Reality Check: Twitter Actually Was Already Doing Most Of The Things Musk Claims He Wants The Company To Do (But Better)

from the with-a-very-narrow-exception dept

So there has been lots of talk about Elon Musk and his takeover of Twitter. I’ve written multiple things about how little he understands about free speech and how little he understands content moderation. I’ve also written (with giant caveats) about ways in which his takeover of Twitter might improve some things. Throughout this discussion, in the comments here, and on Twitter, a lot of people have accused me of interpreting Musk’s statements in bad faith. In particular, people get annoyed when I point out that the two biggest points he’s made — that (1) Twitter should allow all “legal” speech, and (2) getting rid of spambots is his number one priority — contradict each other, because spambots are protected speech. People like to argue that’s not true, but they’re wrong, and anyone arguing that expression by bots is not protected doesn’t understand the 1st Amendment at all.

Either way, I am always open to rethinking my position, and if people are claiming that I’m interpreting Musk in bad faith, I can try to revisit his statements in a more forgiving manner. Let’s, as the saying goes, take him figuratively, rather than literally.

But… here’s the thing. If you interpret Musk’s statements in the best possible light, it’s difficult to see how Twitter is not already doing pretty much everything he wants it to do. Now, I can already hear the angry keyboard mashing of people who are very, very sure that’s not true, and are very, very sure that Twitter is an evil company “censoring political views” and “manipulating elections” and whatever else the conspiracy theory of the day is. But it’s funny that the same people who insist that I’m not being fair to Musk, refuse to offer the same courtesy or willingness to understand why and how Twitter actually operates.

So, let’s look at Musk’s actual suggestions, phrased in the best possible light, and look at what Twitter has actually done and is doing… and again, you’ll realize that Twitter is (by far!) the social media service that has gone the farthest to make what he wants real, and in the few areas that he seems to think the company has fallen short, the reality is that it has had to balance difficult competing interests, and realized that its approach is the most likely to get to the larger goal of providing a platform for global conversation.

Musk has repeatedly said that he sees free speech on Twitter as an important part of democracy. So do many people at Twitter. They were the ones who framed themselves as the “free speech wing of the free speech party.” But as any actual expert in free speech will tell you, free speech does not mean that private websites should allow all free speech. And I know people — including Musk — will argue against this point, but it’s just fundamentally wrong. We’ve gone over this over and over again. The internet itself (which is not owned by any entity) is the modern public square, and anyone is free to set up shop on it. But that does not mean that they get to commandeer private property for their own screaming fits.

If it did, you would not have free speech, because you would (1) just get inundated with spam and garbage, and (2) only the loudest, most obnoxious voices would ever be heard. The team at Twitter actually understands the tradeoffs here, and while they don’t always get it “right” (in part because there is no “right”), Twitter’s team is so far above and beyond any other social media website, it’s just bizarre that the public narrative insists the opposite.

Twitter has long viewed its mission as enabling more free speech and more conversation in the world, and has taken steps to actually make that possible. Opening up the platform to people who violate the rules, abuse and harass others, and generally make a mess of things, does not aid free speech or “democracy.” You can disagree with where Twitter draws the lines (and clearly, Musk does), but Musk has shown little to no understanding of why and how the line drawing is done in the first place, and if he moves in the direction he claims, will quickly realize that Twitter’s lines are drawn much much much more permissively than nearly any other website (including, for what it’s worth, Trump’s Truth Social), and that there are actually clear reasons for why it drew the lines it did — and those lines are often to enable more ability for there to be communication and conversation on the platform.

Twitter has long allowed all sorts of dissenting viewpoints and arguments on its platform. Indeed, there are many activists who insist that the problem is that Twitter doesn’t do enough moderation. Instead, Twitter has put in place some pretty clear rules, and it tries to only take down accounts that really break those rules. It doesn’t always get that right. And it misses some accounts, and takes down others it shouldn’t. But on the whole, it’s way more permissive than most any other site that is much quicker to ban users.

Second, even as it contradicts his first point, Musk has claimed that he wants to get rid of spambots and scambots. This is a good goal. And, again, it’s also one that Twitter has been working on for ages. And it has really good, really smart people working on the issue (some of the best out there). And, in part because the company is so open and so permissive (again much more so than other platforms), this is an extraordinarily difficult problem to solve, especially at the scale of Twitter. People assume, falsely, that Twitter doesn’t care about spammers, but part of the issue is that if you want to have an “open” platform for “free speech,” that means that people will take advantage of that. Musk is going to find that Twitter already has some of the best people working on this issue — that is if they don’t rush out the door (or get pushed out by him).

Third, Musk has talked about redoing the verification system. He’s said that Twitter should “authenticate all real humans.” This appears to be (at least partly) part of his method for dealing with the bots and spam he’d like to eradicate. For years we’ve discussed the dangers of a “real names” policy, that requires people to post under their own names, including that studies have shown that the trolling often is worse under real names. It’s especially dangerous for marginalized people, and those who have stalkers, or are otherwise at risk.

But, some people respond, it’s unfair to assume he means a real names policy. Perhaps he just means that Twitter will keep a secret database of your verified details, and you can still be pseudonymous on the site. Except, as experts will tell you, that still is massively problematic, especially for marginalized groups, at-risk individuals, and those in countries with authoritarian regimes. Because now that database becomes a massive target. You get extremely questionable subpoenas, seeking to unmask users all the time. Or, you get the government demanding you cough up info on your users. Or you get hackers trying to get into the database. Or, you get authoritarian countries getting employees into these companies to seek out info on critics of the regime.

All of these things have happened with Twitter. And Twitter was in a position to push back. But it sure helped that in many of those cases Twitter didn’t actually have their “verification,” but much less information, like an IP address and an email.

Or, to take it another level, perhaps Musk really just means that Twitter should offer verification to those who want it. That’s not at all what he said, but it’s how some of his vocal supporters have interpreted this. Well, once again, Twitter has tried that. And it didn’t work. Back in 2016, Twitter opened up verification for everyone, and the company quickly realized it had a huge mess on its hands. First people gamed the system. Second, even though the program was only meant to just verify that the name on the account was the real person it was labeled as, people took it to be an “endorsement” by Twitter, which created a bunch of other headaches. Given that, Twitter paused the program.

It then spent years trying to figure out a way to open up verification to anyone without running into more problems. Indeed, Jack Dorsey made it clear that the plan has always been to “open verification to everyone.” But it turns out that, like dealing with spam and like dealing with content moderation, this is a much harder problem to solve at scale than most people think. It took Twitter almost four years to finally relaunch its verification program in a much more limited fashion, which they hoped would allow the company to test out the new process in a way that would avoid abuse.

But even in that limited fashion the program ran into all sorts of problems. It had to shut down the program a week after launching it, to sort out some of the issues. Then, it had to do so again 3 months later, after finding more problems with the program — specifically that fake accounts were able to game the verification process.

But, again, Twitter has been trying to do exactly what Musk’s fans insist he wants to do. And they’ve been doing so thoughtfully, and recognizing the challenges of actually doing it right, and realizing that it involves a lot of careful thought and tradeoffs.

Next, Musk said that Twitter DMs should have end-to-end encryption, and on this I totally agree. It should. And lots of others have been asking for this as well. Including… people within Twitter who have been working on it. But there are a lot of issues in making that actually work. It’s not something that you can just flip a switch on. There are some technical challenges… but also some social issues as well. All you have to do is look at how long it’s taken Facebook to do the same thing — in part because as soon as the company planned to do this, they were accused of not caring about child safety. Maybe, a privately owned Twitter, controlled by Musk just ignores all that, but there are real challenges here, and it’s not quite as easy as he seems to think. But, once again, it’s not an issue that’s never occurred to Twitter either.

Another recent Musk “idea” was that content moderation should be “politically neutral,” which he (incorrectly) claims “means upsetting the far right and far left equally.” For a guy who’s apparently so brilliant, you’d think he’d understand that there is no fundamental law that says (1) political viewpoints are distributed equally across a bell curve and (2) the differences between neutrality of inputs and neutrality of outputs. That is, every single study has shown that, if anything, Twitter’s content moderation practices greatly favor the right. It’s just that (right now), the right is much, much, much more prone to sharing misinformation. But if you have an unequal distribution of troublemakers, then a “neutral” policy will lead to unequal outcomes. Musk seems to want equal outcomes which literally would mean a non-neutral policy that gives much, much, much more leeway to troublemakers on the right. You can’t have equal outcomes with a neutral policy if the distribution is unequal.

Finally, the only other idea that Musk has publicly talked about is “open sourcing” the algorithm. At a first pass, this doesn’t make much sense, because it’s not like you can just put the code on Github and let everyone figure it out. It’s a lot more complicated than that. In order to release such code, you first have to make sure that it doesn’t reveal anything sensitive, or reveal any kind of vulnerabilities. The process for securing production code that was built in a closed source environment to make it open source… is not easy. Having dealt with multiple projects attempting to do that, it almost always fails.

In addition, if they were open sourcing the algorithm, the people it would benefit the most are the spammers and scammers — the very accounts Musk claims are his very first priority to stomp out. So once again, his stated plans contradict his other stated plans.

But… Twitter has actually again been making moves in this general direction all along anyway. Jack Dorsey, for years, has talked about why there should be “algorithmic choice” on Twitter, where others can build up their own algorithms, and users can pick and choose whose algorithm to use. That’s not the same as open sourcing it, but actually seems like it would be a hell of a lot closer to what Musk actually wants — a more open platform where people aren’t limited to just Twitter’s content moderation choices. And, as Dorsey has pointed out, Twitter is also the only platform that allows you to turn off the algorithm if you don’t want it.

So, as we walk down the list of each of the “ideas” that Musk has publicly talked about, taking them in the most generous light, it’s difficult to argue that Twitter isn’t (1) already doing most of it, but in a more thoughtful and useful manner, (2) much further along in trying to meet those goals than any other social media platform, and (3) already explored, tested, and rejected some of his ideas as unworkable.

Indeed, about the only actual practical point that Musk seems to disagree with Twitter about is a few specific content moderation decisions that he believes should have gone in a different direction. And this is, as always, the fundamental disconnect in any conversation about content moderation. Every individual — especially those with no experience doing any actual moderation — insists that they have the perfect way to do content moderation: just get rid of the content they don’t want and keep the content they do want.

But the reality is that it’s ridiculously more complicated than that, especially at scale. And no company has internalized that more than Twitter (though, I expect many of the people who understand this the best will not be around very long).

Now, I’m sure that Musk fans (and Techdirt haters, some of whom overlap), will quickly rush out the same tired talking points that have already been debunked. Studies have shown, repeatedly, that, no, Twitter does not engage in politically biased moderation. Indeed, the company had to put in place special safe space rules to protect prominent Republican accounts that violated its rules. Lots of people will point to individual examples of specific moderation choices that they personally don’t like, but refuse to engage on why or how they happened. We’ve already explained the whole “Biden Laptop” thing so it doesn’t help your case to bring it up again — not unless you’re able to explain why you’re not screaming about Twitter’s apparently anti-BLM bias for shutting down an account for leaking internal police files.

The simple fact is that content moderation at scale is impossible to do well, but Twitter actually does it better than most. That doesn’t mean you’ll agree with every decision. You won’t. People within the company don’t either. I don’t. I regularly call the company out for bad content moderation decisions. But I actually recognize that it’s not because of bias or a desire to be censorial. It’s because it’s impossible for everyone to agree on all of these decisions, and one thing the company absolutely needs to do is to try to craft policies that can be understood by a large content moderation team, around the globe, who can make relatively quick decisions at an astounding speed. And that leads to (1) a lot of scenarios that don’t neatly fit inside or outside of a policy, and (2) a lot of edge case judgment calls.

Indeed, so much of what people on the outside wrongly assume is “inconsistent” enforcement of policy is actually the exact opposite. A company like Twitter can’t keep changing policy on every decision. It needs to craft policy and stick with it for a while. So, something like the Biden laptop story comes along and someone points out that it seems pretty similar to the Blueleaks case, so if the company is being consistent, shouldn’t it block the NY Post’s account as well? And you can make an argument as to how it’s different, but there’s also a strong argument as to how it’s the same. And, so then you begin to realize that not blocking the NY Post in that scenario would actually be the “inconsistent” approach, since the “hacked materials” policy existed, and had been enforced against others before.

Now, some people like to claim that the Biden laptop didn’t involve “hacked” materials, but that’s great to be able to say in retrospect. At the time, it was extremely unclear. And, again, as described above, Twitter has to make these decisions without the benefit of hindsight. Indeed, they need to be made without the benefit of very much time to investigate at all.

These are all massive challenges, and even if you disagree with some of the decisions, it’s simply wrong to assume that the decisions are driven by bias. I’ve worked with people doing content moderation work at tons of different internet companies. And they do everything they can to avoid allowing bias to enter into their work. That doesn’t mean it never does, because of course, everyone is human. But on the whole, it’s incredible how much effort people put into being truly agnostic about political views, even ridiculous or abhorrent ones. And Twitter, pretty much above all others, is incredibly good at taking the politics out of its trust and safety efforts.

So, again, once Musk owns Twitter, he is free to do whatever he wants. But it truly is incredible to look over his stated goals, and to look at what Twitter has actually done and what it’s trying to do, and to realize that… Twitter already is basically the company Musk insists it needs to be. Only it’s been doing so in a more thoughtful, more methodical, more careful manner than he seems interested in. And that means we seem much more likely to lose the company that actually has done the most towards enabling free speech in support of democratic values. And that would be unfortunate.

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Comments on “Reality Check: Twitter Actually Was Already Doing Most Of The Things Musk Claims He Wants The Company To Do (But Better)”

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Koby (profile) says:

A Cry For Nothing

Elon did more than simply purchase Twitter. He purchased the evidence. The shadowbans. The mistakes blamed on “the algorithm”. The biased moderation. This stuff, if it was occurring behind the scenes, is now going to get exposed. If there truly was no bias at Twitter, and Elon’s proposed changes aren’t going to accomplish much, then there sure has been a lot of crying and meltdowns over nothing.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Elon did more than simply purchase Twitter.

Technically, he hasn’t bought it yet. He’s made an offer to buy it, and that offer could still fall apart before the sale is finalized (which will take months). Hell, Elon himself could pull the offer, considering how much it’s already fucked up the stock price of Tesla.

This stuff, if it was occurring behind the scenes, is now going to get exposed.

Okay, and…so what? What do you think is going to happen, some grand revolution where everyone abandons Twitter for Truth Social or a mass conservative convergence on Twitter headquarters for some “political discourse” involving pitchforks and torches?

If there truly was no bias at Twitter

Here’s the thing: There is always going to be some bias at Twitter becase humans can’t be unbiased. Even on something as simple as a single type of food (e.g., cheese), people will be biased towards one kind or another (e.g., preferring chedder over Swiss, preferring Kraft over other brands). People working Twitter moderation do their best to put those biases aside for the sake of their jobs, but a little bias will always slip through because they’re only human.

And as pointed out in the article, given how Twitter bent over backwards to make sure certain Republican/conservative accounts were given leeway to break the rules, the bias would arguably be in favor of conservatives. I mean, Twitter let Donald Trump say all kinds of wild shit until they finally banned his ass after the insurrection.

But more to the point: If conservatives are being dinged at a higher rate than liberals/progressives because conservatives are more likely to post content that breaks the rules, what does that say about conservatives and what is considered “conservative speech”?

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'When I said equality I meant preferential treatment!'

And as pointed out in the article, given how Twitter bent over backwards to make sure certain Republican/conservative accounts were given leeway to break the rules, the bias would arguably be in favor of conservatives. I mean, Twitter let Donald Trump say all kinds of wild shit until they finally banned his ass after the insurrection.

It takes a stunning level of dishonesty or at the very least overwhelming self-entitlement and ego to be treated better than everyone else and yet still be screaming about how persecuted you are.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

It’s not even a matter of ‘equality feels like oppression to those accustomed to privilege’ but rather a mindset that seems to believe that privilege isn’t enough and that even when you have all the advantages you still don’t have enough.

There’s holding a persecution complex and then there’s downright fetishizing it.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:3

[E]quality feels like oppression to those accustomed to privilege.

Whoever wrote that is wrong. Being only 1/84th black, I pass as 100% white, and therefore am accustomed to a massive amount of privilege compared to someone who’s mixed race, for example. Yet I remain committed to learning from the experiences of race-related prejudice from the people directly impacted by it without feeling oppressed by the fact that everyone is equal regardless of inherited/inborn characteristics such as race.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

does anyone here want to explain what race American Indians are to this slobbering mooncalf?

Depends on what you mean by “Indian”. If you’re referring to people from India: Asian. If you’re using what is now considered outdated terminology for Native Americans: Native American. (“Indigenous” is also a suitable replacement for “Native”.)

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Okay, and…so what? What do you think is going to happen, some grand revolution where everyone abandons Twitter for Truth Social or a mass conservative convergence on Twitter headquarters for some “political discourse” involving pitchforks and torches?

No, the shadowbans will end. Subscribers for conservatives will begin rising instead of getting suppressed. The bias will end. Instead of an indefensible ban getting blamed on a “glitch”, it will get traced back to a human moderator with an axe to grind. The moderator gets fired, and the account gets reinstated. What I think is most likely to happen is — a fair shake.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yeah, about that…

This is exactly what I mentioned about purchasing the evidence. The numbers are skyrocketing so much that a lot of folks have questioned the legitimacy of the subscriber counts, such that Twitter was forced to officially respond. Either you believe in the organic surging popularity of conservatives, or you see the boot coming off the throat as the insiders cover their tracks. People can decide for themselves what to think, but based on the panicked behavior of Twitter employees, combined with witnessing the censorship here on techdirt first hand, by a supposedly middle ground policy bunch, the Twitter bias is looking pretty obvious to me.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Either you believe in the organic surging popularity of conservatives, or you see the boot coming off the throat as the insiders cover their tracks.

What boot? As was pointed out in the article (and has been pointed out to you before), Twitter did everything short of officially announcing a policy to let conservative lawmakers (and probably more than a few conservative pundits) say some wild-ass shit without getting dinged by moderation. Donald Trump, for example, got away with a lot more shit than a regular user would have⁠—as evidenced by the fact that when an account mirrored his tweets verbatim, it ended up getting dinged far more than Trump ever did.

Twitter doesn’t want conservatives to shut up; if anything, that would drive down active user interactions and such, and Twitter wants those metrics up. What Twitter wants is to have as many people as possible using the service, and that doesn’t happen if people end up driven away by bigotry and harassment and spam. What does it say about conservatives that they would willingly align themselves with that sort of rule-breaking content only so they can act like a victim when Twitter dings them for posting it?

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:3

What boot?

I guess we’ll just have to disagree about the cause of the magic surge. Regardless of the cause, I can’t complain about the results. But I get the feeling that a lot of censorious leftists aren’t going to like it, nor are they going to accept “magic” as the answer. They’re going to want that boot back, real or not.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

I get the feeling that a lot of censorious leftists aren’t going to like it

There was a mass exodus of users after Elon’s deal to buy Twitter was announced. I’d assume that, from the drop in followers for ostensibly “leftist” celebrities and lawmakers and such that was outlined in the article I linked to, all those “leftists” you keep bitching about made their opinions known by leaving the fucking site. Isn’t that a win for you and your conservative brethren? After all, you’re finally getting “your” site back from the filthy liberal menace.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Like locust, except worse

Silver lining, if they do get what they want with all the assholes welcome back it’ll just turn into yet another of their social media platforms where everyone not a toxic asshole leaves and/or avoids it and the only people left are those that do fall into that category along with people there just to troll them, and as the other platforms of that sort show that’s a grand old time for that lot.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

Undoubtedly though for a while they might be content to stew in the cesspool that they’d turn Twitter into, and after having trashed it their demands that other platforms let them in as well it will be all the more obvious as not the demand for ‘free speech’ that they try to portray such claims as but rather a demand to ruin other platforms with their toxic presence that it truly is.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 People leaving Twitter

I’ve heard at least three separate incidents of people who were self-aware that they had a twitter addiction but didn’t have the will to leave, but news of the Musk buyout gave them enough of a push to walk away.

As per the usual disclaimer, anecdotes are single points of data among billions, and don’t qualify as evidence, but I sure like to think the exodus is not political but a moment of mass self-awareness.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5

But I get the feeling that a lot of censorious leftists aren’t going to like it, nor are they going to accept “magic” as the answer.

Other than the fact that there’s no practicing communists in America and most of the world, both sides are, at least to me, jackbooted authoritians pretending to be progressive.

But it’s the NeoNazis, like you, who are showing signs of wanting to get the boot back before the Dems do.

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Nah says:

Re: Re: Re:4 It's evidence of something, but doesn't bear on this conversation.

“…Trump, for example, got away with a lot more shit than a regular user would have⁠—as evidenced by the fact that when an account mirrored his tweets verbatim, it ended up getting dinged far more than Trump ever did.”

I think Trump is a bad example, and here’s why. I have never seen anyone say Twitter didn’t give him a lot more leeway than regular users or even other politicians. If they did, they’re stupid or lying, and can be disregarded. (Like, Trump himself or his campaign could be disregarded if they assert this.)

Now why Twitter let Trump go mostly uncensored until the 11th hour is a different question. Personally, I attribute it to the fact that (a) his ego and shallowness caused him to tactically gaffe and highlighted his boorishness, helping the Left; and (b) there’d have been a massive backlash leading to negative repercussions for the Left (definitely lawsuits, possibly worse.) But it could actually be true that Twitter felt it was anti-democratic, or could be perceived as such, to boot a sitting POTUS (I believe that was their argument?). But like I said, different subject.

No, ‘…an account mirrored his tweets verbatim, it ended up getting dinged far more than Trump ever did’ is a terrible example. Because the part you left off is that the account(s) that mirrored him verbatim and got booted were not from presidents, ex-presidents, or presidential candidates.

The only way your evidence could work is if Sanders, Buttigieg, Bush, Clinton, et al had been kicked off for verbatim mirror tweets. That didn’t happen.

It was unexceptional users getting booted for verbatim mirror tweets. All this proves is what sensible, honest people already understand and admit: Twitter treated Trump exceptionally nicely in comparison to unexceptional users.

No, what we are alleging is that Twitter censors authentic rightwingers. Trump being censored or amplified by Twitter proves nothing for or against that accusation. (If anything, it leans toward proving my point: that elites get preferential treatment from Twitter.)

Your side says Twitter hasn’t targeted regular citizens and institutions on the American right, and amplified the Left. My side says it has.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

why Twitter let Trump go mostly uncensored until the 11th hour is a different question

Not really. Trump’s presence on Twitter drove user engagement⁠—be it by Quote Retweets of his bullshit, direct replies to his bullshit, or people discussing/complaining/celebrating his bullshit. More users using the service means more ads and thus more revenue. Twitter gave him more leeway than literally any other user until the insurrection, at which point even Twitter could see that keeping him around was A Bad Idea™.

No, ‘…an account mirrored his tweets verbatim, it ended up getting dinged far more than Trump ever did’ is a terrible example.

Except it is. It’s proof that Twitter gave Donald Trump⁠—a Republican lawmaker⁠—more leeway to violate Twitter’s Terms of Service than it gave to literally anyone else…including an account that perfectly duplicated everything he posted on Twitter. Anyone who wants to claim that Twitter has an “anti-conservative bias” needs to first explain how Donald Trump was able to get away with posting shit that other users were dinged for posting exactly the same way he did to the letter.

It was unexceptional users getting booted for verbatim mirror tweets.

Whether a user was “unexceptional” is irrelevant. Twitter treated the same words differently when those words came from a powerful Republican lawmaker who drove massive user engagement with the platform. If there was an “anti-conservative bias” at Twitter, it would’ve dinged Trump instead of that “unexceptional” user. If Twitter wasn’t biased towards conservative lawmakers, it would’ve dinged both Trump and the mirror account in equal measure and with equal punishments.

But it treated Trump with kid gloves not just because he was POTUS, but because Twitter stood to lose a fair amount of users (and thus revenue) if he left and took his followers with him. Twitter only came to its senses after the insurrection, at which point Trump had become too big a liability for Twitter to handle.

what we are alleging is that Twitter censors authentic rightwingers

Define “authentic right-wingers”. Be specific.

Your side says Twitter hasn’t targeted regular citizens and institutions on the American right, and amplified the Left. My side says it has.

All the evidence says Twitter bent over backwards to keep high-profile conservative lawmakers happy (which would ideally result in them keeping their followers from figuratively [or literally] storming the gates of Twitter). You need to overcome that hurdle first if you ever want to prove Twitter has a systemic bias against conservatives.

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Still Anonymous, Still Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6

Whether a user was “unexceptional” is irrelevant. Twitter treated the same words differently when those words came from a powerful Republican lawmaker who drove massive user engagement with the platform. If there was an “anti-conservative bias” at Twitter, it would’ve dinged Trump instead of that “unexceptional” user. If Twitter wasn’t biased towards conservative lawmakers, it would’ve dinged both Trump and the mirror account in equal measure and with equal punishments.

Again, you keep bringing up Trump, but you also keep forgetting important details about why they let him get away with so much. I’ll focus on the most important one: He was the President. The 11th hour was the hour where it was impossible for him to retaliate against twitter. I think you know this, because it seems fairly obvious that he would be petty enough to retaliate against twitter, but I just want a quick check to be sure because you seem to think that was a regular occurrence or some kind of trendsetter with twitter and its policies or that he should be used as any kind of guideline when it comes to all other speech on twitter, none of which had the power to retaliate against twitter.

The few other people who seemingly had the power to retaliate against twitter would be the billionaires who posted there, one of which included Musk. So again, is it really fair to post some random right-wing pundit and compare their treatment as being ‘justified’ or ‘balanced’ by Trump getting away with murder? Does Musk buying them make up or justify any action that may occur from this point forward to them? People forget Musk isn’t right-wing, and would never actually defend any of them or their opinions. The question on if twitter is a public square or not is more important than ever because we seemingly can’t agree if a public square should even allow some types of people to participate regardless of how ‘public’ it is.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

He was the President.

So. Fucking. What.

He didn’t have a right to use Twitter. He broke the rules. Twitter let him keep breaking the rules, even as an account mirroring his proved that he broke the rules and was left alone, untli he was a liability Twitter no longer wanted to deal with. That he was the President of the United States is irrelevant, because plenty of other conservative lawmakers and personalities got the same treatment from Twitter. That Twitter bent over backwards to keep him happy is an indictment of Twitter for proving some people are above the rules of the service, even as those “lesser than” those people get banned for saying exactly what the privileged motherfuckers said to the letter.

is it really fair to post some random right-wing pundit and compare their treatment as being ‘justified’ or ‘balanced’ by Trump getting away with murder?

Yes. Yes, it is. Because plenty of right-wing/conservative users have said shit that wasn’t even nearly as bad as anything Trump said and got dinged for it, but Trump avoided consequences because Twitter cared more about keeping him on the service (where he could drive user engagement) than about holding everyone to the same standards.

And before you even think to say it: If Joe Biden regularly said the same kind of shit that Trump said “but leftist”, I’d have no problem with Twitter banning his ass. Same goes for Kamala Harris, Liz Warren, AOC, Bernie Sanders, or any other leftist/liberal/progressive lawmaker or personality. They should all be held to the same standards as every other Twitter user regardless of their political leaning/position in government/relative fame.

Musk isn’t right-wing

At best, he’s a dipshit centrist who thinks everything needs to be debated. At worst, he’s hiding his right-wing tendencies well so he can avoid pissing off his ridiculous-ass fanbase.

Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:10

Or buy the company and change the rules.

But that’s irrelevant. The fact that Twitter can set whatever rules it likes does not mean that a discussion of whether those rules are good is off limits. There is an argument that Trump was kicked off Twitter because Twitter has a left-wing bias, some of it internal and invisible to outsiders and some of it encoded in its rules. Saying that Trump was kicked for disobeying the rules does not address that argument one way or the other.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11

The fact that Twitter can set whatever rules it likes does not mean that a discussion of whether those rules are good is off limits.

Nobody here said it is. But you’d do well to bring actual facts with you if you want to have that discussion with us. We don’t deal in bullshit. To wit:

There is an argument that Trump was kicked off Twitter because Twitter has a left-wing bias, some of it internal and invisible to outsiders and some of it encoded in its rules.

A specific Twitter account made to mirror Donald Trump’s tweets verbatim was suspended multiple times for tweets Trump had posted without consequence. Other conservative personalities were given similar leeway to post without being dinged by moderation. While I’d bet on left-wing/liberal/progressive personalities having similar leeway, they’re not the ones who seemingly go around posting rule-breaking content on a regular basis.

Besides, “anti-conservative bias” in social media moderation is a myth. To claim it as a fact, you must prove two notions are factually true:

  1. Punishment of conservatives happens only because of their political beliefs.
  2. That punishment follows a pattern of unequal, politically motivated actions that exclusively target “right-wingers” but leave “left-wingers” alone.

I wish you the best of luck⁠—you’ll need it.

Saying that Trump was kicked for disobeying the rules does not address that argument one way or the other.

We’ll address that argument when you can offer evidence that gives the argument more weight than a bird’s feather.

Nah says:

Re: Re: Re:6 No Compromise = Civil War

In all seriousness though, can you bring yourself to agree with me here? “Elites get preferential treatment from Twitter, and Trump is an elite.”

I’m actually curious about this, because if you can’t say as much then it broadcasts an alarming message that everyone should be concerned about (regardless of which side of the political aisle): the political divide will never heal, only grow more wide, because the Left will never consider rightwingers redeemable or worthy of anything except suicide.

That’s a pretty terrifying idea, that the Left and Right can’t agree on some basic starting points (e.g. America’s health is a goal we should all pursue, the Constitution means something, checks-balances are important, etc.) If so, it means eventual civil war, and not a bloodless one.

Adamantly refusing to admit basic and obvious common ground, no compromises, no quarter. How civil wars kick off. If you’ve ever seen ‘no quarter’ war up close, it’s not something a non-psychopath would want to be caught helping start.

Nah says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Are you the guy who never learned about the Bering Land Bridge?

Figured this would happen eventually. The above is not me. What I get for not registering my name, I guess.

For the record, I don’t know much about ‘Britain First’, but what little I do know about them I support.

The reason I accuse you as being the same dunce as the guy who didn’t know Amerindians are of Asian descent… uh, sir or ma’am, do you know the White Rose was an anti-Nazi resistance organization that hasn’t existed since Nazis did? (That’d be 1945.)

Did you step on your dick and get ‘White Rose’ confused with ‘Knights of the White Camelia’?

The Other Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8

For the record, I don’t know much about ‘Britain First’, but what little I do know about them I support.

Big surprise. I searched them. A British version of the KKK, as far as I can tell.

Did you step on your dick and get ‘White Rose’ confused with ‘Knights of the White Camelia’?

I searched “White Rose” too. The one that seems to align best with your apparent philosophy is an anti-vaxx group dedicated to causing Covid-related deaths.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:8

…the guy who didn’t know Amerindians are of Asian descent…

The native Americans (as they’re properly) may have originated from the Far East way back when, but that’s unimportant in regard to their claims on American soil. Or are you saying that white people have no claim to Europe because everyone originated from Central Africa way back when? If you’re going to pose an argument, leave the racist element out of it. Makes it less rebuttable.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

For the record, I don’t know much about ‘Britain First’, but what little I do know about them I support.

So you support an openly xenophobic and islamophobic party? I mean, I’ll grant that they aren’t technically fascists, but they are definitely bigots, and that’s, like, 80% of their platform from what I can tell. (Another 15% is anti-abortion.) They are extremely far-right.

The reason I accuse you as being the same dunce as the guy who didn’t know Amerindians are of Asian descent…

Native Americans are about as Asian as Europeans are African. The migration over what is now the Bering Strait happened thousands of years ago, before recorded human history. To say they are Asian is to dilute the term to be completely meaningless. No actual Asians or Native Americans would say that Native Americans are Asian. Culturally, geographically, and historically, they are not Asian by any sane definition of the term.

Not that it really should matter that much, but if you’re going to bring race into the discussion, at least get it right!

uh, sir or ma’am, do you know the White Rose was an anti-Nazi resistance organization that hasn’t existed since Nazis did? (That’d be 1945.)

Wrong one. They were likely referencing the much more modern White Rose, which is a group dedicated to spreading disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and other conspiracy theories that has misappropriated their name from the original White Rose that you speak of but has no actual connections to it.

Did you […] get ‘White Rose’ confused with ‘Knights of the White Camelia’?

Considering the fact that the other given group (Britain First) is from the UK and the Knights of the White Camelia were exclusive to the US (and also haven’t been in operation since around 1870, which was long before even the White Rose you’re thinking of began), probably not. Again, it was probably the other “White Rose” that exists today.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

“Now why Twitter let Trump go mostly uncensored until the 11th hour is a different question.”

It’s one with some very obvious and uncontroversial answers.

Trump was one of the most followed accounts on the site. His obnoxious loudmouthed idiocy, combined with his insistence on using his personal account for official government business instead of the provided POTUS account meant that Twitter was constantly in the news, which further drove traffic.

Combine that with the tendency for the right wing to whine any time they face consequences for their actions, and the balance was simply that Trump was tolerated so long as he wasn’t losing them revenue. When he finally overstepped the line, first with COVID misinformation, then with lies about the election. They still treated him with kid gloves, simply placing warnings about the content of the tweets, rather than suspending or banning as they would with other accounts.

Then Jan 6th happened, it because very clear that his nonsense was having an impact in the real world, and because Twitter neither wanted to risk losing revenue generating users nor face liability for continuing to have him on there, he was blocked.

“My side says it has.”

Then, maybe one of you might wish to provide the evidence for this, as we ask every time you claim this? That’s never forthcoming for some reason, and in fact when we get concrete examples to work with the opposite is usually proven.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:6

[Trump’s] obnoxious loudmouthed idiocy…

Actually, Trump isn’t an idiot. He’s an ignoramus. In fact, if he was still in power he’d be saying, “I said we’d get Covid licked, and we got Covid licked,” despite the fact that it’s very much still around. Also, Trump claimed bogus treatments such as hydrochloriquine, chloriquine, and even UV light to be effective agents against the novel coronavirus regardless of the scientific evidence not backing these claims. Additionally, Trump repeatedly lied about the numbers of fatalities caused by Covid-19 and undermined efforts to contain it by belittling face masks and social distancing requirements alongside encouraging US citizens to protest against lockdown rules designed to keep them safe, and even admitted in an interview to purposefully misrepresenting the viral threat from early in the pandemic. Finally, when his Russian human bots failed to help him ‘win’ the 2020 election, he incited the riot at the Capitol that took place on the 6th of January last year, resulting in 138 police officers sustaining injury. These aren’t the actions of a man with a profound intellectual disability, they’re the actions of an arsehole with an agenda.

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Nah says:

Re: Good point

“Elon … purchased the evidence.”

Y’know, even though I usually defend Koby because Techdirters love to “moderate” him for Thoughtcrime and not because I actually agree with him, he makes a damn good point here that I hadn’t considered.

I think Musk is nearly useless except his ability to upset Leftists (which he’s proving even more adept at than TFG/Drumpf/tRUMP/Cheeto/LiteralHitler.) But the Left’s objection to Musk’s purchase of Twitter might be a lot more than his claim that he’ll allow leftists to encounter opinions which with they disagree. The Qanon nuts (if they actually exist anywhere outside of an FBI office) and John Bircher types might claim Musk will uncover some NWO Socialist Trilateral Bohemian Grove conspiracy.

But what the leftists might actually be concerned about is someone virtuous finding evidence of election fraud (sorry, “fortifying”). They claim it’s because of the unmitigated fascist 1000-year Reich hellscape that will engulf the world in an inescapable death spiral of totalitarian suppression if we allow people to say someone’s birth name.

But it might be as simple as the Left not wanting to expose their people to criminal charges for election tampering, treason, and the like.

“…proposed changes aren’t going to accomplish much… meltdowns over nothing.”

Another excellent point. If Musk just wants to do things Mike says Twitter is already doing (they’re not, but let’s pretend), what’s the problem? If on the other hand what they really are objecting to is Musk allowing non-leftists to have opinions in public, I can see why the meltdowns.

It’s like the objection to laws preventing CRT being taught in elementary school. If CRT isn’t being taught in elementary school, the law affects nobody. If you want to argue CRT should be taught in schools, that’s a different argument. (For an even darker analogy, think of HB 1557, and what it might mean about people who object to it.)

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

what the leftists might actually be concerned about is someone virtuous finding evidence of election fraud

Good fucking luck finding what Donald Trump and everyone in his corner couldn’t. I mean, it’s not like they didn’t try to find widescale election fraud to back up their false claims of a stolen election⁠—they did. But they failed to find it because it doesn’t exist.

Every time Trump’s (high on) crack legal team was given an opporutnity to present the evidence of their claims in a court of law, they balked. Every audit, recount, and investigation failed to find the evidence. And anyone who presents the idea of a national conspiracy theory to elect Joe Biden as president by way of fixing the national election fails to answer one simple question: Why didn’t the Democrats rig the downballot elections so they would have enough power to ram through their agenda?

If on the other hand what they really are objecting to is Musk allowing non-leftists to have opinions in public, I can see why the meltdowns.

Dude, “non-leftists” on Twitter can already express their opinions in public⁠—with or without Twitter. All Twitter can do is say “we don’t do that here” if someone breaks its rules and kick out anyone who keeps breaking the rules.

But more to the point: Which opinions are you talking about, pray tell? Be specific.

If CRT isn’t being taught in elementary school, the law affects nobody.

If the law bars “divisive concepts” from being taught in grade schools, on the other hand, that law can be used to bar the teaching of anything related to slavery beyond the mere fact that slavery was an institution. Who was enslaved, and who did the enslaving? The answers to those questions might make white kids feel bad⁠—and that would be “divisive”. So no more teaching about slavery…or the civil rights movement, which might be similarly “divisive”.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

But they failed to find it because it doesn’t exist.

On a more technical note, while the Feds did find voter fraud, firstly, it was not in the numbers the NeoNazi Cheeto and his NeoNazi friends claimed (that is, no more than the usual number, that is, in utterly insignificant numbers to affect the result), and secondly, in a good chunk of the cases, it was the REPUBLICANS trying to commit voter fraud.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

One minor problem in discussion of slavery in the US is it’s incomplete. Before black slaves there were Native slaves. In the West there were millions of Asian, mostly Chinese, indentured servants and workers. Just as much slaves as an actual slave. Along with the many tens of thousands of Asian slaves.

And it focuses only on the destination. The source is ignored. These slaves were already slaves. Many were captured as slaves or as prisoners of war and traded/sold by black Africans.
Aspects of CRT want to ignore that. An inconvenient fact.

Every population took and/or used slaves. Some later in history than others.
Some do still today.
African slavery in the US may have been slightly higher than the other populations. But it was not alone, nor unique. And there was little inherent difference in the life based on race.

Condemning slavery needs to be completely. Not by race or creed.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Divisive subjects in school

Firstly, I call bullshit. Considering the social dynamics in school kids feel bad all the time. If we eliminated a subject every time a kid committed suicide we’d have no subjects at all.

Secondly, how long are shapes going to last as soon as some rich kid sucks at shapes in kindergarten, and their parents can afford a team of lawyers to stop that nonsense.

Maybe the PTA has changed since I was a student in primary school, but grievances about subjects, about systemic abuse in school, about faculty who were abusive to students were all routine when I was there. It sounds like the new laws just give license to people to sue teachers and districts, not just for scary social lessons and scary history, but anytime a kid does poorly in class, and their parents want to make an example out of their community education system.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Better than the current system? Definitely.

Yes, because when I think “better than the current system”, I think “letting an obscenely wealthy man with an ego thinner than a sheet of notebook paper run a service with hundreds of millions of users that a significant number of people use as a source for breaking news and political discourse, and letting him run it in a way that might end up alienating or bringing harm to a significant number of those users, is a good idea”~.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:^3

run a service with hundreds of millions of users that a significant number of people use as a source for breaking news and political discourse

This sounds like a public forum that would qualify for first amendment protections. Perhaps someone should advocate for some common carrier ground rules to ensure that everyone’s right to free speech is upheld.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

This sounds like a public forum that would qualify for first amendment protections.

And yet, it doesn’t, because it isn’t public property and⁠—as affirmed by the Supreme Court⁠—opening one’s property to the general public does not make it “public property” in the sense that it must adhere to the limitations of the First Amendment.

Perhaps someone should advocate for some common carrier ground rules to ensure that everyone’s right to free speech is upheld.

I mean, if you want to stump for Network Neutrality, great⁠—but Twitter isn’t a common carrier and no one who has ever suggested that it is has been able to back up that argument in a convincing fashion. You won’t be the first person to do so.

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Still Anonymous, Still Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5

If, in a discussion about free speech and the intersection lines with large corporate/government entities and censorship, you attempt to flag the opponent’s arguments as spam or destructive so people can’t easily see it to help your argument or in an attempt to hide it: You’re basically proving that you’re the least objective person to be discussing free speech or censorship.
You’re proving everything people are saying about Twitter and its censorious policies correct and you don’t seem to realize that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 "Yeah, *that's* why comments get flagged"

The flag button says “Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam”.

Koby was flagged above. He said two sentences. Now, I happen to disagree with both of them.

But you said flags happen for a reason other than mere disagreement with Techdirters. So it should be easy for you to explain which of Koby’s sentences were abusive, or trolling, or spam.

‘Be Specific ™ ‘ so we can avoid flags in the future.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

Oh that’s easy, because Koby is a well known dishonest commentor with a tendency of making claims like ‘conservative persecution’ and then becoming mighty scarce the second people ask for any sort of evidence.

Turns out reputations have consequences and when someone becomes known as not engaging in good faith people get tired of humoring them, who knew?

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Still Anonymous, Still Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Then why are people upset about it being bought?
The big gray area everyone misses is that Twitter is used heavily by government entities to report on issues relating the public good, too. There are court rulings that tweets by public Without those government entities propping the site up with its participation, and in fact: are required by those very same courts to allow participation from other users.

Which means: These same courts you’re cheering have also created a double standard in Social media where it is a private forum whose participation is voluntary, but participation with public servants is a public right in which everyone has access to.
Clearly, the courts are wrong somewhere or have acted in a purely political motive instead of one for the public good. The question is if you can recognize that.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:4

The big gray area everyone misses is that Twitter is used heavily by government entities to report on issues relating the public good, too.

Yeah, that’s a huge grey area just like a representative in Maine having a phone line for constituents to call them on makes Consolidated Communications a publicly owned company. Jump higher; you might actually make it. Not.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Government departments on Twitter

It’s actually up to the individual government departments which social media platforms they use beyond their own websites and other public forums to make announcements.

If Twitter was an exclusive source for government information then maybe there’d be a point, less that Twitter should be socialized and more that the government should have easy-access forums where important information is disseminated.

Right now, Twitter happens to be a popular platform where departments echo their announcements. They also often have Facebook pages, and their own websites (both of which involve more effort than a twitter account).

Now it’d be interesting if (for instance) Senator Bernie Sanders showed up on Parler or Gab advocating for Universal Healthcare with his hallmark sharp wit, the kind of behavior that would get an ordinary Joe kicked off such sites. Would they leave him to say his piece if he was a Senator?

That said, it’s the far reach that makes Twitter attractive. If hate speech becomes standard there, people will leave, and as celebrities and officials leave, ordinary people will follow suit, until like the right-wing Twitter clones, you have a toxic pit of reactionaries fuming at each other and having little fun.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Would they leave him to say his piece if he was a Senator?

The key differences here are
He’s a senator, not a head of state
He has other account ms and uses them.

And personally I would LIKE to see someone engage the far right with the actual brains to do so.

Sanders is one of those people who could.
The problem in this country is everyone screams about ideas and nobody engages in a factual discussion.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 "Nobody engages in a factual discussion."

It takes two to tango, sweetheart.

So long as one side of an argument is doing so in bad faith, relying on social and rhetoric devices rather than facts and logic, your conversation is going to get nowhere.

And bad faith is all we can expect by participants in the US white Evangelist fascist movement (aka the transnational white power movement, of which the MAGAs and GOP are active parts).

So you’ll be waiting a long time.

To be fair, I don’t know if any left-wing officials ever tried. I can only assume there’s at least one example, a state representative, maybe, who tried opening an account on Gab or Truth Social or somewhere.

Who was it? How did it go? Were they respected by the locals or were they mocked until the account was closed?

If you had data on such an incident, and could show they were received with respect, you might have a case.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

is doing so in bad faith,

And, sorry, but your a fool of you think the vast majority of the right is doing anything more than parroting what they are told to believe.

Evangelist fascist movement (aka the transnational white power movement, of which the MAGAs and GOP are active parts).

Your not from ‘here’ are you. You just inaccurately lumped four competing groups into a single sentence.
First Evangelical and white supremacists don’t go together: 99% of the time. Modern white supremacy is deeply rooted in Irish Catholicity. And they hate evangelicals even more than blacks (and not without reason).
The gop is the Republican Party as a whole. That includes never-Trumpers.
And a quick breakdown look shows a near even split of Trump supporters among both GOP and Independents.
Again, the ignorance of missing the fact that Trump’s election could not have happened without Democrats… 🤦‍♂️
Both Liberals (Democrats) and Libertarians in this country lean to Dem votes. Plenty of us were Never-Clintons

Sadly, neither side’s power brokers ever let discussion happen. Because I’m quite sure compromise is possible if only ears heard.

Name any single issue and I’d be happy to discuss compromise. It’s a lost art today. 😞
I’m proof thAt trump voters can change political opinions (230) when logical discussion is had.
With that, any diehard from either side would benefit from recognising just how many of us who voted for trump are actually quite logical people.
Trump was our pawn. We simply underestimated the stupidity of more standard Dems.
The goal was never to stop the left. But to temper the far left and force them back into the mould.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Transnational White Power

Um, the never-trumpers are also white-power.

The US Protestant Evangelist sect (that is, the ministries) moved in that direction (and disposing of actual Jesuit teachings) since the 1960s in response to the civil rights movement. The Roman Catholics shifted away from their wars on poverty and hunger towards anti-women and anti-gay preaching to catch up (they fill the collection plates better). The Evangelist ministries sure were glad to put Catholic jurists from the Federalist Society onto the SCOTUS bench. Strange bedfellows, I guess.

Maybe you’re thinking of the street gangs like the Proud Boys and Three-Percenters. They’re factions in the transnational white power movement, and absolutely are more visible than your typical never Trumper (who still vote [R] for Trump candidates in the general elections).

But the neo-Brownshirts are far, far removed from the only ones who push for a stratified society with whites higher than non-whites (non-Christians, gays and women, white or otherwise, and poor people). And they’re far removed from the ones that would go to war if secular egalitarian pluralism were to gain the upper hand in US politics.

jvbattlewood (profile) says:

Re: Re: Better than the current system?

Maybe reserve judgement on that until and if the sale goes through since Elon’s already broken the terms of the agreement.
That plus a 12% drop in Tesla stock value right after the announcement might require a rethink.
With Elon the only guarantee is drama because in the final analysis history has shown,it’s all about Elon.

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Nah says:

Re: Anyone else agree the 1st 'Terminator' flick is the only good one?

“Authenticate all real humans” is some “where is Sarah Connor?”-level shit.”

Blakestacey, your analogy is expressing the opposite of what I think you’re trying to say.

Bots are the opposite of real humans, are they not? Computers and computer programs inauthentically presenting as real people – that’s what I thought a Bot was. (Does it make anyone else cringe that I have to say this: the word ‘Bot’ is derived from ‘robot’.)

So you gave an ill-conceived example. Because in the ‘Terminator’ universe, the humans are trying to avoid being caught unawares by the pretend-humans. The pretend-humans, the Terminators, are looking for Sarah Connor so they can kill her.

Unless you’re arguing that Terminators are good guys and Sarah Connor is a bad guy. Which’d be an even stupider position to try to defend.

(Caveat: I haven’t seen anything but T1 and T2, so if Sarah Connor is shown to be an “evil killer robot all along” in another part of the franchise, let me know.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The most unintentionally funny comment I've seen on Techdirt, methinks

I don’t want to be presumptuous, but does ‘Naughty Autie’ indicate you are on the autism spectrum?

For a while I misread it as ‘Auntie’ but after reading enough of your extremely muddled comments, or ultra-pedantic ones like this one, I came to the realization you are autistic (or have autism, I forget which one is offensive now, so apologies for one of those.)

You’re like the autism equivalent of this:

https://www.theonion.com/sale-of-bet-to-white-supremacist-group-results-in-no-ch-1819595187

For what it’s worth, I did laugh at your ‘Terminators aren’t robots, they’re cyborgs.’ Surreal.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:2

[A]fter reading enough of your extremely muddled comments, or ultra-pedantic ones like this one, I came to the realization you are autistic…

Ableism much? If any of my comments seem ‘extremely muddled’ to you, the fault is in the way you read them, not the way I write them. I’m sorry, guess I just posted yet another ‘extremely muddled’ comment that you’ll struggle to understand.

Talmyr says:

Re: Re: Re:

Strictly speaking, they are robots with a flesh coating, in the case of Arnie. Previous models used rubber, and later models were all robot (if magical).

A true cyborg would be something like the Six Million Dollar Man, or the Borg, where you start with human(oid) flesh and replace or augment it with robotics/cybernetics. Remember, it stands for “cybernetic organism”, not “Robot with flesh added”.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

You are absolutely correct and that was my starting point on Wikipedia. Ei bionic woman and the Skywalker men. Jacked, etc.

Though two things were brought up that made minor changes in my thoughts. Data from Star Trek and the replicators from Stargate. Living sentient cybernetic beings. As opposed to Bishop in Alien who is a non-sentient but semi-self-aware AI.
The original terminators, eg terminator 3, were more Biship.

The thing that separates terminators from actual cyborgs is they can be completely stripped of their biological aspects and still exist. If you strip the biological aspects from Data, the Borg, and Cyborg (Van Damme) you no longer have life at all.

Talmyr says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Data doesn’t have any organic tissue, bar a little temporarily when he was flirting with the Borg in First Contact. So he is what is usually called an android, a human-appearing robot – or since he’s intelligent, cybernetic “organism” – our language struggles a bit here, since “robot” can be a purely unintelligent automaton.

I’m not sure how Bishop or Ash are any less “self-aware” or “sentient” than Data – they just have more restrictive programming given their company origins (and Data’s rogue origins). I’ve not seen past Season 1 of Stargate so can’t comment on anything there.

But yes, that was the point I was making with respect to Arnie-style Terminators – the flesh was purely for “aesthetics” (deception) and not an integral part of the Terminator.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

‘You’re not allowed to be an asshole and break my rules in my digital house’ vs ‘I would literally burn the books that I don’t like’.

I mean those are practically the same thing really, one of those is certainly not indicative of a mindset far more inclined to silence speech they don’t like not just on their personal property but in general.

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Nah says:

Re: Re: Re: Definition from Holocaust Museum

I thought all non-deranged people understood that book-burning is a symbolic act of speech and not a technique of literally silencing people. Even in places that didn’t have free speech such as German kids torching books from Institut fur Sexualwissenschaft, book burning was “ritual destruction by fire of books or other written materials…carried out in a public context…a cultural, religious, or political opposition to the materials in question.”

Book burning is on the slope toward censorship, but unless you’re talking a situation where there’s literally only one copy of a written work available such as when Christians torched the Library at Alexandria, book burning per se is an expressive act and not necessarily an act of censorship.

Since book burning is a symbolic act by which people say “we dislike your opinions”, it puts you guys in a bind. This bind is that if you concede that book burning is a symbolic act, you are now in a position of defending the opinions of the authors whose works are burned.

And you realize in most cases you really, really don’t want the public to know the contents of the books you’re defending.

But like Mr. Masnick, I am always open to rethinking my position.

Think before speaking, since there’s a tempting way to respond that will instantly lose the argument: pretending I’m not aware that the unsophisticated yokel in Stone’s video probably would like to send these books down the Memoryhole. (What someone fantasizes about is not a valid argument against book-burning, flag-burning, Bible/Talmud/Koran-burning being understood as a purely symbolic act.)

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

I thought all non-deranged people understood that book-burning is a symbolic act of speech and not a technique of literally silencing people.

It’s both⁠—burn certain kinds of books (e.g., books written by/about/for queer people) and certain people (e.g., queer people) will get the idea that they’ll be burned next.

book burning was “ritual destruction by fire of books or other written materials…carried out in a public context…a cultural, religious, or political opposition to the materials in question.”

Do you see nothing wrong with a government official advocating for book burnings? Do you see nothing wrong with a government official saying he would burn books he doesn’t like⁠—an act which would both prevent everyone in his area from checking those books out from a library and implicitly painting anyone who owns or reads those books as morally repugnant?

book burning per se is an expressive act and not necessarily an act of censorship

When a government official decides what is and isn’t “acceptable” for everyone to read and claims he wants to burn that material so no one else can read it, it is an act of censorship. No government official should get to decide what everyone has a right to read⁠—especially if that includes people who would only be able to read a given work if they found it in a library.

This bind is that if you concede that book burning is a symbolic act, you are now in a position of defending the opinions of the authors whose works are burned.

No, we’re not. Much like when the ACLU defended the right of Nazis to march in Skokie, people opposed to book burnings can be opposed to the ideas of certain works without also being in favor of destroying or otherwise preventing others from reading them. Defending the right to say a thing doesn’t inherently defend or endorse the thing being said…

in most cases you really, really don’t want the public to know the contents of the books you’re defending

…and defending the right to read a book doesn’t inherently defend or endorse the content of that book (or the opinions of the author thereof).

What someone fantasizes about is not a valid argument against book-burning

When that someone is a government official, it is a valid argument against book burnings. Well, it’s a valid argument unless you’d like to see Republican lawmakers go further down the authoritarian road they’re already walking on, anyway.

Nah says:

Re: Re: Re:3

“Do you see nothing wrong with a government official advocating for book burnings?”

Personally, I don’t think I have a problem with it per se . I say “think” because I frankly haven’t considered it from every angle. There may be reasons I haven’t thought of why I’d change my mind.

But notice I said per se . Depending on what books the
hypothetical gov’t official advocated getting burned, I may agree or disagree with him.

(The use of ‘hypothetical’ above isn’t me weaseling out of anything, ’cause I’ll plainly state I probably agree with the yokel in your video link that many of those books should be burned.)

To those not be willing to read – or pretend not to understand – this entire thread, let me be clear: I agree with the Holocaust Museum that book burning is a symbolic act. Book burning in and of itself is neutral as regards censorship. It is not advocating that all books from XYZ author or on ABC subject should burn. It’s a symbolic gesture meaning “I dislike what you say and I don’t agree with you on this subject”. It’s a form of protest, like Palestinians burning Israeli flags and vice versa.

(I really urge anyone who doesn’t understand what “per se” means to go learn about it. It’s an important distinction to grok. And if you think I’m implying that not grokking it makes you stupid, I’m not implying it.)

Now, I said that leftists “really, really don’t want the public to know the contents of the books [the Left is] defending”. And by you, Stone, adding to that “…and defending the right to read a book doesn’t inherently defend or endorse the content of that book”, you’ve built yourself a strawman.

I rarely invoke the ‘strawman’ accusation because allowing rhetorical tricks to pass unremarked-upon makes conversations more interesting. (Otherwise it’d be like watching two DebateBots accuse each other of logical fallacies in an infinite loop; sterile and boring.) But in this case I felt I needed to point out the ‘How ’bout a little fire, scarecrow!’ you constructed, since any belief I indicated as such is untrue.

What I clearly said was that it’s much better for the left if Joe & Jane Sixpack never learn what’s actually in the books American parents want to set alight.

https://twitter.com/roddreher/status/1459197821740064771

It’s more convenient if we pretend it’s just hysterical parents totally out of the blue for no valid reason whatsoever decide to bully a completely innocent author who had no intention to groom children.

And every time one of these parent groups decides to allow their silly church elements to seize control and burn harmless fluff like books by JK Rowling (Literal TERFHitler Literally), they’re playing into the Left’s hands.

If I were a leftist, I’d make sure to keep amplifying the religious kooks torching ‘Harry Potter’, the churchlady prudes torching ‘Catcher In The Rye’, and the Chick Tracters torching ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ (showing my age on the last one.)

If I were a leftist, I too would do everything I reasonably could to keep the contents of stuff like “All Boys Aren’t Blue” or “Gender Queer” hidden from American parents.

As to the ACLU, they’ve been inconsistent over time. In the last few years, they’ve 180’d on positions they used to hold. The Skokie case was a brilliant strategic move for the ACLU. It had many upsides and no real downsides. But you’d have to know who Frank Joseph Cohn (fake alias Frank Collin) is to understand why. I doubt anyone on Techdirt is much interested in researching the whys and wherefores on that.

The ACLU was doing PR for the Left in the Skokie situation. They knew the long-term benefits (appearing to the world as impartial) outweighed the short-term disadvantage (loss of ~2k members, rebukes in the overtly Jewish press).

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:5

When people burn the American flag they are signaling that a revolution aimed at overthrowing the government is possibly acceptable. Given how close the US left is to using violence to achieve their aims, as seen in the rioting, looting, and arson after the murder of George Floyd, that is a very dangerous signal.

Or perhaps both are just legal and Constitutional ways of vehemently expressing a political opinion.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:9

I’m in favor of the right to burn flags and books, but I think it’s a poor tactic, because it results in negative publicity for the people doing it, and it’s usually counterproductive.

For example, Rachel Corrie, killed by an Israeli bulldozer while helping Palestinians protest in Gaza, was photographed burning a handmade American flag. While anti-Israel activists made excuses for her, the picture did a lot to discredit her in the eyes of ordinary people.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Corrie

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11

Burning a flag makes you a piece of shite. But not worthy of death.

Burning books makes you a destroyer of art and history. That’s an enemy of all existence.
It also makes you an enemy to the environment. You could simply recycle that which you don’t like and be less-evil. But no, you go and release massive amounts of carbon into the air simply because you don’t like something. That’s not making a statement, it’s being selfish!

How many bad-person boxes are you trying to tick off at once?
Bloody arse!

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Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:5

No, just no. When the government burn books, they are engaging in censorship. It’s when Trump called his (few remaining) faithful to gather at the Capitol, knowing that when a crowd of 2,000-2,500 angry people gets together there’s likely to be violence that he was signalling a Kristallnacht.

Raziel says:

Re: Re: Re:4

If I were a Conservative, I’d make sure to keep amplifying the religious kooks torching Harry Potter, the churchlady prudes torching Catcher In The Rye, and the Chick Tracters torching Dungeons & Dragons (showing my age on the last one.)

If I were a Conservative, I too would do everything I reasonably could to keep the contents of stuff like “All Boys Aren’t Blue” or “Gender Queer” hidden from American parents.

FTFY. YW. 😼

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:4

To those unwilling to read – or who will pretend not to understand – my words, let me be clear: I agree with the Holocaust Museum that book burning is a symbolic act only when it’s Mein Kampf being burnt. Otherwise, it’s an act of censorship, especially when carried out by a government.
As to Frank Collin (actual name, even if you want to pretend that his name was ‘Cohen’), why would I need to know anything about that pervert other than his conviction for child molestation?

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Since book burning is a symbolic act by which people say “we dislike your opinions”, it puts you guys in a bind. This bind is that if you concede that book burning is a symbolic act, you are now in a position of defending the opinions of the authors whose works are burned.

Why would it put “you guys” in a bind? And the term “you guys” is intentionally unprecise and vague to encompass anyone not explicitly agreeing with your logical fallacy.

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Max says:

Re:

Is this a joke? The projection is so strong with y’all. Cons are the one’s ignoring the facts about amplification bias favoring conservatives at twitter. All your evidence is emotional and anecdotal and you care nothing about the actual truth – only that which supports your persecution narrative.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

than watching the left freak out

I keep hearing people say that, and as someone who is not of the left or right, I don’t see nearly as much freaking out as I see people on the right insisting that the left is freaking out.

exposed (for the umpteenth time)

Can you point to the earlier times when such bias was “exposed”?

virtual teenagers totally opposed to anyone with a differing viewpoint

I mean, again, multiple attempts to research this found the opposite: that Twitter (especially) bent over backwards to cater to the egos of the right.

who will do pretty much anything to avoid actually debating the facts.

If you think that people aren’t debating facts all the time on Twitter, you’re not on Twitter.

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Nah says:

Re: Re: I'm willing to apologize.

“…as someone who is not of the left or right…”

C’mon, Mike. This is the kind of thing that makes you look ridiculous.

Whenever a rightwinger lies like this – or an actual moderate tells the truth about “I’m not left or right” – they are inundated with hyperlinks to the ‘eNLIgHtEned CeNtRiSt’ Reddit. Whenever an obvious lefist says it, it’s allowed to pass.

I am willing to be shown links to where Mike ever publicly and honestly defended an actual rightwing position. Really, I’ll apologize.

Wait, hold up a sec…understand I said actual rightwing. If anyone’s going to do the post-2015 Land of Make Believe thing where we pretend rightwing is a synonym for capitalist (looking at you, Stone), you’re conceding defeat.

So I’m looking forward to being shown instances where Masnick defended positions held by authentic conservatives – a Patrick Buchanan, a Samuel Francis, a Steve Sailer. (Don’t voluntarily put on a dunce cap by sending me links to Mike agreeing with Podhoretz or Trump or Bush or the Lincoln Pedop- oops, I meant Project.)

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

rightwing is a synonym for capitalist (looking at you, Stone)

Yeah, see, I don’t do that. Plenty of liberal/left-wing lawmakers are capitalists. But right-wingers go out of their way to identify as capitalists because daring to identify as anything but a capitalist is⁠—at least to right-wingers⁠—tantamount to an act of treason against the United States.

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Nah says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Copypasta = boring

I understand the desire to win rhetorical points, Stone, but your second sentence is silly, and I don’t know if you actually believe your first sentence, but it looks like you being obtuse.

Why?

Because every time I explain that economics has almost nothing to do with defining right/left – that it’s all about culture and worldview – you or another Techdirter does the ‘oh, you know the ones’ copypasta.

Now, you might have an argument if we were still in the 1950s, where Republican/Democrats believed mostly the same things socially but disagreed economically .

But we’re not in the 1950s – we’re in a time when left and right disagree on fundamental things like: are open borders good or bad for America; should America jealously look out for its own interests or is that something only a n*zi says; can a person with a penis and testicles be a woman, and if so, is it okay for ‘women with penises and testicles’ to have them visible in little girls’ locker rooms, and if the little girl’s mom objects, did she commit a hate crime, and if so should we punish her with jail time or in the Green Room at San Quentin?

My use of the word ‘synonym’ was imprecise language – a shorthand I was using in order to avoid the tedious conversation we’re having now. I guess I should’ve said ‘stand-in’, so you wouldn’t have to explain something everyone innately already knows, like that plenty of leftwingers are capitalists. As if nobody knows what ‘liberal’ means.

For the 100th time: the real fighting between right/left is not about fiscal policy. The Tea Party’s gripe with Obama wasn’t about him raising income taxes. The Women’s March wasn’t about Trump wanting to repeal estate taxes. This isn’t Mondale arguing against supply-side trickle-down and Reagan arguing for it.

If you read and watched Rightwing propaganda – outside of what’s spoonfed to you by MSNBC-types – you’d see your declaration is completely false. Many, maybe even most, rightwingers are as vocal as me in saying “not only am I not pro-capitalist, I’m strongly anti-capitalist”.

I read and watch a lot of Leftist propaganda, unfiltered through any other ideology’s lens, and I have yet to see one who’s main gripe with the Right revolves around being for low taxes.

(Maybe those boring battles are being fought in the pages of ‘National Review’ and ‘New Republic’. If so, there’s a good reason nobody knows about it. Who wants to watch two nearly indistinguishable milquetoasts slapfight about paying the bills?)

In America, the modern Right and the modern Left are nearing a possible violent civil war, and it’s not over ‘lower taxes’ or ‘deregulation’.

The fight is over the ‘oh, you know the ones.’

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Nah says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I believe this is called 'own goal' in sportsball?

“I mean…”

You mean what, Anon?

Since you didn’t point out a specific sentence from Mike in this link, I can only surmise you’ve meant us to infer that Charles Koch is a conservative.

Is that what you are trying to say? If so, you are either stupid or lying or both. I think stupid, an overly harsh way of saying you don’t know what you’re talking about.

You Techdirters routinely bring up the absolute worst fucking examples, I swear.* Really. And I keep getting lucky that the subjects of these terrible examples seem to always be something I know a lot about. (At least try citing examples using things I’m indifferent to and ignorant of, like ballet or anime. You have a non-zero chance of tricking me.)

The Koch Brothers are very well-known as ‘open borders LOLbertarians’ by rightwingers. Rightwingers despise them. Source: rightwingers including slightly right-libertarians in the comments under about 75% of Reason.com stories.

I know there must be at least one non-anonymous brave Techdirt commenter who’ll admit to reading the comments on Reason.com articles. Someone could back me up.

If you wanted to use libertarians as an example, you’d have to use a real one (Ron Paul, Stefan Molyneaux) and not a leftist agitator (pretty much any Libertarian presidential candidate ever) or pro-plutocrat human garbage mouthpiece (Kochs, Milton Friedman, etc) pretending to believe in ‘Don’t Tread On Me’.

  • For toom, a Joke Explainer ™ : A pun is a play on words.
Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:

If any of the individuals you named had ever said anything worth defending, Mike (or one of the other writers at Techdirt) would have defended it. Your challenge to Mike is like asking him to defend any of Russia’s actions in the UK when poisoning people with polonium and Novichok are far from defensible.

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:

I am willing to be shown links to where Mike ever publicly and honestly defended an actual rightwing position.

Why? Your whole argument hinges on the belief that for someone not to be of the left or right they have to defend both positions.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'Allow all legal speech!' screamed the terribl(y naive) person

In particular, people get annoyed when I point out that the two biggest points he’s made — that (1) Twitter should allow all “legal” speech,

How fun, I get to break out an old copy/paste that’s been languishing for a while in order to address such a stunningly horrible and stupid idea, just swap out ‘constitutionally protected speech’ with ‘legal’.

‘As a reminder racism is constitutionally protected speech.

Sexism is constitutionally protected speech.

Arguing in favor of torturing gays until they ‘give up their sinful ways’, constitutionally protected speech.

Claiming that the nazis had the right idea and it’s a shame they were stopped before they could really do something about those shifty jews, constitutionally protected speech.

Saying that vaccines not only don’t work they actively make things worse? You guessed it, constitutionally protected speech.

Anyone who tries to argue that platforms should limit themselves to only excluding unconstitutional speech is arguing that all of the above and more should be exempt from moderation.’

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re:

What they really want is a platform where they can say whatever they want while denying everyone else that same right.

I mean if I have to hear about how soandso got cancelled, from the soandso on the platform where they were cancelled I’m gonna get back to work on weaponizing the marburg virus. (google it)

I have every right to suggest that all priest should be locked into chastity belts for life, you have every right to tell me that is extreme, but most people really don’t want to consider the topic at the dinner table… in an Applebee’s.

There are conventions, we as a society, expect others to play with-in in public spaces.

While you have the right to go off on how you think we’re being invaded by darkies trying to replace all the whites… in general conversation people don’t want to hear that & that conversation is going to result in in a dumpster fire as both sides will TOTES be openminded and consider the topic and not just show us the worst humans will say to each other. (for the impaired that is sarcasm.)

Its totally legal speech, despite what anyone wants to claim, but that speech will end up with more speech which should be a good thing but instead tempers will flare and light the dumpster.
Someone will engage in personal attacks, they will put up the ‘they are trying to cancel me’ call and more will show up to support the person and amplify the the hate & horrid behavior rather than considering that perhaps threatening a person with their head becoming a fleshjack might be to far.

I mean its all legal speech afterall, so there won’t be punishments for doxing people, threatening to kill them/children/etc (well unless you threaten POTUS or the other few who enjoy laws making threats against them illegal.), long discussions about how they want to rape someone to change their mind or punish them…

But sure lets go for all legal speech with no restrictions, the ensuing dumpster fire could power the entire nation forever.

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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re:

Arguing in favor of torturing gays until they give up their sinful ways

Arguing in favor of continuing state policy of extrajudicially torturing Muslims because some Muslim extremists somewhere keep fighting against US interests (their humanitarian atrocities are less of an issue)…is Constitutionally protected speech even though the policy pretty much shreds the pretense of Constitutional protections for anyone.

In fact, our torture program and the disposition matrix behind the still ongoing drone strike programs kinda shred the notion of Constitutional protections, since they show our courts can justify to themselves any crime against humanity can be molded into a Constitutionally-acceptable shape and color by our courts.

Yes, this is an old rant. I know. But considering the actions of the US and states already which are being ruled Constitutional, we can expect a Ermächtigungsgesetz in the near future to past Constitutional muster.

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Anonymous Coward says:

This should be easy for you guys, if you're being sincere.

“…anyone arguing that expression by bots is not protected doesn’t understand the 1st Amendment at all…”

You’re gonna have to explain that one, Mike. SCOTUS may have hinted at that starting in 2018, but for those who believe the founders meant what they said in the Constitution, there’s no indication the Bill of Rights protects non-humans from government overreach.

To convince us that computer programs have 1st Amendment rights you also have to successfully persuade us that canines shouldn’t have to quarter soldiers in their doghouses, fictional characters have the right to bear arms, and the invisible voices perceived by schizophrenics have freedom of religion. (Those are non-hyperbolic analogies of what you’re saying. If someone says they are exaggerations, that someone has conceded defeat.)

But there’s good news! Since Techdirters are always sincere and never stuck in the position of pretending to believe something they know isn’t true, it’ll be no problem for someone here to make us (American citizens) believe the Founders meant for Daffy Duck to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

So as not to waste anyone’s time, here are two ways to admit you’re arguing in bad faith and thus conceding immediate defeat:
– Pretending the analogy of ‘spambots = Daffy Duck = auditory hallucinations = Rover the dog’ is hyperbolic.
– Arguing that Mr. Masnick meant to say “expression by programmers (humans) who make bots is protected” when he said “expression by bots [computer programs] is protected”.

I have my napkin tucked in to my collar and am ready to chow down on crow. Go!

Nah says:

Re: Re: I request clarification: do NONHUMANS have 1A rights?

“Who do you think makes those bots?”

I think humans make Bots (computer programs.) I think humans are protected by the First Amendment. I think computer programs are not.

If you’re doing a ‘Rocky’ and alleging that Bots (computer programs) who make Bots (computer programs) are protected by 1A, I say you’re incorrect – the Constitution protects humans, not nonhumans.

If you wish to defend what Mike said, you have to defend, y’know, what Mike said. And his exact words were “expression BY BOTS ” is protected by the Bill of Rights.

If he misspoke, then fair enough, honest mistake – we await the edit and note of correction. (And if so, he should make it quick before more Techdirters white knight for him based on a typo.)

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you’re doing a ‘Rocky’ and alleging that Bots (computer programs) who make Bots (computer programs) are protected by 1A, I say you’re incorrect – the Constitution protects humans, not nonhumans.

Perhaps you should read what I actually wrote, because the above isn’t at all what I said.

Regardless, a bot in this context is just an automation tool acting on instructions and information supplied by a human – arguing that an expression from a bot isn’t covered by the 1st amendment would also mean that any expression done by any kind of tool or machinery would fall outside the scope of the 1st amendment.

Unless someone is technologically challenged or illiterate, it’s implicitly understood that using the phrase “expressions of spambots” isn’t meant to mean that there aren’t humans involved in the expression. Any other interpretation expressed is purely done to nitpick.

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Nah says:

Re: Re: Damn, now *this* is how it's done, Techdirters

JVBattlewood, you make some damn good points. This is an excellent argument and well presented.

I still don’t buy it (yet?), but it got me to reconsider my opinion.

“Artists w paint” … “…confusing the medium of expression with the act.”

I’ll think about this one some more. But I’m guessing I’ll come away saying “if a modern American Pygmalion creates an ivory statue that appears to come to life, walks, talks, passes the Turing Test… I still say the sculptor has 1A rights and the statue doesn’t.”

But your argument is pretty nuanced, so I will have to think if there’s a nuance I missed.

Techdirters take note: this is what civil discourse and assuming good faith gets you. So much better than insults, flagging, sarcasm, talking past each other, pretending to be really really stupid in order to win rhetorical points, blatant lying and obfuscation, etc.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re: To extend your analogy:

I’m guessing I’ll come away from this saying, “If a modern American Pygmalion creates an ivory statue that appears to come to life, walks, talks, passes the Turing Test… I still say that the sculptor has First Amendment rights and the statue does as well if all it says is what its creator programmed it to, making it a medium of expression of its creators speech.”

Now that wasn’t hard, was it? :p

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Rocky says:

Re:

There are tools that can create fake accounts on Twitter and mass-post texts written by the ones using said tools.

Such tools are commonly called bots or spambots which makes any expression by said bots protected by the first amendment.

If the bots didn’t need human input and created any expression by themselves you would have a point.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: The Speech of Bots

This is the same fallacy that holds that Citizens United was wrongly decided. The speech of corporations is the speech of the people who direct the corporation. The speech of bots is the speech of the people who use the bots. Neither requires that we think of the non-human entities as “people”.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I mean, procedurally it does (only people can sue, be sued, enter contracts, or be represented by a legal representative under our legal system), but for once, I actually agree with Hyman Rozen.

Man, that feels weird to say…

Anyways, this is mostly correct. You don’t need to consider corporations or bots to be “people” to understand that—since the speech of corporations is the speech of the people who run them, and the speech of bots is the speech of the people who use them—the speech of corporations and bots still get 1A protections as, ultimately, people were ultimately responsible for the speech. Again, there are still legal reasons to consider non-human entities to be people for certain contexts, but by and large, this is an accurate statement.

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TheComputerGuy (profile) says:

Sorry, but this is just wrong.

Firstly, free speech and blocking spambots are not mutually exclusive. You have the right to speak in the town square, but not nessasarily to bring a giant speaker system.

Second, the rules are very unevenly enforced. Consider the “hacked materials” rule. Hunter Biden’s laptop was censored, but the dozing of libs of TikTok was not even though it linked to a physical address. The laptop wasn’t even “hacked” as it was left with a repairman. You simply cannot deny that twitter intentionally hid information to benefit one candidate over the other. And while they did censor the BLM account, that was a blatantly illegal action,whereas these stories are actually from legitimate news outlets.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

You have the right to speak in the town square, but not nessasarily to bring a giant speaker system.

And if Twitter were a town square, you might have a point. And while might be analogous to a town square, it isn’t a town square in the legal sense. So you don’t have a point.

Second, the rules are very unevenly enforced.

No one gets it right 100% of the time. No one is claiming Twitter gets it right 100% of the time or that they’ll always agree with Twitter’s moderation decisions⁠—including Mike, who said as much in the article on which you commented.

You simply cannot deny that twitter intentionally hid information to benefit one candidate over the other.

You can’t deny that Twitter bent over backwards to let Donald Trump stay on Twitter despite his breaking the rules multiple times, which inarguably benefitted Trump in both of his elections. And besides, even if Twitter banned the link to the Hunter Biden laptop story for a little while, they didn’t “hide” the information because anyone could’ve gone to the New York Post website and seen the information there because Twitter didn’t have the article yanked off the entire Internet. As I’ve said before: You have a serious problem if Twitter is your primary (or only) source for news.

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Still Anonymous, Still Coward says:

Re: Re:

And if Twitter were a town square, you might have a point. And while might be analogous to a town square, it isn’t a town square in the legal sense. So you don’t have a point.

If you really believed this, then you, Mike, anyone else should have zero issues with Twitter being bought by Musk because it’s merely a private fixture whose existence is replaceable.

as I covered in another post: clearly this is not the case and a large chunk of users disagree with that take you continue to have, and are right to do so. If they really are a private company whose participation is voluntary, why are so many public officials and public services only available through twitter? Statements from the White House are available through twitter, for instance. I can’t find that on Mastodon and very rarely is the same thing available on Facebook. So is it really a private space? It seems the users who find issue with this might be onto something.

Just like you’re onto something with this:

You can’t deny that Twitter bent over backwards to let Donald Trump stay on Twitter despite his breaking the rules multiple times, which inarguably benefitted Trump in both of his elections.

You keep bringing up Trump as this somehow disproves the common point people make about Twitter’s waffling on politics when you seemingly don’t realize that just proves it even more right. Should Twitter, a private entity, have the right to pick and choose which political subject it allows or helps, or is that beyond its control due to its influence? It seems to think it does, but you just made a great point as to why it shouldn’t. As did ComputerGuy. It seems your disagreement on this boils down entirely along partisan lines as you disagree with him on the concept of it being a Town Square but agree with him wholesale that it has been used for political gain that shouldn’t have happened.

Meanwhile Mike makes an article about how Twitter is doing a great job policing speech so far while you seemingly disagree with him but are compelled to defend it. Which makes for a great win for a tribalism argument but isn’t very helpful to understand what is actually a huge gray area zone with no black and white to be seen.

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JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you really believed this, then you, Mike, anyone else should have zero issues with Twitter being bought by Musk because it’s merely a private fixture whose existence is replaceable.

Of course Twitter, or any social network, is entirely replaceable. Mike has never argued otherwise. That doesn’t mean that users can’t be extremely disappointed that the service they enjoy using is quite likely to turn into something they do want to use, and a true replacement may take many years to appear.

If they really are a private company whose participation is voluntary, why are so many public officials and public services only available through twitter? Statements from the White House are available through twitter, for instance.

Is that what you really believe? That the government only communicates through Twitter? Maybe you just suck at using the internet.

So is it really a private space?

How do you not understand how company ownership works? Maybe you can point to some law that you believe transfers private company ownership over to you whenever you feel it’s popular enough?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you really believed this, then you, Mike, anyone else should have zero issues with Twitter being bought by Musk because it’s merely a private fixture whose existence is replaceable.

I mean, I virtually always have a problem with buyouts like this outside of specific circumstances (typically involving bankruptcy or where previous management was exceptionally unethical, like with Activision-Blizzard), especially when the person buying the new enterprise clearly has no experience in this or any similar industry. Even if I think they’re legal, I’m still not happy about it. This applies even if I don’t really care that much about the company being bought out.

In other words, your conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow from the premise.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Buyouts are part of life. If you care enough to change your usage… you do you.

If you don’t… you do you.

If the product(s) stay the same or change in some way that I feel I am better. Great. If not, I’ll decide the .
I can’t remember the last time I logged into Facebook. Not months, years!
As for twitter, as long as one company continues to post info and I continue to get Bella for them. I really don’t care.

When Sony made policies that damaged games I sold my PS4 and went all in with Microsoft and Nintendo.

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Rocky says:

Re:

The laptop wasn’t even “hacked” as it was left with a repairman. You simply cannot deny that twitter intentionally hid information to benefit one candidate over the other.

Your argument requires that Twitter had information that even the NY Post didn’t have at the time of publication. That either means that those running Twitter are psychics or that they have a time-machine they use to get information from the future. So which is it?

Naughty Autie says:

Re:

The laptop wasn’t even “hacked” as it was left with a repairman. You simply cannot deny that twitter intentionally hid information to benefit one candidate over the other.

Oh? Then please explain why the New York Post had its Twitter account frozen until the truth of their claims had been verified.

Still Anonymous, Still Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is pretty disingenuous, you’re asking why Twitter, the subject of scrutiny over censorship and partisan enforcement of its policies, would freeze the twitter account of a news outlet who had published a news article that they hypothetically would want no one to see.

Wouldn’t that be step one of trying to cover this up: shoot the messenger? You seem to think it was a legitimate suspension, and I’d like to hear why you give them that good faith.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:

I repeat: the New York Post had its Twitter account frozen until the truh of its claims had been verified. Meaning that it wasn’t banned (kicked off the site) and its account was unfrozen once Twitter had knowledge that the Post‘s claims had substance. Are you accidentally obtuse or is it a fashion statement?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

The laptop wasn’t even “hacked” as it was left with a repairman.

Who apparently knew fuck-all about digital forensics:

Among the reasons for the inconclusive findings was sloppy handling of the data, which damaged some records. The experts found the data had been repeatedly accessed and copied by people other than Hunter Biden over nearly three years.

So I’ll wait for due process to play out on this one, as I would with anything that Rudy “It’s not my job to find evidence that supports my bullshit” Giuliani is involved in.

Remember the initial reason it was brought in in the first place per the repair guy was to have the original drive copied due to water damage.

Would you, as a ‘computer guy’ vouch for the integrity of data left on your laptop while it was out of your possession for 3 years?

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JMT (profile) says:

Re:

You have the right to speak in the town square, but not nessasarily to bring a giant speaker system.

Let me adjust this slightly to more accurately describe the situation:

You have the right to speak [ON THE INTERNET], but not necessarily [ON TWITTER].

This whole “Twitter is a public square” is just stupid BS. Allowing the public in does make something publicly owned or change any of the owner’s rights. You have no more entitlement to speak there than you do in a random stranger’s living room.

You simply cannot deny that twitter intentionally hid information…

So what you’re saying is that the New York Post’s website is so utterly useless and ineffective that unless there was a link to it on Twitter, it effectively doesn’t exist. Is that your bold claim?

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Nah says:

Re: A voice from back in the day

The guy states an opinion, gets flagged. Proving his point.

Mr. Outrider, I thank you for answering a question I’ve long wondered but never bothered to research: has Techdirt always been a Leftist echochamber, where innocuous comments from ‘sniff, those kind of people’ are “moderated”? Or did Techdirt only go ‘FAR LEFT MASK OFF’ at the same time every other censorious anti-American entity did (2016)?

I only started reading Techdirt about 3-4 years ago, so don’t know what it was like before then. Every once in while you can catch a glimpse what could’ve been… if only it had stuck to TECH dirt instead of “we stand for everything real Americans don’t”.

I do believe there are nights when Mike Masnick loses sleep over his decision to go all in with his “We say we’re for free speech, but we mean the opposite” stance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You sound like someone who would scream about their free speech rights being violated when ejected from a meeting for preventing the person who organized the meeting from speaking.

You are ignoring that free speech only means that government will not stop you from speaking or publishing at your own expense. The latter may be your only option if nobody wants to help you publish your words. If all you can aford is a soap box on a deserted street corner, you free speech rights are still intact.

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Still Anonymous, Still Coward says:

Re:

I have to agree in a bunch of ways, I’ve been reading since the Patriot Act, where Mike thoroughly understood the problem of governmental control and the right for people, all people, to express themselves. Clicking the archives and going back 20 years just shows a completely different man behind the keyboard who understood the dangers of humans trying to decide which humans and their opinions were simply more equal than others.

Case in point: your post was marked as spam or harmful content when I scrolled past it. The button used to denote posts as being possibly malicious and damaging is now just a glorified downvote button, and has been for quite some time. It’s strange that people who participate in the same malicious bad-faith community censoring would miss the broad irony in claiming that no such censorship has been found or has occurred. Perhaps it’s a state of living with a certain putrid smell for so long that it has renders the users noseblind.

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Strawb (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Clicking the archives and going back 20 years just shows a completely different man behind the keyboard who understood the dangers of humans trying to decide which humans and their opinions were simply more equal than others.

In a governmental context, that’s still the case. So what exactly is your point?

It’s strange that people who participate in the same malicious bad-faith community censoring would miss the broad irony in claiming that no such censorship has been found or has occurred.

It’s strange that people like you keep being ignorant about what ‘censorship’ actually means. The posts are not removed, just hidden.
And even if they were removed, it still wouldn’t be censorship; just Mike exercising his freedom of association.

Rocky says:

Re: Re:

I have to agree in a bunch of ways, I’ve been reading since the Patriot Act, where Mike thoroughly understood the problem of governmental control and the right for people, all people, to express themselves.

You are free to point out any articles where Mike doesn’t argue that any more.

Clicking the archives and going back 20 years just shows a completely different man behind the keyboard who understood the dangers of humans trying to decide which humans and their opinions were simply more equal than others.

  1. Are you the same person as you where 20 years ago with exactly the same views?
  2. Tell us what opinions Mike has now that aren’t comparable or evolved from the position he had back then? Give us specific examples.

The button used to denote posts as being possibly malicious and damaging is now just a glorified downvote button, and has been for quite some time. It’s strange that people who participate in the same malicious bad-faith community censoring would miss the broad irony in claiming that no such censorship has been found or has occurred. Perhaps it’s a state of living with a certain putrid smell for so long that it has renders the users noseblind.

The post essentially boiled down to “It’s not the same anymore, Techdirt bad, it’s community bad” without actually specifying why he thought that. That it got flagged is most likely due to the amount of people who show up here and just behaves like irksome and entitled assholes and the community are simply put just fed up with that. So blame the assholes for that behavior – just like how any kind of moderation mostly evolves in a response to people who are assholes or lack discretion.

Also, by using the broadest possible definition of censorship you have now declared that any kind of curation of content to be censorship.

Personally I only flag spam, trollish or toxic comments that don’t add anything useful to the debate, other people are free to express their opinion in whatever fashion they want including flagging posts.

Anonymous Coward says:

There’s a balance in the moderation policy that is constantly changing in reaction to world events and user behavior you want free speech but you have to remove trolls spambots and extremists or people who promote hate speech . If Elon musk allows extreme Conservatives or trolls to come back to twitter it will probably drive away the average users who just wants to comment on politics or simply wants to make random posts about daily life and what’s going on in current events. If you are interested in gaming, music, tech you, ll follow people who talk about those topics on twitter. It’s a great venue for discussion because it can be used by anyone with a smartphone in most country’s . I don’t see him making twitter better as he will have to pay back his investment by pushing more ads on users. He has not a great record in free speech Re unions or workers at his factorys

migi (profile) says:

AND operation

Elon’s initial comments didn’t mention spam or bots, so I assume (and hope) he modified his views after receiving feedback.

My interpretation of his intended new rules are that each post will be checked: first for spam, then for legality. If it passes both tests (an AND operation), it will be permitted without any other checks.

Of course that simple operation lacks the 16 years experience that Twitters’ current rules and policies have, but maybe (hopefully) Elon will continue to be open to feedback, and accept more recommendations from people with expertise, rather than just whatever his Twitter followers chant.

Unfortunately his recent behaviour, condoning when Twitter’s legal head, Vijaya Gadde was called Twitter’s “top censorship advocate” suggests otherwise.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/apr/27/elon-musk-tweets-criticising-twitter-staff-acquisition-deal

(I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think that article has correctly interpreted the agreement Elon signed, I think Elon agreed not to criticise the merger and people directly involved, not the whole of Twitter and all its employees)

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re:

My interpretation of his intended new rules are that each post will be checked: first for spam, then for legality. If it passes both tests (an AND operation), it will be permitted without any other checks.

Even if that was possible see my comment above about ‘legal/constitutionally protected speech’, ‘Is it legal?’ leaves a lot of room for absolutely abhorrent content so if that is the goal Twitter is going to get real nasty real fast.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re:

“My interpretation of his intended new rules are that each post will be checked: first for spam, then for legality. If it passes both tests (an AND operation), it will be permitted without any other checks.”

OK. Just don’t be surprised when you then discover how much speech is absolutely abhorrent and something that people will gladly leave the site to avoid, yet fits in neither category.

migi (profile) says:

Re: Re:

how much speech is absolutely abhorrent and something that people will gladly leave the site to avoid, yet fits in neither category

I didn’t mean to imply this isn’t the case.

The only thing I wanted to push back against is the notion that Elon’s prior pronouncements about “allow all legal speech” is incompatible with blocking spam, if you view it as a refinement of his previous position.

Naughty Autie says:

Re:

Actually, the language is pretty clear.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Equity Investor shall be permitted to issue Tweets about the Merger or the transactions contemplated hereby so long as such Tweets do not disparage the Company or any of its Representatives.

I see nothing about the disparaging tweets having to be directly about the merger or contemplated transactions for them to be violative of the contract.

Scroll to the bottom of Section 6.8 of the contract.

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Hyman Rosen says:

The Bads of Twitter

Bad #1: Twitter banned a former president of the United States. A person who received some 70 million votes from the American people twice is not permitted to speak on the platform. There is no excuse that Twitter can make to convince those voters that this was not an act of specific woke liberal bias.

Bad #2: Twitter prohibits mentioning the former names of trans people who have changed them. There are many millions of Americans and people around the world who do not accept or believe woke gender ideology. Given tjis rule, there is no excuse that Twitter can make to convince those people that it is not biased in favor of that ideology.

Bad #3: Maybe the Hunter Biden laptop thing? I never followed that story, so I don’t know, but again, it seems like there is no excuse that Twitter can make to convince people that it did not ban the story because of left political bias.

What these have in common is that they are not symptoms of the problem of moderation at scale. They are all incredibly prominent, highly individualized bans, all leaning left. There’s a saying that if you have to explain, you’ve already lost. These things are Twitter’s “defund the police” moments.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Twitter banned a former president of the United States.

So what? He wasn’t owed or entitled to a spot on Twitter, especially since he broke the rules numerous times (but was given special leeway to do so by Twitter).

There is no excuse that Twitter can make to convince those voters that this was not an act of specific woke liberal bias.

No explanation will ever convince them, so why bother trying.

Twitter prohibits mentioning the former names of trans people who have changed them. There are many millions of Americans and people around the world who do not accept or believe woke gender ideology.

Then you have a choice: stop deadnaming trans people or stop using Twitter. You’re not owed or entitled to a spot on Twitter any more than Donald Trump is.

there is no excuse that Twitter can make to convince those people that it is not biased in favor of that ideology

Yes, God forbid Twitter treat trans people with some semblance of dignity and humanity instead of comparing them to swamp animals. What a horrible policy~.

there is no excuse that Twitter can make to convince people that it did not ban the story because of left political bias

Again: No explanation will convince anyone who hasn’t already read Twitter’s (dumbass) explanation of why that happened, so why bother trying.

They are all incredibly prominent, highly individualized bans, all leaning left.

So what? Until you can prove it’s a pattern of bias⁠—and disprove the evidence that shows Twitter gave lots of leeway to conservative lawmakers so they could break rules without consequence⁠—your allegation is meaningless.

if you have to explain, you’ve already lost

That’s what people who can’t explain their shit say so they can feel like they’ve won something.

No wonder you’re a believer in it.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re:

What these things do is demonstrate why a billionaire who is in favor of free speech might think that Twitter needs correcting. Naturally, as a woke ideologue, you are happy with left-leaning Twitter’s censorship policies, but maybe you can understand that people who are not woke ideologues are not so happy. And instead of going elsewhere, as you woke ideologues like to recommend, Musk is rich enough to take over the platform and then *you* can go elsewhere.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

What these things do is demonstrate why a billionaire who is in favor of free speech might think that Twitter needs correcting.

And what happens when the oligarch you’re putting so much faith in goes the exact other way and fucks with the free speech of the people you dislike, you hate, you despise with every ounce of your being⁠—will you complain, or will you celebrate all your “woke” enemies “getting what they deserve”?

as a woke ideologue, you are happy with left-leaning Twitter’s censorship policies

I don’t use Twitter, so I generally don’t give a shit how they moderate.

instead of going elsewhere, as you woke ideologues like to recommend, Musk is rich enough to take over the platform and then you can go elsewhere

And then he gets to deal with the “Worst People” Problem because he’ll have run off everyone worth a damn and left himself with queerphobes, racists, spammers, scammers, NFT/crypto bros, and all other sorts of horrid little shitpiles who would gladly turn Twitter into their personal playground.

Y’know, until they realize how boring it’s gotten and look for the places all the decent people went. At which point Twitter will become another also-ran social media service destined for the digital dustbin. And all that money Musk spent to make you and your fellow bigots happy will have been for nothing but a power trip that was never going to last.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The Speech of Bots

I guess we’ll have to see how things shake out. Naturally, I doubt that a woke ideologue’s view of who are the “worst people” will match mine. I would be disappointed if Twitter were to ban woke viewpoints, of course, but I doubt that will happen. I also don’t use Twitter, so my interest is academic too.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

The thing to note here is that apparently “treating people with basic respect” is a “woke viewpoint” that he would happily accept being banned.

Realistically, calling a trans person by their former name is not that much different to me insisting on referring to Marion Morrison when discussing John Wayne, or Rafael Edward Cruz when discussing the Cancun loving senator. I wouldn’t be technically wrong, but I’d be announcing myself as a deliberately trolling dickhead if I did it.

I’m sure our friend would be offended if I did such a think, as it servers no other purpose than annoy other people trying to have a conversation, so it’s interesting to see him so defensive about the ability to do so with the added implication that he’s trying to deny their actual identity.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Realistically, calling a trans person by their former name is far worse than me insisting on referring to Marion Morrison when discussing John Wayne, or Rafael Edward Cruz when discussing the Cancun loving senator. The latter is causing confusion by using names that people were known by before they were famous, the former is hurting individuals and engaging in hate speech.

Still Anonymous, Still Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

I don’t use Twitter, so I generally don’t give a shit how they moderate.

You seem to have very strong opinions about who should or shouldn’t get to use the platform for somebody who “don’t give a shit”. As well as very strong assumptions about who would want to use it despite also claiming to have no interest in its future.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

I didn’t say they should be required to. Only that they should choose to. If Musk goes the Facebook rout that was well put to use in the past from the likes of AOL and CIS and Hal’s long been the beacon of absolute free speech, so be it. If you want deletionism where it is not or is no longer offered go to a site that caters more to your choices.

One can support an idealistic view and recognise other’s disagree. And that it is idealistic. But it is the method I agree with most and the one I have always opted to implement when it was feasible.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Musk is rich enough to take over the platform and then *you can go elsewhere.*

Hey that’s fine by me. But what pray-tell will be the next thing you complain about when all us ‘woke left libtards’ make a mass exodus, and you’re left with the same situation you’re in on all those alt-social media sites?

Will it still be fun to ‘own the libs’ amongst yourselves? Because that’s essentially what you’ll be left with, and it will have no fundamental difference than Parler, Gab, Frankspeech (maybe, someday), and Truth Social (if you can actually use it).

Haven’t you guys figured out that being assholes is no fun when it’s just other like-minded assholes you’re interacting with? Careful what you ask for, Chet.

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Still Anonymous, Still Coward says:

Re: Re:

So what? He wasn’t owed or entitled to a spot on Twitter
I don’t want to get into the partisan part of that guy’s post because I think that’s a waste of time, but I hope you realize the supreme irony in thinking Musk doesn’t deserve twitter because it’s too important but they’re also a private company who no one deserves a space on.

You have it one way or another. Either they’re not all that important and Musk’s buyout of them doesn’t really mean anything for anybody, or Twitter is an important fixture that is important enough to at least allow staples of society to post and interact there because it is irreplacable.

This goes back to the snide jeers about “Make your own twitter” and “Private company, can do what they want.” Many of the people who made comments identical to those are quickly realizing the implications of how impossible that really is. Twitter really only came into existence thanks to the participation of many government and corporate entities whose participation is irreplaceable, and it’s arguable if their participation even belongs to themselves or isn’t a requirement for the public to be able to participate in.

What I mean by this can be illustrated with Mastodon. Mastodon is a great service, it’s way better than Twitter. It’s however, functionally useless to replace twitter because you’re not going to see, say, the state department post there. Or updates from federal intelligence agencies. Or news organizations posting their first scoops there and the comments relaying or amplifying news as it comes in. One of the most powerful parts of twitter can only be found one place: twitter.

Now, I know you probably didn’t write this post thinking you were going to be making a jab at some alt-right guy talking about Hunter Biden’s Laptop. But this entire issue can’t be resolved by just saying the Alt-right doesn’t deserve it or that Musk has no right to buy it. this is, in fact, a gigantic moral conundrum that Mike’s article and your post have reduced down to a black and white moral issue about social causes and not the actual issue at hand: Is twitter really a private platform, or is it so important and irreplaceable that its control overrides private hands for the public good? If so, who are you, I, or anyone else to say who gets to participate in it?

I hope you consider the implications of this gigantic can of worms that has been opened because it’s far more nuanced than you or Mike’s take that all criticism of its prior actions is just right-wing conspiracy theory. Which would also belong if it is a public good because the right wing is a part of politics, too.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Many of the people who made comments identical to those are quickly realizing the implications of how impossible that really is.

Impossible in the sense of starting a social media service? Not really. You can pay someone to host a Mastodon instance for you and your friends. “Social media” doesn’t have to mean “a network for the whole world”.

Impossible in the sense of starting a social media service that might replace Twitter or Facebook as the largest social media service? That one is arguably more improbable, yes. But I’m sure older services thought they were invincible before Twitter and Facebook dethroned them.

[Mastodon is] functionally useless to replace twitter

As a service in general? Yes. As someone’s preferred social media service? No.

Of course no single Masto instance⁠—or the Fediverse at large⁠—will replace Twitter. But from my personal experience, online communities work better when they’re smaller than the entire world. What helps Masto is the fact that so many different instances exist that one can find an instance that suits what they’re looking for out of a social media community. There are instances for art, instances for furries, instances that are explicitly queer-friendly, and there’s even an instance where people can only communicate using the letter E (dolphin.town, appropriately enough⁠—which has a longstanding rivalry with oulipo.social, an instance where the letter E is banned). Just…stay away from the two “flagship” instances; they’re overloaded to the point of being undermoderated.

I’m not saying smaller communities are perfect. That’d be stupid of me to do. But from the standpoints of both socializing and moderating, smaller communities are much easier to deal with than massive communities like Twitter.

this entire issue can’t be resolved by just saying … Musk has no right to buy it

Who the fuck is saying that? Nobody here is saying that.

Is twitter really a private platform, or is it so important and irreplaceable that its control overrides private hands for the public good?

I can answer that question: If Twitter were to be taken offline tomorrow by the people who currently run it⁠—regardless of any reason why⁠—the government literally couldn’t force it back online because Twitter isn’t a public utility or a common carrier or whatever other bullshit. Twitter is a privately owned open-to-the-public interactive web service; it is only as important as we claim it to be. We got along fine before Twitter, and we can get along fine without it.

Unless you’re okay with the government seizing the means of production and claiming Twitter to be public property without cause or due process.

all criticism of its prior actions is just right-wing conspiracy theory

Literally no one here has ever said that. Hell, Mike’s bitched about Twitter before, and he’s not exactly a QAnon nutjob. (Neither am I, for that matter, and I’ll criticize Twitter at the drop of a hat. To wit: Quote Retweet functionality fucked over Twitter to an absurd degree and I don’t think even Twitter is still fully aware of what a shit move that was.)

What has been said is that criticism of Twitter’s alleged “anti-conservative bias” does sound like a conspiracy theory. The facts say Twitter bent over backwards to keep powerful conservatives (and one might assume their fervent right-wing followers) from being dinged by moderation unless they went way over the line. No one has disputed those facts.

the right wing is a part of politics, too

At this point in time, it’s not exactly a good part of American politics, unless you believe in cruelty and injustice for all (the people you hate).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

There are times where the reach and openness of twitter is of benefit, and difficult to reparable with a federated service. Reaction to disasters is one, and Twitter along with Facebook has a big role to play in enabling Poland to deal with the refugee crisis brought on by the Ukraine war.

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JMT (profile) says:

Re:

A person who received some 70 million votes from the American people twice is not permitted to speak on the platform.

For starters, that’s barely a fifth of the country, so it doesn’t mean as much as you think. But it also seems to suggest that you think a fifth of the county feel it’s perfectly ok to join a community, repeatedly flout that company’s rules, and then whine like a baby when you’re asked to leave. That’s just being an asshole.

There is no excuse that Twitter can make to convince those voters that this was not an act of specific woke liberal bias.

Does that mean they’re all assholes too?

Bad #2: Twitter prohibits mentioning the former names of trans people who have changed them. There are many millions of Americans and people around the world who do not accept or believe woke gender ideology.

People change their names all the time for many different reasons. But you’re not concerned about most of them, just the trans ones. That makes you an asshole too. Why can’t you just accept it when someone tells you they want to be called something different?

Bad #3: Maybe the Hunter Biden laptop thing? I never followed that story, so I don’t know…

So why the fuck are you commenting on it and claiming you know how people should feel about it? Twitter followed its existing policy, got criticised for it from both sides and revised the policy. But a whole bunch of frothing idiots hang onto this one story like it proves the existence of God or something.

What these have in common is that they are not symptoms of the problem of moderation at scale. They are all incredibly prominent, highly individualized bans, all leaning left.

Compared to the scale of Twitter what you actually have is a pretty small number of highly publicized incidents. Apparently the right likes to complain really, really loudly when they’re asked not to act like assholes.

There’s a saying that if you have to explain, you’ve already lost.

Only when speaking to people who have trouble when non-simple things are explained to them.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re:

Because it’s a sin invented by woke gender ideologues to try to punish people who know and say that woke gender ideology is false. It is and attempt to erase history. People who have changed their names still had their former names before, and those names are perfectly legitimate to mention in context. It was Bruce Jenner who won Olympic medals, not Caitlyn Jenner. It was Ellen Page who starred in Juno, not Elliot Page.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If somebody is commonly known by a nickname, do you insist on calling them by their given name? Using the name that a person wishes to be known by is basic human decency towards that person. Trying to make somebody conform to your idea on how they should be known is to exercise cruelty towards that person.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:2

It’s not a matter of calling someone a name they don’t want to be known by. It’s a matter of being able to use the name they were known by in a context where that matters. Other people are not responsible for walking on eggshells around people who are so fragile that mentioning their former names (or their true sex) sends them into a tailspin.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

The only online contexts where that matters is when the possibility of a sexual relationship arises, and the online relationship has moved to private messaging. It is not something to be brought up in public, unless your intent is attack the person you are dead naming.

All you are doing is making excuses for your transphobic behavior.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:4

I don’t have to hint around at my “transphobic behavior”. I say baldly and forthrightly that people are only the sex of their bodies, that no one can change their sex, that sex and gender are the same thing, and that trans people either just devoutly wish they were the opposite sex or they are mentally ill and suffer from a delusion that they actually are the opposite sex.

Woke gender ideologues believe all of those things, and they try every stratagem they can to prevent people from saying or hearing the opposite. Banning “deadnaming” and other such pretenses of fragility, such as pointing a gun at their own heads and threatening suicide if the world does not affirm their delusions, are part of those tactics. Other tactics include propaganda, especially in children’s and young adult literature, in which it is claimed that the only barriers to “being what one really is” are the prejudices of other people, rather than the stubborn fact that reality is not malleable to fanciful wishes. And trying to erase the history of people before they transitioned is part of that as well. It’s a created sin in the same way as a busted taillight; a way for the woke to assault those whom they want to declare as enemies.

Wokeness is poison.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Woke gender ideologues believe all of those things, and they try every stratagem they can to prevent people from saying or hearing the opposite.

I wish it worked because you’re one cruel fucking asshole.

It’s a created sin

Does someone being trans hurt someone else? No? Then it isn’t a sin⁠—it’s something you can’t control but want to control because it’s so much simpler for assholes like you to control strict binaries and hierarchies.

When your conservative Christian brethren finally get everything they want⁠—when they finally get the power necessary to enshrine their beliefs and traditions and rules into law⁠—are you going to be on their side when they start forcing queer people of all kinds into “conversion ‘therapy’ ” for their own good? Because all the transphobic shit you’ve been talking makes you sound like someone who wouldn’t have any problem with that kind of torture being inflicted upon at least trans people.

And make no mistake: For transphobes like you, forcing trans people into either the side of the gender binary you want them to be on, the closet, or the grave is the endgame.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:6

Once again, you have failed in the most fundamental basics of reading comprehension.

Being trans isn’t the sin. (Well, it may be for people who believe in certain supernatural claims, but those people are even more deluded than trans people.) The invented sin is “deadnaming” – taking perfectly reasonable behavior and making it a punishable offense.

I do not want to force anyone into any sort of treatment or conversion therapy. The only people who should be forced into therapy are those who have demonstrated that they are a danger to themselves or others, or people such as minors who are under the guardianship of others who are responsible for deciding what is best for them. People should be free to live under whatever delusions they like, whether it’s believing they are the wrong sex, or that gods exist, or that the Earth is flat.

What I will always oppose is having deluded people force others to affirm their delusions. If a man wants to call himself a woman, that’s fine. If he wants me to affirm that he’s a woman, that’s not going to happen. If a man thinks he was mistakenly “assigned” a sex at birth, that’s his business. If he wants me to fill out a form where I need to attest that I was assigned a sex at birth, then we have a problem. If someone wants to change their name, that’s fine. If they demand that I never mention that they used to be known by their old name, they can go pound sand. They don’t get to erase reality on their say-so. If a man claims he’s a woman and wants to go into a women-only locker room, he should not be allowed to do that unless the women there and the owners of the locker room allow it.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

The invented sin is “deadnaming”

Does it actually harm you in any way, other than an offense to your feelings, if you call someone by the name they prefer you to use for them? No? Then it isn’t a sin and all you’re doing is using religious terminology to justify bigotry and cruelty as if someone is supposed to pray for forgiveness because they hurt your fucking feelings.

“Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other ‘sins’ are invented nonsense.” — Robert A. Heinlein

I do not want to force anyone into any sort of treatment or conversion therapy.

Your conservative Christian brethren most certainly do. And given how you’re talking the same kind of shit about trans people that they do…well, you’re not doing a great job of convincing me that you’re not on their side in this matter.

What I will always oppose is having deluded people force others to affirm their delusions.

And what better way to oppose it than by saying trans people are “deluded”? After all, such phrasing implies that trans people need some sort of help⁠—perhaps some kind of therapy that can help with a conversion from their delusional state into a “normal” state of being.

Everything you’ve been saying is all about you. It’s all about your comfort, your feelings, your beliefs being upheld no matter what. But what happens when people who share your beliefs get enough power to start forcing their comfort, their feelings, their beliefs on everyone else⁠—including trans people? What happens when they start blocking transgender health treatment for adults (something that I believe Mississippi is already looking into doing)? What happens when you and your transphobic brethren get everything y’all want and make trans people’s lives a living hell for no reason other than control of people who aren’t living “the right way”⁠—do you think y’all will actually stop at eradicating trans people by any means necessary?

Because it won’t stop at trans people.

It never does.

Do you align with cruelty or with empathy⁠, with making others suffer or with freeing others from suffering? Be careful how you answer that, by the way⁠—everything you’ve said up to now indicates one answer, so saying the other answer will mean you’re lying.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:8 You accidentally invoked Godwin's Law

[D]o you think y’all will actually stop at eradicating trans people by any means necessary?

Because it won’t stop at trans people.

It never does.

Correct. Just like a certain bombastic Austrian started with Jewish people, then moved onto Gypsies, black people, gay people and lesbians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists, and disabled people. And those are just the ones I can list.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

Minor correction, he started with Polish citizens who had overstayed their legal duration in the country. Regardless of faith. The Polish government closed their borders. They wouldn’t accept them back. So Hitler’s government put them in internment camps.
Those camps were an easy replacement for the more expensive federal prisons.
And it went from there. Jews, blacks, non-catholics, sex, gender, age, nationality… anyone who looks or looked funny.

The early realities of how WW2 are a big reason why I support secure borders, legal, verified, documented immigration, oppose catch and release vs drive back to the border and sent back.
And absolutely oppose internment institutionalised under Clinton, continued under Bush, expanded under Obama, and discarded under trump.

Any internment is the starting point for abuse. One bad President here turns them into WW2.
We have progressives that called for locking up trump voters. We have far right freaks that would lock up everyone.

I always say, don’t ignore the cause for the effect. Or it WILL be repeated.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:10

The early realities of how WW2 are a big reason why I support secure borders, legal, verified, documented immigration, oppose catch and release vs drive back to the border and sent back.

So in moving away from Hitler-style fascism, you’ve moved to supporting the similar Trump-style fascism. Oh, FYI, Trump discarded internment of immigrants like Obama extended the program like John Major closed the last coal mine in England. Research what I’ve just told you to find out how that all works. You’ll discover that it’s not the politician getting the credit or the who made the decision and set the ball rolling.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11

You misinterpreted my point. What Trump did with totally turning over the entire system to a bunch of self-righteous (in in some cases racist) idiots was not good.

But there are parallels that are concerning in our “detention” and their “internment”. How we went from semi-liveable under Clinton to kids in cages by the time Obama left office.

Today it’s illegal aliens. Tomorrow?
You can pass it off as jokes but how many far left progressive politicians have publicly mentioned punishment for trump voters?
And how many far right brainwashed god fans would love to lock up every non-conforming person?

No, Trump wasn’t a fascist. Though I will admit some members of the party are.
Some Dems are as well. Absolute power and all that. Extremes in values will always make their way into governance. Ideally you balance that out.

All too often history is edited to remove causation. And thus we loose the lessons of that history.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:12

Actually, you missed my point. When he was leaving the White House, Obama drew up the plans for Gitmo to be closed and Trump signed them into law much against his will. Similarly, when he was leaving the White House, Bush Jr. drew up the plans for expansion of the program of detaining suspected ‘terrorists’, and Obama signed them into law much against his will. As Yoda might say (just to piss off Dibsney), “Reading comprehension you lack. Go back to elementary school you must.”

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:7

The invented sin is “deadnaming” – taking perfectly reasonable behavior and making it a punishable offense.

Do you know what is reasonable, if someone says changed their name to Bob you refer to them as Bob and not their old name – regardless of the circumstances behind the name-change. If you don’t know they have changed their name and use the old name, that’s just an honest mistake but even honest mistakes can have consequences. If you know that Bob used to have another name and someone uses that name you tell them that Bob prefers to be addressed as Bob, it’s called being considerate.

To persistently use someone’s old name against their explicit wishes, that’s just being inconsiderate and unreasonable – a bully.

The whole thing with deadnaming and the reactions towards people doing it came about because it has repeatedly been used to harass and persecute trans people by transphobic assholes.

You have said many times now that trans people are delusional and that makes me ask you: What makes you an expert on how to treat supposedly delusional people? How do you know that your behavior towards them isn’t detrimental to their mental health? If they really are delusional it’s entirely possible your behavior can trigger them to suicide, just like how other non-trans people take their lives because they have been bullied – and they weren’t delusional.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

If they really are delusional it’s entirely possible your behavior can trigger them to suicide

I doubt he gives a fuck. One less trans person is one less trans person regardless of how that happens. It’s the same thinking that lets proponents of anti-gay “conversion ‘therapy’ ” say a suicide by a victim of such “therapy” is a success.

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Hyman Rosen says:

Re: Re: Re:8

It is not my responsibility to be careful around arbitrary strangers with mental illnesses. If reading the wrong thing will drive them to suicide, then they or their caretakers need to keep them away from where they can see such things.

Woke ideologues may believe in the right to silence people by claiming safety or harm, but they can go pound same.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

You know, instead of being a transphobic asshole, you could just be quiet. Take that option for once in your life; maybe you’ll improve yourself in the process.

Trans people aren’t inherently dangerous. Trans people aren’t trying to convert you (or your godforsaken crotch spawn) into being transgender. Trans people want to live their lives in peace with people like you at least tolerating their existence instead of treating them like they need to be constantly reminded⁠—at every possible second, in every possible way⁠—that you hate them and want to control their identities and lives for the sake of your own personal comfort.

Consider how bans on trans athletes and trans healthcare are cropping up. Then consider how those bans are already advancing past children and heading towards bans aimed at adults. If y’all have to go through this much work (and more) to enforce gender norms on the people who openly and brazenly and bravely defy them⁠ in spite of your hatred, maybe those norms aren’t as inherent and ingrained as you want everyone else to think.

All this hate, and what does it get you in the end?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7

What I will always oppose is having deluded people force others to affirm their delusions.

That’s classic transphobia. Oh, and gender dysphoria is a legit DSMV diagnosis. Countries that allow gender conversion therapy tend to be extremely strict in issuing those diagnoses because of the potential of involving some heavy-duty drugs, and fortunately, said diagnosis can be managed without actual gender reassignment surgery, depending of how severe said diagnosis is.

And YOU would probably deny trans people that sort of basic treatment.

If he wants me to fill out a form where I need to attest that I was assigned a sex at birth, then we have a problem.

They have a fucking doctor’s letter and the support and approval of a trained professional. The problem here is your wilful ignorance of reality.

If they demand that I never mention that they used to be known by their old name, they can go pound sand. They don’t get to erase reality on their say-so.

I just so happen to know a subset of entertainers who would be unable to continue entertaining if your fucked-up views became law. And maybe a few Hollywood stars as well.

Got nothing to do with trans issues, it’s a fucking privacy issue. You clearly have an issue with the right to that basic level of privacy. You sure you don’t work for Rupert Murdoch?

If a man claims he’s a woman and wants to go into a women-only locker room, he should not be allowed to do that unless the women there and the owners of the locker room allow it.

Hey, Hyman, you’ve got the wrong site, Stormfront’s three blocks down.