Zuckerberg calls for Section 230 reforms — but they may help Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify before Congress and push for changes to a law affecting tech companies' legal liability — ones that, in practice, might help "shore up Facebook's power."

During a hearing on Thursday, the Facebook boss will propose that Congress reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which says platforms aren't legally liable for content posted on their sites, NBC News reports. Specifically, Zuckerberg will say that online platforms should be legally required "to have adequate systems in place to address unlawful content," according to his prepared testimony.

"Instead of being granted immunity," Zuckerberg will testify, "platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it."

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While Zuckerberg suggested that the definition of an "adequate system" could be "proportionate to platform size and set by a third-party," NBC News' Dylan Byers observed that his suggested change "could theoretically shore up Facebook's power, as well as that of other internet giants like Google, by requiring smaller social media companies and startups to develop robust content moderation systems that can be costly." Indeed, Axios wrote that smaller companies "will balk at any" changes to Section 230, whereas "the biggest companies" like Facebook "have the greatest ability to respond and adapt to legislation."

Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will also testify during this congressional hearing, which will primarily deal with misinformation. During his prepared opening statement, Bloomberg reports that Pichai signaled opposition to Section 230 changes, arguing that reforming or repealing it "would have unintended consequences — harming both free expression and the ability of platforms to take responsible action to protect users."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.