Social Media Site Parler Terms Include ‘Reverse Section 230’

The social media site Parler advertises itself as a “free speech” platform. The site has recently seen a boost in popularity thanks to several prominent Republicans  — including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and California House Rep Devin Nunes — announcing that they would join the site, claiming that other platforms such as Twitter have censored their viewpoints. But according to an analysis by the tech news site TechDirt, users who read the fine print of Parler’s Term of Service agreement may be surprised to find that they are on the legal hook for their posts. In fact, according to the Parler ToS, if Parler is sued over any user activity, that user — whether it is Ted Cruz or anybody else — must cover the company’s legal bills. The clause was first exposed by Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief on The Verge and a commentator on tech issues for CNBC. Writing on his Twitter account, Patel called the Parler terms “basically a reverse 230 clause.”  Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the 24-year-old law that serves as the foundation of open online communication, because it shields platforms from legal liability over posts by users. But the law has recently come under attack from both ends of the political spectrum, who say that social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as other internet services, should be held more accountable for legally questionable content. Cruz himself has stated support for repealing Section 230 altogether. And the law was recently invoked by a federal judge who ruled that Nunes could not sue Twitter over parody accounts that attack him, includng the account “Devin Nunes’ Cow.” But Parler appears to anticipate an internet landscape in which Section 230 no longer exists, requiring users to “defend and indemnify Parler,” its employees and executives against any legal actions. In fact, if Parler decides to wage its own defense against a lawsuit, the user whose post sparked the suit must pick up the company’s legal expenses. Under section 230, however, the company would not be liable, and therefore would have no, or minimal, legal expenses to cover.  While Parler has yet to face major lawsuits over user content, as the site grows in popularity, such suits appear inevitable.  “If that’s the case, any of its users (including Cruz) will then be in deep shit if they don’t have 230 helping to reduce their legal liability,” wrote TechDirt reporter Mike Masnick. TechDirt has also reported that despite its claims of allowing “free speech,” Parler’s ToS allows it to remove and moderate user content, and to ban individual users from its site, as do Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. Parler’s CEO John Matze described the site in a recent interview as “a community town square, an open town square, with no censorship. If you can say it on the street of New York, you can say it on Parler.” But according to a Newsweek report last week, numerous new users have already reported that they were banned from Parler or otherwise censored. Photo By Gerd Altman / Pixabay 

written by: Lawrence Avery

source: Social Media Site Parler Terms Include ‘Reverse Section 230’ | AVN

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