Though efforts to impose ‘neutrality’ on online platforms have died down, they are not dead.

Recently the Supreme Court avoided deciding on where the limits of Section 230 were concerning content algorithms. Many have interpreted this as a positive sign that Section 230 will continue to protect private platforms’ ability to moderate content as they see fit. Some Republican lawmakers have attacked tech platforms for holding political biases and advocated for state-enforced “neutral moderation.” These critics of supposedly biased content moderation assume that a “neutral” political stance exists and would not simply be a stand-in for the state’s bias.

Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act of 1996 protects online entities from liability for user-generated activity on their site. It allows businesses and platforms to interact with others online without fear that something a third party did or said could make them liable. Ironically, without Section 230, content moderation would be far greater to prevent potentially liable comments and activity. Despite how some politicians feel, Section 230 protections apply to all forms of online entities, including some that we may not consider, like retail product reviews and comments on personal blogs.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) made the implication while questioning Mark Zuckerberg before the Senate that because Facebook was not “content-neutral,” it violated a tenant on Section 230 protections. The accusation stems from a notion, popular in certain political circles, that online platforms only receive Section 230 protections if they remain politically neutral in content moderation. As legal experts have clarified, the suggestion has no basis in the law. Section 230 empowers online platforms to moderate their content in “good faith,” which includes any content the provider or users deems “objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

Despite the absence of a “content neutrality” clause in the text of the law, some Senators have proposed adding it, such as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). The Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act of 2019 would have mandated online platforms apply for government certifications of content neutrality before receiving liability protections. Though the act received little support, it is clear that a portion of Republican lawmakers believes in curtailing liberal content moderation on “Big Tech” platforms through state intervention.

Read the full FEE article, here.

Isaac Schick is a policy analyst at the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit www.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on Twitter @ConsumerPal.