Former Vice President and current 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden says U.S. Section 230 should be immediately revoked for Facebook and other social media platforms, and that Mark Zuckerberg should be submitted to civil liability.
He made the comments in a question-and-answer sessions with the New York Times.
Here's a long excerpt but a relevant one from the New York Times Q&A session with Biden, which is worth a read in entirety:
Charlie Warzel: Sure. Mr. Vice President, in October, your campaign sent a letter to Facebook regarding an ad that falsely claimed that you blackmailed Ukrainian officials to not investigate your son. I'm curious, did that experience, dealing with Facebook and their power, did that change the way that you see the power of tech platforms right now?
No, I've never been a fan of Facebook, as you probably know. I've never been a big Zuckerberg fan. I think he's a real problem. I think ——
CW: Can you elaborate?
No, I can. He knows better. And you know, from my perspective, I've been in the view that not only should we be worrying about the concentration of power, we should be worried about the lack of privacy and them being exempt, which you're not exempt. [The Times] can't write something you know to be false and be exempt from being sued. But he can. The idea that it's a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act says that online platforms aren't held liable for things their users post on them, with some exceptions. In July, The Times's Sarah Jeong weighed in on proposed updates to Section 230, arguing that "we should reopen the debate on C.D.A. 230 only because so much of the internet has changed," but "the discourse will be improved if we all take a moment to actually read the text of C.D.A. 230."
CW: That's a pretty foundational laws of the modern internet.
That's right. Exactly right. And it should be revoked. It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false, and we should be setting standards not unlike the Europeans are doing relative to privacy. You guys still have editors. I'm sitting with them. Not a joke. There is no editorial impact at all on Facebook. None. None whatsoever. It's irresponsible. It's totally irresponsible.
CW: If there's proven harm that Facebook has done, should someone like Mark Zuckerberg be submitted to criminal penalties, perhaps?
He should be submitted to civil liability and his company to civil liability, just like you would be here at The New York Times. Whether he engaged in something and amounted to collusion that in fact caused harm that would in fact be equal to a criminal offense, that's a different issue. That's possible. That's possible it could happen. Zuckerberg finally took down those ads that Russia was running. All those bots about me. They're no longer being run.
[ In October, a 30-second ad appeared on Facebook accusing Mr. Biden of blackmailing Ukrainian government officials. The ad, made by an independent political action committee, said: "Send Quid Pro Joe Biden into retirement." Mr. Biden's campaign wrote a letter calling on Facebook to take down the ad.]
He was getting paid a lot of money to put them up. I learned three things. Number one, Putin doesn't want me to be president. Number two, Kim Jong-un thinks I should be beaten to death like a rabid dog and three, this president of the United States is spending millions of dollars to try to keep me from being the nominee. I wonder why.
Some related chatter on Twitter, below.
— Max Chafkin (@chafkin) January 17, 2020
So much for Biden being tech friendly. https://t.co/vGm17YawJ5
— Chris Messina ＊Gujarat, India (@chrismessina) January 17, 2020
Joe Biden says he wants Section 230 "revoked, immediately." He's the only presidential candidate to call for this kind of dramatic change to the law.https://t.co/vRdzRncdml
— Makena Kelly (@kellymakena) January 17, 2020
GP This is a bad position which will cripple America's tech (social media) industry. https://t.co/iKrQI95YtN
— The Gormogons (@Gormogons) January 17, 2020
— CeciliaKang (@ceciliakang) January 17, 2020
what worries me is that he's just mad at Facebook and has decided to destroy the internet because of it
— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) January 17, 2020
i was not expecting and was pretty shocked he said it…having…not previously addressed that anywhere else to my knowledge
— Charlie Warzel (@cwarzel) January 17, 2020
Joe Biden wants to revoke Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, he says in his NYT editorial board interview. The law provides that tech companies should not be liable for 3rd-party content on their platforms. More context here from @lauren_feiner https://t.co/pfaKy7tp1E
— Meg Graham (@megancgraham) January 17, 2020
That AND floating the possibility that Zuckerberg colluded with the Russians? "The idea that he cooperates with knowing that Russia was engaged in dealing with using the internet, I mean using their platform, to try to undermine American elections. That's close to criminal." https://t.co/u7vsbak8WQ
— issie lapowsky (@issielapowsky) January 17, 2020
The weakness of his logic here is staggering, and disqualifying https://t.co/BawOxSOwid
— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) January 17, 2020
[2013 WHITE HOUSE PHOTO (archival): English: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor administers the oath of office to Vice President Joe Biden during the official swearing-in ceremony at the Naval Observatory Residence in Washington D.C. on 20 January 2013. Dr. Jill Biden holds the Biden family Bible. Also pictured, from left, are: Maisy Biden, Hunter Biden, Naomi Biden, Finnegan Biden, Natalie Biden, Kathleen Biden, Hunter Biden, Ashley Biden, Howard Krein, Beau Biden and Hallie Biden. [PUBLIC DOMAIN, photographer: White House/David Lienemann]