“The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.” – Edward R. Murrow, quoted by Kenneth Zeran in “The Cultural High Road Along the Internet Landscape in The Pursuit of Happiness,” remarks at 15th Anniversary Conference of 47 Section 230 U.S.C.(a), March 4, 2011, Santa Clara High Tech Law Center.
Twenty years ago the Fourth Circuit decided Zeran v. America Online, a decision which, on the positive side, made possible the internet we have today. On the negative side… it made possible the internet we have today. The destructive culture of incivility and trolling are not an unavoidable consequence of a culture of near-universal online access, but a demonstration of the enormous power of law to shape society.
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