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Klobuchar's Plan To Combat Vaccine 'Misinformation' Would Have HHS Decide What You Can Post Online

 In the name of targetting prominent critics of vaccines, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) has proposed a bill that would revoke liability protections from online platforms that spread so-called "misinformation." Klobuchar's bill, unveiled Thursday, would create an exception to Section 230, the 1996 law that shields online platforms from liability for user-created content, in order to combat "health misinformation that is created or developed through the interactive computer service." In plain English: If a social media site like Facebook or Twitter used its algorithm to amplify the spread of anti-vaccine posts, for example, then the site itself could be sued over that content.

The carve-out would be a narrow one, applying only during declared public health emergencies. During such an emergency, the Health Misinformation Act would give the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to determine what counts as "misinformation." Courts would have to determine a website's liability if anyone brought a lawsuit.

Actually dragging Facebook into court isn't really the goal, of course. Revoking, even in a very narrow way, the broad liability protections offered by Section 230 would give platforms a powerful incentive to proactively police content for anything that might upset the public health authorities.

In other words, what Klobuchar is proposing is more of a protection racket than an actual mechanism to combat the spread of misleading or inaccurate information about vaccines.

Unfortunately, Klobuchar's proposal is likely to get support from the White House, as President Joe Biden has signalled support for cracking down on social media and claimed Facebook is "killing people" by not doing more to suppress anti-vaccine posts. But the administration's plans to limit online speech about public health don't stop there, as Reason's Jacob Sullum explained earlier this week:

This censorship by proxy is especially troubling because the "misinformation" that offends Biden and [Surgeon General Vivek] Murthy is not limited to verifiably false statements about COVID-19 vaccines, such as claims that they cause infertility or alter human DNA. It also includes messages that are accurate but "misleading," which could mean they discourage vaccination by emphasizing small risks, noting that vaccines are not completely effective, or raising questions about the methodology of vaccine studies.

Nor is the "misinformation" targeted by the Biden administration confined to speech about vaccines. Murthy is also concerned about messages that might encourage people to "reject public health measures such as masking and physical distancing," which would encompass even good-faith skepticism about the effectiveness of those safeguards.

There's also the logistical question of determining what actually counts as "misinformation." In the early days of the pandemic, the official position of the U.S. government—distributed through official channels including press conferences and the Twitter account of then–Surgeon General Jerome Adams—was that Americans should not wear masks to limit the spread of COVID-19. Was that misinformation? Should Adams be banned from Twitter for saying it? Similarly, the idea that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese lab was initially discarded as a conspiracy theory before eventually gaining significant mainstream traction. Should all discussion of that theory have been suppressed for the past 16 months? (China certainly would agree that it should.)

Biden, Klobuchar, and others should stop blaming free speech on the internet for all manner of social problems. Carving away at the foundational law upon which the modern internet is built won't meaningfully change the trajectory of the pandemic, but it will give government greater control over everything posted online.


  1. Despite the media hype there is no evidence that the delta variant is distinct from anything already published either in a clinical or a genomic sense.

  2. Figures vary now from 5000 to 150,000 DEAD IN US BECAUSE OF THIS POISON THAT MAY BE SELF-SPREADING like the 1918 PLANDEMIC SPANISH FLU /SMALLPOX VACCINE. Its VERY important to understand EPSTEIN GUILTY Trump's ROLE in this so you dont make the SAME MISTAKES or support him as he MAKES MORE! CASES NOT DEATHS! EVENT 201 proves this was all a PLANNED FARCE! Understand that Epstein GUILTY Trumpy is a deep state FAKE like all others before him and gave Gates GAVI group a BILLION to FORCE a DNA ALTERING NOT-a-vaccine on YOU using the MILITARY in a 'powerful way' Gates controlled and funded Fauci AND Birx and they ALL should be EXECUTED. Trump PARTIED WITH Clintons, Gates and EPSTEIN and AS A DEMOCRAT! BOTH parties in the US are two sides of the SAME COIN. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pV1U9s3vJ0