform where diverse content and free expression thrive–would not exist.
Section 230 of the Communications Act may be the most important statute for free expression and online innovation you’ve never heard of. It prevents online service providers for being subject to lawsuits for third-party content, that is, the content that people post to a website without direction from the operator. Without Section 230, many websites that form a key part of many people’s online lives, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp, may never have existed. Section 230 is essential to keeping the Internet a useful, generative medium for free expression, democratic participation, and economic growth.
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