Lawmakers hope to tame social media

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Paul Gosar (AZ-04) introduced H.R.8515, the Don’t Push My Buttons Act, a bill which would reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act by limiting immunity from liability for online platforms that curate content for users based on collected personal data, unless users explicitly choose to receive curated content.

“Anti-social media companies treat us like products, exploiting and dehumanizing us for their own profits, without regard for the consequences. They intentionally create and fuel conflict and hate, causing physical, spiritual and mental suffering and pain. They are tearing us apart and destroying our nation,” said Gabbard. “Our legislation takes the power out of the hands of anti-social media corporations and puts it into the hands of the people who use their platforms. We, the people, get to decide whether to subject ourselves to their manipulative algorithms. Their failure to comply lifts all legal immunity they currently enjoy so we can hold them accountable and liable for the devastation and suffering they leave in their wake.”

“Tech companies are making users the product. Google and others are collecting user data and manipulating users, often unwittingly. Some may find content curation options convenient, but many users are creeped out and manipulated by data collection and content curation regarding personal habits, preferences, or beliefs. The Don’t Push My Buttons Act empowers users to choose, or decline, custom content curation based on collected personal data, empowering users to protect themselves from unwanted manipulation online,” said Gosar.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act generally provides liability immunity for online companies that publish information provided by third-party users. The regulation creates a “Good Samaritan” liability protection for those running interactive computer services should they remove third-party materials deemed obscene or objectionable so long as it is done in good faith. The 1996 law sought to correct a New York State Supreme Court decision that held that an online bulletin board could be considered liable for the ostensibly defamatory posts of its users because it moderated posts and therefore acted analogously to a newspaper.

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