Ted Cruz Gets Section 230 All Wrong, While Zuck Claims He's Not Familiar With It

from the nobody-looks-great dept

There's plenty to say about Mark Zuckerberg's first congressional hearing this week (like Senator Thune's thinly-veiled threat of more SESTA-like laws, or Senator Cantwell's strange, unfocused tangent about Palantir and WhatsApp) but one exchange stands out as so utterly ridiculous that it bears special note.

Senator Cruz used his time in an attempt to shift the focus onto Republican fears that Facebook is a liberal propaganda machine, and specifically tried to box Zuckerberg into declaring whether Facebook was "a first amendment speaker expressing your views", or a "neutral public forum" — and then explicitly claimed that being the latter is a prerequisite of CDA Section 230 protections.

This is blatantly untrue, as that language appears nowhere in the law, and Section 230 is (as we've reiterated many times during the SESTA debate) designed to encourage moderation. But Zuckerberg's reply was, well, absurd:

"I'm not that familiar with the specific legal language of the law that you speak to, so I would need to follow up with you on that."

That's the CEO of Facebook — a service that not only relies on Section 230 to a staggering degree, but just played a major role in developing and supporting a law that drastically alters it — professing ignorance on the letter of the law, as though it were some obscure statute that only his legal department would be fully familiar with.

Uh-huh.

Now, to be fair, Cruz was trying to box him in with a loaded and ultimately meaningless question — and when you're being grilled by a panel of Senators, you've got to be pretty choosy about if and when you're actually going to say "you are incorrect, that's not true" in response to one of their questions. But... could anyone in that room possibly believe him? Or any of the rest of us? SESTA — which, again, Facebook played a major role in — had already been mentioned several times during the hearing, even alongside expressions of appreciation that Facebook helped refine and ultimately supported the bill. Even if we somehow contorted our brains to believe he is genuinely unfamiliar with the language (again: uh-huh...) that would just paint an equally terrible picture in which Zuck has been only vaguely aware of his company's policy positions all year.

So, that was weird. Senate hearings like this are, of course, mostly theatrical — but that clunky bit of dialogue certainly eviscerated any remaining suspension of disbelief.


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  • icon
    aerinai (profile), 10 Apr 2018 @ 2:24pm

    Badluck Zuck

    I'd say that given the back and forth of that one, if the Booze Cruz was making statues up out of thin air, I'd probably have responded the same way as Zuckerberg. Even if I had CDA 230 memorized and prayed it like the rosary, that doesn't mean that the junk interpretation Cruz is citing isn't some stupid lower court precedent from Backwoods Alabama... Better to just say 'I'll have my lawyers call you on your bullshit later' and back away slowly... never losing eye contact.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 10 Apr 2018 @ 2:37pm

    So it would be pure comedy if it wasn't depressingly tragic.

    Zucky knows where he is threading, he played well. And if you think that Facebook can both handle SESTA (deep pockets and all) and use this momentum to lock itself into the dominant position by driving morons.. I mean, politicians and clueless people into demanding and enacting more bad laws that it could deal with like SESTA...

    Shitshow gentleman, shitshow.

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

    Not that implausible

    Zuckerberg could be well aware of the general operation of CDA 230 (protecting platforms from user misconduct), while still being sufficiently unsure of the exact wording and phrasing. As comment #1 mentions, even if he had memorized it and knew all the associated case law, this was not the theater in which to profess superior knowledge or try to score points on technicalities. His response would be bad form in a court of law. It's the perfect dodge in a court of public opinion / theatrical hearing.

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    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 10 Apr 2018 @ 3:49pm

      Re: Not that implausible

      It's not the "perfect dodge" when an entire industry that Facebook recently betrayed by supporting SESTA to help gut 230 is watching.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2018 @ 5:18am

        Re: Re: Not that implausible

        Oh come on, 99% of the people tuned in to that and sitting in congress doesn't know what the hell is being discussed.

        His response shovels some dirt on the loaded question and Cruz didn't push because then he'd have to profess the exact wording on it which wouldn't help his agenda.

        I've learned in dealing with hostile management when they say something that is misleading and loaded like that you back away slowly and say you need to research that.

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        • icon
          Ryunosuke (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 6:40am

          Re: Re: Re: Not that implausible

          actually it was quite insightful into the inner workings of Facebook, Ads, personal information, and 3rd party members.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2018 @ 8:06am

        Re: Re: Not that implausible

        It's not like he 'needs' the industry anymore, he thinks he is the industry and can make whatever game he wants. If the rest of the competition suddenly end up unable to compete due to legal reasons... all the better for him.

        Right broh?

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2018 @ 3:56pm

    The Law is A Body with much implicit: "neutral public forum"

    or any other specific words or phrases that you focus on do not have to be stated there for it to be a PRErequisite of CDA Section 230 protections.

    We The People don't even have to define the very basics: WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT!

    We're NOT going to be lawyered / semanticized to our disadvantage. The more verbal tricks you kids try, the more you expose that believe yourself / corporations are royalty above The Law.

    Learn The Law. It's NOT privileges for a few corporations as you believe, it's for The Public's good.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2018 @ 4:16pm

      Re: The Law is A Body with much implicit: "neutral public forum"

      It is simple to understand, with responsibility goes the requirement to exercise control, so gutting section 230 forces corporations to exercise more control over users, and users of sites are forced to cede more power to the corporations.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2018 @ 4:18pm

      Re: The Law is A Body with much implicit: "neutral public forum"

      Learn The Law.

      What? Literally your whole comment is about how, apparently, it's wrong to actually learn the law, and better to just assume it says what you want it to.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2018 @ 4:19pm

      Re: The Law is A Body with much implicit: "neutral public forum"

      You are literally just wrong.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2018 @ 5:16pm

      Re: The Law is A Body with much implicit: "neutral public forum"

      It's quite clear that, contrary to your assertion, you do not understand the law in the slightest. Especially given that you quote, as law, a document that is not a law and has no legal weight or power whatsoever.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2018 @ 6:34pm

      Re:

      Your corporate side has been lawyering and semanticizing since Day 1, fucktard. It's why we have jokes called the DMCA and SESTA.

      Have a SESTA vote.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 Apr 2018 @ 6:38pm

      Re: The Law is A Body with much implicit: "neutral public forum"

      I pity the judge who eventually handles your civil commitment to a mental health facility.

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    • identicon
      Rich, 11 Apr 2018 @ 5:49am

      Re: The Law is A Body with much implicit: "neutral public forum"

      Thank you for purchasing the Rant-o-tron 2000. If we can assist you in the future, please let us know.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2018 @ 10:18am

      Re: The Law is A Body with much implicit: "neutral public forum"

      "The Law is A Body with much implicit: "neutral public forum" "
      You forgot to slap natural person and common law off in that word salad boy.

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  • icon
    DB (profile), 10 Apr 2018 @ 3:59pm

    It was a heavily theatrical hearing, the opening act was an impressive display Congressional grandstanding.

    But Cruz had a point, and it came through well enough to be replayed on TV news: Facebook is sloppy and lax with the ban hammer, but when it is pulled out, it is used in a heavily politically biased way.

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    • icon
      Ryunosuke (profile), 10 Apr 2018 @ 10:00pm

      Re:

      you are half right... You don't hear of Planned Parenthood being banned because they don't engage in bombing "Family Planning Centers" (which are run by mostly Christian Churches and organizations).

      You don't hear about Democrats being banned because they don't (generally) advocate tearing immigrant children from their mother's arms, and sending their fathers back to the country of origin to be killed.

      As Zuckerberg put it. "It engages in the removal of hate speech and to make the community feel safer." and there is only one side that regularly, routinely engages in hate speech. And spoilers: It's not the Democrats.

      So when you say the ban hammer is used in a biased and political way. Perhaps it is your party that is making the community at large feel unsafe.

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      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 11 Apr 2018 @ 6:12am

        Utter deluded nonsense.

        Your points are total bullshit. Entities that commit actual bombings aren't banned at all. While even mild deviations from the Facebook party line are subject to bans.

        Facebook operates more like a party rag than anything else.

        Also, Democrats do advocate violence to suppress political dissent. They openly advocate labeling people Nazi style so that they then have an excuse to assault them.

        You don't hear of liberals being banned because they conform to the party line.

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        • icon
          Ryunosuke (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 6:50am

          Re: Utter deluded nonsense.

          Your points are total bullshit. Entities that commit actual bombings aren't banned at all. While even mild deviations from the Facebook party line are subject to bans.

          Citations? I am pretty sure that ISIS pages are taken down pretty regularly. Also that statement alone reinforces my argument. You don't generally hear about the far left engaging in violent protests and bombings.

          Facebook operates more like a party rag than anything else.

          So? A company having a political preference doesn't mean it also cannot be neutral.

          Also, Democrats do advocate violence to suppress political dissent. They openly advocate labeling people Nazi style so that they then have an excuse to assault them.

          You know.... If it Talks like a racist, and walks like a goose... chances are it's not a Jew. Calling something for what it is at face value is also not advocating assaulting them. It just means that they should not be in power unless you really, REALLY want a repeat of 1930-1940's and you want to be on the receiving end.

          You don't hear of liberals being banned because they conform to the party line.

          No I don't hear "Liberals" being banned because they aren't (Generally) Racist, Violence inducing assholes.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 8:00am

          Re: Utter deluded nonsense.

          "Entities that commit actual bombings aren't banned at all"

          Citation needed.

          "While even mild deviations from the Facebook party line are subject to bans."

          What is "the party line"? If it's so easy to accidentally step beyond it, you must have a list of places where that line is. It's strange, since I see all sorts of political ideals being expressed openly on Facebook without anyone getting banned, from almost all sides of the spectrum and from countries with wildly varying values. How have all these groups all been following the "party line"?

          "Also, Democrats do advocate violence to suppress political dissent"

          Citation needed. Not, "here's some random idiot I assume is a liberal", an actual Democrat, as per your claim.

          "They openly advocate labeling people Nazi style so that they then have an excuse to assault them."

          Are you referring to the incident where a self-proclaimed Nazi was punched? Because in that case I agree - if you openly and proudly proclaim to be in favour of mass genocide, you probably should expect some retaliation. But, that's the Nazi being a Nazi, not those mean old liberals.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2018 @ 9:05am

          Re: Utter deluded nonsense.

          lol

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

        • identicon
          Thad, 11 Apr 2018 @ 9:49am

          Re: Utter deluded nonsense.

          They openly advocate labeling people Nazi style

          "Nazi-style"? I'm not familiar with that position, but it sounds uncomfortable.

          As for labeling people nazis, I guess the difference between Rush Limbaugh doing it for the last 25 years and liberals doing it for the past year and a half is that the "feminazis" weren't actually wearing swastika armbands and advocating for a white ethnostate.

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          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 12 Apr 2018 @ 2:12am

            Re: Re: Utter deluded nonsense.

            It seems to be a common tactic among some circles - when you literally have white supremacists and neo-Nazis on your side, don't examine why they're there, just whine about the liberals correctly calling them out for what they are.

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        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 10:45am

          Re: Utter deluded nonsense.

          While even mild deviations from the Facebook party line are subject to bans.

          I just tried this search, as an example:

          https://www.facebook.com/search/pages/?q=trump

          I found countless pages both for and against Trump, and indeed at a glance it appears to lean more to the pro-Trump side.

          So what's the party line, exactly?

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          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 12 Apr 2018 @ 1:59am

            Re: Re: Utter deluded nonsense.

            Given that he's not bothered replying, I'll take a wild guess - either his chosen news source will whine endlessly about any perceived right-wing source being blocked without examining why (and so assume it's due to alignment rather than content), or they write long stories about such but never write about the perceived left-wing pages that are blocked. I truly dislike partisan politics, but it does seem that there's something of a victim complex among the self-proclaimed right-wing sources I come across.

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      • icon
        DB (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 7:30am

        Re: Re:

        Your bias is showing in your ad hominem attack.

        It's not "my party". However I can see the long term danger in an obvious bias in banning account.

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    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 10 Apr 2018 @ 10:34pm

      Re:

      it is used in a heavily politically biased way.

      Hate to break it to you, but no. The fact is, right now, the online right is far more likely to engage in hate speech, harassment, incitement to violence, etc. than is the online left. If you want things to be more "balanced", then the right has to grow the fuck up.

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      • icon
        Richard (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 4:04am

        Re: Re:

        the online right is far more likely to engage in hate speech, harassment, incitement to violence, etc. than is the online left.

        I hate to break it to you but that is not exactly true.

        The online left may not do these things itself - but it does provide cover for the Islamic right which is by far the leader in threats, hate speech and violence worldwide.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 4:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So, your argument is that the Islamic "right" is different from the other political "right", but even then the problem is really the "left" and not the actions of said "right"? I'm sure that sounded clever when you wrote it.

          That's the problem with partisan politics - you can't admit one "team" is actually wrong, you have to twist yourself into a pretzel to pretend it's actually all the fault of the other "team". We can't have adult conversations because nobody wants to lose their moronic ball game.

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          • icon
            Richard (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 11:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            First - you misidentified my "team".

            I've always been on the "left team"

            Insofar as the problem is the left - it is the left not living up to our own ideals.

            Let me show you an example of someone else on the left who "gets it":

            https://conatusnews.com/peter-tatchell-london-pride/

            Or are you accusing Peter Tatchell of being on the "right".

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            • icon
              Leigh Beadon (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 11:15am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Wait, let's backtrack here a moment, because I think I'm losing track of what point you are trying to make.

              • The assertion was made that Facebook is heavily partisan in who it chooses to ban from its platform, not basing its decisions on the actual content or whether it violates its policy, but on the political leaning of the content in question, and specifically that it discriminates against right-wing politics.

              • I argued that, in the current political landscape - especially in online communities - the right is far more likely to engage in conduct that violates Facebook's rules on hate speech, harassment, etc. Not exclusively, but far more likely.

              • You agreed that this may be true, that the left doesn't "do these things itself". But you said it "provides cover" for other people who do, and then clarified with an example of a Pride event which internally censored criticism of Islamists

              So... what exactly is your conclusion here? That in addition to taking down direct violations of its content policies (which appear to be more frequently committed by the right, as you agree or at least admit is quite possible), it should be investigating left-wing groups to ensure that they are being adequately critical of the hate speech of others, and take them down if they fail to do so?

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              • icon
                Richard (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 11:51am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I did say that you were not exactly right.

                I'm not really aware of the rightwing speech that is legitimately taken down - because I don't visit the places where it might be found - however I am aware of a tendency to take down criticism of Islam (and I am talking about rational, fact based criticism of the ideology and history, not incitement to hatred or violence against its followers) on the part of Facebook and other platforms.

                Now it seems (to my sorrow) that the majority of this speech comes from people on the right with whom I would disagree on most other issues and therefore this particular tranch of takedowns falls within the left/right bias claimed by Cruz (even though I detest most of what he stands for)

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                • icon
                  Leigh Beadon (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 12:11pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I don't want to give the impression that I'm saying these content decisions are easy to make, or that Facebook (or others) never make mistakes, or even that there's a great solution under the current framework.

                  But I do reject the notion that Facebook is heavily politically biased in how it enforces its content policies. Or at least I'm highly, highly skeptical of it.

                  For one thing, I've certainly seen plenty of similar examples to what you're saying happening to people on the left. Such as criticisms of Israel from leftist/socialist groups, or criticisms of men from left-wing feminists (anecdotally, several women I am friends with on Facebook had statuses saying "men are trash" in the wake of various #metoo allegations reported and deleted - because that violates the letter of their hate speech policy). Or the infamous example of a content policy that "protects white men, but not black children". And there are certainly plenty of decisions on both sides I don't agree with. It is, in many ways, a mess.

                  But inasmuch as it impacts views from the right to a greater degree, I think it's insane to assume that it's solely because of political leanings. Much of the controversy over Facebook's supposed political bias in the last couple of years is centered around content from the "alt-right" - I'm talking Richard Spencer speeches calling explicitly for ethnic cleansing, childish Pepe fanboys making swastika memes and aggressively racist cartoons, etc.

                  The left has its problems, no doubt about that. But right now, the right (especially in the online world) is much, much uglier.

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 12 Apr 2018 @ 2:00am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "First - you misidentified my "team"."

              I never identified one.

              "I've always been on the "left team"

              Then you're still an idiot for playing politics as a team game.

              "Let me show you an example of someone else on the left who "gets it":

              "Random blogger who agrees with me" is not a viable source for factual information.

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

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 9:53am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The online left may not do these things itself - but it does provide cover for the Islamic right which is by far the leader in threats, hate speech and violence worldwide.

          ...What?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2018 @ 10:43am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Eh, it's an old right-wing talking point. Because the left promotes treating Muslims like human beings, the right proclaims that this means "provid[ing] cover for the Islamic right."

            Basically, because they can't call every brown person they dislike a "terrorist", this means the left is totally protecting ISIS.

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            • icon
              Richard (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 11:13am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Because the left promotes treating Muslims like human beings

              Huh - so you didn't notice when the SPLC accused Majid Nawaz of "hate"

              and you didn't notice the plight of Christians (and Hindus) in Pakistan - or even Christian Pakistanis in the UK or the Copts in Egypt or women in Iran who don't think the Hijab is a liberation. Or Somali women like Ayann Hirsi Ali who suffered from FGM (and desth threats from Muslims) and you didn't notice the plight of Atheist bloggers in Bangladesh (from vigilantes) or in Saudi Arabia(from the government) and how the SPLC attempts to demonise anyone who points this stuff out.

              Your attempt to make this out to be something to do with race are pathetic.

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

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 12 Apr 2018 @ 2:56am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Huh - so you didn't notice when the SPLC accused Majid Nawaz of "hate""

                Anecdote != data. Just because you can find an outlier doesn't mean that the overall trend is that way.

                "and you didn't notice the plight of Christians (and Hindus) in Pakistan"

                Funny. When people want to attack a particular religion, they always point to far-off places with a history of conflict. Never issues in more secular countries. Certainly never pointing out the atrocities committed by other religions in similar regions.

                "Your attempt to make this out to be something to do with race are pathetic."

                Fun fact - whenever Muslims are attacked in the media, it's never the largely black members of the Nation Of Islam nor people from countries like Kosovo with a largely European ancestry, nor the people of Indonesia. It's always the Arabic ones. Why is that?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2018 @ 4:32am

        Re: Re:

        Have trip to berkeley college next time Ben Shapiro is doing a talk.

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

      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 11 Apr 2018 @ 6:14am

        More liberal partisan nonsense.

        Hate speech is nonsense. Facebook censoring also is not limited to hate speech or anything that can be remotely construed as such.

        Labeling everything anyone does as "hate speech" is just a convenient excuse for rampant censorship.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 10 Apr 2018 @ 11:56pm

      Re:

      "it came through well enough to be replayed on TV news"

      Whether or not something can be played as a soundbite on the TV news cycle is a positive attribute for you? This after you admit the whole thing was theatrics anyway? I'd re-examine my news sources right now if I were you, and go for something with a little more context and depth.

      "it is used in a heavily politically biased way"

      You don't mention it, but just from that comment, I can probably guess which bias you think it probably has - and the bias of the news sources you've chosen to favour. You may need to look elsewhere if facts are something you care about.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2018 @ 4:18pm

    "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider"

    It fits on a post-it, dude. You don't need to be familiar with the wording of it when you can literally pin it to your notes. You can write it on the back of your hand before going in, if necessary, like kids do with important formulae for exams.

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

  • identicon
    Rocky, 10 Apr 2018 @ 4:40pm

    It's very rare that you find a senate hearing where some intelligent discourse takes place so I usually just categorize them as either chest thumping monkey poo flinging sessions or witch hunts with some bonus poo flinging.

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

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 10 Apr 2018 @ 8:05pm

      Re:

      I usually just categorize them as either chest thumping monkey poo flinging sessions or witch hunts with some bonus poo flinging.

      Not really. In fact, some poo flinging would drastically improve the quality of congressional hearings.

      Just imagine...

      Jeff Sessions: "I do not--" monkey flings some poo, Sessions ducks, poo hits Ted Cruz in the face "--recall."

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

  • identicon
    Rekieta Law, 10 Apr 2018 @ 8:02pm

    You're actually wrong, though.

    If you look at case law like Fraley v. Facebook, once an interactive computer service acts as a publisher or speaker, they become an Information content provider under the statute and lose their immunity.

    Don't say things aren't in the statute if you don't do the 5 minutes of research to make sure you know how the court actually interprets things.

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    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 10 Apr 2018 @ 10:22pm

      Re: You're actually wrong, though.

      No, I'm afraid you're wrong.

      Fraley v. Facebook drew a distinction between information services and content providers. It explicitly noted that it is possible to be *both*. It found that, in the specific case of the sponsored stories that the lawsuit was over, Facebook qualified as the latter. It did not, in any way, use the term "neutral public forum" or make even the slightest suggestion that being that is a prerequisite to 230 immunity. You're just projecting that onto it out of nowhere.

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

      • identicon
        Rekieta Law, 11 Apr 2018 @ 12:16am

        Re: Re: You're actually wrong, though.

        You're being pedantic on the specific term "neutral public forum."

        Is Facebook merely republishing speech from third parties as would an interactive computer service, which is required for 230 protection, or are they engaged in speech, exercising their first amendment rights, but similarly not being given immunity under 230.

        Facebook's removal of content has to be "in good faith" to be granted immunity under CDA.

        "any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected;

        47 U.S.C.A. § 230"

        If the removal of content is not neutral, but rather politically motivated, then it is not being done in good faith, and they don't have immunity under the act. (see: e-ventures Worldwide, LLC v. Google, Inc. SEE ALSO: Smith v. Trusted Universal Standards In Electronic Transactions, Inc. (in which Comcast was found to be not acting in good faith when enforcing its terms of service rather than actually screening for objectionable content)).

        So...no, I'm sorry. This isn't a case of projection on my end. You're being pedantic about Cruz's specific terminology when he's within the language and spirit of his other questioning (about specific political bias being the basis for content removal) and court decisions.

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        • icon
          Richard (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 4:28am

          Re: Re: Re: You're actually wrong, though.

          I note that a Jewish group did an experiment in which they created new accounts and published anti-semitic/anti-Israel speech on some and anti-muslim/anti-palestinian speech on the others.

          Apart from the targets, the words used were identical. One set of accounts got taken down, the others were left up. I'll leave you to guess which was which.

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

        • icon
          Richard (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 4:31am

          Re: Re: Re: You're actually wrong, though.

          Just found the link to the experiment noted above - it's here:

          https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-ngo-says-facebook-test-proves-anti-israel-bias/

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 4:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You're actually wrong, though.

            I'm sure that source is not biased in any way, and there does seem to be a lot of lacking detail. Do you have anything with the actual methodology and proof that the words were identical, for example?

            Has the experiment been repeated, or did they just do it once and take the one data set as proof of something? A single run would prove nothing, as that could mean anything from one group being more popular than another (and thus attract more complaints regardless of bias) to them both being on a block list but the "researchers" jumped on their result before the human moderators got to the second page (I don't see the article mentioning the time between one page being taken down and them declaring it as proof of bias).

            Hell, they even state that the pages existed before they somehow co-opted them - have they shown that the takedown was purely due to the posts and complaints they made and not some historical post that got some popularity and reports? Maybe the one that got taken down had a longer history of complaints against it that led to the takedown, whereas the other was clean. In fact, with that in mind, if Facebook are only reacting to complaints and one political view attracts more complaints than another, that's a bias in the people reporting to Facebook, not Facebook reacting to the number of complaints they get.

            I'm not saying there may be no bias at all on Facebook's end, just that this seems to be a very weak experiment from people who are clearly biased toward a particular result. That always makes me rather suspicious. A clean study with full results including full methodology and other relevant data points such as relative popularity of the groups

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

            • icon
              Richard (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 11:25am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You're actually wrong, though.

              Actually if you scroll down there is quite a bit more detail of the experiment. Now I that I look at the detail there I admit that the words may not have been actually exactly identical* - but the differences seem to have been there to make them look more plausible rather than to bias the experiment.

              There is quite a bit of detail there in the link - and you can judge for yourself.

              * I think I was recalling someones else's summary in the first comment.

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

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 12 Apr 2018 @ 2:20am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You're actually wrong, though.

                "Actually if you scroll down there is quite a bit more detail of the experiment."

                Not really. There's an account of what they did, but no actual data and a narrative from an obviously biased source.

                "Now I that I look at the detail there I admit that the words may not have been actually exactly identical"

                In that case, the experiment is useless as those differences may have been what triggered the ban, and not the direction they were aimed. Plus, since the accounts were ones that had been historically used by other people, there's no proof that the things they did were even what caused the ban in the first place.

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

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 9:23am

          Re: Re: Re: You're actually wrong, though.

          No. Still wrong, sorry.

          “lawsuits seeking to hold a service provider liable for its exercise of a publisher’s traditional editorial functions — such as deciding whether to publish, withdraw, postpone or alter content — are barred” - Zeran v. America Online Inc.

          http://blogs.harvard.edu/cyberlawclinicold/2010/02/08/cda-230-and-traditional-editorial-function s/

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

          • icon
            Leigh Beadon (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 9:34am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You're actually wrong, though.

            And let's add, from Levitt v. Yelp (emphasis mine):

            "Furthermore, it should be noted that traditional editorial functions often include subjective judgments informed by political and financial considerations. Determining what motives are permissible and what are not could prove problematic. Indeed, from a policy perspective, permitting litigation and scrutiny motive could result in the "death by ten thousand duck-bites" against which the Ninth Circuit cautioned in interpreting § 230(c)(1) [citing Fair Housing Council v. Roommates]. As illustrated by the case at bar, finding a bad faith exception to immunity under § 230(c)(1) could force Yelp to defend its editorial decisions in the future on a case by case basis and reveal how it decides what to publish and what not to publish."

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

          • icon
            Leigh Beadon (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 10:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You're actually wrong, though.

            And another:

            The Court finds the CDA bars Plaintiff’s claims against Google and YouTube. Both Google and YouTube are “interactive computer service[s].” ... Plaintiff does not allege Google or YouTube played any role in producing the allegedly defamatory content. Instead, Plaintiff alleges both websites failed to remove the defamatory content, despite his repeated requests. Plaintiff does not cite any authority in his opposition to Google and YouTube’s motion, and instead argues the CDA does not bar claims for the “failure to remove the videos” or to “take corrective action.” To the contrary, the CDA expressly protects internet companies from such liability. Pursuant to the CDA, Plaintiff cannot assert a claim against Google or YouTube for “decisions ‘relating to the monitoring, screening, and deletion of content from its network.’”

            • Weerahandi v. Shelesh

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

          • icon
            Leigh Beadon (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 10:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You're actually wrong, though.

            And just to top things off, here is a long list of other rulings that agree:

            https://ilt.eff.org/index.php/Defamation:_CDA_Cases#Exercise_of_Editorial_Functions

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

        • icon
          John Roddy (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 9:31am

          Re: Re: Re: You're actually wrong, though.

          If the removal of content is not neutral, but rather politically motivated, then it is not being done in good faith, and they don't have immunity under the act.

          Where on earth does "politically motivated" show up in that law? Nothing anywhere in the actual legal wording references political issues at all. I don't even see a reference to "neutral" in there. Where is the section that explicitly denies protection to a platform shown to lack neutrality? That's the part Cruz is directly referencing, which is problematic since it doesn't seem to exist.

          see: e-ventures Worldwide, LLC v. Google, Inc.

          This case appears to target Google's use of SEO to prioritize results in its search indexing. The allegations are from a specific company on the basis that Google arbitrarily decided to delist them because they hadn't paid for better search prioritization. The claims here on the basis of anticompetitive practices, not political opinion. While the CDA 230 defense ultimately didn't apply, it's for an entirely unrelated reason.

          SEE ALSO: Smith v. Trusted Universal Standards In Electronic Transactions, Inc. (in which Comcast was found to be not acting in good faith when enforcing its terms of service rather than actually screening for objectionable content)).

          Again, nothing about political opinion. It looks like the specific reason for the denial of CDA 230 immunity was that Comcast had implied that a subscription to a higher level service was necessary to prevent the arbitrary blocking of the "objectionable" content. So again, nothing to do with political opinion or platform neutrality.

          That's three cases you've referenced so far that completely fail to back up any point you're trying to make. Would you like to try pointing to the actual specific wording, or is it possible that you're pulling a Cruz and just referencing wording that doesn't exist?

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

      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 11 Apr 2018 @ 6:16am

        It's all... puffery.

        Someone actually sued Facebook over being a "neutral public forum" and the judge threw out the fraud claim stating that Facebook's claim to being such was "puffery".

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

  • icon
    Carrie (profile), 10 Apr 2018 @ 8:03pm

    Also, section 230 is like, one sentence long. Maybe 2. It’s not a hard or complex law to understand.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2018 @ 8:21pm

      like, one sentence long [was Re: ]

      … section 230 is like, one sentence long. Maybe 2.

      47 USC § 230

       

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

      • icon
        Leigh Beadon (profile), 10 Apr 2018 @ 10:46pm

        Re: like, one sentence long [was Re: ]

        Indeed, the entirety of the statue, including declaration of intent and list of definitions, is longer. However, the core of the statue - the part that is cited in many court rulings, and the part that lays out the fundamental meaning of the law and defines who it applies to - is just one sentence:

        "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

        And the words "neutral public forum" - or any synonym thereof - appear exactly nowhere in the law. In fact even just the words "neutral" and "public" do not appear in the law, at all. (The word "forum" does, once.)

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2018 @ 12:39am

          Re: Re: like, one sentence long [was Re: ]

          … is longer.

          Yes.

          Yes, it is. In actual fact, it is longer than just one or two sentences. Yes. In actual fact.

          However…

          I watched a five-plus hour Senate joint committee hearing today. Tomorrow, I have the House Commerce committee hearing scheduled on the DVR.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2018 @ 8:09pm

    Transcript

    Transcript of Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate hearing”, Washington Post, Apr 10, 2018

    CRUZ: Let me try this, because the time is constrained. It's just a simple question. The predicate for Section 230 immunity under the CDA is that you're a neutral public forum. Do you consider yourself a neutral public forum, or are you engaged in political speech, which is your right under the First Amendment.

    ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator . . .

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2018 @ 8:44pm

    Ted Cruz's questions

    In hearing with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Ted Cruz avoids questions about Cambridge Analytica”, by Katie Leslie, Dallas News, Apr 10, 2018

    [W]hile some senators in both parties pressed Zuckerberg on the scandal, Cruz avoided any mention of Cambridge . . .

    Democrats pounce

    Texas Democrats pounced on Cruz following his exchange with Zuckerberg for avoiding asking about Cambridge . . .

    On Twitter, [the Democratic challenger for Cruz's U.S. Senate seat, current U.S. Rep. Beto] O'Rourke shared a story about how Cruz used the firm during his presidential contest . . .

    The July 7, 2015 Politico story highlighted in O'Rourke's tweet is headlined: “Cruz partners with donor's 'psychographic' firm”.

    Ted Cruz’s presidential effort is working closely with a little-known company . . .

    The company, Cambridge Analytica, has sent staff to Cruz’s campaign headquarters in Houston to help set up an intensive data analysis operation.

    Cambridge Analytica is connected to a British firm called SCL Group . . .

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

  • identicon
    Leo, 11 Apr 2018 @ 1:32am

    Ted Cruz was not wrong

    "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider" (47 U.S.C. § 230)."

    Apropos, If Facebook is found to have a political bias. Then it is publishing an opinion. Which is not protected. If Facebook shows their bias favoritism in the opinions of it's users. That is not protected. Favoring some opinions over others is not protected. And the immunity from the opinions of it's users will be associated with the opinion of Facebook itself if this if found to be the case. Thus Under 230, Facebook is not allowed to have it's own bias opinion. It is not allowed to show favoritism. Which is the same thing as having it's own bias opinion. And thus it loses it's immunity to being associated with the opinions of it's users. and can be prosecuted by the content it hosts, as posted by said users.

    And in the case of showing political favoritism, the prosecution can be severe. And more laws may be needed to curb Anti Trust violations. I/E Monopoly Laws.

    If Facebook loses it's immunity it would likely have to block 70% of it's user base, because SJWs will jump on the virtue signaling bandwagon. And create massive which hunts that will result in Facebook itself having to answer for users actions. Then there would be a backlash. It would be an internet civil war with Facebook caught in the crossfire.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2018 @ 4:05am

    "Now, to be fair, Cruz was trying to box him in with a loaded and ultimately meaningless question — and when you're being grilled by a panel of Senators, you've got to be pretty choosy about if and when you're actually going to say "you are incorrect, that's not true" in response to one of their questions."

    I'm glad this portion of the article was included, because I saw an immediate attack on Mark's "ignorance" which I'm sure isn't justified.

    Leigh, you've probably never been prepped for a congressional hearing before, but I recommend you reach out to several lawyers who've counseled others.

    Every one of them should tell you Mark's response was the correct one.

    Telling a senator "no" or "you're wrong" is never an option.

    In fact, using the word "you" isn't never an option.

    Theatrics is correct. I would rather see an article dedicated to the stupidity of Senator Cruz's ignorance of the law, especially since he has the capability of making them.

    Such as his approval of SESTA.

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

    • icon
      Ryunosuke (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 7:13am

      Re:

      this was painfully evident later on in the hearing when Senator.... I forget which one, described Facebook's beginnings and where it is now and "Only in America, right?" Zuckerberg said there were some high quality Chinese internet firms as well, and the senator was "Yes, the answer is Yes."

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

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 9:41am

      Re:

      There was no attack on Mark's "ignorance" - I said he "professed ignorance", which I don't believe and neither does anyone else.

      Usually part of that prep for congressional hearing is "don't tell obvious lies" too, I'd imagine.

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

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 9:43am

      Re:

      *Theatrics is correct. I would rather see an article dedicated to the stupidity of Senator Cruz's ignorance of the law, especially since he has the capability of making them.

      Such as his approval of SESTA.*

      As I point out several times, Facebook also played a critical role in designing and supporting SESTA. Which is exactly why I'm not letting Zuck off the hook on this one - but you are free to if you wish.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2018 @ 7:16am

    if Zuck isn't familiar with it, he should be! he's using that to his advantage, just like every ass hole who doesn't want to be indicted does!

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 11 Apr 2018 @ 11:37am

    So Zuckerberg lied to congress. It's not like anyone gets in trouble for doing that.

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

  • icon
    DanK (profile), 11 Apr 2018 @ 11:22pm

    Have your cake and eat it too?

    Leigh, you are really reaching here. Zuckerberg is saying exactly what you are saying, but you are calling him out for it.

    This is blatantly untrue, as that language appears nowhere in the law, and Section 230 is (as we've reiterated many times during the SESTA debate) designed to encourage moderation. But Zuckerberg's reply was, well, absurd:

    "I'm not that familiar with the specific legal language of the law that you speak to, so I would need to follow up with you on that."

    Cruz is saying the law says something that it doesn’t, and Zuckerberg is saying he isn’t aware of any text in the law that says that. What would you rather have him answer? (As the many other comments have said, “Cruz, you are wrong” isn’t an option...)

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

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 12 Apr 2018 @ 6:16am

      Re: Have your cake and eat it too?

      I read "I'm not familiar with the text of the law that you're talking about" not as meaning "I don't know of any text in that law which says what you're talking about", but as meaning "I'm not familiar with what that law says, so I don't know whether it says what you're talking about".

      I can see room for the interpretation you mention, now that you've pointed it out and if I squint, but it's not at all obvious either that that is the correct interpretation (the one that Zuckerberg intended) or the one that e.g. Ted Cruz would take away from hearing it.

      As to what he should have said instead, "I don't know of any text in that law which says what you're talking about" would seem sufficient. Now, it's possible that there's no way he could have expressed that sentiment clearly without it being clear that he's saying "you're wrong", because that's exactly what that is saying - and that's exactly why I disagree that "you're wrong" is not an option. When a member of Congress says something that is blatantly untrue, it's just as legitimate to tell them that as it would be to do so with anyone else.

      (Alternatively, a request for clarification - "could you point me to the text in that statute which contains the language which imposes that requirement?", or something like that - might have gotten the job done, but would be at risk of seeming like just a passive-aggressive or condescending way of saying "you're wrong", and that's likely to result in a worse impression than just saying "you're wrong" up-front.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2018 @ 8:59am

    Mistakes And Strategic Failures

    Mistakes And Strategic Failures: The Killing Of The Open Internet”, by Mike Masnick, Techdirt, Feb 26, 2018

    Last week, I pointed to a big Wired cover story about Facebook, where I called out the reporters for explaining CDA 230 exactly backwards -- falsely claiming that CDA 230 meant they couldn't take a more proactive role in moderating the site. Of course, that's wrong. CDA 230 is explicitly why they can take a more active role.

    However, since posting that article, I've heard from a few people at Facebook who told me that the view expressed in the article was actually the view within Facebook. That is, Facebook's own legal and policy team pushed the idea internally that heavy moderation may run afoul of CDA 230.

    (Hyperlink and emphasis omitted).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2018 @ 11:24am

    EFF Puzzled

    No, Section 230 Does Not Require Platforms to Be ‘Neutral’ ”, by Elliot Harmon, EFF Deeplinks blog, Apr 12, 2018

    It’s puzzling that Sen. Cruz would misrepresent one of the most important laws protecting online speech

    (Embedded hyperlink links back to this Techdirt article.)

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


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