Words Hold Power, Truth Holds Meaning

Image Courtesy of mediashift.org

Image Courtesy of mediashift.org

Lillian Wonderly, Staff Writer

The United States of America has the loosest libel laws compared to any other country. This is due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA): “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another content provider” (McSherry). This means internet groups like QAnon are protected under the 230 CDA because users are not held responsible for their speech posted on Facebook, Twitter, Blog forums, and other online platforms. What would be classified as hate speech in other countries is considered free speech in America? The Federal Government needs to rewrite Section 230 of the CDA to hold internet users accountable for posting harmful misinformation and hate speech online.

I had the honor of being selected out of over 70 colleges to ask Dr. Fauci what advice he had for upcoming college students in the Communications field. He expressed how important it is “to maintain credibility, and that integrity right from the beginning, from your student years up to whatever exalted or not position that you ultimately reach.” Now more than ever those words hold meaning because the pandemic has shown how much violence can come from misleading information. Since the Atlanta shooting of six Asian-Americans on March 16, 2021, the US Government can no longer ignore the link between hate crimes and online hate groups fostering claims like the “China Virus”, (Mcdonnell). Hate groups are hiding behind the 230 CDA to promote their anti-semantic and racist agendas.

As of October 12, 2020, Mark, Zuckerberg finally classified denials of the Holocaust and other genocides as hate speech (Effron, 2020). The Government is putting the responsibility on Zuckerberg and CEOs to uphold integrity on the internet. The 230 CDA has not been revised

since its creation in 1996, and now social media has become the main channel of communication and news in the USA. The amount of misinformation circulating the internet has created an epidemic of fake news, costing innocent people their lives. Internet users with racist and controversial attitudes are using the 230 CDA as a loophole to promote false information that harms people of different ethnicities and religious beliefs.

The first step is to have clear libel laws that identify hate speech online as a criminal offense. That brings up the question, who will enforce stricter libel laws online? America cannot solely place the responsibility of enforcing such guidelines on Zuckerberg and the Government. As American citizens, it is our responsibility to evaluate the motives and credibility of information before re-sharing it with the public. As Dr. Fauci explained, upholding integrity begins within your student years. As a future published writer and author, it is my responsibility to spread the most accurate version of any story. This means tracking down first-person accounts, hours of research, and a dedication to providing the truth for no other reason than it being the truth.

Image Courtesy of vox.com


Works Cited

Effron, Oliver. “Facebook Will Ban Holocaust Denial Posts under Hate Speech Policy.” CNN, Cable News Network, 12 Oct. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/10/12/tech/facebook-holocaust-denial-hate-speech/index.html.

Mcdonnell, Nieto. “Women of Asian Descent Were 6 of the 8 Victims in Atlanta Shootings.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Mar. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/03/17/us/asian-women-victims-atlanta-shootings.html.

McSherry, Corynne, et al. “Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.” Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, www.eff.org/issues/cda230.