Reps. Cicilline, Buck Release Bill to Hold Online Platforms Accountable for Promoting Extremism

Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI) and Ken Buck (R-CO) introduced the Platform Integrity Act (HR 9695), a bipartisan bill to correct the judicial misinterpretation of a provision of the Communications Decency Act [47 U.S.C. 230(c)(1), if you're scoring at home] by recognizing that online platforms may be held responsible for the content that they promote on their platforms. It does not create any new cause of action or basis for liability; it simply clarifies that section 230(c)(1)’s liability exclusion does not extend to content that platforms themselves take an active role in proliferating. The Platform Integrity Act makes clear that platforms have no excuse for amplifying extremism online. The Platform Integrity Act would:

  • Offer a simple and common-sense clarification of the scope of 47 U.S.C. 230(c)(1) by removing a bar to recovery for victims who have suffered harm from acts of terrorism, hate, or extremism enabled by online platforms’ content suggestions.
  • Reject the judicial misinterpretation of 47 U.S.C. 230(c)(1) whereby courts have concluded, for example, that the statute bars victims of terrorist attacks from seeking relief from a social-media company for its proactive role connecting the perpetrators through friend- and content-suggestion algorithms.
  • Adopt the correct interpretation of the statute reflected in the separate opinion of the late Honorable Robert Katzmann in Force v. Facebook, Inc., 934 F.3d 53 (2d Cir. 2019), wherein he concluded that “it strains the English language” to construe 47 U.S.C. 230(c)(1) “to say that in targeting and recommending [extremist] writings to users,” “thereby forging connections” and “developing new social networks,” online platforms are protected from liability by the statute.
  • Apply only to content that the platform actively promotes, leaving in place Section 230(c)(2)’s protection of platforms’ good-faith application of terms of service and community guidelines.

Cicilline, Buck Release Bill to Hold Online Platforms Accountable for Promoting Extremism H.R.9695 - To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to clarify section 230(c)(1) of such Act, and for other purposes.