Bad Reporting, Grandstanding Congressmen, Tweeting President Combine For Clusterfuck About Twitter

from the what-a-mess dept

So... remember a couple weeks ago when I wrote about a House Judiciary Committee in which the supposedly "free market / free speech" supporting Republicans on the Committee were grilling private companies about how they need to be regulated as utilities to stifle free speech? Well, not surprisingly, the whole situation has gotten much worse and much, much stupider. It started, of course, with a bit of pretty bad reporting by a Vice reporter named Alex Thompson, who wrote an article incorrectly claiming that Twitter was "shadowbanning" Republicans.

Shadowbanning, of course, is the well known moderation technique in which certain sites allow certain users to think they're participating, but really making it so that no one else can see their contributions. It's been shown to be fairly effective against trolls. Either way, Thompson's report was wrong on multiple levels -- which was disappointing. Vice has a whole separate site called Motherboard, which has some of the best tech reporters in the business, who likely could have set Thompson straight and prevented the company from running such a misleading story, but that did not happen. First of all, Twitter was not shadowbanning anyone. The issue at hand was that for some users, if you searched on their names, those accounts did not show up in the autocomplete. That's it. If you clicked return at the end of your search, the accounts still showed up. If you followed the users, you still saw their tweets. It was not shadowbanning by any stretch of the imagination.

Also, the issue was not partisan, even in the slightest, contrary to Thompson's reporting. As others showed, the failure to show certain users in autocomplete was impacting a bunch of people and not just Republicans. Indeed, Twitter admitted that there was a bug in its autocomplete feature which impacted hundreds of thousands of accounts including plenty of people in both major political parties. Twitter fixed this relatively quickly. Thompson's article at Vice is still not corrected. Instead, it has a note claiming that Twitter is "no longer limit[ing] the visibility of some prominent Republicans," which implies, completely falsely, that it was targeting Republicans.

But, alas, partisan stupidity is like no other stupidity, and this bad and incorrect story first got picked up by the President, who tweeted (of course) that Twitter was shadowbanning prominent Republicans -- even though it was not.

And, from there we were off to the races. Rep. Devin Nunes, picked up the story and claimed that he was considering taking legal action against Twitter. This is stupid on so many levels. First of all, if Twitter were actually moderating its platform in this manner, it has every legal right to do so. And, as we noted about that hearing earlier this month, it's very bizarre to see supposedly "free speech / free market" Republicans suddenly arguing for heavy regulation of both speech and industry. Second, there is absolutely no legal basis for any kind of legal action. It would get laughed out of court. Third, and again, this is kind of important, Twitter wasn't discriminating against Republicans and wasn't shadowbanning them. You would think that a Congressional Representative, preparing to take legal action against a company, would at least take the time to understand what happened.

And, he wasn't the only one. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who was the star of our post about the Judiciary Committee hearing for being beyond wrong in claiming that Section 230 and the First Amendment are in conflict -- and also flat out misrepresenting what Twitter's representative said on the panel concerning Twitter's First Amendment rights -- has apparently filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about Twitter. The details are scarce, but when appearing on Fox News late last week, Gaetz said the following:

I’m certain there were only four members of Congress who had their voices suppressed on Twitter: Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan Mark Meadows, and Devin Nunes. That would be one hell of a coincidence. My suspicion is that if people were effectively communicating a conservative message, they got caught in Twitter’s troll trap. The reason that I think that is illegal is because it gives advantages to our political opponents. It gives them access to the platform that we don’t have.

If Twitter was a billboard company and they gave Democrats access to their billboards and not Republicans, that would be an illegal corporate donation to the campaigns of Democrats. Here, instead of the billboard, it’s the auto fill-in function that’s a part of Twitter’s search feature that wasn’t available to me, Devin Nunes, Mark Meadows or Jim Jorden. And it’s available to Democrats.

Except, again, that's not at all what happened. There was no suppression. There was no shadowbanning. There was no targeting of Republicans. There was no targeting conservative messaging. There was no "illegal corporate donation." This is all grandstanding nonsense, that may play well to a certain set of very angry people, but has no basis in reality.

In the end, everyone comes out of this looking bad. Vice and Alex Thompson should post a correction to their article and apologize for what misleading crap it was. Trump should never have tweeted the nonsense, but you know that's not going to stop him. But Nunes and Gaetz certainly don't need to enable and further this nonsense, though, again, that appears to be well within their character. However, for politicians bleating on about fake news, it seems notable that they seem to be contributing to the spread of it. Of course, the real end game here is an attempt to effectively block Twitter, Facebook and Google from trying to improve the nature of discourse on their platforms. In short, this is a trollish effort to force platforms to allow trolling. It's phony outrage that should be ignored, but it won't be, because so much effort has been put into a totally fake claim that conservatives are somehow being targeted that platforms have to bend over backwards to make sure that anything they do to improve their platforms doesn't accidentally impact someone in conservative circles.

In the end, don't trust everything that you read online, and, for once, try to elect people who aren't ignorant, grandstanding morons.


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  1. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:07am

    Didn't the whole "twitter's shadowbanning Conservatives" false narrative get its start from one of Project Veritas's works of speculative fiction?

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

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:09am

    Only Regulation Will Bust Silicon Valley's Progressive Racket

    https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/07/31/bokhari-only-regulation-will-bust-silicon-valleys-progress ive-racket/

    A withering verdict: MPs report on Zuckerberg, Russia and Cambridge Analytica

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/28/dcms-report-fake-news-disinformation-br exit-facebook-russia

    Just a couple links to prove that MANY other people conclude that Masnick is outright lying here.

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

  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:11am

    Re: Only Regulation Will Bust Silicon Valley's Progressive Racket

    By the way, Techdirt has STOPPED blocking comments with links to Breitbart site. Not my imagination, well tested in the infamous "Nunes memo" piece.

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

  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:12am

    Re: Only Regulation Will Bust Silicon Valley's Progressive Racket

    Now, WHEN this is censored TOO then it'll neatly prove that

    "leftists" don't want open discussion of all views, ONLY their own.

    Masnick LIES that there's no censoring HERE, by omission in his chicken way, tacitly without ever stating facts, or what causes; he euphemizes it as "hiding", there's NO guidelines for acceptable comments; the site doesn't reserve any rights, but in fact edits opinions by unfair and unaccountable downgrading -- with a WARNING as if too dangerous or outre to be openly shown. Masnick just lets it be assumed that it's all "the community" with an opaque "voting system", that there's no Administrator who okays, but in practice NO fanboys / anti-Trumpers EVER have comments hidden.

    SO it's censoring without censoring, just as Twitter shadowbans without shadowbanning. It's SOFT FASCISM OF HARD-TO-DISPROVE LIES, typical of modern corporatists and "leftists".

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

  5. icon
    Gary (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:16am

    Re: Re: Only Regulation Will Bust Silicon Valley's Progressive Racket

    Wait, I thought AC regularly claims that more government regulation is bad. Doesn't that make YOU the liar?

    False statement - "Mike is lying." Lying about what? That is like shouting "Fake News" without providing any corroborating falsehoods.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Hero, 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:20am

    Citation Needed

    > You would think that a Congressional Representative, preparing to take legal action against a company, would at least take the time to understand what happened.

    Why would I think this? Is there a historical precedent of which I am unaware?

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

  7. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:27am

    Masnick LIES that there's no censoring HERE

    Moderation is a platform operator telling you “we don’t do that here”. Censorship is a government agent telling you “you can’t do that anywhere”. Please learn the difference.

    there's NO guidelines for acceptable comments

    Comments are flagged by the community; they have their own standards, just as you have your own.

    the site doesn't reserve any rights

    [citation needed]

    [it] edits opinions by unfair and unaccountable downgrading

    Last time I checked, no comment that receives a flagging is edited after-the-fact. “Downgrading” is a community feature, as I explained above, so you may wish to consider whether the community thinks you have anything to offer besides derangement, hate, and a borderline-murderous obsession with Mike Masnick in particular and Techdirt in general.

    with a WARNING as if too dangerous or outre to be openly shown

    No, the warning exists to tell potential readers one thing: “The community thought this comment added nothing to the overall conversation, although you are free to click this link so you can read it and make your own judgment.”

    in practice NO fanboys / anti-Trumpers EVER have comments hidden.

    I have had comments hidden before. They usually added nothing to the conversation—at least by community standards. Ask yourself why you need to toss out insults and ramble on about how the “injustice” of being “censored” on what you yourself have apparently made the only platform for your speech. When you have your answer, you will know why your comments keep getting flagged.

    It's SOFT FASCISM OF HARD-TO-DISPROVE LIES, typical of modern corporatists and "leftists".

    Did…did you just call yourself a liar?

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

  8. icon
    Gary (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Only Regulation Will Bust Silicon Valley's Progressive Racket

    I'm not exactly sure what claim you are trying to make here.

    Do you define moderation as censorship? And deny Mike the right to moderate His website?

    Although the "you" here is an AC with no history or identity. I can say with 100% accuracy that many people would consider anonymous posting like this "chickenshit" as you describe it.

    Yes, troll posts are hidden by the community. (Not deleted, but hidden.) Is that a conspiracy to keep you from getting the word out?

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

  9. identicon
    Nick-B, 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re: Only Regulation Will Bust Silicon Valley's Progressive Racket

    Wait, this is censoring? Having search results (accidentally) NOT auto-complete for you is censorship? If you are such a bastion of free open speech regardless of the content, then I presume you against google censoring auto-complete results for movie search results?

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

  10. icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:34am

    Politics and marketing have a lot in common. Both use a lot of fancy words to lie really impressively.

    Of course it doesn't hurt that many politicians have actively and purposely abandoned all contact with reality.

    Hmmm. Maybe they aren't 'lying'. Maybe they simply cannot see reality any more. In which case they are bullshitting everyone. And most importantly, themselves. It has reached the point where that entire party is nothing more than Baghdad Bob writ large.

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:47am

    Trollz iz Trollz

    Those zany hipsters over Vice should shadowban Nunes and Gaetz for being such trolls.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:49am

    Please STFU

    Community moderation is not censorship and has nothing to do with what TD wants or does not want posted on this site. Us "voting you off the island" proves nothing you listed, only that nobody wants to read the tripe you post.

    I know I'm only wasting bits when I say this but I feel compelled to do so: Please, for all that is good in this world, STFU.

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

  13. icon
    Thad (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:52am

    Re: tl;dr

    Do you define moderation as censorship? And deny Mike the right to moderate His website?

    Yes, he does. That is, like, his whole deal. He repeats this same dumb-ass rant in every single thread that even tangentially mentions comment moderation or censorship, because he insists the two things are the same.

    Engaging him serves no useful purpose. He's heard all the arguments. He's seen the relevant xkcd strip. He does not care. He is either too stupid to understand the difference between public and private platforms, or he understands the difference just fine and is pretending not to. Either way, he will not be swayed by your responses, and I recommend that you do not engage him any further.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:53am

    Re: Citation Needed

    >Why would I think this? Is there a historical precedent of which I am unaware?

    I think it would have made a historical precedent.

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

  15. icon
    Thad (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 10:56am

    Re: tl;dr

    I'm pretty sure the AC who hates all government regulation and the AC who hates all private moderation are different guys.

    But of course it's hard to tell with ACs. The trolls could all be one dude with a bunch of sockpuppets.

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

  16. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 11:03am

    He is either too stupid to understand the difference between public and private platforms

    His actual misunderstanding is the difference between “private” and “privately-owned”. A privately-owned platform can be open to the public yet still retain the right to moderate user speech.

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2018 @ 11:05am

    Yeah, right.

    I bet you believe in global warming and evolution too, don't you?

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2018 @ 11:19am

    and, for once, try to elect people who aren't ignorant, grandstanding morons.

    I would if I could find someone running for office who isn't one....

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

  19. identicon
    Jes Lookin, 1 Aug 2018 @ 11:50am

    Is There an OFFICIAL Problem ?

    I can see childish personalities finding a snark-outlet on Twitter. But why do supposedly professional journalist organizations and, increasingly, government entities regard tweets as other than opinions? Tweets don't come from official government offices, just their childish employees and reflect an opinion, not any official policy. Otherwise, it's a crazy, stupid way to do any relevant business.

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

  20. icon
    Thad (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 11:52am

    Re:

    I think it's both: he doesn't understand the distinction between a platform that's publicly-owned and one that's open to the public, and he also doesn't understand that the First Amendment is a prohibition on the government punishing speech, not on private entities doing so.

    Or at least he pretends not to understand the distinction. He may be stupid, or he may merely be dishonest. It is, of course, entirely possible that he is both.

    But I think we've wasted more than enough time trying to make sense of his nonsense. Again, there's no useful purpose to be served here.

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

  21. icon
    Chris ODonnell (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 11:59am

    it's very bizarre to see supposedly "free speech / free market" Republicans suddenly arguing for heavy regulation of both speech and industry

    Bizarre? That is SOP for elected Republicans. They talk about the debt however it consistently goes up when they are in charge. They talk about State's rights then tell States they can't have more liberal abortion laws or enforce net neutrality, or whatever.

    There is almost no correlation between what the current Republican party claims to stand for, and what they actually do in office.

    To be fair, the Democrats are only marginally better in this regard. See Obama's most transparent administration in history as one example.

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

  22. identicon
    Christenson, 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Public versus Private

    There's a *kernel* of truth to be gained here....one viewpoint is that as an individual, I should be able to do pretty much anything, and, as my power grows (through small platforms to larger platforms to becoming the government itself) my actions should be more and more constrained.

    That lack of restraint in public action of a powerful corporation is a large element of Twitter's problem.

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

  23. icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re:

    Or, he is just a troll and as XKCD says, an asshole. Occam's Razor my friend. Just like with Trump, forget the complicated "reasons", he's just a troll and an asshole.

    Flag and forget.

    And please folks, quit feeding him! That is all he is here for.

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

  24. identicon
    Christenson, 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:12pm

    Shadowbanning

    There's a terminology problem here:
    "Screwed-up Autocomplete" just doesn't roll off the tongue and dog-whistle outrage the base the way "Shadowban" and "Censor" does!!

    Sorry about that, sticklers for accuracy!

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

  25. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:31pm

    What constraints should be placed on Twitter in the future that are not already in place right now? At what arbitrary moment does a platform grow large enough to face constraints aimed at “large platforms”? How could the government implement such restraints without limiting the ability of the general public to use the platform for their self-expression?

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

  26. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:36pm

    “Don’t feed the trolls” does not work. Even if we ignored him, he would keep coming back. His sociopathic tendencies drive him to keep complaining about the community here flagging him for his voluntarily posting hateful and trollish comments. Some of address his blatant lies, even if they remain hidden behind the flags, partially because we want to help people who might share his views understand why those views are misguided or ignorant. (I do it, in part, because it helps me construct better arguments.)

    If he does not want his comments flagged, he has to change his behavior. We have no reason to change ours.

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

  27. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:38pm

    Yes.

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

  28. identicon
    bob, 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:48pm

    pegged to a billboard

    Was his statement about illegal campaign contributions even accurate if a billboard company chose not to support one side or another?

    I thought companies had first amendment rights to do that sort of thing. I believe it would be dumb of the company to turn down that revenue source but couldn't they?

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

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:50pm

    Your problem is that you brought white supremacist links to a fact fight.

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

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:51pm

    Bok bok blue!

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

  31. identicon
    Christenson, 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:59pm

    Re:

    I didn't say that figuring out how to transition from a single individual free to do whatever unethical thing to a powerful government that we all wish was bound by ethics we don't all agree on would be *easy* or *smooth*.

    Some of it is definitely on the audience, and on recognizing the implications of the lack of consequences to me for trying to sell my favorite bridge (the Brooklyn Bridge) on a platform that connects everyone to everyone.

    So I'll list a few ideas, taken from monopoly public utilities:
    Non-discriminatory -- that's what the "shadowbanned" snowflakes are really up in arms about, thinking they are victims of discrimination, not of an equal-opportunity bug!
    Transparency -- kick someone off, you have to tell them why.
    Truthfulness -- a large corporation has a duty not to make self-serving false statements. See FTC and truth-in-advertising.
    Identity -- If it's big enough, it should not be anonymous.
    Due Process -- If the decision (for example to terminate an account) is on wrong facts, it should be appealable.
    Robots -- There's an available human being in the loop in case something goes wrong. Counterexample: vexatious litigants. Might require a nominal fee.

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

  32. icon
    CanadianByChoice (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 1:29pm

    Just because you read it doesn't mean it's true

    "In the end, don't trust everything that you read online"
    It's rather ironic that anyone would even *need* to say that! yet the failure to do exactly that is the real root of "fake news problem".

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

  33. icon
    Thad (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 1:32pm

    Re:

    I blocked all anonymous posts over a year ago. The only reason I even know the trolls are still around is that people keep responding to them.

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

  34. icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 1:34pm

    the other issue...

    Wedding cakes: "Companies have the right to refuse service to anyone!"

    Twitter Shadowbanning (even though it isn't): "THIS IS DISCRIMINATION!"

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

  35. identicon
    Christenson, 1 Aug 2018 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Yypocrisy at its finest!

    Hypocrisy at its finest! Slight me, it's discrimination...Hurt them, it's a right.

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

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2018 @ 2:02pm

    Re:

    Censorship is a government agent telling you

    No, that's one way to interpret the word, but it's not generally accepted that censorship is the exclusive realm of government. Many people would say it's possible for platform operators and other private parties to censor; it's usually legal, too.

    Your definition would, among other things, render "self-censorship" a meaningless phrase.

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

  37. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 2:10pm

    • Discrimination over political beliefs is not illegal, at least as far as I know. So long as a moderator/admin does not discriminate against usage based on protected classes—e.g., it does not ban someone based on their race or sex—they are free to boot someone off the service or say what is and isn’t “acceptable speech” on the service.
    • Moderation of an online service has no “tell me why I was banned” requirement under law. Such notifications, however, the morally and ethically right thing to do.
    • On this, I agree. (I would like to see just one such statement made by Twitter that is actionable under FTC guidelines, though.)
    • A service like Twitter is, as far as I know, under no legal obligation to retain any user’s personal data—and while it might be the ethically right thing to do, is a toss-up in terms of morality. If you need proof of that, just look at Facebook’s “real identity” protocols and how that screws over, say, trans people.
    • Due process is a legal right in re: the justice system. The moderation of an online service is not a matter for the justice system. While appealing a ban would be a nice feature—even 4chan has an appeal system, for all the good it does—it is by no means a legal requirement.
    • On this, I can agree.

    And while you answered the first question well enough, you avoided the other two:

    • At what arbitrary moment does a platform grow large enough to face constraints aimed at “large platforms”?
    • How could the government implement such restraints without limiting the ability of the general public to use the platform for their self-expression?

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

  38. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 2:17pm

    “Self-censorship” can be replaced with a much more succinct and much less loaded word: discretion. I could cuss my head off at our resident trolls here (and I have at times), but doing the opposite—saving vulgar language for opportune moments or avoiding it altogether—is an act of discretion.

    it's not generally accepted that censorship is the exclusive realm of government

    If a Twitter moderator were to ban me for cussing out the current POTUS, I could go literally anywhere else on the Internet and post the same things I already wrote. Twitter cannot stop me from doing so; it can only tell me that I am not allowed to say those things on Twitter.

    tl;dr: Moderation is a platform operator telling you “we don’t do that here”; discretion is you telling yourself “I won’t do that here”; censorship is a government agent telling you “you can’t do that anywhere”.

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

  39. identicon
    David, 1 Aug 2018 @ 2:23pm

    Re:

    If The Lord had wanted us to be governed by the same laws as monkeys and cows, he would not have given us nuclear weapons. We are the crown of creation; no crown of thorns can hold a candle to us.

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

  40. identicon
    David, 1 Aug 2018 @ 2:33pm

    Re:

    Obama was really great until he received the Nobel Peace Prize, then he had nothing to look forward to anymore.

    Too bad he got it before inauguration.

    He was almost as great a president-to-be as Carter was an ex-president.

    Now Trump is just as great as president than he was as president-to-be. I can't wait to see how he fares as ex-president.

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

  41. identicon
    David, 1 Aug 2018 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Yypocrisy at its finest!

    It's not hypocrisy if the others aren't God's chosen people. Not that anybody bothered to ask him whether he changed his opinion since making his last choice, but that's sort of obvious as that Middle-Eastern brown guy he picked as his last representative with all his rants against the rich and moneylenders and merchants was such an embarrassment that he had him tortured and killed.

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

  42. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 4:11pm

    Vice - looking for the bottom of the barrel to get moar clicks.

    Hate him all you want but somehow Alex Jones is making tons of cash with his 'media' coverage. Are we really shocked that the same companies who think pop up ads, ad blocker blockers, autoplaying ads, paywalls, etc. are great ideas were going to ignore than if you pander to those of a certain mindset (far detached from reality) you get way more clicks & they'll buy sketchy supplements as long as you support the narrative in their head that THEY have been targeted by the evil pedo cabal who are trying to destroy 'Merica & their lord and savior Trump.

    It's sad to see, but the medias been on a slide towards money over reality... it used to be if it bleeds it leads, now its if its insane, we'll get more clicks!!!

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

  43. icon
    SteveMB (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 4:43pm

    So, Republicans are acknowledging that they are indistinguishable from trolls?

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

  44. identicon
    John Smith, 1 Aug 2018 @ 7:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Only Regulation Will Bust Silicon Valley's Progressive Racket

    It's definitely not a false narrative. Twitter also talks about "improving the health of the conversation," literally embracing their role as cens--er, "Moderator."

    There are here clear examples and probably many more where self-appointed moderators took control over a free-speech environment just in time to commercialize it for their benefit, with the public later on crying foul that it was conned, or to silence those who were exposing fraud.

    Of course, if the public wanted free speech, USENET would still be thriving. Section 230 also kills USENET because it weaponizes anonymous-remailer defamation, which is li9terally impossible to prosecute, and whose effects can be permanent.

    Twitter would be vulnerable to a first-amendment lawsuit which has them found to be a state actor with regard to political speech. Without that, however, they'll just fade into irrelevance as the more interesting users will migrate to the next hungry internet platform that sees liberal speech policies as their ticket to becoming the next...>Twitter, at which point it's meet-the-new-boss/same-as-the-old-boss.

    This is also what destroyed AOL, which had all the capapilities of the modern internet and web as far back as 1992.

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

  45. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2018 @ 3:51am

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

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

  46. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 2 Aug 2018 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re:

    I daresay he'll spend his life frantically trying to get the same level of attention as he does today.

    Prediction: He'll be crying into his tiny hands as world events that he no longer has the power to shape pass him by.

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

  47. icon
    John85851 (profile), 2 Aug 2018 @ 10:15am

    No Twitter means no Trump tweets

    What's the term for when something eats its own tail?

    So Trump uses (and abuses) Twitter.
    Congressmen say Twitter is up to no good so they want to sue it, which may cause it to shut down.
    Trump loses his ability to use Twitter.

    Hmm... maybe this is a good thing. :)

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

  48. identicon
    Christenson, 2 Aug 2018 @ 10:50am

    Re:

    The ideas are more conversation and thought starters...practice is a long way off with many details to think through. I'm flexible. I don't have *all* the answers, and they aren't simple anyway.

    You partly misread me as I glossed over the very real complications:
    ** What is unreasonable discrimination, how do we define it? How about my electric co decides you are a pastafarian and it doesn't like you? The more of a monopoly something is, the less it should be allowed to discriminate.
    ** Anonymity: I put a size qualifier on there. If I'm telling thousands to go do bad things thousands of times, my anonymity should be difficult to maintain.
    ** Due process: I meant this in a generalized sense, that as the power of a system grows, the exercise of power should be less arbitrary and more subject to appeal, for mistakes *will* be made.

    My idea of "large" is that there's a continuum of size. One arbitrary moment is whenever something is large enough that there are reasonable concerns about monopolies -- like when the US justice department starts reviewing mergers and acquisitions.

    Another indicator of large size and power is public trading of stock or legal incorporation or the existence of professional staff. A third would be if people start getting hurt on the basis of what is going on.

    As to how the *government* should implement restraints, I'm not sure, but from the "clusterfuck" headline we are finding out how *not* to do it. Might be smarter to ask if slight restraints that encouraged competition wouldn't be the answer, since we know monopolies are a problem in general. Loss of copyright protection might be the right thing. Things are changing rapidly, education might help there. Alex Jones and Infowars and the Sandy Hook parents who have been harmed by his "theories" make a good test case.

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

  49. identicon
    TDR, 2 Aug 2018 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Yypocrisy at its finest!

    Much as you may hate it, the First Amendment applies to Christians as much as it does to anyone else. I don't believe Twitter was shadowbanning, though. I know how politicians so easily get worked up over trivial things and then try to twist them to their advantage.

    Don't make the mistake of thinking those that claim to be Christian actually are, though. And don't bother bringing up the true Scotsman tripe, either, because that's not what I'm talking about. The faith lays out a very clear definition of what someone who follows the cross is and what he or she will be like. Jesus said that you'll know a person by his or her fruit, their words and actions.

    Love, compassion, grace, mercy, patience, and self-control are by the Bible's own words what should define someone who follows the cross. Anyone who says they are but doesn't show such characteristics consistently and genuinely isn't what he or she says they are.

    If the situation with the wedding cake was reversed and an LGBT business refused to serve Christians, would you still be crying discrimination? Honestly, now, would you? Why should a business be forced to serve those it does not wish to, regardless of the owners' beliefs?

    LGBT comprises less than 2% of the entire population, so why do we allow such a tiny minority to dictate to all of society what it should be like and attempt to force its view upon everyone? Is that not what you or people like you accuse Christians of doing? Why is it okay when LGBT does it? No group should do it, neither Christians nor LGBT nor anyone else.

    Neither should anyone be mistreated because of who they are or what they believe, but that goes in more ways than one, not just Christians being tolerant of others but others being tolerant of them as well. Hate solves nothing on either side. And being tolerant doesn't necessarily mean one has to agree with the other. It merely means treating each other like decent human beings.

    LGBT is no innocent, though, no more than any other group. It actively tries to suppress widespread knowledge of the existence of ex-gays, because their very existence undermines LGBT's position. But they do exist, and many of them. Thousands leave the lifestyle every day, and they have even included former gay activists and ministers.

    Also, why should kids and adolescents who may think they feel a certain way be forced to accept it even when they don't want to? It does happen, and much more often than you might realize. If someone doesn't want to feel the way LGBT thinks they should, they should have the right to reject it if that is their choice.

    You might think that LGBT relationships work the same way straight ones do, but that's not actually the case. Emotional fidelity is typically more present than physical fidelity. In fact, the average gay man has around 500 partners for intimacy in his lifetime, and some go as high as 1,000. I realize that there can be issues in any relationship, but when LGBT claims their relationships are no different than straight ones but the facts show otherwise, that doesn't help them.

    You might not also be aware that every one of the studies that supposedly proved a genetic origin for being gay, such as the twin studies, were performed by individuals who themselves were gay. Also, the results have never been able to be duplicated by any independent groups. Duplication of results is a key factor in the reliability of scientific experiments. The fact that this was consistently unable to be done here, along with the inherent conflict of interest present in the original experiments from the nature of the individuals performing them, undermines the validity and reliability of those studies and their findings.

    Here's another thought experiment for you: if the situation were different, if it was Christians that were only 2% of the population, would you support them using the tactics LGBT uses simply because the group is different? Or would you say that it's wrong because now it's a group you don't seem to agree with?

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

  50. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 2 Aug 2018 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re:

    What is unreasonable discrimination, how do we define it?

    Unreasonable, in this context, refers to discrimination based on who a person is by way of intrinsic traits (e.g., age, sex, sexual orientation, race). Booting a person off a service for being Black is a far different issue than booting a person off a service for saying racist bullshit about Black people.

    How about my electric co decides you are a pastafarian and it doesn't like you?

    Public utilities are not allowed to discriminate based on religious beliefs. (FYI: Twitter is not a public utility.)

    The more of a monopoly something is, the less it should be allowed to discriminate.

    If Twitter were a monopoly of anything other than attention (which is not illegal), you might have a point.

    If I'm telling thousands to go do bad things thousands of times, my anonymity should be difficult to maintain.

    Please define what you mean by “bad things”. If I tell thousands of people to do something morally awful but legally okay (e.g., telling people to angrily tweet at a woman within the gaming industry because she said something with which I disagreed), is that the exact same thing as telling them to do something illegal?

    As for the anonymity thing? Yes, services should be able to identify users in some way, should they cross the line into illegal activity. Until that happens, Twitter should not need to unmask them; a simple ban will suffice as consequences for awful-yet-legal behavior.

    as the power of a system grows, the exercise of power should be less arbitrary and more subject to appeal, for mistakes will be made.

    In an ideal world, yes, this would hold true. We do not live in such a world. While it would be nice to see, it is by no means a legal requirement—nor should it be, given how it would hamstring the moderation of a service.

    My idea of "large" is that there's a continuum of size. One arbitrary moment is whenever something is large enough that there are reasonable concerns about monopolies -- like when the US justice department starts reviewing mergers and acquisitions.

    Again: If Twitter were a monopoly or in danger of becoming one, you might have a point. But for the sake of this example, let’s say that Twitter hits this arbitrary point tomorrow morning. How soon should it have to implement any sort of legally-required restrictions on how the service can operate to appease the federal government? What outside forces—say, governments in countries where Twitter is available—should get a say in what changes must be made?

    Another indicator of large size and power is public trading of stock or legal incorporation or the existence of professional staff.

    What additional restrictions should a company face at each of those points, then? If I run a Mastodon instance with a couple thousand users or so, and I hire a couple of people to work on moderation and coding, what restrictions should my Masto instance be saddled with in re: moderation because I paid for “professional staff”?

    A third would be if people start getting hurt on the basis of what is going on.

    Define “hurt” for this particular context.

    As to how the government should implement restraints, I'm not sure

    If you are unsure of how the government should implement restraints on the moderation of social information networks based on completely arbitrary definitions of how big a service is, maaaaaaaaaaaybe avoid suggesting any restraints at all until you work out the finer details of how they would work under the law, let alone how the government would enforce those restraints.

    Might be smarter to ask if slight restraints that encouraged competition wouldn't be the answer, since we know monopolies are a problem in general.

    What government-enforced restraints might “encourage competition” between, say, Twitter and my hypothetical Mastodon instance?

    Loss of copyright protection might be the right thing.

    Per Twitter’s terms of service: “You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. What’s yours is yours — you own your Content (and your incorporated audio, photos and videos are considered part of the Content).” Please explain how Twitter can lose the copyright on something for which it does not own said copyright. Then explain how losing protections it does not have for a copyright it does not own might make Twitter “behave”.

    Alex Jones and Infowars and the Sandy Hook parents who have been harmed by his "theories" make a good test case.

    I despise Alex Jones. I can damn near safely say I hate the man; what he has done to the parents of the Sandy Hook victims is immoral, unforgivable, and downright shitty besides. But any service that would have him is more than willing to decide if his speech, which is disgusting yet legal, does or does not break their TOS. Unless a judge rules that his speech is legal and a service like Twitter is legally required to host that speech, Twitter and the like can boot the rat bastard right now if they so wanted. If any law or judicial precedent can force a platform to host speech that platform operators did not want to host, I have yet to hear of it.

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

  51. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2018 @ 9:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yypocrisy at its finest!

    What are Christians going to do? Fight back? Don't make me laugh. It's a belief based on self-sacrifice. They'd throw themselves to the lions to be martyrs. Anyone who disagrees with LGBTs deserve what's coming to them.

    Love wins, motherfucker, and don't you forget it!

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

  52. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 3 Aug 2018 @ 8:36am

    So, um, now republicans WANT the Fairness Doctrine

    This is so hypocritical. Republicans were staunchly against the fairness Doctrine.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCC_fairness_doctrine

    It is because there is no longer a fairness doctrine that they can have their highly biased news sites like Fox News, or Breitbart.

    So somehow, they can hold that view, but also the view that sites like Twitter should fairly balance exposure of views from the left and the right, you know, a sort of fairness Doctrine, if you will.

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

  53. icon
    Thad (profile), 3 Aug 2018 @ 10:31am

    Re: So, um, now republicans WANT the Fairness Doctrine

    It is because there is no longer a fairness doctrine that they can have their highly biased news sites like Fox News, or Breitbart.

    The fairness doctrine applied to broadcast TV and radio stations. It had nothing to do with cable, let alone the Internet.

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

  54. icon
    Thad (profile), 3 Aug 2018 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yypocrisy at its finest!

    Don't make the mistake of thinking those that claim to be Christian actually are, though. And don't bother bringing up the true Scotsman tripe, either

    No need; you already did it for me.

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

  55. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 3 Aug 2018 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re: So, um, now republicans WANT the Fairness Doctrine

    OK, right. Never did apply to cable or WWW.

    It's about hypocrisy. They were staunchly opposed to the Doctrine, but now want a similar doctrine applied to private websites?

    They should choose a side and apply it consistently, no?

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

  56. icon
    Thad (profile), 3 Aug 2018 @ 2:36pm

    Re: tl;dr

    Oh, you want get any argument from me. The Republicans have certainly changed a few of their positions since the Reagan Administration -- starting with how they feel about Russia.

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

  57. identicon
    Azrael, 4 Aug 2018 @ 2:09am

    Re:

    You say white supremacist like it's a bad thing, like all whites should be ashamed for what we are and not allowed to be proud of our history and achievements.
    Does that make you severely butthurt somehow? Why? Because deep down you know that's justified? That you liberals are far worse, just Quislings to your own history?

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

  58. identicon
    Azrael, 4 Aug 2018 @ 2:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Yypocrisy at its finest!

    Sorry to burst your delusions but his last choice is now your arch-enemy and he lived happily to conquer the Middle-East and die of old age in his tent, i wouldn't bring it up if i were you

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

  59. icon
    The Wanderer (profile), 5 Aug 2018 @ 10:03am

    Re: Re:

    I think you failed to grasp the difference between "white equalist" and "white supremacist".

    It's entirely possible to be proud of something without having to insist that it must reign supreme over all other things.

    It's also possible to not be proud of something without being ashamed of it either. I'm neither proud of nor ashamed of my eye color; it's just something that's there, worthy neither of pride nor of shame.

    It's also possible to not lump oneself in with other people just because one shares a superficial characteristic with those people.

    (That last point touches on the fact that both terms are still built on the core assumption which is the basis of racism, that being the very concept of race itself. We're a long, long way from being able to begin to abandon that concept, however.)

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

  60. identicon
    Christenson, 5 Aug 2018 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Dispute for dispute's sake, if you must...

    I shouldn't need to have *all* the myriad details worked out to begin looking for solutions.

    For what it's worth, what other open, short message broadcast service has significant market share compared to twitter?? Yes, you can run Mastodon..but who does?

    That's effectively a monopoly.

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

  61. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Aug 2018 @ 11:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think Techdirt should shadow ban the asshole

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

  62. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2018 @ 12:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    dude sounds like a proud boy or something worse

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

  63. identicon
    nae such, 6 Aug 2018 @ 12:33pm

    Re: No Twitter means no Trump tweets

    are you referring to [Ouroboros]?

    [Ouroboros]:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouroboros

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


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