Section 230: A Reform Agenda for the Next Administration

Author: Matt Perault


Summary 

Section 230 has been the subject of bipartisan criticism in Washington, with both President Trump and former Vice President Biden arguing that the controversial law should be revoked. As the election has approached, a flurry of legislative proposals have taken aim at the law.


This paper argues that the Biden-Harris administration should take a more targeted approach, focusing on changes that will deter some of the most harmful forms of speech while also preserving the features of tech platforms that are essential to online expression. Specifically, the next administration should modernize federal criminal law for the digital age to prohibit problematic online speech like voter suppression and incitement to riot, require platforms to comply with court orders to remove illegal content, define what it means for a platform to “develop” content, work with platforms on reporting options that will facilitate individual accountability, and incentivize platforms to share data that will inform future product design and policymaking.


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About the Author

Matt Perault is Director of the Center on Science & Technology at Duke University and Associate Professor of the Practice at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. He previously served as a director of public policy at Facebook, where he led the company’s global public policy planning efforts on issues such as competition, law enforcement, and human rights and oversaw public policy for WhatsApp, Oculus, and Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research. Prior to joining Facebook, Matt was Counsel at the Congressional Oversight Panel. He previously worked as a consultant at the World Bank and served as a law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Matt holds a law degree from Harvard Law School, a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Brown University.