Press Release Section 230

PACT Act Would Shine Light on Platforms’ Content Moderation Decisions To Benefit Consumers

March 17, 2021 , , , ,

Today, Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Thune (R-SD) reintroduced the “Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act” with the stated purpose of reforming Section 230 to “strengthen transparency in the process online platforms use to moderate content.” The bill seeks to achieve this by “hold[ing] those companies accountable for content that violates their own policies or is illegal.” 

Relying on its guiding principles released earlier this year, Public Knowledge has concluded that the content-neutral procedural requirements embodied in the PACT Act will bring more transparency, consistency, and predictability to platform content moderation decisions. Such a framework goes a long way towards providing consumers greater information when signing up for a platform’s service and towards providing a better understanding of how content moderation decisions are made — and the process by which users can seek to appeal those decisions. Public Knowledge applied the organization’s Section 230 reform principles using a scorecard to reach this evaluation, concluding that this reform would largely benefit the public interest.

The following can be attributed to Greg Guice, Government Affairs Director at Public Knowledge:

“The PACT Act represents a serious, bipartisan effort to consider content-neutral requirements to provide greater transparency and accountability. This would help users better understand the decisions digital platforms make concerning content moderation by providing a clear complaint and appeal process for challenging those decisions. It also provides a process for removing illegal content. The PACT Act warrants consideration and we look forward to working with Sen. Schatz, Thune, and other members as the Senate Commerce Committee considers changes to further improve upon the framework of this legislation.”

You may view the scorecard as well as our blog post, “Principles to Protect Free Expression on the Internet,” for more information on how we evaluate Section 230 reform proposals like the PACT Act.