Joe Biden Doesn’t Agree With Donald Trump On Much, But One Area Where Their Views Converge Is On The Need To Reform The Silicon Valley Giants.

By John Arlidge

Big tech has never had it so good, thanks to “Zuna”. That’s the nickname techies have given our lockdown existence: Zoom calls by day, Uber Eats at night, before settling down to watch Netflix and shop on Amazon, much of it on Apple devices.

While most industries struggle under the worst recession in memory, big tech is thriving. WFH has helped to push up the share price of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, to near all-time highs. In the last financial quarter of last year, the four companies added £119billion to their market value, more than the entire market value of McDonald’s. Apple posted all-time record revenue of £81billion, up 21 per cent year on year. 

But their fortunes might be about to fall faster than the value of a short seller’s holdings in GameStop. Joe Biden Doesn’t Agree With Donald Trump On Much, But One Area Where Their Views Converge Is On The Need To Reform The Silicon Valley Giants. Before his election Biden said that he wanted to remove their secret weapon, known as Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which states that the big tech platforms are merely giant digital noticeboards. Users can do and say pretty much whatever they like on them and the tech firms are not liable for either the content or its consequences. That is why companies like TripAdvisor cannot be sued by an angry restaurateur whose business fails after a user posts a bad review, regardless of whether the review is fair or accurate. 

Biden, like many other US lawmakers, thinks that as tech platforms have grown and published more content, much of it political, they have become more akin to traditional publishers or media companies and should be accountable for their content. He argues that Section 230 should be “immediately revoked” and platforms that carry news, such as Facebook, be “submitted to civil liability” for posting known false content on their sites in the same way newspapers are. 

It’s not hard to see why Biden might want reform. He spent much of last year’s election campaign fending off accusations that he sexually assaulted a former aide and that his son, Hunter, had used his family connections to win business in Ukraine and China. Many ultra pro-free speech Democrats were uneasy at Biden’s stance but swung behind him when rioters stormed the US Capitol last month to try to overturn the result of the presidential election, which Donald Trump falsely claimed on social media was rigged. 

Following the attack, a group of senior Democrats called on Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s boss, to overhaul his platform’s algorithms, which they say created a “digital echo chamber” that helped to radicalise the far-Right activists behind the attack. In an open letter to Zuckerberg, they wrote: “Perhaps no single entity is more responsible for the spread of dangerous conspiracy theories at scale or for inflaming anti-government grievance than the one that you started and that you oversee today.” 

This news was originally published at Standard.