On Friday Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi threatened to expand Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to include both broadcast news stations, including Fox News, as well as online news stations such as One America News.
Until now, Section 230 of the Act protected internet providers from civil liability from content posted by third parties on their sites. Specifically:
“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.”
Pelosi’s expansion expressly excludes news stations and sites from those protections and requires them to monitor not only their web sites for false content but also their live TV coverage.
Given the nature of both Fox News and OAN, the new rule would require the networks to either shut down immediately or completely change their business model, a process that could take months or years.
FCC spokesperson Joe Barron explains the reasons for the expansion:
“Lots of news networks make mistakes. And in almost all cases they own up to their mistakes, correct them, and provide an apology to their viewers. Certain right leaning stations flout those rules and don’t give a damn what they peddle, as long as it draws in viewers.
Fox and OAN are among the most egregious examples of this type of behavior. Not only do they constantly broadcast fake news, but they also often rip off content from satire sites and pass them off as real news.
For example, Fox recently stole content from America’s Last Line of Defense, a well known satire site. They took an article that absurdly claimed President Trump deserved a third term and then Sean Hannity presented it as “news” on his show.
I mean, we all know that Sean isn’t exactly the brain of Britain, but someone at Fox should have caught this.
And this is just one example. We have found content on both Fox and OAN websites that we were able to trace back to Macedonian teenagers, Russian trolls and, in one case, some dude in Nigeria claiming that President Obama got his grandmother pregnant and gave her a case of the Blue Waffles.”
The penalties under the expanded legislation are severe, ranging from millions of dollars in fines for each violation to death by Bunga Bunga for extremely aggravated violations.
It appears that the Sean Hannity third term for Trump story could potentially qualify him for the latter form of punishment.
Will Potatriots™ put up with this censorship of their favorite fake news channels, or will they be content to watch 24/7 reruns of The Simpsons?
Stay tuned, because this could get ugly. And for Sean Hannity’s sake, let’s hope that President Trump will pardon his good buddy.