Hitting tech on COVID-19 lies is a healthy compromise

It’s a good idea, compared with previous, more extreme proposals

  
FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) words in this illustration taken March 24, 2020. Picture taken March 24, 2020. REUTERS

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) words in this illustration taken March 24, 2020. Picture taken March 24, 2020. REUTERS

Dado Ruvic

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

WASHINGTON - It’s hard to keep track of the flurry of potential laws aimed at reining in big tech firms like Alphabet  and Facebook. Finally, here’s one that might work.

A plan led by former U.S. presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar introduced on Thursday would require online platforms to remove fibs about viruses and vaccines during public health emergencies or be held liable for those posts.

It’s a good idea, compared with previous, more extreme proposals. Former President Donald Trump and some of his allies called for completely repealing liability protection for user content on online platforms. But that could spur accidental censorship of harmless content, and raise costs for smaller rivals of big technology companies, like review site Yelp, that pose little risk to the social order.

Carveouts for certain content are more effective. In 2018, lawmakers made online platforms liable for content that promoted sex trafficking, the first tweak to the safe harbor protection known as Section 230. Klobuchar’s Covid-misinformation plan is an acknowledgment that treating the current setup is better than killing it. (By Gina Chon)

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

(Editing by John Foley and Amanda Gomez) ((SIGN UP FOR BREAKINGVIEWS EMAIL ALERTS: http://bit.ly/BVsubscribe))


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