The threat of Section 230

President Trump is finally – and correctly – targeting the elimination of Section 230:

Donald Trump today accused Twitter of “conservative discrimination” while once again criticizing how topics trend on the platform.

In a series of tweets, the outgoing president also suggested a law that gives the social media companies a degree of legal immunity against illegal content uploaded by their users—Section 230—should be revoked on grounds of national security.

“Twitter is sending out totally false ‘Trends’ that have absolutely nothing to do with what is really trending in the world,” Trump wrote on Friday. “They make it up, and only negative ‘stuff’. Same thing will happen to Twitter as is happening to @FoxNews daytime. Also, big Conservative discrimination.”

In a second post doubling down on previous threats against the law, he added: “For purposes of National Security, Section 230 must be immediately terminated!!!”

You’ll see some sites like Gab clinging to the idea that Section 230 should be preserved for smaller organizations, but it’s a ridiculous argument. The elimination of Section 230 doesn’t meant that anyone is going to be punished for the actions of their trolls, it just means they’re not going to continue to be able to avoid taking responsibility for their own licensed content.

And it is their own content. Quite literally and legally. Read the fine print of any social media site. If a site doesn’t claim outright ownership of the content, it will at least claim a license to it. For example, this is the license Gab holds for its user content.

By providing any User Contribution on the Website, you grant us and our affiliates and service providers, and each of their and our licensees, successors, and assigns an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free right to use, republish, reproduce, modify, perform, display, distribute, and otherwise disclose to third parties any such material for any purpose.

The point is, Gab cannot reasonably disavow any and all responsibility for the content that it licenses in perpetuity, nor should it, or any other social media company, be able to do so.