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Why Is Hollywood Pushing A Totally Bogus Push Poll Trying To Undermine The Internet?

from the questions,-questions dept

If you've spent time on Facebook lately, you may have come across the following advertisement:

The ad is from "CreativeFuture", an MPAA front group that pretends to be representing the interests of "artists" but miraculously only seems to promote the extreme viewpoints of the giant Hollywood studios (imagine that). The group is often the go to quote for the copyright extremist position -- and has a history of basically blaming technology for Hollywood's own failures to adapt.

Not surprisingly, then, that it's now running this highly unscientific "survey" with a bunch of ridiculous leading questions, to try to argue that internet companies aren't doing enough and that Congress should destroy the laws that protect the open internet. You can check out the survey yourself, but let's dig into the questions and just how leading and/or silly they are.

It starts off with the following preamble:

In recent months, there has been rapidly growing concern in Washington, in the press, and among members of the public over the lack of responsibility shown by the major internet platforms (including Google and Facebook) toward potentially illegal activity taking place on their services.

From sex trafficking to foreign influence on our elections, from privacy to piracy, it has become increasingly clear that more needs to be done – by the internet platforms themselves, and possibly by the U.S. government – to ensure platform responsibility.

Note the use of "sex trafficking." For the most part, Hollywood has been trying to hide the fact that it's been one of the biggest supporters of SESTA, the fake law that pretends its targeting sex traffickers, but is really targeting the internet. It's kind of rich for an industry that includes Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen and Roman Polanski among its biggest "names" to be complaining about sex trafficking.

From here on it, I'll just post the text instead of screenshots, but I'll include the above so you can see what it looks like in case it magically disappears after this post goes live.

1. There is growing evidence that the major internet platforms are being used for purposes that may violate U.S. laws. Should the major internet platforms take responsibility for these uses of their services?

  • Yes
  • No

That's a broad and incredibly leading (and misleading) question. Lots of tools are used to violate US laws. This includes cars and telephones. But we don't call for Ford to take responsibility for the fact that people speed, or for AT&T to take responsibility for the fact that someone phones in a bomb threat. That's not how it works. But, of course, if you don't know any of that and just think "oh, bad stuff is happening, of course someone should take responsibility" gullible people are going to vote "yes." You could just as easily rephrase the question as "Bad people sometimes use the internet too. Should that be the fault of Google and Facebook that they don't magically make bad people good?" Such a question would be equally as meaningful.

2. Recently, the major internet platforms opposed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) because they want to avoid responsibility or legal liability for such uses of their services. Do you believe that the major internet platforms need to do more to stop sex trafficking on their services?

  • Yes
  • No

First of all, this isn't entirely accurate. As we've discussed, the Internet Association and especially Facebook have been supportive of SESTA. And the reason that other (smaller) platforms have opposed SESTA is not because "they want to avoid responsibility or legal liability," but because they know why that's a really dangerous plan that will create lots of problems unrelated to sex trafficking while actually making the problem of sex trafficking worse. As we've discussed at great length -- and which the team at Creative Futures would admit if they had an intellectually honest bone in their bodies -- the problem with SESTA is that it creates a moderator's dilemma. It will lead some sites to stop moderating entirely to avoid the "knowledge" standard in the bill. And it will cause others to censor with wild abandon to try to avoid any and all liability, no matter how ridiculous. Of course, coming from Hollywood -- an industry famous for sending tons of bogus DMCA takedowns -- widespread censorship of legitimate content apparently isn't a big deal. Hollywood should be fighting for the First Amendment, not shitting all over it.

3. The major internet platforms benefit greatly from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 and the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996, two 20-year-old laws that were intended to give the then-fledgling internet the opportunity to grow. Today, the major global internet platforms – companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter – use these laws to avoid taking responsibility for the content they deliver to consumers or help them find, and from which they make immense profits. Given the tremendous growth of the internet in the last 20 years, do you believe it is time to reconsider the DMCA and the CDA?

Hilarious. Remember, the DMCA was pushed for by Hollywood back in the 1990s. They even went so far as to route around Congress (who refused to give them the DMCA) and get it into a trade agreement in Geneva, forcing Congress to pass the DMCA to "comply with our international obligations." For Hollywood to now whine about the DMCA that they pushed so hard for is hilarious. Separately, the "reason" given in this question about why Congress passed both the DMCA and CDA 230 is not at all accurate. Hollywood engaging in historical revisionism? What a surprise! The reason for both laws was not to let the fledgling internet grow. It was to properly place liability on those actually breaking the law. Yes, growing the internet was cited in the debate for both, but because anyone with common sense could see that falsely putting liability on websites for actions of users would be a disaster for the internet -- whether its in its early days or end-times.

4. Do you believe that services like Facebook, Google, and Twitter should take greater responsibility for the use of their platforms to promote false and misleading news articles?

Does Hollywood really want to call out others for "promoting false and misleading" information? Does no one in Hollywood know anything about Hollywood's own history of propaganda and fake news? Either way, once again, what CreativeFuture is pushing here is misleading and ridiculous. The people creating fake news are responsible for creating fake news. Making a tool that they use "responsible" for it would be like making the guy who built the printing press responsible for fake news propaganda published in newspapers. That's not how it works.

5. Do you believe that services like Facebook, Google, and Twitter should take greater responsibility to ensure that foreign agents cannot use their platforms for political advertising or influence?

Great. Now Hollywood is trying to argue that Google and Facebook should block foreigners from using its platforms. Lovely. As we pointed out when the Mueller indictment of Russian trolls came out, they went to incredible lengths to hide the fact that they were Russian. People looking to abuse the system will always figure out ways around blocks -- and it's not like Google and Facebook and others haven't been pressured already to do more, just in the court of public opinion.

6. Do you believe that services like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others should take greater responsibility for protecting the privacy of their users?

This one's a layup. Who's actually going to say no to this? Everyone's going to say yes, but no one will discuss the details or what it means. Besides, is Hollywood really positioning itself as the bastion of protecting privacy? The same Hollywood that couldn't even protect Sony Pictures' emails from leaking all over the internet? And the same Hollywood where Harvey Weinstein was famous for running an army of spies to go after critics, and leaking personal information about them to the press? That same Hollywood?

7. Do you believe that services like Google, Facebook and Twitter should take greater responsibility for the use of their platforms to facilitate the illegal distribution of creative copyrighted movies, television shows, music, photography, and books?

What does "greater responsibility" even mean in this context? All of those sites have spent many, many, many millions of dollars to set up systems that go way beyond what the law requires to take down (or block from ever being posted) tons and tons of content. And, of course, to Hollywood, it's never enough. It can never be enough. But rather than get its own house in order, it just wants to blame the internet. Same old song.

8. Has the growing public attention to the failure of giant internet platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to take responsibility for their role in facilitating illegal activities changed your opinion of the companies?

No. But the growing flailing by CreativeFuture and the MPAA has made it clear how desperate they've become.

I can't wait for CreativeFuture to release the ridiculous "results" of this poll and pretend that it proves anything.

Also, irony of ironies: without CDA 230 it's quite unlikely that this ad or this survey would exist at all. SurveyMonkey relies heavily on CDA 230 to allow anyone to post whatever surveys they want -- without requiring it to be reviewed carefully before it went up. If SurveyMonkey needed each poll to be reviewed by an editor, SurveyMonkey wouldn't exist at all. Similarly, Facebook's ad platform would not be open to all to use, would likely be significantly more expensive and less useful and targeted. But, CreativeFuture doesn't know or doesn't seem to care about any of that, so long as it can push this extremist viewpoint against the internet.


Reader Comments

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 5:13am

    10. Do you believe we are a bunch of sleazy, greedy, pathological liars that greatly harmed progress of science, culture and arts by locking everything up behind virtually infinite copyright terms?

    - Yes
    - Hell yes
    - Absolutely yes

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 2:09pm

      Re:

      totally.

      I think history will record the 1994 - 2004 as an American renaissance.

      If somebody initiates a communication with you, whether it is by a cookie pixel, or by sampling your data without consent, then you should have a right to know it, and a right to initiate emediate communication with them. And if they are unable to personally receive that communication, then they should be liable for the value they have usurped, whether it is in the value intrinsic to psychological welfare of knowing that the 4th amendment is intact, or the value in actual time.

      Otherwise the mess is just going to get worse until it is a complete DOS against the Internet, and people revert back to broadcast only communication. Or semaphore, which may be all that is left once we get done correctly the sociological ramifications of the surveillance state.

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

  • icon
    ForCom5 (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 6:41am

    Nothing like sinking so low you have to create your own support front.

    I'd say I'm disappointed, but that would require me to have ever been contended with them.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 7:22am

    Of course there is growing evidence of internet platform abuse because they are manufacturing this narrative, why do you think facebook "as a mistake" asked if we thought we should allow adults to ask 14yo for sexual photos.
    There is a surge in censorship that is made to be legitimate by SESTA and there is nothing we can do.

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

  • icon
    Designerfx (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 7:46am

    my favorite is question 7

    It should actually be *HOLLYWOOD*. That's the best part, not google/facebook/etc.

    7. Do you believe that services like HOLLYWOOD should take greater responsibility for the use of their platforms to facilitate the illegal distribution of creative copyrighted movies, television shows, music, photography, and books?

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

    • icon
      crade (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 8:48am

      Re: my favorite is question 7

      I like number 9 because I can't even figure out how to honestly answer the question or what the answers mean. Has my opinion improved? I don't know! Has my opinion become "more unfavorable"? Well it's become more unfavorable towards you for asking this question.. Is that what they are asking?

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

  • icon
    crade (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 7:50am

    Sheesh, their questions aren't just leading, they are leading at gunpoint.

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

  • identicon
    Hidden-User-Cool, 7 Mar 2018 @ 7:56am

    Insular wordings

    I've been following Techdirt a long time.
    I made my account on here a few years back when Timothy lit into a developer for advising folks to not buy his game, as it wasn't a finished product.
    I've been seeing a descent into vitriol.
    Tim's always been vitriolic. But lately, other writers for techdirt have been leaning towards the vitriolic side, too.
    And it saddens me.

    This is an important and informative post. However, I don't feel it would be useful for me to link it to folks who've fallen for scam-polls.

    Here's why.
    You deride the people who fall for these posts.

    Gullible, Uninformed, Uneducated - that's what I'm used to hearing from other sources.

    I feel a fool for trying to talk about this - I feel like a touchy-feeley PC douche.

    Yes, people aren't applying critical thought to polls such as this. But polls such as this are being designed to try and prevent people from applying critical thought.

    There's got to be a better, less adversarial tag than "Gullible". Bleh, I can't think of one. Posting Anon.

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

    • identicon
      Nick-B, 7 Mar 2018 @ 8:18am

      Re: Insular wordings

      Strange, I red the article, and I didn't notice any text that derides people that fall for this poll. Instead, they get - admittedly - really angry at the creators of the poll, but I felt it was because it is a really underhanded tactic. It seems that people are getting much more blatant about their attempts to steer people towards a specific opinion in polls. If they don't care about actual scientific presentation of facts, why should their opponents be polite about it?

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 8:33am

      Re: Insular wordings

      I've been seeing a descent into vitriol.

      Just now noticed that, eh?

      Here's a particularly clear example of the unprovoked ad hom hate from (now a Techdirt re-writer) that I've suffered since 2009 merely for stating my opinions (in mild-mannered way as I example here):

      "There are white people, and then there are ignorant motherfuckers like you...."

      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110621/16071614792/misconceptions-free-abound-why-do-brains-stop -zero.shtml#c1869

      Masnick excuses that as "a joke".

      And YOU'RE objecting over "Gullible, Uninformed, Uneducated"? Where indeed have you been to have missed the daily vile ad hom here at Techdirt? You just never noticed it because directed at people with whom you disagree? -- The ":Lobo Santo" name popped up in just prior piece after 5 years, is that you?

      Anyhoo, it's clear that Techdirt does NOT want more readers because never enforces the least civility from fanboys, only uses name-calling as one of the many excuses for hiding dissenting comments. It's weirdest site on teh internets! Needs to find some actual SUBSTANCE instead of this trivial carping at "Hollywood", though.

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

    • icon
      crade (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 8:35am

      Re: Insular wordings

      Pretty sure it means there will be people who fall for the trick and vote yes. Those people are being gullible in this context (to differentiate from the ones who don't fall for this particular trick), I did not read it to say they are gullible people in general and must fall for every trick under the sun.

      I don't think people would take offense to that stmt, but if you want a more tactful one just use "many people will be tricked into voting yes"

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 9:29am

      Re: Insular wordings

      Are these instances you refer to in response to some commenter or were they unprovoked?

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

  • identicon
    Nick-B, 7 Mar 2018 @ 8:13am

    Poll rephrased

    1. Won't someone PLEASE think of the children?
    2. Won't someone PLEASE think of the children?
    3. Won't someone PLEASE think of the children?
    4. Won't someone PLEASE think of the children?
    5. Won't someone PLEASE think of the children?
    6. Won't someone PLEASE think of the children?
    7. Won't someone PLEASE think of the children?
    8. Won't someone PLEASE think of the children?
    Results:
    Huh, everyone said yes to every question. Put out a press release: "There is 100% support for SESTA!"

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

  • icon
    ysth (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 8:14am

    Expected the subject to be "Rhetorical Questions" :)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 8:28am

    Has anyone had a go at filling it out?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 8:54am

    The headline answers itself

    They're pushing a bogus poll trying to undermine the internet. And you know that Hollywood considers the internet their enemy.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2018 @ 7:43am

      Re: The headline answers itself

      Not surprising when Hollywood's just given up on anything (relatively) original. So many of the most successful (not necessarily "good") movies in the past year were based on something else, either another movie or book or some story or game that already existed and was successful (or forgotten).

      Disney is infamous for this, but it feels like nearly every studio is doing it too.

      The ones actually taking the risks on newly-written stories are online now, in general. Hollywood is so risk-averse in this day and age that it's killing itself, or at least losing its domination and multigated-approval process over in the entertainment business.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 9:27am

    I ignore facebook ads. In the past I reported them as unwanted but that apparently is ignored. I am close to terminating the pos.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 9:30am

    I signed onto a few activst mailing lists last year

    Some of them told two friends who told two friends who...

    Soon my mailbox was full of political junk mail from absolute strangers. And a curious lot of them wanted me to fill out their survey or answer a couple of questions, all of them loaded as Hell and multiple choice, all the wrong choice.

    Things like Senator Blunt may be a baby-eater and puppy-rapist. If this is true would you be more / less likely to vote for Senator Blunt?

    I have, since, entirely stopped filling out surveys or trusting their results.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 10:32am

    I doubt that this will be abused by bots in anyway. /sarcasm.

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

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 11:40am

    Two points

    First, I hope everyone can agree that the results of any survey should be prefixed with "Out of all the people who saw the ad and who clicked on it and who filled it out completely, our results show..." But this assumes surveys even reveal how many people took it, rather than simply saying "A lot of people took it and we'll apply our findings to all of the US or the world"

    Second, let's replace question #1 with anything else besides "on a computer":
    1. There is growing evidence that the major automakers are being used for purposes that may violate U.S. laws. Should the major automakers take responsibility for these uses of their cars?
    OR:
    1. There is growing evidence that the major gun-makers are being used for purposes that may violate U.S. laws. Should the major gun-makers take responsibility for these uses of their guns?

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 12:55pm

    Can we Sue?

    Can we sue the Corps for illegal use of our Gov..?
    For Back dooring the system?
    When was the last time a State/Fed representative ASKED you want you wanted???
    NOT what their GROUP wanted, NOT what the CORP wanted..And not BELIEVE all the BS that is sent to them, from private agencies that dont even ASK US WHAT WE WANT..

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 1:53pm

    Because if there's anyone thats going to sexually abuse underage teenagers on internships, it's going to be Hollywood and the Actors Guild

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 2:10pm

    Isn't astroturf just another kind of 'fake news' ?

    Just wonderin'

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 6:16pm

    The article is from "Techdirt", a Google front group that pretends to be representing the interests of "innovation " but miraculously only seems to promote the extreme viewpoints of the giant Silicon Valley corporations (imagine that). The site wants to be the go to quote for the copyleft extremist position -- and has a history of basically blaming Hollywood for Silicon Valley’s own failures to create something original worth purchasing.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 8 Mar 2018 @ 1:57am

      Re:

      The article is from "Techdirt", a Google front group that pretends to be representing the interests of "innovation " but miraculously only seems to promote the extreme viewpoints of the giant Silicon Valley corporations (imagine that).

      Oh boy. I love this line of argument because it's hilarious. Must we break out our long list of articles where we loudly criticize "giant Silicon Valley corporations" or can we just save everyone's time and point out you're full of shit?

      The site wants to be the go to quote for the copyleft extremist position -- and has a history of basically blaming Hollywood for Silicon Valley’s own failures to create something original worth purchasing.

      Silicon Valley seems to be doing pretty damn well making products worth purchasing, last I checked. Isn't that why you keep calling them monopolies who need to be broken up?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2018 @ 6:05pm

    Because Hollywood think the Internet is their enemy; but, by destroying it, they are creating more enemies.

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


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