Top Biden Advisor Bruce Reed Renews Call for Section 230 Reform

Top Biden Advisor Bruce Reed Renews Call for Section 230 Reform

WASHINGTON — The closest advisor on tech matters to presumptive President-elect Joe Biden, Bruce Reed, doubled down yesterday on weakening Section 230 protections, saying that “it’s long past time to hold the social media companies accountable for what’s published on their platforms.”

Reed was speaking to a D.C. insider crowd at the virtual book launch of “Which Side of History? How Technology is Reshaping Democracy and Our Lives” sponsored by Georgetown University Law Center.

Reed served as Biden’s Chief of Staff during the Obama presidency and is currently part of the presumptive President-elect’s inner circle. He is also the founder and CEO of Civic, which describes itself as “a social enterprise firm in Washington, D.C.”

Reed was also the first Director of the USA Freedom Corps under George W. Bush and is seen by prominent progressive Democrats as a conservative within that party. Last week, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and others signed a petition opposing Reed's potential nomination to a prominent role in the incoming administration.

The petition called Reed a "deficit hawk” and questions his support for radical Social Security and Medicare cuts, Axios reported.

A Conservative Within the Democratic Party

The group Justice Democrats, which launched the petition, called Reed “a conservative deficit hawk who has a history of promoting cuts to vital programs like Social Security” and said that “rejecting Reed will be a major test for the fight for the soul of the Biden presidency.”

The book Reed was promoting, “Which Side of History?" is a collection of articles from establishment Democrats and others edited by Common Sense Media CEO Jim Steyer. Common Sense Media calls itself “the leading source of entertainment and technology recommendations for families and schools.”

Steyer's organization provides a service that purports to "rate movies, TV shows, books and more so parents can feel good about the entertainment choices they make for their kids."

Reed has served as senior advisor for Common Sense Media.

The 'Other Side of the Aisle' Case Against Section 230

“Which Side of History?” includes essays, many of them reprinted from magazines and blogs, by a number of authors, including celebrities like stunt comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and liberal screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

Sorkin’s piece, an “open letter” to Mark Zuckerberg originally published by the New York Times last year, includes the ominous passage:

”The law hasn’t been written yet — yet — that holds carriers of user-generated internet content responsible for the user-generated content they carry, just like movie studios, television networks and book, magazine and newspaper publishers.”

With its self-appointed aura of righteous concern, “Which Side of History?” serves also as a concrete “other side of the aisle” brief on Section 230 disenchantment that allows the current, aggressive GOP campaign to eliminate its protections to claim bipartisan support.

Reed and Steyer co-wrote a chapter about Section 230 for the book.

In it, as CNBC reported yesterday, "they wrote that if platforms generate revenue from content, they should be held responsible for that content."

“If they sell ads that run alongside harmful content, they should be considered complicit in the harm," Reed and Steyer wrote. "Likewise, if their algorithms promote harmful content, they should be held accountable for helping redress the harm. In the long run, the only real way to moderate content is to moderate the business model."

The chapter urged Congress to "chip away at the law by introducing new exceptions to tech’s liability protections, or better yet, it could make platform responsibility a prerequisite for any limits on liability.”

“Washington would be better off throwing out Section 230 and starting over," Reed and Steyer concluded.

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