But even Quinn, who has experienced social networks at their very worst, seems to recognize their value to society and to users. Quinn wrote, “Everything I have, everything good in my life, I owe to the internet’s ability to empower people like me, people who wouldn’t have a voice without it.” That’s because when Quinn said they were depressed, they met people in chatrooms who made them stop wanting to kill themself. Craigslist helped Quinn and their then-husband find jobs when they were homeless. Quinn also said they avoided potentially overdosing on drugs thanks to information they found in online communities and wrote that these communities were their “only effective way to date other girls.” Quinn also established a career as a game developer online.
These are the things people would lose out on if social networks failed due to laws like this: opportunities to find communities of support and, in some cases, make a living. Quinn was able to find hope and help through social platforms, and others can, too. So instead of letting social networks fail, we should be trying to improve them by making them platforms for healthy content that empowers and educates people and helps users make connections and improve our lives.
Astonishingly, the law makes it harder for social networks to take action against toxic content like misinformation. That could mean that people might cast ballots or make decisions about their health, for example, based on totally inaccurate claims they read online.
That’s why Congress needs to step in — fast — to pass a law affirming the right of social media companies to moderate content on their platforms, which would make the Texas law powerless.
We need to fix social networks by removing toxic content. This month’s appeals court ruling does the exact opposite and could even deal a fatal blow to social media as we know it. The only thing worse than not fixing the social platforms we have now would be to see them be subject to a constant slew of lawsuits or devolve into platforms that become bastions of hate speech and misinformation. Let’s hope Congress doesn’t let us down.