Wisconsin Senator's Social Media Bill Aims To Save The First Amendment By Violating The First Amendment

from the [headed-to-the-ER-to-get-my-third-degree-stupid-burns-treated] dept

Grandstands and bandwagons: that’s what’s headed to Social Media Town. Professional victims — far too many of them earning public money — have produced a steady stream of stupid legislation targeting social media platforms for supposedly “censoring” the kind of the content they really like: “conservative views.” Convinced by failed-businessman-turned-failed-president Donald Trump (and his herd of Capitol Hill toadies) that social media has it in for anyone but the leftiest leftists, a bunch of legislators have hacked up “anti-censorship” bills that aim to protect free speech by trampling on free speech.

The latest (but surely not the last) legislator to grab his bandstand and board the bandwagon is Wisconsin state Senator Julian Bradley. Bradley seems convinced his low Twitter polling must be due to social media companies keeping him down.

“Big tech is silencing the things I say,” Bradley explained Monday morning. “They are silencing and shadow banning, they’re blocking any information that I am putting out.”

And he has a message for Big Social Media:

“Free expression is one of the most vital components of our democratic republic. We must ensure our citizens can engage in political speech unfiltered and uncensored by Big Tech. It’s time for Facebook and Twitter to consistently and fairly enforce their own rules.”

How does Bradley hope to protect free speech from the censorship private companies can’t actually commit? By violating their free speech rights, of course. From the bill [PDF] Bradley says he’s filing but actually has yet to file [as of July 14th, anyway]:

The bill prohibits a social media platform from using post prioritization (prioritizing certain content ahead of, below, or in a more or less prominent position than others in a newsfeed, feed, view, or search results) on content or material posted by or about a candidate for state or local office or an elected official who holds a state, local, or national office.

The bill also prohibits a social media platform from knowingly censoring, deplatforming (deleting or banning from the social media platform for more than 60 days), or shadow banning (limiting or eliminating the exposure of a user, or content posted by a user, to other users of the social media platform) a candidate for state or local office or an elected official who holds a state, local, or national office.

This compelled speech that favors only certain people is shoved into the bill alongside language that says social media companies must treat everyone equally.

Under the bill, a social media platform must publish the standards it uses for determining how to censor, deplatform, and shadow ban users on the platform. A social media platform must apply censorship, deplatforming, and shadow banning standards in a consistent manner among its users on the platform.

All social media patrons must be treated equally… except for politicians and would-be politicians, who will be statutorily more equal than others. Failure to carry compelled speech or apply rules “consistently” will potentially cost social media companies hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions per claim). And “consistency” will be defined literally on a case-by-case basis since the new law would create a private cause of action against qualifying social media platforms.

Bradley doesn’t seem to know or care whether his proposal is constitutional. All he knows is he’s pretty sure it’s ok for the government to compel speech when courts have ruled government officials can’t cut off citizens from interacting with them.

Bradley is quick to point-out that judges have ruled lawmakers and other elected officials cannot block or ban people from commenting on their posts, even if those comments are negative or ugly. The courts have ruled, essentially, that social media is the new public town hall and some online speech is protected.

Bradley is right… at least as far as getting the gist of recent court decisions. But he’s wrong when he clarifies his own position:

Bradley said he is using this same logic to say that social media platforms shouldn’t be able to ban elected officials, no matter the language they use.

Ah. Well then. Good luck using that “same logic” in court. This isn’t junior high debate class, you rube. This is the Constitution. “This same logic” doesn’t apply when there are two very clear and very distinct sets of rules that govern private companies and public servants. Public servants can’t prevent the public from participating in their own governance. Private companies are free to pick and choose whose content they’ll host. And social media services have cut elected officials a lot of slack over the years, keeping accounts alive that would have been shut down much earlier if platforms enforced rules consistently.

Bradley wants to create a carve-out for public officials in both the Constitution and social media platforms’ terms of service. That’s utter bullshit and shouldn’t be tolerated by either his government cohorts or the people he’s supposed to be representing.

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Comments on “Wisconsin Senator's Social Media Bill Aims To Save The First Amendment By Violating The First Amendment”

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Koby (profile) says:

Not Compelled

Most platforms claim that the speech posted by its users is not the speech of the platform in order to avoid liability. Therefore social media corporations are not doing the speaking, and are not being compelled. Social media is not being compelled anymore than a paper company is being compelled if someone writes something with which they disagree on a piece of their paper. There is no first amendment right to censor others.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not Compelled

Interesting point…there’s someone looking for your comment on GETTR doing the same thing….

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210709/17144347141/it-appears-that-jason-millers-gettr-is-speed-running-content-moderation-learning-curve-faster-than-parler.shtml#c3910

What say you? Care to comment about first amendment right with respect to GETTR? Seems like they’re the same people who continually complain on one hand, then do the same thing on the other, no?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not Compelled

They’re also wondering what you think here too…

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210713/09513247161/florida-man-governor-wastes-more-florida-taxpayer-money-appealing-ruling-about-his-unconstitutional-social-media-law.shtml#c459

Seems like anytime one of your own either loses spectacularly, or makes you look like hypocritical morons, you disappear.

Care to enlighten us as to why?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Not Compelled

Most platforms claim that the speech posted by its users is not the speech of the platform in order to avoid liability. Therefore social media corporations are not doing the speaking, and are not being compelled.

Koby, this is wrong (again). This has been explained to you repeatedly. The 1st Amendment ALSO bars the government from interfering with the right of association. Forcing someone to host speech they disagree with is compelled violation of the 1st Amendment’s right of free association.

There is no first amendment right to censor others.

You’re so wrong it’s laughable.

Why do you hate the 1st Amendment? Why do you support the government takeover of websites? Koby, you’re so anti-American it hurts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Not Compelled

Koby isn’t wrong. Masnick, show us the part of the 1st Amendment about protecting the right to censor others. Here it is in its entirety. Show us the part. Go ahead. Thanks in advance.

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

Standing by for your answer….

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re: Not Compelled

Koby isn’t wrong. Masnick, show us the part of the 1st Amendment about protecting the right to censor others. Here it is in its entirety. Show us the part. Go ahead. Thanks in advance.

What you call "censor" is just someone kicking the assholes out because they don’t want to be associated with them, ie exercising their freedom of association thing.

That you fail to understand this is just because you are an stupid asshole that’s screaming about how your rights are being violated while you are forcing your odious person upon others.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not Compelled

Social media is not being compelled anymore than a paper company is being compelled if someone writes something with which they disagree on a piece of their paper.

Do you think you’ll be able to write on THEIR paper without purchasing it first, thus making it YOUR paper?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Not Compelled

And every time you click the Submit button, the speech is yours and the transaction is complete.

But the website (paper) that it’s written on was never mine to begin with. So what exactly did I purchase that I would have a property interest in?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It's my corkboard now supermarket owner

Didn’t you know, if someone allows use of their property the second you make use of it that property(or at least that part) becomes yours and the previous owner has no right to remove any changes or additions you might have made, therefore it is not and would not be in any way a violation of their rights for the government to step in and tell them they have to leave your stuff up.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Therefore social media corporations are not doing the speaking, and are not being compelled.

They may not be compelled into speaking, sure. But they’d be compelled into hosting speech they don’t want to host. Yes or no, Koby: Do you believe the government should have the legal right to compel any privately owned interactive web service into hosting legally protected speech that the owners/operators of said service don’t want to host?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Let me answer for him, as we were talking about exactly that…you see, a website is like a piece of paper. He doesn’t own it, but he thinks having a pen entitles him to use it, whether the owner of said paper likes it or not.

As such he believes that he has a fundamental right to use his pen whenever and wherever he wants, irrespective of whose paper he’s writing on. And he asks, nay DEMANDS that if he can’t use the paper, then someone must force the paper owner to let him use it.

Do I have it right, Koby?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Why do I have the feeling that if I gave a damn and pulled up his Twitter feed it would be filled with all sorts of openminded loving… bwhahaahahahahahaha oh sorry even I couldn’t pull that off.

He is a walking caricature of GQP talking points.
Only the GQP cares about you, the border must be sealed, poor people should be forced back to work for the economy…

No mention of vaccines, masks…
Its the liberals making everything bad, they won’t let us cut business taxes which are holding them back…

teka says:

At this time I would like to formally announce my candidacy for a state or local office. Any and or all of them that may apply now or in the future.

With that announcement made, I am now a candidate, obviously, meaning I can do whatever I want on social media. Forever, or they will be hearing from my lawyers and we’ll all be laughing about this all the way to the bank.

/s

Anonymous Coward says:

(prioritizing certain content ahead of, below, or in a more or less prominent position than others in a newsfeed, feed, view, or search results)

What’s the alternative, a random order where he might appear on the last page?

Proposals like that show no understanding of the basic problems of indexing and listing things, or a world view where the propose is the most important person in the world, and nobody else is of any importance.

Bloof (profile) says:

Wisconsin is a state where democrats won 54% of the votes yet republicans, who are very much the minority, kept two thirds of the seats and moved immediately to gut the powers of the governor, the one seat they couldn’t retain through gerrymandering. No Wisconsin republican has any right to pretend they’re a champion of freedom and democracy, they’re champions of selfish power grabs, nothing more.

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Anonymous Coward says:

innoc first try because BLOCKED

they see me quein’, they hatin’!

This known by mentions from minions and Maz that they see the queue filled — but they don’t ever let any of mine out, proving viewpoint discrimination!

I just have to hammer away until TD admin either okays or I find an unblocked Tor exit node…

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: innoc first try because BLOCKED

Yeah, we’re all just marveling at the lengths you go to post, just so we can all flag it.

HOW do you KNOW unless see the queue, minion pretending to be AC?

Just thought I’d tell you – it’s not your viewpoint. It’s you.

And you’re WRONG as usual!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 innoc first try because BLOCKED

I see the queue. And you’re wrong. We have always let comments through, even those from ignorant fools and morons who disagree with us. The only reason YOUR comments don’t get through is because you submit 100 of the exact same comment. So by the time we check the queue to see your ignorant foolish nonsense, you’ve already figured out some way to get your comment through anyway. And we don’t want to have the entire comments flooded with 100 copies of you posting the same ignorant bullshit over and over again.

If you just had some modicum of self-control and patience, we’d let your stupid, ignorant, foolish, comments through. But you don’t. So, you waste your time spamming, and we waste our time having to pick through a queue dominated by your nonsense.

Knock if off.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Naked hypocrisy strikes again

Take a little ‘Everyone is equal, but some animals are more equal than others’, mix in a dash of ‘consequences are for other people’ and throw in a heaping pile of ‘my imaginary constitutional rights are more important than your actual constitutional rights!’ and you’ve got one of the core ‘conservative’ pillars these days.

How very quickly the party of ‘let the free market decide’, ‘small government’ and ‘personal responsibility’ pivots into heavy regulations when the market decides that it doesn’t care for them thanks to their words and actions…

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: It's ironic that you respect "free speech for companies"

Companies shouldn’t have constitutional protections.

Why not? That would be an absolute fucking disaster. Think of how often companies would be sued for absolutely garbage reasons.

That decision was almost as bad as citizen’s united.

What decision? And what was "bad" about CU? What do you think CU was actually about?

People have rights, companies don’t.

You may wish that to be true, but it is not. And if you took the time to understand why, you’d recognize that removing rights from corporations would be a total disaster of epic proportions. Say goodbye to any decent reporting, for example.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re:

The funny thing is even if you were right you’d still be wrong, as unless you support the government seizing the means of production(now where was that idea from…?) the site owners still have their property rights which would allow them to give you the boot from their property at their discretion, an act which would in no way infringe upon your rights because you never had a right to use their property to begin with.

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Anonymous Coward says:

On other hand, here's GOOD NEWS from modern Germany:

Germany Fines YouTube Six Figures for Removing Video of Anti-Lockdown Protest

https://www.mediaite.com/news/germany-fines-youtube-six-figures-for-removing-video-of-anti-lockdown-protest/

A regional court in Dresden ordered to pay the 100,000 Euro fine last week more than a year after the company ran afoul of German laws. The court ordered YouTube to put the video online in May 2020, a month after YouTube removed it, but the company took weeks to comply. YouTube unsuccessfully argued the video violated its policies on Covid-19 "misinformation."

"With the historically high fine, the Higher Regional Court makes it very clear that court decisions must be observed without restriction, regardless of whether YouTube assumes a violation of its guidelines or not," an attorney for the plaintiff, Joachim Steinhoefel, said in a statement on Twitter.

SO at least modern democracy holds that corporations CAN BE ORDERED TO HOST SPEECH.

ECA (profile) says:

OK,its time.

We need abit of backup with the state and Gov. but.

Lets make a channel, that there are NO censorship. and let it run for 30-60 days and Lets see all the complaints.
We can invite Anyone that wants to come, and no one will be kicked.
BUT, we want your real name and data, WHICH will not be shared to anyone joining.

Then we collect all the DMCA, and abuse, and BS. And show it to them. If they can get anything said or done while in the forums, I will LOL myself to sleep.
We can make sections for different comments and Maybe get them to stick to 1 comment?
We can collect all the RIAA/MPAA and everyone companies complaints and SHOW them to them.

Show them the What happened in the past, when the Internet Took off.
Also collect the data on the REAL nuts out there. SHOW them what Humans Look like in the wild.

Bobvious says:

It's very clear

that so many Americans CRAVE, CRAVE, CRAVE the good old days of the English Aristocracy and 18th century Monarchy, where the ruling class lorded it over the peasants.

It’s almost as if there wasn’t a war to rid themselves of that.

Gormless morons who pontificate about FREEDOM, while enslaving their fellow people.

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