Many small businesses who use digital tools want to make sure they can communicate to their customers about their products without feeling like they must avoid hateful and harmful rhetoric online. Yet currently, the issue of who moderates what content is up for debate.
The US Supreme Court is considering a case on content moderation from both Texas and Florida that could offer clear guidelines on what entity is responsible for content moderation. The case centers on Section 230, which protects tech companies from being held legally responsible for content that is posted on their platforms while also empowering them to remove unsafe content, when appropriate.
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This type of content moderation helps keep us safe and ensures that we don’t work within digital spaces that harbor hate speech, harmful rhetoric and other dangerous topics. Many small businesses actively rely on the ability for tech companies to moderate that exact content so that they can work within digital spaces and platforms, connect with customers, sell their goods and conduct their business free from rhetoric that could turn customers away.
Content moderation isn’t perfect. It’s still possible for bad information to spread and naturally many want to hold tech companies accountable. Unfortunately, President Joe Biden’s recent call to reform Section 230 under the guise of holding Big Tech accountable could jeopardize our First Amendment rights.
We should absolutely discuss how tech companies can better moderate their content to keep us safe, especially as more businesses decide they want to use the internet and digital tools to expand their reach. Conversations about online responsibility and safety are even making their way through our state Legislature right now, with bills that focus on educating kids, parents and teachers on social media being considered.
But it’s important that the solutions proposed don’t lead to over-regulation and big government overreach that could place the largest burden on the shoulders of small businesses.
Drew Slover, owner, Slover Consulting, Jacksonville
This guest column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Times-Union. We welcome a diversity of opinions.