Various States All Pile On To Push Blatantly Unconstitutional Laws That Say Social Media Can't Moderate

from the that's-not-going-to-go-well dept

A bunch of Republican state legislators across the country are apparently unconcerned with either the 1st Amendment (or reality) have decided that they need to stop social media companies from engaging in any sort of content moderation. Earlier this week, Florida Man Governor Ron DeSantis proposed just such a law, which would be struck down as unconstitutional with amazing speed. The bill, dubbed the “Transparency in Technology Act” would do a bunch of things laid out in this infographic the Florida GOP sent around, almost all of which the state has no authority to do. On the content moderation front, it would require set standards for content moderation that can’t easily be changed and require the company apply those standards consistently.

That’s what lots of people ask for without realizing that’s an impossible ask. “Consistency” is not nearly as clear as people seem to think it is. Every scenario is different, and context plays a huge role in determining these things — but people who complain about inconsistent enforcement never seem to recognize the wider context, and always focus in on some superficial similarity about the content, and insist that different outcomes mean inconsistency. It also ignores the scale of the problem. It also fails to take into account that policies have to keep being updated, because the issues that trust and safety teams face constantly are changing.

This bill would be like passing a law saying that the state of Florida must clearly define all its laws, can’t pass new laws, and must apply the law consistently. That’s not possible.

Even more ridiculous (and more unconstitutional) is that the bill would bar any moderation (or removal) of any political candidate. Of course, this would just mean that any troll who wants to be a total asshole online would register to run for office. Remember, it was rumored that well known online troll Laura Loomer supposedly ran for Congress in part because of she believed that it would force Twitter to give her her account back (which did not happen).

Of course, it’s easy to just point at Florida and say “there goes Florida again…” but it’s actually Republican legislators in a whole bunch of states. And this wasn’t even the first such bill in Florida. A week or so earlier, Republican state Senator Joe Gruters introduced a bill called the “Stop Social Media Censorship Act” which bars any moderation of “religious or political speech.”

Gruters may have introduced the bill, but it doesn’t look like he wrote it. Because in Kentucky, Republican Senators Robby Mills and Phillip Wheeler introduced a nearly identical bill. Oh, and over in Oklahoma, Republican Senator Rob Standridge also introduced an identical bill. In Arizona, it’s Senator Sonny Borrelli who has introduced very similar legislation, though his looks a little different, and (insanely) would try to put into law that a social media website is “deemed to be a publisher” and “deemed not to be a platform” which is, you know, not a thing that actually matters. In North Dakota, there’s Republican State Rep. Tom Kading who’s similar bill also includes the nonsense publisher/platform distinction.

All of these bills are (1) nonsense, (2) pre-empted by federal law, and (3) blatantly unconstitutional under the 1st Amendment. A quick lesson for state legislators: the 1st Amendment means that the government (that’s you!) cannot compel private parties (that includes social media companies!) that they have to host speech with which they disagree with. There’s plenty of case law on this, but I’ll point you to West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette which establishes quite clearly that the government cannot compel speech under the 1st Amendment. On top of that, I’ll point people to the relatively recent ruling, written by Brett Kavanaugh (remember, Republicans, you supported this guy) and signed by all of the Conservative Justices, in the Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck case, in which it was made clear that social media websites are not state actors, and cannot be compelled to host speech. As Kavanaugh wrote in that ruling:

In short, merely hosting speech by others is not a traditional, exclusive public function and does not alone transform private entities into state actors subject to First Amendment constraints.

If the rule were otherwise, all private property owners and private lessees who open their property for speech would be subject to First Amendment constraints and would lose the ability to exercise what they deem to be appropriate editorial discretion within that open forum. Private property owners and private lessees would face the unappetizing choice of allowing all comers or closing the platform altogether. ?The Constitution by no means requires such an attenuated doctrine of dedication of private property to public use.? … Benjamin Franklin did not have to operate his newspaper as ?a stagecoach, with seats for everyone.? … That principle still holds true. As the Court said in Hudgens, to hold that private property owners providing a forum for speech are constrained by the First Amendment would be ?to create a court-made law wholly disregarding the constitutional basis on which private ownership of property rests in this country.? … The Constitution does not disable private property owners and private lessees from exercising editorial discretion over speech and speakers on their property

Remember how, as Republicans, you guys used to always support private property rights and the right to exclude those you disagree with? It’s that all over again, except now you’re suddenly trying to argue the exact opposite.

It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a bunch more of these unconstitutional bills floating around, or that more will be introduced soon. Most of them are performative nonsense that no state legislature will actually pass. But if they do, just recognize that any legislature that does so is throwing away taxpayer money on a series of expensive lawsuits that will inevitably end with the law being tossed out as unconstitutional.

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Comments on “Various States All Pile On To Push Blatantly Unconstitutional Laws That Say Social Media Can't Moderate”

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181 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Rights are for people anyway and the notion on its face is nonsensical at best. Rights are restrictions and obligations on States. It not only is illogical but semantically wrong as being fined -$5K or the act of withdrawing fifty bucks causing you to have less money in your immediate vicinity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Lets not normalize that sleight of hand by professional emotional manipulators. There is no truth to it and it is horribly immoral to anthropomorphize governments while objectifying people as their possessions – it is the exact opposite of reality and morals.

The internet is a trivially interstate and thus federal matter and one easily ducked around. It is just usable to harass local websites when they can easily relocate hosting and flip the bird.

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crade (profile) says:

This is really similar to the europe stuff where they are trying to force google to pay the news sites..

Some people don’t like how the current players are doing things and love to play armchair quarterback for google and facebook, they would love it if "someone" would just come by and do it their way, but not enough to, you know actually put in the effort to get it done

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Khym Chanur (profile) says:

Another problem: even if a site scrupulously followed the rules, they can still be sued by users who think that they’ve been unfairly moderated, and even though the site will eventually win in court it will still cost them money. This particular problem could be fixed by making it a "loser pays" situation, but it appears that Governor Ron DeSantis didn’t put any thought into that aspect of the issue. And I’ll be surprised if anyone else proposing similar legislature puts any thought into it.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

These people generally don’t. It would be fun to let them have what they want for a few short weeks, letting them slowly realise that whatever echo chamber cesspools they frequent would be just as affected as the targets they want to be affected. Perhaps more, since those places are so often actually performing the censorship they imagine happening on mainstream sties. But, sadly, the collateral damage wouldn’t be worth the schadenfreude.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh that’s easy, you just have to operate from the perspective of the perpetual victims who are always right. To reconcile those two positions you merely need to frame it as ‘ ‘Conservatives'(read: assholes) shouldn’t have to suffer consequences, or be forced to do anything we don’t want to.’

They don’t want to serve those icky gay people then fine, they don’t have to because their god’s a bigot and therefore their bigotry is an exercise of their religious beliefs. Social media has the utter audacity to keep calling them assholes and showing them the door? Well that’s the fault of social media and the snowflakes who can’t handle locker room talk or The Truth, they shouldn’t have to go elsewhere just because others can’t handle that.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ah, the typical "everyone who thinks differently than I do is bad" schtick. You accuse those on the right of doing it while doing it yourself to them. Unless you’ve personally met every single conservative in existence, you can’t generalize about them. People are not monolithic blocks, each one is different. So unless you want you and those who share what you believe in generalized and smeared just like you’re doing to conservatives, take back what you said and add a qualifier to your statement. As in "some" conservatives, acknowledging that you can’t speak for all of them. Otherwise you’re being nothing but a hypocrite, and until you can speak of those you disagree with without any derogatory terms or tones whatsoever, you will continue to be one.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ah, the typical "everyone who thinks differently than I do is bad" schtick. You accuse those on the right of doing it while doing it yourself to them.

Ah, the typical "you can’t paint all of us Nazis with the same broad brush" schtick.

Self awareness has never been a conservative strong point.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

^^^ THIS ^^^

This right here is what happens when you ‘treat all speech equally, Koby.’

You have to put up with shit-flinging window-lickers like this douche, shitposting incessantly. Is that what you want on your social media feed?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Nope – just trying to point out what we’ll end up with if assholes like Koby get their way. If that offends you, just think how you’d feel if you couldn’t get it taken down.

Good with that? Or is you pointing out my use of language just continuing on with that ‘lack of self-awareness’ thing?

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

"Koby’s a deluded fool when it comes to this particular subject"

Not exactly deluded. He’s obviously savvy enough to present logical arguments and do cursory fact-checking on other topics but as soon as the topic on debate is free speech and section 230 he instantly devolves into false equivalences, bad metaphors, straw man arguments and the other outcroppings of troll rhetoric we normally see from the stormfront crowd.

Hell, take the usual inflammatory spiel of the likes of Shel10 or Restless94110 and try to phrase it more politely and you get Koby on free speech.

I’m not giving Koby the benefit of doubt when it comes to free speech. Not any longer. He’s neither deluded or confused, but deliberately bullshitting and gaslighting as soon as that topic comes around.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"I just don’t understand why flyover state Americans are mad about Big Business CEOs! What’d they ever do to you, you meanies?? Leave those billionaire CEOs alone! They’re from California and NYC, and you’re blue collar… you work with your hands for Allah’s sake, what do you know about anything? Just shut up and do as you’re told, like me."

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Uhh, what?

I’m not sure about ‘parody’ and ‘anti-capitalist’ or anything else you said in that confused sentence. Not important anyway.

But what I do see is in this story and comments is: an elected official trying to tell Big Business "Nah, Big Business… you’re not in charge of America… American citizens are."

There is no middle ground here. Either you think:
A) Americans should tell Big Business what to do
or
B) Big Business should tell Americans what to do

Predictably, two people on the comments have expressed agreement that Americans are in charge of America; Koby, and me.

Here is a list of all the Blue Checkmarks (so far) who agree with Masnick that Big Business should be in charge of Americans, not vice versa:

  • Stone
  • ThatOneGuy
  • MMDandy
  • Khym Chanur
  • Crade
  • Bergman
  • MightyMetricBatman
  • Bloof
  • Ian Williams

(Sorry, as usual I am thoroughly confused about what ECA is trying to say, so not sure where he stands.)

Now, Paul or Nasch or Toom or Rocky haven’t weighed in yet. If they side with Gov Desantis and other Americans against Big Business I’ll be pleasantly surprised and eat crow. ScaryDevil will definitely side against Americans, as he always does.

The one Blue Checkmark I hold out hope for is Uriel-238. Even though we often disagree, he – unlike the rest of you – has a contrary streak that often prevents him from just getting right down on his knees and unquestioningly do whatever Masnick and other Thought Police order.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Uhh, what?

Big Business can tell Americans what to they can do while those Americans are on their property. Big Business cannot tell Americans what they can do while those Americans are not on their property. That’s not putting Big Business above Americans because, guess what, average citizens like you or I can do the exact same thing! If someone’s on my private property, I can tell people what they can or cannot do, and you can do the same with people on your private property.

Should there be regulations on Big Business? Absolutely. However, what those regulations are is a key point, and they must also remain within the bounds of the Constitution. One of the main reasons I’m against DeSantis on this has nothing to do with my personal position on the issue or the man himself and everything to do with not wanting politicians to waste time and taxpayer money on bills/laws/executive orders that are just going to be overturned by the courts for being blatantly unconstitutional. Again, that’s not being pro-Big Business or anti-American; that’s being pro-Constitution and pro-sensible spending.

So basically, even if I personally supported the law in principle, I cannot support its passage as a practical matter.

You’re also pushing a false dichotomy. There are those who want Big Business to be on equal or lesser footing than American individuals who don’t support every single regulation just because it happens to stick it to Big Business. Again, the details are important, and there’s a lot of nuance to be had on this topic.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "CEOs are not Americans"?

"The ancestors of 18 of the richest 25 hedge fund managers would not have been allowed in the Constitutional Convention."

What does that have to do with the guys around currently being American or not?

I have my suspicions as to what you mean and it’s not a good look, but perhaps you could expand on that for us?

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "CEOs are not Americans"?

Dude, I’m as against hedge fund managers as you are. However:

  1. Hedge fund manager =/= CEO. Being a hedge fund manager does not make one a CEO, nor does being a CEO make one a hedge fund manager. These are completely unrelated positions.
  2. The Constitutional Convention wasn’t restricted to Americans because that wasn’t a thing back then. That term didn’t take on any real meaning like the modern usage until after the Constitution was ratified since, y’know, we didn’t have a cohesive country until then. More importantly, not just any “American” was allowed in the Constitutional Convention. They had to be property-owning white males who resided in one of the 13 former colonies (not one in any of the then-American-owned territories that would later become states, not in any of the other land that would later become part of a US state, and not in any of the current US territories that are not states). Lots of Americans today have no ancestors that wouldn’t have been allowed in the Constitutional Convention. There are also a number of people who are not Americans whose ancestors would have been allowed in the Constitutional Convention (people do emigrate from the US, too, y’know). Therefore, not being allowed to the Constitutional Convention tells us nothing about whether or not they or their descendants were/are “Americans” by any definition. Even if we define “American” in such a way that anyone who either is a US citizen and resident now OR has an ancestor who would have been allowed in the Constitutional Convention, you’re just denying the antecedent, which is a logical fallacy. (It’s also a formal fallacy, which means its use is always fallacious.)
  3. You only told us about the ancestors (and not even which generation). That tells us nothing about whether or not any of those 18 richest hedge fund managers
    a) are Americans, or
    b) would have been allowed in the Constitutional Convention.
  4. The other seven, not to mention a bunch of the others who didn’t make it into the top 25, would still be “Americans” by your nonsensical definition, thus not proving that the statement, “CEOs are not Americans,” to be correct even ignoring the other points I raised.

Basically, there is absolutely 0 connective tissue between the statement, “CEOs are not Americans,” and your claim that, “The ancestors of 18 of the richest 25 hedge fund managers would not have been allowed in the Constitutional Convention.“ The latter does not support the former in any way, shape, or form. It’s actually a complete non sequitur.

It’s possible that all 25 of those hedge fund managers are Americans, none of them are Americans, or anything in between, without contradicting your claim; after all, whether or not one’s ancestors would have been allowed in the Constitutional Convention tells us nothing about whether or not one is an American today. And no matter how many hedge fund managers are or aren’t Americans, even that would tell us nothing about CEOs being Americans or not, as CEOs aren’t necessarily hedge fund managers and hedge fund managers aren’t necessarily CEOs. And on top of all that, you implicitly concede that some of the top 25 richest hedge fund managers had ancestors who would have been allowed in the Constitutional Convention, so even if we ignored the aforementioned false equivalencies, that still would mean at least some CEOs are Americans.

Therefore, you have not provided supporting evidence for the claim that CEOs are not Americans.

But seriously, why would one’s ancestor have to have been potentially allowed in the Constitutional Convention have anything to do with whether or not one is an American?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "CEOs are not Americans"?

"But seriously, why would one’s ancestor have to have been potentially allowed in the Constitutional Convention have anything to do with whether or not one is an American?"

Reading between the lines, I suspect he means there’s an issue involving melanin content and whether or not those people would pass a certain purity test. He’s welcome to explain himself further if I’m wrong about that, but I somehow doubt that he’s talking about whether those people were actually born within US borders…

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "CEOs are not Americans"?

"The ancestors of 18 of the richest 25 hedge fund managers would not have been allowed in the Constitutional Convention."

Ah, so being black, brown or jewish is, to you, a disqualifier for being an "american".

That explains why you keep carrying the troll rhetoric of a stormfront echo chamber here.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Presenting the party of 'small government' and 'free market'...

I love how even they seem to realize that if sites had to apply the rules equally with no room for context a lot of their speech would end up given the boot in short order, hence the attempt to preemptively carve out special exemptions for politicians and ‘religious'(read: biggotted assholery, because ‘love thy neighbor’ is not in need of protection) speech.

Not only are they proposing wildly unconsititional laws they’re trying to make politicians and bigots protected classes, immune from any consequences for their actions and speech, and all because they’re not mature enough to act like civilized adults or refuse to accept that not doing so might not be seen as acceptable.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'Put up or shut up'

To anyone who thinks that no moderation should be allowed my challenge in return is to go to one of the well known cesspits, say 4chan, and spend say 15-20 minutes or so each day for a solid week going through every single topic on the /b board over there, looking at every picture, reading all the wonderful speech on display, spending the entire time reminding themselves that that is what they want social media platforms to turn into.

Their response at that point will be very telling and show them to be either seriously warped individuals(‘Why would more of that be a bad thing?’), previously ignorant(‘I hadn’t even considered what I was demanding would result in.’), or grossly hypocritical, as every person I’ve presented that challenge to has turned out to be(‘I refuse to look at the sort of stuff I’d force on others!’).

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crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 'Put up or shut up'

Not if that’s the side that is right. If wallstreet is saying 2+2=4 and americans are saying 2+2=meh who cares lets cut up a successful american company and give the pieces to the aussies, there is something wrong with pretending you can’t follow simple logic and facts just to get a cut of the take though.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 'Put up or shut up'

Crade: "Not if that’s the side that’s right… and here on Techdirt, Big Business is always right, and flyover state Americans are always wrong. So leave Wall Street alone! Innocent, defenseless Robinhood and CNN and Google and Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and PayPal and other Big Business plutocrats should be left alone. Stupid Americans, daring to rein in The Establishment."

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 'Put up or shut up'

What, Crade, change your opinion? Now you support Governor Desantis telling Orwellian Silicon Valley that Americans are in charge, not Big Business plutocrats?

If so, you’re the first Masnicker to side with America and Americans. (Not just on this story, I mean ever .)

Or do I have it wrong?

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 'Put up or shut up'

I, and I assume Crade, do not support the specific means through which Governor DeSantis claims he is trying to tell Silicon Valley (which is made up of Americans, BTW) that Americans are in charge rather than Big Business execs (who are also Americans). That doesn’t necessarily mean either of us are inherently against that message per se. It just means that we either disagree with the specific regulation proposed or think it’s unconstitutional and so passing it is a waste of time and defending it against the inevitable lawsuits is a big waste of taxpayer money. It might also/alternatively mean that we don’t believe that that’s DeSantis’s actual goal with the proposed legislation or that the message needs to be sent in the first place (that is, one might not agree that there is a problem with the tech companies in this particular area).

I, for one, believe it both asks for the impossible and is so blatantly unconstitutional that it is guaranteed to be overturned by the courts, so it’s both overly burdensome and a complete waste of time. I’m all for regulating businesses that go too far, and I really believe we should have some sort of privacy regulations in place for tech companies in particular and net neutrality and pricing regulations for telecom and ISP companies, but I won’t support just any regulation on businesses. It has to be clear, possible to follow, not so burdensome that it either locks in the biggest players as the only players or effectively eliminates the market altogether (unless the market is inherently unhealthy like cigarettes), not too burdensome on consumers, attempt to address and an actual problem that has actually been demonstrated to exist and has been shown to be actually worth solving, actually have a decent chance of getting closer to solving that problem than existing regulations, and some other criteria. DeSantis’s proposal simply does not cut it. Maybe some other proposal will. I simply don’t know. However, I don’t support wasting time and taxpayer money on passing and (possibly) defending regulations just to send a message. If the only purpose of this proposal is to send a message, then I can’t support it as a practical matter. That’s time and money better spent on actually solving problems. I also can’t support passing legislation that is clearly going to be overturned by the courts for much the same reason. I’m pro-Constitution and pro-federalism, which, last I checked, are key aspects of American government, so that would make me pro-America.

Also, I don’t think you know what Orwellian actually means.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 'Put up or shut up'

What is your question?

Are the fossil fuel, healthcare, auto, and chem industries all supporting anti-American thoughtpolicing policies and advocating White genocide like Big Tech?

Every major social media and Big Tech company in the US wants the people whose ancestors conceived of and built this country WIPED OUT. Every single one of them are Orwellian thought police. As far as I’m aware, none of the industries you mentioned engage in those behaviors.

So your point is?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'Put up or shut up'

The proposals we’re talking about have nothing to do with bankers or Wall Street CEOs. This is about Big Tech companies, not stocks or banking or lending. Supporting these proposals does not make one opposed to bankers or Wall Street CEOs, nor does denouncing them prove one is in favor of bankers or Wall Street CEOs.

Between this and the whole thing about which hedge fund managers had ancestors who would have been allowed in the Constitutional Convention, I’m beginning to think you’ve completely lost the plot and have no idea what we’re talking about. You just hear “big companies” and “regulations” and just assume it’s about Wall Street and/or banks.

ECA (profile) says:

This seems familier.

Hmm
Anyone think this is riding on what has already happened in the EU.

Would love to have our politicians TELL US’ what they want in simple language.
Do you want the NET to HOLD onto everything.
Or Censor the crap and bad language(define bad language)

Then we need the Internet to Tell the Congress WHAT IT CANT/WONT Censor.

then get the idea that the INTERNET is an international THING. And speaking Only english/american is NOT Normal.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Did you forget that Alphabet (Google and YouTube), Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook are all American-based companies founded and run by American citizens? Sure, they also have locations in other countries, but their main HQs are in the US and so are all the biggest people in charge. Also, this has nothing to do with Wall Street.

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Koby (profile) says:

Consistent Rules

If the rule were otherwise, all private property owners and private lessees who open their property for speech would be subject to First Amendment constraints and would lose the ability to exercise what they deem to be appropriate editorial discretion within that open forum.

In Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, the subjects were banned from the premises for inciting violence against station employees. They were not banned because the station disagreed with their message. I’m in favor of private property. But if the property owners open the property to speech, they must apply the rules consistently. Allow a court to decide if they were. Consistency is the core of fairness.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Consistent Rules

But if the property owners open the property to speech, they must apply the rules consistently.

What about a church, chucklefuck? If people are chanting and carrying on in a church, I should also be able to go in there and start yelling ‘fuck fuck fuck" because freeze peach rules need to be applied consistently and the property was clearly open to speech?

Because that’s fair, is it not?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Consistent Rules

"Yeah, Koby, you chucklefuck! What gives Americans the right to disobey international billionaires and Wall Street CEOs?? What, next thing you know you’ll be saying that icky flyover state elected officials should listen to their bigoted anti-pedophile blue collar voters’ demands to slightly rein in Silicon Valley. Ewwwww!"

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

In Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, the subjects were banned from the premises for inciting violence against station employees. They were not banned because the station disagreed with their message.

Irrelevant to the discussion, then.

Consistency is the core of fairness.

Fairness isn’t part of the law. Private property owners can be as inconsistent with their rules (and the enforcement thereof) as they want to be. The law doesn’t, and shouldn’t, force “neutrality” or “fairness” upon them.

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

In fairness to Koby, his arguments are far more cogent and valid than the one-trick pony who’s disingenuously saying "What gives Americans the right to oppose billionaires?" acting like Republicans (including under Trump) haven’t been doing everything they could to enrich them?

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Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Consistent Rules

You do realise that a LOT of high profile conservatives would be banned from most of social media if rules were enforced consistently, right? All the delightful misogyny, homophobia, racism, conspiracy theories and lies that make up most of their output would result in them being gone virtually overnight.

Consistency is not what you want, you want the rules changed to make it impossible to ban conservatives for anything, no matter how abhorrent their behaviour, you want to turn the self styled ‘silent majority’ into protected class based on nothing but their political leanings. You don’t want a level playingfield, you know full well that would not benefit you but it makes a nice fairytale to tell centrists while you try to get them onside, you want the freedom to punch down and freedom from consequences with the end goal of rolling back a century’s worth of social progress to claw back what little power the right have lost in that time,

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Consistent Rules

Consistency is not what you want, you want the rules changed to make it impossible to ban conservatives for anything, no matter how abhorrent their behaviour, you want to turn the self styled ‘silent majority’ into protected class based on nothing but their political leanings.

That’s where the rules would come into play. Very few conservatives that I’ve seen have ever supported any of the defamatory things that you mentioned above. And certainly not on a social media. Meanwhile, there’s been some ugly comments by leftists that have been allowed to fly (which I think should allowed, on the basis that I personally think all speech should be permitted). That’s why big tech is so fearful of defending against bias in court. The corporate overlords would never be able to demonstrate consistent application of their own rules, because of their bias.

Forcing big tech companies live up to their own published speech codes looks to be a great way to prevent selective application. Consistency is the key to fairness. It’s a great idea, and I’d love to see it happen.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Forcing big tech companies live up to their own published speech codes looks to be a great way to prevent selective application.

And forcing them to host speech looks to be a great way to piss on the First Amendment. Why do you support communism, Koby?

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'How dare you do what I agreed you could do when I signed up?!'

There’s that, and there’s also the fact that to sign up for a site you need to agree to the TOS and any large site is going to have a clause that allows them to moderate content and/or kick people off at their discretion, so they are already following their ‘published speech codes’, certain people/groups just don’t like it when they’re on the receiving end of that.

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:

Very few conservatives that I’ve seen have ever supported any of the defamatory things that you mentioned above.

You do understand not speaking out against it is a tacit approval of that kind of speech.

Meanwhile, there’s been some ugly comments by leftists that have been allowed to fly (which I think should allowed, on the basis that I personally think all speech should be permitted).

Koby, is statement false: Meanwhile, there’s been some ugly comments by "conservatives" that have been allowed to fly..

That’s why big tech is so fearful of defending against bias in court. The corporate overlords would never be able to demonstrate consistent application of their own rules, because of their bias.

Please explain why a company would defend itself against bias in court? There is no laws against bias, or are you suggesting that courts should make their decisions based on political expediency dictated by butthurt political hacks? You want fairness, but you don’t fairness for the companies running the platforms, you want to strip them of their power to decide how their private property is used.

Forcing big tech companies live up to their own published speech codes looks to be a great way to prevent selective application. Consistency is the key to fairness. It’s a great idea, and I’d love to see it happen.

You have read them then? That’s good. You have also read their TOS’s? Now explain how they have been applied selectively that’s inconsistent with their own rules. (Of course, this means you have to ignore something that’s in every TOS).

Or perhaps you mean fairness in the sense you think it’s unfair you can’t control someone else’s private property.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Consistent Rules

In Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, the…

Manhattan Community Access v Halleck

Because this case comes to us on a motion to dismiss, we accept the allegations in the complaint as true. . . .

Halleck and Melendez [] sued MNN, among other parties, in Federal District Court. The two producers claimed that MNN violated their First Amendment free-speech rights when MNN restricted their access to the public access channels because of the content of their film.

(Emphasis added, citation omitted.)

From the Cert Petition (p.69 in PDF) (via SCOTUSBlog), the case in the Southern District of New York is 15cv8141.

District Court Docket for Halleck v City Of New York (S.D.N.Y. 1:15-cv-08141)

First Amended Complaint (Doc 39, Feb 19, 2016)

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Consistent Rules

"But if the property owners open the property to speech, they must apply the rules consistently."

They actually don’t. No bar owner needs to recognize any authority other than their own when it comes to deciding whether a potential patron is or is not welcome. The only exception to this iron-clad rule of property is if the services offered are withheld due to a state of the patron considered protected – and even then it’s thin ground for complaint.

Even so the rules ARE applied consistently. If you consistently lie, harrass, or slander other patrons or bystanders then the moderators of a platform will toss you out. That the "right wing" can’t carry a debate based on factual arguments and without bigotry does not mean the platform owner applies their rules inconsistently.

In short, american "conservatives" do not get thrown out or banned for being conservative. They get thrown out and banned for being racists, bigots, misogynists, or otherwise utterly deplorable people.

You do not have the right to complain about being shown the door after you wave a swastika around and run a few lines about how that <N-word> George Floyd "got what was coming to him".

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Ceyarrecks (profile) says:

OSS vs. CS all over again?

the merits of Open-Source Software are decades long so well-proven vs. the verifiably heinous code hidden within Closed Sourced programs. So how about that, a Closed Source [read: hypocritical] Government whining that others should be "open" and "transparent." How about Lead by Example and FULLY OPEN ALL ASPECTS of the Government functioning, to include ALL financial ties of its employees to show us how to be "transparent." yeah, like that is ever going to happen. GOP break their neck to submit & support laws to assure that they can continue being cryptic, obfuscated, hidden, closed, et al.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Even they know that honestly wouldn’t sell so well with the public, not to mention it wouldn’t allow them to continue with the persecution complex that they’ve all but fetishized at this point if they admit that people are being penalized on social media not because of their ‘political’ stances but because they’re assholes.

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Bloof (profile) says:

Looks like Section 230 is the new abortion, lots of state level republicans trying to pass laws to kill it that they know will never survive any sort of challenge. What it will do is get the attention of Fox, Newsmax and OANN which they hope will aid them in climbing up the republican dungheap and get them considered for higher office.

Of course, it’s a bit harder to get that attention when they all do it at once, but republicans don’t really think these things through.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I can’t tell if they’re lazy and can only be bothered with the same childish and dishonest response, or if what passes for their mind just glitched out and that’s all they can think of. Does make it easy to spot and flag though, so silver lining for those that aren’t throwing a petulant tantrum I suppose.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Lazy, sure. Childish, guess so.

Dishonest? Nah. Techdirt continues to always side with Big Business whenever an elected official, once in a blue moon, realizes that non-gelded citizens elect them to represent American interests, not Wall Street plutocrats and international billionaires.

And it’s always the Techdirt Blue Checkmarks who side with Masnick/The Establishment/Wall Street, right down the line.

If a single one of you would ever side with America and Americans instead of the Establishment, I might lay off. But you never do. Every single one of you is a groveling Yes Man.

Can one of you surprise us, just once?

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Techdirt continues to always side with Big Business whenever an elected official, once in a blue moon, realizes that non-gelded citizens elect them to represent American interests, not Wall Street plutocrats and international billionaires.

Like Sony, Disney, Warner Bros., Nintendo, and Comcast? Those Big Businesses? If you think TechDirt has been kissing their asses, not only have you not been paying attention, but the entire class is laughing at you and making fun of you for behaving like a clown.

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:3

The funny thing about you is that you are the poster-boy for why section 230 is needed. Every time you come here with your diarrhea of shit-posts you perfectly illustrates to everyone why moderation is good.

It’s just sad that you don’t get the professional help you need to deal with your mental problems.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

It’s even funnier actually in that if memory serves Mike has said in the past that if 230 was removed and he had to worry about liability for what was posted he’d probably kill the comment section entirely and you don’t need to look very far to see why, meaning the very same person whining about 230 is only able to post, and post anonymously, because of 230.

By arguing against 230 they are effectively arguing against their ability to comment on the platform they are currently on.

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Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

‘Oh no, wallstreet and Silicon Valley are filled with amoral asshats, I guess I better support the republicans turning the internet into a completely unfiltered stream of far right bull***t, racism, homophobia and misogyny, that’ll show them!’

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Bloof: "When Americans, once in a blue moon, realize they’re not all totally emasculated groveling sycophants to Big Business plutocrats like every single Techdirt Blue Checkmark, and decide their elected officials should be in charge instead of Hollywood rapists and Wall Street billionaires and Orwellian Big Tech bosses, it means they’re non-intersectional transphobic neon-nazi white privilege-having supramcistisists and anti-grooming bigots and wacissssssssssssts! Hail INGSOC!"

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Anonymous Coward says:

This Is Beautiful

Even if it doesn’t come to fruition, it’s nice to see lawmakers actually doing their job and hammering Big Tech, Wall Street, international corporations, hedge funds, Silicon Valley, outsourcers, and other plutocrats.

Watching stateless money-grubbing yuppies lose sleep over this fills Americans with a sense that maybe not all politicians are subhuman garbage.

But without a doubt the best aspect of this is watching supposed liberals/leftists/Democrats like Masnick and his faithful sycophants defend Big Business against criticism from Americans.

Haa haa! The left wing used to be anti-Establishment. Now you groveling pussies ARE the Establishment! Ha ha ha!

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Khym Chanur (profile) says:

Re: Re:

1) While this particular proposed law would apply only to sites with at least 75 million users, the discussions surrounding the topic frequently don’t take size into account.

2) Even for this particular law, there might be some non-profits which are that large, like Wikipedia.

3) Even just considering for-profit sites which are that large, users of those sites can be concerned by the impact the law might have on using and experiencing those sites. I’m not going to cheer on a law which makes a site I use worse just because the law will stick it to Big Business. Concerns about laws like these having negative impact on user experience might be unfounded, but in that case you can point out why those concerns are unfounded, rather than just assuming that we’re only talking about those concerns because we’re pro-Big Business.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Do you only read the articles about §230 or something? Because that’s pretty much the only time that Techdirt and most of the comment section tends to “side with Big Business” in any way unless it’s Big Business vs. other Big Business. Try reading some of the other material on this site, like the articles on right-to-repair laws, net neutrality, or telecom companies.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Read the articles and discussions about net neutrality, telecom companies, Hollywood, and intellectual property, then see if you can honestly say that “we always defend Big Business and always side with Big Business against America and Americans”.

Also, how is siding with users, smaller sites, and non-profits like Wikipedia “sid[ing] with Big Business”? It doesn’t look like you even bothered to read the comment you’re responding to, because there’s no connection between them.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: South Dakota, too

Figures. South Dakota is flyover country, like Florida. Ewwwwww.

Isn’t South Dakota the state that proposed a resolution declaring that Islam isn’t a religion of peace? Think they also proposed not allowing child groomers to adopt children.

Worst of all, they have that gross monument to white supremacy, Mount Rushmore.

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Shel10 (profile) says:

Big Tech companies need moderation guidelines. Example: News is news even if it may be false; racial differences should not be moderated – humans have a natural instinct to moderate based on race – it’s in our DNA; differences of opinion should not be moderated – viewers can determine if they want to accept or reject an opinion. Moderation should not be left to Twitter’s bearded-one, or Mark Zuckerberg, or Jeff Bezos. The Supreme Court ruled long ago that all speech (with a few exception and that doesn’t include speech by white or black supremacists) is protected. If you don’t like what is being said, don’t listen! I don’t want elected officials telling what I can read or watch – that’s Nazi Germany.

All porn on open platforms which can be viewed without restriction should be moderated; child porn must not be posted on any site.

I think you get the picture.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

The Supreme Court ruled long ago that all speech (with a few exception and that doesn’t include speech by white or black supremacists) is protected.

Three things.

  1. The First Amendment is what makes most speech legal in this country; 1A jurisprudence lays out what speech the government can legally punish.
  2. Racial slurs, racial supremacy propaganda, and other such language that doesn’t cross a line into illegal speech (e.g., incitement to violence) is absolutely protected by the First Amendment.
  3. Even if we take your entire assertion as true, the Supreme Court has never ruled that all privately owned property must be open to third party speech — or that any privately owned property that is open to third party speech must host all legally protected speech.

You’re damn near advocating for a government takeover of social media services as a means of enforcing “neutrality”. So you know: That would be advocating for a form of communism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’re damn near advocating for a government takeover of social media services as a means of enforcing “neutrality”. So you know: That would be advocating for a form of communism.

Oh, no! What ever will we do if the Soviets take over? I’d best get out my Radium or I’ll have a panic attack!

/s

Government take over of "online public squares" is not exactly a bad thing in and of itself. Especially when the alternative is one group of assholes getting pissed off that another group of assholes is shitting in their toilet constantly. There is legal precedent for this government forced community merging too: Desegregation.

Don’t think it’s warranted? "Oh, sure they can speak wherever they like, just not here." "Go build your own site, if you want service." "We don’t serve trolls here." I’ll let you fill in what should be the historical words in those italics. And yes, both sides are actively trying to erase the other one.

This is the natural result of both sides acting like children. Someone has to come in, be the adult, and force the kids to behave. Don’t like it because it could go really badly for you when the adults decide to enforce rules you disagree with? Then clean up your own act of your own accord. Yes, that means there will be sites you disagree with. No, that does not mean you get to take them down and then whine and banhammer when all of those whom you’ve forced out of their meeting places start intruding on yours.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Government take over of "online public squares" is not exactly a bad thing in and of itself.

When such a takeover involves the government assuming both ownership of private property and control of the service offered by the owners of that property, it damn well is a bad thing.

There is legal precedent for this government forced community merging too: Desegregation.

Desegregation was about giving Black Americans access (or at least a greater amount thereof) to the same civil rights that white Americans enjoyed at the time. Access to social media is not a guaranteed civil right. Nobody is entitled to use Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Don’t think it’s warranted? "Oh, sure they can speak wherever they like, just not here." "Go build your own site, if you want service." "We don’t serve trolls here." I’ll let you fill in what should be the historical words in those italics. And yes, both sides are actively trying to erase the other one.

Unlike food and shelter and employment, social media isn’t essential for living. Being refused service at a restaurant or a hotel based only on your skin color is nowhere near the same thing as being booted from Twitter for violating its ToS. The comparison has no foundation. Don’t make it again, unless you want me to think you’re a racist who is really pissed off that you can’t say the n-word on Twitter.

Don’t like it because it could go really badly for you when the adults decide to enforce rules you disagree with?

It could go really bad for everyone if the government gets the right to control what Twitter, Facebook, etc. can and cannot, will and will not, must and must not host. That includes you, me, and every other commenter on this site.

Yes or no: Do you believe the government should have the legal right to compel the owner of any private property into hosting legally protected third party speech that the owner of said property don’t want to host? Please note that “private property” isn’t limited to cyberspace/websites — I’m also referring to tangible private property such as public accomodation businesses, private residences, and apartment buildings.

Yes, that means there will be sites you disagree with. No, that does not mean you get to take them down and then whine and banhammer when all of those whom you’ve forced out of their meeting places start intruding on yours.

Regardless of what you might think, I don’t generally want those kinds of sites taken down unless they’re advocating for illegal acts. It’s why I had no problem, legally and morally, with Amazon giving Parler the boot. But I’m well aware of the existence of sites like Stormfront, 4chan, InfoWars, and other alt-right garbage. My not liking them is no excuse for seeing them taken down.

The idea that the government could force other websites to host speech from the users of those sites isn’t any better. Without moderation controls in place to stop trolls, racists, etc. from overwhelming a site with their bullshit, all the users who don’t want to put up with it will leave the service for something else. The site will then be left to solve the “Worst People Problem”, and the only real solutions to that are “kick them out and institute actual moderation” or “shut down the whole thing”.

You can’t have both “neutrality” towards all legal speech and a service that a broad audience will want to use. After all, you won’t get a lot of gay people using your service if you allow anti-queer advocates to push their shit on gay people unchecked. Government-enforced “neutrality” would require you to do exactly that. You would be forced by law to validate positions with which you don’t, won’t, and even can’t agree by way of hosting them on your service.

Yes or no: Do you want the government forcing you to host advocacy for the reënslavement of Black people, government-backed executions of gay people for being gay, and forcing women to give birth against their will on a social media service you own and operate?

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Example: News is news even if it may be false;"

No. Breaking news can be subject to change based on new information and be truthful in the moment even if later evidence proves that first reports were mistaken. Jewish space lasers, secret cabals harvesting babies in pizza basements, etc. are not news, they’re perverse fiction and have no place in a news feed.

"racial differences should not be moderated"

So, open doors to white supremacists to abuse your user base?

" Moderation should not be left to Twitter’s bearded-one, or Mark Zuckerberg, or Jeff Bezos"

Do you think these people personally moderate anything? Really?

"I don’t want elected officials telling what I can read or watch – that’s Nazi Germany."

Good news! The people you mentioned are not elected officials. So, it would be a problem for you for the government to be interfering with the way they choose to run their companies, surely?

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

differences of opinion should not be moderated – viewers can determine if they want to accept or reject an opinion.

If you don’t like what is being said, don’t listen!

Ah the motto of the modern day entitled asshole, ‘If you don’t like what I’m saying that’s your fault, you have no business telling me to get lost!’ I see you that and raise you ‘if the people in the group/business/platform you’re speaking on don’t want you around find a place that actually does, stop acting like an entitled little brat and demanding to stay where you’re not wanted.’

Big Tech companies need moderation guidelines.

Moderation should not be left to Twitter’s bearded-one, or Mark Zuckerberg, or Jeff Bezos.

I don’t want elected officials telling what I can read or watch – that’s Nazi Germany.

I have to wonder if you even bothered to read your own comment, because in the very same paragraph you have wildly conflicting desires. You want social media to have moderation guidelines(they already do, they’re called TOS’, though based upon the rest of that paragraph it’s pretty obvious you just want them to not moderate), you don’t want those moderation choices to be made by the owners of the platforms, and you don’t want the government to set them(a good thing too, as that would be wildly unconstitutional). The only group left are members of the general public, and the only power they have when it comes to moderation, ‘voting’ with their money/attention by swapping platforms if the current one doesn’t moderate as desired they already have.

The Supreme Court ruled long ago that all speech (with a few exception and that doesn’t include speech by white or black supremacists) is protected.

Yeah, that doesn’t mean what you seem to think it does, ‘protected’ in that context means that the government isn’t allowed to punish you for saying it, it does not in any way mean anyone else needs to tolerate it.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t want elected officials telling what I can read or watch – that’s Nazi Germany.

Rather you want an ability to exercise the hecklers charter under the guise of it being freedom of speech. That is you would hand all sites, at least until they shut down, over to the loudest, most bigoted people who will push their politics regardless of the intended topic of a site.

Peter CM (profile) says:

Notwithstanding current legal precedent ...

… it’s not healthy for small-d democracy to allow social-media oligopolies to control access to the modern-day "public forum" based on their own private agendas and subjective whims. Nor is it healthy to silo different viewpoints into different forums that are rarely visited by citizens who don’t already hold those viewpoints. I believe there are legitimate grounds for regulating social-media companies with significant market shares as common carriers and for imposing a Fairness Doctrine on them.

I can imagine fewer futures more dystopian than one where corporate oligarchs get to effectively control who can say what to their fellow citizens. At some point, we need to acknowledge that the authors of the Bill of Rights did not anticipate today’s extreme concentration of media (whether traditional or social) nor the existence of the network effect when they limited the First Amendment’s applicability to public actors. Given that our our Constitution was designed to be nearly impossible to amend, it’s going to require flexible and enlightened judicial interpretation to avoid turning it into a suicide pact for democracy (a process that is already well under way in other areas, like campaign financing and conflicts of interest).

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

it’s not healthy for small-d democracy to allow social-media oligopolies to control access to the modern-day "public forum" based on their own private agendas and subjective whims

Yes or no: Is it any healthier to force a service to let anyone use it and host any and all legal speech?

Nor is it healthy to silo different viewpoints into different forums that are rarely visited by citizens who don’t already hold those viewpoints.

Yes or no: Is it any healthier to force exposure of those viewpoints onto people by way of forced “neutrality”?

I believe there are legitimate grounds for regulating social-media companies with significant market shares as common carriers and for imposing a Fairness Doctrine on them.

How do you determine when a social media service has a “significant market share” when it is entirely possible for people to use multiple services that all have signficantly large userbases? What happens if a startup service crosses that “significant market share” line overnight — in either direction? What should happen to a service if people abandon it en masse because forced “neutrality” has made the service a shitpit?

I can imagine fewer futures more dystopian than one where corporate oligarchs get to effectively control who can say what to their fellow citizens.

I can imagine one particularly awful future. How about a future where the government can legally force the owners of private property to either host all third party speech or refuse hosting it altogether, with no room whatsoever for moderation — does that sound dystopian enough to you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Notwithstanding current legal precedent ...

… it’s not healthy for small-d democracy to allow social-media oligopolies to control access to the modern-day "public forum" based on their own private agendas and subjective whims.

Does that mean churches, political parties, and special interest groups cannot moderate as they see fit?

someoneinnorthms (profile) says:

I'm seriously asking

Let me get my biases out. I am aa ols, fat, rich (ostensibly), white, male Republican living in the Deep South. I am a lawyer, but it’s been forever since I took a First Amendment class and never since I had a First Amendment case. So . . .

I thought the debate/legal status/comparison was whether social media companies should be treated like AT & T back in the olden times. The phone company had no duty to listen to the calls being made to weed out true threats, defamation, etc., because they were a utility (i.e., a platform). It seems social media companies of today wish to “listen in” on the calls/posts made by some people today. Those companies say they have a duty to suppress certain communication. I promise I’m trying to present this as neutrally as possible . . . . So they remove posts they deem unworthy of being communicated. They refuse to provide service to people who communicate messages they think are troublesome or wrong or whatever. Okay. Great. I can accept they have that right as private businesses. However . . .

How does this practice distinguish them from a newspaper publisher who publishes false information about people (whether public or private, it matters not)? If they stop being like telephone service providers and start being more like newspapers, why aren’t they being sued to hell and back for defamation? If they edit the content then why aren’t they legally responsible for the content they allow to pass through their moderation filters?

I am not asking this question rhetorically. I’m seeking an honest answer. Of course, I could look it up myself, but I suspect the legal research on this issue would fascinate me enough that I’d lose sleep and/or business if I allowed myself to be distracted by this subject. So, if there’s a short answer, someone please help. If no short answer then I will find some time to look myself and maybe report back to the group. Thanks.

someoneinnorthms (profile) says:

I'm seriously asking

Let me get my biases out. I am aa ols, fat, rich (ostensibly), white, male Republican living in the Deep South. I am a lawyer, but it’s been forever since I took a First Amendment class and never since I had a First Amendment case. So . . .

I thought the debate/legal status/comparison was whether social media companies should be treated like AT & T back in the olden times. The phone company had no duty to listen to the calls being made to weed out true threats, defamation, etc., because they were a utility (i.e., a platform). It seems social media companies of today wish to “listen in” on the calls/posts made by some people today. Those companies say they have a duty to suppress certain communication. I promise I’m trying to present this as neutrally as possible . . . . So they remove posts they deem unworthy of being communicated. They refuse to provide service to people who communicate messages they think are troublesome or wrong or whatever. Okay. Great. I can accept they have that right as private businesses. However . . .

How does this practice distinguish them from a newspaper publisher who publishes false information about people (whether public or private, it matters not)? If they stop being like telephone service providers and start being more like newspapers, why aren’t they being sued to hell and back for defamation? If they edit the content then why aren’t they legally responsible for the content they allow to pass through their moderation filters?

I am not asking this question rhetorically. I’m seeking an honest answer. Of course, I could look it up myself, but I suspect the legal research on this issue would fascinate me enough that I’d lose sleep and/or business if I allowed myself to be distracted by this subject. So, if there’s a short answer, someone please help. If no short answer then I will find some time to look myself and maybe report back to the group. Thanks.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: I'm seriously asking

If they stop being like telephone service providers and start being more like newspapers, why aren’t they being sued to hell and back for defamation?

Newspapers choose what to include, if something makes it into the paper it’s because someone there deliberately included it and as such it makes sense to hold them liable if they print something because they intentionally added it in. An open platform on the other hand is left to do after-the-fact moderation in most cases, allowing (almost) everything and only coming in to remove the problem content/users as they’re made aware of them, so it’s not so much that they are speaking so much as they are providing a platform for other to speak on.

If they edit the content then why aren’t they legally responsible for the content they allow to pass through their moderation filters?

Because the alternative would be worse and in fact a case that ruled basically that is the entire reason 230 exists. If you make platforms liable for anything on their platforms as soon as they engage in moderation they have only a few choices at that point, none of them good for them or the public.

  1. Don’t moderate at all. Comments about how certain races are inherently inferior, women are too flighty and shouldn’t be allowed any sort of authority or power, that anyone not strictly heterosexual are abominations and deserve nothing less than death, photos of car crashes and rotting wounds, it all stays up, and good luck growing or keeping a community not comprised of the worst of the worst around if users have to deal with that on a regular basis.
  2. Screen everything, and remove content at the slightest provocation. Only the most tame content is allowed, and anything that even might be problematic will be pulled the second they become aware of it. As part of this the platform will by necessity be very small, since those running it will have to be able to vet everything and remove content at a moment’s notice, leaving the majority of people out of luck.
  3. Don’t allow user submitted content at all. If you can be held liable for what your users post then the easiest solution is not to allow them to post at all, and run an entirely closed site where the only people allowed to post are you or those that run the site with you. This essentially turns the internet into tv, where people can watch but they can’t actually interact meaningfully with platforms, and also means that a lot of content that might have been created and shared is left to rot.
Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Fingerprints of ALEC

Republican Senators Robby Mills and Phillip Wheeler introduced a nearly identical bill. Oh, and over in Oklahoma, Republican Senator Rob Standridge also introduced an identical bill. In Arizona, it’s Senator Sonny Borrelli who has introduced very similar legislation

Sounds like the American Legislative Exchange Council at work. They provide pre-written bad legislation for introduction and sponsorship by members of state legislatures. The individual legislators are not even required to give authorship credit.

Better yet, ALEC legislators often receive free vacations as part of the deal. The near-invisible sponsors provide this benefit as part of their legislative education efforts.

Thanks to ALEC, large businesses can have similar legislation enacted in many states, thus simplifying their lobbying and law evasion efforts.

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