Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., told Newsmax TV on Tuesday it is time to amend or change the application of the portion of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that shields Internet companies from libel and slander lawsuits since their actions are like those of any regular media publisher.
Walden, 63, the only Republican in the Oregon’s Congressional delegation but whose district comprises more than two-thirds of the state, referred to what is known as Section 230 of the 1996 law, which was intended to keep pornography from reaching minors.
“There will be a vigorous debate and I hope an adjustment of this statute,” Walden told “Spicer & Co.” on the eve of a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in which the heads of Facebook, Twitter, and Google parent Alphabet Inc. are scheduled to testify.
“It was never intended to be used for this purpose and grant this blanket immunity for publishers. You don’t get it. I didn’t get it as a radio broadcaster. Newspapers don’t get this kind of protection and if these companies have gotten to the point where they’re editing, they’re blocking, they’re censoring, and it sure appears that it happens a lot on the right. I don’t hear many stories about things getting blocked left.”
The issue reared again earlier this month with Twitter blocking the accounts of users who tried to distribute, and Facebook slowing the spread of, a New York Post story about supposed influence peddling by Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president and Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden.
Walden said the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which he is the ranking minority member, held a similar hearing as the one the Senate is to conduct Wednesday and heard Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg deny there was any political motivation behind previous accusations of censorship.
“Now, they’ll blame it on their algorithm, and ‘oh, they probably fixed it,'” Walden explained to eponymous host Sean Spicer. “Every time during the hearing where some member on the Republican side would raise an issue about something that had been censored, the response was: ‘Oh, that was a mistake,’ ‘Oh, that was the algorithm,’ ‘Oh, oh, oh.’
“These algorithms, they bias in really bad ways for the country. Social media platforms, in many cases, have facilitated a cancer on civility. You’ve been a target of that. I’ve been a target of that. I didn’t see them blocking the stuff that comes my way on my account. It’s pretty vicious at times over the years. But boy they sure get sensitive when it’s on the other side.”
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