How to bring back the old internet

Section 230 has outlived its usefulness

A monster laptop.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

People who grew up with the internet of the 1990s probably remember forums — those clunky, lo-fi spaces where people came together to argue about cars, cycling, video games, cooking, or a million other topics. They had their problems, but in retrospect the internet of those days felt like a magical land of possibility, not a place for organizing pogroms.

What killed most forums is the same thing that killed local journalism across the country, and has turned the internet into a cesspool of abuse, racism, and genocidal propaganda: corporate monopolies. A few giants, led by Facebook and Google, now command an overwhelming share of online activity. What enables the modern online hellscape is Section 230, an obscure legal provision that protects internet companies from certain legal liability, and allows them to grow as large as they have.

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