Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter often remove posts that violate the sites’ rules. Now, imagine that your posts were deleted, and you could sue these companies for $75,000 per post.
That might sound absurd, but that’s what some American lawmakers are saying should be allowed to happen.
As it stands, web companies in the United States cannot be sued for removing content. These permissions are upheld by a federal law called Section 230, also known as the Communications Decency Act.
This law has been under fire for years, however – and one if its most notable critics was former President Donald Trump. Censorship on social media has been a hot topic since Twitter banned him following the Jan. 6 Capitol storming. It’s worth noting, however, that politicians of both the two main political parties in America have criticized the act for various reasons.
Many state lawmakers are trying to pass bills to allow people to sue social media sites when their posts are taken down, especially those involving politics or religion. The bills vary by state, but some allow suits for up to $75,000 per post.
It’s unknown whether these proposals have a chance of passing, but one expert says there’s a fat chance.
Len Niehoff, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, told media outlets that the proposals are a “constitutional non-starter.”
“If an online platform wants to have a policy that it will delete certain kinds of tweets, delete certain kinds of users, forbid certain kinds of content, that is in the exercise of their right as a information distributor,” he explained. “The idea that you would create a cause of action that would allow people to sue when that happens is deeply problematic under the First Amendment.”