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Hitting tech on Covid lies is a healthy compromise

3 minute read

Facebook logo is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration photo taken March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

WASHINGTON, July 23 (Reuters Breakingviews) - It’s hard to keep track of the flurry of potential laws aimed at reining in big tech firms like Alphabet (GOOGL.O) and Facebook (FB.O). Finally, here’s one that might work. A plan led by former U.S. presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar introduced on Thursday would require online platforms to remove fibs about viruses and vaccines during public health emergencies or be held liable for those posts.

It’s a good idea, compared with previous, more extreme proposals. Former President Donald Trump and some of his allies called for completely repealing liability protection for user content on online platforms . But that could spur accidental censorship of harmless content, and raise costs for smaller rivals of big technology companies, like review site Yelp (YELP.N), that pose little risk to the social order.

Carveouts for certain content are more effective. In 2018, lawmakers made online platforms liable for content that promoted sex trafficking, the first tweak to the safe harbor protection known as Section 230. Klobuchar’s Covid-misinformation plan read more is an acknowledgment that treating the current setup is better than killing it. (By Gina Chon)

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Editing by John Foley and Amanda Gomez

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