Democrats Need To Get Their Head Out Of The Sand: The Only Reason GOP Is Supporting Their Antitrust Bills Is To Force Companies To Host Disinfo

from the this-matters dept

We’ve pointed this out a few times over the past year. The main antitrust bills that are floating around both the House and the Senate only have Republican support because they have a trojan horse hidden in them that will make it much more difficult for the biggest websites to do any moderation on Republican culture war propaganda campaigns. The two major bills, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) and the Open App Markets bill, both have clauses against anti-competitive “preferencing.”

However, as we keep pointing out, this would allow Parler to argue that Amazon, Google, and Apple treated it differently than, say, Twitter, when those three companies chose not to do business with Parler. Parler even made some of these arguments in its lawsuit against Amazon, and while that lawsuit flopped, if these laws passed, it would reopen the issue and allow companies to sue.

A number of Democrat supporters of these bills, and various civil society organizations, including many that we’ve worked with and usually support, keep trying to brush aside this issue, and keep insisting that it won’t really matter. Some are even willing to align with outright bigots who are only supporting these bills for this very reason, because they think getting something passed on antitrust is the bigger issue.

However, the Washington Post has a great op-ed from two academics who understand this issue better than just about anyone else: Jane Bambauer from University of Arizona and Anupam Chander from Georgetown. I highly encourage everyone supporting these bills to read their analysis of how these bills could create a real mess for disinformation online.

They also point to the Parler example, but they also, thankfully, take on the main argument I’ve heard back from friends supporting these bills: that courts would throw out such lawsuits. This, to me, has always been an odd take, since they know how damaging even frivolous lawsuits can be, and how much of a chilling effect even the threat of extensive litigation can cause. And as Bambauer and Chander make clear, here the chilling effects can be significant.

But the bills would hand the makers of services and apps that give free rein to hate speech and disinformation a powerful weapon to use in court: If Apple or Google kicked them out of app stores, or downgraded them in search results, these companies could argue that the decisions weren’t about content moderation at all, but rather market domination.

At the least, such claims would have to be litigated — a costly proposition, with no guarantee of victory. Alternatively, Apple, Google and other companies might become less vigilant about screening out hate speech and disinformation. You can be wary of Big Tech’s market power and still think the implication of these bills for the speech that is spread online is extremely bad.

And as the article makes clear, the idea that these cases would quickly be thrown out is hardly a given, especially after seeing how courts around the country are willing to view issues around content moderation through partisan lenses.

Suppose Truth Social — President Donald Trump’s Twitter rival — becomes a hotbed of election disinformation, vaccine misinformation and racist speech, and Apple decides that it is violating its App Store guidelines, which require app-makers to filter objectionable content. Would Truth Social or an ideological ally sue, arguing that Apple was preferencing its own News app, or its business partner Twitter’s app? Some judges, and possibly a Supreme Court majority, would be sympathetic to such claims. After all, this would represent a difference in treatment between similar apps (though Apple could of course argue that all apps that permit disinformation are treated alike). Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is among those who have noticed that these bills could lead to results similar to those of the recently eviscerated Texas content-moderation law. The bill targeting app stores would “make some positive improvement on the problem of censorship,” he said during markup for the bill.

Also, the bills’ authors could make it clear that these laws can’t be used to stop lawsuits related to content moderation choices, but they have deliberately chosen not to (because they know they’d lose the Republican support if they do).

The Klobuchar-Grassley bill does allow companies to defend against lawsuits by demonstrating that their actions were taken to protect safety, user privacy or the security of the platform, but this defense would likely prove inadequate. Apple or Google would carry the burden of proving that its actions were “reasonably necessary” to protect those specific interests. And even showing that the removed app or speech was sexist, racist, antisemitic or Islamophobic would not be enough. The other bill’s safeguards against abuse are even weaker.

The article also notes that while some supporters of the bill insist that Section 230 would protect these bills from being abused to stop moderation choices, that also seems unlikely for two reasons. Under the Malwarebytes case, companies can get around the 230 issue by claiming that the moderation decision was anticompetitive, rather than for legitimate content moderation needs, and then 230 gets taken off the table. Also, that depends on no more changes being made to either Section 230 itself, or how the courts interpret 230 — both of which seems like dubious propositions (unfortunately).

But, really, the 5th Circuit’s decision in the case highlights the fact that it’s not at all likely that courts would toss out these cases. And, importantly, given the size of the penalties under at least one of the laws, it would be risky for companies to not act accordingly.

Note that if the Internet platform loses, the Klobuchar-Grassley bill would subject it to a penalty of up to 15 percent of its U.S. revenue (not just profits), a risk that few companies would be willing to take.

Perhaps some companies are willing to risk 15% of their revenue on judges understanding bad faith litigation, but that’s a huge bet.

And, again, the article notes that the bills’ authors could fix this, and make it clear that these scenarios don’t apply to the bill, but it appears Democratic Senators have deliberately chosen not to, because they know they’d lose GOP support for the bill.

The Klobuchar-Grassley bill authors recognize that it could affect moderating activity by platforms. The bill, therefore, explicitly excludes from its definition of unlawful activity any reasonable actions the platforms take to protect the copyrights and trademarks of others. Unfortunately, actions motivated by corporate responsibility and designed to protect against hate speech, harassment or misinformation don’t receive similar protection.

What’s most frustrating to me in all of this is how supporters of these bills refuse to actually engage on this point beyond insisting that the courts will dump these lawsuits. That’s far from certain. And even if it were true, these are the same groups that often point out the chilling effects of even frivolous, vexatious litigation.

If those groups, and the politicians pushing these bills, really believe in the underlying concepts in the bill there’s a solution: amend the bills to make it clear they can’t be used in these kinds of content moderation situations. If they’re unwilling to do that, it just feels like they’re carrying water for disinformation peddlers and trollish bigots who are eagerly looking forward to using these laws to litigate.

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Comments on “Democrats Need To Get Their Head Out Of The Sand: The Only Reason GOP Is Supporting Their Antitrust Bills Is To Force Companies To Host Disinfo”

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Anonymous Coward says:

It’s not the sand that they need to get their heads out of

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

The big platforms should not be engaging in viewpoint-based censorship except when they are speaking for themselves. They should not be deciding what is hate speech, what is bigotry, or what is disinformation when they are acting as platform hosts for hundreds of millions of users. If these bills wind up punishing the companies for doing that, good.

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kallethen says:

Re:

No. They have the same right as I do on setting ground rules for what you say while in their “house”. If I don’t like hearing bigoted speech in my house, I’ll kick you out. They can do the same.

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And the government can pass antitrust laws that the companies don’t like. Governments have the right to do that. Just as Facebook likes to give community-standards time-outs, the government can position its laws to nudge companies to behave properly without overtly saying so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

And the only time in recent history where the FTC has actually dismantled a company was… AT&T and I believe Bell.

Hard to tell, all I know is that it happened once.

Why do you hate the FTC, Hyman?

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Cattress (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, the government doesn’t have the “right” to violate the First Amendment- it’s kinda why it’s the first right guaranteed protection from the government.
This isn’t even really an anti-trust matter, this is just a time waster, a way to claim to people who don’t know any better that they stood up to the favorite punching bags on both the left and the right.
There are real anti-trust problems that they are still half-assing the legislation because too many politicians have no spines and are overly reliant on contributions from the companies screwing over everyone.

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Rational Basis Test

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_basis_review

As long as the government can show that a law is rationally related to a legitimate government interest, even if such a relationship is tenuous, it doesn’t matter if the law is actually pretextual. That means that if the government wants to go after the large platforms using antitrust law, it doesn’t matter if it’s doing it because it doesn’t like how the platforms are moderating users. The government has a legitimate interest in preventing too much consolidation and targeting large companies with antitrust legislation is rationally related to that legitimate interest, so the law would stand.

Ben (profile) says:

Re: Why?

Companies should not be compelled to host what they deem, as an organisation and as defined in their terms of service and published policies, to be unacceptable on their own service.
If you compel them to host all speech, you’re enabling the misinformation pedlers, spammers and toxic influences in society. Do you really want that? Every internet service that dares to have a comment section will descend in to 4chan/8chan land (or whatever they’re called today) and we’ll all be far worse off.

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you compel them to host all speech, you’re enabling the misinformation pedlers, spammers and toxic influences in society.

That’s what Hyman Rosen wants, knowing him from his posts around here.

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Fallacy of the Heap

Just because there isn’t a sharp dividing line between speech that should be banned because it contributes nothing but noise and offense, and speech that should be allowed because it contains legitimate ideas even though others vehemently disagree with them, does not mean that allowing all of the latter requires allowing all of the former.

The huge platforms should be supporting the free speech of their users, not engaging in viewpoint-based censorship. That doesn’t mean that they can’t also moderate away spam and real (as opposed to woke) harassment and bigotry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

And when you have successfully driven trans people off of social media, whose free speech rights have been denied? Under your rules, they would have nowhere left online to speak.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

For some people you don’t need to scratch very hard at all at the veneer of ‘I’m not bigoted against them I just don’t want them to keep shoving that stuff in my face all the time’ to reveal the ‘They shouldn’t exist or ever feel comfortable or safe’ underneath.

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Woke gender ideology is false. That does not mean that trans people need to be driven off of social media. Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, and Vishnu do not exist, but that does not mean that religious people need to be driven off of social media. The only things are that they cannot compel people to accept their lies, and they cannot silence those who are telling the truth.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Your choice bro

“ The only things are that they cannot compel people to accept their lies, and they cannot silence those who are telling the truth.”

But you aren’t telling the truth. You are demonstrably wrong in multiple fields. Biology, basic science, legally, constitutionally, and basic human decency. These fine people have been trying to tell your bigoted ass that for months now. At this point you should really stop and reflect on this saying. The only single conmen denominator to all my problems is me. If not it’s no skin off my back and I can happily go back to making fun of what a piece of human garbage you are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

The only things are that they cannot compel people to accept their lies, and they cannot silence those who are telling the truth.

And compelling them of an often troubled and traumatic past, by repeatedly telling them you variation of the truth will drive them off of social media.

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

No one should be forced to affirm lies in order to comfort someone who needs to believe those lies. And even if everyone were willing to lie to comfort those people, reality itself would not be so accommodating. Transwomen are men, no matter how much costuming, medicine, and surgery are applied to them, and that biological fact cannot help but manifest in noticeable ways, especially to the transwomen themselves who get to see their bodies when not maximally costumed.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

That you do not agree with their definitions of terms like “gender” or “men” doesn’t make their statements false as they are intended.

Also, you severely overestimate the differences between the genders. People who don’t even dress up can be confused for the wrong gender quite easily.

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

You don’t get to redefine words and then demand that everyone who uses those words adhere to the new definitions instead of the old ones. Women’s single-sex spaces are for real women as long as that’s what those real women want, and no attempt by woke gender ideologues to redefine the word to include men compels anyone to admit those men to women’s single-sex spaces because of the new definition.

“Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

Women’s single-sex spaces are for real women as long as that’s what those real women want

I can’t wait to see you call for police to inspect the genitals of every woman, cis or trans, who enters a public restroom intended for women. Nothing like the threat of public humiliation and legalized sexual assault to teach those evil trans people what for~!

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Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:9

Littering falls under the term ‘casual wrongdoing’, a person using the facilities appropriate to their gender identity does not. Or are you saying that intersex females should be made to use the men’s toilets and changing rooms just to make you feel better? And stop-and-search? Used in the UK to detect knife crime before it becomes serious, so hardly an example of preventing ‘casual wrongdoing’. (-_Q)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7

“You don’t get to redefine words and then demand that everyone who uses those words adhere to the new definitions instead of the old ones.”

Projection thy name is hyman.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:7

“Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

Right, and calling a transphobe ‘gender critical’ doesn’t make them critical of gender. Uh, what was your point again?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

You don’t get to redefine words and then demand that everyone who uses those words adhere to the new definitions instead of the old ones.

I’m not saying you have to adhere to the new ones, but when arguing against someone else’s claims, you should interpret them based on the definitions they used; otherwise, you’re arguing against a strawman.

Women’s single-sex spaces are for real women as long as that’s what those real women want, […]

Ciswomen don’t actually have the final say on this matter, and plenty of them don’t agree with you anyways. Nor have you demonstrated why the taboos of some should overcome safety issues.

[…] and no attempt by woke gender ideologues to redefine the word to include men compels anyone to admit those men to women’s single-sex spaces because of the new definition.

You really need to stop with these strawmen. No one argues that the definition is the reason to have transwomen use women’s restrooms and such.

“Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

Saying that gender and sex are the same doesn’t make them the same, either.

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

No. Women’s locker rooms and women’s prisons should not use the definition of “women” that anyone but women use. Delusional men who want to redefine “women” to include themselves, and the woke gender ideologues who support them, do not get to force women’s spaces to use their definitions.

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

Whether real women will have control over their spaces is one battle in the culture wars. Your are welcome to try to wrest that control away, and you will be fought.

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Cattress (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

Yes, and as a real woman, I’m telling you to butt the fuck out. You are not a feminist or our ally. No one asked you, and there is nothing chivalrous about you, especially when you are punching down. You are just a small minded bigot, exactly the kind of person that most people don’t want lurking around in person or online.
You can see yourself out. I have no trouble shutting down terfs that that think they have a valid voice within women’s rights. One consensus within feminism is that women’s rights are human rights, and no one can be excluded if you are fighting for women’s rights. I’d tell the misandrist to fuck off too if they were real. (Ooo I would love to tear down “moms for liberty”, because like so many other fascist, they have no business using the word liberty to advance their fascism, nor mom to evoke sympathy from other mothers. They need to go back to terrorizing their neighborhood homeowners association)
You want the right to troll where you aren’t welcome. Why don’t you go find one of those men’s rights groups, and you can cry about how the “real” women gave you the boot in favor of the trans, and how you are really the oppressed ones.

Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10

As always, woke ideologues would love to silence their opponents. Sorry, no. Public affirmation of lies is a problem for everyone, and everyone gets to speak about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5

“No one should be forced to affirm lies in order to comfort someone who needs to believe those lies.”

And yet here you are seeking comfort from us…. for some reason.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

I will say this though. More people need to harden up and stick to it!
There shouldn’t be running off so to say.
Harden your spine.
(I like other hard things too like nipples and carrots and but I’m just a 🐸 sometimes).

Seriously though, toughen up. Stand your ground. Both parties could then learn something at times.
I’d like to think despite many of my disagreements the volume of head nodding, and understanding I show, often stands on it’s own.
I learn much, and enjoy the debates here. If I ran off it first mean comment?

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Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

speech that should be banned because it contributes nothing but noise and offense,

aka your lies about other peoples’ gender.

Cattress (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Define the difference between “real” & “woke” harassment/bigotry, which you imply is fake because there are few bones of that “woke” horse that you haven’t pulverized yet so you must keep beating it. I’m sure I have an idea of who you think is deserving of being treated shitty and therefore is not actually suffering bigotry and harassment, but humor me. (Seriously, I gotta rant a little here. The right loves to latch onto phrases and concepts that they know absolutely nothing about and then broadcast their ignorance while acting like they are sooo clever. Well, not acting. They seem to believe they are clever for disingenuous talking points that only prove how little they actually know. How many concepts, in the last 10-20 years has the right claimed is the boogie man lurking in your back yard, ready to rip off your children’s heads as they rip apart the fabric of society and fluff the devil for action? And what really burns my biscuits is that you dopes are terrified of the monsters you made up all on your own, but are willfully oblivious to troubled teens blowing the heads off your neighbors and children, climate change burning down your house, causing droughts, extreme weather that the folks profiting from oil and gas hand over fist refused to harden against the climate change they are driving. And then bleeding the survivors dry with the governments blessing. I mean, do you people hear yourselves? Quick, call an emergency session, children attended a daytime family oriented drag show! This must be made illegal immediately! Take those children and drop them into the system, with some people that will make them go to church, where they are safe! VS Regulate guns that are being used to slaughter double digits of innocent people, little kids at a time?! Nah, get outta here with that commie Marxist shit. They were just black and brown people threatening my white majority. Arm those teachers I was calling groomers last week.)
Then explain why your definition of “real” harassment/bigotry should supercede that of the owners and executives, the people they consult, you know, people who actually know something and have actual standing in the matter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

So I should allow you to murder LGBT+ and minorities on my property.

Why do you hate property laws, Hyman? Is it because certain states have CASTLE DOCTRINE that allows me to defend my own house and home, and by extension, allows me to chase you off my property for whatever reason?

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Thad (profile) says:

Re:

The big platforms should not be engaging in viewpoint-based censorship except when they are speaking for themselves.

Good news, then: every moderation action is a platform speaking for itself. It’s the platform saying “We don’t want to be associated with this speech.”

Like when I click the little flag icon on your post and then add you to my block list, that’s me exercising my freedom of speech and association and saying “You’re an asshole. There’s the door.”

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And when they’re the primary platforms that people want to use to speak, they should not be surprised when the people’s government takes a dim view of viewpoint-based discrimination and seeks to do something about it.

The constitution can be worked around, as any liberal pushing for “common-sense him laws” is willing to tell you.

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:

And when they’re the primary platforms that people want to use to speak, they should not be surprised when the people’s government takes a dim view of viewpoint-based discrimination and seeks to do something about it.

You sure you aren’t a communist in disguise? A really stupid one?

The constitution can be worked around, as any liberal pushing for “common-sense him laws” is willing to tell you.

And there it is again, you are willing to shit on the constitution without compunction because you can’t stop being an asshole. Do you also want to do other shitty things because other people have also done them?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

And when they’re the primary platforms that people want to use to speak, they should not be surprised when the people’s government takes a dim view of viewpoint-based discrimination and seeks to do something about it.

You sure you aren’t a communist in disguise? A really stupid one?

Please point out the Communist Party in the UK. You sure you aren’t a Republican in disguise? A really stupid one?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Ah, the tragicomic comments from people who have no clue about the contextual background. “The people’s government” was the phrase used, not “the United States government,” and some countries do indeed have such legislation.

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:3

And those countries has fuck all to do with the US, the US constitution, section 230 and a person who’s arguments boils down to that the US government should seize the means of production, ie take control of social media. That he used the phrase “peoples government” is just another symptom of how the rightwing echo-sphere have started using arguments and phrases that looks like they have been lifted straight out of the Communist Manifesto.

Let me reiterate and give you a hint: When the discussion pertains to the US constitution and someone have espoused arguments that can only work if the government take control of social media, that’s the contextual background. You are of course free to make an ass out of yourself by not understanding this while making a comment that’s totally irrelevant.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4

Let me reiterate your argument: “Only the US has a population of people, and therefore only their government can possibly be described as ‘the people’s government’.” The other AC’s not the one looking like a shit here, fella. Wind your neck in.

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Ah, otherwording what I said outside the context of the debate. A real stand up move, isn’t it? The move of idiot assholes and trolls. Now, fuck off.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6

As it says in the Bible: “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.” The one without sin ain’t you, fella.

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:9

You are the typical low level basement dweller that are to fucking stupid to come up with any kind of argument, instead you continually project your inadequacy in every inane comment and they all lack even the tiniest glimmer of intelligence and wit. You are dullard and a boor.

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

I have bad eyes and I type on a tablet using a swipe keyboard that often misinterprets what I’ve tried to type. “Common-sense gun laws”, obviously. On a QWERTY keyboard, each letter of “him” is one to the right of each letter in “gun”.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

You should probably type more carefully. Not only wouldn’t you make silly typos, it might give you time to reflect on how astoundingly stupid the words you’re attempting to type actually are.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:3

I also have bad eyes (being astigmatic prevents me wearing my glasses for close-up work), so I don’t use Swype for anything. Even without it I make mistakes, but at least those errors are fewer and my comments don’t contain completely nonsensical phrases.

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Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:5

You would. Anyone that doesn’t sycophantically fall all over themselves to agree with your wrongpoints is producing nothing but ‘nonsensical drivel’ in your nonpinion. Just because I don’t hate people based on their characteristics, that doesn’t make me wrong and you right. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

The more rubbish you come out with, the more the “Swype keyboard” thing looks like an excuse. How else could you turn “all men are created equal” into “trans men are delusional and have no right to exist in my world”?

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

As I have explained before, rights are simply the people with a force monopoly voluntarily restricting their actions because they think such restrictions make for a better society. Such restrictions are arbitrary, and hence we had “all men are created equal” coexisting with slavery.

Trans men and women are delusional but have every right to exist in my world. They do not, or rather should not, have the right to compel others to affirm their beliefs or to force their way into single-sex spaces for which their bodies disqualify them.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Trans men and women are delusional but have every right to exist in my world. They do not, or rather should not, have the right to compel others to affirm their beliefs or to force their way into single-sex spaces for which their bodies disqualify them.

Just so you know…

Gay men and women are sinners but have every right to exist in my world. They do not, or rather should not, have the right to compel others to affirm their sexual orientation or to force their way into heterosexual spaces for which their sexual orientation disqualifies them.

Jewish men and women are delusional but have every right to exist in my world. They do not, or rather should not, have the right to compel others to affirm their religious beliefs or to force their way into non-Jewish spaces for which their religion disqualifies them.

Black men and women are inherently inferior but have every right to exist in my world. They do not, or rather should not, have the right to compel others to treat them as people or to force their way into whites-only spaces for which their race disqualifies them.

…your hate isn’t original.

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

Except for the Black/white case, those things that you think are counterexamples are not.

A dating or matchmaking service is within its rights to pair up only heterosexual couples, one of each sex. Gay people cannot force these services to provide same-sex matchups.

Catholic churches require that people who want to marry in the church, receive communion, or participate in other religious rites must be Catholic. Jewish congregations, especially Orthodox and Conservative ones, will utterly reject Messianic Jews.

The Black/white case is different because we have decided as a society that we do not want such distinctions, and we will use force if necessary to prevent discrimination. But even here, we have the case of Biden proclaiming that he would appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court, and colleges using race as a partial criterion for admission.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

Except for the Black/white case, those things that you think are counterexamples are not.

Do you think Jews aren’t discriminated against in nominally secular areas of society in cities/states where any religion other than Judaism is the dominant religion? Do you think gay people aren’t discriminated against in nominally neutral areas in cities/states where heterosexuality is the dominant sexual orientation?

I can assure you that, like the trans people you and your eliminationist rhetoric seek to drive into a private hell (or the literal one), those two groups do face discrimination and hatred based on their religion or sexual orientation. That people aren’t as open about this discrimination as they are about their anti-trans bigtory doesn’t mean the discrimination doesn’t exist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8

Hyman can’t see it, because he’s bought into the lies peddled by the alt-right. Trans people would never stoop to his level of bigotry.

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

Just as there are single-sex spaces for which people with the wrong bodies are disqualified, there are single-religion spaces and single-orientation spaces. Even for race, there are Black fraternities and sororities (although these days they do not explicitly restrict membership by race, generally, but it’s strongly implied: https://www.sigmapiphi.org/home/).

You seem to think that the existence of such spaces is wrongly discriminatory, which is odd, since woke gender ideologues are not seeking to do away with single-sex spaces.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

You seem to think that the existence of such spaces is wrongly discriminatory

You seem to be intentionally misunderstanding my point. Fuck you.

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Cattress (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

Every February do you get your panties in a twist over Black History Month because you don’t see why there isn’t also a white history month?

Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10

No. For manifestly obvious reasons, Black history in the United States is worthy of special notice. Having White History Month would be silly, since there is no single “white people” to have such a shared history. Instead, we have separate ethnic origin events usually associated with holidays – Italians with Columbus Day, Irish with St. Patrick’s day, and do forth.

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AR-15 Owner says:

Re: Re: Re:5

As I have explained before, rights are simply the people with a force monopoly voluntarily restricting their actions because they think such restrictions make for a better society.

Really? Then please tell me your address so I can go round there and put an end to your force monopoly “right to life”. What’s sauce for the goose with a penis is sauce for the gander without respect, right?

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

They should not be deciding what is hate speech, what is bigotry, or what is disinformation when they are acting as platform hosts for hundreds of millions of users.

If I were a Twitter user and another user called me a f⸺t regardless of context, for what reason should the law deny Twitter the right to suspend or ban the user who used the anti-queer slur? (FYI: When I was a Twitter user, I got dinged for using that word in the context of discussing anti-queer attitudes.)

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It shouldn’t. That’s what I mean about real, as opposed to woke, harassment. On the other hand, someone should be allowed to say that they believe you are going to Hell for your sexual practices. Similarly, I would be ok with banning someone for using the “t____y” weird directed against another person, but not for saying that they are deluded about their gender.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m loathe to get into another slapfight with you over this, but since I’m not terribly busy and I’m in a bit of a mood

On the other hand, someone should be allowed to say that they believe you are going to Hell for your sexual practices.

Yes or no: Should that someone be free from any and all consequences, up to and including a ban from a social media platform that bars harassment and hate speech directed towards queer people?

I would be ok with banning someone for using the “t____y” [word] directed against another person, but not for saying that they are deluded about their gender

What’s the difference between using an anti-queer slur and insulting a trans person’s very existence to their face? (ProTip: If you say “there is none”, chances are you’re fine with the kind of anti-trans harassment that ultimately seeks to drive trans people out of accepting communities and into a closet so deep that the residents of Narnia are wondering what the hell is going on out there.)

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Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

The difference is between “fighting words” insults directed against a person versus a statement of beliefs that are in opposition to the other person’s. In a pluralistic society, it is always going to be the case that some people will find other lifestyles and behaviors to be offensive, wrong, or immoral. In a free society, they get to say that, and explain their own notions of what is good, true, and moral.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Well, my belief is that you are a bigoted shitstain who would be doing the world a massive favour if you were swinging from a scaffold.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:

‘Free speech’ and ‘consequence free speech’ are two entirely different concepts, chump. How many times do we have to explain this to you?

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Rocky says:

Re:

The big platforms should not be engaging in viewpoint-based censorship except when they are speaking for themselves. They should not be deciding what is hate speech, what is bigotry, or what is disinformation when they are acting as platform hosts for hundreds of millions of users. If these bills wind up punishing the companies for doing that, good.

Hundreds of millions of users don’t like assholes, racists, hate speech, bigotry or misinformation, and they don’t want to be associated with that. Your views are that of an entitled asshole who lack any kind of discretion or propriety, you happily assert that your right to say whatever you want without consequence trump other peoples rights.

It’s you and your type of people who make the world a worse place to live in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

They do not have to suffer the company of people they do not like, so go and speak somewhere where your words are more welcome.

Naughty Autie says:

Re:

Here’s the thing: if you talk smack about the landlord’s mother when you’re in the pubic louse, why shouldn’t he toss you out on your ear? Same goes if you talk smack about groups Alphabet feels should be protected from that on their private property. Don’t like that? Then stay offline so you don’t have to see it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

You are supporting outright Nazis, as what they want is the ability to intimidate everybody else into remaining silent so that they can gain power.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

So I should allow you to murder LGBT+ and minorities on my property.

Why do you hate property laws, Hyman? Is it because certain states have CASTLE DOCTRINE that allows me to defend my own house and home, and by extension, allows me to chase you off my property for whatever reason?

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well, unless you consider ‘being an asshole’ a viewpoint or political position in which case they are and the platforms are better off for it, just like any other private property would be for the owner or staff showing a disruptive and/or abrasive jackass the door so everyone else doesn’t have to deal with them.

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Chozen says:

Re: Re: Re:

Since when are “so-called ‘trans’ people are deluded” and “gay men shouldn’t be allowed to corrupt innocent straight men with their dicks” not viewpoints?

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Yes, yes. We know you’re afraid some day you’ll find a dick you like and have to spend eternity in hell.
Here’s a church father’s note for you: STA: the thought of the possible is worse than want or act.

Back to the closet now. There’s a real discussion going on here.

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Anonymous Coward says:

One line makes the story

This:

If Apple or Google kicked them out of app stores, or downgraded them in search results,…

Applies to everyone, everywhere, always. Not everyone can be first. Anyone who comes in second (or more apropos, “second page”) will feel they can sue their way to a better ranking.

Naughty Autie says:

Democrats Need To Get Their Head Out Of The Sand: The Only Reason GOP Is Supporting Their ‘Antitrust’ Bills Is To Force Companies To Host Disinfo

FTFY, Mike. From what I can tell, these bills aren’t about preventing or punishing acts of antitrust, but rather preventing and/or punishing a company’s exercise of its free speech rights. Just sayin’.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re:

However anti-trust may be been used for in the past these days it seems to be pretty solidly and solely wielded as a ‘I don’t like you/what you said/did so prepare to suffer for it’ cudgel.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re:

I’ve never seen anti-trust used that way, but I’ve seen laws against it used like that a few times. Classic First Amendment violation when it’s done in the States.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

FOSTA all over again

I can’t help but be reminded of FOSTA and how people knowledgeable in the field warned those pushing the bill about it’s dangerous ‘unintentional’ side-effects only to be brushed off and ignored, only for it to turn out that the people who claimed they knew what they were talking about did in fact know what they were talking about.

If the democrat sponsors/authors of the bill have been informed of the problems, have a chance to fix them and have refused to do so it seems entirely reasonable to assume that their inaction is because those problematic outcomes are features of the bill, not bugs.

As for the non-politician supporters my first response would have to be ‘put up or shut up’. If they think getting sued is no big deal then they should sign a legally binding agreement that they will pay the legal fees a company might incur from being sued thanks to this bill, and if they refuse it should be seen and treated as them admitting that they don’t believe it would be cheap or easy to fight such lawsuits.

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Bilvin Lickspittle says:

Are the Republicans wrong?

It’s often been a principle of the left that no one should be allowed to become a monopoly in that they are the only (effective) supplier of a given commodity. And that they definitely tend to agree that if a monopoly becomes abusive this only compounds the problem and demands the solution that much more.

How then are the big social media companies anything other than monopolies? And not just any monopolies. They’re not selling dishwasher detergent or automobile brake parts.

To claim that Twitter or Facebook has any true competitors is obnoxiously stupid. They provide access to communicate to the public. Our very right to freedom of speech. To claim that they do not monopolize freedom of speech because you or I could get up on a soapbox and preach to the crowd on Main Street is asinine. You might as well have said Bell Telephone was no monopoly because one could always write a letter and send it via Pony Express. And yet no one cried when the courts forced Ma Bell to break up.

Twitter and Facebook do not sell this access to public communication… which in some ways makes it all worse. Because they do not sell it, they give it away for free and withhold it based on standards all their own. To the people banned, it can seem arbitrary and unfair, and there is no recourse in many cases.

(And this isn’t just a free speech thing either… Amazon is a true monopoly, even by your standards, whoever it is that happens to be reading this. When they ban you, you find yourself unable to purchase entire categories of products, brick and mortar stores having been run out of business long ago. What then?)

This doesn’t excuse the bullshit the Republicans are undoubtedly trying to add to these bills. But in general, moderation is absolutely just another type of monopoly, and one that we will all suffer for if it goes unchecked.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

How then are the big social media companies anything other than monopolies?

Because Twitter and Facebook compete with themselves and with Discord, the Fediverse, IRC servers, Truth Social, and literally any other communications protocol/service on the Internet. Twitter and Facebook are not the only interactive web services on the Internet⁠—only the most popular. Their rise was preceded by other largely dominant services (e.g., Myspace, Livejournal) that fell to the wayside once Twitter- and Facebook-style social media became the norm. Market dominance alone doesn’t make them a monopoly. You need a better argument than “they’re a monopoly because they’re big”.

They provide access to communicate to the public. Our very right to freedom of speech.

They are not public squares. I’ve a long-ass copypasta with three different legal citations (one of which is from the Supreme Court) that agrees with that assertion.

Twitter and Facebook allow you access to communicate with anyone who uses/browses Twitter and Facebook. Usage of their services is a privilege, not a right⁠—and that privilege can be revoked at any time for damn near any reason. If you lose that privilege, you can go find a different platform to use or you can make your own. But you can’t legally force Twitter, Facebook, or any other interactive web service to host your speech for you.

Twitter and Facebook do not sell this access to public communication… which in some ways makes it all worse. Because they do not sell it, they give it away for free and withhold it based on standards all their own.

So can Parler, Gab, Truth Social, and any other right-wing shitpit that has different standards. What’s your point?

To the people banned, it can seem arbitrary and unfair, and there is no recourse in many cases.

Nobody owes you a platform or an audience at their expense. Also: If so you’re dependent on a single service that being banned from that service will somehow ruin you, that’s your fault for thinking a single point of failure won’t ever fail.

brick and mortar stores having been run out of business long ago

I don’t recall all the brick-and-mortar retail stores in my area having closed down within the past five minutes, but I guess I haven’t been paying attention to the news~.

moderation is absolutely just another type of monopoly

And here I thought nobody could say anything dumber about content moderation on interactive web services than “moderation is censorship”. Congratulations on your No-Prize! 👏

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re:

To claim that Twitter or Facebook has any true competitors is obnoxiously stupid.

Did… you know what, I’ll give you a few minutes to see it.

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John Nemesh says:

Re: let me know when this applies to cable companies and cell phone service providers...

Until it does, I call BS on this argument.

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JMT (profile) says:

Re:

Twitter and Facebook do not sell this access to public communication… which in some ways makes it all worse. Because they do not sell it, they give it away for free and withhold it based on standards all their own.

Wow, you really hate the concept of privately owned property.

Cattress (profile) says:

Re:

Have you ever, tried using a search engine? Like, have you ever looked to see if there were other viable platforms beside FB and Twitter (you found Tech Dirt to shitty up the comments afterall) where you,and pretty much every imaginable interest group can find like minds?
And Amazon, blocking customers from shopping for certain things, or altogether, for any reason other than trying to commit fraud through a return scam or hurt a delivery driver? 🤣 Why? They may choose not to allow someone to sell things through them because of the reputational harm. They have the right and it makes good business sense. But without a specific interaction where the consumer has acted egregiously,in direct relation to purchasing or receiving their package (like attacking a delivery driver), which was witnessed by other people, how could they possibly suffer harm to their reputation by virtue of completing a sales transaction? No one is boycotting Acme because suspected Klansman shop there. But if those Klansman actively harassed other shoppers, and the store did nothing about it, they may end up getting boycotted, which would likely compel them to keep the Klansman out.
And along the same lines of finding alternative social media sites, there are many many many other options for buying and selling online. Do you really believe that grocery stores, Walmart and Target are going to cease brick and mortar operations? That there won’t be any sort of shopping malls where one can see items in person and try them on to see if they fit? If the makeup is appropriate for their skin tone, that they like the way perfume smells? Do you think flea markets, garage sales and other person to person sales are going the way of the dodo?
I don’t think you even bothered to consider how dumb any of that garbage sounds.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re:

“To claim that Twitter or Facebook has any true competitors is obnoxiously stupid”

I assume that reason you used the singular “has” instead of the plural “have” is a pathetic attempt to pretend they’re the same thing and deflect anyone noting that naming 2 competing services while claiming they have no competitors is really stupid.

Because, otherwise, the fact that many reading this can not only name at least 5 competing social media services, but 5 they actually use on a semi-regular basis themselves destroys your point before you can start claiming that the named competitors don’t count because (random bullshit you made up just now to wave away valid criticism)

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re:

the fact that many reading this can not only name at least 5 competing social media services, but 5 they actually use on a semi-regular basis themselves…

Or that people can only communicate through them. There’s how many billion connected people? The two companies here are a a simple fraction of personal communication. Message me on a social service? I may log in and see it some time in the next year, or so. If ever.

benjaminklein (user link) says:

will the American Innovation and Choice Online Act transforms platforms into common carriers and do you think that twitter will be covered by the americain choice and innovation act online ?

i have read on twitter that the American Innovation and Choice Online Act may well be interpreted to make tech platforms common carriers unable to do any content moderation because blocking or downrating hate speech terrorists ect… would discriminate against that content.
is it true ? and finally do you think that twitter will be Covered by the American Innovation and Choice Online Act ? thanks for your answers guys.

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John Nemesh says:

1st Amendment is only valid when it benefits their side...

Ever notice that the fascists who bemoan the Twitter and Facebook bans for their racism, transphobia and hate speech don’t have any problem asking for the Federal Government to shut down journalists and the media for “fake news”?

They only care about the Constitution when it suits them, otherwise, they are just as happy to join with those who would overthrow the government and wipe their behinds with the document!

Pixelation says:

Backfire

Well, if this type of shit passes, the Left will have to crank up the disinformation machine regarding the Right and see how they scream bloody murder even louder.

Now everyone will know that those on the Right have been selling children into sex slavery in pizza joints. At least, that’s what will be said on Twitter…

Ron DeSantis says:

Re:

But I wanted a four-cheese pizza, not four images of young children engaging in unspeakable acts! This is all the fault of math textbooks talking about men that think they’re women!

Rocky says:

Re:

Now everyone will know that those on the Right have been selling children into sex slavery in pizza joints. At least, that’s what will be said on Twitter…

I think you got it all muddled up, the Right is actually behind all those Pizza Delivery Porn videos in an effort to knock women up to prove than convenience abortions are a thing, the pizzas used in the videos where baked by child slaves in one of Epstein’s penthouse apartments furnished with some WWII ovens from Germany that gets serviced occasionally by some dudes in black uniforms that live on a secret moon base.

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Anonymous Coward says:

The left is all for 1st amendment rights of tech companies when they censor speech they don’t like, but have a company exercise 1st amendment rights to espouse conservative viewpoints and it’s suddenly “Citizen’s United must be done away with!”

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re:

If I recall the case correctly, Citizens United was important for freedom of speech, but very bad for actual citizens because it allowed corporations (like AT&T) to spend huge amounts lobbying for bills in their favour, eventually leading to the current oligopoly of phoneline and network providers and ISPs.

twitterben says:

someone knows if twitter will be covered by the american innovation and choice online act

i have a question guys do you know if twitter will be covered by the american innovation and choice online act if yes ? how twitter be impacted ? will they became unworkable for anybody who use it ?

morganwick (profile) says:

I don’t want to think Democrats secretly want Republicans to win because fascism is perceived to be better for their true bosses than actually working for ordinary people, but they don’t make it easy sometimes.

To claim that Twitter or Facebook has any true competitors is obnoxiously stupid.

Did… you know what, I’ll give you a few minutes to see it.

— That One Guy
Made the Last Word by Lostinlodos

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