Calls to take down abusive and harassing content is often met with apathy from the largest tech companies. As victims of this online abuse can’t wait for law enforcement to act, social platforms must step up to remove this harmful content and step out from behind Section 230’s liability shield.
In Non-Compliant Podcast Episode 32, Host Jay Edelson, nationally recognized plaintiff’s attorney and Founder of Edelson PC, and Guest Carrie Goldberg, Founder of C.A. Goldberg Victims’ Rights Law Firm and author of Nobody’s Victim, discuss sexual harassment and abuse on the internet, the problems with Section 230, and why Big Tech companies need to do more to stop online predators
To start the show, Carrie dives into her work to protect people who face cataclysmic online abuse, including revenge porn, cyber-stalking, sextortion, and the lasting impacts of child pornography (2:30). Carrie explains that the bulk of the harm her clients face happens on major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, which do little to prevent these abusive actions—often ignoring requests to take down damaging content (5:30).
Next, Jay and Carrie discuss how tech companies face limited accountability for ignoring requests to remove harassing content under Section 230’s liability shield (7:30). Through the lens of one of Carrie’s cases against Grindr, she explains that the provision is getting attorneys to seek other legal theories, such as product liability, to force tech companies to take down abusive content that can ruin people’s lives (12:30).
Jay and Carrie continue their discussion on Section 230 as they pivot to the power dynamics of Big Tech’s stranglehold of Congress and the courts that has cemented the online liability shield (20:00). Even with a flurry of bills to reform Section 230, Big Tech’s power to influence the debate will limit any short-term changes to the law (21:00). But the public’s shift in their views of tech companies is likely to lead judges and lawmakers to make important long-term changes to the liability shield.
Later in the show, Jay and Carrie chat about the difficulties to stop online sexual harassment (30:00). Often, local law enforcement act too slow to stop abusers due to limited resources and the inability to force tech companies to remove content. Outside of the criminal justice system, abusers are often judgment proof which gives little to no value in pursuing civil claims (34:00). As Carrie explains, it is often crueler to victims to have them go through lengthy court proceedings with their abusers when the outcome is unlikely to stop the harassment.
To wrap the show, Carrie explains that her experiences with revenge porn and online abuse led her to launch her own victims’ rights firm and to become a leader in the field (40:45). Carrie saw that there weren’t attorneys that had expertise dealing with all aspects of digital abuse cases and has made it her mission to protect online harassment victims that need someone in their corner fighting the fight against Big Tech’s inaction.
Check out the show to hear more about Section 230, why privacy is not dead (48:50), and a preview of cases Carrie is bringing next (51:33).
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