Elon Musk Demonstrates How Little He Understands About Content Moderation

from the not-how-any-of-this-works dept

Lots of talk yesterday as Elon Musk made a hostile takeover bid for all of Twitter. This was always a possibility, and one that we discussed before in looking at how little Musk seemed to understand about free speech. But soon after the bid was made public, Musk went on stage at TED to be interviewed by Chris Anderson and spoke more about his thoughts on Twitter and content moderation.

It’s worth watching, though mostly for how it shows how very, very little Musk understands about all of this. Indeed, what struck me about his views is how much they sound like what the techies who originally created social media said in the early days. And here’s the important bit: all of them eventually learned that their simplistic belief in how things should work does not work in reality and have spent the past few decades trying to iterate. And Musk ignores all of that while (somewhat hilariously) suggesting that all of those things can be figured out eventually, despite all of the hard work many, many overworked and underpaid people have been doing figuring exactly that out, only to be told by Musk he’s sure they’re doing it wrong.

Because these posts tend to attract very, very angry people who are very, very sure of themselves on this topic they have no experience with, I’d ask that before any of you scream in the comments, please read all of Prof. Kate Klonick’s seminal paper on the history of content moderation and free speech called The New Governors. It is difficult to take seriously anyone on this topic who is not aware of the history.

But, just for fun, let’s go through what Musk said. Anderson asks Musk why he wants to buy Twitter and Elon responds:

Well, I think it’s really important for there to be an inclusive arena for free speech. Twitter has become the de facto town square, so, it’s really important that people have both the reality and the perception that they’re able to speak freely within the bounds of the law. And one of the things I believe Twitter should do is open source the algorithm, and make any changes to people’s tweets — if they’re emphasized or de-emphasized — that should be made apparent so that anyone can see that action has been taken.  So there’s no sort of behind-the-scenes manipulation, either algorithmically or manually.

First, again, this is the same sort of thing that early Twitter and Facebook and other platform people said in the early days. And then they found out it doesn’t work for reasons that will be discussed shortly. Second, Twitter is not the town square, and it’s a ridiculous analogy. The internet itself is the town square. Twitter is just one private shop in that town square with its own rules.

Anderson asks Musk why he wants to take over Twitter when Musk had apparently told him just last week that taking over the company would lead to everyone blaming him for everything that went wrong, and Musk responds that things will still go wrong and you have to expect that. And he’s correct, but what’s notable here is how he’s asking for a level of understanding that he refuses to provide Twitter itself. Twitter has spent 15 years experimenting and iterating its policies to deal with a variety of incredibly complex and difficult challenges, nuances, and trade-offs, and as Musk demonstrates later in this interview, he’s not even begun to think through any of them.

My strong intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization.

Again, this is the same sort of things that the founders of these websites said… until they had to deal with the actual challenges of running such platforms at scale. And, I should note, anyone who’s spent any time at all working on these issues knows that “maximally trusted” requires some level of moderation, because otherwise platforms fill up with spam and scams (more on that later) and are not trusted at all. There’s a reason these efforts are put under the banner of “trust & safety.”

Finally, the “public platform” is the internet. And trust is earned, but opening up a platform broadly does not inspire trust. Being broadly inclusive and trustworthy also requires recognizing that bad actors need to be dealt with in some form or another. This is what people have spent over a decade working on. And Musk acts like it’s a brand new issue.

And so then we get to the inevitable point of any such discussion in which Musk admits that of course some moderation is important.

Chris Anderson: You’ve described yourself as a free speech absolutist. Does that mean that there’s literally nothing that people can’t say and it’s ok?

Elon Musk: Well, I think, obviously Twitter or any forum is bound by the laws of the country it operates in. So, obviously there are some limitations on free speech in the US. And of course, Twitter would have to abide by those rules.

CA: Right. So you can’t incite people to violence, like direct incitement to violence… like, you can’t do the equivalent of crying fire in a movie theater, for example.

EM: No, that would be a crime (laughs). It should be a crime.

And all the free speech experts scream out in unison at the false notion of “fire in a crowded theater.”

But just the fact that Musk (1) agrees with this sentiment and (2) thinks that it would obviously be a crime shows how little he actually understands about free speech or the laws governing free speech. As a reminder for those who don’t know, the “fire in a crowded theater” line was a non-binding rhetorical aside in a case that was used to lock up a protestor for handing out anti-war literature (not exactly free speech supportive), and the Supreme Court Justice who used the phrase basically denounced it in rulings soon after — and the case that it came from was effectively overturned a few decades later, in the new case that set up the actual standard that Anderson suggests about incitement to imminent lawless action (which, in most cases, crying fire in a theater absolutely would not reach).

Anderson then tries (but basically fails) to get into some of the nuance of content moderation. It would have been nice if he’d actually spoken to, well, anyone with any experience in the space, because his examples aren’t just laughable, they’re kind of pathetic.

CA: But here’s the challenge, because it’s such a nuanced between different things. So, there’s incitement to violence, that’s a no if it’s illegal. There’s hate speech, which some forms of hate speech are fine. I… hate… spinach.

First of all, “I hate spinach” is not hate speech. I mean, of all the examples you could pull out… that’s not an example of hate speech (and we’ll leave aside Musk’s joke response, suggesting that if you cooked spinach right it’s good). But, much more importantly, here’s where Anderson and Elon could have confronted the actual issue which is that, in the US, hate speech is entirely protected under the 1st Amendment. And, we’ve explained why this is actually important and a good thing, because in places where hate speech is against the law, those laws are frequently abused to silence government critics.

But keeping hate speech legal is very different from saying that any private website must keep that speech on the platform. Indeed, keeping hate speech on a private platform takes away from the supposed “trust” and “broadly inclusive” nature Musk claimed to want. That would be an interesting point to discuss with Musk — and instead we’re left discussing what’s the best way to cook spinach.

Anderson again sorta weakly tries to get more to the point, but still doesn’t seem to know enough about the actual challenges of content moderation to have a serious discussion of the issue:

CA: So let’s say… here’s one tweet: ‘I hate politician X.’ Next tweet is ‘I wish politician X wasn’t alive.’ As some of us have said about Putin, right now for example. So that’s legitimate speech. Another tweet is ‘I wish Politician X wasn’t alive’ with a picture of their head with a gunsight over it. Or that plus their address. I mean at some point, someone has to make a decision as to which of those is not okay. Can an algorithm do that, or surely you need human judgment at some point.

First of all, broadly speaking all of the above are protected under the 1st Amendment. Somewhat incredibly, his final hypothetical is one I can talk about directly, because I was an expert witness in a case where a guy was facing criminal charges for literally Photoshopping gunsights over government officials, and the jury found him not guilty. But, also broadly speaking, there are plenty of legitimate reasons why a private platform would not want to host that content. In part, that gets back to the “maximally trusted” and “broadly inclusive” points.

But, on top of that, none of those examples are hate speech. Hate speech is not, as Chris Anderson bizarrely seems to believe, saying “I hate X.” Hate speech is generally seen as forms of expression designed to harass, humiliate, or incite hatred against a group or class of persons based on various characteristics about them (generally including things like race, religion, sexual identity, ethnicity, disability, etc.). The examples he raises are not, in fact, hate speech.

Either way, here’s where Elon shows how little he understands any of this, and how unfamiliar he is with all that’s happened in this space in the past two decades.

In my view, Twitter should match the laws of the country. And, really, there’s an obligation to do that. But going beyond that, and having it be unclear who’s making what changes to who… to where… having tweets mysteriously be promoted and demoted without insight into what’s going on, having a black box algorithm promote some things and not other things, I think those things can be quite dangerous.

Again, in the US, the laws say that such speech is protected, but that’s not a reasonable answer. We’ve gone through this before. Parler claimed it would only moderate speech that violated the law and then flipped out when it realized that people were getting on the site to mock Parler’s supporters or to post porn (which is also protected by the 1st Amendment). Simply saying that moderation should follow the law generally shows that one has never actually tried to moderate anything. Because it’s much more complicated than that, as Musk will implicitly admit later on in this interview, without the self-awareness to see how he’s contradicting himself.

There’s then a slightly more interesting discussion of open sourcing the algorithm, which is its own can of worms that I’m not sure Musk understands. I’m all for more transparency, and the ability for competing algorithms to be available for moderation, but open sourcing it is different and not as straightforward as Musk seems to imply. First of all, it’s often not the algorithm that is the issue. Second, algorithms that are built up in a proprietary stack are not so easy to just randomly “open source” without revealing all sorts of other stuff. Third, the biggest beneficiaries of open sourcing the ranking algorithm will be spammers (which is doubly amusing because in just a few moments Musk is going to whine about spammers). Open sourcing the algorithm will be most interesting to those looking to abuse and game the system to promote their own stuff.

We know this. We’ve seen it. There’s a reason why Google’s search algorithm has become more and more opaque over the years. Not because it’s trying to suppress people, but because the people who were most interested in understanding how it all worked were search engine spammers. Open sourcing the Twitter algorithm would do the same thing.

Chris then gets back to the moderation process (again in a slightly confused way about how Twitter trust & safety actually works), pointing out that “the algorithm” is probably less of an issue than all the human moderators, leading Musk to give a very long pause before stumbling through a bit of a word-salad response:

Well, I…I… I think we would want to err on the side… if in doubt, let… let… let the speech… let it exist. It would have… if it’s.. uh… a gray area, I would say, l would say let the tweet exist. But… obviously… in a case where perhaps there’s a lot of controversy where perhaps you’d not want to necessarily promote that tweet, you know… so…so… so… I’m not saying I have all the answers here, but I do think that we want to be very reluctant to delete things and be very cautious with permanent bans. I think time outs are better than permanent bans. 

But just in general, like I said, it won’t be perfect but I think we want to really have the perception and reality that speech is as free as is reasonably possible and a good sign as to whether there is free speech, is ‘is someone you don’t like allowed to say something you don’t like.’ And if that is the case, then you have free speech. And it’s damn annoying when someone you don’t like says something you don’t like. That is a sign of a healthy, functioning free speech situation.

Again, so much to unpack here. First off, that approach of “when in doubt, let it exist” has almost always been the default position of the major social media companies from the beginning. Again, it’s important to go back to things like Klonick’s paper which describes all this. It’s just that over time anyone who’s done this quickly learns that fuzzy standards like “when in doubt” don’t work at all, especially at scale. You need specific rules that can be easily understood and rolled out to thousands of moderators around the world. Rules that can take into account local laws, local contexts, local customs. It’s not nearly as simple as Musk makes it out to be.

Indeed, to get to the spot that we’re in now, basically all of these companies started with that same premise, realized it wasn’t workable, and then iterated. And Musk is basically saying “I have a brilliant idea: let’s go back to step 1 and pretend none of the things experts in this space have learned over the past decade actually happened.”

And, again, Twitter and Facebook — just as Musk claims he wants — tend to lean towards time outs over permanent bans, but both recognize that malicious actors eventually will just keep trying, so some people you will have to ban. But Musk pretends like this is some deep wisdom when every website with any moderation at all knew this ages ago. Including Twitter.

Second, his definition of free speech is utter nonsense (and ridiculously got a big applause from the audience). That’s not the definition of free speech and if it is, then Twitter already has that. Tons of people I dislike are allowed to say things I dislike. You see that all over Twitter. But that’s not a reasonable or enforceable standard at all without context. The problem is not “someone I dislike saying something I dislike” the problem is spam, abuse, harassment, threats of violence, dangerously misleading false information, and more. Musk not understanding any of that is just a representation of how little he understands this topic.

Anderson then asks Musk about what changes he would make to Twitter, leading Musk to basically contradict everything he just said and go straight to banning speech on Twitter:

Frankly, the top priority I would have is eliminating the spam and scam bots and the bot armies that are on Twitter. You know, I think, these influence… they make the product much worse. 

Um, nearly all of those are legal (the scam ones are a bit more hazy there, but the spam ones are legal speech). And just the fact that he acknowledges that they make the product much worse underlines how confused he is about everything else. Dealing with the things that “make the product much worse” is the underlying point of any trust & safety content moderation program — and tons and tons of work, and research, and testing have gone into how Twitter (and every other platform) tries to manage those things, and they all pretty much end up at the same place.

To deal with the spam and the scams and the things that “make the product much worse” you have to have rules, and you have to have enforcement that deals with the people who break the rules, meaning that you have to have people knowledgeable about content moderation and who are able to iterate and adjust, especially in the face of malicious actors trying to game the system.

But it’s quite incredible for him to say “pretty much leave it up if it’s legal” one moment, and the next moment say his top priority is to get rid of spam. Spam is legal.

And, again, as anyone who has lived through (or read up on) the history of content moderation knows, platforms all went through this exact process. The process that Musk thinks no one has actually done. They all started with a fundamental default towards allowing more speech and moderating less. And they all realized over time that it’s a lot more nuanced than that.

They all realized that there are massive trade-offs to every decision, but that some decisions still need to be made in order to stop “making the product worse” and to figure out ways to build “maximal trust” and to be “broadly inclusive.” In other words, for all of Musk’s complaining, Twitter has already done all the work he seems to pretend it hasn’t done. And his “solution” is to go back to square one while ignoring all the people who learned about the pitfalls, challenges, nuances, and trade-offs of the various approaches to dealing with these things… and to pretend that no one has done any work in this area.

Every time I post about this, Musk’s fans get angry and insist I couldn’t possibly understand this better than Musk. And, again, I actually really admire Musk’s ability to present visions and get the companies he’s run to achieve those visions. But dealing with human speech isn’t about building a car, a robot, a tunnel, or a rocket ship. It’s about dealing with human beings, human nature, and society.

None of this is to say that, if Musk does succeed in the bid, he doesn’t have the right to make these massive steps back to square one. Of course he has every right to make those mistakes. But it would be a disappointing move for Twitter, a company that has been more thoughtful, more careful, and more advanced than many other companies in this space. And it would likely wipe out the important institutional knowledge around all of this that has been so helpful.

I know that the narrative — which Musk has apparently bought into — is that Twitter’s content moderation efforts are targeted at stifling conservatives. There is, yet again, no actual evidence to support this. If anything, Twitter and Facebook have bent over backwards to be extra accommodating to those pushing the boundaries in order to use Twitter mainly as a platform to rile up those they dislike. But, from knowing how much effort Twitter has actually put into understanding interventions and how to build a trustworthy platform, I fear that what Musk would do with it would be a massive step backwards and a general loss for the world.

Incredibly, there’s a pretty good analogy to all of this earlier in that video. At the beginning, Anderson plays a snippet of a taped interview he did with Musk a week ago (when they weren’t sure if he’d be able to attend in person). And in that interview, Anderson points out that Musk predicted to Anderson five years ago that Tesla would have full self-driving working that year, and it obviously has not come to pass. Musk jokes about how he’s not always right, and explains that he’s only now realized that just how hard a problem driverless artificial intelligence is, and he talks about how every time it seems to be moving forward it hits an unexpected ceiling.

The simple fact is that dealing with human nature and human communication is much, much, much more complex than teaching a car how to drive by itself. And there is no perfect solution. There is no “congrats, we got there” moment in content moderation. Because humans are complex and ever-changing. And content moderation on a platform like Twitter is about recognizing that complexity and figuring out ways to deal with it. But Musk seems to be treating it as if it’s the same sort of challenge as self-driving — where if you just throw enough ideas at it you’ll magically fix it. But, even worse than that, he doesn’t realize that the people who have actually worked in this field for years have been making the kind of progress he talked about with self-driving cars — getting the curve to move in the right direction, before hitting some sort of ceiling. And Musk wants to take them all the way back to the ground floor for no reason other than he doesn’t seem to recognize that any of the work that’s already been done.

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Comments on “Elon Musk Demonstrates How Little He Understands About Content Moderation”

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277 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

And, again, as anyone who has lived through (or read up on) the history of content moderation knows, platforms all went through this exact process. […] They all realized that there are massive trade-offs to every decision,

The idea to become centralized “platforms”, though, seems to have happened largely by historical accident. In other words, large content networks evolved in such a way that their operators had absolute power over everything people do on them. And then when people were bothered by spam and harassment, they pointed out “hey, you could stop this”, and the companies started to try. The failures of this, e.g. by applying local values and laws to global communication, have been pointed out on Techdirt repeatedly.

I wonder how this fits with the “protocols not platforms” view sometimes espoused here. At a first glance, they seem to conflict, although sometimes protocols work. E-mail, for example, has various ways to filter spam. Any server operator can opt into various “centralized” blacklists, or not. I see no reason why Twitter shouldn’t let people select how the messages they receive are determined. It’s not a bad idea, just a really hard one to implement well. But it could be quite useful and transformative; e.g., I could hire the same moderation company to moderate my e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook feeds, and exempt my friends from this. It could remove a significant burden from new market participants too.

By the way, if you’re going to complain about “the definition of free speech”, perhaps you should provide one. In my view, if there are “laws governing […] speech”, it’s not “free”. The USA does not have truly free speech, due to things like copyright and libel (although any sane legal system would have realized that the first amendment repealed these).

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RyunosukeKusanagi (profile) says:

Well. as of this post, twitter has adopted a poison pill clause in which, if I read right, would force Musk to pay a premium for stocks, while giving other shareholders time and a discount on said stocks in order to dilute the stocks that Musk would buy.

AT LEAST, Twitter has the foresight to see just how petty Musk can be on Twitter, and having someone like that in charge of Twitter, is a very, very bad idea.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Another victim of hubris

It’s rather sad/laughable that apparently Musk has either missed entirely or looked at the multiple attempts by ‘conservatives’ to create the platform he’s talking about only to fail and not learned their lesson.

There’s a reason those platforms aren’t as popular and ones like Twitter currently are it’s just a pity that he seems to think that he’s smarter than the multitude of people who have figured out why that is who work in those companies.

urza9814 says:

Re:

I don’t think he’s missed that at all, really.

This guy founds new companies on a whim. If he really thought he could do better, he’d just do it. Surely he knows it would not be that difficult to replicate the platform itself. Wouldn’t cost nearly as much as what it’ll cost to buy it out. The only logical reason to buy Twitter is to buy the established audience. Their value is not in the platform, it’s in the users.

Of course, that just leaves us with a whole new set of questions. It is pointless to hypothesize about what he might want to do to the platform; those answers will ultimately be driven by what he wants to do with the users. And that, perhaps, is why his answers here make so little sense and seem so poorly thought out — that’s not the part he’s actually spending time thinking about.

Or perhaps he’s just running a massive pump and dump scam — promise to solve all Twitter’s problems, get people more interested in it, drive the stock price up a bit, and then sell it all. He’s already talking about selling it all. Brilliant strategy, he can suck money out of the investors and get them to blame Twitter for not being willing to destroy their platform for him!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Or perhaps he’s just running a massive pump and dump scam — promise to solve all Twitter’s problems, get people more interested in it, drive the stock price up a bit, and then sell it all. He’s already talking about selling it all. Brilliant strategy, he can suck money out of the investors and get them to blame Twitter for not being willing to destroy their platform for him!

That’s a disturbing idea, all the more so as I could all too easily see it working.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Third, the biggest beneficiaries of open sourcing the ranking algorithm will be spammers (which is doubly amusing because in just a few moments Musk is going to whine about spammers). Open sourcing the algorithm will be most interesting to those looking to abuse and game the system to promote their own stuff.

Kerckhoff’s Principle applies here, and spam is one of the strongest examples. It’s been long enough to seem a distant memory, but think back around 20 years ago to when email spam was a crisis-level problem, overwhelming systems that flailed uselessly in their attempts to cope with it.

Then Bayesian filtering was introduced. Based on a few blog posts published in full view of the world, for anyone to see, describing a very simple algorithm to teach a filter what spam “looks like” in a way that human recipients would agree with. As it was adopted and trained, spam very quickly ceased being a problem, despite the fact that every spammer in the world was perfectly capable of reading up on how Bayesian filtering worked.

If your algorithm is good, it doesn’t matter if the bad guys know how it works. If it does matter if they know, that means your algorithm is crap and should be replaced by a better one.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

spam very quickly ceased being a problem

With e-mail, it ceased being much of a problem seen by end-users. Although probably almost everyone gets some spam from companies they deal with, who evidently think the shit they send is not spam.

Talk to e-mail server administrators, and you’ll get a different view. Particularly anyone operating a personal domain or a small mailing list (the opt-in discussion kind, not the spam kind). They’ll commonly speak of Kafkaesque experiences trying to get themselves removed from the blacklists of large services like HoTMaiL and G-mail.

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James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

So, rather than have an email address that people can look up and contact you with, you maintain dozens of unique email addresses on dozens of domains and don’t use email for general communication.

And you throw away your domain every time a scammer sees a new domain and bombs the email? seems like spam is such a huge problem you have to engage in information warfare to keep it at bay.

urza9814 says:

Re: Re: Re:4

I have and have always had (since I set this up) six email accounts on one domain. I have many addresses. That does not require multiple accounts or multiple domains. These are all on my own domain, running off my own server which sits in my living room. It is not “information warfare” — it takes exactly zero effort to create a new address, and to dump an address I just add it to a text file on my mail server — something I’ve had to do exactly twice so far. The Patreon hack a couple years back was the big one, got a TON of spam coming through after that, but I dropped the address and gave them a different one and it all stopped again.

urza9814 says:

Re: Re: Re:6

I do route my outbound mail through the domain registrar’s (Gandi.net) SMTP servers, as I know a lot of providers will drop anything originating at a “residential” IP address. That seems to work fine.

Biggest issue I have is that I tend to use a lot of hyphens is the addresses and a lot of websites use idiotic email validation code that thinks hyphens are invalid, but I just email them with a link to the RFC and they always get it fixed. Even megacorps like Taco Bell understand that they do have to follow those things!

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:

Honestly? Even though Google bots crawl every Website that doesn’t block them and the company has no shame in scraping ‘metadata’ and flogging it to every company they can? You must only comment on this website and never enter your email address. My favourite when I do have to leave one is unavailable@nomail.com. Google won’t get any joy out of that one.

Tim says:

Re: Email and social media aren’t encrypted systems

I’m unclear how Kerckhoff’s principle applies when email and social media messaging aren’t cryptographic systems at all. Bayesian filtering has absolutely nothing to do with whether Kerckhoff’s notions about rapid and easy encoding of messages is proven. This is a very poor and overly broad application of a specific idea too readily reduced to “security through obscurity,” which is not what Kerckhoff argues at all.

Naughty Autie says:

“Twitter is not the town square, and it’s a ridiculous analogy. The internet itself is the town square. Twitter is just one private shop in that town square with its own rules.”

Correct. I’d also like to point out (to Musk) that even some presumably public spaces have rules. For example, the White House could be considered a ‘public space’ since the taxpayers paid for it to be built and have funded its maintenance ever since, but that won’t stop the Secret Service kicking you out or even arresting you if you attempt to walk onto the grounds because it functions as a private office space and home.

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Koby (profile) says:

In A Tizzy

I know that the narrative — which Musk has apparently bought into — is that Twitter’s content moderation efforts are targeted at stifling conservatives.

If there has been no stifling of conservatives, then you wouldn’t be panicked. You wouldn’t be concerned about a change in moderation, because no changes in moderation practices which show favoritism could possibly be identified. Elon probably won’t takeover twitter, but the usual cries of “it’s not a monopoly”, “private platforms can make their own rules”, and “just go build your own social media platform” have now been exposed.

-Getting censored proves that your opinion is the strongest.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: I just hope they cherish such a dedicated supporter

I swear it’s like you have this psychological need to publicly show your constant support of terrorists, bigots and assholes…

Certainly a strange mental condition but relatively harmless so knock yourself out cheering for the worst of humanity I guess.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Getting censored proves that your opinion is the strongest.

So, calling somebody a ni&&er is 1st amendment protected speech.

Also, calling somebody a ni&&er is usually grounds to be moderated on social media, something you like to call “being censored”.

So, you must agree that somebody’s social media posts that were moderated because they were using racial slurs, must be the strongest opinions.

So why don’t you just come out and admit how much of a racist you are, since you think people being “censored” for using the word ni&&er is the strongest opinion.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Getting censored proves that your opinion is the strongest.

What conservative opinions are being censored?

And which conservatives are being censored?

If it is happening on such of a grand scale that you believe it is happening, then it should be super easy to provide a few tangible examples relating to the above two questions.

So how about it Koby, ready to back up what you say with facts, logic and reason?

Also, you have come in here to say the same thing over and over and over, but but never provide any real examples, why is that?

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What conservative opinions are being censored?

Since they won’t answer might as well break out a classic…

Conservative: I have been censored for my conservative views
Me: Holy shit! You were censored for wanting lower taxes?
Con: LOL no…no not those views
Me: So…deregulation?
Con: Haha no not those views either
Me: Which views, exactly?
Con: Oh, you know the ones

(All credit to Twitter user @ndrew_lawrence.)

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And which conservatives are being censored?

For this week’s outrageous social media report, you can read up on Gretchen Smith and LinkedIn. Her case proves that all speech is hate speech to leftists. Also of interest is the NY subway massacre suspect Frank R. James, and the racist social media rants that he posted. If that kind of speech was directed at minorities, rest assured things would have been removed within minutes. Perhaps we can debate about whether this stuff ought to be removed or not, but you can’t disagree that there is definitely a bias.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There are so many. How about the NY Post (due to Hunter Biden laptop story), which turned out to be true.

sigh Must we go over this every time? That story was not banned and was widely available all over Twitter. Twitter used a (most everyone agrees dumb) policy that barred linking to “hacked” materials to block one tweet on the account. They had used that policy before on other journalistic enterprises (which is why we had explained that it was a bad policy).

But in no way is that an example of Twitter “censoring conservative speech.” Everyone was free to discuss the story. They just couldn’t link to some of the documents at a time when the origin of those documents wasn’t known.

Johnny Bans says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Masnick, you are fake news

You: That story was not banned and was widely available all over Twitter.

Reality: Twitter blocked users from posting links to the NYPost story or photos from the unconfirmed report. Users attempting to share the story were shown a notice saying: “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.” Users clicking or retweeting a link already posted to Twitter are shown a warning the “link may be unsafe”.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

They are a private company so they are perfectly legal in their choices, up to and including censorship.

The fact that they shut down linking to a factual story of extreme importance to the voting public may be cowardly… but it is and should be legal.

Twitter has no responsibility to be fair, or even respectable or moral. They answer to no one but their financial backers.
If you don’t like it there are plenty of other platforms than only censor Democrats. Platforms that are somewhat balanced platforms for fury porn.
just move on from the liberal platform. Seriously, nobody needs twitface. You’re better off without that social media crap anyway

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Some o us care more about actual use of political influence of family members than then potential for that influence. That you find peepeegate important and laptopgate not, shows your bias.

The former had a big red flag right up front and it was broadcast it as widely as they could. (Trump is a germaphobe). The latter had nothing to discredit it.
History records the former was absolute bollox and the later completely factually correct.

That you can’t take a supportive win out of my comment and have to dive in to your view that foreign influence isn’t important when it’s your candidate of choice at issue says a LOT about your priorities and personality.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

Just to point out; you’re the one who stated the laptop story containing information about international deals with members of the then-candidate’s family is not of interest to the voting public.
Maybe you didn’t care, but the fact that it is still discussed and there are ongoing investigations says some people do care.

The fact, fact now, that people complained and complain about not having the link displays interest in the article.
Therefore, the voting public was interested.
Move along now while I continue to defend free speech… without partisan bull.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

Just to point out; you’re the one who stated the laptop story containing information about international deals with members of the then-candidate’s family is not of interest to the voting public.

Why keep up that gaslighting?
I never said anuthing that actually exists is of no interest to the public; only Republicans’ desperate fantasy narratives aren’t. But then again, you’d have to be literate to understand that.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

Just to point out; you’re the one who stated the laptop story containing information about international deals with members of the then-candidate’s family is not of interest to the voting public.

Why keep up that gaslighting? Npbody but you is gullible enough to fall for it.

I never said that anything that actually exists is of no interest to the public; only that Russopublicans’ desperate fantasy narratives aren’t. But then again, you’d have to be literate and unbiased by propaganda to understand that.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

please clarify what “false accusations” you are referring to.

Just the ones you made up with less than zero basis in reality – including but not limited to:

about actual use of political influence of family members

you find peepeegate important

The latter had nothing to discredit it.

History records the former was absolute bollox and the later completely factually correct.

your view that foreign influence isn’t important when it’s your candidate of choice at issue

Every one of those above quoted claims is a deliberately-crafted lie.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

And yet the former Clinton campaign is facing legal issues over funding the bundle of made up stories and half truths that made up the Intel file.
Time will tell if anyone does down for outright fraud.

The laptop was real, did belong to hunter Biden, and does contain material worth investigating. Which is why the story has changed from fake laptop to without Papa’s knowledge.

Your response to the laptop being of interest was

Hallucinates facts not co trary to evidence like Lodos’s biased political programming tells him to.]

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Yes, the STORY itself about the laptop and the content was not banned. You could discuss it. You could link to variations on it. There was just one thing you couldn’t link to: the one NY Post version that had copies that Twitter flagged as potentially hacked. Again, it was stupid for them to do it, but there was no attempt to suppress any discussion of the story, and the whole thing got the story way more attention in the long run.

Trying to suppress a story would mean banning anyone from even talking about it. There was no attempt to do that. And lots of other publications wrote up their own versions of the story, all of which were linkable. It was just the Post’s single story that was unlinkable because of a dumb policy enforcement decision by Twitter (a policy enforcement decision that had been used similarly against other media organizations).

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re:

If there has been no stifling of conservatives, then you wouldn’t be panicked.

First off, no one here is panicking.

More importantly, I find the issue of people in charge of a business they don’t understand at all to be a major problem, and Musk clearly doesn’t. Whether or not conservatives have been disproportionately and unfairly stifled on Twitter is not the primary issue here, but it does demonstrate further that Musk has no idea what he’s trying to get himself into.

It also shows that the perceived problem people keep trying to fix doesn’t actually exist, and I also have a problem when people try to fix nonexistent problems, or when they try to solve a problem without actually understanding it. To the extent there is a problem with content moderation on Twitter (and every online forum/platform will necessarily have a content moderation problem, at least once it has enough users, purely because content moderation is impossible to do particularly well—let alone almost perfectly—at scale), disproportionately stifling views with a conservative bent is not it.

You wouldn’t be concerned about a change in moderation, because no changes in moderation practices which show favoritism could possibly be identified.

First, that’s not what Elon Musk is proposing here. He is saying that all legal content (aside from spam) will not be removed, and that any decisions in grey areas that need to be made will always err on the side of leaving the content up. This is simply not a workable idea, as every large platform knows. It will also repel a lot of people who don’t like what gets left up. In addition to spam, there are a lot of things that are perfectly legal in the US that most people don’t want. Hate speech, medical disinformation (when not made by someone presenting medical advice or in certain ads), vague threats of violence or death that don’t meet the Brandenburg standard, trolls, porn (except child porn), and so on are all not only legal in the US but protected speech under the 1A. Elon is effectively saying that all of that will stay up because he said that—aside from spam—only illegal content will ever be removed. This would be a change from Twitter’s moderation practices that has nothing to do with any actual favoritism by Twitter.

Second, even if, in fact, Musk gets ownership of Twitter but still makes no change to Twitter’s moderation practices, that still wouldn’t mean that the criticism of what he says here and what he apparently believes is invalid or shouldn’t be said at all. Indeed, it would only further show that he has no idea what he’s talking about, validating the criticism.

Elon probably won’t takeover twitter,

I mean, while it’s far from a done deal right now, it’s not out of the question that he still succeeds in buying out Twitter.

but the usual cries of “it’s not a monopoly”, “private platforms can make their own rules”, and “just go build your own social media platform” have now been exposed.

Let’s go through each of these individually:

“it’s not a monopoly”

That has nothing to do with what is being said here. Not even Musk is alleging that Twitter is a monopoly. Nothing said in the article contradicts this either, explicitly or implicitly. So no, this is still true.

“private platforms can make their own rules”

Oh, yes, they absolutely can. There is no contradiction here. From the article:

None of this is to say that, if Musk does succeed in the bid, he doesn’t have the right to make these massive steps back to square one. Of course he has every right to make those mistakes. But it would be a disappointing move for Twitter, a company that has been more thoughtful, more careful, and more advanced than many other companies in this space. And it would likely wipe out the important institutional knowledge around all of this that has been so helpful.

So yeah, as pointed out in the article, if Musk succeeds in his bid, he has every right to make whatever moderation decisions he likes. That doesn’t mean that people can’t still criticize his moderation decisions.

“just go build your own social media platform”

Actually, this kinda ruins your whole schtick. This is absolutely still an option. Nothing in the article contradicts this, either. However, that brings up the obvious question: Why doesn’t Elon Musk do so? Simple: he wants to not only implement the rules he wants on a social media platform he owns, but he also wants to profit from Twitter’s brand and its existing user base. Now, if he’s successful in his bid, he absolutely can do so if he wants to, but the point is that this isn’t evidence that he couldn’t make his own platform. He’s just choosing a different option that is not available to as many people as making your own platform in order to set your own rules there. That some people choose something other than a given option doesn’t prove that the option doesn’t exist.

Indeed, the mere existence of platforms like Parler and Truth Social show that “just go build your own social media platform” is still an option.

-Getting censored proves that your opinion is the strongest.

I don’t know why you feel the need to keep repeating that you think that pedophiles and terrorists have the strongest opinions, but it doesn’t make you look good.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I am sure that I will not get any meaningful answers to my questions from Koby

but I have to ask anyway because I don’t understand what Koby (or anyone else replying to Koby) is trying to argue.

Getting censored proves that your opinion is the strongest.

What is “strength” in the context of an opinion? (Is the strongest opinion the one which a majority of people believe? the one for which the speaker has the most emotion? the one which produces the most intense emotional reaction from the audience? the one which is the most moral? the one which is the most objectively correct? the one which a divine figure or deity is most supportive of? the one which Koby believes?)
Without first defining the strength of an opinion, it is impossible to discuss why having the “strongest” opinion matters at all. Of course, before that, it is impossible to discuss the supposed solution to a problem without determining whether the problem exists.
In the context of Koby’s opinions on content moderation, there is no way to discuss even the existence of a problem without agreeing on definitions of crucial terms such as “censorship”, “favoritism”, and “conservatives”. Is placing a “this post may include misinformation” notice under a post “censorship”? Does removing posts which say “transgender people deserve to get shot” count as “stifling conservatives”? Which people does Koby refer to when Koby says “conservatives”? It’s tempting to assume Koby’s answers, but it’s fruitless to do so because it encourages equivocation fallacies. Koby, please give a thorough description of who the “conservatives” you refer to are.
If favoritism is defined as “demonstrating a significant preference for a particular group or opinion over other groups or opinions”, then why is favoritism a problem with respect to Twitter’s content moderation? No matter how Koby decides to define favoritism, favoritism (just like hate speech, however that is defined) will almost certainly be speech protected under the First Amendment.

Stasis theory tells us that before we discuss solutions to a problem we must (in the following order) agree on what the key words mean, whether the problem exists in reality, and whether the problem is actually worth solving.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Bravely bold Sir Koby
Rode forth from Camelot.
He was not afraid to die,
Oh brave Sir Koby.
He was not at all afraid
To be killed in nasty ways.
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Koby.
He was not in the least bit scared
To be mashed into a pulp.
Or to have his eyes gouged out,
And his elbows broken.
To have his kneecaps split
And his body burned away,
And his limbs all hacked and mangled
Brave Sir Koby.
His head smashed in
And his heart cut out
And his liver removed
And his bowls unplugged
And his nostrils raped
And his bottom burnt off
And his penis
“That’s, that’s enough music for now lads, there’s dirty work afoot.”
Brave Sir Koby ran away.
(“No!”)
Bravely ran away away.
(“I didn’t!”)
When danger reared it’s ugly head,

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

If there has been no stifling of conservatives, then you wouldn’t be panicked.

Wut?

You wouldn’t be concerned about a change in moderation, because no changes in moderation practices which show favoritism could possibly be identified.

Wut?

Elon probably won’t takeover twitter, but the usual cries of “it’s not a monopoly”, “private platforms can make their own rules”, and “just go build your own social media platform” have now been exposed.

Wut?

Koby, you truly make no sense at all. Of course private platforms can make their own rules. I said so in this post. Of course people can go build their own platform. We see that happening all the time. Of course Musk can take over Twitter and do whatever the fuck he wants with it.

If you actually read the post and had the capacity to understand it (I know, I know, big ask for you Koby) you’d realize I not only addressed all that, but that it’s besides the point entirely.

The point is that Musk’s beliefs of how content moderation should work have already been tried. And they don’t work. If he wants to go through that experience all over again, he can. I’m just pointing out that people already know how this works out.

And the problems it will cause.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

And your lot have tried to make their own Nazi-affirming platforms.

Amazon were more than happy to host you and even help your lot formulate moderation policies. Facebook and Zuckerberg were more than happy to receive ypur lot’s dirty money and presumably TRIED to help your lot to formulate moderation policies as well.

Meanwhile, these platforms, not content with being echo chambers worse than the worst places on the visible internet, have, BEFORE these platforms were a thing, tried to take over OTHER places on the internet, or create footholds in places that can’t fully moderate.

And that’s not adding what Putin paid off YOUR group’s politicians to do.

If you even have a shred of a conscience, you’d probably get the fuck off those places your group has hijacked for their purposes.

But seeing as you keep expressing support for Confederates, NeoNazis, traitors to your country, pedophiles AND terrorists of all stripe…

Get the fuck out. Of Techdirt AND 4chan.

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migi (profile) says:

Re:

If there has been no stifling of conservatives, then you wouldn’t be panicked.

When Conservatives get suspended or banned, it’s always the ones who promote violence, medical misinformation, or similar. The ones who stick to policy are never affected. Odd that.

You wouldn’t be concerned about a change in moderation, because no changes in moderation practices which show favoritism could possibly be identified

People are concerned that removing complexity and nuance from content moderation will make Twitter a cesspool of hate, abuse, and spam. They will then leave Twitter for a new platform, which will be disruptive for the individuals and bad for Twitter.

People aren’t concerned that conservatives will overpower them through the sheer brilliance of conservative arguments, they are concerned that unscrupulous companies or hostile foreign actors will have an easy time gaming the simplified rules to manipulate a significant portion of public discourse.

I’ll end with a quote from everyone’s favourite prosecutor, Robert Mueller: “Over the course of my career, I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious. And as I said on May 29, this deserves the attention of every American.”

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Dude says:

Do the Work

Elon Musk is a smart man. I have no doubt that if he dug in and read up on content moderation, he would be able to understand and grasp these issues. He may even be able to offer some useful insights at that point! The problem is that he, and many like him, don’t do the work. They just sit around and think about it to themselves coming up with what they think are insightful thoughts without bothering to check if anyone has had those thoughts before.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You should probably reread what he said:

The problem is that he, and many like him, don’t do the work. They just sit around and think about it to themselves coming up with what they think are insightful thoughts without bothering to check if anyone has had those thoughts before.

In other words, Dude here is essentially saying that Elon Musk could try to understand content moderation and, if he did, he might be able to offer some insights. However, he doesn’t do the work, so it doesn’t matter how brilliant he is.

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migi (profile) says:

Re:

I think this is about right.
None of Musk’s previous companies have dealt with content moderation at scale, so he doesn’t have any prior experience with it.
The other question is whether his ‘numbers’ intelligence gives him an advantage when trying to tackle a problem that’s based around human interaction.

hij (profile) says:

Algorithms without data is meaningless

Musk fails to discuss the data used by algorithms to determine the parameters used to make decisions. For example, the results from fairly straightforward Bayesian machine learning algorithms depend on the data used in the training steps. Without that data the algorithms are fairly limited in understanding how topics are making it to a given user’s timeline.

Anonymous Coward says:

He’s running a car company and space x
I doubt if he has time to do a deep study of content moderation on social media platforms every tech company has to follow the laws of the country the problem is what happens when the laws of say Russia Iran Poland are in conflict with American law . Will certain users or ngos get blocked if they post content that supports lgbt or other minority groups

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

In his ‘defense’ (FSM forgive me) he has managed in several areas to do things people thought were impossible.

And hey its possible that he might find the magic path that makes social media a utopia paradise, as long as he bans all of us from using it.

He has been playing to people long enough that he is believing his own hype, and he is convinced he can do what no one else could do.

That advice where TAC tells rich/powerful/famous people to hire someone they can’t fire, for the sole purpose of calling them out on their shit. They are surrounded by yes men & people who won’t speak up because petulant child will totally fire anyone who doesn’t toe the line & this leads to stupid outcomes. (Lets fire the guy who posted a video showing our full auto driving isn’t perfect & lets pull the feature from his personal car as well! No one will notice.)

The only upside I can see in all of this is some little startup will have a shot to launch a platform that manages to avoid Twitters missteps & people will migrate there because the war for Twitter made the platform something no one wants to use.

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restless94110 (profile) says:

Help is on the Way

I can help with that misunderstanding. Just say to Elon: Hey, all and any content moderation is bad. It violates Free Speech and is anti-American. Prevent any and all content moderation of any kind anywhere by any one.

There!! Hope that helped you. Elon clearly doesn’t need that (what I call The Talk). He knows the content moderation got to go. No matter what you write or say, it’s bad for human beings. Help Elon to remove all content moderation now!

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Hyman Rosen says:

Free Speech

Here’s an opinion piece from a few years ago whose claims are often repeated here:

How Twitter’s Ban on ‘Deadnaming’ Promotes Free Speech https://nyti.ms/2DUKWPE

The trans author of the article finds it problematic and annoying to be involved in the he said / they said discussion about whether trans people are delusional about themselves, and would much rather that such discussions not take place on Twitter. Whatever that is, it is not promoting free speech. Challenging the reality of trans belief is very much a part of the debate, and the fact that some trans people do not like hearing that is irrelevant. Free speech very often involves people saying things that you do not like to hear, or are tired of hearing. Controlling the terms of the debate so that opponents are not allowed to say things that you do not want them to say is the very opposite of free speech.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re:

Here’s an opinion piece from a few years ago whose claims are often repeated here:

How Twitter’s Ban on ‘Deadnaming’ Promotes Free Speech [link]

I would like to know which claims from that piece you’re referring to, as well as references to articles here repeating those claims.

Also, how is this relevant?

The trans author of the article finds it problematic and annoying to be involved in the he said / they said discussion about whether trans people are delusional about themselves, and would much rather that such discussions not take place on Twitter. Whatever that is, it is not promoting free speech.

Assuming you’re right so far, so what? That doesn’t mean it’s undermining free speech, either, and unless you can point to someone here specifically saying that someone saying that such discussions shouldn’t take place on Twitter is promoting free speech (as opposed to an exercise of free speech), it doesn’t actually help your case, nor is it relevant.

Challenging the reality of trans belief is very much a part of the debate, and the fact that some trans people do not like hearing that is irrelevant.

I mean, medically speaking, that debate is pretty much settled in favor of it not being a delusion, but more importantly, you still haven’t shown that this has anything to do with anyone here, let alone anything said in this article or comment section, specifically. Also, the fact that trans people and Twitter don’t want to help you have or participate in the debate you want to have is very relevant.

(I would also argue that your claims that it is a delusion is largely an argument from emotion anyways, and it doesn’t even matter since that wouldn’t change the recommended treatment for the condition, but again, this is neither the time nor the place to have that debate.)

Free speech very often involves people saying things that you do not like to hear, or are tired of hearing.

Yes, but it also often involves telling those people to take a hike and get off of your privately-owned property. That you don’t like it is irrelevant. Free speech doesn’t involve forcing people to listen to what you have to say or to host what you have to say if they don’t like it.

Controlling the terms of the debate so that opponents are not allowed to say things that you do not want them to say is the very opposite of free speech.

Only if it’s the government doing so, it’s being done under the order of the government, it’s being done through threats of legal action or violence or something like that, or if it’s being prevented from occurring anywhere. A privately-owned private platform saying, “We don’t do that here,” or telling you to leave is not the opposite of free speech.

Also, according to you, the writer of the article doesn’t want that debate to happen on Twitter at all, which is not the same thing as having a debate but putting restrictions on opponents so they don’t say things you don’t want to hear. The fact is that there is no right to an audience. Say that trans people are deluded all you like so long as you aren’t forcing people to listen to or host your speech when they say they want no part of it. You saying it is free speech, but so is choosing to not listen to it or you, and so is choosing not to host it or you. You can’t force people to debate you or force a privately-owned entity to host your debate. That’s not what free speech is.

Also, you still haven’t demonstrated relevance. I know I keep repeating myself, but you didn’t even demonstrate that this has anything to do with the article or what’s being said in the comment section. This is all just you whining that Twitter doesn’t let you post your transphobic opinions on their platform, but the transgender thing has nothing to do with this. Plus, you haven’t demonstrated that the claims you are trying to argue against from that opinion piece have been repeated here.

Look, you can have your little debate somewhere else, but if it’s not relevant, then please take it somewhere else.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re:

Masnick has said here repeatedly that such silencing enhances free speech because otherwise people will be driven away by speech they dislike and so will not themselves speak. To say that this is a weird definition of enhancing free speech is putting it mildly.

Talking about government versus private silencing is irrelevant to free speech. Free speech is not the 1st Amendment. The 1st merely enjoins the government from silencing speech. Private companies who silence speech are legally allowed to do so, but that doesn’t mean that they are not preventing free speech when they do it.

That you consider a debate to be settled for not impose any obligation on anyone else to believe you, or to silence their own opinions about it.

The woke takeover of academia and professional organizations means that science can not be done on controversial topics. It is career suicide for ordinary scientists and academics to declare findings contrary to wokeness, or even to propose experiments that might produce such findings. And given that, scientists and academics who do produce such findings are also suspect, because it’s likely that they went in with an anti-woke bias to begin with. As with free speech, truth has unfortunately few people who really care for it.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Masnick has said here repeatedly that such silencing enhances free speech because otherwise people will be driven away by speech they dislike and so will not themselves speak.

Being banned from some platforms, whilst having others available is not being silenced. Being driven off all platforms by bigots because the platform is not allowed to moderate will silence minorities, as they will have no platforms where they are not attacked.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Free Speech

“Being banned from some platforms, whilst having others available is not being silenced.”

That’s what the woke would like people to believe. For example, woke universities have tried to establish “free speech zones” so that they can claim that they are not silencing people while limiting speech to places where no one will hear it. Twitter, Facebook, and other such huge platforms are the premier places where people now go to speak publicly. Silencing opinions on those platforms is silencing. Requiring people to find dissent only on obscure platforms is silencing.

“Being driven off all platforms by bigots because the platform is not allowed to moderate will silence minorities, as they will have no platforms where they are not attacked.”

Preventing opinions from being attacked is silencing free speech. Minorities of any stripe are not entitled to have their opinions go unchallenged. Having platforms decide who is a bigot and silencing them is destructive of free speech.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:4

Not without consequence, just without silencing. I have no problem with the assorted people here who call me names, for example. I state my opinions, and people get to criticize me as harshly as they like. If I were to run for political office, I would expect my posts to be dug up in an effort to get people not to vote for me, and that would be fine as well. Being fired for these posts would be more questionable (don’t bother trying, I’m retired) – political tests for non-political jobs violate the principles of free speech.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

If I walked into your home, Hyman, and started screaming at you non-stop about what a piece of shit, low life asshole you were, and I harassed any family you live with or friends who stopped by, calling them names, making fun of how they looked, I’m pretty sure you’d (perhaps forcefully) ask me to leave.

That’s a consequence.

What you’re claiming here is the equivalent of saying that you wouldn’t ask me to leave, you’d put up with the abuse, but you might say something back to me.

That’s not how any of this works.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Home

This is amazingly bizarre. All of Twitter or Facebook is no one’s home. To the extent that your analogy holds, it is about affinity groups on Facebook, and in those groups moderators do act, completely appropriately, to keep postings on topic and conforming to the rules of that group.

Once again, you are confusing the free speech rights of platform owners with the free speech of platform users. Platform owners can treat the whole platform as their home if that’s what they want, and ban any speech they want. Platform users don’t care what the platform owners want or believe. They’re using the platforms as a place to speak with each other, and if some are silenced, that is inimical to their free speech.

You are happy because the big platforms are censoring speech you hate, and you get to pretend that they are being neutral about it. But Twitter explicitly bans trans “deadnaming” in its rules, for example. That is not a neutral rule with respect to liberals and conservatives. You may like that rule and consider it a matter of neutral civility, but that’s because you are a believer in woke gender ideology. From the other side, it reads as forced affirmation of trans people’s false beliefs about themselves.

Techdirt itself does a lot of yelling, correctly, about PayPal refusing service to various people and groups. Just as PayPal has the right to cut off whomever it wants, but shouldn’t, Facebook and Twitter have the right to censor whatever they want, but shouldn’t.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Analogies

Actually, what the platform censoring is analogous to is a sports stadium that ejects people for cheering the visiting team. Cheering against the home team may deeply offend the local attendees, the stadium may be owned by the home team, and cheering by both sides may be boisterous, rowdy, and profane, especially with alcohol involved. But I doubt that anyone would support such ejections. More active measures are taken in places like Europe only where sports hooliganism descends into actual physical violence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why do you RWNJ's hate the rights of private buisnesses?

“Talking about government versus private silencing is irrelevant to free speech. Free speech is not the 1st Amendment. The 1st merely enjoins the government from silencing speech. Private companies who silence speech are legally allowed to do so, but that doesn’t mean that they are not preventing free speech when they do it.”

Bullshit son. Free speech is just that, freedom from government oppression that’s it. Everyone else can tell you to fuck right on off as they are not obliged to listen or care about the garbage you spew.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Bullshit son. Free speech is just that, freedom from government oppression that’s it. Everyone else can tell you to fuck right on off as they are not obliged to listen or care about the garbage you spew.

Once more for the new, dishonest or just slow to grasp things: Free speech has never been shorthand for consequence-free speech.

Even if the government isn’t allowed to tell you to shut up or get lost that doesn’t mean others have to put up with you in silence and/or give you a platform to speak from and a refusal to do one or both in no way violates anyone’s free speech.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Free Speech

“Free speech is just that, freedom from government oppression that’s it.”

That’s what the woke would like people to believe, as they outsource censorship to private corporations that are not bound by the same rules as the government. It is plainly false. For example, academic tenure is another form of free speech, even at private universities.

“Everyone else can tell you to fuck right on off as they are not obliged to listen or care about the garbage you spew.”

Of course. But not listening is different from silencing people when they are speaking where you can hear them. And that’s what the woke want to do.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Masnick has said here repeatedly that such silencing enhances free speech […]

False. He said it is free speech. Learn the difference.

[…] because otherwise people will be driven away by speech they dislike and so will not themselves speak.

That is a separate issue. He said that having multiple platforms, of which some do such moderation, helps people speak out.

To say that this is a weird definition of enhancing free speech is putting it mildly.

To say that you still don’t understand what “free speech” means is putting it mildly.

Talking about government versus private silencing is irrelevant to free speech.

Incorrect. “Free speech” is the right to say anything you like anywhere you want without fear of the government getting involved and without fear of being subject to physical harm. The distinction is very relevant. That you don’t agree doesn’t mean you’re right.

The 1st merely enjoins the government from silencing speech. Private companies who silence speech are legally allowed to do so, but that doesn’t mean that they are not preventing free speech when they do it.

I disagree, and you have shown no evidence whatsoever to prove your view is any more valid. More importantly, to the extent free speech is an American value, it is solely with regards to the 1A.

The woke takeover of academia and professional organizations means that science can not be done on controversial topics. It is career suicide for ordinary scientists and academics to declare findings contrary to wokeness, or even to propose experiments that might produce such findings. And given that, scientists and academics who do produce such findings are also suspect, because it’s likely that they went in with an anti-woke bias to begin with.

Tell me you don’t understand how science works without saying you don’t understand how science works. Also, this is completely irrelevant.

As with free speech, truth has unfortunately few people who really care for it.

And you are clearly not one of them.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:2

“False. He said it *is* free speech. Learn the difference.”

It is free speech for the owner of the platform. It is the opposite of free speech for the user of the platform. Learn the difference.

The private platforms have the free speech right to silence and censor as they like. But people don’t use those platforms because they care what those platforms themselves have to say. They use the platforms because those platforms are a great way to communicate with each other. And when they are silenced and censored on those platforms, their inability to sidewalk freely is inimical to *their* free speech.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

The sidewalk, public space or whatever you want to call it is the Internet. Twitter et al. are just shops opening onto that sidewalk. However if you go into one of those shops and start annoying other clients, you can and probably will be told to leave. Challenging minorities all the time is being exceedingly annoying to other clients, whether or not they are part of the minority under attack, and that is why you get told to leave.

Also, so long as you can set up your own soapbox, and there are many ways of doing that on the Internet, you are not being silenced. Indeed you whole line of reasoning is not about being silenced, but rather about being able to force people to listen to you telling them how wrong minorities are.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

It is free speech for the owner of the platform. It is the opposite of free speech for the user of the platform. Learn the difference.

Free speech for X and free speech for Y. I fail to see how that’s a meaningful distinction here. Either way, it is not opposing the general principle of free speech. Basically, as you define free speech, there is a balancing act between the platform’s free speech and the users’ free speech, and you are not happy with the current balance. Disagreeing with you on what the balance between the two sides should be is not diminishing free speech as a whole.

Also, that does not refute anything I said.

The private platforms have the free speech right to silence and censor as they like.

I dispute the wording, but I agree with the gist of that.

But people don’t use those platforms because they care what those platforms themselves have to say.

So what? I mean, many do, but even taking that point as true, I fail to see the relevance. Whether or not they care about what the platforms have to say, platforms have just as much right to say what they want as anyone else.

They use the platforms because those platforms are a great way to communicate with each other.

Correction: the platforms are a great way to communicate with a large audience. Your wording implies a private, two-way communication, but that’s not the case.

And when they are silenced and censored on those platforms, their inability to sidewalk freely is inimical to their free speech.

Uh, no, because Twitter and Facebook are not analogous to sidewalks; that would be the internet as a whole. Twitter and Facebook would basically be places like stadiums or hotels that rent out rooms for large groups to have some sort of meeting or rally or something. If you are kicked out, that’s the owner’s rights at work, and you can still say it freely on the sidewalks or in a different place.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:2 How Science Works

The proposed research has to pass the Institutional Review Board.

A grant proposal must be written to attract the notice and agenda of a funding institution.

Graduate students must be willing to enroll in the project.

The project must fly beneath the radar of groups that will attack it, for collaborating with Israeli institutions, for experimenting on animals, for the researcher being of the wrong race or ethnicity, for any of the other woke sins.

A reputable journal must be found that will publish the research.

If you claim that wokeness doesn’t affect what science gets done, you are a knave or a fool. Especially since the woke themselves claim that they are living in a world without truth, only power.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I mean, “men” and “women” aren’t really clear-cut distinctions to begin with (see, for example, intersex people), and brain chemistry tends to correlate more with gender identity than it does with biological sex.

It’s not about turning a man into a woman. It’s about letting a woman in a male-at-birth body present herself publicly as a woman and, potentially (after plenty of professional counseling and only if they desire it) even letting them modify their bodies to better conform to their identity so that they feel more comfortable in their own skin. It’s also about not forcing them into situations that are more dangerous to them. And it’s about recognizing that both gender and sex are a lot more complicated than we intuitively think because biology doesn’t conform itself to what would be convenient for us.

It’s also about recognizing that there is no practical way to tell a transwoman from a ciswoman (or a transman from a cisman) in most situations without violating their privacy, and that the vast majority of transgender people just want to use the goddamn restroom and leave like everybody else.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Many seem to miss the nuances of all of this.
Biological and mental gendering are very different aspects of self.

My concern was and is on two fronts.
First is sticking overly inquisitive tweens and teens in a position they are not ready for due to societal realities. As you wind up with outliers like Virginia where rape comes into the equation.

Second is letting immature children make permanent gender changes before they come through puberty.
Hell, I don’t want to think about what my choices may have been at any point along the way all those years ago, if today’s push existed then. Middle school, high school, etc?

There’s also the legitimate, and not without historical reasoning, to be concerned with ped abuse of access. Though this is much lower risk than the above two.

Concern does NOT equate to opposition. I am not for or against. I am undecided.
I come from a reality that gives me a better perception on this than many, for or against. And both sides refuse to listen or acknowledge what any of us say.
The problem isn’t in the idea. It the all in or all against opposing firm drives. Neither side stops to think about the actual “us” in this.
That’s the very reason there is actual pushback from members of the “alphabet” community of non-complete-conformity.

Ever action taken, or declined, has consequences. They need to stop, look at what comes from each decision, and prepare for outcomes.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Biological and mental gendering are very different aspects of self.

Sure. That’s kinda the point.

First is sticking overly inquisitive tweens and teens in a position they are not ready for due to societal realities.

I fail to see how, at least not any more than they are already in a position they aren’t ready for in so many other respects.

As you wind up with outliers like Virginia where rape comes into the equation.

I’m sorry, what?

Second is letting immature children make permanent gender changes before they come through puberty.

I have yet to see evidence that this is actually happening and plenty of evidence that it’s not, so you’re worrying over nothing.

Hell, I don’t want to think about what my choices may have been at any point along the way all those years ago, if today’s push existed then.

This “push” exists only in your imagination. In reality, there is no pressure to transition. If anything, the “push” is lesser now.

There’s also the legitimate, and not without historical reasoning, to be concerned with ped abuse of access.

I disagree. Also, [citation needed]

Concern does NOT equate to opposition.

True, but irrational concern is not much better.

I come from a reality that gives me a better perception on this than many, for or against.

I have seen no evidence of this.

And both sides refuse to listen or acknowledge what any of us say.

I have acknowledged what you had to say. Where we disagree, I pointed out why it’s either wrong, baseless, irrelevant, or impractical.

The problem isn’t in the idea. It the all in or all against opposing firm drives.

I don’t see that happening in reality, at least generally.

Ever action taken, or declined, has consequences. They need to stop, look at what comes from each decision, and prepare for outcomes.

I have, and I have determined that the evidence shows that, outside of (possibly) transgender people in sports, there is zero basis for any of the concerns or objections that have been raised in opposition to what LGBTQ+ people have asked for (and even then, it’s fairly minimal), and many of the more rational ones are easy to address and ought to be addressed even if transgender people were not a thing. I have also made proposals to that effect and have yet to see any actual, reasonable objections to many of the big ones.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:2

The concept of “woman in a male body” is abject nonsense. But the problem with woke gender ideology, aside from its being false, is that it seeks to compel other people to affirm its beliefs and override their own.

As it happens, many people have behaviors, beliefs, and taboos related to gender. Those can be religious, social, and cultural in nature, and they require segregation by sex in a variety of contexts, without regard that some people consider themselves a sex different from their bodies. Trans people do not get to have their own false beliefs about themselves override other people’s beliefs without their consent.

It may certainly be the case that trans people can cosplay the gender they wish they were sufficiently well to pass superficial examination and use the bathroom of their choice even if they would not be permitted to do so if their nature were known. That does not mean that they *should* do that, any more than an underage person should attempt to drink alcohol or get a senior discount, even if they look of age or have gotten fake ID.

People should be allowed to modify their bodies any way they wish, once they are of age or have gotten permission from their guardians. People should be allowed to present as the gender they wish they were without suffering consequences, for employment, say. What people should not be allowed to do, however, is to have their beliefs override the beliefs and taboos of others, or to compel other people to affirm their gender delusions.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

So I’m less restrictive than your opinion.
If a 30 yr old woman wants to drop her pants and sat and and pee in a urinal, so be it.
When a 12yr old wants to do that we run into an access issue.

Reality: many hetero men are pigs.
Which is more important?
All the freedom to live as they want in a cruel world?
Or
Protect them as long as possible until they fully comprehend the risks involved in their choices.

Which is better?

There’s no question I believe in a far more sexually open and aware society. Removed of taboo and restrictions entirely for consensual relations. One where such a situation would be neither a rare spectacle note one of risk.
One where everyone did everything together openly and plugs and sockets didn’t have any generic allure. Where consent was understood as required, location didn’t matter, and punishment for violation of consent was extreme.

Unfortunately that’s not the reality we live in. As we work towards opening society we must keep in mind the realities of the now and the consequences as we move forward.

Jon Reeves (profile) says:

Code is easy, data is hard, speech is even harder

When I worked for a company that processed and validated user-supplied data, I often used the aphorism “code is easy, data is hard” (as a coder for 20+ years, I felt somewhat qualified to judge). That’s because the computer will usually tell you if your code is wrong, but data can be wrong for years and not be noticed. And yes, I’m joking somewhat when I say that code is easy.

From my experiences with that company, which also hosted user posts at the time, and from what I’ve read since, I would modify that now to what I put in my headline: “Code is easy, data is hard, speech is even harder.” It seems like Musk is still coming to the realization of my first version (cf. FSD, which involves lots of real-world data).

Anonymous Coward says:

I want to agree, but I can't

Let me start by saying that I think Musk gaining control of Twitter would be a bad thing.

That being said, all I think this article demonstrates, is that it’s easy to insert your own definitions when Musk uses phrases like “maximally trusted” and “broadly inclusive” and if your definitions differ from his(not that his are particularly esoteric or hard to suss out), then parts of what he says are going to seem to contradict other parts of what he says.

First off, he’s applying those descriptors to the platform, not the content. “Maximally trusted” doesn’t mean that a user will never see a scam post, it means actions taken by the platform have algorithmic transparency. Likewise, “maximally inclusive” refers to what the platform will publish, not what the user experience is like. Accordingly, allowing legal hatespeech on a platform does not, “take away from the supposed ‘trust’ and ‘broadly inclusive’ nature Musk claimed to want,” because Musk is not using those phrases to refer to user experience, he’s referring to the principles by which content is accepted/removed/ranked.

Secondly, Musk explicitly talks about getting rid of spam/bots, and then also mentions leaving up anything that’s not illegal – and your conclusion is that Musk doesn’t know that spam is technically legal? Wouldn’t it make more sense to assume that he’s already taken it as a given that spam is removed, since he explicitly stated that as a goal earlier?

His stance is obviously that you should get rid of spam and illegal stuff, while leaving up pretty much everything else that is legal but currently falls into the categories of abuse, harassment, threats of violence, and dangerously misleading false information.

Finally, I see absolutely no grounds for the assertion that he wants to “go back to square one” with regards to identifying/removing spam and illegal content, just with regards to stuff like the recent suspension of the Babylon Bee over a transphobic joke. There’s nothing about that suspension that makes Twitter, as a platform (NOT a user experience), more inclusive or more trustworthy. If you’re actually trying to understand what Musk is saying, not just write an article that paints him as incompetent, it’s obvious that the primary thing he wants to roll back are filters/policies that block or punish legal, non-spam content, e.g. bigoted jokes.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re:

it’s obvious that the primary thing he wants to roll back are filters/policies that block or punish legal, non-spam content, e.g. bigoted jokes.

That is square-one. Also, did you miss what he said about algorithms? By making it open-source, that makes it exceptionally difficult to block spam, so there’s contradiction there.

And as for not realizing that spam is legal, when he said that he’d take down illegal content, he used the word “only”, which would be contradicted by saying he’d take down spam. It may not be what he meant, but it’s what he said, and it shows that he doesn’t understand what he’s talking about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That is square-one.

It’s square one if you ascribe sufficient importance to a certain set of values, but this article isn’t about Musk’s values, it’s about his competence/knowledge of the technical challenges around a certain problem.

I didn’t miss what he said about algorithms, it applies way more to ranking systems than evading spam filters, but even so, this wouldn’t be “back to step one,” it would be taking solutions that have been developing in the public cryptography/consensus field for years to be resistant to this sort of manipulation, and applying those, instead of opting for the easier path of obfuscating your algorithm and then changing it once it gets figured out, that Google et. al have opted for.

It may not be what he meant, but it’s what he said, and it shows that he doesn’t understand what he’s talking about.

If it’s clear what someone meant, and you accuse them of not understanding it because they misspoke, I don’t think you actually care whether or not they understand it.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

First off, he’s applying those descriptors to the platform, not the content. “Maximally trusted” doesn’t mean that a user will never see a scam post, it means actions taken by the platform have algorithmic transparency. Likewise, “maximally inclusive” refers to what the platform will publish, not what the user experience is like. Accordingly, allowing legal hatespeech on a platform does not, “take away from the supposed ‘trust’ and ‘broadly inclusive’ nature Musk claimed to want,” because Musk is not using those phrases to refer to user experience, he’s referring to the principles by which content is accepted/removed/ranked.

Your definitions make no sense. Algorithmic transparency does not directly lead to “maximal trust.” And your definition of “maximally inclusive” also makes no sense to anyone who understands any of this — because a website that allows all comers to post anything drives away most users, meaning that it is not maximally inclusive at all. It is self-limiting.

Secondly, Musk explicitly talks about getting rid of spam/bots, and then also mentions leaving up anything that’s not illegal – and your conclusion is that Musk doesn’t know that spam is technically legal? Wouldn’t it make more sense to assume that he’s already taken it as a given that spam is removed, since he explicitly stated that as a goal earlier?

No. Because I’ve had these debates before with tons of people who use the same phrases that Elon uses. And they simply do not put two and two together. He is directly contradicting himself. He says if it’s not legal it should stay up. LATER he says getting rid of spam should be the top priority. He said that AFTER saying leave it up if it’s legal. He’s contradicting himself.

His stance is obviously that you should get rid of spam and illegal stuff, while leaving up pretty much everything else that is legal but currently falls into the categories of abuse, harassment, threats of violence, and dangerously misleading false information.

Which again shows a massive level of ignorance. The vast, vast, vast majority of content moderation is dealing with spam.

Finally, I see absolutely no grounds for the assertion that he wants to “go back to square one” with regards to identifying/removing spam and illegal content, just with regards to stuff like the recent suspension of the Babylon Bee over a transphobic joke.

Because you don’t understand any of this. Literally every new website goes through the learning curve that Musk wants to start all over, and they ALL end up in the same spot. Including Parler and Truth Social.

So, yes, he’s going back to square one, in thinking that there’s some reasonable way to leave up abuse, harassment, and disinfo and not run into other issues that make the platform unusable.

There’s nothing about that suspension that makes Twitter, as a platform (NOT a user experience), more inclusive or more trustworthy.

No offense, but if you think that’s true, you truly have no business commenting on this, because you know nothing useful at all.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No offense, but what you really are saying is that the AC “knows nothing useful at all” to your propoganda agenda. No one buys your arguments, except the 6 Techdirt Mousekateers that we are all familiar with.

You are the one saying nothing useful at all to any rational or educated person. You’re a blithering idiot: “You need to suppress speech to protect speech” – how stupid can you be? You’ve spent a career perfecting your stupid skills, obviously.

I liked it more when you hid in the shadows. Once we all see you speak for yourself, it’s just sad tripe.

But I do enjoy watching you personally embarass yourself, under your own name, rather than one of your many fake ones.

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XD says:

Re: Re:

So, yes, he’s going back to square one, in thinking that there’s some reasonable way to leave up abuse, harassment, and disinfo and not run into other issues that make the platform unusable.

LMFAO. So this is a total motte-and-bailey. First you say the vast majority of moderation is against spam and Elon shouldn’t have said all legal speech because that includes spam. Now we see that in fact you think it’s also essential to preventing the platform from being literally unusable that they ban “abuse, harassment, and disinfo,” whatever the fuck any of that is wholly amorphously defined to mean. So could you have a viable platform that just banned spam and allowed all legal speech otherwise, or not? Make up your mind.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So this is a total motte-and-bailey. First you say the vast majority of moderation is against spam and Elon shouldn’t have said all legal speech because that includes spam. Now we see that in fact you think it’s also essential to preventing the platform from being literally unusable that they ban “abuse, harassment, and disinfo,” whatever the fuck any of that is wholly amorphously defined to mean. So could you have a viable platform that just banned spam and allowed all legal speech otherwise, or not? Make up your mind.

Did that make sense in your head? Because it doesn’t make any sense in reality.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

You don’t have to ban them. No. But you do need to deal with them. Leaving the brotherhood of christ or nation of islam on your front page or top feeds is not a good way to engage the general public.

I prefer to banish them to an island somewhere. I’ll happily post the island population and if you really want to communicate with them I’ll make sure you can. It you have to actively seek them out yourself. Island members don’t get posted in any non-subscription feed. Don’t get boosted no matter how popular a post or thread becomes.

You can go visit the island. If you want. But if you break any non-island rules while there your citizenship to the main world is revoked.

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XD says:

Re: Re: Re:4

Sites that do not deal with abuse, harassment, and disinfo in some form or another become unusable. Yes.

Yeah, so now you’re revising to “deal with in some form or another” from saying that you can’t “leave [them] up.” If you can’t leave them up, you have to ban them. Now you’re backing down from saying that you have to ban them, because you’re running a motte-and-bailey, just like I said.

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Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

WordPress isn’t really as good at mega-threading as some platforms. So I’m not sure who you’re responding to here.

Spam comes in many forms. Faking someone else is illegal and I take that down, and report that to multiple entities as the fraud it is.
Advertising without permission violates rules and I send that to the sandbox or litter box

Flaming is acceptable to a point but when it shifts to harassment (in my view)… off to the poop bin.

“Disinfo” is in the eye of the beholder, and depends on source. At most, I tag it as unsubstantiated or debated.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

I think it’s more that he has no idea how you could read what he wrote and fail to understand it that badly. I have no idea how you thought there was even the appearance of potential contradiction between those two assertions, and the answer to your question was already explicitly answered by the part you quoted.

So maybe he did have a headache, but it was from trying to read that much absurdity in a short amount of space, not from inability to comprehend the words themselves.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So this is a total motte-and-bailey.

Not at all. Even if everything else you say after this sentence was true (which it most certainly is not), that wouldn’t be motte-and-bailey.

First you say the vast majority of moderation is against spam and Elon shouldn’t have said all legal speech because that includes spam.

That was a separate thing from what Mike saying about square-one. For one thing, he was stating that the OP’s characterization of Musk’s planned moderation policy would still be going back to square-one. He was not necessarily saying that that was an accurate characterization; he was giving his opponent the best possible chance of being right and showing how they’re still wrong. This is called “steel-manning”.

Second, that is in no way inconsistent with saying that Musk was demonstrating ignorance by saying he would only take down (clearly) illegal or immoral speech while also saying he would take down spam (which is legal speech) while also saying that his (argued) plans for content moderation would be going back to square-one. Those are two separate and independent issues regarding the interview and the article, and they can certainly both be true.

Now we see that in fact you think it’s also essential to preventing the platform from being literally unusable that they ban “abuse, harassment, and disinfo,”

  1. He never said “literally unusable”. Practically unusable would be more accurate, although he didn’t actually specify. Stop putting words in people’s mouths.
  2. This is in no way inconsistent with the previous statement, nor is it a change in anything he said here.

whatever the fuck any of that is wholly amorphously defined to mean.

It is difficult to precisely define those terms, yes. They are extremely subjective. (Well, disinfo itself is easy to define clearly. Determining what is or isn’t disinfo is what can be difficult in some situations..) That doesn’t make what he said any less true or relevant. There are enough cases that clearly fall into at least one of those categories to make the point true regardless.

So could you have a viable platform that just banned spam and allowed all legal speech otherwise, or not?

You cannot. One of those statements makes that crystal clear, while the other has no bearing on it.

Are you talking about how that being square-one means it had to be done like that in the past? Because it was, and platform holders found it not viable, at least in the long term and/or on sufficiently large scales. This is in no way a contradiction, (though even if it was, that’s not what “motte-and-baile” even means).

XD says:

Re: Re: Re:2

He never said “literally unusable”. Practically unusable would be more accurate, although he didn’t actually specify. Stop putting words in people’s mouths.

Don’t be a pedantic shrew. People generally use words to mean what they literally mean unless otherwise specified. “Literally” is a term of emphasis not a significant alteration in meaning.

It is difficult to precisely define those terms, yes. They are extremely subjective. (Well, disinfo itself is easy to define clearly. Determining what is or isn’t disinfo is what can be difficult in some situations..) That doesn’t make what he said any less true or relevant.

Wow you might even say that these terms are “practically unusable” in any large-scale context.

This is in no way inconsistent with the previous statement, nor is it a change in anything he said here.

Yeah, it literally is, because if the vast majority of moderation is against spam then how the hell can the tiny minority of moderation against “abuse, harassment, and disinfo” be essential to the useability of the platform?

You cannot.

You literally can lmfao. See e.g. Twitter and FB until 2014 at the earliest.

Because it was, and platform holders found it not viable, at least in the long term and/or on sufficiently large scales.

They decided not to continue doing it, that doesn’t make it intrinsically non-viable for someone who was actually committed to doing rather than just chasing ad dollars.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

Analysis that takes his higher level “aspirational” answers, and points out that he would end up acting similarly to current leadership, is akin to a straw man’s argument.

Taking him at his word is a “strawman” argument?

I don’t think you know what a strawman argument means.

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Spinacia oleracea says:

First of all, “I hate spinach” is not hate speech.

As a green leafy vegetable, I most heartily concur. That statement is referring specifically to “eating spinach”. So by saying “I hate [eating] spinach”, you are showing that you favor allowing us to continue living and growing in our normal environment. We greatly appreciate that sentiment!

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Anonymous Coward says:

The only thing I have enjoyed more than walking Trump win is watching MM degenerate into a whimpering baby chasing off his own users when they don’t agree with his idiotic arguments. It looks like Musk is going to take you elitist idiots right off the edge of the cliff, and as you plummet like lemmings to your own credibility demise, I sit and laugh. A lot. Go Musk!

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Ted Flintstone says:

“porn (which is also protected by the 1st Amendment)”

Porn isn’t protected by the 1st Amendment. It’s protected by a Supreme Court that doesn’t know the difference between speech and actions.

If porn is protected by the First, then so is smoking marijuana, driving 100 mph, and refusing to wear a mask.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

If porn is protected by the First, then so is smoking marijuana, driving 100 mph, and refusing to wear a mask.

If porn isn’t protected by the first, the why are there 1000’s of adult book / video stores all across the country? PornHub? RedTube?

Everything else you said is just ridiculous w.r.t. 1st amendment protected speech.

Smoking marijuana is an action and not speech, porn is no different than any other visual art.

Driving 100mph is a safety issue that can kill innocent people, watching porn won’t kill anybody.

Wearing a mask is akin to wearing a seatbelt. Without one you will have a greater chance of dying. Watching porn will not make one have a great chance of dying.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Exactly! You are Exactly Right! There are a lot of REALLY OBVIOUS things that could be imroved, and you named just a few of the low hanging fruit of improvement. WAKE UP and Smell the Improvements that are Possible when you Open Your Mind! Musk is a Genius! He could send the stock price to the MOON! LISTEN TO THE SHAREHOLDERS!

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re:

If you’ve got such brilliant ideas on moderation then what the hell are you doing here, go out and start pitching your masterpieces to the various companies who I’m sure will be blown away by your ideas that will in no way be things they’ve already thought of and discarded as unworkable or worse.

The world of social media calls for you, crying for help, go genius of moderation and share your brilliance far and wide, it will be hard but I’m sure those here will be willing to forgo your illuminating presence if it means the online world will be better for it being elsewhere.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

I just want you to admit that you really want censorship of ideas that you don’t like. It’s fine and you can rationalize it anyway that you want but please admit that you really want censorship.

The exact opposite of that. I mean, I’ve written extensively on how to enable more free speech online. But turning useful places into dumpster fires doesn’t help with that. It drives people away.

I am 100% against censorship, and I’m happy for anyone to be able to post their thoughts online. It’s just that when you understand what it actually means, you realize that no one should be forced to host someone else’s content against their wishes as well.

Free speech thrives by enabling many places where people can talk. Not one giant place where everyone must be allowed to talk.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

For people to talk with each other, they need to be in the same place. Having many places for people to talk doesn’t facilitate conversation, it makes silos. People gravitate to the big platforms because of all the other people already there.

Any place in the world will kick you out for breaking the rules/being an asshole.

Don’t do either of those things and you can participate.

Don’t like it, go somewhere else.

You’re demanding an audience. That’s not part of your free speech rights. You can speak. You don’t get to commandeer private property to force your voice on an audience. That’s not free speech.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Demanding an audience

Your persistence in misunderstanding is so ongoing that I almost suspect that it’s willful.

I am not *demanding* an audience. I am saying that the censorship and silencing applied by the large platforms like Twitter and Facebook are inimical to the free speech of their users, and that those platforms *should*, not *must*, stop doing that.

I am fully on board with you that the platforms have the legal right to censor what they wish. But not everything legal is good. I could even agree with you that censoring and silencing some speakers may lead to more people participating overall. But more speech is not freer speech.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Any place in the world will kick you out for breaking the rules/being an asshole.

Don’t do either of those things and you can participate.

Don’t like it, go somewhere else.

Funny, you are whining about someone going in and buying the private place so that they can make the rules.

If you don’t like it, you could go someplace else.

Frankly it’s sad too see how much of an ideologue that you have become, I remember reading you in the mid to late 2000s, and your frankly wrong post about how terrible it would be to have a platform that actually supports free speech is sad to see.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Funny, you are whining about someone going in and buying the private place so that they can make the rules.

I’m not whining about it. As I’ve said REPEATEDLY if he buys it, he has every right to make whatever rules he wants, no matter how stupid. Unlike other people, I’m not suggesting that the government step in. If he buys it, he buys it.

I am just pointing out that his ideas for content moderation, are not very well informed.

If you don’t like it, you could go someplace else.

And, yes, if he buys it, I imagine many people will look to move to other services, though it remains to be seen if other good options will pop up to take on the same part of the market Twitter now occupies.

Frankly it’s sad too see how much of an ideologue that you have become, I remember reading you in the mid to late 2000s, and your frankly wrong post about how terrible it would be to have a platform that actually supports free speech is sad to see.

I do still support free speech wholly and unconditionally. Part of doing so is recognizing the free speech rights of companies to moderate, and the need for competition among platforms so that different people have different places where they can feel comfortable talking.

I have no issues whatsoever with people trying different models. But this entire article is about how Musk’s “insights” are not well informed, and are likely to mess up the parts of Twitter that actually do work.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4

Part of doing so is recognizing the free speech rights of companies to moderate, and the need for competition among platforms so that different people have different places where they can feel comfortable talking.

What kind of place do you feel comfortable talking in? The kind that refuses to remove child porn, but removes politicians and news?

I have no issues whatsoever with people trying different models. But this entire article is about how Musk’s “insights” are not well informed, and are likely to mess up the parts of Twitter that actually do work.

Frankly, it’s the internet, you can block anyone you don’t want speaking to you, and people already can and do form their own bubbles where they interact only with people they want.

Musk taking over Twitter and stopping the biased enforcement would stop none of that, it — according to what he has said — will just limit the platform’s actions to only handling illegal behavior.

That isn’t breaking Twitter. If anything, it prevents Twitter from being over-taken by a platform that actually supports free speech. Back when I used to read your site regularly, your writers would point out that censorship on Reddit was bad and might send it the way of Digg. But now your stance is censorship is good.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

What kind of place do you feel comfortable talking in? The kind that refuses to remove child porn, but removes politicians and news?

Your willful misunderstanding of what Twitter does is not really my problem. Twitter absolutely does remove CSAM and if it didn’t, the government would be right to go after it using the laws on the books. Twitter does not block news. We’ve gone over this point repeatedly, and you willfully misrepresenting it does not change things.

Musk taking over Twitter and stopping the biased enforcement would stop none of that, it — according to what he has said — will just limit the platform’s actions to only handling illegal behavior.

Even though he literally said his top priority was to have the site block legal content.

So, yeah, you either didn’t read any of this, don’t understand it, or are willfully lying.

In other words, there’s no point in responding to you further.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6

Twitter absolutely does remove CSAM

Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t know they did refuse to remove child porn and are being sued for it. I linked the article proving it, Here it is again. Don’t trust that site? That’s okay, What would you prefer? Bloomberg? New York Post? Courthouse News? Orlando Sentinel? Inquisitr? Scriberr? Opindia?

You are clearly ignorant, maybe that is why you have these idiotic takes now? Did you just gave up actually informing yourself?

Even though he literally said his top priority was to have the site block legal content.

No, he said his top priority is to let people say what they want as long as it doesn’t violate the law and they aren’t a bot swarm — Seems that’s too complicated for you to understand though.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

I am familiar with that case and your summary of it, based on the complaint, is not an accurate portrayal of what actually happened.

No, he said his top priority is to let people say what they want as long as it doesn’t violate the law and they aren’t a bot swarm

No. He literally said his first priority would be to stop bots and spam. Both of which are legal speech. You’re creating out of wholecloth this new exception.

But, fine, if you want to go there, he has created an exception to his “all legal speech” claim. Why is that okay when Elon does it, but not when Twitter does it?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8

I am familiar with that case and your summary of it, based on the complaint, is not an accurate portrayal of what actually happened.

Yes it is. Here are the judges own words

Nonetheless, to the extent that Plaintiffs allege that Twitter has participated in a sex trafficking venture “by allowing Twitter to become a safe haven and a refuge for, ‘minor attracted people,’ human traffickers, and discussion of ‘child sexual exploitation as a phenomenon,’ to include trade and dissemination of sexual abuse material[,]” […], they must “allege at least a showing of a continuous business relationship between the trafficker and [Twitter] such that it would appear that the trafficker and [Twitter] have established a pattern of conduct or could be said to have a tacit agreement.”

[…]

The Court concludes that Plaintiffs’ allegations are sufficient to meet this requirement. In addition to the general allegations that Twitter enables sex trafficking on its platform […], Plaintiffs also include specific allegations that support an inference that Twitter participated in a “venture” involving these Plaintiffs.

In particular, the FAC alleges that Twitter was specifically alerted that the Videos contained sexual images of children obtained without their consent on several occasions but either failed or refused to take action. First, John Doe # 1 and his mother both allegedly reported the CSAM through Twitter’s content reporting interface. FAC ¶¶ 110, 112. Further, when Twitter responded to John Doe #1’s complaint by asking for further information, John Doe #1 sent Twitter a copy of his driver’s license (reflecting that he was a minor) and stated in his responses that the Videos had been taken three years before “from harassment and being threatened” and that a police report had been filed. FAC ¶ 114. John Doe #1’s mother allegedly made two more complaints, including one specifically complaining about the user account @StraightBross, which was one of the accounts that provided links to the videos.” FAC ¶ 115. Subsequently, after receiving only form responses, John Doe #1’s mother emailed Twitter to inquire about the status of the complaints. FAC ¶ 119.

Two days later, Twitter allegedly sent John Doe #1 a response stating, “We’ve reviewed the content, and didn’t find a violation of our policies, so no action will be taken at this time.”

[…]

The Videos allegedly remained on Twitter another seven days.

The Court finds that these allegations are sufficient to allege an ongoing pattern of conduct amounting to a tacit agreement with the perpetrators in this case to allow them to post videos and photographs it knew or should have known were related to sex trafficking without blocking their accounts or the Videos.

Twitter refuses to remove child porn and are currently being sued because they have a pattern of behavior that supports the spread of child porn. The allegations are strong enough that a judge has allowed the case to go forward.

Why are you trying to protect twitter’s support of child porn if you are actually as informed as you claim?

No. He literally said his first priority would be to stop bots and spam. Both of which are legal speech. You’re creating out of wholecloth this new exception.

But, fine, if you want to go there, he has created an exception to his “all legal speech” claim. Why is that okay when Elon does it, but not when Twitter does it?

First, bots are not people and do not have rights. Second, even with the removal of spam, that’s a million times better than where Twitter currently sits where they ban bots and spam, but also ban politicians, ban news, removes things from trending, and ban people for perfectly legal speech.

Your opposition to Musk is pretty stupid, on the one hand you complain he wants to go too far in freeing up the platform, and on the other he isn’t going nearly far enough.

That’s not a reasoned position, that’s you deciding you just don’t like Musk and therefore this must be bad, all the while selling out the core values that you used to hold about freedom of expression.

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SteveMB (profile) says:

Whether or not conservatives have been disproportionately and unfairly stifled on Twitter is not the primary issue here

The important point is that the two are separate issues. In the situation described by the evidence (conservatives are more likely to violate various basic “no shirt no shoes no service” type rules), they are indeed disproportionately sanctioned, but there is no unfairness involved.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

The constitution defines the rules that the government should play by. It says nothing about how businesses should conduct themselves.

However what your comment tells me is that you are ones of those people who wish to abuse others online. and are looking for a means to force companies to allow you to do that.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

any content moderation is unconstitutional and anyone who is ok with it should meet the same fate as Hitler, because they are Neo-Nazi scum.

Spam filters are unconstitutional?!? Search ranking is unconstitutional?!? The NY Times not publishing my op ed is unconstitutional?!?

Holy shit!

Those are all forms of content moderation.

And all are very much constitutional because the constitution does not limit private actors, only the government.

And private companies are not the government.

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Anonymous Coward says:

You act like the only censorship on Twitter is for blocking “malicious actors” I was just given a 7 day suspension for saying that I believe gender dysphoria is primarily mental illness. This is the second time I was penalized on the same topic. One more and it’s a lifetime ban. This ridiculous transgender business is being pushed by companies like Twitter and Disney. It is absurd and the majority of Americans agree with me, yet they muzzel us and ram this garbage down our throats. It is destroying our country. Elon will stop this on Twitter at least if he is successful.

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Rocky says:

Re:

So you are a specialist on gender dysphoria? Have you also taken a poll where a majority of Americans agree with you?

It’s people like you that are destroying the country – inbred, stupid, racist, intolerant, bigoted and belonging to a very loud minority that are fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant in a world that is changing because you can’t cope with change.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It doesn’t take an expert to recognize that reproduction is a fundamental part of our existence, and mutilating ones own genitalia rendering oneself infertile is the behavior of the deeply disturbed. It should not be normalized, taught or encouraged. Considering it mental illness does not equate to hate. They are entitled to live as they wish, but the rest of us do not have to live in their delusion.

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:

What’s deeply disturbing is how fast you went from gender dysphoria to mutilating ones own genitalia.

If you don’t care how they live their lives, what the fuck are you complaining about then?

It doesn’t take an expert to realize that whatever you posted on Twitter to get a ban was most likely totally tonedeaf and assholish.

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Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Vs facebook

He has something on error on keep.
Twitter uses an archaic method known as deletion.

Even Facebook tends to flag and tag. Even hide. Rather than deleting. YouTube followed that as well. The amount of deleted video for tos violations is extremely small. Although they have gotten more deletionist since 2020.

I will generically assume that their user base is about the same. The problem many have with twitter is the actual deletion aspect for legal content.
While they have the right to do so, anyone who disagrees with deletions has the right to complain. Just as those deleted have the right to complain.
And you have the right to say what you want in response. As well.

As a non-twitter poster I don’t really care what happens. But a big shakeup wouldn’t necessarily be bad. Or good. If you don’t like any change that occurs, go elsewhere in the internet.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

He has something on error on keep.

Wut?

Twitter uses an archaic method known as deletion.

Huh?

Even Facebook tends to flag and tag. Even hide. Rather than deleting. YouTube followed that as well.

This is false. Facebook and YouTube are significantly more likely to delete than Twitter. Indeed, Twitter has been much more forgiving of content and the first to experiment with things like flagging, before other social media picked up on it.

You admit you don’t use Twitter, so why do you assume you know stuff about it when you don’t?

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I appreciate you replying directly on a holiday weekend:

Error on: keep persevering posts until confirmed

Deletionist mentality is the most destructive method of moderation

I didn’t know for sure, it’s a generalist idealism. But I can click links on Facebook that are missing on twitter.

You admit you don’t use Twitter, so why do you assume you know stuff about it when you don’t?

Assuming? No. Stating from pov. But the reality is you find far more saved here or since deleted statements about twitter than Facebook. Right or wrong the perception is fact. Even if reality may be different.

Again, my age and experience is a factor here but I lean to preserve and reduce vs delete.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Error on: keep persevering posts until confirmed

I still have no idea what this means. Confirmed what?

Deletionist mentality is the most destructive method of moderation

Again, this seems to mean something in your head that is not matched by anything else. What “deletionist” mentality are you talking about?

And, again, Twitter is the least likely to delete accounts of any major social network.

I didn’t know for sure, it’s a generalist idealism. But I can click links on Facebook that are missing on twitter.

Wut? I still don’t know what this means? How do you click on a link on Facebook that is missing on Twitter? Facebook and Twitter are two different sites. I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.

Stating from pov.

What “pov”?!?

But the reality is you find far more saved here or since deleted statements about twitter than Facebook.

What are you basing this on? It literally makes no sense.

Right or wrong the perception is fact. Even if reality may be different.

Are you really, really high right now?

Again, my age and experience is a factor here but I lean to preserve and reduce vs delete.

Your personal stockpiling habits have fuck all to do with content moderation of a major social media site.

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Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 OB absm

I know exactly who you are and I’m sure you have a good idea who I am.
We’ve both been around nearly the same length of time.

Some of us prefer the Prodigy method used by man a service today.
Some of us prefer the compuserve method.

I prefer the latter as is implemented on this very site! Allow the community to decide what is immediately shown with recovery for anti-consensus commentary.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

This site has a small audience of people who are generally have a thick skin. Twitter and the like are aiming at a larger audience, including those that bruise easily is attacked. Hyman Rosen for example is a person who would continuously attack someone until they gave up using the platform, under the mistaken belief that they are entitled to attack that which they disagree with, even if it does not affect them personally.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Personally Affected

I could Godwin and quote the poem about “When they came for the X, I was silent because I was not an X”, but in fact, I *am* entitled to attack something I disagree with even if it does not affect me personally.

“Bruise easily”

Yes, that is indeed the woke “safe spaces” attempt to silence dissent through claims of victimhood rather than through argument.

None of which is to say that I agree with the claim that I would attack someone personally until they went away. The closest I have come to doing that is to mention the Babylon Bee satirically giving Rachel Levine its Man of the Year award and being censored for it by Twitter. If someone feels personally attacked by my group claims, that, for example, all transwomen are men or no gods exist, that is their problem; people cannot choose the rules of reality, not should they be able to force people to affirm that falsehoods are true.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:6

It’s a comments section. By its nature, it’s going to involve disagreement. Not to mention that every Techdirt post is an attack – on Musk, on telecom companies, on cable companies, on law enforcement. If attacking all the time makes something a troll, then Techdirt itself is the biggest troll of all.

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Professor Joseph Olson says:

Content "moderation"

All it takes to defeat the moderators, whether temps in India or FB’s algorythm, is a good vocabulary, big words, and a sense of humor.

To fail all you have to do is use the “seven bad words”from a 1970’s George Carlin tape .

Even the inarticulate and the ignorant have a RIGHT to participate in the marketplace of ideas speaking as best they can.

Scams BTW are crimes and not speech.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

All it takes to defeat the moderators, whether temps in India or FB’s algorythm, is a good vocabulary, big words, and a sense of humor.

I mean, if you’re living in about 2008. But the world of content moderation has changed a lot since then. You may want to update your knowledge, because it’s extremely out of date.

To fail all you have to do is use the “seven bad words”from a 1970’s George Carlin tape .

This is also false. I use many of those words on social media and have never been banned.

Even the inarticulate and the ignorant have a RIGHT to participate in the marketplace of ideas speaking as best they can.

No one has a right to commandeer private property, sorry. You break the rules, there are consequences.

Scams BTW are crimes and not speech.

Some scams may be crimes. Tweets about scams may not be protected speech, but many of them actually are. So, no, that’s not a good argument. It’s a clueless one from someone who does not appear to have any experience in this field, at least not since the mid aughts.

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Anonymous Coward says:

This article baffles me as a whole next level stuped.

Look, you hate the man, that much is clear but what you write about “content moderation” as if it were a science in either social engineering or computer science is laughable at best, as ignorant or “ignorant sounding” to conceal the truth, like the Reddit CEO, platform code monkeys and shitgeneers have turned their respective babies into the censored crapholes that they are today by design, laziness and personal vendettas.

Boards/forums and comments have all worked flawlessly (before you touched the internet apparently) since we don’t seem to remember the whole reason why the internet became a bastion of free information; personal blocking and spam filtering were the only feats that needed to evolve, anything else to shelter personal beliefs, ideals and agendas was added later under excuses of “betterment”, well… how does the Reddit echo chamber feel now? How about the YT moron filled, astro turfed comments section? The vanishing dislike counter? 😂 You cannot be serious.

Whatever happened to ignoring people? Oh I see, the point is to kill the idea or the individual from affecting others, thanks to these social media clowns, forums are a lackluster of any meaningful discussion, they serve as astroturfing beacons, comment sections are hiveminds by design, social media engineers have killed the internet as it was conceived, Elon plans to revert that and make some scratch while every millennial shitgeneer runs around screaming is the bloody end of the world.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

This article baffles me as a whole next level stuped.

This comment baffles me as a whole next level stupid (so stupid you can’t even spell stupid right).

Look, you hate the man, that much is clear

This is the weakest, most pathetic comeback people have when they don’t have an argument. I don’t hate Elon Musk at all. I admire him and think he’s a brilliant innovator. But brilliant people can be wrong about areas they don’t understand.

Boards/forums and comments have all worked flawlessly (before you touched the internet apparently)

Bwuwahahahahahah. Look, I run the content moderation case study project, and many of the case studies go back looking at forums from many, many decades ago, and that’s not even remotely accurate.

Whatever happened to ignoring people?

Yes, that can work for many types of issues. But many others it does not. That is the point. That is something that the actual adults who have experience in this space know and understand — and which you do not. Just like Elon.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Bwuwahahahahahah. Look, I run the content moderation case study project, and many of the case studies go back looking at forums from many, many decades ago, and that’s not even remotely accurate.

So you are pretty much king Nothing.

Dear Duke buzzwordington:

I don’t remember any of this nonsense in the 90s and even the early 2ks.. you mean a decade or decade and a half ago (around the time I noticed the shift, I guess) it’s like a group of forum moderators decided to turn their craft into a science, it was the only logical next step when you go from a free voluntary position to low wage to well… scientist!

Fact remains that forums have never needed “ideal moderation”, leave that to the feds if extremism is your concern, floating made up facts in forums eventually gets debunked, has it stopped anyone from preaching flat earth, Russia saves us from the Illuminati or the Holocaust never happened from being spread? No, because while you don’t float that in the upper levels of information exchange, lower levels still toy with it.

This comment baffles me as a whole next level stupid (so stupid you can’t even spell stupid right).

Lame comeback, I guess I forgot the /s

This is the weakest, most pathetic comeback people have when they don’t have an argument. I don’t hate Elon Musk at all. I admire him and think he’s a brilliant innovator. But brilliant people can be wrong about areas they don’t understand.

Comeback? You imagine things my friend, this is my first post, you hate Elon, just admit it else you wouldn’t have posted such insanely stupid article, actions such as these are purely based on hate, nice try shifting the perception of bias, though.

Yes, that can work for many types of issues. But many others it does not. That is the point. That is something that the actual adults who have experience in this space know and understand — and which you do not. Just like Elon.

Do explain how the laziness of shitgeneering bad AI is a complex feat, how exactly does appealing decisions not revoke bad calls by AI? In any case, shouldn’t that AI be run at a personal level to filter and keep the snowflakes from seeing the nasty on their platform of choice instead? Because that would be the solution… but I think the idea is to erase counter debate and opposing opinions to the norm, aye?

Using spam and scam as a pillar to stand on to say Elon does not understand is rather moronic since no changes are needed to whatever methods they use today to block them, Elon and everyone and his mother including the left and the right want platforms free of censure.

Pati D'Amico says:

twitter possibly being bought by musk

Why does Twitter act like a government agency(who really runs TWITTER) Who decided what should be “truth” or what is “offensive” The Hypocrisy of this company is right in our faces. I hope Elon helps to make twitter a social media company for ALL opinions …and real TRUTH ..not the BS that is spewed.I feel like we’re being run by
“mean girl”children and not adults.

tl13 says:

Look at it this way. Social media has proven itself to be an extremely efficient engine of social destruction, making society extremely dysfunctional, literally getting people killed during pandemics, and fueling an unprecedented mental health scourge. Most people I know in my age group that grew up without it and did not have it until we were young adults have identified that it brings out the worst in people and is a grotesque facsimile of socialization and activity.

So Twitter can do is gross dystopian shtick all it likes. The sooner social media destroys itself the better.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

When they are banning/censoring content based on party lines and not on any objective criteria (Hunter laptop), then, yes, they’re doing it wrong.

Except, as noted that’s not even remotely close to true. They had a policy: no articles including hacked documents. Twitter had enforced that policy against other media companies before, and not “based on party lines.” The biggest example was that they didn’t even just block links to, but they shut down the entire account of a news org because it shared leaked law enforcement chat group logfiles.

In other words, it shut down links to a group exposing police misconduct.

When that happened, did you flip your lid about how they were biased against “defund police” progressives? Or… nah?

Just because you see everything through a partisan lens doesn’t mean you’re not a complete ignorant fool.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

If it wasn’t hacked then the article didn’t contain hacked documents, because it was concerned with documents from the laptop.

Twitter’s hacked materials policy covers this. It includes “Disclosing materials accessed legitimately outside of approved systems.” The documents from the laptop meet that criteria.

Some of us actually understand the policy. And you don’t.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

The idiocy of the rule is well documented. And they changed the policy quickly. Not quickly enough… but quickly.

There’s no doubt they were trying to deal with the environment of leaks that was big at the time. They did ban other internal White House leaks as well. Which were posted against Trump.

The idea this could extend to election fraud… is not without merit. At the same level as tripping on the electric cord that plugs in a voting machine could constitute election fraud.

There is fraud by intention and then there is manipulation by stupidity. Twitter’s actions were beyond stupid.

BUT!!!!
Don’t miss the meal for the environment. Yes, polling across the spectrum says up to 38% of people may have changed their vote based on the story if they knew at the time.
What none of those polls show is who any change would be for.

By my unscientific count of the various polls, you’d need over 25% of those mays to vote for trump in blue EC states to change the outcome.

The best (for Trump) that I could see is a likely change of 3 or 4 EC votes. Maybe 24 on the most extreme
Biden still wins.

They didn’t actually change the outcome.

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XD says:

Re: Re: Re:4

It includes “Disclosing materials accessed legitimately outside of approved systems.”

Which a) isn’t hacking and b) is totally amorphous. What the fuck is an approved system? Do they define it? Is there an agreed-upon definition extant prior to that policy? Guessing the answer to both is no!

Some of us actually understand the policy. And you don’t.

Actually hilarious how you claim to “understand” a policy that is literally written to be vague in order to be manipulated when convenient. Twitter already said that the policy and how it was deployed against NYPost were mistakes. Take the L already, janny boot-licker.

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XD says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Rather, Twitter said that the application of the policy to the NYPost laptop story was a mistake, not the whole policy, because they (stupidly) still have a hacked materials policy with much the same language. But we’re arguing about that particular application, so the point still stands. You are making an argument for Twitter that they already disavowed themselves. Are you claiming to understand the policy better than Twitter does?

The degree to which you’re coping and seething over Elon is hilariously pathetic btw.

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

Re: Re: Re:6

I’m the last person to support twitter’s method of censoring deletionist moderation.

But in reality their implementation of crappy policy appears to be blind to politics.

There’s a difference In flat out lies about bias on twitter and the truth that they just have shite policies that make Q Victoria look lenient.

It’s no wonder they’re so far behind the leaders on total membership. They’re slightly inconsistently consistent on their crap policy implementations.
With double the wold population they still can’t get much beyond double user rate as CompuServe had at its peak.
And twitter is 100% free. CIS access cost money no matter the access route.

One thing Musk is right on: twitter has a long way to go to earn the right to say free speech.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

Rather, Twitter said that the application of the policy to the NYPost laptop story was a mistake, not the whole policy, because they (stupidly) still have a hacked materials policy with much the same language.

[citation needed]

Also, “mistake” =/= “politically motivated”. Quite the opposite, actually.

But we’re arguing about that particular application, so the point still stands.

No, it does not, because the point you’re arguing is that the only reason it was taken down was due to political bias. It was taken down pursuant to a rule that, according to you, was a mistaken application of the rule, not a deliberate one.

You are making an argument for Twitter that they already disavowed themselves.

I mean, I still need a citation for that assertion, but, again, that doesn’t really help your case. If anything, it hurts your case.

The degree to which you’re coping and seething over Elon is hilariously pathetic btw.

I’ve noticed a lot of people claiming this, but not anyone actually doing so.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

I have yet to see the so declared mass exodus actually occurring. For one thing the most likely alternative choice is Facebook and they’re LESS moderating than Musk’s declarations for twitter and free speech, over all. Despite some prominent bans.

I honestly don’t see how this is any sort of big deal over all. The absolute “worst” than happens is some people (eg trump, infowars) come back to the platform.
The “best” is twitter moves to collapsing and/or tagging and hiding. Which is a positive step in truly free free speech.

You don’t need to follow them. You don’t need to read their posts.
One thing I never understood with all the crying is wtff!?!?
Nobody is forcing you to follow these users.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Which a) isn’t hacking […]

Depends on your definition. Many would argue that any access to a machine that either a) is unauthorized by the original owner or b) bypasses the standard security measures is hacking. Not all hacking is bad or illegal.

[…] and b) is totally amorphous.

I think you meant “vague” or “ambiguous”. I’m not sure I agree, or if that actually matters, but regardless, “amorphous” makes no sense in this context.

What the fuck is an approved system?

A system which the person accessing it either was the owner/user or had authorization from said owner/user to access it for the given use.

Do they define it? Is there an agreed-upon definition extant prior to that policy?

Yes. Most people would understand it as I said earlier. More importantly, so what if the answer is no?

Actually hilarious how you claim to “understand” a policy that is literally written to be vague in order to be manipulated when convenient.

Understanding that it’s vague doesn’t mean you don’t understand it. Also, that you don’t understand it doesn’t make it vague.

Twitter already said that the policy and how it was deployed against NYPost were mistakes.

The former is completely irrelevant. The latter is arguable, but also not all that relevant (even if it is more relevant than the former).

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Done and dusted.

According to NYT (who tends to be reliable) the deal is done!
https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/04/25/business/elon-musk-twitter

Few supporters of speech for the sacks of speech, like myself, will ever argue that more speech is bad. And it’s quite clear Musk wants to allow more speech.

If all goes through; the question becomes, how will he modify moderation. How will he (or will he) look to protect those who are weaker and those with week spines and thin skin.
Do we see “toxic” baiting and flaming left up… or do we get yet another echo chamber mess.
OR
Does he simply move to a more Facebook style of hiding away. Collapsing, and moving it out of the front window.

In a time when the American Right looks to force speech and the Left looks to actual censorship; this is a very exciting moment for us Gen X computing members who’s interest in freedom is outside and beyond any politics.

To quote the quote from GNR, “what we got her [was] failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach… how he wants it. While, he gets it”. Originally ~cool hand Luke

Twitter has pissed off a lot of powerful people. Now they all look down the barrel of a very big, very expensive, gun. Held by a man who lives by the ideal of ‘dare you’! And won’t hesitate to pull the trigger!

Anonymous Coward says:

"Spam = Free Speech"

Presumably Musk meant free speech by actual humans, not bots. Any minimally charitable reader can see the sense in saying that “I want to protect all free speech by real people, but not all by bots” is an authentic free speech position. The fact that Mike Masnick apparently didn’t pause to consider this reveals him as uncharitable.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

Presumably Musk meant free speech by actual humans, not bots. Any minimally charitable reader can see the sense in saying that “I want to protect all free speech by real people, but not all by bots” is an authentic free speech position. The fact that Mike Masnick apparently didn’t pause to consider this reveals him as uncharitable.

He has repeatedly said, including today, that he wants to protect whatever is allowed by law.

The law protects speech from bots.

So… yeah. It’s not me being uncharitable. It’s me actually knowing wtf I’m talking about. Unlike Elon.

JohnnyAppleSneed says:

Ur Dumb

This post is idiotic. Twitter and FB were extremely lightly unmoderated (at least compared to now) until like 2015/2016, and they’d both existed for at least a decade at that point. So they did fine for 10+ years and then as soon as Orange Man is elected they suddenly find out their model doesn’t work? No, that’s just when everything got totally hysterical over “Russian disinfo on social media” and ppl in Congress started threatening them with legal consequences for not censoring “disinfo” (AKA rightoids and dissident leftoids) lol

P.S. I could not care less that u worked on some stupid history project abt jannying when you are evidently incapable of seeing facts two feet in front of ur face.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

This post is idiotic. Twitter and FB were extremely lightly unmoderated (at least compared to now) until like 2015/2016

This is just outright false.

So they did fine for 10+ years and then as soon as Orange Man is elected they suddenly find out their model doesn’t work?

That’s not at all what happened.

No, that’s just when everything got totally hysterical over “Russian disinfo on social media” and ppl in Congress started threatening them with legal consequences for not censoring “disinfo”

And, since you’re clearly new here, you don’t know how often I’ve called out Dem politicians for doing that. But the companies have strongly resisted such pushes.

P.S. I could not care less that u worked on some stupid history project abt jannying when you are evidently incapable of seeing facts two feet in front of ur face.

Why does it not surprise me that you don’t care to hear from experts who actually have the evidence, and prefer to live in your own bubble of nonsense?

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JohnnyAppleSneed says:

Re: Re: Re:

P. S.

If it were actually the inevitable product of historical necessity that Musk eventually adopt the content moderation policies which you just so happen to prefer, such as banning “abuse, harassment, and disinfo,” as you say elsewhere, then you would not have written this utterly transparent cope-post about how it is the inevitable product of historical necessity that Musk eventually adopt the content moderation policies which you just so happen to prefer.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Too many republicans are Biden-level forgetful.
CIS has existed in some form since 1966! From 1966-2019 is was a publicly available platform.
I worked for them for many a year!

I’d have to actually dig into my own personal (authorised) clone backups and check logs but(to my best recall) in over 50 years they flat out ejection gone poof banned less than 1000 users from a grand total of over a million CIS accounts, and 500 mil partner accounts.

Combined that’s more active users than Twitter has total registrations including a decade of zero use accounts

No matter how die-at-owns-sword one may be, there will always be people that just outright need their account cancelled for the betterment of the whole.
Speaking with more than two decades of experience moderating…
Those who complained about Trump etc are idiots. There are far more disruptive and dangerous individuals being banned daily all over the world
Bend over backwards and take it in 3 holes.(ouchie fun)
But
Some people are so far beyond toxic their residence becomes a problem.

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Anonymous Coward says:

You had me up until you said, “I know that the narrative — which Musk has apparently bought into — is that Twitter’s content moderation efforts are targeted at stifling conservatives. There is, yet again, no actual evidence to support this. If anything, Twitter and Facebook have bent over backwards to be extra accommodating to those pushing the boundaries in order to use Twitter mainly as a platform to rile up those they dislike.”

That’s just plain out and out BS, and you know it.

Jeremy2020 (profile) says:

Musk might be the most dangerous person to freedom alive

The guy believes in himself and smart people that I work with who understand issues are like, “Yea, but electric cars!”

One guy I work with who’s very astute and generally on the sane side of issues..just loses it when it comes to Musk.

Crazy stuff from what I believed to be an otherwise rational person like:

“Electric Cars would never exist in the marketplace without Musk.”

“Musk has done more to save the environment than anyone.”

“Musk would do this for no money. He wants to save the world.”

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re:

Electric Cars would never exist in the marketplace without Musk.

Lolololol!!!!! Electric cars started production in the late 1880s! There have ALWAYS been electric cars.

Musk has done more to save the environment than anyone.

By transferring from pollution to surface damage. Destroying millions of acres of land to dig. Instead of burning to death with the damaged ozone layer, we choke to death with no o2 product.

Musk would do this for no money. He wants to save the world

Correction, he’d do it with no income. Maybe. As long as it doesn’t cost him directly to use your money. He wants to save the world one federal grant at a time.

You friend is a bit crazy. Like so many dedicated fans. Jobs had that level as well. Gate etc.
Some hate these people. Some worship them.
People like me… recognise them as what they are. Crazy-genius daredevils. Afraid of nothing other than. Not trying!

Lucky for us plebes they never agree on much. Or we’d all be in trouble. Lol

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carl sam (user link) says:

I disagree, elon knows better than any moderator

Elon is not just smart, and in opposite to the over-censored and radicalized twitter moderators, Elon do have been shown to be very aware of modern society, free speech, and do actions to help humanity instead of just censoring it.
Elon would do good to remove so much censorship, he would do good to remove slur restriction, he is beyond the best world leader in these days and I am up to support him as he have shown to be the most kind and open minded person in actuality.
Note to Elon: Please fire all moderators from twitter and hire open mind ones!

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moderntech says:

I stopped reading after the first few sentences, where you insulted people who have an opinion on the matter as being uneducated, and needing to do further research.

It would appear that you want me, the reader, to use your article as my research, after you just called me ignorant.

That being said, the greybeard moderation of yesteryear is over. Yes, free speech means unmoderated. The only time free speech needs moderated is when it’s threatening speech. This is the law.

No the law does not say you can’t use racial epithets or be a bigot, that sucks right? But that’s because words (on the surface) do not cause you physical harm (mental maybe).

A threat of violence is a threat of imminent injury or death.

Starting to see the difference?

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re:

You’re a bit out there on your understanding of what moderation is and how free speech works.

I’m the widest acceptance level of all-speech and even I moderate. Not as heavily as Facebook. Not as censorial as twitter. But moderation is required. Otherwise you wind up with nothing more than a giant mass of words that have meaning as message and context are gone.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So why are supposedly free-speech conservatives so keen to eject dissenters from the…

Well, partly correct! “Oh, because they are lying raging hypocrites”
That said, I don’t think I’ve seen a modern Republican with the same ideals I have with speech.
“All speech is sacred” is a phrase I use personally. I don’t believe I’ve see a lawmaker say that.

As soon as reports of Parler and truth etc bans came out I was right back here calling them censorious deletionist bastards too. I believe I also used the words hypocrites and lier as well.

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