Section 230

Is the rule that made the modern internet to blame for breaking it? Is a forum legally analogous to a bookstore that might have a dirty book in it somewhere? Who’s responsible for all this junk everyone’s been putting in the internet tubes? And if we’re heading for a massive change in the way we handle illegal content online, are we at risk of destroying the best parts of the system we’re trying to fix?

Content note: This episode contains discussion of illegal speech, including hate speech, incitement to terrorism and genocide, child sexual abuse material, and revenge porn. We will not be discussing any graphic details or closely examining the events of any specific case, but we’re putting an explicit flag on this episode just to be safe.

Featured image from this delightful news report.

For obvious reasons, all the graphics that could accompany this episode were either dry charts or massive bummers. So instead, please enjoy these vintage computer ads, news reports, and futuristic predictions about all the radical things you can find on the world wide web.

A 1984 demonstration of how to get online and send an email.

A news report on proposed laws to regulate dangers to children on the internet, including the Communications Decency Act, and a geek who makes some very good points about problems with restricting speech online.

A 90s internet explainer encouraging everyone in the family, including kids, to get online.

Another gung-ho 90s take on encouraging kids to go on the internet.

A woman’s experience with her first computer is extremely relatable, and a great example of how quickly computers went from a niche machine to a personal device normal workers were expected to be able to use.

Some freakishly accurate predictions (and some wild ones!) from 1994.