Chuck Johnson Sues Twitter, Copying Dennis Prager's Lawsuit Against YouTube

from the public-square dept

Last summer, we wrote about an important Supreme Court case, Packingham v. North Carolinia, which made the fairly important ruling that the internet was so central to everyday life that courts could not ban people from the internet, even if they were convicted of a horrific crime. It was an important ruling -- but almost immediately, some people worried that some would interpret the ruling in a way to suggest that online service providers, themselves, could not kick people off of their service. That's not what the ruling actually says, but it's possible to quote it out of context to suggest as much.

And, indeed, we've started to see such cases brought against internet companies. The case Dennis Prager brought against YouTube, for example, cites Packingham to argue that it's somehow unconstitutional to filter his videos with warning labels. And now we can add famed internet troll Chuck Johnson to the list, as he's filed a lawsuit against Twitter, long after the site permanently banned Johnson from using their platform.

As we noted with the Prager/YouTube case, it's unlikely this case will go anywhere. Courts have held out, repeatedly, that platforms have the right to operate however they want regarding letting people use their services or not (the big distinction with Packingham was that was the government denying individuals access to the internet, not private operators). And there is extensive case law around Section 230 of the CDA as well, which states in fairly plain language that sites not only can filter and moderate however they want without liability, but actually encourages them to do so. There is, of course, at least some amount of irony that it was conservatives who were complaining about "bad stuff" (mainly porn) online who pushed for incentives in the CDA to get internet services to censor via filtering... and now it's "conservative" commentators like Prager and Johnson, who are suing because those sites are filtering, as is explicitly encouraged by the law.

In short, I imagine that Johnson's lawsuit against Twitter will go about as well as his lawsuit against Gawker, which didn't go very well.

The arguments in Johnson's case are the same ridiculous arguments in the Prager case. And I mean that... they're almost verbatim. Here's from the first cause of action in the Prager case:

Article I, section 2 of the California Constitution protects the liberty of speech and association, especially in public, quasi-public, and limited public spaces.

In YouTube, Defendants created and maintain a public forum or its functional equivalent for the public to express and exchange views and ideas, or in the alternative at least a quasi- or limited public forum. Defendants further act as state actors because Defendants and the YouTube site perform an exclusively and traditionally public function by regulating free speech within a public forum.

And from the Johsnon case:

Article I, section 2 of the California Constitution protects the liberty of speech and association, especially in public, quasi-public, and limited public spaces....

In Twitter, Defendant created and maintains a public forum or its functional equivalent for the public to express and exchange views and ideas, or in the alternative at least a quasi- or limited public forum.

They're not identical, and each case fleshes out more specifics about the platform in question they're suing, but the arguments are remarkably similar (and, no, they're not using the same lawyers). Johnson's lawsuit gets particularly silly. You can read the whole thing yourself if you'd like, but it's based on the preposterous notion that Twitter has to allow everyone on their platform and can't kick people off. As with the Prager suit, this complaint makes strong reliance on the idea that Johnson was banned for his political views, rather than because he was a troll who regularly went on the attack, often accused of promoting false information or making trollishly outrageous claims.

But, even if he was banned for his political views (and, again, he wasn't), Twitter actually has the legal right to put in place just such a ban. It would be stupid and counterproductive -- which is why Twitter does not actually ban people over such things -- but it would be legal. Johnson's lawsuit even points out that Twitter's current terms of service state: "We may suspend or terminate your accounts or cease providing you with all or part of the Services at any time for any or no reason." And then immediately whines that they had "no valid business reason" for banning him. First off, that's not true. There were lots of valid business reasons for banning him -- in the form of lots of users complaining about his behavior and tons of people threatening to quit Twitter if the site didn't get rid of certain trolls.

Again, though, even that doesn't impact the legal analysis here. Twitter is within its clear legal rights to remove any user from its service.

Like with the Prager case, we expect the courts not to allow this case to go very far at all. And, unlike in the Packingham case, this really is a situation where if one social media site doesn't want you, there are lots of other alternatives. Johnson told Buzzfeed (who broke the news of the lawsuit) that this was an important First Amendment case:

“This is going to be a very serious case over the freedom of the internet,” Johnson told BuzzFeed News. “And whether people have the right to say what they mean and mean what they say.”

Except... that's not what the case is actually about. Johnson is free to say whatever he wants. He is not free to force private companies to host that speech. If there is any First Amendment argument here at all, it is on Twitter's side, in that the First Amendment gives it the right to present its own site the way it wants to -- and that includes kicking off people it feels are behaving badly.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 1:43pm

    "And there is extensive case law around Section 230 of the CDA as well, which states in fairly plain language that sites not only can filter and moderate however they want without liability, but actually encourages them to do so."

    I'm sure the resident TD troll will have a few things to say out in against that with regards to what they claim that are being censored on here.

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:08pm

      Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

      Seriously, kids, THINK on what it'd mean if corporations can absolutely control YOUR speech.

      By your notions that mere statute is absolute, then everything Nazi Germany did was perfectly fine. -- As you probably don't know, they actually did pass "laws".

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:18pm

        Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

        Godwined in two. That’s a new record for your bullshit! Congrats!!!

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      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:23pm

        Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

        Twitter isn't trying to control Chuck Johnson's speech.

        They're asserting their own right not to be associated with it or be a platform for it. The right to free speech does not include the right to force others to listen or act as messenger.

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        • icon
          Richard (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 2:40am

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

          Yes - this is all very well and all in accordance with the US constitution:

          BUT

          A few years ago when the issue was Amazon and Paypal denying service to Wikileaks this site took a rather different line.

          At that time techdirt was of the opinion that Amazon and Paypal had caved to government pressure.

          This means that the right of a company like Twitter to ban someone without first amendment consequences gives the government a mechanism to route around the first amendment. Given the near monopoly position of a relatively small number of social media outlets the government is in a position to effectively censor speech by means of a small number of private meetings with a few top executives.

          There is evidence that governments are quite keen to do this kind of thing just google "Merkel Zuckerberg" to find it.

          Of course this is not the US government - but it would be naive to think that the US government doesn't/wouldn't do the same. Remember - just because at present the victims are mostly people that you regard as hatemongers etc doesn't mean that those whom you agree with will always be immune.

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          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 2:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

            "A few years ago when the issue was Amazon and Paypal denying service to Wikileaks this site took a rather different line.

            At that time techdirt was of the opinion that Amazon and Paypal had caved to government pressure."

            Yes, it was quite clear they did, and TD disagreed that they should have done that. They believed that while no law was broken, the company should be able to manage its own services, exactly as they do here.

            What's the problem with that opinion while also having the opinion that Twitter and YouTube should also not be forced to do things against their normal wishes by government pressure?

            How is that a different line? You seem to be accusing the site of hypocrisy where none exists.

            "Given the near monopoly position of a relatively small number of social media outlets the government is in a position to effectively censor speech by means of a small number of private meetings with a few top executives."

            So, if companies are big enough they should have their freedom to administer their own services removed, because you're afraid of conspiracies. Got it.

            Now, here's the fun part - define "near monopoly". Every single one of these sites has plenty of competition. Indeed, the sites mentioned are in fierce competition with each other. So, who determines who is a "near monopoly" and thus gets their freedom to administer their platform removed? The same government you're so scared of that you demand their rights be stripped?

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            • icon
              Richard (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 4:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

              What's the problem with that opinion while also having the opinion that Twitter and YouTube should also not be forced to do things against their normal wishes by government pressure?

              Except that it doesn't mention that it is entirely possible that some of these decisions are (or could be in the future) the result of government pressure. I pointed out that Facebook has caved to government pressure in Germany (it has also done so in Pakistan). Do you think it wouldn't do so in the US?

              I do detect some hypocrisy here too - because it seems that when the "victim" is an organisation that techdirt (at least partially) approves of the smoking gun of government pressure is identified whereas when they don't like the political views of said organisation the possibility of government pressure is ignored.

              So, who determines who is a "near monopoly" and thus gets their freedom to administer their platform removed? The same government you're so scared of that you demand their rights be stripped?

              I don't have a simple answer to that one, except to point out that it was the government that invented the first amendment and all the other laws that you approve of so why are you scared of the government intervening to guarantee free speech and at the same time limit its OWN power to control the debate in the public square??

              Other than that I'm merely pointing out that there is a problem that everyone seems to be hell bent on ignoring because it just so happens that the people who are encountering it happen to be people whose views and or behaviour you don't like.

              Now I'll admit that the subject of the present article does appear to be unpleasant enough to make an uncharitable critic say that he "deserves all he gets" but I am aware of others who have hit this type of problem who most certainly don't deserve it.

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              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 5:07am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

                "Except that it doesn't mention that it is entirely possible that some of these decisions are (or could be in the future) the result of government pressure"

                Erm, I literally said:

                "What's the problem with that opinion while also having the opinion that Twitter and YouTube should also not be forced to do things against their normal wishes by government pressure?"

                What is your specific problem with that opinion?

                "I do detect some hypocrisy here too"

                Explain yourself. The opinions are literally the same in both cases.

                "why are you scared"

                Try taking time away from your conspiracy theories to understand what's being said. I'm not scared - you are the one who is stating that you are afraid of government pressure, not me.

                Stop inventing the opinions of other people, address the ones being stated in reality, please. You seem to do this regularly, stop it.

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                • icon
                  Richard (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 5:48am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

                  "What's the problem with that opinion while also having the opinion that Twitter and YouTube should also not be forced to do things against their normal wishes by government pressure?" The issue is that when a company does something that would be illegal if it were a government agency then it creates the possibility for the government to use the company as a proxy to do things that it should not do. Of course this only works if the company is very big. Since it is documented that the government did exactly that in relation to paypal/wikileaks, and the German government did the same in relation to facebook/critics of Merkel's migration policies (before they got around to introducing a hate speech law with the same purpose) this is not just a conspiracy theory.

                  Stop inventing the opinions of other people, address the ones being stated in reality, please. You seem to do this regularly, stop it. Pot meet kettle.

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                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 6:10am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

                    Point one is where you start getting paranoid and meaningless. All public sector entities have restrictions placed upon them that do not apply to the private sector. Always have, always will. You're neither addressing anything new nor addressing something that presents more of a problem that the government preventing a company from running their own service within the law.

                    As for the rest - so, what's your solution? Any action would surely need to be taken by the government you're so afraid of. Big companies are the problem? The government are the ones who need to break them up, and set the rules by which this would be done. Is that really better or liable to lead to less corruption your mind? Please...

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                    • icon
                      Richard (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 7:08am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

                      You don't seem to understand the difference between a conspiracy theory and a thought experiment.

                      A thought experiment (what I have been doing) explores the potential consequences of a hypothesis. In other words it is an exploration of what could happen.

                      A conspiracy theory claims that the events are actually happening - quite a different animal. I never did the latter, although I did point out a couple of documented cases involving other governments (not the US).

                      Conducting a thought experiment does not mean that you are paranoid.

                      You are being needlessly personal about this.

                      the government preventing a company from running their own service ... Any action would surely need to be taken by the government you're so afraid of.

                      Yet exactly that kind of action is regularly taken by government in respect of racial discrimaination, sexual discrimination etc etc - and I suspect that you approve of it- I certainly do.

                      In fact when such laws were first introduced many of the intended beneficiaries would have been suspicious of the true intentions of the government (understandably, based on the track record of the government up to that point). At that time I'm sure that there would have been plenty of landlords who would have objected to the government "preventing them from running their own service".

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                      • icon
                        PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 7:31am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

                        "Yet exactly that kind of action is regularly taken by government in respect of racial discrimaination, sexual discrimination etc etc - and I suspect that you approve of it- I certainly do.""You don't seem to understand the difference between a conspiracy theory and a thought experiment."

                        I do, but I was basing my opinions on your actual words, apologies if I misunderstood them. Since you seem to be confusing what other people are saying back to you, that's understandable if not correct.

                        "Yet exactly that kind of action is regularly taken by government in respect of racial discrimaination"

                        Yes, but those actions affect EVERY company. You are talking about picking and choosing which companies are subject to restrictions and which are not, based largely on arbitrary limits, which is a completely different thing altogether. Do you see the difference?

                        Again, thought experiment or not, you're either not considering the facts or addressing something completely different to what everybody else is talking about.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 8:32am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

            "ompany like Twitter to ban someone without first amendment consequences"

            I do not think you understand the scope of the first amendment. It only applies to government.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 3:18pm

        Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

        You are still able to stand upon an orange crate in the middle of the town square and do all the crying you want - no?

        As you are probably aware, the first amendment limits what the government can do ... not corporations.

        I suggest you attempt to walk into any corporate headquarters and start blaring your spiel with a megaphone and see how long that lasts before the cops bust yer ass.

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        • icon
          Killercool (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 8:01pm

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

          No, no, no. It's called getting on your soapbox for a reason.

          He just doesn't like that he'd look ridiculous standing on a crumpling cardboard box, since it would be proof positive that even inanimate objects aren't willing to support him.

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        • icon
          Richard (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 2:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

          As you are probably aware, the first amendment limits what the government can do ... not corporations.

          So all the government needs to do is to put a bit of pressure on the corporations .. and voila ! the first amendment is dead in the water.

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          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 2:57am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

            So, because you're afraid that governments will abuse their power, you insist that they strip power from the corporations based on arbitrary classifications that the government would decide? Conspiracy theorists are weird.

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            • icon
              Richard (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 5:35am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

              The gratuitous insult at the end was unnecessary wasn't it?

              It isn't a conspiracy theory it's a real problem - which techdirt identified in relation to the wikileaks/paypal/amazon affair.

              It isn't governments stripping power from corporations it is governments giving corporations the absolute right not to be forced to do something by the government.

              The only way to do that effectively is to place them under exactly the same rules as the most powerful entity within the state- the government. That way the government can never be tempted to utilise a cor[poration to do something that it couldn't do itself. This also has the benefit of preventing any corporation from becoming more powerful than the government.

              For a while in the UK the Murdoch press became more powerful than the government. As a result we only got a labour government when the party agreed not to do anything that Murdoch disapproved of. As a result we only got a half hearted labour government and are still stuck with many of the legacies of the Thatcher years.

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              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 6:05am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

                "The gratuitous insult at the end was unnecessary wasn't it?"

                Not really, it's an opinion. If you consider yourself a conspiracy theorist then I apologise if you found that insulting, but my opinion is that such people are weird.

                "It isn't governments stripping power from corporations it is governments giving corporations the absolute right not to be forced to do something by the government."

                Except in both cases we're discussing, the problem is the government dictating that they cannot do something, not forcing them to do something they wouldn't normally do. Which is why I really don't understand why you think there's any hypocrisy. The corporations here are being ordered NOT to do something (process payments, block users).

                You seem to be accusing people of having the exact opposite opinion of the one they're stating, and addressing the opposite of what these stories are about.

                "For a while in the UK the Murdoch press became more powerful than the government."

                ...and what's your solution to that? You've already stated that you have a massive fear that the government will tell them what to print, so what would you have done instead?

                I personally think that the best action would have been for the independent watchdogs to have had some real teeth and the guts to go after obvious liars for printing obvious lies, but from where would that power have been granted if not the government you're afraid of?

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                • icon
                  Richard (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 7:20am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

                  Not really, it's an opinion. If you consider yourself a conspiracy theorist then I apologise if you found that insulting, but my opinion is that such people are weird.

                  I don't consider myself a conspiracy theorist. I was conducting a thought experiment - see above- . The implication that I am a conspiracy theorist is itself an insult.

                  There is a distinction here - between the legislature, whose rules are enforced by the courts, and the executive.

                  I am not scared of the former because everything that they do has to be done in the light of day and passed through bodies where at least some people of goodwill are in a position to scrutinise and if necessary reject it.

                  In the US the constitution is a particularly good example of this because anyone who wants to modify it has to get over some pretty big hurdles.

                  The executive is a different thing completely.

                  SO in summary what I am proposing is for the legistlature (backed by the courts and due process) to impose rules on private businesses to prevent them from being manipulated by the executive in order to prevent the latter from doing indirectly what it is not legally allowed to do directly.

                  The obvious concrete example would be to force Merkel to use a hate speech law to achieve her ends (which will probably fail as reported here, and hence is less scary) rather than to get the same result via a quick conversation with Mark Zuckerberg.

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                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 7:34am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

                    "I don't consider myself a conspiracy theorist."

                    But, you are acting like one.

                    Again, you've yet to outline where the supposed hypocrisy is, only posit worst case scenario ideas to support what would inevitably be worse abuses of power by the government than the ones you state you fear. You also side-step the actual points and examples I raise to whine about being called out on your actual words.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 8:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

            "So all the government needs to do is to put a bit of pressure on the corporations .. and voila ! the first amendment is dead in the water."

            It is the government pressure that is in violation of the first amendment, not the capitulation of corporate windbags.

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 8:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

              Also massive government failure if a single corporation has been able gather a literal monopoly.

              His entire argument seems predicated on the fact that YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. have achieved a monopoly position. Yet, as we're talking about them all in terms of being massive players, that clearly isn't the case unless you start breaking them up into different sub industries. They're only near-monopolies if you start talking about them in terms of their particular sub category, and even then only if you pretend that people don't naturally use more than one as it is.

              Even then, the first amendment only ensures you have a voice, not that you have a choice on the specific platform you prefer to have at your fingertips, and the people running the platform have to host it if they don't want to.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 12:17pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

                Problems caused by monopoly powers is supposed to be covered via the Sherman Anti Trust Act .. but such things require government types to actually perform their duties. Creating some additional government double speak intended to bandaid the problem solves nothing and actually it could be argued that it makes the problem worse.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 3:43pm

        Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

        lol

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      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 12:59am

        Re: Re: Section 230 of the CDA is not the whole of the law.

        "Seriously, kids, THINK on what it'd mean if corporations can absolutely control YOUR speech. "

        Yep. Damn good thing nobody's advocating for anything of the sort, then.

        Once again, whatever alternate reality your broken mind has created, I'm glad I don't live there. Sounds like a scary place.

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  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 1:53pm

    But, even if he was banned for his political views (and, again, he wasn't), Twitter actually has the legal right to put in place just such a ban.

    Wikipedia: Charles C. Johnson: Banning from Twitter

    On May 24, 2015, Johnson sent a tweet asking his followers for donations to help him "take out" Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson. McKesson shared the tweet and took the tweet as a threat. Johnson was permanently banned from Twitter after several users reported him for harassment.

    He's also repeatedly used Twitter and other social media to publicly identify the wrong person as responsible for horrible crimes, targeting them for harassment. And he was previously suspended from Twitter twice for publishing the addresses of the two Dallas nurses who contracted Ebola.

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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 1:58pm

    Well!

    Someone does not like facing consequences for his actions.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:05pm

    Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

    Simply put: by your theory, any business you walk into or even visit its site has an absolute right to control what you say.

    No, the principle was decided by the lunch-room cases: A BUSINESS CANNOT ARBITRARILY REFUSE SERVICE. PERIOD.

    Masnick wants to go back to the bad old days, so long as he and favored corporations are doing the deciding this time.

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:06pm

      Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

      Masnick frequently asserts that corporations have a "First Amendment Right" to control ALL speech on "platforms" -- not just to put out the corporation's views -- while legally immune from what others publish on the platform -- by withdrawing advertising revenue, "demonetizing" Youtube streams, and close accounts, to simply shut down all opposition on all major outlets. Since deemed a "Right", that control can be arbitrary and is not answerable to gov't or We The People.

      Techdirt's pro-corporate position minimizes you and every other poor frail "natural" person by pitting you against mega-corporations Google / Facebook / Amazon that will effectively control YOUR speech.

      Why does Masnick assert -- NEVER oppose -- that alleged "First Amendment Right" of corporations to control speech? He's not railing against how lawyers have perverted law and courts but wedges it in OFTEN, BLATANTLY favorably, promoting it AGAINST YOU.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:19pm

        Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

        Best not to sue Techdirt. I hear the courtroom has gold fringe on their flags.

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:55pm

        Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

        A BUSINESS CANNOT ARBITRARILY REFUSE SERVICE. PERIOD.

        Any business can arbitrarily refuse service for any reason. What they cannot do, unless they want to face legal consequences, is refuse service for reasons such as ethnicity/race, religious creed, age, and biological sex.

        Since deemed a "Right", that control can be arbitrary and is not answerable to gov't or We The People.

        No corporation is fully above the law. If local, state, or federal authorities can bring forth a case that Twitter violated a specific law in a way that cannot be defended or excused by Section 230 or other such laws, they can and should do so.

        Techdirt's pro-corporate position minimizes you and every other poor frail "natural" person by pitting you against mega-corporations Google / Facebook / Amazon that will effectively control YOUR speech.

        They cannot control the content of the speech. They can, however, control whether they will host your speech. You have a right to speak your mind, but that will never give you the right to force a privately owned and operated platform into hosting your speech—regardless of whether you are a “natural” person.

        Why does Masnick assert -- NEVER oppose -- that alleged "First Amendment Right" of corporations to control speech?

        Rare is the day that Google, Facebook, etc. try to control the actual content of what someone says on the Internet. Even that loser James Damore did not have his infamous memo wiped from the Internets after it was shoved into the light. If and when a mega-corp actively tries to prevent someone from speaking their mind in any context and on any platform, you will see plenty of complaints here. But Twitter banning a dumbass does not silence him. You mark yourself a fool if you believe otherwise.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:14pm

      Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

      Any business has the right to refuse you service if you have repeatedly harassed other customers.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:24pm

      Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

      Businesses can absolutely arbitrarily refuse service. They can’t do so based on certain legal restrictions, true. But Mike could kick your dumb ass outta here for being a constant crazy spamming incoherent dipshit, to pick a completely random example.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 7:20pm

        Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

        So, for example, a water or electric company privately owned by Republicans could could turn off service to all registered Democrats?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Killercool (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 8:04pm

          Re: Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

          No, that's a utility, and it's publicly regulated, even if privately owned.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 3:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

            So, private businesses cannot necessarily refuse service service?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 3:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

              They can, unless they're legally restricted from doing so, as per the situation in your example. Twitter are not restricted in that way, so they can tell you to GTFO unless they're violating some other law while doing so.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 4:48am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

                They can, unless they're legally restricted from doing so..

                Well, that isn't exactly what was claimed. Of course businesses can legally do whatever they are not legally restricted from doing. That's somewhat obvious and no one was suggesting otherwise. The question was about what they are legally allowed to do.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 5:04am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

                  ...and you had that answered - utilities are a bad example because they have more restrictions on how they can treat customers than other companies, and for good reason.

                  What kind of answer do you want? You've been told that companies can arbitrarily refuse service for any reason that doesn't violate some law or other rule that restricts their decision. What else do you need explained?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 12:36pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

                    Hey Captain Obvious, the question concerned whether or not such action was legal, since under what had been asserted it would be. Your response basically amounted to "things are legal, unless they aren't". Well, no shit genius. Hell, we're all allowed to do just about anything that "doesn't violate some law or other rule". Popping off with something like that just makes you look like an idiot.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 12 Jan 2018 @ 12:54am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

                      So, what's your point then? You know that you can be refused service for any arbitrary reason that doesn't violate a law... so why were you asking if you can be arbitrarily refused service?

                      Stop whining about being told the obvious, if the obvious is the actual answer to the question you were asking.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 12:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

            "No, that's a utility, and it's publicly regulated, even if privately owned."

            Socialism! Sounds like something the libruls probably had a hand in.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 1:42am

          Re: Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

          Way to fail at anology 101 bro.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 3:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

            It was simple a question prompted by the statement that a business can arbitrarily refuse service. It wasn't an "analogy" at all. You should look words up that you don't understand before using them. And I'm not your "bro".

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      An Onymous Coward (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 3:01pm

      Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

      A BUSINESS CANNOT ARBITRARILY REFUSE SERVICE. PERIOD.

      You're wrong, of course. The entire foundation of your argument is wrong. Your argument is factually wrong and your rambling, incoherent posts are ethically wrong.

      Try this: Start a blog that allows public comments. Let us know where to find it and then never remove or alter a single public comment regardless of its content. We'll see how long it takes you to retract all of your garbage posts here on TD.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 3:36pm

      Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

      The business can not stop you from talking quietly amongst yourselves ... say in line at Micky-Ds, but if you start yelling whatever silliness then yeah, they are within their rights to tell you to stop it or leave.

      You see, your rights end where other's rights begin. You are not King and you are not allowed to force your speech upon others. When on private property you can be told to leave. When in public people are allowed to leave and you are not allowed to follow them around as that is stalking. How would you like it if someone were to invade your private property with their speech.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 3:43pm

      Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

      "No, the principle was decided by the lunch-room cases: A BUSINESS CANNOT ARBITRARILY REFUSE SERVICE. PERIOD."

      This is literally false.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 7:23pm

      Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

      "No, the principle was decided by the lunch-room cases: A BUSINESS CANNOT ARBITRARILY REFUSE SERVICE. PERIOD."

      Well in that case an ISP cannot refuse service to anyone that downloads copyright material. RIGHT!!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Killercool (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 8:08pm

        Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

        Oh, no. You see, he left his weasel word (arbitrarily) in there, but they only apply to things he likes.

        Being a racist, aggressive asshole is free speech. Banning that person is "arbitrary."

        Consuming culture without paying a movie or record studio is THE DEVIL, and banning such a person is completely reasonable.

        Because what is classified as "arbitrary" is up to him. Anyone that disagrees works for Google.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Killercool (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 8:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

          And I wish I was kidding about the Google thing. It seems to be the worst thing he can think of. A combination of Hitler, Stalin, hobo clowns (they're always hungry!) and nuclear waste.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 1:05am

      Re: Yet again advocating "private" censorship. Quite blatantly.

      "No, the principle was decided by the lunch-room cases: A BUSINESS CANNOT ARBITRARILY REFUSE SERVICE. PERIOD."

      Wrong. Although, inventing your own reality is par for the course for you.

      You can refuse service for any reason other than those prohibited by the protection of certain classes. For example - I can refuse you service for being an asshole, for being abusive to staff or customers, for making the room uncomfortable for others, for causing damage, for whatever reason connected with your *actions* I wish, because I just don't like the look of your ugly mug. However, I cannot refuse service because I don't approve of your race/gender/sexuality/religion/etc.

      You can refuse service to anyone arbitrarily. You can say "sorry guys, I'm not offering service anyone wearing brown shirts today", and that's fine. You just can't say "I'll sell this cake to the straight couple over here, but refuse to sell the same cake to the gay couple over there because gay weddings make me feel icky".

      I know real life concepts are beyond your limited intellect, but this is very simple stuff, and you can't just announce that the mirror opposite of reality is true without being looked upon like an asshole. Which is behaviour that people *can* refuse service for, you will just come in and whine that this community have exercised that right.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:45pm

    Is he hoping to win enough money to buy his own personal arby's?

    Bonus points if you know the reference.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 3:38pm

    This isn't a new concept

    We've been moderating and/or banning people from mailing lists and newsgroups for decades. (I'm still doing it.)

    It's not a first resort, or even a second or third, but it's sometimes necessary when people insist on being abusive. As a fairly caustic person myself, I have a high tolerance for that (and can readily return it in kind) but as the operator of a list/group, I have a responsibility to the members to put my personal standards aside and try to enforce standards that best serve everyone.

    Not always easy. In fact: rarely easy, modulo a few extreme cases that were slam-dunks. But necessary, because the alternative is to allow the destruction of communities at the hands of people who aren't contributing to them.

    The problem with Twitter/Youtube/et.al. is not that they're doing this. The problem is that they're doing it really, REALLY badly. It's pretty obvious that the newbies running those operations were caught completely off-guard: they should have accounted for this at the design stage and had tested mechanisms for dealing with it before they ever went live. Instead, they blundered into a situation that none of them know how to handle and now they're improvising. Also really, REALLY badly.

    Pro tip: when launching any serious Internet-centric operation, go find someone who had an address ending in .ARPA and pay them to review every aspect of your operational plan. If they tell you something is a bad idea, don't do it; if they tell you that you really need to do something, do it. Because - in both cases - it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 4:37pm

    What do you mean 'actions have consequences?!'

    And then immediately whines that they had "no valid business reason" for banning him.

    Even assuming that was true before he sued them, it certainly isn't true after. There is absolutely a valid business reason to avoid offering service to someone that's sued your company, namely to avoid them doing it again because of yet another tantrum about how they're being treated.

    His own actions give them all the reason they could possibly need to kick him off their platform, and he has only himself to blame if they decide to do so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 9:08pm

    There once was an out_of_the_blue
    Who hated the process of due
    Each film that he'd paid
    Was DMCAed
    And shoved up his ass with a screw

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 4:19am

    If you have no problem with social media giants demonetizing, restricting, banning certain people and channels for ideological reasons...then you should have no problem with ISPs throttling or even blacklisting Techdirt.

    Because you know, they're private companies and they can do as they please...fucking hypocrites.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 5:29am

      Re:

      An AC willfully ignorant of the actual arguments, but will attack people for their imagined version of the truth anyway? What a shock.

      You might want to look into the very real differences between a utility and a platform, and why it's vital that they are treated differently. Probably read the actual articles here too, rather than whatever it is you make up in your head when you read headlines.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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