Josh Hawley Wants To Appoint Himself Product Manager For The Internet

from the hawley-knows-best dept

Say what you want about Senator Josh Hawley — and we’ve said a lot — but you do have to give him credit for actually proposing bills to respond to all of the problems he sees with internet companies these days. Of course, he sees their very existence as one of the problems, so the bills seem mostly nonsensical. His latest — the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act (yeah, yeah, the SMART Act) — is only marginally less crazy than his last bill to strip internet companies of Section 230 protections, unless they agree to allow Nazis to speak.

It’s… weird. It basically seems to be Congress (via Hawley) appointing itself as the new product manager for all internet services. It’s taking what is a potentially reasonable concern that certain activities on various internet platforms may lead to addictive behaviors and then assuming that Congress must ban them, outright — as well as take proactive steps to limit access to much of the internet. I’m assuming that noted Constitutional lawyer Josh Hawley will next propose a bill banning alcohol, cigarettes, TV binging, professional sports, books, and anything else engrossing in the future. Again, there are legitimate concerns about how the internet impacts people, but we’re still in the very early days of understanding (1) what those issues are and how they’re dealt with and (2) how society can and should respond to those things. And yet, this bill acts as if it’s well established that a few very specific technology features are de facto evil and must be banned. Among them:

  1. Infinite scroll
  2. A lack of natural stopping points
  3. Autoplay music and video
  4. Badges that reward certain behavior (i.e., gamification)

First off, I probably agree with many of you in thinking that much of the above list is fucking annoying. I’m annoyed by infinite scroll. It’s why we don’t have it on Techdirt, even though tons of other sites do. But, how in the world does it make sense for Congress to step in and literally make design choices for the entire internet?

Also, autoplay ads are crazy annoy… wait, what’s this?

AUTOPLAY.?The use of a process that automatically plays music or videos (other than advertisements) without an express, separate prompt by the user (such as pushing a button or clicking an icon)

Emphasis very much added. Got that? Autoplay advertisements are exempted. This is basically entirely targeted at YouTube and the fact that when one video finishes, another will start playing automatically. I do find that practice marginally annoying, but there’s a giant switch at the top of the page that lets you turn it off, and once you turn it off once, it stays off, so, uh…? But, really, the exempting of advertising is quite amazing. Apparently Josh Hawley thinks that internet companies are bad for trying to addict you, but advertisers? Oh, no. They’re pure as the driven snow…

If I’m reading this correctly, it could ban Techdirt’s existing commenting feature in which we put badges on comments that have been voted “funny” or “insightful” by the community. Because that’s evil. How dare we incentivize our commenters to be funny or insightful! An outrage! Here’s the language in the bill:

BADGES AND OTHER AWARDS LINKED TO ENGAGEMENT WITH THE PLATFORM.?Providing a user with an award for engaging with the social media platform (such as a badge or other recognition of a user?s level of engagement with the platform) if such award does not substantially increase access to new or additional services, content, or functionality.

That is listed under “Prohibited Practices,” though it’s possible we might skate by, as we may not qualify as a “social media service” under the bill (it defines social media services as sites that “primarily serve as a medium for users to interact with content generated by other third-party users”). I’d argue that’s not our “primary” business right now, but it’s at least a bit fuzzy — especially as we’re, at this very moment, thinking about ways to improve our commenting features, and if this became law, we’d have to be very concerned that at some point we’d accidentally cross the nebulous border into a realm in which our “primary” business involved hosting user comments. Given that, it would certainly create a massive chilling effect on the features we’re already working on implementing for you guys.

Of course, that’s only if this bill had half a chance in hell of becoming law and not being tossed out as unconstitutional.

The bill also requires any “social media company” to add a bunch of features. Again, some of these features are probably good ideas, just not good ideas that should be required by law. Among the mandated features: a tool that users can use to set time limits on the platform, an opt-out rule that, by default, limits the use of any services to 30 minutes per day, and a regular counter of how much time you’ve spent on the site. So, if we were deemed to be “primarily” in the social media business, and you’re reading Techdirt for more than 30 minutes, sorry folks, but I’ll need to cut you off (and re-set the limit on the first of every month, even if you opt out). Yes, that’s right — even if people opt out of the 30 minute limit, this bill would require it be turned back on, on the 1st of every month. So paternalistic. And, apparently, I’ll magically have to build such tools into my site.

Remember, of course, that Josh Hawley’s major claim to fame was that he was the lawyer that represented Hobby Lobby in allowing it to ignore federal laws that it felt violated the religious sensibilities of its owners. I wonder, if we start a religion that worships the infinite scroll and gamification badges, will Hawley let us have an exemption from this law?

Believe it or not, there’s even more in the bill, including requiring websites to have a “neutral presentation,” banning “pre-selected” options, and having the FTC report to Congress about how internet companies are “exploiting human psychology.”

There may be bad things about how internet platforms are run. There may be problems with certain implementations and the impact they have on society, but a blanket ban on stuff, just because Hawley has decided it’s bad, seems kinda crazy. Whatever happened to the Republican party position of getting government out of regulating businesses? This is not just regulating businesses, it’s literally getting down to the product/feature decision level for no obvious reason other than Hawley’s personal animus.

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Comments on “Josh Hawley Wants To Appoint Himself Product Manager For The Internet”

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144 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Then people will use adblockers, or their firewall, to block them.

When I ran my online radio station, and had filtering and ad blocking on station computers, the vendor I purchased my filtering software from was in the Czech Republic.

So even if he got a law passed that said that blocking of mandatory video ads could not be put in by ad blockers. the software maker in the Czech Republic would not be suject to US laws. They only have to obey Czech and EU laws.

That is why any law against ad blockers in the USA would never work. All the vendors of filtering software with adblocking capabilities are all outside the United States, so US laws would not apply to them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

That is assuming I did not break into computers first and erase the warrants for my arresst.

Arrest warrants are all on computers. If I knew there was a warrant out on me for illegally using an ad blocker, if they do make it a criminal offense, I would break into their computers and erase that warrant to avoid arrrest.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 'We were going to arrest you for A, now it's A, B, C, D, E...'

I can only assume you’ve never gotten a splinter or paper cut, given the ‘things can always be escalated’ mindset would see you cutting fingers off left and right(literally and figuratively).

Well, that or you’re posting via a speech-to-text software I suppose…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 'We were going to arrest you for A, now it's A, B, C, D, E..

Then you post bail and flee the cuontry. If they demand you hand over your passport, you just ignore them.

If they put one of these ankle bracelets on you, there are jammers that can take care of that, and they will lose all contact with the ankle bracelt.

All you have to do is to be able to jam 1x, 2g, 3g, 4g, 5g, WiFi and Wimax and you knock the ankle braclet off the Internet, by jamming the built in wiressless modem.

That would allow me to cut it off, then "nuke" it the microwave oven. The microwaves would destroy the circutry and put the ankle bracelet out of commission, peramenently

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Even if they do make it illegal, I doubt it they make it a felony crime for the users. If they did, there would not be enough jails to hold them all.

It will likely, if they do, be only for those who do it for some kind of financial gain, limiting felony charges to those who distibute it for money.

That is why DMCA 1201 was crafted the way it was. By requiring that is be for some kind of financial gain, that limits the law who distribute the tools, by requiring that you be doing it to make money.

Otherwise, theere would not be enough room in the jails for them all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Then I all gotta do is have a fast car and a radio jammer if adblock usage ever does become a criminal offense. If they come to arrest me for adblock usage I just get in my car and take off and then turn on the jammer so pushing cops cannot call for backup because their radios are being jammed

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

That is assuming I did not first break into law enforcement databases a d erase the warrants for my arrest if I knew there was one

While I may talk resisting law enforcement, I would only do that as a last resort. T

I prefer to do it electronically and erase the warrants from their computers if they do make ad blocking a criminal offense for users

Warrants are all on computers now, so once it is erased, that is the end of it.

I.am also posting this from a KFC wifi that has a good enough signal where I can connect from far enough away where their cameras will not see me, so I’m not worried about being traced.

Also if my phone is ever seized by law enforcement, I can sign on to find my android and send the command to wipe my phone

On my phone, I have it set where you cannot turn the phone off without a password, so any LEO who did ever seize my phone for any reason would not be able to turn it off.

It is good protection because you never know when an. LEO will make up a reason to seize your phone.

This way, anything I don’t know about on my phone that could land me in jail is erased once I send the command to reset and wipe

With that kind of reset, the phone cannot be set up again without knowing my Google password, so the phone would be inaceesibe to to any LEO and would just be an expensive paperweight on his desk.

Android 6 and up has it where if either a "hard" reset is done, or if the command to wipe the phone is sent, the phone is bricked until you enter the password of the Google account associated with, so you can di that to lock out any LEO who seizes your phone

TaboToka (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

That is assuming I did not first break into law enforcement databases a d [sic] erase the warrants for my arrest if I knew there was one

I wish to subscribe to your newsletter, please.

Also, I understand "law enforcement databases" are actually just a single MS Access running on a Dell Inspiron 530 with Windows Vista, so if you just wait, it will erase itself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Server level databaes, such as Oracle and the open source variants it was forked into after Oracle quit making its database software have one flaw

They don’t keep logs.

They also have to be exposed to the Internet if several redundant sites all have to access it.

One could break into the SQL database directly and use the SQL language.

I know this because 10 years ago when I had my online radio station, one problem user, after I finally locked out of my website, broke in to the SQL database to access my site.

Because mysql does not keep logs there would have been no way to prove it was him

Because I had backup servers in two locations worldwide, mysql had to be exposed to the Internet for.my site to work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Without an international treaty, such law would be against the first amedment, since software is a form of free speech.

The one exception is DMCA 1201, making it a crime to distribute tools to break copy protection, if done for the purpose of making money.

Since the WIPO treaty requires that such a law be passed, it does violate the consitution.

That is why the WIPO treaty crafted the way it was. It was designed to allow laws like DMCA 1201 that would otherwise be unconstutional

That is why TPP and ACTA were crafted the way they were. They were crafted to allow for laws that would otherwise not pass constitutional muster. If a treaty REQUIRES that a certain law be passed, then Congress is given license to piss on the constitution in passing such a law.

If TPP or ACTA had ever been ratified, Congress would have been allowed to disregard the constitution in implementing either.

International treaties do override the constitution, so DMCA 1201 is constitutional, but a law against ad blockers would not pass constitutional muster.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That is what ad blockers are for. I do not like having to, say, watch two ads in a row, before a YouTube video.

Such ad blockers are nice so that if I have friends over and if I want to put on a movie, say, on primwire, I can knock out the video ad for Pornhub they try and make you watch before before you movie starts. I do NOT want to offend my guests, so I knock out Primewire’s current video ad for Pornhub, by using AdBlock. If Primewire does not like the fact that I block their video ads, they can just go to hell.

What Primewire has been doing is putting their movies on Openload, and put them inside a frane to both stop you from stream ripping, and to try and force you to watch their video ads, which I see as time wasters.

That must drive the MAFFIA crazy, since that also keeps them from finding out where, on Openload, that movie is stored. I am pretty sure they do not like the fact that cannot send a DMCA notice, since they don’t know the URL on Primewire for that.

AdBlock is pretty well hardened against that video ad, but AdClear, on my cell phone, is not

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That is what ad blockers are for. I do not like having to, say, watch two ads in a row, before a YouTube video.

Lately I’ve been getting ads in the middle of my YouTube videos. And it’s not even done gracefully like on TV. It literally cuts someone off mid-sentence and starts playing a car ad or something, then picks up with the rest of the sentence when it ends.

Michael (profile) says:

"BADGES AND OTHER AWARDS LINKED TO ENGAGEMENT WITH THE PLATFORM.—Providing a user with an award for engaging with the social media platform (such as a badge or other recognition of a user’s level of engagement with the platform) if such award does not substantially increase access to new or additional services, content, or functionality."

So badges as a reward are bad, but increasing access to additional services, content, or functionality as a reward is perfectly fine and not addicting?

Anonymous Coward says:

I wonder, if we start a religion that worships the infinite scroll and gamification badges, will Hawley let us have an exemption from this law?

I bet if we look through the ancient texts that we will find that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster already has teachings about these features. After all, one person’s "infinite scroll" is another’s "Never-Ending Pasta Bowl".

So, you may not need to start a new religion, but merely look to the heavens for inspiration, optionally with grated Parmesan.

Cdaragorn (profile) says:

Re: Free Peaches

Nothing in the Constitution prevents religiously based messages in schools. Especially ones this generic that clearly do not specify any individual religion, only a generic religious belief.

There are some laws that have been passed since the Constitution that do this, but this has generally been recognized as an issue States are primarily responsible for.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Free Peaches

Please, you’re not fooling anyone if you honestly thing that the ‘god’ in ‘in god we trust’ in a primarily christian nation isn’t intended to mean a specific one.

But alright, if you think public schools should be allowed to officially add in religious language, time for the Turnabout Is Fair Play test: Does your opinion change if the wording changes to ‘In Allah We Trust’? Same general idea(school posting religious message), the only thing that changed is that they were honest enough to admit it, and it’s not the christian religion.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

In American public schools, students can offer their own religious messages of their own volition, but staff cannot. Judicial rulings vis-á-vis the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment says government employees cannot endorse a specific religion or religious belief, nor can they force others to do so.

While “In God We Trust” may be the motto of the United States, it was only made such within the past century, and only because of the Red Scare. The only reason it lives on despite the First Amendment is because members of the country’s primary religion see no problem with that. But as another commenter pointed out, change “God” to the specific name of another religion’s ruling deity, and the pretense falls. You also have to consider people who are atheists of some sort. How does making them endorse a message of trusting any religion’s deity, let alone the majority religion’s deity, not violate the First Amendment?

Getting “In God We Trust” signs into public schools is part of Project Blitz, by the by. While they may say the purpose of those signs is secular because “it’s the national motto”, that is a pretense. The real goal is to force religious beliefs and teachings — specifically, those associated with Christianity, and conservative Christianity/dominionism in particular — into secular institutions (e.g., public schools) and the law despite the First Amendment-guided principle of “separation of church and state”.

You can call this a “state’s rights” issue all you want. That doesn’t make it one. The fact that a government institution is forcing a religious statement from a specific religion¹ upon everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, makes it a constitutional issue. It should be dealt with accordingly.


¹ — Show me how “In God We Trust” isn’t an endorsement of Christianity when the majority of Americans identify as Christians and changing “God” to any other deity would render the phrase so explicitly religious that no one could ignore it, and I’ll concede this point.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The fact that you’re trusting in a "god" is bad enough, as it shows that the message has a religious nature.

The name doesn’t matter much, you’re claiming a god exists, and that means that you’re favoring religions that believe in the existence of a higher being (most). Atheism, Agnosticism and Kopimism can go fuck themselves, I guess. And Jedis too.

Of course, the fact that the Christianity’s god’s name is God is not a mere coincidence, I guess.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The First Amendment prevents government employees from presenting, endorsing, or encouraging students to spread religious messages in public schools. It does nothing to stop students from doing it themselves of their own accord. The same goes for prayer in schools: Students can pray all they want, but the staff can’t make students pray.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Free Peaches

No, not illegal, unless there is a law (a rule passed by a legislative body) that says that praying that way is illegal.

Unconstitutional maybe and I guess that’s up to the interpretation of the Supreme Court (I’m guessing here that it’s the SCOTUS the one who reviews the Constitutionality of laws and other acts).

It wouldn’t go against a law but against the Constitution itself, that makes it worse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Free Peaches

Especially ones this generic that clearly do not specify any individual religion, only a generic religious belief.

And by "generic" you mean one that believes in a deity. There are atheists out there like myself that think any generic belief in a deity is the functional equivalent of adults believing in santa claus. Why should atheists be forced through their tax dollars to pay for some "feel good" message for delusional adults?

For that matter, if churches would like to interject into politics, they could always stop being freeloaders and pay taxes like the rest of us. Wouldn’t promoting generic god bullshit fall under socialism if atheists are being forced to pay for it, while churches get services like this for free?

Isn’t socialism bad?

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Free Peaches

"Passing constitutional muster"? That’s for the courts to decide. For now, bored, we-have-nothing-better-to-do politicians will pass "we have to do something!!!" bills just to make a name for themselves. They don’t care if the bill is unconstitutional since no one else cares. Seriously- when was the last time you read about a court decision that ruled a law was unconstitutional? Okay, there are a few out there. But who was the original author of the bill? Did anyone go back to him or her and say "we told you it was unconstitutional when you wrote it!"
And of course, how much time and money will be spend arguing this case in court?

On the other hand, maybe everyone involved does know that the bill will never stand up, but look how much media coverage and attention he’s getting!

Anonymous Coward says:

This law sounds like it was created in china or russia,
does america really need a senator to decide the format and presentation
of websites or social media service,s
what happened to free speech ?
Will neutral websites have to ban users who are rude or insult politicians , or other people ,
Maybe america needs basic laws on privacy ,and data base security
all data bases should use strong passwords,
user data should be encrypted , no passwords should be stored in plain txt,
It seems every month theres another big hack with millions
of user accounts left exposed using simple hacking techniques ,
in many case,s the data base have weak security ,
with not even basic security procedures being followed
to secure user data .
The 30 minute rules is patronising ,if someone wants to spend an hour on facebook, so what ,big deal,its their choice .

Anonymous Coward says:

When you ask whether you fall under this law or not, the question is whether Techdirt is in the United States.

Two very popular figure skating sites, for example, GoldenSkate in Canada, and Figure Skating Universe, in Britain, are not subject to any US laws, so this law would not apply to them.

GoldenSkate only has to obey Canadian laws, and Figure Skating Universe only has to obey British laws, so the will not be subject to Hawley’s bill, if it passes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

In general I agree with you that a Canadian website should be able to ignore US law, but in practice that’s not always the case. The owner of a Canadian site can be sued in US court for breaking US law if a US resident viewed the site on their computer. Now, even if the Canadian site owner is found in violation, enforcing a US judgment in Canada is where the difficulty lies… unless they’ve got property or bank accounts in the US. So, when you ask whether or not a particular international law "applies" to a party, what you really need to be asking is, "Does that party have any seize-able assets in the country where the law exists?"

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Then these sites can start taking payments with bitcoin

That is how some gambling sites get around the federal ban on online casinos and sports books regarding us players.

One of my neighbors had a roommate who played online poker using bitcoin to place bets, circumventing 2008 federal law.

By taking bets with bitcoin, the poker site does not know whether the bettor is American or not.

That makes that poker site not subject to us prosecution because of the decentralized nature of bitcoin.

Online casinos and sports books have gotten smart on this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Believe it or not, there’s even more in the bill, including [..] banning "pre-selected" options, and having the FTC report to Congress about how internet companies are "exploiting human psychology."

That’s the only part that seems almost sane. "Pre-selected options" could be considered an unfair trade practice, if (1) trade is actually occurring, unlike most social media sites and (2) they’re "exploiting psychology" to trick people into agreeing to something they ordinarily wouldn’t. And the FTC would have jurisdiction over that.

nae such says:

Re: some kind of sanity

preselected options are a convenience feature. surely they can confuse those in a hurry, but its just as easy to have a checkbox unselected for not the default. making it the default. on a case by case basis they could be unfair options, but not all of them. while i’m all for not ‘exploiting psychology’ it is a core philosophy of physical sales so targeting it just on online practices seems a little off.

Anonymous Coward says:

This will just cause Google and other social media platforms to just pack up and leave the United States, rendering that law unenforceable.

If you own any property in Silocon Valley or the Seattle area, you better sell now, before property values drop after Big Tech leaves this country to avoid this new law.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Underestimate the willingness of politicians to do whatever it takes to score cheap PR points at your own risk. The odds probably aren’t good but they also aren’t zero, and should it pass it would require the courts to strike it down, a lengthy process that would leave plenty of time for damage to be done until it was struck down.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The way its written now, I dont think so, because of sites would not be able to comply with the EU copyright directive, or other directives, without breaking US laws.

If this does become law, look for sites to leave the USA in order to avoid conflict between US and EU laws. If, say, Google, is no longer in the United States, they would not have to obey this law.

Just like DailyMotion. Even though it would be social media under this law, because they are in Paris, France, they ONLY have to obey French and EU laws.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Just like DailyMotion. Even though it would be social media under this law, because they are in Paris, France, they ONLY have to obey French and EU laws.

Unless they have servers in the US, in which case the US believes their laws apply, just ask Kim Dotcom about how that goes, complete with US style armed raid.

Bloof (profile) says:

Hawley knows none of his horrendous ideas will get passed even if the Republicans manage to retake both houses somehow. This is basically a pitch to set himself up as Josh Hawley: Internet ‘expert’ lawyer/lobbyist when he’s voted out of office, no doubt planning to soak up right wing billionaire money, attacking internet companies in states without SLAPP laws to get criticism removed, or to attempt to force them to host hate speech.

Anonymous Coward says:

How can someone so stupid get a job like this, one that needs brains as well as common sense? I find it unbelievable that a large portion of the country and all the people, businesses and wildlife associated with the area in question can be put into such jeopody by voters. Was there really no one else to vote for at the time?

That One Guy (profile) says:

'Look, I have zero self-control, so clearly everyone does too.'

Ah good old feamongering control-freaks, politics would be ever so boring without them…

Remember, of course, that Josh Hawley’s major claim to fame was that he was the lawyer that represented Hobby Lobby in allowing it to ignore federal laws that it felt violated the religious sensibilities of its owners.

Beyond pointing out how monumentally stupid and lazy he thinks the american public are in that they apparently can’t understand something as simple as ‘flip this switch to turn off auto-play’ and ‘if you don’t want your kids to spend so much time on Facebook be a gorram parent‘, you gotta love his blatant hypocrisy here. When it comes to a company’s religious views then the government has no business interfering, but take religion out of the question and suddenly the government should be able to micro-manage things even to the point of mandating opt-out time limits and offering achievements for actions.

Believe it or not, there’s even more in the bill, including requiring websites to have a "neutral presentation,"

Trying to slip through mandatory ‘neutrality’ again I see.

banning "pre-selected" options, and having the FTC report to Congress about how internet companies are "exploiting human psychology."

I mean, not all of them apparently, as ad companies are explicitly excluded from the bill’s ban on autoplay…

Coward anon says:

Re: Re:

John, as we’ve all been reminded constantly the 1st amendment does NOT apply to private businesses. As owner of a web site I can ban Nazi speech, Muslim speech, or Flying Spatgetti Monster speech. Don’t like it, don’t visit. We all know that the first quote was what was meant regardless of whether it was Nazi or white supremacy or any sort of conservative speech. He wasn’t trying to protect AOC’s right to speak.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re:

John, why shouldn’t Twitter have the Right to proudly display on it’s home page, "The Home of Socialism – is you don’t like it, go try Gab" if they want?

Also, any service without moderation is shit. No moderation is neutral.

Certainly Stormfront and InfoWars will ban any speech that displeases them – do the Feds need to step in and say, "Let the left have equal time?"

LOL. That’d be rich.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Certainly Stormfront and InfoWars will ban any speech that displeases them – do the Feds need to step in and say, "Let the left have equal time?"

Oh the epic tantrums that would be sure to result from that…

‘No in fact you can’t kick them off for pointing out how you’re wrong, platforms must be neutral and as such they have a right to use your platform to post opposing views and rebuttals. Don’t like it, take it up with the politicians who made ‘platform neutrality’ the law.’

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The funniest part is these alternative-to-right types seem not to comprehend the possibility that the false "balance" they demand could very well cause massive amounts of "censorship" of their own favorite cesspits.

After all, to have "balanced" content on one’s site requires the "other side" to be present – and it could prove difficult for hives of scum and villainy like Gab, Breitbart, Conservapedia, r/TD, wattsupwiththat to attract rational, moral people.

Since they can’t become "balanced" through rational morespeech, then the only alternative to avoid being shut down is to delete enough of the garbage to pare it down to "balanced" levels.

Those alt-fact sites will ironically have to essentially become web UI templates to avoid being kicked offline completely.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'Entry 23 on why you're all laughably wrong...'

I imagine they’d try to argue that anyone can post, and it’s not their fault that less repugnant people don’t want to post alongside them, and as such it’s still perfectly balanced with no need for the government to meddle any.

Of course if someone called their bluff and actually started posting content they didn’t like/agree with that’s when the fun would really start, as they would have to either expose their gross hypocrisy and boot the person, or suck it up and deal with content that they didn’t care for on their platform.

John Snape (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

…why shouldn’t Twitter have the Right to proudly display on it’s home page, "The Home of Socialism – is you don’t like it, go try Gab" if they want?

It would be honest of them if they did, but they don’t. They pretend they are open to everyone and a neutral platform, but they aren’t. They’re a biased publisher who is deciding what (and who) gets published and what (or who) doesn’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

They pretend they are open to everyone and a neutral platform, but they aren’t.

Yes they are. Anyone can sign up for an account and start using the platform, no one is excluded and there is no pre-signup check or verification that would prevent you from signing up successfully.

That does not mean that there are not rules for using said platforms, and you agree to abide by those rules when signing up. If you break those rules, you should absolutely expect to be punished and/or kicked off. It’s like any other brick and mortar business, break the rules and expect to be ejected from the building.

They’re a biased publisher who is deciding what (and who) gets published and what (or who) doesn’t.

This is also blatantly untrue. A publisher reviews content BEFORE it gets posted, social media platforms moderate content AFTER it gets posted and is viewed publicly. There is a huge difference here.

Traditional publishers, like newspapers, act like curators (think museums), they don’t let just anyone or anything on their platform. Submitted content has to be vetted and reviewed before they allow it. Social media is the exact opposite. Yes they have rules but those rules don’t prevent you from posting content, they just let you know what the consequences will be if you post content that breaks those rules.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

…his last bill to strip internet companies of Section 230 protections, unless they agree to allow everyone to speak, regardless of viewpoint.

I agree John – including protecting the right of spammers to speak, and the right of them to force you to read it, just as the law is intended. Certainly if everyone’s viewpoint should be welcome, that includes a right to advertise.

John Snape (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

…including protecting the right of spammers to speak, and the right of them to force you to read it…

You’re arguing against things I never said: I never said they had a right to force you to read what they wrote. I just said they have a right to say what they want to say. You are free to read it or not.

The point is: it should be your decision if you want to read it or not, not a publisher deciding what you can or can’t read.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The point is: it should be your decision if you want to read it or not, not a publisher deciding what you can or can’t read.

Wrong, all the constitution guarantees is that you can publish your own speech at your own expense and effort. It does not impose and does not require any publisher to publish it for you. If you have to run your own website, or print your own pamphlets or books, that is fine, as the government is not stopping you from publishing your speech.

If you cannot attract an audience to places where you can publish your speech, say Gab, 8 Chan or Bitchute, etc. that is your problem to solve, and the solution does not include forcing popular platforms to carry your speech.

Failure to attract a mass audience to places where you can publish is telling you something about how popular your speech is.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Talk all you want, just not on MY porch

You’re arguing against things I never said: I never said they had a right to force you to read what they wrote.

Read? No.

Be forced to deal with, like it or not, even if that’s ‘only’ going through and deleting/block it every time it crops up? Very much so.

I just said they have a right to say what they want to say. You are free to read it or not.

Not on someone else’s platform they don’t, no matter how much some may wish otherwise.

Out of curiosity, do you practice what you preach and turn off your email’s spam filter or use an email service that doesn’t have a filter, or does your ‘platforms/publishers shouldn’t get between the user and content’ stance only apply to other people?

The point is: it should be your decision if you want to read it or not, not a publisher deciding what you can or can’t read.

Their platform, their rules. Don’t like how they manage content/posters, leave and find/create a platform more to your liking.

That said the idea you’re proposing would be a spammer/troll’s wet dream, as people would be forced to wade through massive amounts of garbage in order to get to anything they were interested in, forced to play eternal whack-a-troll as they block one poster only for a dozen more to pop right up spamming the same crap. Such a platform would be a cesspit well within a month as the trolls and/or spammers were left unchecked and those who didn’t care to constantly deal with them bailed for better platforms.

Anonymous Coward says:

The problem with not allow companies to moderate is going to be the conflict with the EU Copyright Directive and proposed laws requiring sites around the world to moderate under EU laws.

Now, EU sites could simply block US users to be able to avoid a conflict with this new law that Hawley is proposing, but that will quicly be circumvented with proxies and VPN.

And no, using proxies or VPNs on the user side to bypass IP blcocks does not break any US laws, so don’t get me started on either the CFAA or DMCA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Most users will not use vpns or a proxy to acess an eu website,
not every one is a tech expert,
its easy and free to install an ad blocker in a browser .
i dont think any law saying websites cannot moderate will last long in the real world .
Will disney owned websites or local community or government websites allow users
to post links to adult websites or post comments that defame other people .
i doubt it.
Government should have laws re users rights privacy and ownership of their data and consumer rights
and then leave the internet alone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Another problem, like I said, especially for EU sites, is complying with the copyright and terrorism directives.

Even if, say, dailymotion nlocos USA users, it does break the law to bypass geofencing with vpns.

For a felony prosecution under the cfaa you have to have had to use an illegally obtained password AND intended to damage machines on the network, and using a proxy or VPN to bypass region blocks does not rise to.that

And felony dmca prosecution requires that it he for some kind of financial gain, meaning making money and using VPN or proxy does rise to that threshold

Rekrul says:

Re: Taxi!

I don’t understand the appeal of infinite scroll. I’ve tried but I just can’t get to the bottom of it.

I know this is a joke, but I hate infinite scroll pages as well. Want to view the earliest videos by a very active YouTube author? Go to their video page, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, scroll down, click Load More, die of old age before ever reaching the end.

Sites used to use separate pages and you could just click a higher number or even skip to the first/last pages. Then some idiot decided that was too confusing for today’s clueless users and created infinite scroll, which if there’s enough content on a page, will end up crashing the browser.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Yes, it's a bummer you are completely clueless

And they got caught manipulating people

When? Facts please.

And they’ll probably get broken up again.

When was the first time?

While this apology for unethical Internet companies is great and all

It’s not. It’s a stupid law that won’t solve anything.

Or we should break them up for what they’ve done.

How do you break up a search engine? Or an online marketplace? Or a social media platform? To put it more bluntly: how do you break up a piece of software and expect it to still work?

Anonymous Coward says:

You Gotta Slurp from the Same Magic Trough

"…if we start a religion that worships the infinite scroll and gamification badges, will Hawley let us have an exemption from this law?"

Don’t be silly, of course not. Hawley supported Hobby Lobby ‘cuz they were defending their butthurt from the stance of worshippers of the same sky-dwelling magical zombie as Hawley. Now, if you could cast an argument in favor of "infinite scrolling to the everlasting glory of the supernatural three-in-one," you might hook Hawley to support you.

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