House Republican's Entire 'Big Tech' Platform Is 'We Must Force Big Tech To Display Our Conspiracy Theories And Lies'
from the sad-state-of-affairs dept
The Republican Party that once claimed to be the party of keeping government out of business and that actions have consequences has moved far, far beyond that. These days, it’s a parody of everything it once derided. Take a look at House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s newly announced Framework to Stop the Bias and Check Big Tech. Even from the naming you can see quite clearly ridiculous victim-playing. There remains no evidence of any “anti-conservative bias” in social media content moderation. It is true that some Republican supporters have faced moderation… for breaking the rules. Just as some non-Republicans have faced moderation for those same reasons. It’s just that these Republicans — with no other fundamental principles to go on — have tried to turn basic content moderation for policy breaking into a whiny victimhood.
Remember when Republicans used to mock Democrats for always playing the victim and being “whiny snowflakes”? Apparently it was all projection.
Just days before the 2018 primary election, Google search results for ?California Republicans? identified our ideology as ?Nazism.? At the same time, conservatives like Devin Nunes and Donald Trump Jr. were shadow banned on Twitter. For pro-life groups like Live Action and others, the discrimination wasn?t subtle at all. Since then, the examples of conservative censorship and bias across internet platforms has proliferated. Each one of you are all too familiar with how Big Tech and its overwhelmingly liberal executives want to set the agenda and silence conservatives.
Of course, each of those has a story behind them and none of them are presented accurately. Note that McCarthy doesn’t bother to explore why any of the above happened (if they happened — Twitter doesn’t engage in “shadow banning” so that’s just misleading claptrap). No one at social media companies wants to “silence conservatives.” Again, most of the evidence suggests the exact opposite. But the fact is that if you violate policies — including by spreading dangerous disinformation about, say, health or elections — you might get kicked off.
That should be a policy that actual “conservatives” support. It’s about the rights of private property owners to choose not to do business with those who are disruptive — and for those being disruptive to face the consequences of their own actions. That seems like the kinds of things that conservatives used to insist they support.
Over 90 percent of search happens on Google and 90 percent of users drop off after first-page results. The ability to stack the deck protects the willing participants of the scheme and punishes the non-compliant. The same gatekeeper effect lies with Amazon and Apple. If your company or product doesn?t meet the criteria of corporate wokeism, it?s increasingly likely Americans won?t find it on these platforms.
What are you even talking about? It’s got nothing to do with “corporate wokeism” — a hilariously stupid term in its own right. And we’ve seen over and over again that the platforms have actually bent over backwards to have a light touch on conservatives to avoid being accused of bias. The reality is that there is unequal treatment: the sites have given conservatives a lot more leeway, and only proceeded to moderate in the most extreme cases.
Just to make this clear, looking at the accounts that get the most link clicking on Facebook, they are almost always dominated by famous “conservative” individuals and organizations.
The top-performing link posts by U.S. Facebook pages in the last 24 hours are from:
1. Franklin Graham
2. Fox News
3. Ben Shapiro
4. KHOU 11 News
5. Ben Shapiro
6. Dan Bongino
7. Ben Shapiro
8. Ben Shapiro
9. Sean Hannity
10. Dan Bongino
— Facebook's Top 10 (@FacebooksTop10) June 18, 2021
Again, the evidence does not suggest “anti-conservative bias.” If it’s true (and even this could be disputed) that conservatives violate the policies of social media services more often — for example, by posting utterly debunked conspiracy theories about elections, healthcare, and more — well, perhaps that’s on them. Not the companies.
Then we get to the actual policy recommendations:
Accountability: Our framework would rein in Big Tech and end their abusive practices, including by changing the law so that Americans can challenge Big Tech directly for their infringement of public speech rights. This effort starts by taking away the liability shield Big Tech has hidden behind for far too long. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would be changed to limit liability protections for moderation of speech that is not protected by the First Amendment and would preclude Big Tech from discriminating against Americans based on their political affiliation. We would also require regular reauthorization of Section 230 so Congress may update regulations of the constantly-evolving internet landscape.
Sigh. This is such garbage. Moderation is not an infringement of your right to speech. You can still speak — you just don’t have a guaranteed right to use someone else’s property to speak. And if you took away 230, you’d get significantly less speech because you’d massively ramp up the legal liability and frivolous lawsuits against social media websites. Remember when Republicans were against handing plaintiffs’ lawyers the easy ability to file vexatious lawsuits? Apparently that’s out the window.
Also, what the hell does: “limit liability protections for moderation of speech that is not protected by the First Amendment” mean? That would be a massive 1st Amendment violation in its own right, saying that websites must leave up all protected speech. Lies, porn, hate speech, conspiracy theories, harassment, abuse are all protected speech under the 1st Amendment in most cases (there are a few edge cases that wouldn’t count). But under such an approach, these Republicans would be turning the entire internet into a cesspool of garbage.
Similarly: “preclude Big Tech from discriminating against Americans based on their political affiliation.” First of all, no one is being banned for being a Republican today. The only cases I’ve ever seen of someone being banned for political affiliation were Nazis. So the Republican Party is now making it official party platform that websites must protect Nazi speech? Really?
Transparency: Our framework would empower Americans by ending Big Tech?s ability to hide behind vague terms of service that have not constrained their conduct in any meaningful way. We will do so by mandating that any Big Tech content moderation decisions or censorship must be listed, with specificity, on a publicly available website. In addition, by requiring Big Tech to implement and maintain a reasonable user-friendly appeals process, our plan will empower conservatives and others whose speech rights have been infringed to challenge Big Tech?s attacks.
Anyone who knows anything about content moderation knows what this really means: give us the rules so we can figure out how to argue with you that we didn’t break them. This is the abusers/harassers free pass to be a total asshole to the staff of social media companies, insisting that when they’re harassing someone it wasn’t “really” harassment. Or when they post racist garbage “it was just a joke.” This is to open the floodgates on being able to continue to annoy and harass social media to try to make sure all garbage content must remain up.
Strengthening Anti-Trust Review: Our framework also recognizes that the status quo and bureaucratic delays are not acceptable when it comes to bringing long-overdue antitrust scrutiny to Big Tech. We will provide an expedited court process with direct appeal to the Supreme Court and empower state attorneys general to help lead the charge against the tech giants to break them up. We will also reform the administrative state and remove impediments that delay taking action on Big Tech power.
I mean, Republicans have spent the past four or five decades redefining anti-trust to make it effectively impossible to win a case on anti-trust grounds, so this is quite a turnaround — but also one of those situations where you almost want to say “hey, you made this bed, now lay in it.”
Anyway, a few days after McCarthy put out this ridiculous “framework,” Republicans on the House Judiciary put out their own plan, which they claimed was “consistent” with McCarthy’s framework — and it is. It is consistently disconnected from reality.
It, of course, removes Section 230:
A cause of action to empower Americans. For far too long, Big Tech has been able to censor the views of conservatives with effectively no recourse available to those affected. This proposal would create a statutory basis for Americans to directly challenge Big Tech in court for its censorship and silencing of conservatives.
Overhauling Big Tech?s liability shield. Congress passed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to allow internet platforms to moderate unlawful or offensive content on their platforms. Big Tech has exploited this protection to make subjective content moderation decisions, often in a manner harmful to conservative voices. This proposal will ensure that any content moderation decisions are done in good faith, based on objectively reasonable criteria, and in accord with particularized rules.
As has become standard among politicians these days, this completely misstates and misunderstands how Section 230 (and the 1st Amendment) work. Both of the concepts above would be clear violations of the 1st Amendment, as we just saw with the Florida law that Florida Law that tried to create something similar.
The whole thing is one giant performative, grievance, pity party from the party that used to pretend to be against such things. It’s just sad, but that is the state of the Republican party these days.