Senator Kennedy Continues To Push My Buttons With His Ridiculously Dumb 'Don't Push My Buttons' Act

from the that's-not-how-any-of-this-works dept

Last fall, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana (a supposedly smart Senator who seems to have decided his political future lies in acting dumber than 95% of all other Senators) introduced an anti-Section 230 bill. He’s now done so again in the new Congressional session. The bill is, once again, called the “Don’t Push My Buttons” Act and introducing such a piece of total garbage legislation a second time does not speak well of Senator Kennedy.

The bill is pretty short. It would create an exception to Section 230 for any website that… uses algorithms to rank content for you based on user data it collects. Basically, it’s taking a roundabout way to try to remove Section 230 from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It is not clear why algorithmic ranking has anything to do with Section 230. While social media sites do tend to rely on both, they are separate things. Indeed, part of the reason why social media sites rely on algorithms is because Section 230 helps make sure they can host so much user-generated content, that there needs to be algorithmic rankings to make those sites useable.

So, in practice, if this became law, all it would really serve to do is to make social media sites totally unusable. Either, websites would have to stop doing algorithmic ranking of content (which would make the sites unusable for many people) or they’d start massively moderating content to avoid liability — making sites nearly unusable.

And, of course, there’s an exemption to this exemption which makes the whole thing useless. The bill will allow algorithms… if the user “knowingly and intentionally elects to receive the content.” So, all that will happen is every social media service will show you total garbage with a pop up saying “hey, we can straighten this out for you via our algorithm if you just click here” and everyone will click that button.

And that’s not even getting into the constitutional problems with this bill. It’s literally punishing companies for their editorial (ranking) choices. That’s Congress regulating expression. I don’t see how this bill would possibly survive 1st Amendment scrutiny. But, of course, it’s not designed to survive any scrutiny at all. It’s to serve as ever more grandstanding for Senator Kennedy to pretend to be looking out for a base he knows is ignorant beyond belief — and rather than educating them, he’s playing down to them.

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Comments on “Senator Kennedy Continues To Push My Buttons With His Ridiculously Dumb 'Don't Push My Buttons' Act”

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18 Comments
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Does he not understand that without the algorithm driving people further down the rabbit hole people might escape from becoming Q faithful?

It sure is nice that there isn’t a pandemic running wild in the nation, that everyone had clean water & safe food, that roads aren’t on the verge of pancaking, so that this fucknugget can waste time & energy on this performance art meant to keep the faithful worshiping at the altar of lies.

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

Re: Re:

He understands this has a 0% chance of passing so he can safely suggest it while not actually risking Facebook no longer being a place right wingers can lie and grift.

I’m sure Ben Shapiro has explained how crucial FB is to his bullshit. They probably meet behind closed doors and laugh and laugh about how amazing it is they’ve convinced people the guy with the Harvard JD and the guy with the Vanderbilt JD are common men standing up against coastal elites.

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

This is a frontal, over-the-trenches assault on Section 230

Either, websites would have to stop doing algorithmic ranking of content (which would make the sites unusable for many people)…

That’s not how algorithms work. You’re thinking to narrowly.

  • "by relevancy" is an algorithm
  • "by date" (including both "most recent" and "oldest first") is an algorithm
  • "random" is an algorithm
  • "the first one we run across in the database" is an algorithm
  • "moderated" (i.e. "have a human decide") is an algorithm

…an algorithm is a finite sequence of well-defined, computer-implementable instructions…

— Wikipedia

The only way to escape having a ranking algorithm is to avoid ranking altogether by only ever having one item.

GiveMeThePrimaryInfringer says:

Yes, stop doing algorithmic ranking, especially 'microtargeting'

"if this became law, all it would really serve to do is to make social media sites totally unusable. Either, websites would have to stop doing algorithmic ranking of content (which would make the sites unusable for many people) or they’d start massively moderating content to avoid liability — making sites nearly unusable. "

I liked social media better when it was a chronological list of postings by my friends instead of amplifying ‘microtargeted’ clickbait and ads. Can we go back to the old system, or is sorting by ‘time’ an algorithm now?

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