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Abstract

Section 230 is overdue for a rethinking. If courts do not construe the scope of federal immunity to avoid injustice, we argue, Congress should amend the law. This is not to discount the important role that the immunity provision has played over the past twenty years. Far from it. Section 230 immunity has enabled innovation and expression beyond the imagination of the operators of early bulletin boards and computer service providers the provision was designed to protect. But its overbroad interpretation has left victims of online abuse with no leverage against site operators whose business models facilitate abuse. This state of affairs can be changed without undermining free expression and innovation. Broad protections for free speech and clear rules of the road are important for online platforms to operate with confidence. Section 230, at least as it is currently understood, is not necessary for either of these. With modest adjustments to § 230, either through judicial interpretation or legislation, we can have a robust culture of free speech online without shielding from liability platforms designed to host illegality or that deliberately host illegal content