How the Censorship Bullies May Target Hollywood Next

Photo by Ahmet Yalçınkaya on Unsplash

How the Censorship Bullies May Target Hollywood Next

By Movieguide® Staff

As social media cracks down on conservatives and ban accounts, entertainment industry execs worry the censorship overreach and other communications standards could affect Hollywood.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, calls to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act could affect more than just the big tech industries like Facebook and Twitter.

The 1966 law Section 230 allows service providers to host third-party content without bearing liability—for the most part—for what its users post.

“Section 230 says that ‘No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider’ (47 U.S.C. § 230),” the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote. “In other words, online intermediaries that host or republish speech are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do.”

The Hollywood Reporter claims that while politicians want to protect free speech and limit censorship, the reforming of Section 230 would only add to the problem.

THR’s Eriq Gardner writes:

Politicians on both sides of the aisle hold up a repeal of Section 230 as the appropriate response to everything from the Capitol insurrection to the suspension of Donald Trump’s Twitter account two days later. Unfortunately, a Section 230 repeal won’t be enough to achieve what some political leaders are really after — a rebalance of the power structure. And that holds danger for those who traffic in speech, including movie and television producers, plus journalists and T.V. newscasts.

“Section 230 reform is a sign that the forces of censorship are winning the legislative battles,” Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. “Hollywood should be very, very nervous that they will be the censors’ next target.”

In many ways, the law has allowed platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube to flourish. However, the Capitol Hill riots and concern for big tech’s power could see politicians amending Section 230.

Gardner writes:

That’s where Hollywood comes in. While fooling around with user-generated content impacts the entertainment industry on the margins — think talent scouting on YouTube or Facebook- and Twitter-based marketing campaigns — nothing would be as game-changing as the notion that the government gets to lay down broader rules about what speech is disseminated.

“If politicians can tell platforms you have to carry President Trump’s speech, there’s a short distance in dictating what op-eds are to run on The New York Times or what perspectives are shown on television,” says Daphne Keller, the director of the program on platform regulation at Stanford University.

In many ways, the talk surrounding Section 230 has obscured the First Amendment dynamic. Many in the creative world may be conditioned to be skeptical about Big Tech’s legal shield given their lingering concerns about copyright infringement (exempted under Section 230) and the way that these digital titans have disrupted Hollywood’s old business models. “There’s certainly been a clash of competition,” says Keller. “But in terms of the values held by many in Hollywood, I imagine there are many who care deeply about the First Amendment and would hardly like the results if Section 230 is crossed out.”

As the censorship crackdown continues, it remains paramount to practice discernment with every piece of media consumed, no matter the platform.

We must continue to speak out against tyranny and celebrate our rights to free speech.