Matthew Herrick was sitting on his stoop in Harlem when something weird happened. Then, it happened again. And again. It happened so many times that it became an absolute nightmare—a nightmare that haunted his life daily and flipped it completely upside down.

What stood between Matthew and help were 26 little words. These 26 words, known as Section 230, are the core of an Internet law that coats the tech industry in Teflon. No matter what happens, who gets hurt, or what harm is done, tech companies can’t be held responsible for the things that happen on their platforms. Section 230 affects the lives of an untold number of people like Matthew, and makes the Internet a far more ominous place for all of us. But also, in a strange twist, it’s what keeps the whole thing up and running in the first place.

Why do we have this law? And more importantly, why can’t we just delete it?

Special thanks to James Grimmelmann, Eric Goldman, Naomi Leeds, Jeff Kosseff, Carrie Goldberg, and Kashmir Hill.

EPISODE CREDITSReported by - Rachael CusickProduced by - Rachael Cusick and Simon Adlerwith mixing help from - Arianne WackFact-checking by - Natalie MiddletonEdited by - Pat Walters


Articles:Kashmir Hill’s story introduced us to Section 230.

Books: Jeff Kosseff’s book The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet ( is a fantastic biography of Section 230To read more about Carrie Goldberg’s work, head to her website ( or check out her bookcheck out her book Nobody's Victim (

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