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FCC wants to change Section 230 regulating tech companies & censorship

Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, shares his perspective on technology news in Tech In (a little over) 60 Seconds:

What is the deal with Twitter and Facebook censoring a New York Post story on Hunter Biden?

The New York Post ran a story on Hunter Biden. It may have been entirely false. It may have been hacked. Both of those things are problems. But the complicated thing is when the story ran, nobody at Facebook and nobody at Twitter knew whether it was false or whether it had been hacked. The two companies responded in different ways. Facebook said, we're just going to down-rank it. Twitter initially said, "we just won't let it be shared." Twitter then backtracked. Basically, there is a really hard problem of what you do with false information and what you do with hacked information. Neither company has totally clear policies and both got caught in the slipstream.


Was the censoring of the New York Post story the catalyst for the FCC's public statements to rewrite Section 230?

Yes, absolutely. So Section 230 is the very important Internet law that allows the tech companies to filter content on their platforms. It essentially says, hey, if you run a platform, whether it's Facebook, Twitter or a Web site comments, you are not responsible for comments and for content that other people post there. And not only that, you have the ability to within certain limits, censor, change, edit the content out there without becoming a publisher and becoming liable. So that is partly what has allowed the tech companies to do what they do. It's allowed them to thrive and it's also allowed them to have policies policing misinformation or false statements on their platforms. So, Donald Trump got very mad at it, and so Ajit Pai, the head of the FCC, said, "hey, we're going to look at Section 230 and interpret it." In my opinion, that's garbage. Section 230 may be a bad law. It may be bad that the tech companies filter content on their platforms, whatever. I don't see how the FCC has the authority to deal with that. It is a law that gets interpreted by the courts. So, Congress can change the law, or the courts can change the interpretation of the law. I don't see why the FCC has authority, but who knows? It's just my guess, Ajit Pai is trying to please Donald Trump.

Pop quiz: what percentage of plastic currently gets recycled worldwide? Watch this video in Eni's Energy Shot series to find out and learn what needs to be done to prevent plastic from ending up in our oceans. Plastic is a precious resource that should be valued, not wasted.

This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the Tsar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics in Washington, DC:

Another stimulus bill is about to pass the Senate. Why won't the minimum wage be going up?

Well, the problem with the minimum wage is it didn't have the 50 votes it needed to overcome the procedural hurdles that prevent the minimum wage when traveling with the stimulus bill. Clearly support for $15 an hour minimum wage in the House of Representatives, but there's probably somewhere between 41 and 45 votes for it in the Senate. There may be a compromise level that emerges later in the year as some Republicans have indicated, they'd be willing to support a lower-level minimum wage increase. But typically, those proposals come along with policies that Democrats find unacceptable, such as an employment verification program for any new hire in the country. Labor unions have been really, really fixated on getting a $15 an hour minimum wage. They may not be up for a compromise. So, we'll see what happens.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shocked the world last year when he recovered from an attempted assassination plot by poisoning — an attempt that bore all the fingerprints of Russian government. Then he shocked the world again by returning to Russia and timing that return with the release of an hours-long documentary that catalogued the Putin regime's extensive history of corruption. Virtually no one, therefore, was shocked when he was immediately sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and expert on authoritarian regimes, believes there was a method to Navalny's madness. "His decision of '….I'm going to do something that harms me personally, but is going to be a lesson for Russians. I'm going teach a generation of Russians how to be brave.' I mean, not very many people would have the guts to do that."

Applebaum's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television stations nationwide starting Friday, March 5. Check local listings.

It's not like things are going well in Mexico.

COVID has killed more people there than in any country except the United States and Brazil. Just 2 percent of Mexicans have gotten a first vaccine jab, compared with nearly 24 in the US. The Biden administration made clear this week that it won't send vaccines to its southern neighbor until many more Americans have been vaccinated. Mexico's government has cut deals for doses from China, Russia, and India.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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