Venture capitalist Bradley Tusk calls for repeal of law protecting internet companies

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

Venture capitalist Bradley Tusk is calling for an end to Section 230, the portion of the Communications Decency Act that President Trump is currently waging a war on amid an ongoing spat with Twitter (TWTR) and Snapchat (SNAP).

According to Tusk, who heads up Tusk Holdings and Tusk Ventures, which has investments in the likes of FanDuel and Lemonade, repealing Section 230 would open up the web for new competitors that could better compete with the current crop of current social media giants.

“If that were removed — and what's interesting is that both Trump and Biden support removing that protection —I think in a way it would really allow new social networking startups to come about, to innovate,” Tusk told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.

The battle for the internet

The spat between Trump and Twitter began May 26 when Trump tweeted that mail-in ballots would lead to widespread voter fraud. Twitter added a fact-check mark to the tweet pointing to numerous articles showing that the allegation was false and explained why the company took the move.

Enraged by Twitter’s decision, May 27, Trump issued an executive order calling for changes to Section 230, which protects internet sites from being held liable for content posted by users. The law has been described as “the 26 words that created the internet” and is a foundational part of the modern web. It’s why companies ranging from Google and Facebook to Twitter and Amazon and even small blogs are able to operate on the web.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 03: Tusk Ventures Founder & CEO Bradley Tusk speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 at Moscone Convention Center on October 03, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

The following day, after early protests over George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police lead to sporadic rioting and looting, Trump posted a tweet that read, in part, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Twitter then took the unprecedented step of hiding Trump’s tweet behind a banner explaining that it violated the company’s terms of service for “glorifying violence.”

Snapchat similarly moved to limit Trump’s reach on the platform by removing him from the app’s Discover section. Facebook (FB), under the order of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, chose to let Trump’s violent comments stand despite significant pushback from current and former employees.

All of this has led to a renewed debate about the fate of Section 230, which former-Vice President Joe Biden has also said needs to be revoked.

For his part, Tusk, who has worked as a political strategist for companies such as Uber and served at the communications director for Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), campaign manager for Michael Bloomberg’s mayoral bid in NYC, and as deputy governor of Illinois, doesn’t believe Section 230 will impact the upcoming presidential election.

“It's a pretty obscure topic. But as a venture capitalist, I actually would like section 230 repealed,” Tusk said.

“But if they have to do more than give a quick dopamine hit, provide a better value proposition to the customers, I think there's room for a lot more innovation in the space. So I would love to see Section 230 repealed.”

Whether Trump’s executive order holds any weight remains to be seen. It’s already drawn at least one lawsuit from the Center for Democracy and Technology, claiming that it violates the First Amendment.

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