Hollywood Front Groups Decide To Kick Facebook While It's Down, Advocate For More Internet Regulations
from the this-will-surprise-basically-no-one dept
It’s no secret at all (though, they tried to hide it) that Hollywood and various MPAA front-groups were heavily involved behind the scenes in getting FOSTA/SESTA passed and signed into law. It all goes back to Project Goliath, the plan put together by the MPAA a few years back to use any means necessary to try to attack the fundamental principles of an open internet. While there have been all sorts of attempts, SESTA (i.e., misrepresenting the problem of sex trafficking as being an internet problem, and then pushing legislation that won’t stop sex trafficking, but will harm internet companies) was the first to make it through.
But it’s unlikely to be the last. Immediately on the heels of everyone now hating on Facebook, various MPAA front groups led by CreativeFuture and the Content Creators Coalition — both of whom will consistently parrot complete nonsense about how the internet is evil (amusingly, sometimes using the very platforms they seek to destroy) — have now sent a letter to lawmakers demanding more regulation of the internet and, in particular, more chipping away at intermediary liability protections that enable the free and open internet (the letter was first reported by TorrentFreak).
Most of the letter continues to play up the exaggerated moral panic around Facebook’s actions. As we’ve noted many times, there are reasons to complain about Facebook, but so many of the complaints are on bad solutions, and that’s absolutely true with this particular letter. Specifically, this letter presents three demands:
Last week?s hearing was an important first step in ensuring that Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other internet platforms must (1) take meaningful action to protect their users? data, (2) take appropriate responsibility for the integrity of the news and information on their platforms, and (3) prevent the distribution of unlawful and harmful content through their channels.
On number one: yes, companies should do a better job protecting data, but the real issue is that companies shouldn’t be holding onto so much data in the first place. Rather individual internet users should have a lot more control and power over their own use of data, which is very different than what these Hollywood groups are demanding. Besides, given Hollywood’s history of being hacked and leaking all sorts of data, it certainly seems like a glass houses sort of situation, doesn’t it?
As for number two: “take appropriate responsibility for the integrity of the news and information on their platforms.” Really? This is Hollywood and content creators directly calling for censorship, which is truly fucked up if you think about it. After all, for much of Hollywood’s history, politicians have complained about the kind of content that it puts out, and demanded censorship in response. Is Hollywood now really claiming to call for other industries to go through the same sort of nonsense? Should we apply the same rules to the MPAA studios? When they put out movies that are a historical farce, such as the very, very wrong propaganda flick Zero Dark Thirty, should Hollywood be required to “take appropriate responsibility” for spewing pro-torture propaganda? Because if they’re insisting that internet platforms have to take responsibility for what user’s post, it’s only reasonable to say that Hollywood studios should take responsibility when they release movies that are similar nonsense.
And, finally, number three: preventing the distribution of unlawful and “harmful” content. Again, one has to wonder what the fuck happened to the legacy entertainment industry that it would now be advocating for some sort of legal ban on “harmful content.” Remember, this is the same industry that has regularly been accused of producing “harmful” TV shows, movies and music. And now they’re on record speaking out against harmful content? How quickly do you think that’s going to boomerang back on Hollywood concerning its own content.
It’s almost as if Hollywood is so focused on its hatred of the internet that the geniuses they brought in to run these front groups have no clue how their own arguments will end up shooting content creators right in the foot. I mean, if we’re going to stop “harmful” content, doesn’t that just give more fodder to religious groups attacking the legacy entertainment industry over “blasphemy,” sex and drugs? Won’t groups advocating against loosening morals use that to demand that Hollywood stop producing films that support these kinds of activities. Or what about violence, which Hollywood has glorified for decades.
Now, some of us who actually support free speech recognize that Hollywood should be able to produce those kinds of movies and TV shows and musicians should be able to record whatever music they want. But we also think that internet platforms should be open to decide what content they allow on their platforms as well. It’s a shame that Hollywood seems to think free speech is only important in special circumstances when it applies to professionally produced content. Because that’s exactly what this letter is suggesting.
The letter also includes this nonsense:
The real problem is not Facebook, or Mark Zuckerberg, regardless of how sincerely he seeks to own the ?mistakes? that led to the hearing last week. The problem is endemic in a system that applies a different set of rules to the internet and fails to impose ordinary norms of accountability on businesses that are built around monetizing other people?s personal information and content.
This is… wrong. There isn’t a “different set of rules.” CDA 230 and DMCA 512 are both rules designed to properly apply liability to the party who actually breaks the law. Both of them say that just because someone uses a platform for illegal behavior it doesn’t make the platform liable (the individual is still very much liable). That’s not a different set of rules. And to argue that internet companies are not “accountable” is similarly ridiculous. We have a decently long history of the internet at this point, and we see, over and over again, when companies get too powerful, they become complacent. And when they do dumb things, competitors spring up, and the older companies fade away.
Hollywood, of course, isn’t quite used to that kind of creative destruction. The major studios of the MPAA are 20th Century Fox (founded: 1935), Paramount (founded: 1912), Universal Studios (founded: 1912), Warner Bros. (founded: 1923), Disney Studios (founded: 1923) and Sony Pictures (which traces its lineage back to Columbia Pictures in 1924 or CBC Film Sales Corp in 1918). In other words, these are not entities used to creative upstarts taking their place. They work on the belief that the big guys are always the big guys.
And, really, at a time when many of Hollywood’s biggest names are being brought down in “me too” moments, when it’s clear that they had institutional support of their abuse going back decades, is it really appropriate for Hollywood, of all places, to be arguing that the tech industry needs to take more responsibility? This seems like little more than a hypocritical attempt by the usual MPAA front groups to kick Facebook while its down and try to use the anger over Facebook’s mistakes to try to chip away at the internet they’ve always disliked.