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Dallas Morning News lawsuit against Alex Jones must be coupled with social media reform:

We are happy to see the consequences of the devastating lies conspirator Alex Jones promoted about the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre begin to materialize this week in an Austin courtroom.

But as much as Jones is the culprit behind the smear campaign that has portrayed families who have lost children as liars or actors, and that has driven at least one family to move a dozen times after being doxxed and threatened, everything like the social media companies that allowed this false narrative to catch fire on their platforms.

When users of these websites make baseless, inflammatory and defamatory statements in the style of Jones – describing the murder of children as a government plot and saying that families faked the deaths of their own children – it can create echo chambers in comment sections or news pages that suck up casual scrollers. Algorithms often facilitate and even energize this material. For their role in this, the social media giants enjoy near complete immunity from liability.

This protection stems from a law created in 1996 called Section 230, which protects websites from lawsuits aimed at third-party postings. The law was written to help the internet grow, as much of its material is third-party content hosted on platforms. But what might have made sense then doesn’t now.

Whether the “false flag” conspiracy first originated on the internet and Jones amplified the vicious distortions, or the reverse happened, the level of malevolence directed against these families would not be possible without Twitter and Facebook. .

As a society, we cannot continue to allow people to tell vile lies online without repercussions on the platforms that allow those lies to fester and spread.

Jones, who has now admitted the inaccuracies of his Sandy Hook claims, and others want to make it a free speech issue. While we fully support that individuals’ constitutionally protected right to free speech extends to online expression, the First Amendment is not a blanket protection from civil liability. Far from there.

The problem is the unchecked proliferation of false and defamatory content – ​​whether under the banner of “fake news” or hate speech – which has driven a wedge among the people of this country while helping tech platforms to ring the cash register.

Free speech protections do not shield US citizens or most US businesses from liability for slander and libel. But these protections protect social media.

Even today, after the Uvalde massacre that killed 19 children and two teachers or the shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4, where seven people died, groups on Facebook and Twitter weave lies under a false flag, aimed at identifying responsibility. somewhere else.

What happened with Sandy Hook put salt in the most devastating injury a parent can receive. But it’s a byproduct of how we make the internet work. The problem goes deeper than Jones. Legal responsibility must also be imposed on Big Tech.

The Miami Herald on drag queens and sex ed takes center stage in Florida’s summer of culture war:

Florida’s summer of culture wars is heating up with two controversies — drag queens and sex education in schools — both making national headlines. Both deal with parental choice and are Governor Ron DeSantis’ favorite battlegrounds on the warpath to secure his re-election.

DeSantis is making a very public effort to revoke the liquor license of a popular Miami cruising spot, R House in Wynwood, for allowing children into its popular brunches. The State’s Department of Business and Regulation states in a complaint that the shows are “sexualized drag events.”

“Having kids involved in this is a mistake,” DeSantis said. “It is not in accordance with our law and our policy in the State of Florida. And it’s a disturbing trend in our society to try to sexualize these young people.

He forgets, however, that parents who take their children to a drag show are the flip side of the parental choice he stands for.

Drag queens performing in front of children weren’t a problem until DeSantis, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and others made it a ridiculous red meat issue, which the Miami Herald’s editorial board decried.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Miami-Dade School Board was reviewing its ban on textbooks used to teach sex education in the district. Last week, council members voted 5-4 to ban a specific book, but a group of 278 parents signed a petition asking them to reconsider. The Council once again takes up the burning issue.

Welcome to the “free” state of DeSantis Florida.