Hey Elon: Let Me Help You Speed Run The Content Moderation Learning Curve

from the speed-running-for-fun-and-for-profit dept

It’s kind of a rite of passage for any new social media network. They show up, insist that they’re the “platform for free speech” without quite understanding what that actually means, and then they quickly discover a whole bunch of fairly fundamental ideas, institute a bunch of rapid (often sloppy) changes… and in the end, they basically all end up in the same general vicinity, with just a few small differences on the margin. Look, I went through it myself. In the early days I insisted that sites shouldn’t do any moderation at all, including my own. But I learned. As did Parler, Gettr, Truth Social and lots of others.

Anyway, Elon’s in a bit of a different position, because rather than starting something new, he’s taken over a large platform. I recognize that he, his buddies, and a whole lot of other people think that Twitter is especially bad at this, and that he’s got some special ideas for “bringing free speech back,” but the reality is that Twitter was, by far, the most successful platform at taking a “we support free speech” stance for content, and learned over time the many nuances and tradeoffs involved.

And because I do hope that Musk succeeds and Twitter remains viable, I wanted to see if we might help him (and anyone else) speed run the basics of the content moderation learning curve that most newbies run into. The order of the levels and the seriousness of each can change over time, and how it all fits together may be somewhat different, but, in the end, basically every major social media platform ends up in this same place eventually (the place Twitter was already at when Musk insisted he needed to tear things down and start again).

Level One: “We’re the free speech platform! Anything goes!”

Cool. Cool. The bird is free! Everyone rejoice.

“Excuse me, boss, we’re getting reports that there are child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSAM) images and videos on the site.”

Oh shit. I guess we should take that down.

Level Two: “We’re the free speech platform! But no CSAM!”

Alright, comedy is now legal on the site. Everyone rejoice. Everyone love me.

“Um, boss. We have a huge stack of emails from Hollywood, saying something about DMCA takedowns?”

Oh right. Copyright infringement is bad. Get another intern and have them take that all down.

Level Three: “We’re the free speech platform! But no CSAM and no infringement!”

Power to the people. Freedom is great!

“Right, boss, apparently because you keep talking about freedom, a large group of people are taking it to mean they have ‘freedom’ to harass people with slurs and all sorts of abuse. People are leaving the site because of it, and advertisers are pulling ads.”

That seems bad. Quick, have someone write up some rules against hate speech.

Level Four: “We’re the free speech platform without CSAM, infringement or hate speech!”

Bringing freedom back is hard work, but this is all going great. Do the people love me yet?

“Hey, so, the FBI is here? Something about 18 USC 2258A and how we were supposed to report all of that CSAM to some operation called NCMEC?”

Ah, right. Grab an intern and make sure they pass along those images. We obey all the laws!

Level Five: “We’re the free speech platform without CSAM, infringement, or hate speech, and we follow all laws!”

These laws are good. We obey the laws. Social media is a snap.

“Hate to bother you, boss, but our users are mad again. It seems that people are posting memes using images from Hollywood movies, and then the studios sent DMCA notices, and as you ordered, the intern is taking those down. So people are getting mad at you for censoring the memes.”

That seems complicated. Can we have the intern send some of these to our outside counsel to review for fair use before pulling them down?

Level Six: “We’re the free speech platform, without CSAM or hate speech, and who will take down infringing content, but not fair use content, and we follow all laws!”

The memes must flow! Hooray fair use! Love me!

“Very good boss. Love the memes, but, um, there’s a NY Times reporter on the phone, and apparently, we’re not catching all the CSAM, and they’re going to run a story about how we’ve become the new hub for pedophiles.”

That can’t be good… There must be some sort of solution out there? Have someone call up Microsoft and get a license to their PhotoDNA. Surely that will solve this?

Level Seven: “We’re the free speech platform, doing our best to stop CSAM, hate speech, and infringement, and we follow all laws!”

Okay, now things are really coming together.

“Pardon me, boss, people are now complaining that they’re getting inundated with spam and it’s driving users away.”

Spam is bad! Everyone’s against spam! I already said we follow all laws, surely spam is illegal! Why aren’t we blocking it?

“Well, our lawyers say that most spam is actually legal.”

Okay, well ask one of our totally awesome engineers to code up a spam filter. He has one week or he’s fired.

Level Eight: “We’re the free speech platform, doing our best to stop CSAM, hate speech, infringement and spam, and we follow all laws!”

Now that the spam is getting blocked, the people will really love me!

“Good evening sir, sorry to bother you so late, but apparently the spam and CSAM filters are actually catching a lot of legitimate content, and it’s making people mad.”

Fire the engineers! Bring me new engineers who don’t suck. And, I guess, maybe hire someone to manage at least some of these things. We can call them… “director of trust.” That sounds good!

Level Nine: “We’re the trustworthy free speech platform, doing our best to stop CSAM, hate speech, infringement, and spam, and we follow all the laws!”

Trust. That’s a good word! Everyone trusts our platform now that we have a director of trust!

“Pardon me, boss, but it appears we have an urgent email from government officials in Malaysia saying that someone is posting a story to our site that violates their laws, though it’s really just calling out government corruption. You say we follow all laws, so do we follow this demand from the government of Malaysia?”

Yikes. People need to speak truth to power! Let’s leave that content up!

“Okay, sir, Malaysia has now blocked all access to our site.”

Level Ten: “We’re the trustworthy free speech platform, doing our best to stop CSAM, hate speech, infringement, and spam, and we follow laws of democratic countries.”

Malaysia can’t be that important. I’m standing up for free speech! Do people love me yet?

“Hi boss, if you have a second, we’re getting reports that people in Myanmar are using our service to encourage genocide. But we don’t have anyone who speaks the language to fully understand what’s going on.”

Can we hire moderators who understand every language?

“There are a lot of languages.”

Well, it’s either hire more people or block entire countries… I guess?

Level Eleven: “We’re the trustworthy mostly free speech platform, doing our best to stop CSAM, hate speech, infringement, spam, and genocide, and we’re working to hire more moderators to deal with foreign languages.”

It seems like global politics is complicated, but maybe I’ll present my suggestions on world peace, so that people will love me!

“Forgive the interruption, boss, but a lot of our most active users are getting angry at you specifically, because the hate speech, spam, and copyright filters are blocking their dank memes, and sometimes they’re getting removed from the platform for violating the rules too many times. They think you’re sitting here and removing their accounts personally.”

Why does everyone blame me?!? Okay, let’s set up a “trust council” who will handle all content moderation questions and appeals.

Level Twelve: “We’re the trustworthy social media site that supports open dialogue, while doing our best to stop CSAM, hate speech, infringement, spam, and genocide, and we’re working to hire more trust and safety professionals, along with setting up an outside counsel.”

Hmm. Our slogan is getting a bit long.

“Sorry to break in again, boss, but Germany, one of our largest EU markets, has a new law that requires us to take down any ‘hate speech’ within a short time, and if we miss anything, then they can fine us way more than we can afford.”

Hire more people in Germany and now review reports as much as possible, but default to taking down reported content. We can’t afford those fines, even if we end up over-blocking.

Level Thirteen: “We’re the trustworthy social media network, that’s doing our best to balance laws and norms, and is really trying to be welcoming for speech, so please give us the benefit of the doubt.”

Why is everyone so mad at me all the time?

“Yeah, boss, I know you’re sick of hearing from me, but Hollywood is suing us. They’re saying that our fair use determinations are bullshit and we’re engaging in infringement.”

Hire more lawyers! Figure out how much this lawsuit will cost, or see if we can just pay some licensing fee! Have an engineer write up a filter that can determine fair use!

“I don’t think a computer can determine fair use yet, sir.”

Hire BETTER engineers! If a car can drive itself, surely a computer can understand fair use!

Level Fourteen: “We’re a social network that promotes trust, and seeks to comply with reasonable laws while finding a balance for speech, and please stop yelling at us.”

Why are people still so mad?

“Excuse me, boss, I know this is exhausting, but one of our most popular users has chained themselves to our front door, because we took down their account after they harassed someone trying to minimize the impact of climate change.”

Why are people so bad?

Level Fifteen: “We’re a social network that wants you to believe in trust, and we have a legal team to deal with laws, and a trust and safety team that’s, you know, working on things.”

This is exhausting.

“Hey, boss, sorry to interrupt, but this is kind of urgent. It seems that one of our users is livestreaming themselves as they shoot up a school, screaming about ‘freedom!'”

Oh no! Take down his account immediately.

Level Sixteen: “We’re a social network that is really trying to do our best, but humanity is messy.”

Why can’t people just be good? I gave them freedom and look what they’ve done with it!

“Boss, boss, another urgent one. It seems that one of our users is attempting suicide while live streaming on the platform and we can’t figure out where they are!”

Don’t we know our users? Figure out better ways to have this info and hire more people to work on trust and safety!

Level Seventeen: “We’re a social network that is trying our best. Please, be kind.”

I just wanted people to love me and be free to meme.

“Excuse me, boss, it appears that the EU has passed a new law that means we’ll be required to take down content they report, even if it’s legal elsewhere. They’re praising you for your promise from last year to obey all laws. Also, it requires that we have employees in every one of those countries who will be legally responsible if we fail.”

Why did I say that? Oh well, let’s hire more people to staff up, and do our best to obey those laws.

Level Eighteen: “We’re a social network doing our best to survive in a globally connected world.”

Mars is looking pretty sweet about now.

“Pardon me again, boss, but now that you’ve agreed to abide by the EU’s laws, I should note that India has passed laws that sound similar to the EU ones you agreed to abide by, and now they’re threatening to jail your local employees because you won’t take down content mocking the Prime Minister. They’re saying that since you abide by the EU’s laws, they expect you to abide by theirs as well.”

India is a massive market. We can’t survive without India. Can we, um, take down maybe some of the worst posts for violating our rules, and try to leave up the rest?

Level Nineteen: “We’re a social network doing our best in this crazy world.”

I just wanted everyone to love me?

“Boss, apologies, but our most famous and popular user, the President, is encouraging his vocal fans to burn down our offices because we put a fact check on his post urging people to strangle anyone with differing political views.”

Do you think someone will buy us?

Level Twenty: “Look, we’re just a freaking website. Can’t you people behave?”

Congratulations, you have completed the game…. Just kidding! It never ends. It only gets worse, and you will make mistakes, and people will get mad and personally blame you and insist that you are deliberately trying to “censor” their brilliant ideas, and advertisers will get mad, and politicians will pressure you into doing their bidding, and the media will criticize every mistake. You own a social network. Isn’t it fun?

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Comments on “Hey Elon: Let Me Help You Speed Run The Content Moderation Learning Curve”

That's it.

This post is going to get shared along with the “Masnick’s Impossible Theorem” and the “Hello! You’re here because you’re wrong about §230!” posts.

You’ve done it again, Masnick!

— Samuel Abram

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150 Comments
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Michael Barclay (profile) says:

Dante only had **nine** circles of hell

Congratulations, you more than doubled Dante’s nine circles of hell.

Mischa says:

Re:

If Musk is at least half as intelligent as he thinks he is, he will have foreseen that. It‘s really not news to anybody who has ever taken a few minutes to think about social networks and censorship. So, I think it‘s safe to assume that he knew all that and still bought twitter anyway. I‘d guess, all that „free speech“-BS is marketing to right-wing people. He‘ll try to cut costs until twitter will be barely running to make it halfway profitable. There‘s really no way out of exploding censorship-costs when you own a social media site that hosts it’s content and operates worldwide, unless you got a sentient scifi-AI. Only way to do that, maybe, is probably to make it like a peer2peer network where you only supply the code for the plattform and inject ads but let user‘s host their own content. Or do it out of a country with no censorship-laws and no extradition agreement – but that would hardly attract the needed advertising money, nor would the majority of users in countries where your site then gets blocked seek measures to circumvent that blockage. Personally, I expect most social media either gone bankrupt by the end of the decade, become something like a sanitized, super-shallow, toxic positivity place like instagram, state sponored surveilance like tiktok or gone underground. In the end it‘s probably a billionare‘s hobby and he‘ll never get that money back – and he likely knew that going in.

(I could call it „content moderation“ but as I don‘t own a social media site, I don‘t need the euphemism. Even if it protects users, and is essentially „good“, it‘s still censorship. No need for censoring of words here)

Rocky says:

Re: Re:

So, I think it’s safe to assume that he knew all that and still bought twitter anyway.

No, he didn’t know it because nobody knowingly spends upwards of $50 billion for a company that barely makes a profit while saying stupid things alienating the biggest income stream and then instantly proceeds to gutting it after taking power making sure that the investment becomes almost worthless.

The whole thing is just an example of a billionaire with an overinflated ego doing stupid things in the most expensive way possible.

DowntownPope says:

Re: Re: Re:

So, I think it’s safe to assume that he knew all that and still bought twitter anyway.

No, he didn’t know it because nobody knowingly…

I think it’s safe to assume that he was told all that by the C-suite people who were the first to be fired. Pretty sure that the CEO, CFO, and the head of legal policy, trust and safety would have told him at least 80% of the above, especially the legal issues. He chose to ignore it and then proceeded to say things that would freak out any brand managers at Twitter’s advertisers.

He also proceeded to do headcount reduction without really understanding the business and wound up firing people he needed. He’s going to lose a lot more people he needs after the way that was handled as the talented people at Twitter decide there must be a less stressful environment with a brighter future to work in, like a poorly funded startup with a good product idea run by someone who knows the business area.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So, I think it‘s safe to assume that he knew all that and still bought twitter anyway.

Considering he signed away his due diligence on the financial side, I highly doubt he went into the purchase knowing a damned thing about social media. Considering how quickly he tried to backtrack out of the financial side (which he knows infinitely more about), I’m absolutely positive he knows less than nothing about the struggles he’s put himself through.

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

That's it.

This post is going to get shared along with the “Masnick’s Impossible Theorem” and the “Hello! You’re here because you’re wrong about §230!” posts.

You’ve done it again, Masnick!

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

It’s ironic considering how he’s more than happy to axe posts at the behest of governments and is likely to do far worse.

I await the day Musk aids the CCP by giving Xi’s lackeys access to a CCP Critic’s private information. That poor critic is going to be “disappeared” so hard. (Read: SHOT)

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Valis (profile) says:

Re: Well, no.

“That poor critic is going to be “disappeared” so hard. (Read: SHOT)”

No, it’s the USA and its client countries that does that, not China. China is a civilised country! That is a gross slander 🙁

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Found the OTHER Xi-assigned troll.

And FYI, the US has not, at least to ANYONE’S knowledge, attempted to do the shitty Mossad thing and assassinate critics. That’s technically a RUSSIAN thing. Subject whistleblowers and at least one useful Russian-controlled idiot to unfair courts and their shitty prison industry, yes.

And while Xi hasn’t publicly shot his critics, it’s only a matter of time.

And no, don’t summon your other friend.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

The AC to whom you’re replying acknowledged as such:

And FYI, the US has not, at least to ANYONE’S knowledge, attempted to do the shitty Mossad thing and assassinate critics. That’s technically a RUSSIAN thing. Subject whistleblowers and at least one useful Russian-controlled idiot to unfair courts and their shitty prison industry, yes.

It sure sounds like they said that the US “subject[s] whistleblowers…to unfair courts and their shitty prison industry”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Hu Jintao is one of the important party members of the CCP, who is credited, along with a few others, for setting the foundations for the economic rise of China.

I’m assuming the response is sarcastic, but this is for those people who really don’t know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

So brave of you to pre-crime those commies, patriot. I’ll catch you over on reddit explaining how TikTok is an evil wing of the CCP yet somehow Tencent whic owns the social media you prefer isn’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

…joke’s on you.

Bytedance AND TenCent are probable shills, if not outright part of, the CCP due to where their HQs are located.

You don’t get to be that big without letting a few Party Members in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Choose your own Adventure

This is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book where the endings are either: a) This sucks, or b) This sucks and you lost billions of dollars.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

We’re gonna need more routes then.

And one of the endings should be “This sucks, and we obeyed the law in every country, and now Congress is demanding to know why we tried to sell a version of the site to the CCP/Russia/India/Iran that caters to their every information control need.”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Level 21: You’re back where you started with Twitter

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Christenson says:

Re: M.I.A.

LOL, I hope you are serious, so here’s some ideas:
The MIA game has roles:
the troll/bully
*the oddball target of the minority
*the normie, the mythical *average
person
*the moderator.
Other less frequent roles, such as terrorist, show up randomly in the card deck everyone draws from.
The game action simulates social media, taking turns.
* The troll tries to drive out the oddball without driving out the normie.
* The oddball tries to drive out the troll.
* The normie tries to avoid the troll and the non-normal output of the oddball; it’s NSFW.
* The moderator tries to minimize the screaming of the troll and keep the normie.

To simulate operation at scale, 9 moves of 10 of the moderator are entirely robotic based on simple rules. One time in 3 the opposite of what the rules say happens.

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Jeffrey Laing (user link) says:

Why the shift?

I’m a long time reader/supporter of Techdirt, but I’ve been less interested in reading it for the past few years. Why has this site shifted from a focus on law/rights/speech to attacking conservative politicians and CEOs? Elon is a pretty smart dude and he knows how to fix things. Mike, I realize that you know something about the difficulty of content moderation, but why do you assume that Musk doesn’t, and that he cannot “fix” Twitter? I think he may surprise you.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re:

Mike, I realize that you know something about the difficulty of content moderation, but why do you assume that Musk doesn’t, and that he cannot “fix” Twitter?

I can’t speak for Mike, but ever since Musk took over as chairman I’ve found Twitter so unpleasant that I’ve deleted my account and joined a Mastodon instance. I found myself very much uncomfortable there, and if that’s the case, why should I stay?

To be completely honest, twitter was hellish before Elon took over, but Elon giving the green light for people to shout hate speech on the site was the last straw. If that’s what he wants out of twitter, I can’t stop him. But I don’t have to be a party to it either.

Christenson says:

Re: Re: Enjoying Twitter

I follow just a few smart people on twitter (@mike_masnick, @kathryn Tewson, @emptywheel, and selected people they re-tweet) without logging in and run into very little hellishness. YMMV, both of us may be outliers.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Mike Masnick himself noticed the (relative) lack of toxicity in Mastodon since the mass exodus of twits thither. See here. This is what he said:

It’s so weird. As I’ve been spending more time on Mastodon, not once has someone mocked me and told me to “cry moar”. I thought that’s how social media works these days.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

*checks his current Twitter account

I have snall animal pictures, some wholesome memes, a few artists, several streamers I watch, and a few hilarious memes.

And, very little in the way of toxic fandom or political nonsense unless they do terrible things to the accounts I follow. At least, without willingly going into those spaces.

Still, I guess I should reactivate thay old Mastodon thingie I had just in case.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re:

Why has this site shifted from a focus on law/rights/speech to attacking conservative politicians and CEOs? Elon is a pretty smart dude and he knows how to fix things

… said nobody not on hallucinogens, ever.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

why do you assume that Musk doesn’t [know something about content moderation]

I mean, there was the time he said he’d only block illegal stuff, like spam (which is mostly legal). That was kind of a gargantuan neon sign of a tip-off right there.

Or is your argument that, because Musk has spent billions on aerospace, automobiles, and electricity, that somehow obviously means he knows the first thing about content moderation? ‘Cause I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t.

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Christenson says:

Re: Nothing to do with Conservatism..

Uh, techdirt is pretty evenhanded about calling out dumb sh*t.

Elon has really been showing his dumb sh*t..do you really think $54.20/44 billion was a fair price for twitter? The banks could not even sell off all the debt! Six months of uncertainty about the purchase, including Elon just about losing in court did nothing to enhance the value of twitter either.

Elon still wants to drop 25% of twitter staff…has just allowed only 25% of his moderation staff to function…fired the trust and safety VP…and when asked by Agrawal early last year to actually flesh out his ideas on moderation, refused. The popular personalities I follow are announcing their non-twitter backup plans.

We’d all rather be positively surprised, but the indicators that we will be disappointed instead have been pouring out.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Hey Jeff

DEFINE
CONSERVATIVE.
As I have looked up the personal meaning and the republican version and they are NOT the same. And the one for Corps is, Who they can pay off the cheapest.

Mischa says:

Re: Re:

It‘s about conserving an idealized status quo. Contrary to some „conservative“ parties around the world who are actually reactionaries in a social sense.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Why has this site shifted from a focus on law/rights/speech to attacking conservative politicians and CEOs?

Because they’re attacking the things this site likes to focus on. This site hasn’t held back on ostensibly left-wing politicians and CEOs doing dumb shit like going after Section 230, but they’re not doing that shit as often as their right-wing counterparts.

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JMT (profile) says:

Re:

Why has this site shifted from a focus on law/rights/speech to attacking conservative politicians and CEOs?

Wrong question. You should be asking why conservative politicians and CEO’s have shifted to doing so much stuff related to common Techdirt topics that deserves criticism (which you’ve confused with “attacking”).

Elon is a pretty smart dude and he knows how to fix things.

He also knows how to break things. For all his successes he’s also had plenty of failures. He just tries a lot of things and has the money to pay for it, successful or not.

Mike, I realize that you know something about the difficulty of content moderation, but why do you assume that Musk doesn’t, and that he cannot “fix” Twitter?

Almost everything he’s ever said or done on the topic shows he has no idea what he’s doing, and worse, does not want to hear from those that do.

DowntownPope says:

Re: Re: Re:

Almost everything he’s ever said or done on the topic shows he has no idea what he’s doing, and worse, does not want to hear from those that do.

To be fair, he’s made his fortune ignoring the conventional belief, doing what he want anyways, and pulling off the gamble. Taking on banks/credit cards with Paypal, investing in EVs to take on Big Auto and Big Oil, taking on the MIC by building reusable rockets.

The reason why he’s wrong here is that social media isn’t a feasible technical problem that can be solved with thought, focus, time, energy, and money. It’s a social/people/government problem, and his autism works heavily against him here instead of working for him.

If he’d been smart he would have paid $1 billion to walk away early as soon as he heard why what he wanted to do wouldn’t work. Instead he shot off and badmouthed the C-Suite and the company, damaged its stock, and left himself open to a defamation suit for massive damages from the company on behalf of shareholders, and a SEC investigation over market manipulation that, given their history together, could have blocked him from being CEO of anything. He could take the first consequence but not risk the second. The only option was to try to go through the deal and gamble that he could pull the rabbit out of the hat and limit the losses. And here we are.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Because it turns out that when freedom of speech is used to defend popular positions that the site owners hate, then freedom of speech is not worth defending. Instead, they start talking about how the 1st Amendment allows the large generic speech sites to censor opinions based on viewpoint. They don’t want to see that this is correct but irrelevant.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Here’s a few.

Men should not be on women’s sports teams.

Schools should not hide children’s mental health problems from their parents.

Race should not be used as a criterion for getting jobs or being admitted to schools.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Yeah, I think I see why people tend to be quiet on those ones

Men should not be on women’s sports teams.

It is going to blow your mind when you find out that even among a single ‘gender’ people still can have vastly different physical capabilities such that that little bit of anti-trans bigotry is more a ‘the bigot/you’ problem than a sports one.

Schools should not hide children’s mental health problems from their parents.

Oh indeed, it’s not like parents might be the cause of some of those mental health problems and might react shall we say ‘poorly’ if they find out that little Timmy or Suzy have been airing the family’s dirty laundry, or perhaps have a ‘less than loving’ reaction should they find out that their kid’s having mental issues that they don’t trust their parents to know about or handle for some reason…

Race should not be used as a criterion for getting jobs or being admitted to schools.

Well you got me on this one, I mean it’s not like race has ever had a negative impact on getting a job, getting into a school or how someone might be treated in general, so it’s absolutely unfair that it might have an a positive impact. Well spotted and a fair objection there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Ah yes, the VACCINE DISINFORMATION, ANTISEMITISM, AND TERRORIST PROMOTION canard.

Let’s add racism and transphobia to this as well, Hyman.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

How can your opinions be the popular ones, when opposing comments are all they gather. Calling them popular will not stop people objecting to and b;locking your opinions, and complaining about them to the extent that you get banned from a site. Until you realize you are on the least popular end of the discussion, you will feel like you are being persecuted, because what you think are popular opinions are the ones that get your comments hidden,removed, and you accounts closed.

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blablabla says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Sex divisions in sports isn’t unpopular it’s the rule. I’m not sure parents want mental problems of their onw children hidden from them. Race shouldn’t be an important factor, doesn’t matter how popular or unpopular it is. Activists mass report and complain about everything. The internet isn’t a real place, and sheltered silicone valley nerds don’t represent the average person. You aren’t on the popular end of the discussion, you are in an echochamber. Have you noticed how 2016 often gets brought up in these discussions? It was the year before mass moderation of specific ideals were implemented into virtually every big website (the monopolies you can count on one hand). You have created a fake sense of reality. You will log onto twitter, see people complain and protest about a Chapelle comedy special that people outside of your specifically designed soapbox loved. There’s so much popular music, movies, games etc. that would be banned from these websites. It’s such a bad standard.

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:4

It was the year before mass moderation of specific ideals were implemented into virtually every big website

Please, tell us about these ideals in detail.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

I think you‘re mixing up two kinds of „popular“ here – the one that’s important for advertisers and „influencers“ that generates views, responses and interaction with the site – and the one that means that people like and share those opinions.

Twitter is a toxic cesspit and thrives on generating controversy. If you don‘t like to contradict somebody or lament things, you probably don‘t like twitter as well.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Your opinions are so goddamn popular that you refuse to state what they are, or even use your own assumed name, you busted ass hyman.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

but why do you assume that Musk doesn’t, and that he cannot “fix” Twitter?

Why do you assume that he can? I mean, ignoring the arguments for and against the persona he’s built up, purely based on what Musk has done up to this point, what exactly merits confidence that Musk has a solution?

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Christenson says:

Funniest Post in a long time..

That is, I don’t remember the last post on Techdirt I snorted through like I did this one.

Tweet this out, level by level, let it go viral!

For Elon:

It’s complicated. You need to be in a learning mode or you will lose your entire investment.
You are in a filter bubble. Stop pushing people away with knowledge and ideas because they don’t kowtow to you.

There is no move you can make that will not cause some constituents of twitter to get upset, sometimes noisily, sometimes quietly.

If you want twitter to grow, you will have to sacrifice some potential constituents.

If you are going to build a counterexample to Masnick’s impossibility theorem (good moderation at scale is impossible) without a massive and uneconomic increase in headcount, you will need to get better feedback from the crowd and leverage it.

The specific ways of doing that well are unknown, so more experiments like birdwatch will be necessary. Friction for new accounts will be necessary. Reputation tracking will be necessary.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Things being hard and lines being blurry does not excuse censorship. Large generic speech platforms should not be censoring opinions based on their viewpoints.

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re:

Things being hard and lines being blurry does not excuse censorship.

Actually, it does require moderation if web sites are going to operate in certain countries. Didn’t you read the article?

Large generic speech platforms should not be censoring opinions based on their viewpoints.

They don’t; they moderate based on those users harassing and threatening violence against others.

Oh well, I guess you didn’t read the article.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Banning a former president of the United States from the platform is censorship. Banning the Babylon Bee for satirizing false gender beliefs is censorship. Moderation and censorship are not the same.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Letting said former president do whatever the fuck he wants until he became a huge criminal liability is not censorship, it’s basic business sense.

Kicking the white supremacist views of the Babylon Bee off the platform isn’t censorship, either. The owners and slush fund payers of the Babylon Bee are free to call for the deaths of Democrats on their own site, assuming they like being monitored by the FBI. Also, their satire is not satire, but thinly-veiled insults and threats. I understand that satire is hard to pull off, but hatchet jobs aren’t it.

Moderation isn’t censorship, yes. Censorship involves a lot of things, like SLAPPing critics into silence, arresting critics, denying funding to research that doesn’t fit with the state’s narratove, watching the academics, blocking sites that reveal not so nice sides of the state narrative…

Private companies have not gone to the full extent they are capable of yet. Including hiring people to murder rivals and critics.

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JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Moderation and censorship are not the same.

True!

Moderation is telling people the rules they’re required to follow when signing up to a privately-owned free service, and then appropriately punishing them for breaking those rules. It has no effect on your ability to speak elsewhere.

Censorship is preventing people from speaking anywhere.

Guess which one describes what happened to both TGF and BB?!

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blablablablbalba says:

Re: Re:

“They don’t; they moderate based on those users harassing and threatening violence against others.”

My original twitter was suspended for quoting a song lyric. People harass and threaten on twitter all the time, they even have a slogan called “do your thing”. If you’re the “right” person it’s completely fine.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Large generic speech platforms should not be censoring opinions based on their viewpoints.

Yes or no: Do you believe the government should have the legal right to compel any privately owned interactive web service into hosting legally protected speech that the owners/operators of said service don’t want to host?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No.

Large generic speech platforms should not be censoring opinions based on viewpoints. The only compulsion that should be applied is public pressure. The platforms that are censoring opinions based on viewpoint should be criticized, shamed, and possibly bought in order to get them to voluntarily change their ways.

JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Large generic speech platforms should not be censoring opinions based on viewpoints.

Are you suggesting that is happening? Because actual cases of that appear to be few and far between, with most examples provided simply being people acting like assholes.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

‘Censoring opinions based upon viewpoints’ seems to be the latest dog-whistle dodge so cowardly bigots and harassers can avoid having to own up to what they’re actually talking about when they use the phrase and pretend that it’s those mean old social media platforms kicking people off for no good reason at all.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

It’s the same thing with other snarl words like “woke”, “cancel culture”, and “gender ideology”: By making those words/phrases have no meaning by way of overuse, they can mean anything the assholes want them to mean⁠—which makes them perfect for talking about broad, generalized ideas instead of nuanced, detailed ones.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: i think we all know the answer

“The platforms that are censoring opinions based on viewpoint should be criticized, shamed, and possibly bought in order to get them to voluntarily change their ways.”

And if they continue to not care about you and your racist buddies, what then?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Like how Facebook was paid enough money to let VACCINE DISINFORMATION, ANTISEMITISM AND (WHITE) TERRORIST PROMOTION) run wild on their social network?

You are one disingenious fuck.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Large generic speech platforms should not be censoring opinions based on viewpoints.

You say that, but try running a “large generic speech platform” (whatever that means) and not slamming head-first into the “Worst People” Problem without moderating certain opinions/speech. You can make as many people as possible feel welcome on a service like Twitter or you can allow hate speech, spam, and other vile bullshit to be posted without consequence, but you can’t do both. If you can’t deal with being told your TERF bullshit isn’t welcome, Hyman, that’s your problem. Everyone else just wants you to fucking leave⁠—and maybe you should, given how, even after you ran back to anonymous posting like a fucking coward, you still get flagged on sight.

Seriously, dude, none of the regular commentators around here want you around here. Anyone with any goddamn sense would take the hint and GTFO for somewhere more accomodating to your…shall we say, conservative views. You thinking you might win someone over one day by talking enough smack about trans people and their genitals is a delusion⁠—rid yourself of it and you’ll be much better off.

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blablabla says:

Re: Re: Re:2

You’re just parroting talking points you’ve heard that you rarely heard until trump was elected president. How long have you used the internet? Yes, I would take the state of most platforms around 2015 and prior than I would with how they are currently. The whole “hatespeech” shit is hypocritical bullshit used by stupid people and doesn’t mean anything besides being a useful buzzword to categorize objection to freespeech. This is also why I don’t believe people like you support freespeech as a government right, because you could just apply the same sorts of arguments to society. Obviously you can’t just obstruct and go up to random people to berate them with insults, but you can have whatever opinion you want, use whatever words you want, make whatever jokes you want, respond to people however you want etc.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Large generic speech platforms should not be censoring opinions based on viewpoints.

They won’t be ‘large’ for long once their advertisers bail because of those ‘viewpoints.’ What then?

ECA (profile) says:

Re:

Dear AC,
Sticks and stones dont work, when someone knocks on your door with a gun, because you were MEan tho them on the net. its call SWAT! And it has happened more then a FEW times.

Basic rule Work, until the corps and Gov. get involved. Beyond that, its Simple.
No derogatory comments, be creative. Explain your expletives, IF you can.
If you are willing to POST, you are willing to debate. Not yell, scream, rant and rave.
Reasoning ISNT, that you heard it on TV, or from Uncle Bob, or that everyone says so. There is enough BS on the net and in RL, that its NOT EASY getting over the programming Inserted from BIRTH.
Looking at both sides, and ALL sides of life ISNT easy. and if you wish to Follow 1 ideal, then say hello Santa and the Easter bunny for me.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re:

Large generic speech platforms should not be censoring opinions based on their viewpoints.

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

(All credit to Twitter user @ndrew_lawrence.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Conservative takes are real weird.

“The elites are secretly lizard aliens here to enslave your children and drink their blood.” And it’s usually posted over and over in a robotic fashion.

“I support trans rights but I need to spend all my time talking about rapists who’re trans.” Statistically rare crimes.

Everything is some kind of conspiracy.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Many people have religious, social, and cultural taboos against mixing sexes in certain contexts. The fact that some people falsely believe that one sex can be turned into the other does not obligate the people with the taboos to accept people into single-sex spaces for which their bodies disqualify them. In particular, many women do not want men in their prisons, locker rooms, or sports teams, and do not want men in positions of power in their feminist organizations.

The people with false beliefs about gender can attempt to convince others to treat them as if they were the gender they wish to be, but attempts to compel that behavior will fail, as will attempts to teach those false beliefs in public schools against the wishes of parents.

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sabroni says:

Re: Re: Re:2 false beliefs about gender

A false belief about gender is that there are only two. The idea that we all fall into one of two genders is a childlike view of reality.
I’ve been alive over 50 years and I’ve met lots of humans who can’t be easily categorised like you think they can.
The world is more complex than you claim, complaining about it won’t change that.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

I would say that the false belief is that there are exactly two genders among humans and that they are both mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. Gender is bimodal, to be sure, but it is not binary.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Hyman.

Gender dysphoria is a real thing and in the DSMV. Rail all you want at how insurance companies and even fucking China for influencing the damn thing if you wish to, but those two parties have NOT touched the gender dysphoria section yet.

And if that’s not enough, you’re also shitting on Native American views on sexuality as well. Yes, I’m hardly qualified to speak on the issue, but even the Native Americans could accept different genders and had names for those different genders as well.

And please, don’t use people’s freedom to associate as a fig leaf for your white supremacist bullshit. At least be more honest about how you really feel, without hiding behind 1A when it’s convenient.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

If anything, it’s Hymen’s transphobia that’s the real mental illness.

A violent obsession about the nature of random strangers’ genitals and how they’re used sounds right up Freud’s alley.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

some people falsely believe that one sex can be turned into the other

Man, you really don’t get transgender people, do you.

Not for nothing, but I’m cis, and even I still understand that trans people in general don’t believe what you just said. What they believe is that the body they’re in prior to any kind of transitioning doesn’t feel right to them⁠—and that transitioning won’t change their biological sex, but it will make them feel more comfortable in their own body.

You and your TERF allies would rather drive them all to suicide by forcefully detransitioning even adult trans people, haranguing them about existing as transgender, and generally making their lives a living hell all so you can assuage your own comfort. When I talk about how you and your allies want to push trans people into a fresh grave, Hyman, that’s what I mean.

Not that you’d care, of course. You’re an exterminationist TERF: Much like how a suicide at a “conversion ‘therapy’ ” camp is considered a “success” by the people running that camp, a trans person dying by suicide is a “success” for you and your allies because it’s one less trans person in the world. You’re using your life to hurt other people and spread hate for people who just want to live an authentic life without you harassing them out of the public sphere.

All that hate, and what will you have to show for it at the end of your life?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

The fact that some people falsely believe that one sex can be turned into the other

The holder of the “truth” has spoken. (Amen?)

Do you have a source that proves that this “believe” is false? Or are you just calling it “false” because it doesn’t fit your views/narrative/opinion…?

If it’s the latter, then you are engaging in the very thing that you are criticizing: you are trying to censor a popular opinion, you are engaging in “cancel culture”.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Many people have religious, social, and cultural taboos against mixing sexes in certain contexts.

I have yet to see how that is sufficient to trump the legitimate health and safety issues encountered by trans people.

The fact that some people falsely believe that one sex can be turned into the other […]

As far as I can tell, literally no one (transgender or otherwise) believes or claims that (at least not with our current technology). I (along with others here) have told you that that is a strawman numerous times, and yet you still repeat it. You don’t even bother to try to refute our arguments that you’re attacking a belief no one actually holds or claims to have; you just keep attacking that same strawman over and over again and claim (without evidence) that that is a belief held by transgender people. It is not.

[…] does not obligate the people with the taboos to accept people into single-sex spaces for which their bodies disqualify them.

The fact that some people are bigots does not obligate others to conform to their bigoted “taboos”, particularly where so conforming would increase the risk to their health and safety and the taboos do nothing to reduce any such risk, which is the case here.

In particular, many women do not want men in their prisons, locker rooms, or sports teams, and do not want men in positions of power in their feminist organizations.

The issues with sports teams and feminist organizations have nothing to do with any “taboos” like you spoke of. The former has more to do with the potentially legitimate question of fairness, and the latter is just bigotry, not taboos, at work.

With locker rooms, the arguments I’ve heard there that have even the slightest bit of merit—at least without doing research—are based on privacy (based an actual taboo some people have, but one easily remedied and still not sufficient to overcome the health & safety issues from the alternative), safety (which are greatly overblown and still less statistically significant that the safety risks of the alternative), and fairness (which is just the same as the sports teams, except that locker rooms are used for more than organized sports like that, so this isn’t a real issue). Frankly, if you’re in a position such that if you are trans, you would be doing something problematic, your sex/gender is pretty much irrelevant, and you likely shouldn’t be doing that anyways.

As for prisons, I frankly don’t know enough about the statistics to make a decision on that, but to the extent it’s an issue, it isn’t really about taboos but about safety. And on that front, there appears to have been only a single isolated incident where a trans person sexually harassed/assaulted a cis person (or at least attempted to do so) in a prison, which is a lot lower as a percentage than cis men raping cis men, cis women raping cis women, or cis people raping trans people, so even there, I suspect that the fears are being blown out of proportion and not sufficient reason for trans women not to be put in women-only prisons. However, I’ll admit I don’t have enough information on the matter to make that call.

The people with false beliefs about gender […]

You have yet to cite any beliefs about held by actual transgender people or pro-trans activists that are actually false. By contrast, you have said many things that reflect false beliefs about gender that you have. Given that, are you talking about people like you?

[…] can attempt to convince others to treat them as if they were the gender they wish to be, […]

It’s the gender they identify as, not the gender they wish to be. I know you use gender and sex as though they are identical in meaning, but trans people (and most experts in the field) don’t, and we’re talking about their beliefs and feelings, not yours. While some transgender people wish to change their sex to match their gender identity (while recognizing that that is currently impossible), that is a separate issue and not a universal desire among transgender people.

[…] but attempts to compel that behavior will fail, […]

The same goes for attempts to compel respectful behavior from any bigot. Why should transphobes get a pass?

[…] as will attempts to teach those false beliefs in public schools against the wishes of parents.

  1. Again, you have not demonstrated that any of the beliefs you object to are both false and held by actual transgender people and/or pro-trans activists.
  2. You also have not demonstrated any schools that attempt to teach any of the beliefs you have objected to, or even the beliefs actually held by transgender people and/or pro-trans activists. The best you presented was a change so that textbooks said “penis” instead of “man’s penis” or something like that, but given that intersex people exist, such changes to the text are simply reflecting reality (which is that not only men have penises and not only women lack penises) and don’t really have much (if anything) to do with transgender people to begin with; it’s also completely benign and minor regardless of your position on transgender people (unless you have a persecution complex or something). Not going out of your way to specify the gender of the person with the specific genitalia is not teaching the belief that sex can change, gender can change, or that sex and gender are different. It also doesn’t really contradict with any of the beliefs you have presented on the issue.
  3. As implied by (if not outright stated by) the above, you have not demonstrated anything actually being taught in public schools that is false or that is both conforming to transgender beliefs and against the will of the parents, let alone that is false, conforming to transgender beliefs, and being taught against the wishes of the parents, which is what you claim. You offer no examples, citations, or statistics to support such a claim (again, the only attempt you’ve made on this front simply doesn’t support your claim).

Seriously, we’ve already been over this.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Large generic speech platforms should not be censoring opinions based on their viewpoints.

Conservative: I have been censored for my conservative views

Me: Holy shit! You were censored for wanting lower taxes?

Con: LOL no…no not those views

Me: So…deregulation?

Con: Haha no not those views either

Me: Which views, exactly?

Con: Sexually mutilating children to virtue signal support for ‘transgenderism’ is wrong and evil and I could never support any candidate or political party who advocates for it.

ECA (profile) says:

Re:

What are the Odd’s that this group has changed a few thought in Mike’s head, over the years?
How much money do you think he has lost, because he doesnt allow HEAVY commercialism?
How many idiots stay to LEARN something?(dont say it)

Learning isnt easy. when the comment ‘ignorance of the law, is no excuse’. And I suggest the officer send over the Current state and federal labrary to my home so I can READ them.(no one ever sent me a copy)
Then Add the ideals of Capitalism and how it works. with lawyers.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Shocked pikachu faces. Shocked pikachu faces everwhere

‘We’re going to be unlike all those censorious other platforms, if it’s legal to say then it’s legal to post!’

Five minutes later

‘Why did no-one tell me so much terrible content and behavior is legal?! Everyone but the assholes are leaving and they’re starting to look at me with knives in their hands when I so much as suggest they tone it down!’

Andrew says:

Re:

‘Why did no-one tell me so much terrible content and behavior is legal?!’

The Internet, where everybody can be the Westboro Baptist Church.

DowntownPope says:

Re: Re: Re:

‘Why did no-one tell me so much terrible content and behavior is legal?!’

The Internet, where everybody can be the Westboro Baptist Church.

And well over half of those who act like it do it for the lulz, not religion.

Eric Tetz (profile) says:

Re: "Everyone but the assholes are leaving..."

Everyone but the assholes are leaving…

This is what happens to any poorly moderated community. Given that the community is the whole point of the place, literally the only thing you have to sell, thinking you can improve a social media site by removing moderation is like thinking you can improve a restaurant by removing pest control. “Wait… come back… you guys don’t like cockroaches in your mashed potatoes?”

Anonymous Coward says:

I can’t really think of any good examples of this working, but he could always use the crowd sourcing method. Allow the users to up or down vote based on their feelings and personal/political beliefs. They could have an insightful button, maybe a funny button, and if you felt that you didn’t like someone’s point of view, you could have it hidden by flat out flagging it with the flag button. Here’s the kicker; If you could get enough people doing the same, you could totally dominate a blog or website. Shutting down any opposing political or social views while still claiming an unbiased stance because it’s the users that moderate the comments and not the blog or website itself. Should work?

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Christenson says:

Re: Mass Flagging

You are going to have to add some kind of a modifier for the reputation of each voter, otherwise Koby and Chozen and his a*shole friends put 100s of downvotes on oddball’s innocuous or good post because s/he’s an oddball. That’s happened to people on Twitter.

Slashdot worked as long as the audience was primarily technical and voting in good faith, but broke down in the presence of trolls. Same as things like network news groups from back in the day.

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Lou from Usenet days says:

Well done! This post, and TechDirt in general.

Just wanted to say that this post is dead-on, and dang, when did you get so smart? You big weenie jerk!

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The Lunatic says:

The problems of abandoning principle illustrated.

You’ve quite effectively illustrated the censorship cascade that happens when you abandon the principle of free speech for money, yes.

The obvious first abandonment of principle in the name of money was when the platform adopted rules against hate speech. Right there it ceased being a free speech site.

The second abandonment of principle was taking down spam, rather than making the offending accounts mute-by-default, something other users can choose to unmute for themselves.

The obvious third abandonment was continuing business operations in censorious places, however lucrative. This includes the EU. I mean, for Christ’s sake, most of the EU member states have blasphemy laws, which the soi-dissant European Court of Human Rights upheld just four years ago.

Now, I fully expect that Musk will make all these compromises, sure. Money is very motivating. But these compromises are not inevitable, these are sell-outs of principle for money.

The only inevitable compromises are the ones where you bend to US law on what you have to take down, given there isn’t a jurisdiction with less restrictions available. (Even on copyright, US “fair use” rules are substantially broader than Commonwealth counties’ “fair dealing”, and wait until you run into European-originated “moral rights” . . .)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

As to the first abandonment principle, are you saying that commercial spam, child pornography, talk of sedition and insurrection, white supremacist talk, public slander and other acts that would be considered arrestable offenses be considered free speech? Because that’s what Fox News and a giod chunk of the Murdoch Media Empire does. While filtering away anything that doesn’t fit the narrative.

As to the second abandonment principle, no one liked it when it was ON THE TELEGRAPH POLES, and again when it was in everyone’s email inboxes AND PCs thanks to malware. There’s also a criminal element to this. Are you saying commercial spam is also considered free speech?

As to the third abandonment principle, Elon has publicly said he would follow all laws in all countries. Many transnational corps mainta8n headquarters in Singapore, China and India because they like certain aspects of those countries. And, uh, there’s that right to association under 1A popping up. If corps are unable to exercise that right to association, then we can’t too. Meaning I can’t get out of a space with white supremacists as that would imply I want to get arrested.

And after all that, you still want to go “muh free speech”, I’d like to ask if you also believe in private property laws as well, because, as I understand it, those are vital to underatanding free speech and expression.

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blablablabla says:

Re: Re:

“are you saying that commercial spam, child pornography, talk of sedition and insurrection, white supremacist talk, public slander and other acts that would be considered arrestable offenses be considered free speech? ” – Why would “white supremacist talk” be in the category of child pron? Yes, people have freedom to be white supremacist and their speech is freespeech. Stuff like slander is more about directly intending to cause people losses and involves a process in court… it’s not based on how offended someone is, same with all your other examples.

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, people have freedom to be white supremacist and their speech is freespeech.

Then they can practice their freespeech among themselves, just like any other group created by common beliefs, because nobody is stopping them to do that.

If they want to use someone else’s property or service to do that, it’s entirely within the owner’s rights to object to that and kick them out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why would “white supremacist talk” be in the category of child pron?

Because a good chunk of it is calls to violence and terrorist promotion. If it was only limited to hate speech, it’d be less of a problem, provided another Trumpian figure doesn’t appear before 2024.

What is free speech: “f-word all the [insert minority slur here]”. Or saying The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is true.

What isn’t free speech: “Kill all the [insert minority slur here]”, along with a date, location and time. Or detailed plans on how you want to harass certain minorities.

White supremacist gruops use both allowed and forbidden speech under 1A all the time.

And don’t forget, some countries do arrest people for slander if it’s “deemed serious enough”. Such as “offending a religion with speech” despite the government basically arresting a group of Catholics to root out ONE guy who commited high treason by accepting CIA money to run for a political position.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

You’ve quite effectively illustrated the censorship cascade that happens when you abandon the principle of free speech for money, yes.

Yeah, but no. Take money out of the equation and many of these steps would likely still apply to any interactive web service.

Unless you seriously want to run a site as open to all kinds of horrible-yet-legal content (e.g., 4chan and its many imitators), you’re going to find out real quick that allowing all that content will chase away all but…shall we say, the “Worst People”. You can allow all speech or you can have a service that is welcoming to a broad swath of humanity, but you can’t have both.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

most of the EU member states have blasphemy laws

EU states aren’t that religious..? Or are you talking about insulting the heads of state of other countries? Those laws are being removed currently.

And as for hate speech: you can express your dislike of certain types of people without insulting them or calling for violence against them. It’s not that hard. You will still experience a push-back from other people for stating an unpopular opinion, but you won’t have any basis for crying that you are being censored, because you aren’t. Freedom of speech (or as it’s called in some European law: freedom of opinion) may entitle you to state your opinion (without insulting/threatening anyone), but it doesn’t entitle you to have people agree with your opinion.

Deal with it.

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

Re:

The obvious first abandonment of principle in the name of money was when the platform adopted rules against hate speech. Right there it ceased being a free speech site.

Your definition of free speech is different to most people’s then.

You appear to think it’s beneficial for there to be no limits on what anyone can say, even if this drives away other people who don’t want to be exposed to or suffer from hate speech. Most of us think a better approach is to maximise the number of people who can speak with relative freedom, and that’s what Twitter have (imperfectly) aimed for.

The net result of your approach would be fewer people speaking, potentially a lot fewer. That may benefit you personally, but I’m not sure why you think that benefits society.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

blaaahbblablabla says:

Re: Re:

“Your definition of free speech is different to most people’s then.” – he’s likely referring to what it would be considered by in the first amendment, which is what Elon referenced. Most people seem to only publicly support it for themselves, if that’s what you mean, which imo is only argument for why less moderation on speech is best. I love how you inject your opinion as the representative for the most though. Must be true.

“even if this drives away other people who don’t want to be exposed to or suffer from hate speech.” – What is “hatespeech”? Would the hashtag “killallmen” fit that? I’m not sure what little you’ve experienced in life to consider the English language being read on an internet page is “suffering”, but they already have tools such as filters, mute, block etc. It’s actually a very circlejerky website that tailors its algorithm to what you consistently interact with. Would you regard the lyrical content of eminem’s music to be “hate speech” since it includes a lot of “slurs” and offensive content? I believe he’s one of the best selling artists globally. Is Dave Chapelle guilty of hate speech? I remember hearing something about “transphobia” and his recent shows.. still did really well though. Do you use youtube often? Youtube’s “glory years” existed at a time where one of the biggest channels had the n word as his catchphrase. Are the people you’re promising would leave actually the majority?

“Most of us think a better approach is to maximise the number of people who can speak with relative freedom, and that’s what Twitter have (imperfectly) aimed for.” – Again, no idea who the “most” is that you’re speaking for. Most regular conversations would have people banned in a week on twitter. People have even resorted to using the word “delete” instead of “kill” to prevent their accounts being locked or suspended. A website that people communicate like bots and have to tiptoe constantly isn’t maximizing freedom or the number of people who can speak. I’m not sure how you can blatantly lie like this when it is so obvious that the number of people who can speak has decreased over time.

“The net result of your approach would be fewer people speaking, potentially a lot fewer. That may benefit you personally, but I’m not sure why you think that benefits society.” – What are you basing this on? Much of the internet was a pretty free place until the US’s last president won the election. I don’t think twitter “benefits society” all that much, nor should it have to. If anything though, the current state of twitter is an absolute hellhole.. I’d gladly return to people calling each other a mean word to someone that offended them vs the modern solution of actively trying to ruin their lives. The hall monitor policies have encouraged that behavior, and other people are just boiled up with stuff that they have nowhere to let out.

It would be interesting to know how you separate what you said here from freespeech in regards to the goverment.. seems like everything you’ve said could just be applied to regular society. I do not understand why websites cannot contain policies that reflect the country and society people live in. Anytime it comes to this topic it always seems like the supporters of censorship are so obviously against the principles of freespeech but for some reason just want to hide it behind business talk and advertisers. If you can handle a society of freespeech then surely you can handle it on a screen?

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:

I do not understand why websites cannot contain policies that reflect the country and society people live in.

And that is really your problem, because the owners of websites also have their rights – like freedom of speech and freedom of association.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Congrats, you already have want you're asking for, just not what you want

I do not understand why websites cannot contain policies that reflect the country and society people live in.

Rejoice in that case, because they already do that. Most of society would rather not hang out with bigoted and/or hostile assholes and much like offline businesses dealing with customers in the flesh online platforms moderate to reflect that and keep the majority users because at the end of they day they are for-profit companies and either cater to the majority or go under.

If bigotry and jackassery were socially acceptable to the majority of people then those things would not face moderation because people would be fine having it around, that they do should tell you how most of society thinks of that sort of behavior and the sort that engage in it.

Anonymous Coward says:

So content moderation is exactly like parenthood but it is harder to send the users to the naughty step.

This is scarily accurate and “humanity is messy” is the most accurate part!

Oof yikes not okay supernova take let's unpack it says:

Re:

I’ve always suspected people who seek control of strangers on the internet probably have some parental issues.

Rocky says:

Re: Re:

I’ve always suspected people who seek control of strangers on the internet probably have some parental issues.

As evidenced by them trying to force themselves and their views upon others in different manners while loudly screaming about how victimized they are for not being allowed to do that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Most of this is just a bunch of random points that every platform deals with. Spam and bots, or copyright claims, are not relevant arguments for opposing freespeech and supporting censorship.

““Right, boss, apparently because you keep talking about freedom, a large group of people are taking it to mean they have ‘freedom’ to harass people with slurs and all sorts of abuse. People are leaving the site because of it, and advertisers are pulling ads.”

It’s like there’s a portion of people who never used the internet prior to 2017. Social activists on the internet who exist to complain, and who still complain on the current state of these platforms and say it’s not enough, do not represent the majority. The people who protested outside of Netflix over Chappelle didn’t leave a dent in viewership, and the impression you might get of him from a place like twitter can be the polar opposite of what his career reflects. Twitter has filters, and options to block and mute people. It also has the ability to make your account private, or even limit who can reply to your tweets. Advertisers will go where the attention is. Advertisers came crawling back to south park, and over 20 years later it’s still running as one of the most profitable shows to advertise on.

“That seems bad. Quick, have someone write up some rules against hate speech.”” – What is “hate speech”? Is it to offend a particular religion? an offensive joke? words that are labelled “slurs”? That’s all freespeech, and you will see billboards of cocacola in the streets of the US where all sorts of people coexist.

I would like to know where you’re pulling the narrative that people will leave from though. I get the feeling it’s baseless, so I’ll do the same and bet any money that the current state of the platform is a worse experience for the average users than it was back in 2014, and that more people are leaving for that than they would be a more relaxed and less political platform.. then again, I’m not referring to some blue haired “they” threatening to leave because they read a slur. To me this is like taking Eminem in the 2000s, or Manson in the 90s, and using the people protesting outside his shows to paint a narrative and speak for everyone else. I bring up Eminem because my account was suspended for simply quoting a lyric, and also people would always pull the same arguments for internet these days back then when it came to music (Manson caused shootings, Nirvana suicides, responsible platforming etc. etc). The rejection of freespeech on a platform like twitter has done NOTHING in regards to harassment.

Josh (user link) says:

the answer is....

The answer is decentralization with nodes that decide what content they allow and connect to.

Let good old fashion police work get the bad guys and let speech with all it’s warts absolutely free.

NOSTR is a great open-source project trying to build this infrastructure.

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Freddie Vasquez says:

Pretty dumb. Considering that no content moderation has been changed on Twitter. Everyone knows that when you remodel a house you don’t tear out the foundation. You move some walls and repair some pipes. In essence this whole article was based on the fact that everything was gone (ie the foundation) Elon isn’t an idiot. He is going to make tweaks to already existing code regulation and content moderation so that it is less harmful to free speech. Not completely allow illegal activities and compywrite infingment 🤦🤦🤦🤦🤦🤦🤦🤦🤦

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

Re: Elon being smart...

If Elon is so smart, how come…
* Half the wags on the internet think twitter was worth at most half what Elmo paid for it, about $20 billion instead of $44 billion?
* Elmo just took a wrecking ball to twitter employees (word is he fired half today) and did it in a way that’s guaranteed to cost way more than holding on for 60 days and obeying the WARN Act?
* Big advertisers are pulling out of Twitter left and right, further reducing the value of Twitter?
Elmo turned down an offer to have considerable influence on Twitter’s moderation from Twitter’s president back in January?
* Elmo is being sued in Delaware for not having a filter person between him and his public tweets, as required by the SEC?

Maybe you can come up with a better explanation that “spoiled, lucky, entitled rich kid in a self-made bubble”, good luck!

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

Re:

No, the article was based on Musk’s own words that Twitter was bad at moderation and free speech, and he would bring back free speech.

The biggest factor for a social media company’s moderation choices is to appeal to the widest audience possible. When Musk’s waded in and declared he knew better (despite his lackluster understanding of humans in general) than actual companies and people that have wrestled with this problem for years, all he did was to show all these people that he don’t actually understand the problems involved because they are complex with fuzzy imperfect solutions at best, not engineering or technical problems that often have straightforward solutions. Humans are messy and that is something Musk have either forgotten or straight up don’t understand at all at this point.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Elon isn’t an idiot. He is going to make tweaks to already existing code regulation and content moderation so that it is less harmful to free speech

… said nobody paying attention who has any understanding of free speech, ever.

Tre says:

TWTR and free speech

I was pretty sure there was more to “free speech” than Musk seemed to think and this rings extremely accurate to me. I think buying twitter will turn out to be a very bad investment for Musk, a stupid, snap judgment based on being annoyed that all the great right-wing humorists weren’t allowed to tell a “joke”. I am pretty sure, judging by the Wall Street reaction to this purchase, that his other companies will suffer. I was ahead 400% on my Tesla stock, it’s now up just 30% since purchase.

The Yellow Architect says:

tl;dr: Don't use social media.

Having a neural AI generate content for you personally/privately, will have more engaging posts and dialogues, than any real user of any social media. Food for thought.

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Jonathan Huffman says:

And this is how you know...

Humanity is not evolved enough to successfully handle social media. I’m pretty sure we need gatekeepers that block most things from ever seeing the light of day, or else our whole civilization loses its mind. Maybe free press, who are held responsible for the accuracy of their reporting? But, then, who determines if it is accurate?

Anonymous Coward says:

Great article except:

“Excuse me, boss, I know this is exhausting, but one of our most popular users has chained themselves to our front door, because we took down their account after they harassed someone trying to minimize the impact of climate change”

Weird addition. It’d be more fitting if the one who was minimizing the impact of climate change was the one doing the harassing and chaining themselves to a door. That’s more their style

Anonymous Coward says:

Or… You could just stop at level one and accept the price of free speech.
1. Free speech also includes footage of CSAM. You could help the police to track down actual abuse instead of playing whack-a-mole with mostly drawn, written, computer generated and occasionally filmed ones and zeros.
2. Free speech is irreconcilable with “Intellectual Property”. Giving someone exclusive rights to a set of ideas and expressions just means censoring everyone else using these ideas and expressions and threatening them with violence if they don’t comply. “Intellectual Property” must be abolished if you want to have free speech.
3. Hate speech is free speech. If people hate what other people have to say they are free to block them. Also: Ads are not an endorsement of the content they are displayed on. Advertising agencies need to grow up or loose reach.
4. Law enforcement is the duty of the government, not private companies. Aside from 18 U.S. Code § 2258A and similar being an anti-constitutional violation of free speech, the only time a company like Twatter has to take action is after a court ruling that, after a fair trial including a hearing of the defendant, has deemed an individual post in violation of a law and ordered its deletion. The FBI can go fuck themselves if they think they can strong-arm others into doing their dirty work.
5. See point 2.
6. See point 1.
7. A spam filter on the users end is actually a good feature. Goes nicely with blocking people you hate in point 3.
8. See point 1, 2, and 7. Not an issue if people can just disable the filters or use their own.
9. Countries that violate inalienable human rights like free speech are not legitimate. Malaysia can go fuck itself.
10. See point 9.
11. Not an issue, see point 8.
12. See point 9 and 4.
13. See point 2. Hire mercenaries if lawyers are insufficient to get the government on your side.
14. Shouldn’t be an issue if he can spout whatever nonsense he wants according to point 3. If it happens anyway, it’s trespassing on private property. He gets one warning and 30 seconds to leave before he gets shot.
15. Just like with CSAM: You may help the police to track down and stop the actual shooting instead of playing whack-a-mole with ones and zeros. Also maybe help some investigative journalists find out if there was any FBI involvement.
16. No spying on the user base! Aside from live streaming anything, including crimes, being free speech: Suicide is a right. If you own yourself, you also have the right to end yourself. Everything else would be slavery.
17. See point 9 and 4.
18. See point 9 and 4. hire mercenaries to protect your employees if necessary.
19. See point 3.
20. It indeed never ends if you go down the rabbit role of government appeasement and censorship. You need to draw lines and hold them unwavering, using violence if necessary.

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