Aug 17, 2019 - Politics & Policy

In gun reform plan, Beto O'Rourke wants to hold social media liable

In this image, Beto stands at a podium outside and speaks to a crowd.

Beto O’Rourke speaks at a campaign re-launch on August 15 in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke wants to hold social media platforms liable for failing to ban "hateful activities" like harassment, white nationalism or defamation in his newly unveiled gun reform plan.

Be smart: Efforts to limit or amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — which shields platforms like Google and Facebook from legal liability for users' posts — have historically failed because of free speech protections granted by the First Amendment.

The big picture: In the wake of recent mass shootings, more 2020 candidates are proposing gun control plans that combine standard firearm restrictions with efforts to combat extremism and hate. In the case of the El Paso shooting, the attacker posted an anti-immigrant manifesto on 8chan's message board hours before opening fire.

  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg's gun reform plan includes requiring police to monitor 8chan and online platforms like it.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren's plan identifies white nationalism as a form of domestic terrorism, in reference to the alleged shooter in El Paso.

"... the internet continues to serve as a breeding ground for the rise of domestic terrorists and white supremacists," O'Rourke's proposal reads.

Go deeper: Where 2020 Democrats stand on gun control

Go deeper