While Trump Complains About Facebook Takedowns, Facebook Is Helping Trump Take Down Content He Doesn't Like

from the oh,-look-at-that dept

You might have noticed in the last week or two that President Trump has suddenly jumped on the silly bandwagon suggesting that internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter don’t have a right to kick people off of their platforms. There have been a bunch of misleading tweets he’s made, but we’ll just post this one that kicked it all off:

In it, Trump says:

I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!

Of course, “FREEDOM OF SPEECH” in the American context only applies to the government interfering with the rights of people to express themselves, and has no bearing on companies choosing to kick off people who it finds problematic. Indeed, part of the 1st Amendment is that it provides the platforms — as private entities — the right to determine who they associate with and who they don’t.

But a new Wired article suggests that there’s a striking contrast here, in that Facebook has someone who is quick to respond and to shut down the accounts of those designated by Trump’s government as undesirable. It’s difficult not to read this as somewhat hypocritical. The issue relates to another story we discussed last month, in which the Trump White House declared Iran’s IRGC a “foreign terrorist organization.” The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, is basically Iran’s military/security/law enforcement wing — and this is the first time that a governmental organization has been declared a foreign terrorist organization in the US. And Facebook immediately accepted this claim from the White House and banned any related accounts:

The day after Trump?s move, Instagram, a Facebook property, blocked the accounts of high-ranking Revolutionary Guard officers. And the next week The New York Times reported that Fishman had said Facebook would have zero tolerance for any group the US deems a terrorist organization.

In short, at the same time as Trump is incorrectly referencing the 1st Amendment with regards to Facebook’s private moderation decisions, his own White House is effectively able to dictate to Facebook what accounts need to be taken down:

So basically Trump can tell Facebook to de-platform any part of any foreign government?including, presumably, an entire foreign government?and Fishman, along with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, will reply with a crisp salute? Under Facebook?s current policy, that would seem to be the case.

Wired’s Robert Wright asks Facebook’s “global head of counterterrorism policy,” Brian Fishman, to defend this, and Fishman basically says “I’m just following orders”

When I asked Fishman to justify this policy, he said it?s designed to keep Facebook on the right side of the law, which prohibits Americans from providing ?material support? to any group deemed a ?Foreign Terrorist Organization.?

But, I replied, the law goes on to spell out the things that would constitute ?material support,? and none of them sound much like ?letting these groups post on your social media platform.? Fishman said, ?I?m not a lawyer. I?m a policy guy.?

You can understand why Facebook might wish to avoid falling afoul of material support for terrorism laws (though the few attempts to hit social media companies with this law have all failed miserably), but the end result is this bizarre situation in which the President is whining about blocking accounts on Facebook (which are actions by a private company in which the government has no say), while his own government is using its (questionable powers) to have accounts banned on Facebook (which potentially do have more actual 1st Amendment implications).

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Comments on “While Trump Complains About Facebook Takedowns, Facebook Is Helping Trump Take Down Content He Doesn't Like”

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

it’s designed to keep Facebook on the right side of the law, which prohibits Americans from providing “material support” to any group deemed a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.”

I wonder if this means domestic terrorists can get all the “material support” they need from Facebook. Did that armed civilian militia illegally taking prisoners at the southern border have a Facebook page?

TheLizard (profile) says:

Civil Right

This is a stunningly ignorant take on the situation. We’ve gone way beyond the point where we can just say "these private companies can do anything they want." These are powerful, global corporations, they collude with each other on silencing certain opinions, and, no, there really is no alternative.

"Build your own website" as a response is not even viable, since, when you become popular but undesirable, the SV giants have your hosting provider kicked you off, your payment provider ban you, your bank close your account, etc., etc. That’s happening RIGHT NOW.

Lyndon Johnson realized in the 1950’s that his black assistants did not want to drive his dog to Texas because, in the south, they would end up sleeping in their car and having no place they could stop to eat and would have to go to the bathroom with the dog. The public accommodations used by most people on road trips were not available to blacks. It had to change.

The same situation is happening in the digital space. It’s time to realize that access to the platforms everyone uses to communicate is a civil right. Government doesn’t need to regulate these wealthy and powerful corporations, but they do need to give our citizens a private right of action when they are treated unfairly.

Just like the Civil Rights law did for blacks in America.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Civil Right

"Build your own website" as a response is not even viable, since, when you become popular but undesirable, the SV giants have your hosting provider kicked you off, your payment provider ban you, your bank close your account, etc., etc.

The hell it isn’t. The conservatives being "targeted" are in no position to say "we can’t go somewhere else because…"

They certainly don’t want to take that stance when it comes to a baker not being able to say that to an LGBTQ couple needing a cake. They advocated for companies to have religious/dogma-based rights like people, and this is just the unintended consequence they were too shortsighted to consider.

So fuck them. Companies like Facebook are entitled to booting these shitbirds because of their dogma – if conservatives have a problem with it, they should clean their own damn houses first.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Civil Right

If EVERY baker denied cakes to gay couples then there would be a rights violation.

The question is whether or not a social-media company larger than X size is a state actor and should be a common carrier.

I’d also ask, if free speech is so important, why everyone abandoned USENET.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Civil Right

The question is whether or not a social-media company larger than X size is a state actor and should be a common carrier.

This is an easy one. The answer is no.

If a service offered on the internet should be declared "a state actor and … a common carrier" then the internet service provider should, too. Well before the social media service even.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Civil Right

ISPs already function pretty much as common carriers. As many are monopolies, they should be already.

I don’t think social-media sites have reached that critical mass yet, but it is quite possible that they could. Tying content neutrality to Section 230 protection, however, is valid, since 230 was designed to protect "dumb pipes." I wouldn’t call another internet user an "information content provider."

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Civil Right

Tying content neutrality to Section 230 protection, however, is valid, since 230 was designed to protect "dumb pipes."

No, it’s not. 230 was designed to protect any and all platforms and services from being held accountable for what others posted, and encourage moderation without the company having to worry that doing so would suddenly make them liable.

Honestly, the recent attempt to re-write(without actually re-writing it) 230 to frame it as something it’s not, containing language it doesn’t, is just downright laughable, especially as it’s not that complicated.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

230 was designed to protect

…any website that allows user-generated content — including comments sections such as this one — from legal liability for the actions of a third-party user. I would hardly call Twitter a “dumb pipe”; the same goes for YouTube, Facebook, DeviantArt, 4chan (okay maybe the “dumb” signifier still fits there…), and any other website that allows UGC.

And the whole “tying content neutrality to 230 protections” proposition is another way of saying “the government should force Twitter, Facebook, etc. to host content and users they do not want to host”. For what reason should a Black Lives Matter blog be forbidden by law to delete any comment that advocates for White supremacy?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Civil Right

"Just like the Civil Rights law did for blacks in America."

And what did that law do for the citizens of the US?
Writing laws and enforcing laws are two separate and different things. Just because there is a law does not mean it is enforced, and certainly not equally.

"It’s time to realize that access to the platforms everyone uses to communicate is a civil right."
Why? Many think you are wrong.

"Government doesn’t need to regulate these wealthy and powerful corporations"
lol, you are a funny one fer sure

" they do need to give our citizens a private right of action when they are treated unfairly."
OMG – that one is a belly buster – LOL

The only reason for the civil rights movement in the 60s was due to LBJ’s dog
LOL – wow, this is killer Jerry, killer

"That’s happening RIGHT NOW"
Are they being kicked off because of their illegal activities?
Was there a court case?

I imagine that as the election nears we will be seeing more of these new and rather funny posts from the obvious troll brigade.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

access to the platforms everyone uses to communicate is a civil right

That idea would violate the First Amendment. Facebook’s owners and operators have every right to decide whether a given person deserves the privilege of using Facebook. To turn usage of Facebook into a civil right is to both destroy Facebook’s right of association and force Facebook to host content/users its owners and operators have explicitly demonstrated they do want on Facebook. You may think forcing Facebook to “play nice” and “be neutral” is worth whatever loss of rights Facebook suffers — but you can be sure that any such law will be applied to every social interaction network. And with enough “creativity”, it could even be applied to comments sections such as this one…or, perhaps, a comments section on a website that you own and operate.

Usage of a third party platform is a privilege. You are not entitled to use such a platform, and that platform is not obligated to give you an audience. You will not change this stance until you — or anyone else, for that matter — can come up with a damn good reason why the people who run any kind of privately-owned platform for UGC should be forced by law to host content/users they do not want to host. Good luck.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The Civil Rights Movement fought for government recognition that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to participate in society at large. You fight for the government’s ability to force Facebook into hosting content that it otherwise would not host. Your counterargument (such as it is) does not explain why Facebook should be forced to host content/users that the government says it must host.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

"Alex Jones got booted"

It’s worth noting that Jones has his own platform. He literally owns and operates places that he can use free from anybody else’s restrictions.

His problem is not being without a platform – his problem is that his crappy platforms do not reach a large audience, and he can’t force the ones with the audience to put up with him. As usual with that kind of person, he complains that he’s being persecuted, but the reality is that he’s just not able to force others to put up with him.

TheLizard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

That’s why it’s needed.

And we have case law in the real world that supports it. Ralphs Grocery v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union specified that labor union speech trumps the private property rights of companies in some cases.

Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins established that private shopping malls are public squares, and upheld the free speech rights of citizens to protest there even over the objections of the property owners.

There are numerous others. But without specific rules allowing private right of action, such as the civil rights act enables, it’s impossible for private citizens to take on multi-billion dollar corporations in law suits of this kind.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

That’s why it’s needed.

I know of numerous Mastodon instances that have explicitly banned racist, sexist, and anti-LGBT speech (among other “distasteful” forms of expression). Under your proposal of making social media access a civil right, each of those instances — regardless of their wishes — could no longer ban such speech or the people who express it. They would be forced to host that speech and those users regardless of how they feel because it would be the user’s “right” to choose their preferred social media service.

Now, for the $64,000 question: How would that do any good at all for those instances and their respective userbases?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

"Ralphs Grocery v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union specified that labor union speech trumps the private property rights of companies in some cases. "

How does this support your claim about online social media? Did this company run their own web server with a platform hosting social media?

Yeah – I didn’t think so.

Cdaragorn (profile) says:

Re: Civil Right

Conflating forcing companies to provide service to meet basic human needs with forcing companies to let you say whatever you want in their space is just flatly wrong. You’re trying to extend protections to online companies that were explicitly not extended to physical stores in the very civil rights laws you reference for a dang good reason. Making people listen to you is NOT A CIVIL RIGHT. Even a physical store that has to obey those very laws is free to kick you out if you start spouting out things in their store they don’t want you to.

You act like civil rights are entirely a one sided issue. You are very wrong. Whenever you try to protect any side from any act you have to very carefully balance the "rights" of both parties. You have to recognize that even morally wrong acts do not always deserve protection under the law. You want to completely ignore Facebook’s very real moral right to only let people they want to on their online property on the sole excuse that they’re not allowing some speech within that very limited space and with no more excuse than "they’re big". The simple fact is that no companies influence and power is anywhere near as big as the government’s always will be. No matter how much you complain about it it is easy to create your own space to speak whatever you want in. The fact that not many people may want to come to your space to listen to you is not a good enough reason to tramp all over Facebook’s basic rights.

You also can’t even be consistent within your own arguments:

Government doesn’t need to regulate these wealthy and powerful corporations, but they do need to give our citizens a private right of action when they are treated unfairly

You can’t create a right of action without regulation. So which one is it? Do you let the government regulate these very real basic rights by tramping all over one parties rights to satisfy another party? Everyone recognizes that there are times where you do have to limit some parties rights. We just also recognize that that is a balancing act and that it is very rare that that balance is honestly far enough to one side to justify forcing it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Civil Right

The Civil Rights laws vaguely being referenced in this thread basically mean that public facing businesses can’t deny goods/services to someone based on their age, sex, race, religion, etc., (I don’t remember all the protected classes off hand). But that doesn’t mean said businesses can’t throw people out for not following their rules (or ToS in the case of online platforms).

Hotel XYZ can’t refuse to rent a room to someone just because that person is black or Christian, but they can throw that person out if they start yelling at other guests, poop in the pool, and/or write "God hates fags" on the bathroom walls with a sharpie.

A baker who makes and sells wedding cakes to the public at large would be breaking the law by refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple just because they were a gay couple. The baker would not be breaking the law though if he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple that requested their cake say, "Jesus loves gay marriage".

Just like a local news station would be in violation of the law if they had a policy against hiring women news anchors, but they are well within their rights to fire a woman news anchor if she goes on a racist rant on air (or does anything else that violates company policies).

Your ISP can’t deny you service based on the color of your skin, but they sure as hell can cancel your service if you setup a child porn server in your basement.

Equal access to goods and services based on gender, sex, religion, etc., is protected by law. Ensuring continued access to those goods and services regardless of your personal conduct is not. Part of Freedom of Speech is the freedom to NOT say something. Government coercing speech is the same as government restricting speech.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

A baker who makes and sells wedding cakes to the public at large would be breaking the law by refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple just because they were a gay couple.

Technically, this is only true in states with anti-discrimination laws that explicitly ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. No federal law bans it.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'You can't ban me, jackass is a protected class!'

Well, only one thing to do then: Add ‘conservative’, ‘racist loser’, ‘neo-nazi douche’ ‘sexist jackass’ and various other ‘persecuted groups’ as protected classes, and that’ll solve it nicely. I mean, clearly something you choose to be should be lumped right in with something you have no choice over.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Civil Right

Article 1, Section 2 of the California Constitution, when read in conjunction with the Choice of Law provision of Facebook’s Terms of Use, cuts in a direction opposite to the general principle the author of this article asserts here and in numerous prior articles.

Remember…so long as federal constitutional law is not undermined, states are free to secure constitutional rights that are broader than is the case under federal law, as California has done under the cited constitutional provision and as recognized by the US Supreme Court in its Pruneyard decision of 1980.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

It is a myth. To prove it is not, you must prove that such bias exists, that it specifically targets even the most “centrist” conservative beliefs while leaving any belief or user considered “left-of-center” intact, and that any banning/shadowbanning/muting of a conservative user — and only conservative users — is done purely on the basis of their political beliefs despite said user doing nothing to violate the terms of service. I wish you the best of luck; you will certainly need it.

TFG says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"I think the fact that all the accounts being banned are right of center is sufficient evidence for anyone willing to apply critical thought."

Please provide evidence that all the account being banned are right of center.

This includes being able to prove that accounts left of center have not been banned.

I’ll wait.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I think the fact that all the accounts being banned are right of center

That is a simple statement to disprove ain’t it? Just a single example makes you a liar.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/twitter-political-account-ban-us-mid-term-elections

Therefore – your alt-right conspiracy is full of shit. Your buddies at Infowars were banned for hate speech.

TFG says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

What a shocker.

"Some right-wing accounts have been banned" is not sufficient evidence for anyone applying critical thought. Critical thought demands that there be a pattern of evidence that only right-wing accounts are banned, and that there be no valid reason for that banning to have occurred (e.g. Violation of Terms of Service).

So far, that has not been borne out. Instead, we’re told that there is a conspiracy, and when asked for evidence, are told what exists is enough if we’re "thinking critically" – sorry folks. I’m not buying it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Here’s a conservative viewpoint:

metoo women say straight men are predators who target straight women.

gayrights activists say gays and straights are equal.

Therefore, according to liberals, gay men are predators who target straight men.

This post, based on pure logic, could easily be construed as "misogynist" or "homophobic" and banned, yet the #metoo statements are not equally misandrist. The desire to ban it isn’t that it violates any TOS, but because it is extremely difficult for liberals to refute.

Here’s another: "If abortion is murder, why do pro-life advocates want to prosecute the doctor and not the mother?"

Or another: "If affirmative-action is so effective, why has nothing changed in half a century?"

To those who support affirmative action, here’s a simple question: what is it? Which law(s) enforce it? To whom does it apply? About 99 percent of Democrats who support AA can’t even tell you what it is.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If abortion is murder, why do pro-life advocates want to prosecute the doctor and not the mother?

You must not have heard about the recent anti-abortion bill signed into law in Georgia.

[T]he most startling effect of HB 481 may be its criminalization of women who seek out unlawful abortions or terminate their own pregnancies. An earlier Georgia law imposing criminal penalties for illegal abortions does not apply to women who self-terminate; the new measure, by contrast, conspicuously lacks such a limitation. It can, and would, be used to prosecute women. … Anti-abortion advocates generally insist that they do not want to punish women who undergo abortions. But HB 481 does exactly that. Once it takes effect, a woman who self-terminates will have, as a matter of law, killed a human—thereby committing murder. The penalty for that crime in Georgia is life imprisonment or capital punishment.

HB 481 would also have consequences for women who get abortions from doctors or miscarry. A woman who seeks out an illegal abortion from a health care provider would be a party to murder, subject to life in prison. And a woman who miscarries because of her own conduct—say, using drugs while pregnant—would be liable for second-degree murder, punishable by 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment. Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses.

Even women who seek lawful abortions out of state may not escape punishment. If a Georgia resident plans to travel elsewhere to obtain an abortion, she may be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment. An individual who helps a woman plan her trip to get an out-of-state abortion, or transports her to the clinic, may also be charged with conspiracy. These individuals, after all, are “conspiring” to end of the life of a “person” with “full legal recognition” under Georgia law.

It is entirely possible that Georgia prosecutors armed with this new statute will bring charges against women who terminate their pregnancies illegally. In 2015, a Georgia prosecutor charged Kenlissia Jones with murder after she self-terminated; he only dropped the charges after concluding that “criminal prosecution of a pregnant woman for her own actions against her unborn child does not seem permitted.” Starting in 2020, however, Georgia law will permit precisely this kind of prosecution. There is no reason to doubt that history will repeat itself, and more prosecutors will charge women who undergo abortions with murder.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I don’t agree with this, and I don’t believe gay men are more overtly predatory because they have an even greater fear of violence than straight men do. My point is that these are logical arguments which could easily be misconstrued as "hate speech." Many feminsts don’t include trans women as "women" and some are being banned for that.

Political censorship is bad whether or not it’s legal.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

If Twitter were the government, its (alleged) booting of people for their political opinions might matter more. But it is not a state actor by any stretch of the imagination; anyone booted from Twitter can go to any other social interaction network that will have them and say what got them banned without Twitter getting up in their business. Using Twitter is a privilege; no one has yet to explain why it should be a right, such that Twitter should be forced by law to host content/users it does not want to host.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

There likely are gay men who prey on other men.
There likely are actually gay men who prey on women.
Then again, you are implying the word ‘All’ in there as well.
The inability to understand nuance is often a problem when making silly arguments against others causes.
Are you in the ‘All lives matter’ so ‘Black lives matter’ shouldn’t be a statement? Then you don’t understand the point that ‘Yes, it’s already agreed upon that all lives should matter, but it’s an unfortunate necessity to have to say Black lives matter’.
Your argument is the one sweeping up a ‘broad brush’ that nobody is actually painting with.
If the world was as simple as you like to make it with ‘broad brushes’, we wouldn’t need smaller brushes, yet pointillism is beautiful and interesting.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

"Then you don’t understand the point that ‘Yes, it’s already agreed upon that all lives should matter, but it’s an unfortunate necessity to have to say Black lives matter’."

Then you don’t understand that by specifying black in such types of statement you imply that they’re worth more than non-black.

It’s an exclusionary psychological method to invoke guilt in the groups excluded and sympathy in other members of the group.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

you don’t understand that by specifying black in such types of statement you imply that they’re worth more than non-black

Given the nature of how Black people have been treated in the United States, the actual nature of the phrase goes something like this: “All lives matter, but black lives matter, too.”

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

You cropped the last line of my original.

Implying that a select group is "more special" than others in this manner is how Solidarity movements, religions, and unions start.

Frankly, outside of the immediate family circle, most lives don’t matter much, regardless of skin color or any other group identifier.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Implying that a select group is "more special" than others in this manner is how Solidarity movements, religions, and unions start.

Oh noes!

Frankly, outside of the immediate family circle, most lives don’t matter much

We should all definitely take our moral and ethical cues from you!

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

Implying that a select group is "more special" than others in this manner is how Solidarity movements, religions, and unions start.

I am no fan of religion, but I am pro-union, and LGBT civil rights would not have come as far as they have today if not for “solidarity” between LGBT people and their allies in the fight for those rights.

Besides, “Black Lives Matter” is not saying Black people are “more special”. It is saying the United States values Black lives so little that it must be reminded that those lives matter just as much as White lives. “All Lives Matter” is an attempt to distract from this message by ignoring the 400 years or so of American history — from the founding of the colonies to the present day — that proves the United States has never valued Black lives in the same way it values White lives.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Hey Stephen, Jihad Stephen, I have a question for you.

Do you think that Techdirt will STOP censoring comments now?

I think they will, because they are AFRAID of Donald John Trump, the Magnificent, the POTUS.

Can’t blame them.

Censorship on Techdirt is OVER! YAY! MAGA!

And in Fairness, THANK YOU FOR NOT CENSORING. It’s a really good sign, and I think it means TRUMP WILL BE PRESIDENT FOREVER!

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Unions have devolved into guaranteeing the lowest quality at the highest cost. You may be pro-union, but then you have to deal with murderous cops who can’t be fired and teachers who abuse kids that can’t be fired – all because of their Unions.

As to the "more special", it’s part of the psychology of adding a "name" into a general statement to draw attention to that "name" in the specific – which makes it "more special" than everyone/thing not of that group.

If it was simply "Lives Matter", you might get a few non-committal nods towards the group, nothing more. By specifying "black" (or "gay", or any other), the implication is that they’re special, need to be considered separately from all non-members suffering the same plights. You’ve made it a group with an exclusive core.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11

By specifying "black" (or "gay", or any other), the implication is that they’re special, need to be considered separately from all non-members suffering the same plights.

White people have never, in the history of the United States, been a marginalized minority. Black people have.

Straight people have never been a marginalized minority. Gay people have.

Men have never been a marginalized segment of the population. Women have.

When counting all sects, Christians have never, in the history of the United States, been a marginalized religious minority. Virtually every other religion has.

Specifying a marginalized segment of the population and saying “their lives matter” is about pointing out the historical treatment of that group of people at the hands of the majority and the powerful. “Black Lives Matter” is about pointing out how Black people have been the single most marginalized and oppressed groups in the history of this country. Slavery, segregation, anti-Black voting laws, “separate but equal”, COINTELPRO, redlining, the Ku Klux Klan, the bombing of Black Wall Street, the killings of unarmed Black men at the hands of police…and those are only a fraction of the harm visited upon Black people by the only people who have ever held a majority of the power in this country (White people, natch).

The government and the citizenry have never valued Black lives as much as White lives or even the lives of other, less marginalized ethnic groups. (The only group of people that could truthfully claim to be more historically marginalized by American society are Native Americans.) The BLM movement is about mitigating, or even reversing, that trend. All lives matter, of course, but Black lives matter, too — and when American society starts acting like it, there will be no need for that statement.

But by all means, go off again on how the “specificity” of saying “Black Lives Matter” is a bad thing.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

"But by all means, go off again on how the “specificity” of saying “Black Lives Matter” is a bad thing."

The problem is that some people insert a word into that phrase other than that which is intended. The phrase is obviously meant to imply also, but a minority seem to think it implies only. Nobody who reads the term correctly will get offended by it unless they have deeper seated issues to address.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

"White people have never, in the history of the United States, been a marginalized minority. Black people have."

The key word there is "minority", not "marginalized".

But has nothing to do with my observation on the psychology of adding a group "name" into what is intended as a catch-phrase.

The group doesn’t matter. You get the same psychological results with ANY group. Hell, use "nazi" and the psych still doesn’t change.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13

The key word there is "minority", not "marginalized".

I do not deny that individual White people and even small subsets of White people (e.g., the Irish) have been marginalized by American society in the past — but White people as a racial group have not. Even those marginalized groups of White people have not been nearly as mistreated as (or by) Black people and Native Americans as those two groups have been treated by White people over the course of U.S. history.

Dan (profile) says:

The real problem

The white elephant in the room is the fact that people use social platforms as a [sole] news source, instead of exercising independent thought and common sense. No legislation, or private action is going to do that for them. We all look at the symptoms, and never the actual problem. Anyone who allows their views to be shaped by social media is an idiot. They need to stop being lazy and do their own research. That goes for blindly following political parties during elections, as well.

TheLizard (profile) says:

Re: The real problem

But it’s actually worse than that. The mainstream media news stories are often by and large GENERATED from social media. This has been going on for quite a while.

It’s why Twitter is so very protective of the mainstream media reporters on their platform. It’s why people are there.

So when outlets started laying off journalists, and users started reminding the journalists of the stories they wrote during the mass layoffs in the rust belt, Twitter decided they needed to BAN users posting the #LearnToCode hashtag.

Silencing conservatives is one thing, but it’s not just conservatives, it’s anyone that challenges the corporate / globalist / capitalist system that SV relies on for their fat paychecks. They banned the Anti-Media and the Free Thought Project a while back, for example, and many other far-left publications that challenged the narrative of the corporate hegemony.

Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re: The real problem

Agreed. The mainstream media has not only gotten lazy, but they have put an emphasis on being the first to put out a story, as opposed to putting out an accurate one. So, they let others do the garbage collection for them. That is solely their fault. I don’t fault Facebook or Twitter for that. News is not social media’s purpose, and social media never claimed it to be, unless you’ve heard something I haven’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The real problem

What I find amusing about this is that, for ages now, FB has had a policy against any FB-integrated app reproducing "the FB experience" in any way. If your app displays messages from other FB users and especially if it allows you to post a reply without ever logging into FB they will kill off your app.

They do all this while hosting entire news articles and allowing commentary without ever sending the user over to the original news source.

Hypocritical at best.

Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re: The real problem

You have to understand the Facebook business model. "We" are their product. Without people getting on FB directly, their whole business falls apart. Sure, they will host news articles posted by users. Provided, you have to log on to FB directly to get it. That is the source of their revenue, not what is being posted. That is why the third party apps you mention, are not allowed.

FB pulling things down is them being fearful of what actual government regulated moderation might arise, if they did not. The entertainment industry did the same with the voluntary Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) film rating system, back in the day. If that had not occurred, the government would have intervened, to force the issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The real problem

I’ll tell you. Facebook is NOT hypocritical in their treatment of apps and news from non-FB sources because Facebook LOVES Donald J. Trump, the Magnificent, the POTUS.

THEY LOVE HIM! Zuckerberg himself loves Trump, and has been secretly supporting his campaign for 2020 by PRETENDING to not like him, and at the last minute, he will ENDORSE HIM! Really. He’s been posing all along as some kind of socialist give money away lunatic, but it’s NOT TRUE.

Zuckerberg knows where his bread is buttered, and besides that, Trump has ALL KINDS OF SHIT ON HIM! Really. Nothing like CIA/NSA/FBI etc. to help get people on your side. No kidding, it really works.

So don’t judge Facebook too harshly – it’s all a SETUP, just to get Trump re-elected in 2020 – really! The whole thing, even the tweet at the top of this article. It’s a plan of 3-dimensional chess, and now that the gloves are off, because of the Mueller report, EVERYONE is coming to Trump’s aid, either in public, or in private, or like Zuckerberg, WHAM! At the last moment, when everyone least expects it.

So leave Facebook alone, they’re OK in my book.

Anonymous Coward says:

The "1st Amendment" only applies to the government in the American context. I am always distressed to see people – especially someone with the great history of defending freedom of speech as Mike Masnick – claim "freedom of speech" only applies to the government.

Freedom of speech is a concept and exists beyond what the government can or cannot do. While I have no reason to believe Trump actually cares about the concept of freedom of speech, it is absolutely a concept that applies to private actors. It just isn’t something the government can mandate for private actors.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

claim "freedom of speech" only applies to the government.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Where does 1A say that it applies to private businesses deciding with whom they want to do business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yes. Because it is a societal value and has been for many generations. Hell, it was of near religious importance to large swaths of the tech in the late 90s and all of the 2000s up until the early 2010s.

This doesn’t mean freedom of speech is an obligation. It’s as ambiguous a concept as "safety" when it isn’t qualified. In practice it’s generally used to debate the confines of the Overton window and the degree of sanctions for perceived deviations from the current Overton window.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

When you say “Overton window” you mean YOU ARE A COMMIE, right? You are a Russian Paid Traitor to the USA of A, right?

I did a whole dictionary for Trump so he could spot traitors and lunatics and lawyers, and “Overton window” was right there on the first page. Easy to spot, easy to disregard.

And by the way, YOU ARE BEING RECORDED – even Trump said so, right at the top.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Because your question asserts I said something that I did not.

I explicitly stated the 1st Amendment only applies to Government. You keep pointing at the wording of the 1st Amendment while asking me how it applies to private businesses.

If you want me to answer a question, ask me something that follows from what I actually said.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You’re original comment:

I am always distressed to see people – especially someone with the great history of defending freedom of speech as Mike Masnick – claim "freedom of speech" only applies to the government.

How is it a "claim" that freedom of speech only applies to the gov’t, when in reality, the 1A exactly only applies to the gov’t. Hence, my quoting of the text of the 1A.

So, why is it distressing to see people claim "freedom of speech" only applies to the government?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I have seen far too many instances of activists using that phrase to promote censorship via mob justice

Define what you mean by that statement as it doesn’t seem to really mean anything… Better yet, please post a link or two that are instances of "censorship via mob justice" so that I can better understand what you are trying to state.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Justine Sacco is a pretty infamous case if you want one that has plenty of documentation and analysis surrounding it.

Hmmmm. I still don’t get it. I Googled that name and vaguely remember hearing about it years ago. But what I failing to understand is how that is in any way related to Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …

She exercised her 1A right to say stupid things, everybody else exercised their 1A rights to call her out. It’s a sad story, but if you say something offensive, joke or not, how do you not understand that people will become offended.

And back to my point above, how does any of this relate to "Congress shall make no law …"?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

This is your second and last warning before I stop responding to you.

I said the 1st Amendment is government only. "Free Speech" is not government only. You keep pointing back to the 1st Amendment and claiming I said it applies to private actors.

As for your other point, it sounds like you’re arguing that mob justice is the ideal end-goal for responding to undesirable speech. If that is your standpoint, then I believe we are done here as I fundamentally disagree with the notion that mob justice is a good or even desirable outcome in almost every social media case it’s used in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

This is the last comment to you as you seem to be commenting in bad faith:

Free Speech is a concept. The 1st Amendment is an application of Free Speech.

The 1st Amendment is necessarily about Free Speech but Free Speech is not necessarily about the 1st Amendment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

The basic concept of free speech is that the Government shall not stop you publishing your speech, at your own expense. When you demand more, you are no longer talking about free speech, but rather compelled publication at somebody else’s expense.

Way back in the 60s and 70s, free speech meant buying a Roneo to print your own speech, and then selling or giving away the result via you own effort, and the efforts of your friends. Today, the equivalent is build your own website, purchasing a commercial Internet connection or renting a server as necessary.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

As for your other point, it sounds like you’re arguing that mob justice is the ideal end-goal for responding to undesirable speech. If that is your standpoint, then I believe we are done here as I fundamentally disagree with the notion that mob justice is a good or even desirable outcome in almost every social media case it’s used in.

I never once indicated that I thought that mob justice was an ideal end-goal for responding to undesirable speech, so don’t put words into my comments that weren’t there to begin with.

As for your idea of "Free Speech", just because there may be lots of people who don’t want to hear what you have to say and are promot[ing] censorship via mob justice, doesn’t mean you are not still free to say it. You may just need to find a different venue or a crowd more willing to listen, but ultimately, your "Free Speech" still exists and hasn’t been taken away via "mob justice."

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

“Undesirable speech” – who are you? This is America, this is an American web site, owned by an American Citizen and published in the USA. “Undesirable speech” – are you a commie? Or a Mullah? Or a “would be” TYRANT? Undesirable?

What is “undesirable” is the idea that any AMERICANS GIVE A POOP about your bullshit superiority opinion at all.

If you’re NOT an American, then SHUT UP – we’re in AMERICA HERE.

If you ARE an American, then POTUS IS MONITORING YOU, he even said so. So GET READY to be MONITORED a LOT.

Either way, go piss up a rope. (What does that mean, anyway?)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Re:

Misstating an event without sufficient detail or using the same vocabulary that you used on a previous occasion. I think that’s what they sent General Flynn to prison for. Wait, I’m fact checking that. Yes, well, that’s close enough. Sorry – let me say it another way – failing to break a law when ordered. No, that’s not it, that’s General Barr. By the way, does that sound American to you? Congress holding General Barr in contempt because he refuses to break a law? I’m confused. Let me look into it more clearly. Oh, wait, I know. Being a foreign American hating traitorous asshole that should be hung by the neck until dead and then kept hanging until black. PaulT. That’s what for, you foreigner traitorous asshole.Metaphorically speaking, that is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:16

Paul, Wendy, whoever you are, I don’t care.

We all understand that the UK was part of this conspiracy. Duh. Christopher Steele, ring a bell?

We can’t prosecute you, because you’re a fucking foreigner, but we sure can kick your ass for the next hundred years or so. Because that’s how long the Trump spirit is going to HAUNT the UK for how it tried to UNSEAT an American President with LIES AND SPIES.

Americans. Long Memory. No kidding.

But we’ll be very polite as we put our boot up your ass, sideways. Have a nice day. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Come on, admit it. The idea that POTUS is monitoring you freaks you out, because you have a LOT to feel guilty about. Comey is gone, Clapper is gone, Brennan is gone, and POTUS is pulling the levers of the intelligence community now.

Do you get what he said? He’s MONITORING YOU! Really. Do you think he can’t? Do you think he can’t UNMASK ANYONE and EVERYONE HERE?

Of course he can. He has a file on all of you. I helped write those files, from my extensive investagatorial experience (though I can’t spell, I CAN investigate). I’ve made a lot of notes, with circles, arrows, diagrams, and All the things that Arlo Guthrie talked about in Alice’s Restaurant (that’s spy talk, trust me).

Go ahead, say some more. Every byte of every message from every source to every destination on the Internet is monitored, recorded, verified, archived and kept FOREVER by POTUS!

I love that. I told him to say that, actually. (I can’t prove he heard me, but I did tell him, really).

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

The idea that POTUS is monitoring you freaks you out

It would…if I believed for even one attosecond that he is monitoring individual websites for “censorship” instead of learning about alleged “censorship” via Fox News and parroting their bullshit to inflame his base and make them more enthralled with him.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

I love your comment.

You are publicly denying an obvious reality.

I love that. You really have no idea. That’s so good.

How many comments have been censored in this article. Count them, please.

Report back. Think about it. Pussy, you are too afraid to even respond.

TFG says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

As of this comment, 0 comments have been censored.

As of this comment, 3 comments have been flagged as a warning that the speech contained within was considered dumb by the community.

I suspect a majority of your comments may be similarly flagged in the near future, since you like to accuse people of arguing in bad faith and make spurious accusations of people being fearful of the big bad POTUS.

bob says:

Re: estimulantesual,estimulantesual Frminino

Yes they should be allowed to kick someone off their property as long as the reason is not one of the protected items in the law.

Hence a store can kick out a rude person, a criminal, or a racist, (list keeps going) all day every day. But the store can’t kick out a person just because the person is a minority, a woman, a man, etc.

The racist may be a woman, or a man but the person’s sex is not why they were asked to leave. The person’s behavior was why they were asked to leave.

How is this a tough subject to understand?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: estimulantesual,estimulantesual Frminino

Fuck that. You can’t censor me because I’m female. Or Male. Or black. Or white. Or red. Or yellow. You can’t censor me because if you do, you’re a racist. Or a sexist. You have the intention of being a racist, sexist, homophobic nasty disgusting animal.

And by the way, James Comey is not a law enforcement officer. He is a political hack. And he will soon goto jail. And so will you and your stupid sexist racist homophobic friends.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

There is exactly one politician in the United States that the American people can be sure is not an agent for a foreign government, and that one person is Donald J. Trump, the Magnificent, the POTUS.

It’s time for the rest of you fucking foreigners to go fuck yourself, and that includes you, Stone, you fucking foreigner. Do you think you could withstand a Mueller investigation? Donald J. Trump, the Magnificent, prevails again, as does the USA against the ENTIRE WORLD. That’s RIGHT. We’re better than ALL OF YOU! We’re AMERICANS! SO TAKE YOUR SOCIALIST COMMUNIST LEFTIST LEGAL BULLSHIT TALKING POINTS ABOUT WHAT WORDS MEAN AND SHOVE THEM UP YOUR ASS.

THE AMERICAN MOB IS UNLEASHED! YAY! What? What’s that? We already own the world, every other country sucks compared to us? Hey, I already knew that. Quit whispering in my ear, great-great-great Grandpa Webster.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It’s time for the rest of you fucking foreigners to go fuck yourself, and that includes you, Stone, you fucking foreigner.

Thanks for reminding everyone once again you have no grounds to complain about other posters using profanity in typed speech, Hamilton.

How’s that Charles Harder lawsuit coming along? Since he’s suing people who make fun of him now, can I point out how he managed to fuck up convincing the judge that Shiva Ayyadurai invented email?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Ok, well, your criticism of my language might be fair. Sometimes I have a glass of wine with dinner, and yeah, maybe tonight I had two glasses. When I drink two glasses, my pinky finger often wanders to the CAPS button, and sometimes I say bad words when I feel emotional.

About Charles Harder, yeah, maybe that’s fair criticism, too. I expected more from him, he had quite a high profile and ended up producing nothing with regards to Techdirt. He did well for Melania, but I didn’t see him get very far with his argument about Techdirt.

You win – on those two points. I will no longer criticize others for their bad language (unless it’s really disgusting), and I am also less of a Charles Harder fan. I had high hopes, but it turned out he lost. He was a loser. In this one case. Balancing that out is his work for Melania, so he’s still quite a good fellow, just not as good as I hoped.

See? I can be an amiable fellow.

There should be a grand jury empaneled. Comey and his friends should be put under other, their children, too, and they should be given the Mueller treatment. Biden, too, and his children. By the way, how does Pelosi make her money? Have we seen her bank accounts? How did they all get so rich? Let’s take a look at that, that would be fair, wouldn’t it? What do you think?

The ONE PERSON in the USA who is NOT CONSPIRING with a FOREIGN POWER is DONALD J. TRUMP, that’s a fact. Right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

You know that Donald J. Trump, the Magnificent, the POTUS, is monitoring you right now, right?

He’s monitoring you. Listening to foreigners like you. Considering what to do about traitorous conspiring foreigner fuckwads like you.

You know that, right?

And he runs the NSA and the CIA, and maybe one or two other really important three letter places. They know ALL ABOUT YOU.

Nervous much, foreigner faker?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

I read the whole thing, end to end, page by page, late at night, under candlelight, with my young wife, naked, and drunk. We read it to each other, laughing and cavorting, drinking and smoking, cherishing every page. Every single one. Then, we pasted the pages on the wall, starting in the bedroom, extending into the hallway, the grand ballroom, the pool area, the gazebo, page after page, some smeared with lipstick, some with bodily fluids, we loved it all. Literally. We loved it and read it, over and over, time after time, laughing, cavorting, drink, smoking and smearing it all over our naked bodies in delight.

How ‘bout you? Same experience?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Re:

Am I hallucinating about Donald John Trump, the Magnificent, the POTUS, stating he is monitoring the censorship of American Citizens?

Am I hallucinating about Donald John, Trump, the Magnificent, the POTUS, being CLEARED of Conspiring with the Russians?

I don’t think so.

Am I hallucinating about the big tree down the road looking exactly like a bust of Melania Trump, even down to the hair style, eye makeup and cheek lines?

Not sure.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:16 They are all gonna laugh at you

First, let me say you are totally correct, I am whom you think I am. And the truth is, there is nothing you can do about it, your a helpless idiot who can only watch as I take my money from my previous Gawker lawsuits and use it to bury this site. I’m enjoying every minute of it. Your Best Friend, Shiva (the EMail guy, you remember me, right?) Right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:18 They are all gonna laugh at you

Thank you very much for that news update. I actually didn’t know that Shiva has not had an appeals ruling yet. Very interesting. So there is still hope. Thanks for the update, whoever you are (are you MIke?) Maybe Shiva will STILL WIN! Would that be cool, or what? Even POTUS would be happy about that. For sure.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Enquiring minds want to know

Yes. It will. It does. Hurt, I mean. I love her, really, like a schoolboy crush. Oh well. Some things were just never meant to be. I can still admire her from a distance, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But now you can see that I what I said about Donald John Trump, the Magnificent, the POTUS, has always been true. He (through his advisors, like ME) has been looking at Techdirt for YEARS. We have a LOT of historical records about the ridiculous suppression of FREE SPEECH that has taken place RIGHT HERE on THIS FORUM.

Talk all you want about “Corporate RIghts”, nobody cares. Use your weasel wording justification of CENSORSHIP in PUBLIC FORUMS! How ridiculous is this un-American anti-American bed of traitorous and disgusting foreigner bullshit? COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS!

My advice is this: Censor me! Please. I have a record of my every post, word for word, with date and time stamps, and the date and time of the resulting censorship. Your position about censorship is ridiculous and indefensible.

Do me a favor and censor some more. The truth is, the only comments worth reading on Techdirt are the censored ones. Everybody knows that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Enquiring minds want to know

Charles Chaplain. Nikolai Tesla. Benjamin Franklin. Michelangelo. Geniuses All. And Crazy.

The ONE GUY that we know is a STABLE GENIUS is DONALD J. TRUMP, the Magnificent, the POTUS. No untreated mental illness, that’s proven. No conspiracy with FOREIGNERS from OTHER COUNTRIES that HATE THE USA. None.

Are you a FOREIGNER from ANOTHER COUNTRY that HATES THE USA?

Tell the truth, for once.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Enquiring minds want to know

“Hi – I’m PaulT – I’m a technical support kind of person (same as President of the Lesbian Separatist Society in the UK) but I don’t live in the UK but I sound like I’m from the UK and actually I HATE America and I HATE men (hence my presidential role) and I like to post AS A MAN when in fact I’m Wendy Cockcroft with a strange name and a bad history on ripoffreport.com”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Enquiring minds want to know

I have a record of my every post, word for word, with date and time stamps

Ah, yes, I remember the last time you made a similar claim. It was a plea to the judge to look favorably upon Shiva’s case because you dreamed of a Melania Trump/Shiva Ayyadurai presidency.

So good job fucking it up for your hero, Hamilton.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Enquiring minds want to know

Actually, it was Melania who inspired me. Is she amazing or what? I have a weakness for ladies with a slight accent and a GREAT figure. And anyway, I’m married now, so that’s all over.

Even Donald John Trump, the Magnificent, the POTUS, is not perfect. And no one cares, because no one is perfect. Not him, not you, not me, not Melania. Well, maybe Melania is perfect, at least in my imagination.

Is it cool that POTUS is watching Censorship on Techdirt, or what! Totally cool!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Enquiring minds want to know

Wait – did you say I was a BROWN loser? OWN IT, RACIST.

OMG, who is not tired of this racist projection syndrome. RPS, it’s a disease carried by Democrats (and foreigner fucking globalists). Like a mindless zombie kind of thing, I think it’s fatal in every case. Once the mindless zombies start projecting their (racism, sexism, …ism) there no saving them.

But, as a good American, I say LET THEM BE. Who cares. Talk all you want, you democratic socialist foreigner fucking globalists. Tell me more about “euro trash hooker”, those are your words. And I’m brown – lay out what that means for us, genius leftist idiot. Project away. We’re all listening.

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