The Pillow Dude's 'Free Speech' Social Media Website Will Moderate 'Swear Words' Because Of Course It Will

from the everyone-moderates dept

It seems like every few months a new social media app comes on the scene, promising to be the “free speech” social media app that says it won’t “censor” (by which they mean moderate) anything. And those of us who have been in this space for more than two seconds laugh. Because every single internet service that allows third party speech sooner or later realizes that moderation is not optional — it’s necessary to keep any site running. At a basic level, it starts with spam. Leaving up spam makes a site unusable. After that, there are things that you are legally required to remove, including child sexual abuse material and (in some cases) copyright infringing material.

Sooner or later, though, every such site realizes that it has to go through the content moderation learning curve. That doesn’t mean they all need to follow the same rules or do the same thing, but they do need to recognize that content moderation questions are always there. This includes things like “how do you deal with abuse and harassment” and just generally how do you deal with trolls who are clearly up to no good. There are many different approaches to this, but insisting that you’re the “free speech” site that will “do nothing” is not a realistic statement. It’s one that demonstrates ignorance.

Enter the MyPillow dude, Mike Lindell. Last month Lindell announced that he was building his own social media site, with a tagline “voices of free speech.” I’m not even sure what that means. He insisted that people will have “10 times more followers” on his janky platform, and that Twitter and Google will “be a thing of the past,” which shows a bit of bravado, I guess.

Of course, the “free speech” part of his “voices of free speech” is apparently a lot more limited than is implied. Lindell has now announced that “the four swear words” will not be allowed. There are just four?

?You don?t get to use the four swear words: the c-word, the n-word, the f-word, or God?s name in vain,? Lindell says in the video.

Huh. So, I’m not even convinced which “c-word” is being used here, and I note that “the s-word” is apparently allowed? From what was said it sounds like Lindell and whatever programmer he’s pulled into this wacky scheme have implemented a lame keyword filter, which anyone who has done work in content moderation will tell you does not work nearly as well as people expect it to. People who want to use that words will quickly find alternatives, g-d dammit. I mean, f0ck, who doesn’t know that s#it?

Anyway, this has all the hallmarks of yet another social media train wreck, but I look forward to Lindell and Trump fighting it out for users of their new social networks, when they’re not in court relying on Section 230 to protect them from legal liability of whatever crazy things their users are posting.

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Comments on “The Pillow Dude's 'Free Speech' Social Media Website Will Moderate 'Swear Words' Because Of Course It Will”

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78 Comments
crade (profile) says:

Swear words: Prejudice against vernacular used by "undesirable individuals" especially if they are different from you.

Also, using gods name in vain is condemning god or using god’s name for evil purposes like the uber common practice of using religion to manipulate people, not hyperbolically saying god should condemn toe stubbing because you stubbed your toe.

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Aaron Walkhouse (profile) says:

Re: It's amazing how many misread that commandment.

It simply and directly says
"Though shalt not TAKE God’s name in vain."

That means, of course:
"Don’t claim to be a Jew or Christian and fail to live up to it."

Sadly, it comes as no surprise that the same folks who read that wrong also are the ones who break that simple rule. ; ]

Wyrm (profile) says:

Re: Re: It's amazing how many misread that commandment.

It doesn’t make much of a difference even if you are right. Those that "use" the name of the christian god for selfish purposes definitely don’t "live up" to christians standards. Unless we’re talking about "eye for an eye", slavery, death penalty… this kind of standards.

Definitely not the sections about tolerance, humility, "casting the first stone" and "chasing the money changers out the temple".

Their supposed "holy book" has tons of things, some good, some bad, some downright abhorrent (not even cleanly separated by old/new testament distinctions). And the most bigot and fanatic they are, the more they seem to follow the abhorrent parts and ignore the good ones. As they are now, I’m pretty sure that, should Jesus come back and preach the same as before, they would chase him out as a "commy", and possibly as a "witch" for good measure.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Heh, be interesting to see what happens the first time someone comments that they like visiting Scunthorpe. AKA "The Scunthorpe problem" which just took me down an amusing Wikipedia rabbit hole. Think I’ll register an account with the username "Scunthorpe Cockburn" and see how far I get.

Also which god are you not allowed to take in vain? Humanity has come up with so many over the millennia. Zeus? Odin? Flying Spaghetti Monster? or could I get away with "Cheeses H FCUKing K-Riced, that ludicrous." ?

I suspect that in the first two weeks most sign ups will be people curious to see what the limits are before the user base is inevitably taken over by crypto spam bots, bikini porn ads and a few clueless right wing uncles gently bouncing off each other in the comments wondering when Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and DJT will create verified accounts?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Heh, be interesting to see what happens the first time someone comments that they like visiting Scunthorpe."

I somehow think that the Venn diagram of the target audience and people who have ever been outside of the US looks like this: O O. So, unlikely, even if someone were to unironically say something positive about Scunthorpe ,)

"Also which god are you not allowed to take in vain?"

That was actually my first thought, although of course we all know the answer. But, he knows his target audience – right-wing morons with a persecution complex who don’t mind losing free speech rights so long as their religion is OK.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Mike Lindell: “My social media service will protect free speech of all kinds!”

Also Mike Lindell: “…except for this speech that I don’t like because fuck you.”

Dude has a right to moderate his service however he wants, don’t get me wrong. But every time I hear someone like him go on about starting a “true free speech service”, I always wait for the other pillow to drop. Because it always will.

(Oh, and as for the wordfilters? Assuming the site can parse Unicode, a zero-width space would likely be enough to get obscenities past the filter…and leave an admin scratching their heads.)

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"But every time I hear someone like him go on about starting a “true free speech service”, I always wait for the other pillow to drop"

When these people say "free speech", they mean consequence free speech, but only for them. Speech they don’t personally like is to be censored at will. They never seem to understand why people who disagree with them don’t see it their way.

"(Oh, and as for the wordfilters? Assuming the site can parse Unicode, a zero-width space would likely be enough to get obscenities past the filter…and leave an admin scratching their heads.)"

I’m sure that some people are going to find it very entertaining educating them about how flawed their system is…

sumgai (profile) says:

Think I’ll register an account with the username "Scunthorpe Cockburn" and see how far I get.

That right there is priceless! Do keep us informed of your adventures, please.

… wondering when Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and DJT will create verified accounts?

They won’t be able to, because AC (immediately above) and others of like mind will beat the "real" ones to the punch. Often and repeatedly, ad finitum. Hell, I’m tempted to sign up as "TheRealJoshHawley’sMentor", but I don’t want to step on CJ Robert’s toes. He might be even funnier than I could ever be, who knows.

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Anonymous Coward says:

“You don’t get to use the four swear words: the c-word, the n-word, the f-word, or God’s name in vain,” Lindell says in the video.

Someone’s got to tell him there’s 7 – and for christ’s sake, "goddamn" isn’t one of them.

But I do think it’s really nice of him to turn it into a game for us. These people never learn.

ECA (profile) says:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyBH5oNQOS0

God/jesus? thats 2, not one.

AND YES, we found ways to say things they cant EDIT, Except. When they do it has some strange consequences.
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/58036/50-words-sound-rude-actually-arent

I like these English versions:
https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~biglou/resources/bad-words.txt
Then:
https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/best-curse-words-in-other-languages

Slang and alt language.
https://www.afar.com/magazine/10-english-words-with-unfortunate-meanings-in-other-languages

Then SCIENCE:
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dirty-science-words_n_5529731

Alternatives
https://www.tennessean.com/story/life/entertainment/12th/2019/07/19/50-curse-words-alternatives/1673915001/

God knows what?
https://www.bustle.com/articles/81192-20-innocent-words-that-sound-dirty-and-will-make-you-giggle-like-a-5-year-old-no-matter

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Original

Except, yah know, if I want to speak freely by cursing. And before “you should be able to say what you want without swearing” yes, but that’s still a restriction on speech.

Also gonna need a big ol’ [citation needed] both on eliminating obscenity being the original point of content moderation and that it’s used to “control people’s beliefs” today. I’m willing to wager people who get kicked off platforms for being arseholes don’t generally have a moment of self reflection and stop being arseholes, they just find somewhere else to do it.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Original

Yet, if someone posts "For goodness sake, people, the election wasn’t stolen, it was honestly lost by DJT. Here’s the proof …" I strongly suspect it will disappear like it was never posted. Either that or a virtual lynch mod will descend to run the miscreant poster out of town.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Original

There aren’t any words that people don’t get upset about for copyright’s sake. It’s all trumping contextual. Spammers will get upset that you call their stuff spam. If you are on a recipe forum, people will get upset that you bring up video games or politics or anything else. Some people will have a knee jerk and be swatting offended just any time they see certain words based on their prior experience..

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Moderation, by default and design, will always “violate people’s ability to speak freely”. The thing you don’t get? Moderation only applies to a given service/site/property/community. It can’t prevent someone kicked off Twitter or booted out of Walmart from speaking their mind in general.

Moderation doesn’t violate your civil rights, Koby. You’ve been told so a hundred times. Stop being intentionally ignorant and start acting like you believe in something other than your precious fee-fees.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Original

Since exactly when did ‘goddamn’ become obscenity?

Because goddamnit! I want my freedom to say ‘goddamn this’ or ‘goddamn whatever the hell I want.’

Goddamnit, why are you defending this hypocritical self-righteous crackhead who would happily trod over my goddamn rights?

Assuming this reply is obscene, MIke would be legally required to remove it, as obscenity is not protected by the first amendment, goddamnit. Let’s see how your shitty theory plays out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Original

Except, yah know, if I want to speak freely by cursing. And before “you should be able to say what you want without swearing” yes, but that’s still a restriction on speech.

Also gonna need a big ol’ [citation needed] both on eliminating obscenity being the original point of content moderation *and* that it’s used to “control people’s beliefs” today. I’m willing to wager people who get kicked off platforms for being arseholes don’t generally have a moment of self reflection and stop being arseholes, they just find somewhere else to do it.

aethercowboy (profile) says:

God, that Scunthorpe Problem...

The list seems very arbitrary, and is either using the jankiest of janky word filters, or is going to be a moderation nightmare.

Not only is there the Scunthorpe problem, but how does one distinguish between legitimate invocations of God versus those in vain? Just like how copyright filters would require an army of judges, this would require a Sanhedrin!

Also, this probably is, on record, the first "free speech" platform that bans the use of the n-word.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Know your audence man...

I mean I knew the guy was delusional after listening to GAM reviews of his ‘films’ but damn, the kind of people looking for ‘alternative’ social media platforms after being kicked off the civilized ones are going to see those ‘rules’ are a fun little challenge and will be throwing fits should the rules ever actually be applied to them, so good job covering yourself in blood and jumping in shark infested waters man.

That said I do find it funny to see yet another example of how fragile the feelings of the ‘fuck your feelings’ crowd are, how very quickly they go from ‘if you don’t like it then don’t listen’ to ‘how dare you offend my sensibilities?!’

deanathema (profile) says:

swearing as a fucking god given right

Ricky: Look, I can’t speak without swearing, and I’ve only got my grade 10, and I haven’t had a cigarette since I’ve been arrested, I’m ready to fuckin’ snap. So I’d like to make a request under the people’s freedom of choices and voices act that I be able to smoke and swear in your courtroom. Because if I can’t smoke and swear, I’m fucked. And so are all these guys. I won’t be able to properly express myself at a court level, and that’s bullshit. It’s not fair and if you ask me, I think it’s a fuckin’ miss draw.
Prosecutor: This man can’t represent anyone! Your Honor! He’s a complete and total idiot!
Judge: Now although I am opposed to that kind of language in my courtroom, I’m going to allow it, as unfortunately it is part of your right to a fair trial. So you may proceed, but please, I want to remind you that this is not a carnival. Richard, you have permission to smoke and swear.
Ricky: Thank you. I just gotta get some cigarettes, actually.
[Ricky walks over to the prosecutor’s desk and snaps his fingers]
Ricky: Let’s go, smokes!
Prosecutor: But I only got 2 left!
Ricky: I don’t care. You’ve been a dick all morning. It’s the least you can do for me!
Prosecutor: Oh, for the love of God.
[Several members of the prosecution start to light cigarettes]
Judge: Just the defendant, please.
Ricky: My first order of business is to tell the prosecutor to shut the fuck up and wipe that stupid fuckin’ grin off his face because it’s distraculating my case. Next I want to announce that Lahey and Randy have been drinkin’ all fuckin’ day, they’re wasted out of their fuckin’ minds and they’re both assholes. And the testimony they gave was total fuckin’ bullshit. I can prove it and show you what really fuckin’ happened here.

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