Grandstanding Idiots In Congress Attack Social Media For Censoring Too Much And Too Little Without Understanding Anything

from the that's-not-how-it-works dept

So, yesterday the House Judiciary Committee did what the House Judiciary Committee seems to do best: hold a stupid, nonsensical, nearly fact-free "hearing" that serves as nothing more than an opportunity for elected members of Congress to demonstrate their ignorance of an important topic, while attempting to play to their base. This time, the topic was on the content filtering practices of Facebook, Twitter and Google. Back in May there was actually a whole one day conference in Washington DC on this topic. The Judiciary Committee would have been a lot better served attending that than holding this hearing. I'd recommend not wasting three hours of your life watching this thing, but if you must:

The shortest summary would be that some Republican members of Congress think that these websites censor too much conservative speech, and some Democratic members of Congress think that they don't censor enough other speech (including hoaxes and conspiracy theories)... and almost no one wants to admit that this is not even remotely an issue that Congress should be concerned about. There's a narrative that has been picked up by many that insist that social media platforms are unfairly censoring "conservatives." There is basically zero evidence to support this. Indeed, a thorough analysis of the data back in March by Nieman Labs and Newswhip found that conservative-leaning sites get much, much, much more engagement on Facebook than liberal-leaning sites.

But, never let facts get in the way of a narrative. Since that seems to be the way many hyperpartisan sites (at either end of the spectrum) deal with these things, Congress is helping out. The only bit of sanity, perhaps bizarrely, came from Rep. Ted Lieu, who reminded everyone of the importance of free markets, free speech and the fact that private platforms get to decide how they manage their own services. Considering that Republicans often like to claim the mantle of being the "small, limited government" party who wants the government's hands out of business regulation, the fact that most of the hearing involved Republicans screaming for regulating internet platforms and a Democrat reminding everyone about the importance of a free market, capitalism and free speech, it really was quite a hearing. Lieu's remarks were some of the rare moments of sanity during the hearing -- including defending Facebook leaving Alex Jones' conspiracy theories on its site. Let's start with that high point before we dive into the awfulness. His comments come at about 2 hours and 10 minutes into the video:

... we're having this ridiculous hearing on the content of speech of private sector companies. It's stupid because there's this thing called the First Amendment. We can't regulate content! The only thing worse than an Alex Jones video is the government trying to tell Google... to prevent people from watching the Alex Jones video. We can't even do it if we tried. We can't even do any legislation out of this committee. And we're having this ridiculous second installment hearing after the first hearing about Diamond and Silk not getting enough likes on Facebook.

He then went on to ask questions "so the American public understands what a dumb hearing this is." And those questions -- again -- seemed like the kinds more expected from supposedly "free market" conservatives. Specifically he asked the companies if they were private companies aiming to maximize profits for shareholders. And he wasn't doing that to show that companies were evil, he was doing that to show that that's how the free market works. He followed up with this:

I noticed all of you talked about your own internal rules. Because that's what this should be about. You all get to come up with your own rules. But not because government tells you what to do. Or because government says you have to rule this way or that way. And the whole notion that somehow we should be interfering with these platforms from a legislative, governmental point of view is an anathema to the First Amendment. And really it's about the marketplace of ideas.

Kudos to Rep. Lieu. This is the kind of speech that you'd normally expect to hear from a "small government" conservative who talks about respecting the Constitution. But, in this case, it's a Democrat. And it's shameful that others (on both sides of the aisle) weren't making the same point. Instead, there was a ton of pure nonsense spewed from the Republicans at the hearing. It's hard to fathom that the following statements were made by people we've actually elected to our legislative body. There were so many dumb statements made that it's difficult to pick out just a few.

Let's start with Rep. Steve King, who has made quite a name for himself saying and repeating bigoted nonsense. Starting at about an hour and five minutes in the video, King seemed particularly concerned about traffic to Gateway Pundit, a site famous for trafficking in utter nonsense.

It's a matter of Congressional record that Gateway Pundit, Mr. Jim Hoft, has introduced information into the record that in the span of time between 2016 and 2018, he saw his Facebook traffic cut by 54%. Could you render an explanation to that?

Um... what? How the hell is it of any concern to Congress whatsoever the traffic a single site gets? And, as we were just discussing recently, traffic to lots of news sites from Facebook has dropped massively as Facebook has de-prioritized news. In that post, we pointed out that Slate was self-reporting a drop in Facebook traffic over that same period of time of 87%. Based on that, why isn't King asking about Slate's traffic dropping? Perhaps because Gateway Pundit publishes the kind of nonsense King supports and Slate points out that King is a bigot?

And... isn't that, again, kind of the point of the First Amendment? To protect news sites from having Congress play favorites?

Incredibly, King then concludes his time by first claiming he's all for free speech and free enterprise, but wonders about turning social media sites into regulated utilities.

I'm all for freedom of speech and free enterprise and for competition and finding a way that we can have competition itself that does its own regulation, so government doesn't have to, but if this gets further out of hand, it appears to me that Section 230 needs to be reviewed, and one of the discussions that I'm hearing is 'what about converting the large behemoth organizations that we're talking about here into public utilities.'

Are we living in an upside down world? A Democrat is praising the free market, profits and free speech, and a Republican is advocating for limiting free speech and in favor of turning some of the most successful US companies into public utilities? What is even going on here?

Around an hour and 18 minutes, we get our old friend Rep. Louis Gohmert, who has a fairly long and extensive history of making the dumbest statements possible concerning technology issues. And he lived down to his usual reputation in this hearing as well. It starts off by him trying to play down the issue of Russian interference in elections, by claiming (?!?) that the Russians helped Truman get elected, and then claiming that Russians had helped basically every Democratic President get elected in the past 70 years. And then spent a long time trying to complain that the platforms wouldn't tell him if Chinese or North Korean intelligence services had also used their platforms. Remember, these companies were asked to come and testify specifically about Russian use of their platforms to interfere with the election and Gohmert stepped in with this insane "what about other countries, huh?" argument:

Gohmert: I need to ask each of you. You've been asked specifically about Russian use of your platforms. But did you ever find any indication of use of your platform, utilized by the Chinese, North Korea, or any other foreign country intelligence or agency of that country. First, Ms. Bickert?

Bickert/Facebook: I would note, Congressman, that we're not in North Korea or China. In terms of whether we've seen attacks on our services, we do have -- we are, of course, a big target -- we do have a robust security team that works...

Gohmert: Well, but that's not my question. It's just a very direct question. Have you found... You don't have to be in North Korea to be North Korean Intelligence and use... We have foreign government intelligence agencies IN THIS COUNTRY. So have... It seems to me you were each a little bit vague about "oh yes, we found hundreds" or whatever. I'm asking specifically, were any of those other countries besides Russia that were using your platform inappropriately? It should be a yes or no.

Actually, no, it shouldn't be a yes or no. That's a dumb and misleading question for a whole long list of reasons. Of course, lots of other intelligence agencies are using Facebook, because of course they are. But, the entire point of this line of questioning seems to be Gohmert trying to play down Russian use of the platform, which is... odd. Especially after he started out by praising the fact that maybe the Russians might help "our side" get elected going forward.

Bickert: I don't have the details. I know we work to detect and repel attacks...

Gohmert: I know that. But were any of them foreign entities other than Russia?

Bickert: I can certainly follow up with you on that.

Gohmert: SO YOU DON'T KNOW?!? You sure seemed anxious to answer the Democrats questions about RUSSIA's influence. And you don't really know of all the groups that inappropriately used your platform? You don't know which were Russians and which were other foreign entities?

No, that's not what she's saying at all. She's pretty clearly saying that this hearing was specifically about Russian influence and that's what she was prepared to testify on. She didn't say that Facebook can't tell Russians from other entities, just that the other entities aren't the ones accused of messing with the election and thus there isn't that much relevant right now. But that's quite a deflection attempt by Gohmert.

Let's move on to Rep. Tom Marino at about an hour and a half into the video. Marino seems to have a fairly bizarre understanding of the law as it concerns defamation. He focuses on the guy from Twitter, Nick Pickles, and starts out by reading a definition of "libel." Then he asks

Have any of you considered libel? Or do you think you are immune from it?

This is an incredibly stupid question. Twitter is clearly not immune from libel. Marino's line of questioning is an attempt to attack CDA 230, which provides immunity to Twitter from liability for defamatory statements made by its users. This is an important distinction that Marino conveniently ignores as he continues to bug Pickles.

Pickles: We have clear rules that governs what happens on Twitter. Some of those behaviors are deplorable and we want to remove them immediately... So, terrorist content is one example, where we now detect 95% of the terrorist accounts we remove...

Marino: Okay, I understand that sir. But how about... we in Congress, we put up with it all the time. I know we're public officials, same with people in the movies... but do you specifically look for and address... republication can be used in a defamation case. Do you look at libel and defamation content?

I don't even know what that means. Do you look at libel content? What? How does Twitter know if something is libelous? Especially against public officials? How is Twitter supposed to make that judgment when that's what courts are there to figure out? And, for what it's worth, Twitter has been known to abide by court rulings on defamatory speech in deciding to take down that content, but Marino seems to be asking if they make an independent judgment outside of the courts of what's libelous. Which is both crazy and impossible. Pickles makes a valiant effort in response, noting how Twitter focuses on its rules -- which is all that it's required to do -- but Marino clearly seems to want to attack CDA 230 and magically make Twitter liable for libelous content on its platform. After Pickles again explains that it focuses on its rules, rather than making judicial rulings that it cannot make, Marino puts on a dumb smirk and makes another dumb statement:

With all due respect, I've heard you focus on your rules about 32 times. DO. YOU. LOOK. FOR. LIBEL. OR. DEFAMATION. IN. YOUR. COMPANY'S. OPINION?

You can't "look for libel or defamation" like that. That's not how it works. Marino is a lawyer. He should know this. The Facebook and YouTube representatives neatly sidestep Marino's silly line of questioning by pointing out that when informed of legal rulings determining "illegal" speech, they take it down. Marino doesn't even seem to notice this very specific distinction and asks "where do you draw the line?"

At an hour and forty minutes, we have everyone's favorite, Rep. Lamar Smith, author of SOPA back in the day. He spews more utter nonsense claiming conservatives have been more negatively impacted by the moves of these social media companies, and then (bizarrely) argues that Google employees forcing the company not to help surveillance activity is somehow an attack on conservatives. Excuse me? Conservatives don't support the 4th Amendment any more? Say what? But the real craziness is this line:

Google has also deleted or blocked references to Jesus, Chick-Fil-A and the Catholic religion.

I'm going to call time out here and note [citation needed] on that one, Smith. Google pretty clearly shows me results on all three of those things. I've been trying to figure out what the hell he's referring to, and I'm guessing that Smith -- in his usual Smithian nonsensical way -- is confusing Google for Facebook, and Facebook's bad filter that initially blocked a page about "Chick-fil-Appreciation Day," and some Catholic church pages. The "Jesus" blocking is also Facebook and was in reference to an ad for a Catholic university.

All of these examples were not, as Smith implies, evidence of "liberal bias" on behalf of Facebook, but rather evidence of why it's so problematic that governments are putting so much pressure on Facebook to magically filter out all of the bad stuff. That's not possible without making mistakes. And what happens is that you set up guidelines and those guidelines are then handed to people who don't have nearly enough time to understand the context, and sometimes they make mistakes. It's not bias. It's the nature of trying to moderate millions of pieces of content every damn day, because if they don't, these same idiots in Congress would be screaming at them about how they're letting the bad content live on. I mean, it's doubly ridiculous for Smith to use the Jesus example as even the guy who bought the ad, the university's web communications director, specifically said that he didn't believe it had anything to do with bias, but was just a bad decision by an algorithm or a low level staffer.

Finally (and there are more, but damn, this post is getting way too long) we get to Rep. Matt Gaetz. At around an hour and 55 minutes into the hearing, he suddenly decides to weigh in that the First Amendment and CDA 230 are somehow in conflict, in another bizarre exchange between Gaetz and Twitter's Pickles.

Gaetz: Is it your testimony or is it your viewpoint today that Twitter is an interactive computer service pursuant to Section 230 sub c(1).

Pickles: I'm not a lawyer, so I won't want to speak to that. But as I understand, under Section 230, we are protected by that, yes.

Gaetz: So Section 230 covers you, and that section says "no provider of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another"... is it your contention that Twitter enjoys a First Amendment right under speech, while at the same time enjoying Section 230 rights?

Pickles: Well, I think we've discussed the way the First Amendment interacts with our companies. As private companies we enforce our rules, and our rules prohibit a range of activities.

Gaetz: I'm not asking about your rules. I'm asking about whether or not you believe you have First Amendment rights. You either do or you do not.

Pickles: I'd like to follow up on that, as someone who is not a lawyer... I think it's very important...

Gaetz: Well, you're the senior public policy official for Twitter before us and you will not answer the question whether or not you believe your company enjoys rights under the First Amendment?

Pickles: Well, I believe we do, but I would like to confirm with colleagues...

Gaetz: So what I want to understand is, if you say "I enjoy rights under the First Amendment" and "I'm covered by Section 230" and Section 230 itself says "no provider shall be considered the speaker" do you see the tension that creates?

There is no tension there. The only tension is between the molecules in Gaetz's brain that seemed to think this line of nonsensical argument makes any sense at all. There is no conflict. First, yes, it's obvious that Twitter is clearly protected by both the First Amendment and CDA 230. That's been established by dozens of court rulings with not a single ruling ever holding otherwise. Second, the "tension" that Gaetz sees is purely a figment of his own misreading of the law. The "no provider shall be considered a speaker" part, read in actual context (as Gaetz did earlier) does not say that platforms are not speakers. It says that they are not considered a speaker of other people's speech. In fact, this helps protect free speech by enabling internet platforms the ability to host any speech without facing liability for that speech.

That helps protect the First Amendment by ensuring that any liability is on the speaker and not on the tool they use to distribute that speech. But Twitter has its own First Amendment rights to determine what speech it decides to keep on its site -- and which speech it decides not to allow. Gaetz then, ridiculous, tries to claim that Pickle's response to that nonsensical response is somehow in conflict with what Twitter's lawyers have said in the silly Jared Taylor lawsuit. Gaetz asks Pickles if Twitter could kick someone off the platform "for being a woman or being gay." Pickles points out that that is not against Twitter's rules... and Gaetz points out that in the Taylor case, when asked the same question, Twitter's lawyers stated (1) that Twitter has the right to do so but (2) never would.

Again, both Pickles and Twitter's lawyers are correct. They do have that right (assuming it's not a violation of discrimination laws) but of course they wouldn't do that. Pickles wasn't denying that. He was pointing out that the hypothetical is silly because that's not something Twitter would do. Twitter's lawyers in the case were, correctly, pointing out that it would have the right to do such a nonsensical thing if it chose to do so, while also making it clear it would never do that. Again, that's not in conflict, but Gaetz acts as if he's "caught" Twitter in some big admission.

Gaetz falsely then claims that Pickles is misrepresenting Twitter's position:

Right but it is not in service of transparency if Twitter sends executives to Congress to say one thing -- that you would not have the right to engage in that conduct -- and then your lawyers in litigation say precisely the opposite.

Except that's not what happened at all. Pickles and the lawyers agreed. At no point did Pickles say that Twitter did not have "the right" to kick people off its platform for any reason. He just noted that it was not a part of their policy to do so, nor would it ever be. That's entirely consistent with what Twitter's lawyers said in the Taylor case. This is Gaetz making a complete ass out of himself in completely misrepresenting the law, the constitution and what Twitter said both in the hearing and in the courthouse.

Seriously, people, we need to elect better Representatives to Congress. This is embarrassing.


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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 8:33am

    And, for what it's worth, Twitter has been known to abide by court rulings on defamatory speech in deciding to take down that content, but Marino seems to be asking if they make an independent judgment outside of the courts of what's libelous. Which is both crazy and impossible.

    It's exactly what you'd expect, though, from 20 years of precedent under the DMCA. It's crazy and impossible to expect a platform to correctly make an independent judgment outside of the courts of what's copyright infringment, but that insanity has been around for so long that it's become expected and normalized. So why not push things a bit further?

    As I've said in the past, this will continue until we get rid of the DMCA.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 9:47am

    Narcissists don't need facts.

    Everything is about how awesome they are and how you are supposed to to serve them. So their self contradictions really just mean that YOU don't understand what YOU are supposed to do to make whatever THEY say true.

    Which is why they are bitching about content filtering, while at the same time using the golden cow of the "free market" as an argument for supporting communications monopolies. Of course this is wrong. But since they are always right, no matter what, it is YOUR obligation to figure out a way to make the facts suit their bizarre fantasy world. And they get to live in that fantasy as long as they can get funding from SCOTUS's procedurally unconstitutional incantations of synthetic persons.

    You can't fuck with the establishment clause, without endowing the people the right to fuck with the establishment.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 10:01am

      Question: Why should Twitter be forced to host speech which the platform’s owners/administrators do not want to host?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 10:27am

        Re:

        If Twitter were small scale and there were numerous competitors then it should have the authority to host or not host what it pleases based on any whim.

        Twitter is NOT small and there really are NO competitors making it in effect a monopoly. Monopolies should not have the privilege of deciding moral issues simply because they or some of their users do not like what others say. That action is the bases of a totalitarian society. You do what I say and do what I say because I have the power; be damn with your desires and wants.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 10:39am

          Re: Re:

          Yeah, if Twitter blocks me, there is simply nowhere I can post my opinion on the internet!

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 10:51am

          Re: Re:

          How big, in exact detail, must a company be before the people who own/run it lose the right to run it how they see fit?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 11:22am

            Re: Re: Re:

            How big, in exact detail, must a company be before the people who own/run it lose the right to run it how they see fit?

            Well, no one really sensibly expects a nine or ten year-old kid's lemonade stand to operate with a business license. But by the time the kid gets to be maybe eighteen, they probably ought to start collecting sales tax like everyone else.

            And maybe the eighteen year-old lemonade stand owner should really wear a hair net when they're mixing up the drinks for human consumption. Perhaps latex gloves. And the dishwasher better be running with water that's hot enough. Or do you think all that health stuff should just wait until FDA swoops in to investigate twenty or thirty or fifty people sickened by a food poisoning incident?

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              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 11:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Cool non-sequiter. Now back to the topic of monopolies losing their first amendment rights...

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                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 12:04pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Some people seem to have a religious belief in business owners' entitlement to run their businesses however they see fit. But outside of nine and ten year old lemonade-stand owners, that's never been the case.

                Knowing some eighteen year-olds, if they had their way, they'd probably see fit to be adulterating the lemonade with Everclear. Which, admittedly, ought to be enought to cure any worrisome bacterial cultures.

                The thing is, though, when it's a business, the owner doesn't just get to run it however “they see fit.”

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 1:02pm

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

                  Okay, accepted: it is too simplistic and extreme to say businesses can do whatever "they see fit". That was an un-nuanced way of phrasing the question.

                  Can we stop talking about lemonade stands now?

                  What is your proposal regarding Twitter?

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 1:25pm

                  Some people seem to have a religious belief in business owners' entitlement to run their businesses however they see fit.

                  I am not one of those people. Twitter should have to abide by any law or regulation that governs a service such as Twitter, much like any other business should have to abide by laws and regulations that govern them. My point, which you are intentionally avoiding, is that Twitter is under no legal, moral, or ethical obligation to host speech that the owners/admins do not want on the service.

                  At what point in its lifespan must a service like Twitter be forced by the government to allow everyone to use the service or host speech that the people in charge of the service do not want to host?

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                  • icon
                    Mason Wheeler (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 1:59pm

                    Re:

                    "The point in which they become the *de facto* public square" sounds pretty reasonable to me.

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                    • icon
                      Leigh Beadon (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 2:14pm

                      Re: Re:

                      The point in which they become the de facto public square" sounds pretty reasonable to me

                      That's not really an answer, that's just another way of framing the ill-defined standard.

                      Twitter was launched in 2006 with a handful of users. In 2010, it had around 10-million US users. Today, it has around 70-million US users, which is just under 25% of US internet users.

                      At what point did it become the "de facto public square"?

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                      • icon
                        DiscontentedMajority (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 4:39pm

                        Re: Re: Re:

                        I would say it was right around the time that the courts ruled that the President cannot block people of twitter due to it being an important means of political communication.

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                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2018 @ 3:40pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          That ruling did mot tell Twitter how to run its system, but rather told the president that part of his job is to listen to his citizens, on whatever medium he uses to talk to them.

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                      • icon
                        Mason Wheeler (profile), 19 Jul 2018 @ 10:09am

                        Re: Re: Re:

                        Don't ask me; I'm not a political science expert. I'll leave the definition of exactly when this happened to those who are. But can you really deny that, at some point along the way, it has done so?

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                        • icon
                          Leigh Beadon (profile), 19 Jul 2018 @ 10:32am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          *But can you really deny that, at some point along the way, it has done so?*

                          Yes. I completely deny that. I don't see the logic in claiming that Twitter is the public square **at all** - it seems completely arbitrary and silly to me, a declaration made out of a vague "feeling" just because something is culturally popular or powerful.

                          And if you don't even have the beginning of a scrap of a definition of when you think it happens, then I think that shows I'm quite correct.

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                          • icon
                            Mason Wheeler (profile), 19 Jul 2018 @ 11:42am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            I don't see the logic in claiming that Twitter is the public square at all - it seems completely arbitrary and silly to me, a declaration made out of a vague "feeling" just because something is culturally popular or powerful.

                            There's nothing "vague" about it, not when top government officials are using it--officially or otherwise--as a tool of public policy, as has been covered elsewhere on Techdirt. (And no, that's not the definition you keep pestering people for, but rather an indicator. They wouldn't be doing so if they didn't recognize it as the de facto public square of our time.)

                            And if you don't even have the beginning of a scrap of a definition of when you think it happens, then I think that shows I'm quite correct.

                            I think that shows you're arguing in bad faith. How many things do you use and rely upon in your day-to-day life without having a good explanation for how they work? According to your logic, that means they don't actually work at all. According to my logic, that means that you're not an expert in that particular subject, but that doesn't make the fact that they work as observed any less true.

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                            • icon
                              Leigh Beadon (profile), 19 Jul 2018 @ 12:58pm

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

                              I'm not arguing in bad faith. You're proposing that internet platforms be stripped of their first amendment rights and be essentially converted into public entities subject to the same rules as the government - and all you can say about the conditions for this happening is "political scientists will figure it out". That's pretty meaningless.

                              I would point out that "public square" doesn't even have a real legal definition, so you're not even really proposing anything. "Public forum" is a legal concept - and the absolute core and heart of its definition is that it is a space owned and operated by the government.

                              On the very, very rare occasions that states have extended public forum protections to a privately operated space - something the Supreme Court has said they are allowed to do, but that the first amendment does not require and the federal government will not do - it has been in situations where the private space was immovably dominant and there were no alternative fora for a particular kind of speech. That is clearly not the case with Twitter - it represents only a tiny fraction of the potential for publishing your speech and reaching an audience online.

                              How many things do you use and rely upon in your day-to-day life without having a good explanation for how they work?

                              Some. Though, if I want to propose sweeping legal changes for them that involve massive government intervention and fundamentally new interpretations of the highest law in the land, I try to learn how they work first.

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                              • icon
                                Mason Wheeler (profile), 19 Jul 2018 @ 1:53pm

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

                                First off, I'm proposing that First Amendment rights belong to the people, it's fundamentally a mistake to consider that anyone except for a human being possesses them. Unfortunately, it's a mistake that our court system has actually made, but yes, it was a mistake, and it needs to be undone. I suppose that would count as "stripping corporations of their First Amendment rights" if you want to look at it that way.

                                Second, the First Amendment restricts the government, and only the government, from censoring the speech of the people mostly as an accident of history, because when it was drafted, the government was the only entity with the capability of doing so. The very concept of telecommunications was still a century off in the future. (Almost literally; Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone in the year the USA was celebrating its first centennial.)

                                A democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The First Amendment prohibits things whose very nature is so heinous that We The People decided we do not trust anyone, not even ourselves, with that power. So to say that when private entities, through the use of technology that the framers of the First Amendment never considered would ever be possible, develops the capability to do things that used to be only possible to the government, which the government (which is us) has declared we don't want to be possible even when only we can do it and can be held accountable to the people, that it's just fine for an unaccountable private entity to do so, is fundamentally absurd.

                                If you become big enough to enter that space, which used to be the sole province of governments, then restrictions that used to apply to governmental conduct absolutely should apply to you as well, such as the First Amendment.

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                                • icon
                                  Leigh Beadon (profile), 19 Jul 2018 @ 2:05pm

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

                                  First off, I'm proposing that First Amendment rights belong to the people, it's fundamentally a mistake to consider that anyone except for a human being possesses them.

                                  So newspapers and broadcasters, for example, have no free speech rights in your eyes? If congress passed a law saying "no incorporated newspaper may publish articles critical of the president or other elected representatives" on penalty of crippling fines, there would be no First Amendment issue there?

                                  the First Amendment restricts the government, and only the government, from censoring the speech of the people mostly as an accident of history, because when it was drafted, the government was the only entity with the capability of doing so

                                  No it wasn't. There were private landowners, privately owned spaces where events happened, private universities, private newspapers, private book publishers, private pamphleteers... The framers declined to place first amendment restrictions on their practices, and for good reason - because it makes zero sense to do so.

                                  If you become big enough to enter that space, which used to be the sole province of governments

                                  What are you talking about? You really, really need to start being more precise.

                                  When was it the "sole province of governments" to provide a conversational forum used by a minority of the population, like Twitter?

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                                  • icon
                                    Mason Wheeler (profile), 19 Jul 2018 @ 2:40pm

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

                                    So newspapers and broadcasters, for example, have no free speech rights in your eyes? If congress passed a law saying "no incorporated newspaper may publish articles critical of the president or other elected representatives" on penalty of crippling fines, there would be no First Amendment issue there?

                                    The people involved in producing it definitely have free speech rights. (And, more to the point here, freedom of the press rights.) Their First Amendment rights would be implicated in any such hypothetical decision.

                                    No it wasn't. There were private landowners, privately owned spaces where events happened, private universities, private newspapers, private book publishers, private pamphleteers...

                                    And none of them could reach everybody the way that the Internet enables people to do today. That was simply so far beyond the scope of 18th-century technology as to be unimaginable.

                                    The framers declined to place first amendment restrictions on their practices, and for good reason - because it makes zero sense to do so.

                                    ...or because they lacked the reach and influence which, up until recent times, was only available to governments.

                                    When was it the "sole province of governments" to provide a conversational forum used by a minority of the population, like Twitter?

                                    See, this is why I said above that you're arguing in bad faith. You're twisting my words into something I never said. What used to be the sole province of governments was to forcibly censor speech in the public square that they disapprove of. Nowadays, when large Internet platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have become our modern-day public square, they have that capability, and thus need to be restrained by the First Amendment.

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                                    • icon
                                      Leigh Beadon (profile), 19 Jul 2018 @ 2:55pm

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

                                      *See, this is why I said above that you're arguing in bad faith. You're twisting my words into something I never said.*

                                      No, I'm trying to **understand** what you are saying, because you're not being very clear or making much sense.

                                      And we're just back to where we started: you are offering zero definition of what makes these things the de facto public square. Twitter is used by a minority of American internet users, and an even smaller minority of Americans in general. It has no power to prevent people putting up websites, publishing blogs, putting their content on one of myriad other social networks and similar platforms, or anything else outside its own large-but-not-dominant ecosystem.

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                                    • icon
                                      Leigh Beadon (profile), 19 Jul 2018 @ 2:58pm

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

                                      The people involved in producing it definitely have free speech rights. (And, more to the point here, freedom of the press rights.) Their First Amendment rights would be implicated in any such hypothetical decision.

                                      By the by, you do realize internet platforms are created by people too, right?

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                                    • icon
                                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Jul 2018 @ 4:01pm

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

                                      Nowadays, when large Internet platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have become our modern-day public square, they have that capability, and thus need to be restrained by the First Amendment.

                                      You know, you never did answer my questions: At what specific, detailed, and utterly arbitrary moment does a privately-owned service like Twitter become the de facto “public square”; why does it deserve to be taken over by the government at that exact moment; and how would you square your support for the First Amendment with a government takeover of a privately-owned platform for speech and expression?

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                                      • identicon
                                        Wendy Cockcroft, 24 Jul 2018 @ 6:08am

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

                                        Never. It's "a" privately-owned square frequented by the public, not "the" public square, owned and maintained by the public via the government. There's Facebook and a range of competitors to consider as well, so it's assuredly not a monopoly. FB would be its nearest competitor followed perhaps by G+ and other platforms such as Instagram. Basically, any platform that enables conversations in real time is a "privately-owned square frequented by the public." Any platform becomes a de-facto public square when it is owned by the public and not one minute before.

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                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 2:16pm

                      Re: Re:

                      What makes them the de facto public square, then—number of users, amount of posts per day/hour/minute, traffic levels? Why does Twitter get the honor of being “the public square” instead of Tumblr, Facebook, and other similarly large services? How would you really feel about the government taking over a privately-owned Internet service at an arbitrary moment in that service’s lifetime just so it could force the service to host all kinds of speech/allow all kinds of people to use it because…freedom, apparently?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 11:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yes. Which regulations are you imagining that Twitter isn't following?

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 11:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              This might be a good comment if we were talking about the food service industry.

              We are not talking about the food service industry.

              But since you seem to take issue with the phrasing of my question by way of posting a completely unrelated comment, I shall rephrase: How big, in exact detail, must a company that runs a service like Twitter get before the people who own that company/run that service lose the right to run the service how they see fit?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 1:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Well, no one really sensibly expects a nine or ten year-old kid's lemonade stand to operate with a business license."

              I guess you have not read about BBQ Becky, Permit Patty and Pool Patrol Paula.

              https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/07/17/permit-patty-activism-share-videos-s ocial-media/787551002/

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 3:06pm

            Re: Re: Re:

            Social media sites aren't carriers. You were free (prior to the dissolution of NN) to put up any site you want and share it with the world independent of the social media companies. Whether that is true or not now, hasn't been tested in court, but it probably soon will be. It is only a matter of time before "editorial" control creeps into private hosting.

            There is something to be said for the ubuiquitous collection by social medial companies being bought and used by nation states. It does seem to cross the boundaries into functioning as agencies of state. Which would make any collection at all a civil rights violation.

            The Constitutional answer is that interpersonal communications are interpersonal communications, regardless of whether or not they are digitized. Which is to say that collection and dessemination of those interpersonal communications without informed consent is a felony violates existing wiretapping statutes.

            The destinction the fed makes is no distinction at all. A call over the POTS network is digitized. It is just digitized using a slightly different system than say a video conference.

            Which is to say, that when the Fed made the distinction between digital and non-digital communications (with the patriot act I believe) that isn't what the result actually was. Essentially the result was that they created a caveat for the bulk of private criminal surveillance statutes period, for both corporate and government level intrusion. However this fact is prosecuted judiciously to ensure that they can maintain the precedent and use it as much as possible, but not so much people start standing up for their neighbors.

            So in the modern law, the criminality of wiretapping depends on who you are, not what you did. So the answer to: "How big, in exact detail, must a company be before the people who own/run it lose the right to run it how they see fit?" is this: "It is the same size you have to be where criminal wiretapping statutes no longer apply to you."

            Of course it would all be a lot easier if we just started respecting the Constitution as it is written. But as long as SCOTUS decides to ignore Constitutional procedure, and invent ever more batshit interpretations of the document based on statutes that weren't passed by Constitutional Congress, I wouldn't expect it.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 10:59am

          Re: Re:

          There are alternatives to twitter, some with massive audiences, like Facebook and YouTube. There is also Reddit, 4cham etc. While the do not work like twitter, they all allow you to reach large audiences. Also, it is possible to get round twitters censors by using the likes of Blogger, and tweeting a link to a blog post.

          So its not as if twitter is your only way of reaching a large audience.

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        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 11:44am

          Re: Re:

          *making it in effect a monopoly*

          Simple question: a monopoly on what, precisely?

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 10:05am

      Re: Narcissists don't need facts.

      There is another aspect to the MSM which it is demonstrated by Soros ans his psychology which in essence is an advance version of eugenics covered up with a public personae of open society.

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  • icon
    Designerfx (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 10:05am

    this isn't even a representative issue, this is *florida*

    There's a reason people make fun of Florida constantly. This is about average for Florida (Gaetz)

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  • identicon
    Nick-B, 18 Jul 2018 @ 10:44am

    Right vs Action

    You'd think that Republicans would know the difference between having a right, and to (or choosing not to) act upon that right. The very same people that argue loudly that everyone has the right to hold guns and use them, while claiming they don't actually need to use them.

    Ugh, I think that sounded better inside my head. Anyway, I guess I'm just trying to point out that just because someone has the RIGHT to do something you hate, doesn't mean they will do so. The whole point of our freedoms is the right to do a lot of things, and the moral recerves to NOT act upon them.

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  • icon
    NoahVail (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 10:46am

    A conservative's perspective

    Mike is right, beginning to end.

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 24 Jul 2018 @ 6:10am

      Re: A conservative's perspective

      Confirmed correct, for the most part. We need to stop letting rabid right-wingers get away with calling themselves conservative, thereby normalising their abhorrent attitudes.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 12:24pm

    Since the posters of the content are responsible for the content, then the service hosting said content should not be responsible for filtering anything that is not a crime ( kiddie pron etc ).

    I have never had a social media account but I would suspect that they have settings where you can block users/content.

    Don't like what you see? Then move on.

    I am not a fan of social media but I see no reason why they should have to babysit users. Old enough to log in, then old enough to decide what you want to see or not see.
    and take the appropriate action.

    "OOOOOOHHHH somebody said/posted something I think is mean about ( insert something/someone here ). I need to cry to moderators/admins and have it removed because it upsets my sensibilities."

    If you can't play with the big dogs stay on the porch. If you're going to use the internet then put on your big boy pants and understand there are people who may say things you don't like. Get over it FFS and move on.

    It's because all the special snowflakes get butt hurt over minor crap we end up with a govt that tries to police everything we do.

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    • identicon
      John Smith, 18 Jul 2018 @ 12:28pm

      Re:

      When employers, landlords, and vigilantes search by name on the internet, through sites that are immune from liability for the damage caused by the lies, it's not "minor crap."

      Search engines turn "minor crap" into lifelong lies about people. Lies don't bode well for those who tell them, believe them, or allow them to spread.

      I bet if someone ever used Section 230 to maximum advantage against one of the publishers of this site, the site's opinion would change.

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 1:18pm

        Re: Re:

        If someone posts defamatory content, they can be sued. The service should have no liability for content it did not post, and the content should only be removed if a court orders the removal. How the hell is Twitter supposed to know, with the certainty of God, if a statement posted by any given user is defamatory?

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  • identicon
    John Smith, 18 Jul 2018 @ 12:25pm

    Section 230 allows weaponization of the internet in a way only allowed in America. Those who support Section 230 are saying that the rights of internet companies trump the right of an individual to a good reputation. The cost to the taxpayers is staggering for each life ruined: disability benefits, subsidized housing, emergency medical care, and of course crime by vigilante mobs used as pawns.

    "Sue the original poster" means nothing if someone powerful uses the judgment-proof or anonymous to do their dirtywork. If someone does so via an anonymous remailer, and then it's archived, the target of the defamation has literally no remedy. Even in other cases there is no practical remedy.

    Lawyers know this and of course they support a law that leads to all these defamation suits. Even better is that instigators can set up defamatory websites then link to them, claiming Section 230 immunity, knowing if they link to someone who already dislikes the litigious target, that they will repeat the lies, be sued by the target, and....cui bono?

    If you think an internet company's rights are more important than someone's right to life, or reputation, I would disagree. Also if a website cannot be sued for defamation by its users, then it also can't be sued for false advertising by its sponsors. It is free to censor dissent, but I am free to wonder if that includes anything negative about its sponsors. Just to be safe, don't buy anything advertised online, or boycott the advertisers for supporting websites which hide behind Section 230.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 12:34pm

      Re:

      Also if a website cannot be sued for defamation by its users,

      And if it can, why would it allow users to post anything that they do not pass by one of their editors?

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      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 12:57pm

        Re: Re:

        Editors knowing what is or is not defamatory is about as likely as anyone knowing what is or is not someone else's copyright. It is as easy as checking the databases...right?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 1:12pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Once you are forced into editorial decision, it is easy to say no if there is the slightest doubt about a comment, or content for that matter. If the site carries the risk, they will be ultra cautious about what is actually published.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 12:52pm

      Re:

      Nice straw man bro.

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

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 12:58pm

      Re:

      Okay - but let's be clear. Without Section 230, there is no Twitter, no Facebook, no YouTube, no Wordpress.com. All those services - and all the millions of much smaller online services - would be put in a position where they had to legally review every single thing hosted on their sites. So while microblogging, sharing, video, and blogging websites might emerge, they would be extremely different: they would only have a very slow trickle of content, a handful of new tweets/posts/videos by a handful of users every day. The independent blogosphere would be much smaller - a platform like Wordpress.com would only be able to host a few blogs and maybe publish like one post from each of them per day, so anyone who doesn't know how to set up their entire own blogging site on their own server would be SOL.

      Note, by the way, that by "on their own server" I really mean like a server they set up in their home. Because web hosting companies are also covered by Section 230 - so without it, there would be nothing like GoDaddy or Namecheap where you can just go sign up and pay and immediately have a web host that you can upload stuff to. Anyone offering hosting services would have to review and approve everything posted by every website.

      Incidentally, this comment of yours would not be here on Techdirt, if Techdirt was even able to exist. At best it would be held for moderation (probably for days or even weeks - we are a tiny team) or, more likely, we'd have never had comments in the first place and indeed comments would not be the norm anywhere on the web. It would instead function far more like a broadcast medium, with a few large media players dominating everything and no meaningful way for individuals to comment, react, criticize, or publish their own material.

      So if we accept your condemnation of section 230, then: is the world I just outlined the one you want to see? Or do you have a different proposal?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2018 @ 9:08am

        Re: Re:

        Okay - but let's be clear. Without Section 230, there is no Twitter, no Facebook, no YouTube, no Wordpress.com. All those services - and all the millions of much smaller online services - would be put in a position where they had to legally review every single thing hosted on their sites.

        That's just not true. The CDA is from 1996; the web existed earlier, as did BBSes, and CompuServe had already won a case in 1991 saying they weren't publishers. And there are non-American sites that don't benefit from this US law, and maybe have no local law and just have to rely on courts having common sense.

        The important part of the CDA is that it allows moderation—courts had found companies liable when they were making decisions about what to publish. So, to be clear, without 230 they're not "put in a position where they had to legally review every single thing hosted on their sites"—they're put in the position that they should never review anything, lest they become a "publisher". Maybe there's some way they could use distributed user-moderation, or maybe they'd be completely unmoderated.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2018 @ 10:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's just not true.

          Yes and no.

          Back when the web was just getting started, few people cared about stuff like this/didn't realize it could be an issue. Also I feel that, and I could be wrong, most people back then recognized that "of course you shouldn't sue a site for something their user said, that's just stupid". It wasn't until people started realizing that people could say stuff they didn't like anonymously and couldn't get them to stop that they decided to go after the easy targets, the platforms.

          Basically it amounts to "Crap, this guy is anonymous so I can't sue him in court and it would probably cost me more money than I would get in a victory. But hey! If I sue the platform, I can either get them to unmask the user or ban them and get a ton of money if I win. Win-win!".

          Back in the day, there wasn't a ton of that. Chalk it up to the web being too new, people not realizing they could do that, it becoming common practice, people getting way more sensitive since then, take your pick. But ultimately, while we may not have needed those protections back then, we definitely need them today. And if those protections are removed, sites like Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress, etc... will quickly disappear and none will crop up to replace them because nobody wants to be responsible for all the crap people say on their site.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 1:26pm

      Re:

      "weaponization of the internet "

      LOL - and you are serious, too funny

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    • icon
      John Roddy (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 1:38pm

      I don't even know where to start explaining how wrong this is, so let's just start from the top.

      Section 230 allows weaponization of the internet in a way only allowed in America.

      No, that's all courtesy of the first amendment. Section 230 just makes sure the Internet doesn't accidentally cripple it.

      Those who support Section 230 are saying that the rights of internet companies trump the right of an individual to a good reputation.

      a) Section 230 doesn't assign any "rights" to internet companies at all.

      b) And since when did "an individual" ever have the right to a "good reputation?" This is the first I've heard of it.

      The cost to the taxpayers is staggering for each life ruined: disability benefits, subsidized housing, emergency medical care, and of course crime by vigilante mobs used as pawns.

      Don't forget all terrorism in the world ever. Twitter was 100% responsible for 9/11, after all.

      "Sue the original poster" means nothing if someone powerful uses the judgment-proof or anonymous to do their dirtywork. If someone does so via an anonymous remailer, and then it's archived, the target of the defamation has literally no remedy. Even in other cases there is no practical remedy.

      And this is the fault of the internet platform…how? Are you seriously suggesting that they be liable just because they're the easiest to find? That's almost the entire problem that Section 230 was written to prevent in the first place.

      Lawyers know this and of course they support a law that leads to all these defamation suits. Even better is that instigators can set up defamatory websites then link to them, claiming Section 230 immunity, knowing if they link to someone who already dislikes the litigious target, that they will repeat the lies, be sued by the target, and....cui bono?

      Please reference one case where anything even remotely similar to this happened. There are twenty years of case law on this, so if it's really that simple, there should be plenty of examples.

      If you think an internet company's rights are more important than someone's right to life, or reputation, I would disagree. Neither of those things are actual rights. Please be more specific.

      Also if a website cannot be sued for defamation by its users, then it also can't be sued for false advertising by its sponsors.

      What? Those are two entirely separate things. How on earth does one influence the other?

      It is free to censor dissent, but I am free to wonder if that includes anything negative about its sponsors.

      Yes, you are indeed free to wonder that. However, Section 230 doesn't extend as far as you think. This is what Backpage.com discovered once courts started finding out just how far their "moderation" efforts go. It's a strong shield against liability, but it isn't bulletproof.

      Just to be safe, don't buy anything advertised online,

      That is called fearmongering. Advertisers have an alarming amount of power and influence, sure, but they are not the secret world government.

      or boycott the advertisers for supporting websites which hide behind Section 230.

      This is almost identical to criticizing someone for "hiding behind the first amendment." And really, at that point, it's a matter of what is considered "unprotected speech" by constitutional standards. That is a first amendment issue, not Section 230.

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 3:03pm

      Re:

      What the ones before me said. But I'd really like to understand what kind of convoluted logic places right to life in comparison with section 230. Seriously. And where the heck have you found this alien "right to reputation"?

      You are fascinating, somebody should study you.

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

      Re:

      You're literally just lying.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 3:33pm

      Re:

      Step 1 set up defamiatory website!

      Step 2 qui bono?

      Step 3 profit?!?

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  • icon
    ECA (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 2:31pm

    OPINION, TLDR

    Im sorry, but this was longer then some EULA's..

    HOW in hell do you monitor, edit, censor, SPEECH??
    1. If you edit someone Else's word, ITS NOT THEIRS ANYMORE..
    2. if you monitor, you can give YOUR opinion/explanation/understanding of what IS, that you see.
    3. there are FEW reasons to Censor what a person says, Because of perspective. Its like School and that 1 kid that dont understand MATH, give me 1/2 hour and he will be a B or C student..

    Iv been taught 1 major thing In my life..Everyone has a perspective and opinion. This is the same as Every person trying to explain Science/math/english, and HOw they were taught/shown how things work.
    Its like the tile of this Article.. In my understanding the last 3 words are about the Previous words.. NOT the first ones...SOCIAL MEDIA is the 2nd subject. and anything after that MUST be about SOCIAL media, unless you reference the FIRST..
    I type and express, as I would speak..and our language is so convoluted, that we added rules of other languages that just dont work, very well..

    The only restrictions on conversation should only BE..
    1. you have to listen, to what others say..
    2. TRY to understand their side(S) and there WILL BE MANY.
    3. NO PERSONAL INSULTS, leave my grandmothers son out of it.

    What would be interesting is if we had a Puzzle on the bottom to SHOW facts and what correlated with what was said.
    But its hard to seperate truth and fantasy(lies can be very good)

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    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 3:50pm

      Re: OPINION, TLDR

      *The only restrictions on conversation should only BE..

      1. you have to listen, to what others say..*

      What does that mean? Like, should everyone be legally required to read Techdirt? It'd be great for our advertising rates, but I'm not sure that's a workable plan...

      2. TRY to understand their side(S) and there WILL BE MANY.

      How, exactly, do you place a "restriction" on "conversation" such that people are forced to "try to understand"? Do you have a universal mindreading device I don't know about?

      3. NO PERSONAL INSULTS, leave my grandmothers son out of it.

      Well there goes 75% of Twitter, and a lot of great Trump jokes.

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      • icon
        ECA (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 5:00pm

        Re: Re: OPINION, TLDR

        1.
        is the reasons a person has an opinion, and if you are willing to Express it, someone should READ it, before they make an opinion about it..

        2. Wow, so we have few people with Any comprehension?? does this include you, also?? and debating words is fun, as every one expresses in different ways.

        2. trump aint here, and if he was, he hasnt said anything.. he doesnt even defend himself ANYWAY..

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  • identicon
    Glenn, 18 Jul 2018 @ 2:41pm

    Embarrassing?

    Well, yeah, but what do you expect... so many of these people were elected by the same ones who put Trump in the White House. Worse, the same people who would do it again!

    I guess the number of people that you can fool all of the time just keeps getting larger.

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  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 11:12pm

    Gohmert just couldn't say that word, could he?

    I can hear him stumbling: "The Russians helped Trum...Trum...Trum...Trum...Trum...Trum......Troo-man, that's right, Truman got elected."

    Why is saying that word so hard?

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  • identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 24 Jul 2018 @ 6:02am

    Partisan Pattycake and associated stupidity

    Kudos to Rep. Lieu. This is the kind of speech that you'd normally expect to hear from a "small government" conservative who talks about respecting the Constitution. But, in this case, it's a Democrat.

    He's a good chap, Ted. In any case, you'll probably find he's a Blue Dog type who never switched over to the GOP side after the Southern Strategy siphoned off most of the right wing voters.

    Are we living in an upside down world? A Democrat is praising the free market, profits and free speech, and a Republican is advocating for limiting free speech and in favor of turning some of the most successful US companies into public utilities? What is even going on here?

    Fascism.

    At an hour and forty minutes, we have everyone's favorite, Rep. Lamar Smith, author of SOPA back in the day. He spews more utter nonsense claiming conservatives have been more negatively impacted by the moves of these social media companies, and then (bizarrely) argues that Google employees forcing the company not to help surveillance activity is somehow an attack on conservatives. Excuse me? Conservatives don't support the 4th Amendment any more?

    "Conservative" doesn't mean "rabid right-winger," Mike. Which this chap is; corporatist edition. The GOP started wiping its bum with the Constitution during the Reagan era when they let the religious authoritarians in. We began to notice it more after 9/11.

    Seriously, people, we need to elect better Representatives to Congress. This is embarrassing.

    How feasible is it to enact proportional representation in America, state by state? I've learned that some states do it. It's the only way to break gerrymandering and the hyper-partisanship that a) gets these clowns repeatedly into office and b) keeps other, better candidates out. Per the Scientific American intelligent, science bods are running for office but without the funding for ads, etc., they miss out on reaching their intended audience. PR and getting money out of politics would give them a better chance. As it is, the game is rigged.

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


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