No, The White House Isn't Colluding With Facebook To Silence Dissent; But It Sure Could Have Handled Things Better

from the what-a-mess dept

Honestly, this is the last thing I wanted to be writing about today. First, let’s make this clear: when I’ve seen political officials — both Democrats and Republicans alike — threatening to punish companies for 1st Amendment protected activities, I call it out. Indeed, I’ve been highlighting these kinds of issues for years — and it has nothing to do with politics or ideology or who I like or who I don’t like.

It’s a simple fact: the US government should not be threatening or coercing private companies into taking down protected speech.

But, over the past few days there’s been an absolutely ridiculous shit storm falsely claiming that the White House is, in fact, doing this with Facebook, leading to a whole bunch of nonsense — mainly from the President’s critics. It began on Thursday, when White House press secretary Jen Psaki, in talking about vaccine disinfo, noted that the White House had flagged vaccine disinformation to Facebook. And… critics of the President completely lost their shit claiming that it was a “First Amendment violation” or that it somehow proved Donald Trump’s case against the social media companies.

It did none of those things.

On Friday, rather than recognizing how this whole line of argument would be weaponized, the White House doubled down, again highlighting how it was upset about misinformation about vaccines on social media, and then when asked directly about “Facebook” Joe Biden said “they’re killing people.” This is, of course, wrong. Facebook is not killing people. Some idiots on Facebook are spreading misinformation and disinformation that is likely causing people to die, but we should be putting the blame where it needs to be put. On the people spreading the disinformation.

Either way, the fact that the government might flag to social media companies that certain content is disinformation does not, in any way, reach the level of coercion or demands that would make it a 1st Amendment violation. There was no indication that the companies were told to take it down. There’s no indication that anything happened other than the administration saying “Hey, this stuff is dangerous.” And, I mean, if you’re going to get mad at administrations demanding social media posts get taken down, it certainly looks like the Trump administration went way further than the Biden administration did in demanding such things (like that time with regards to posts advocating for the removal of confederate statues). I don’t remember any of the folks now screaming about the Biden administration complaining when Trump actually did demand posts be removed.

Of course, that still doesn’t make this necessarily the right approach by the White House — and frankly, it’s astounding that they walked right into this seemingly unaware of how it would all play out. Ken White wrote out the perfect way in which a smart White House would have dealt with this issue:

Here?s how the Biden Administration could handle the plague of deadly disinformation in a way that wouldn?t play into the Trumpist censorship narrative:

“The First Amendment and Section 230 let private companies like Twitter and Facebook choose how to moderate their sites. American free speech rights are exceptional and protect a very large amount of speech many of us would agree is dangerous or harmful. That broad protection helps insulate speech from political and ideological urges to censor. But the government has a leadership function as well as a governing one. Part of leadership is praising good behavior and condemning bad behavior, in hopes that people will do the right thing, without the coercion of law.

Facebook has a right to make money off of this alarming and deadly disinformation. But that doesn?t make it the right thing to do. Just as Americans have the right to say poisonous and ugly things to each other, that doesn?t make it right. When Facebook is exercising its right to profit off of deadly propaganda about COVID, it?s doing the wrong moral thing. It?s being a bad citizen. The First Amendment protects it from coercion, but not from criticism ? yours and ours.

We call on Facebook to reconsider its stance. We?ve identified common anti-scientific propaganda that puts lives at risk. Facebook can continue to profit off of it. But it can choose not to. We call on Facebook to do the right thing – for Americans and their lives.”

Would it really have been so hard to have done something like that?

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Comments on “No, The White House Isn't Colluding With Facebook To Silence Dissent; But It Sure Could Have Handled Things Better”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A quick reminder

… 1st Amendment and Bill of Rights are fundamental law, not just nice principles. And government officials of both parties routinely violate them.

For example the FCC has enforced very extensive content rules on all commercial radio and television compnies for many decades.
Federal government had no reticence imposing severe censorship during WWI and WWII.
Abraham Lincoln jailed hundreds of Northern newspaper reporters and editors for merely criticizing his handling of the Civil War.

The internet is not quite yet under FCC control, but that is guaranteed to happen, with bipartisan cheers from D.C.

Principles are easily abandoned when politicians actually wield power.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

the FCC has enforced very extensive content rules on all commercial radio and television compnies for many decades

Gee, can’t imagine why the government might have a vested interest in regulating commercial speech~.

The internet is not quite yet under FCC control, but that is guaranteed to happen, with bipartisan cheers from D.C.

And people think I’m a pessimist. You wanna stop that shit from happening? Go tell your representatives to knock that shit off. If they refuse, vote them out or have them recalled (if you can). Take direct action, too: organize protests, make pamphlets to share with others, or even make some easily shareable memes about issues you care about. You don’t have to accept bullshit. But you do choose how you respond to it.

Principles are easily abandoned when politicians actually wield power.

Not all men who wield power abandon their principles. Then again, power only ever reveals. A corrupt officeholder was always corrupt; power only revealed their true nature.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: A quick reminder

… the FCC has no Constitutional basis to exist at all, and absolutely zero authority to regulate/rule/own anything.

American radio frequency airwaves were originally open & free to everyone, similar to the internet.

But the federal Radio Act of 1912 blatantly & illegally seized half the useable RF spectrum for the government/military. A shameful pattern of Federal bullying and special-interest corrupt regulation followed … resulting in the ‘Radio Act of 1927’ establishing the Federal Radio Commission bureaucracy (…now the FCC).

The airwaves were simply declared public property under Commission control… pure socialism with no Constitutional basis.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 EIther you know something noen of them do or...

Let’s see, a random person on the internet simply stating that a government agency has no constitutional basis to exist versus decades of that agency’s existence through administrations bouncing back between both democrat and republican who seem to think otherwise and a court system that likewise seems to think it’s perfectly fine for it to exist… I wonder which I’ll go for as more likely to be correct?

As for the government ‘illegally sizing the RF spectrum’ yeah, I can’t possibly imagine why there would be a government interest in regulating a limited resource and ensuring that it wasn’t rendered entirely useless because everyone tried to use it at once…

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Funny how selective that outrage is...

The WH definitely seems to have botched this but I find it telling that apparently telling a platform ‘hey, this is misinformation’ and leaving it up to them to take it down or leave it up is considered a heinous violation of the first amendment but multiple proposed laws attempting to force platforms to moderate as the government demands is no big deal.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

jen psaki straight up said those banned from one site should be allowed to remain on other sites.

Yes, today she said that, and it was a dumb thing to say, but it was in response to the opposite happening. Basically she was asking why RFK Jr. was banned from Instagram but allowed to continue spreading disinfo on FB. It wasn’t a demand. There was no threat associated with it.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Do either of those countries have laws in place making it clear that outside of very strict exceptions the government telling a private business what they will and will not say/do regarding speech is not acceptable and likely to be struck down should they push it? Because if not that’s not really a valid comparison.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I think it’s just that anyone in government somewhere isn’t allw
owed to say or do anything other than to collect a paycheck, otherwise they are violating someone’s rights and betraying the very founding of our… government.

Except when they are supposed to do the opposite, and literally violate the Constitution. Idk it’s hard to keep track.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Poor Masnick. He keeps making these proclamations that the federal government definitely isn’t doing something and absolutely will not start doing something, no ifs/ands/buts, no way, no how, believe me, you guys! …

… and then the Harris/Biden administration’s official mouthpiece – whose entire job is to clearly state the administration’s message – keeps saying the exact opposite of what Masnick says. Sometimes within the same 24-hour period. Ouch!!

Masnick: Feds ain’t flagging wrongthink for Facebook.

Psaki: Uh, yeah, feds are flagging wrongthink for Facebook.

Masnick: Uh, well, ummm, errr, feds ain’t telling every social media company to unperson someone.

Psaki: Uh, yeah, feds are telling every social media company to unperson someone.

Ha ha! Humiliating (but still hilarious.)

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Masnick: Feds ain’t flagging wrongthink for Facebook.

I didn’t say that.

Psaki: Uh, yeah, feds are flagging wrongthink for Facebook.

That’s not what she said.

Masnick: Uh, well, ummm, errr, feds ain’t telling every social media company to unperson someone.

I never said that.

Psaki: Uh, yeah, feds are telling every social media company to unperson someone.

That’s not what she said.

Are you always this bad at this? You look like an ignorant fucking tool.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

[Citation and Context Needed], unless you’ve got some info about the government not just saying ‘this is disinformation’ but issuing flat out ‘ban this person’ orders that statement doesn’t make any sort of sense because the WH isn’t the one issuing bans.

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Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

"experts" opining on things in which they have no expertise

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/16/doctor-agrees-with-biden-that-facebook-is-killing-people-with-covid-misinformation.html

All it takes to get media airtime is to be an "expert" spouting off nonsense in a field in which one has no expertise.

At least President Biden has resources he COULD use to explain 1am and CDA Sec230. I sure wish pols would use those resources before opining. Same for "infection experts."

E

Anonymous Coward says:

Hmm...

Trusting Mike Masnick to tell us all that the Biden Administration isn’t corrupt and isn’t colluding with the media/internet corporations to squash 1st Amendment rights to speech, while they’ve been doing so the past four years, just goes to show Masnick is lying for the left. No only that, but he’s completely thrown out his ethics on journalism. Oh wait, he’s not a journalist, so maybe someone who was once worth reading articles written by him, but now, scrapes the bottom of the barrel of BS stories to write about to an audience in an echo chamber.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not a mistake

I don’t think the original comment is incorrect. It is true that there is a segment of the Democratic base that does want the gov’t to play a more active role in pressuring websites to take down what they deem to be disinformation.

But I don’t think that’s the motivating factor in these comments. I do think they were just answering honestly about how they have highlighted certain content that they legitimately feel is putting lives at risk, and letting FB know about it.

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Not a mistake

Instead of going after the platforms, here is a wacky thing they could do…

Force Congress to admit Covid is a thing.

If you can get that to happen, then look at other places to flex on.

We have Congressmen who were claiming Covid wasn’t real or not that bad as they jumped the line to get the vaccine first.

They still claim its really kinda not a thing & the base ignores that they all took the 5G Gates Death Nanobot Shot (ITS SARCASM for the impaired who are qualified to be Twitter staff) that they are still not willing to admit works & everyone should get it if they can.

I mean I know Italy went to far when they arrested a buncha geologists over a volcanic eruption that killed people, but we have "leaders" in this country who lied to the public about their risks, withheld assistance, and are still causing bodycounts because they fear Trump saying mean things about them.

Its what 600K dead now? We have nothing in our system to hold leaders accountable? The death count is magnitudes higher than it should be because "trusted" leaders are still lying.

Until Congress can clean its own halls, anything they try to make happen elsewhere is pointless.

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tritorch says:

Everyone here should read and take heed from the following article:

Biosecurity and Politics
by Giorgio Agamben, 2020-05-11

What is striking about the reactions to the exceptional [Covid-19 ‘pandemic’] measures implemented in our country [Italy] — and not only in this one — is the inability to observe them beyond the immediate context in which they seem to operate. Rare are those who try instead, as a serious political analysis would require, to interpret them as symptoms and signs of a wider experiment, in which a new paradigm of government of men and things is at stake. Already in a book published seven years ago, which is now worth rereading carefully (Tempêtes microbiennes, Gallimard 2013), Patrick Zylberman had described the process through which health security, which until now had remained on the margins of political calculations, was becoming an essential part of state and international political strategies. At issue is nothing less than the creation of a sort of "health terror" as an instrument to govern what was defined as the worst case scenario. It is according to this worst-case logic that as early as 2005 the World Health Organization announced "two to 150 million deaths from incoming avian influenza,", suggesting a political strategy that states were not then prepared to embrace. Zylberman shows that the device being suggested consisted of three parts: (1) construction, on the basis of a possible risk, of a fictitious scenario, in which data are presented in such a way as to encourage behaviors that allow governing an extreme situation; (2) adoption of the logic of the worst as a regime of political rationality; (3) the integral organization of the body of citizens in such a way as to reinforce adherence to government institutions to the maximum, producing a kind of superlative civicism in which imposed obligations are presented as evidence of altruism and the citizen no longer has a right to health but rather becomes legally obliged to ensure health (biosecurity).

What Zylberman described in 2013 has now actually occurred. It is clear that, beyond the emergency situation related to a certain virus that may in the future be succeeded by another, what is at issue is the design of a paradigm of government whose effectiveness far exceeds that of all forms of government that have been known so far in the political history of the West. If already, in the progressive decline of ideologies and political beliefs, the reasons of security had allowed citizens to accept limitations of freedom that they were not previously willing to accept, biosecurity has proved capable of presenting the absolute cessation of all political activity and all social relations as the highest form of civic participation. It was thus possible to witness the paradox of left-wing organizations, traditionally accustomed to claiming rights and denouncing violations of the [Italian] Constitution, accepting without reservation limitations on freedoms decided by ministerial decrees devoid of any legality and which not even [Italian] fascism had ever dreamed of being able to impose.

It is evident — and the same government authorities never cease to remind us of this — that so-called "social distancing" will become the model of the politics that awaits us, and that (as the representatives of a so-called task force, whose members are in obvious conflict of interest with the function they should exercise, have announced) they will take advantage of this "distancing" to substitute digital technological devices everywhere for human relationships in their physicality, which have become as such suspected of contagion (political contagion, of course). University lectures, as the MIUR [Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research] has already recommended, will be given from next year onwards permanently online, and we will no longer recognize each other by looking at each other’s faces (which may be covered by a mask) but via digital devices that will use biological data compulsorily taken. And any "gathering", whether it is done for political reasons or simply for friendship, will continue to be prohibited.

At issue is an entire conception of the destiny of human society in a perspective that in many ways seems to have taken over from religions, now in their twilight years, the apocalyptic idea of an end of the world. After politics had been replaced by economics, now, in order to be able to govern, this too will have to be integrated with the new paradigm of biosecurity, to which all other needs will have to be sacrificed. It is legitimate to wonder whether such a society will still be able to call itself ‘human’, or whether the loss of sensitive relationships, of the face, of friendship, of love can really be compensated by an abstract and presumably completely fictitious ‘health security’.

https://www.serendipity.li/agamben-biosecurity-and-politics.htm

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Peter (profile) says:

Who decides what is "deadly misinformation" and what is free speech – or even life-saving information?
Science progresses by exploring in all directions and eventually settling – at least for a while – on what is considered the right way. We have seen that repeatedly with information about the virus in the last year or so, and we continue seeing it.
On top of that, some of the deadliest misinformation was actually spread by the US government (the suggestion to inj**t dis*****tant to name but one).
Is Joe Biden suggesting that Internet companies should censor Government information? Or only information circulated by Republican governments?

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

First thing’s first:

inj[ec]t dis[infec]tant

Don’t be a coward.

Is Joe Biden suggesting that Internet companies should censor Government information?

Not that I can see. If anything, he is suggesting that services like Facebook have a moral responsibility to keep mis- and disinformation from spreading. Look how much worse COVID has been for the U.S. because of all the bullshit.

Or only information circulated by Republican governments?

Given how full of shit the last Republican government was? I’d sooner trust a QAnon believer.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: That venn-diagram is increasingly a circle

"… Why’d you type the same thing twice?"

Because not all republicans are Qanon believers. There’s also the KKK, the neo-nazis, the religious crowd of hysterics, the incurably gullible dumbasses, general misogynists and the Proud Boy Chauvinists.

Many of which will overlap in the pretty flower of a Venn diagram but as many of which are unrelated. This is why the GOP has been reduced to pushing Blood And Soil/general fearmongering instead of an actual political policy platform since 2016.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re:

well lets do something thinking here.
US gov, didnt tell you to use disinfectant. 1 PERSON DID, and he wasnt a Doctor. So if you did it, it wasnt a Doctors order. Like listening to a plumber on your cars timing.

Trump wanted to be the front man, to tell everyone everything. But 5 years of virology ISNT something to explain in 5 min to 1 person 80 yo,

A solution is simple. but takes abit of time.
CALL UP THE COMPANY POSTING THE ADVERT/INFO.
Look up the references given, at least the ones that seem ABIT off.
Just cause .3% died dont mean that MORE were not sick. And anyone with Kids, or in retail, knows that YOU WILL CATCH EVERYTHING. and the rule comes down as, you DONT want your kids to die, then GET THE SHOT. And if you dont want to leave your kids to dead parents, GET THE SHOT.

Lets do this like the 2016 election.. IF you dont like it LEAVE the country.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Who decides what is "deadly misinformation" and what is free speech – or even life-saving information?

Everyone has to decide that on their own. I decide what I think is deadly misinformation, and so do you… and so does the administration and so does Facebook.

I am allowed to express my opinion on it, as are all the others.

The only times we run into trouble is when the government entity then tells a platform that they must remove that content, rather than pointing it out and saying "we believe this is disinformation."

So, yes, there is a fine line here, but it is not around who decides. It’s around the line between the government informing Facebook and the government compelling Facebook.

n00bdragon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

*The only times we run into trouble is when the government entity then tells a platform that they must remove that content, rather than pointing it out and saying "we believe this is disinformation."

So, yes, there is a fine line here, but it is not around who decides. It’s around the line between the government informing Facebook and the government compelling Facebook.*

No, Jen Psaki did not literally point a gun at Mark Zuckerberg and say "delet this" but you don’t find it at least a little bit spooky that the White House, far and away the most powerful arm of the US government, is directly sending out "opinions" on what statements it considers "disinformation"? You don’t have to be a right wing partisan to see the possible wink wink nudge nudge going on and find it deeply troubling.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

you don’t find it at least a little bit spooky that the White House, far and away the most powerful arm of the US government, is directly sending out "opinions" on what statements it considers "disinformation"?

The government can say such things all it wants. Nobody outside of the government is obligated to listen.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t find it particularly disturbing that the government said to a site that reaches a majority of US citizens, during a pandemic that has already killed hundreds of thousands of US citizens, that maybe they might voluntarily remove misinformation that’s killing more people, without the threat of any action from the government.

If advising on a voluntary basis about factual information is troubling to the right wing, maybe the government isn’t the problem in this case? I’m sure we’ll be back to our regular Republican attacks on bodily autonomy and private property rights soon enough.

n00bdragon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m curious how you would react if you found out the government was directing private entities to censor information that it claimed was false but which turned out to be true. The very idea that we now apparently have a Ministry of Truth determining what is true and what is false doesn’t seem off to you?

I figured after four years of Trump people would reject this stuff on its face, but I guess it turns out people didn’t really hate the player. They just didn’t like the team he was playing for. Wake me up in 30-60 years when this shit ends the way it always does.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"I’m curious how you would react if you found out the government was directing private entities to censor information that it claimed was false but which turned out to be true"

We’ll find out if this happens I suppose. Them suggesting to companies that demonstrably false and extremely dangerous misinformation exists and leaving it up to them to choose how to react doesn’t fit that criteria

The irony in this whole argument is that Americans have actually been less free than they would have been if the lies had actually been surpressed by force. Not that I support the latter, but not informing people of a dangerous actin in progress also won’t work.

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n00bdragon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Just consider that it has been barely six months since the proclamations emanating from the White House about what is true and what is false directly lead to an attack on the US Capitol building. "But this time it’s true!" isn’t really a defense and really just sounds more like "I trust THIS president more than the last one". The president CANNOT be trusted to solely determine what is true and what is not. Not for official acts, not for advice, not for opinions, nothing. Whether the power is used for good or evil is unimportant, it’s the power that’s the problem.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

"The president CANNOT be trusted to solely determine what is true and what is not"

Hence, unless I missed something, this being a purely informative message rather than a diktat with consequences if they didn’t reply.

"Whether the power is used for good or evil is unimportant, it’s the power that’s the problem."

Which power was demonstrated that a normal citizen wouldn’t have other than the "credibility" of being from a government office? Which, from what I’m reading at least, the company were within their ability to ignore?

I get being afraid of a competent Trump style dictator having these powers, I’m just not seeing evidence of the power.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"I’m curious how you would react if you found out the government was directing private entities to censor information…"

I guess it’s a good thing that’s not what is happening because that’d be terrible.

Government coming out and providing verifiable information is actually part of the government’s job. This is in every other western nation not an issue because independent observers are always quick to scrutinize the presentation.

"I guess it turns out people didn’t really hate the player."

Wrong. Under both GWB and Trump the white house press briefing became something like a hamfisted USSR propaganda bullhorn where what was presented wasn’t even factually accurate, and questioned as such by most experts in the field. THAT is what upset people.

Biden’s administration has put forth information which can and has been verified as accurate by experts all over the US.

Seriously, the rest of the world doesn’t have this problem. Why is the US, alone among nations, inept in this field as well? Is there anything that crumbling nation is capable of these days, other than dropping bombs on people?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Well, it’s not as if Trump’s war chest for his "self-funded" campaign contained 400 million USD in loans from Deutche Bank with the bloody Russian State Bank signing up as guarantor, is it?

Yeah, it’s not proven that Trump was running errands for Vlad. But we certainly have the receipts telling us he got paid.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Yes, we know

“I don’t find it particularly disturbing that the government said to a site that blah blah blah”

You Techdirters repeat the same things over and over and over in every single comment section. Yes, we know you guys have no problem with the feds and Big Tech thoughtpolicing American citizens. We get it! We understand!

Can you at least discuss something other than your fetish for being bossed around by manicured bureaucrats who’ve never touched a shovel or rifle? It’s your kink…we hear you! Jeez.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“White House, far and away the most powerful arm of the US government, is directly sending out "opinions" on what statements it considers "disinformation"?”

Two things, first it’s a co-equal branch. Second have you ever heard of a press release? Because if you haven’t, you should probably sit down while someone with more patience than me explains the concept to you.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

No, dummy, it’s supposed to be a co-equal branch. That’s the way the Founding Fathers designed it. But that’s not the current situation, because Congress abrogated it’s responsibility to keep the Exec in check during the Lincoln and FDR administrations, and it’s been downhill ever since. Congress let those tyrants do whatever they wanted, and failed to reign in SCOTUS as well over the last +100 years. One of the main reasons we’re in our current crisis, and won’t be solved until we handle it the way General Washington would handle it (with rope.)

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tritorch says:

I’ve learned a lot from this site. Now however, you have seemingly become everything you’ve been fighting against. Your site has evolved into the antipode of your initial intent.

Shame on you

When someone declares "people will die" as a justification for curtailing liberty, the correct response is "what are you suggesting – that liberty isn’t worth dying for? That those who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms made the wrong choice?"
-Techdirt Forum Post by OldMugwump, 2013

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Rocky says:

Re: Psaki

No, that’s not what she literally said. She said they flagged problematic posts to Facebook and other social media companies.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, I would say first, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that we’re in regular touch with social media platforms — just like we’re in regular touch with all of you and your media outlets — about areas where we have concern, information that might be useful, information that may or may not be interesting to your viewers.

You all make decisions, just like the social media platforms make decisions, even though they’re a private-sector company and different, but just as an example.

So we are ma- — regularly making sure social media platforms are aware of the latest narratives dangerous to public health that we and many other Americans seeing — are seeing across all of social and traditional media. And we work to engage with them to better understand the enforcement of social media platform policies.

. . .

MS. PSAKI: First of all, to be crystal clear: Any decision about platform usage and who should be on the platform is orchestrated and determined by private-sector companies. Facebook is one of them, right? And there are a range of media who are — also have their own criteria and rules in place, and they implement them. And that’s their decision to do. That is not the federal government doing that.

Source: whitehouse.gov press breifings

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Psaki

Rocky, she literally said “We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.”

That’s a direct, unaltered quote.

I understand you tried to obfuscate by putting up a wall of typical Psaki hemming and hawing, but Mr. Hess was referring to the time she indicated that they (the executive branch of the federal government) are flagging concepts and ideas that the federal government prefers the public not to be made aware (in Leftist newspeak, “disinformation”) of for Big Tech.

So, learn what literally means, dunce.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Psaki

If you truly believe that someone who makes a mistake should apologize, then you owe Mr. Hess an apology; you were wrong about him being wrong.

I understand you were too lazy to research it, and you just listened to Rocky and assumed he wasn’t a lying retard. But Jen Psaki did in fact literally (look up what that means) said: “ "We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook….”

So go ahead and apologize. (Also, you can almost never go wrong assuming a Masnick’s Blue Checkmark like Rocky is literally a retarded liar or a lying retard.)

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Psaki

That you admire Krug says a lot . I’d be hard-pressed to think of a better metaphor for a Techdirt commenter. Urban Jewish pervert criminals who invade rural small town America to take advantage of innocent families and rape and murder their White teenage virgin daughters.

You’re a fan of Peter Sotos and Valerie Solanas and Jamie Gillis and Shree Rajneesh as well, no doubt.

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SGOR says:

re: China calling

Facebook should be smashed just like the telco’s in the 80’s.

Meanwhile, in China, another CIA/globalist front for fake-feminism falls to the "censorship" of Weibo.

https://globalvoices.org/2021/07/09/china-wipes-out-lgbtq-channels-on-wechat-with-no-explanation/

Strikingly similar to what is going on with US platforms, and Twitter/Facebook "censorship," aka de-platforming because the zionist front, B’nai B’rith, ADL and its Squad 8200 buddies in Silicon Valley cannot handle criticism of their apartheid state Gaza abuses–or their racial supremacist narrative.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The odd thing about your type of one hit snark wizards is that you presume that those you attempt to insult even tune in to online garbage, or television pundits.

WTF is "Carlos Mencia?"–but I am certain that he is no timeless Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, or Sasha B. Cohen.

I haven’t watched television for over ten years, and I am much better for it–no binary fractals to cloud my mind.

Though I admit, I did tune in to the George Floyd reportage, and the aftermath, because it happened in "my neighborhood" so to speak.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: e: China answering thus

Who pays you random comment spamming government trolls to shitpost these asinine comments?

Oh, never mind.The answer is in the question itself!

China’s social media and the US "freedom luvin corporate media" are identical at this point, unless you have an actual argument to the contrary–which you don’t, because you are a spambot.

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LittleCupcakes says:

As usual, the point is missed.

The federal government is telling a private corporation that certain people (as opposed to “misinformation” a.k.a free speech) must be silenced. Make no mistake: we’re talking about PEOPLE being de-speeched. The government should never think this, and certainly never say it.

Anyone ok with the feds attempting to mute any citizen is an apologist for the security state.

What the hell happened to the principled lefties? The ones who knew that the feds are not to be trusted, and that the people involved in rule (like everyone else) are looking out for their own interests? I liked those classical lefties. Now it’s all tribal nonsense, full of hatred and slavering for revenge and desiring that the fucking government to “do something”.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

The federal government is telling a private corporation that certain people (as opposed to “misinformation” a.k.a free speech) must be silenced.

The government is saying certain people are responsible for posting a lot of mis- and disinformation on Facebook. Facebook can either do something about it or not⁠; the government can’t dictate that choice.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Government involvement is a concern

Manufactured terrorism cases provide plenty of proof.

Every time some guy goes bonkers and shoots up a few folks, Facebook/Twitter/et al scrubs his web pages so that "we the people" cannot get access to view the cyber paper trail, and see who it is that "radicalized" the guy–what other personas on his pages egged him on.

They do this because all of those co-conspirators are in fact government or government agents provocateurs.

Proof enough for me.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

idiot. Try not to die in a fire.

The links are all there, and there are thousands of news stories where the "threat assessors" and police union related trolls, etc. actively egg these guys on. And tribal sectarian groups too, ala the ADL et al.

Here below is just one that was averted because it was FBI informants and provocateurs, rather than less-smooth, more obvious "private contractors" –its the norm, not the exception, idiot.

https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2019/10/22/entrapment-defense-center-trial-over-mass-shooting-plot/4012247002/

Turning your name over to Homeland Security now–anyone who doubts such obvious cause-effect relationships is likely a terrorist.

Oh, never mind–I see your cowardly name on their list of "informants" and provocateurs already.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The Portapique Mass Shooting by Gabriel Wortman is quite a compelling story of how informants are ALL OVER THE MAP BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER these events.

But more telling is how the RCMP tried to brush those facts under the rug from the very beginning, as they worked with pointy heeled "crisis PR" teams to form a false narrative–as the gunman rampaged for TEN HOURS hours claiming even more victims!

https://readpassage.com/frank-magazine-was-right-to-publish-portapique-911-calls/

Leave it to the rats, collaborators and snitches to question that FACT.

Thankfully, real news getters like Frank Magazine still uphold journalism’s core tenets, rather than the NGO and crisis PR industry rules and "feel good–dont say their names!–but what about the victims!?" crybullying poppycock.

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SGOR says:

naw, its not censorship whe WE do it

(re:the government can’t dictate that choice)

Obviously the government only incentivizes the practice–it can’t–you know, just jackboot in there and kick some file cabinets around and set books on fire like the EVIL CHINESE and them GODLESS RUSSIANS do ALL THE TIME!!!!!/s

Its Not Censorship When We Do It!

We Do It for Public Health! Public Safety!Soft Power Leverage!!!

….and besides, section 230!

Freedom for Capitalism, and Corporations Now!!

And look at what the CHINEEEEESE are doing!!!!Look!!!!!

https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/chinas-provinces-forefront-online-censorship-enforcement

Confucius Says: (America’s post democracy era is an interesting shit show of word mincing indeed.)

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 naw, its not censorship whe WE do it

follow the link, liar. Nothing "malicious" about it, unless you consider "malicious" factual statements from MSM sources.

Rational people will "go deep" and read my posts that you are rendering "taboo."

Just a few facts, contrasted with the hysterical narrative above.

China’s methods and the US methods are equivalent in every aspect.

And really–since your online presence appeared in 2017, you haven’t contributed substantially to anything. Ars Technica troll, Techdirt troll, a few gamers and developers forums–but really, all of it ranks as "second class troll."

I cannot imagine why they coddle you here. Oh, wait…"sand in the gears" something something…." "zionist apparatchik" something something…."creating a legend" something something else….

Seriously, never mind.

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SORG says:

Re: Re: Re:5 naw, its not censorship whe WE do it

Suuuuuuure it is your first time being wrong. Suuuuuuuure it is….

But that link is 100% US vetted media–its the "safe stuff to say" online, or "talking points," or anything else you want to call it.

But Winston Smith would call this entire thread, and its pro-Facebook pro-corporate censorship/see/hear/say no ebil about USG involvement party lines what it was in his day (which was 1984):

"Newspeak," and pure Fabianism.

The racism inherent in the general "anti-Chinese" sentiment here is also quite telling.

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Anonymous Coward says:

同志 is the proper spelling, and I give you that only because I am certain you will one day wash up on the shores of Guangdong, like all of your type eventually do, gasping for underaged sex, "liberation" and lithium.

Its who you are, and what your types do.

BTW, hows the weather in the Carolina’s these days? Are you off of the registry yet or is that a "lifetime sentence," in your favored version of "democracy?"

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Anonymous Coward says:

Yeah, we know

“ Honestly, this is the last thing I wanted to be writing about today.”

Yeah, we know, Mike. Isn’t it embarrassing when you build your whole public persona on saying “No, Big Tech is not controlled by Democrats and it’s not unpersoning conservatives” … and then the spokesperson for the top Democrat in the USA comes right out and says that Democrats are controlling Big Tech and are unpersoning conservatives.

Oops! Hate when that happens.

Awkwarddddd….

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

Re: Yeah, we know

then the spokesperson for the top Democrat in the USA comes right out and says that Democrats are controlling Big Tech and are unpersoning conservatives.

At no point did they say anything like that, nor is that even remotely true.

They said they are pointing out misinformation to Facebook. That’s it. If you think "misinformation" is synonymous with conservatives, that’s… well… interesting. Second, they are not telling Big Tech they must ban people. They’re pointing out "this is misinformation." And then Facebook gets to make the decision on what to do about it.

Oops! Hate when that happens.

When you lie to make shit up because you’re a disingenuous asshole? Yeah, that is awkward.

Fuck off, you jackass.

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Anonymous Coward says:

"flag to social media companies" ; lol

I have appreciated TechDirt’s efforts to balance this debate, and it is difficult.

But "flag". Okay, so the "private" company argument is sunk. Can I "flag" some Armenian idiot for saying that Coke was full of cocaine back in the day? "Yes, you can". Fu*k off. They do not care.

It is pure power play. And, it is completely unsurprising; the Soc.Med companies have the congress critters by the gonads. And the financial interrelations via donations in the recent elections show that relationship. The core is social influence.

If you cant see this, good luck to you.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

so the "private" company argument is sunk.

No, it isn’t…

Can I "flag" some Armenian idiot for saying that Coke was full of cocaine back in the day? "Yes, you can". Fu[c]k off. They do not care.

…because Facebook is as free to ignore the government’s flagging as it is to ignore yours. Nothing allows the government to order Facebook to take down legally protected content⁠—and as much as this hurts me to say, anti-vax bullshit is still legally protected speech.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:hoping this comment doesn't get "misplaced"

Um…I am sorta here, depending on the whims of the wholly political, creative moderation/moderators at this site; depending upon the wholly infiltrated and troll friendly flagging comment system; and the way that the USA works with its Fusion Centers to backdoor communications, and turn those results over to the authorities for further targeting, due to political reasons–yeah, I am kinda sorta "here" as it were.

But Techdirt is 100% accessible from China–the Washington Post is not–food for thought.

And that shape shifting idea that I am "here"is no different than in China, as Chinese moderators AND government agents stand between the public, socmed companies, and the government in EXACTLY the same way.

The technical tools are even similar/the same, as are the algorithms that attempt to program our speech, flag it, shut it down, or develop our internet habits via "suggestion"–or enforce habits/brainwash a generation.

Apples/Pinguo’s

Your American exclusivity delusions there in the "free-est country in da world" are what is remarkable. You would be shocked to see how much US data goes right through Chinese servers, and vice versa–universities, and other institutions (thanks Amazon!) are even being sold, and data warehoused; offered for public trading.

Beyond peanut gallery "go ‘Murrica!" snark, you come off like a .mil troll–no different than anything happening on China, or Russia for that matter.

I could literally disembody "Rocky" and find thousands who say exactly what you say, on Russian/Chinese/Khazakh socmed, but in different languages.

Your delusion seems to begin with the fact that platforms like Facebook are somehow NOT partially owned by Chinese and other international interests–and that the USG is not also working with those interests to leverage/manipulate/censor speakers on that and other platforms in a global data trade, which just "happens" to have peoples entire electronic lives included in the sale.

That delusion is even more deeply sordid when you posit that US"tech companies" are not somehow anything more than an arm of government, considering the InQTel startup capital, etc.

Any rational person has known since forever that Amazon hosts all over the world, and that the company is a hotbed for all kinds of spying, regardless of whose team you are on. Ala, Facebooks entire web traffic passed through China one sunny day (2011) and later, all of China’s internet passed through Cheyenne WY.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/01/22/that-time-the-chinese-internet-found-itself-at-a-tiny-house-in-cheyenne-wyoming/

So, yeah–the only discernible difference is that some still have the cold war mindset that "the evil Chineeeeeeses!" are somehow "less than" trustworthy–as if anyone in the US is.

That’s the police state that Big Tech built, one snarky "useful idiot" quip like yours at a time, added up over time. Snark fatigue, mebbe, but a police and surveillance tech state certainly.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"I am talking about how US "corporate censorship" is inseparable, identical, and provably "the same as" China’s "censorship regime.""

Facebook and Twitter can toss you in the slammer for five years in the US? Gosh.

…or we could just assume that as usual, Baghdad Bob, you are making a false equivalence here because a corporation dictating terms of use on their property isn’t even remotely the same as a nation-state compelling silence by force of law.

But I guess morons gotta moron.

OGRS says:

Um….purely semantic difference. Five years? If you want to talk about "what’s on paper"as per the law, lets talk about hate crime laws, and the bleedout from Big Tech to police entities on that issue, huh?

Or the various constitutional rights and commercial contracts that are violated by the US-FVEYs snooping, aided by Big Tech–they operate in collusion, and far outside the law in every aspect. Its "Catch Me If You Can" surveillance.

Maybe read up on mass shooters. In the US, they first "flag" a person online, and then send the police, and DHS "private contractors" after the speakers offline and stalk, and bait, and attempt to entrap the speaker on "hate speech" or other charges.

Failing that (online and off) they do a lot more afterwards: send informants after speakers, infiltrate the speakers webs of relationships, wage slander campaigns in the speakers workplaces, and more. Those cases, and the nefarious"countering violent extremism" programs behind these events are numerous and well documented anywhere but here.

No, China does NOT do that, and the five year thingy is entirely arbitraray, just like "hate crime" laws, which also are arbitrarily enforced in the USA, where we see speech bans targeted primarily at the so-called altRight speakers, and black speakers who do not work for the NGO’s that have co-opted their causes.

The issue is arbitrary enforcement, if there is an issue at all. Semantics and paperwork, but the results are IDENTICAL.

Silencing speech that governments and their corporate/NGO sponsors want silenced.

And BTW?

The Tampa Bay Times just one a Pulitzer for adopting MY view on these issues(not yours) of "targeting individuals" outside of due process, and in collusion with Big Tech.

The Pasco Cty sheriff used "intelligence led predictive policing" to target people it didn’t like with endless harassment.

That series was called "Targeted" More to come, stay tuned.

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