How Regulating Platforms' Content Moderation Means Regulating Speech - Even Yours.

from the democratization-of-the-Internet dept

Imagine a scenario:

You have a Facebook page, on which you've posted some sort of status update. Maybe an update from your vacation. Maybe a political idea. Maybe a picture of your kids. And someone comes along and adds a really awful comment on your post. Maybe they insult you. Maybe they insult your politics. Maybe they insult your kids.

Would you want to be legally obligated to keep their ugly comments on your post? Of course not. You'd probably be keen to delete them, and why shouldn't you be able to?

Meanwhile, what if it was the other way around: what if someone had actually posted a great comment, maybe with travel tips, support for your political views, or compliments on how cute your kids are. Would you ever want to be legally obligated to delete these comments? Of course not. If you like these comments, why shouldn't you be able to keep sharing them with readers?

Now let's expand this scenario. Instead of a Facebook page, you've published your own blog. And on your blog you allow comments. One day you get a really awful comment. Would you want to be legally obligated to keep that comment up for all to see? Of course not. Nor would you want to be legally obligated to delete one that was really good. Think about how violated you would feel, though, if the law could force you to make these sorts of expressive decisions you didn't want to make and require you to either host speech you hated or force you to remove speech that you liked.

And now let's say that your website is not just a blog with comments but a larger site with a message board. And let's say the message board is so popular that you've figured out a way to monetize it to pay for the time and resources it takes to maintain it. Maybe you charge users, maybe you run ads, or maybe you take a cut from some of the transactions users are able to make with each other through your site.

And let's say that this website is so popular that you can't possibly run it all by yourself, so you run it with your friend. And now that there are multiple people and money involved, you and your friend decide to form a company to run it, which both gives you some protection and makes it easier to raise money to invest in better equipment and more staff. Soon the site is so popular that you've got dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people employed to help you run it. And maybe now you've even been able to IPO.

And then someone comes along and posts something really awful on your site.

And someone else comes along and posts something you really like.

Which gets to the point on this post: if it was not OK for the law to be able to force you to maintain the bad comments, or to delete the good ones, when you were small, at what point did it become OK when you got big – if ever?

There is a very strong legal argument that it never became OK, and that the First Amendment interest you had in being able to exercise the expressive choices about what content to keep or delete on your website never went away – it's just that it's easier to see how the First Amendment prevents being forced to make those choices when the choices are so obviously personal (as in the original Facebook post example). But regardless of whether you host a small personal web presence, or are the CEO of a big commercial Internet platform, the principle is the same. There's nothing in the language of the First Amendment that says it only protects editorial discretion of small websites and not big ones. They all are entitled to its protection against compelled speech.

Which is not to say that as small websites grow into big platforms there aren't issues that can arise due to their size. But it does mean that we have to be careful in how we respond to these challenges. Because in addition to the strong legal argument that it's not OK to regulate websites based on their expressive choices, there's also a strong practical argument.

Ultimately large platforms are still just websites out on the Internet, and ordinarily the Internet allows for an unlimited amount of websites to come into being. Which is good, because, regardless of the business, we always want to ensure that it's possible to get new entrants who could provide the same services on terms the market might prefer. In the case of platform businesses, those may be editorial terms. Naturally we wouldn't want larger companies to be able to throw up obstacles that prevent competitors from becoming commercially viable, and to the extent that a large company's general business practices might unfairly prevent competition then targeted regulation of those specific practices may be appropriate. But editorial policies are not what may prevent another web-based platform from taking root. Indeed, the greater the discontent with the incumbent's editorial policies, the more it increases the public's appetite for other choices.

The problem is, if we regulate big platforms by targeting their editorial policies, then all of a sudden that loss of editorial freedom itself becomes a barrier to having those other choices come into being, because there's no way to make rules that would only apply to bigger websites and not also smaller or more personal ones, including all the nascent ones we're trying to encourage. After all, how could we? Even if we believed that only big websites should be regulated, how would we decide at what stage of the growth process website operators should lose their right to exercise editorial discretion over the speech appearing on their sites? Is it when they started running their websites with their friends? Incorporated? Hired? (And, if so, how many people?) Is it when they IPO'd? And what about large websites that are non-profits or remain privately run?

Think also about how chilling it would be if law could make this sort of distinction. Would anyone have the incentive to grow their web presence if its success meant they would lose the right to control it? Who would want to risk building a web-based business, run a blog with comments, or even have a personal Facebook post that might go viral, if, as a consequence of its popularity, it meant that you no longer could control what other expression appeared on it? Far from actually helping level the playing field to foster new websites seeking to be better platforms than the ones that came before, in targeting editorial policies with regulation we would instead only be deterring people from building them.


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  • icon
    ECA (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:15am

    From a nation

    That SAYS' we have freedom of speech..
    That Thinks that OPINION is Absolute..
    That anyone can say what is on their mind..
    That even Trolls can have a say, and MIGHT have a valid point.

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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:30am

    Simple Answer

    The simple answer we see again and again is to snipe at TD on Mike's blog, while not having the backbone to run your own blog that shows us all the *right* way to do it.

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  • identicon
    Carlie Coats, 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:40am

    First Amendment caveats

    But if you publish that your policy is X while your actual policy is Y, then a rejection that claims to be X while actually being Y is potentially libel, particularly if it becomes public knowledge.

    FWIW

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    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:59am

      Re: First Amendment caveats

      No, it isn't.

      It might be misleading. It might be considered fraud if money were taken. It might be nasty, disingenuous, or a lie. But unless some statement is made disparaging another as fact, rather than opinion, it isn't libel.

      What is the difference between libel and slander?

      Libel and slander are both forms of defamation. Defamation is a common law tort, governed by state law, in which an individual makes a "publication" of a defamatory statement of and concerning the plaintiff that damages the reputation of the plaintiff. The distinction between slander and libel comes in the form of the publication.

      Slander involves the oral "publication" of a defamatory remark that is heard by another, which injures the subject's reputation or character. Slander can occur through the use of a hand gesture or verbal communication that is not recorded. Libel, on the other hand, is the written "publication" of a defamatory remark that has the tendency to injure another's reputation or character. Libel also includes a publication on radio, audio or video. Even though this would be considered oral, or verbal, communication to someone it is actually considered to be libel because it is published in a transfixed form.

      What are the elements of a cause of action for libel or slander?

      The elements of a defamation suit; whether slander or libel, are:

      1. A defamatory statement;

      2. Published to a third party;

      3. Which the speaker knew or should have known was false;

      4. That causes injury to the subject of the communication

      A policy wouldn't satisfy unless if denigrated someone, and why would a policy do such? Even if they announce policy x but practice y it would take someone using the service the 'policies' relate to, and then actually commit libel for libel to have taken place. Just stating ones policy falsely doesn't satisfy the tests listed above.

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      • identicon
        Carlie Coats, 18 Sep 2018 @ 3:27pm

        Re: Re: First Amendment caveats

        Depending upon the definition of the published policy X, it certainly sounds to me as though it meets all three criteria.

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        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 3:40pm

          Re: Re: Re: First Amendment caveats

          Policy has nothing to do with whether a defamatory comment is made. The policy might suggest removing the comment, but then the defamation (if it meets the tests, of which there are four not three) was still there. Depending on the length of time the post was allowed to stay up might impact whether or not it gets noticed, but only the one making the defamatory statement is guilty of defamation, not the policy maker(s) or the platform upon which it appears.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 12:14pm

      Re: First Amendment caveats

      But if you publish that your policy is X while your actual policy is Y, then a rejection that claims to be X while actually being Y is potentially libel, particularly if it becomes public knowledge.

      Uh, no. It is possible that going against your own policy could be an FTC issue for "unfair and deceptive practices" but it's not libel in any way shape or form.

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      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 5:55am

        Re: Re: First Amendment caveats

        My first reaction to that line was "oh, someone just mixed up "libel" and "liable" again".

        On closer examination I'm not sure that makes any more sense than the other, but I'm not sure it makes less sense either.

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  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:48am

    Ah the Sorites Paradox

    When did a few grains of sand become a pile.

    When did the cyborg (as we replaced his bio parts with computers and servos) become a robot?

    It's only a matter of time before we'd have to meddle with legal examples.

    At what level of income does my private catering thing I do for friends sometimes become a public-facing service that has to adhere to state accommodations policies?

    At what headcount does a private group become a public group? At what quantity of occupation does a community -- regulated by homeowners associations and local customs of propriety -- have to yield to the rights defined by state?

    When is a religious commune no longer a large household?

    Online or off, I think this question has remained not-clearly answered.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:58am

    Two glaring errors in your analysis.

    First, once you launch an IPO and become a publicly traded company, you are voluntarily accepting a whole new set of regulatory framework that you have to operate under. There is no comparison between your privately owned and published blog, and the publications of a publicly traded company.

    Second, once your corporations gobbles up a big enough portion of the market share, you become a monopoly. The government has an obligation to break up monopolies which stifle free enterprise (and free speech, in the case of information monopolies).

    Ironically, this is very similar to the Citizens United case, in which the Supreme Court ruled (idiotically) that, in essence, corporations were people and therefore are provided all the rights of citizens, including 1st amendment rights. In reality, corporations are not people. They shouldn't get constitutional rights the way people do. Corporations are legal constructs that provide limited liability, legal protections, tax benefits, and a whole host of other (questionable) benefits. They are not people. We as a society are under no obligation to grant corporate charters to corporations that serve no public benefit - and we shouldn't. Nor do we have an obligation as a society to treat corporations as if they have all the constitutional rights that real people do - because they aren't people.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      once your corporations gobbles up a big enough portion of the market share, you become a monopoly

      What market does a platform such as Twitter monopolize, again?

      We as a society are under no obligation to grant corporate charters to corporations that serve no public benefit

      Who makes that determination, and on what authority?

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    • icon
      Cathy Gellis (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 1:06pm

      Re:

      > First, once you launch an IPO and become a publicly traded company, you are voluntarily accepting a whole new set of regulatory framework that you have to operate under. There is no comparison between your privately owned and published blog, and the publications of a publicly traded company.

      Implicit with this statement is the idea that a newspaper owned by a public company can be censored because it is owned by a public company. But I can't imagine any law backing up such an assertion. True, there are various regulations that do apply to public companies that don't apply to private ones, but these regulations can't be targeted at the editorial policy of the publication. Which is what I said here: regulation, even via anti-trust, can target the non-editorial company practices, but not the editorial ones.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 2:54pm

        Re: Re:

        >Implicit with this statement is the idea that a newspaper owned by a public company can be censored because it is owned by a public company.

        First, we aren't talking about newspapers. We're talking about platforms that solicit public contributions - completely different.

        Second we aren't talking about censorship, we're talking about regulating the right of corporations to censor speech on public platforms.

        I see nothing whatsoever objectionable about imposing 1st amendment protections on corporate platforms that solicit public comments. The government forces privately owned stores (that are open to the public) to comply with the Civil Rights Act, The Americans with Disabilities Act and a variety of other regulations in all sorts of ways. I don't see how regulating corporations whose platforms solicit public comments can't be regulated in exactly the same and be prevented from censoring speech any more than a diner is legally allowed to prevent a black patron from sitting at a counter.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 3:09pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          First, we aren't talking about newspapers. We're talking about platforms that solicit public contributions - completely different.

          Newspapers solicit letters to the editor, local sports box scores, public announcements (e.g., obituaries, weddings), etc. That is on top of classified ads and display ads. Hence, newspapers solicit public contributions.

          I don't see how regulating corporations whose platforms solicit public comments can't be regulated in exactly the same and be prevented from censoring speech any more than a diner is legally allowed to prevent a black patron from sitting at a counter.

          I suspect that they are, for the same criteria that are used for diners. Members of protected classes cannot be banned simply for being members of protected classes. Patrons can be banned if they violate policies (e.g., "no shirt, no shoes, no service").

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 3:24pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Just as protected classes are invented legal constructs, we can invent a new legal constructs that prevent censorship by corporations on public platforms.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 3:41pm

              Or you can go to another platform and whine about how mean ol’ Twitter booted you off. Because you can do that. Like, right now. Try it. Jack isn’t gonna get you banned from Tumblr for shit-talking Twitter.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 6:43pm

                Re:

                I could, or I could keep posting of defense of free speech on every available platform, so that younger people understand the importance. The cancerous idea, spread by ignorant people like you, that its okay for the government to outsource censorship to corporations through despicable think tanks like the Atlantic Council needs to be pushed back on. The American people, as evidenced by the election of Trump and the existence of droves of people like you, is profoundly ignorant. The only way to battle that ignorance is through the free and open exchange of ideas.

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 7:39pm

                  Moderation is a platform operator saying “we don’t do that here”. Discretion is you saying “I won’t do that there”. Censorship is someone saying “you can’t do that anywhere” alongside threats of either violence or government intervention. If Facebook bans you for violating the TOS, which descriptor fits that act?

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:28am

                  Re: Re:

                  "I could keep posting of defense of free speech on every available platform, so that younger people understand the importance."


                  Ohhhhh - that is what you are doing.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 6:44pm

                Re:

                Same thing the racists say, the black guy can always go to another diner!

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 5:14pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Sure, have fun getting Twitter or Facebook legally declared a public platform. In the same sense that you could have fun moving a ton of sand using only your mouth.

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

          Re: Re: Re:

          So would it be legal for a church, mosque or synagogue to restrict who can worship in their buildings?

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          • icon
            Gary (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 4:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Church

            So would it be legal for a church, mosque or synagogue to restrict who can worship in their buildings?

            Under current laws this is absolutely legal. The Mormon church can excommunicate you at a whim with no legal recourse. You would be prohibited from attending any official church functions.

            However, they cant' stop you from worshiping Moran in any way you choose. As long as you stay off Mormon property.

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            • icon
              Uriel-238 (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 9:52am

              The intersection of religious services and public accommodations

              That raises some interesting questions, if all religious congregations are regarded as not being public-facing services that would have to obey public accommodations.

              All the major Christian churches have processes of excommunication, and the incidents are countless in which smaller churches shunned their own parishioners once they were outed as gay.

              Wow, there are so many benefits to being religiously affiliated that it's a wonder that every company and corner store doesn't have closely held values and beliefs.

              Have there been any further rulings made defining the privileges of religion-affiliated institutions since Hobby Lobby?

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              • identicon
                Wendy Cockcroft, 20 Sep 2018 @ 6:02am

                Re: The intersection of religious services and public accommodations

                The First Amendment gets in the way of both defining privileges and in preventing the exercise thereof; personally, I believe that Hobby Lobby's rights end where their workers' medical privacy begins. Don't open the door of setting a limit on what religious faith and the expression thereof can or can't be.

                At the moment you've decided on a limit on the expression of religious faith, you're in violation of the First Amendment and now there are new questions: what can a person believe or express without falling foul of the law? Because, if such a law was ever enacted, expect a tug-o-war on both sides of the culture wars aisles whereby the militant atheists (who believe that Sunday School is, in and of itself, indoctrination and therefore child abuse) would work to curtail religious expression and religious authortiarians would either push back hard or work to curtail religious expression that they disapproved of, e.g. Pastafarianism.

                Okay, fine, they're a parody anyway, but what happens when political philosophy comes under scrutiny with a view to eradicating "unsuitable" beliefs? There's your problem.

                So it seems to me that as long as even the most virulently horrible Hobby Lobby types can exist without being shut down by the government, so can more liberal people like me.

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                • icon
                  Uriel-238 (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 10:31am

                  Sunday school

                  Speaking as your friendly neighborhood atheist, while I worry about the indoctrination of children, it's less about teaching them stuff that might later turn out to be untrue (most Americans survive Santa Clause pretty well).

                  But I personally worry about American exceptionalism and revisionist history taught in public school than I do Sunday school. Granted, worry about some of the teachings that may be harmful. If we teach a child anti-gay rhetoric and Hellfire-for-the-unbelievers, that's going to get awkward when he starts having feelings for the wrong people. Heck the no-sex-before-marriage thing starts getting awkward when he starts having feelings for any people.

                  But when it comes to pointing out the missteps of religion, we nonbelievers are the new kids on the block.

                  An evangelist SBC community will gladly send their own children to hellfire-and-brimstone Sunday school all the while grumbling about the nice Muslim family down the street sending their kids to mosque to be indoctrinated. And they have plenty to say about Catholics sending their progeny to parochial school to get molded into the perfect Catholic shape.

                  And no one likes when someone else's faith gives them privilege to tread on other people's rights.

                  But if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints® hates non-whites believing them to be under the curse of Ham. The Church opposed the civil rights movement of the sixties and adjusted its own policy (but not its teachings) until the seventies. And if companies had a closely held belief in Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints® dogma decided they could neither serve nor employ black people, we'd hold them liable according to our laws against discrimination, and rightly so.

                  If that sort of discrimination would be clear and obvious there, I don't understand why it seems legit when women are discriminated against by Hobby Lobby, or gays are discriminated against by Masterpiece Cakes.

                  The difference is that 16 million people are taught that blacks suffer the Curse of Ham. Over a billion people are taught that gays go to Hell, and women have no souls and are servants and baby-incubators.

                  To me, that's iniquity justified by religion, and implies that the rights conferred by religion supersede rights established by the state. We secularists have a lot to resent.

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                  • identicon
                    Wendy Cockcroft, 21 Sep 2018 @ 2:31am

                    Re: Sunday school

                    But when it comes to pointing out the missteps of religion, we nonbelievers are the new kids on the block.

                    Publicly. I've always resented the "religion as a fig leaf for authoritarian abuses" thing. When you really believe, you stick to the script, or at least try to.

                    And no one likes when someone else's faith gives them privilege to tread on other people's rights.

                    Yep. That's why we can't have the church running the state. Which church?

                    But if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints® hates non-whites believing them to be under the curse of Ham. The Church opposed the civil rights movement of the sixties and adjusted its own policy (but not its teachings) until the seventies. And if companies had a closely held belief in Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints® dogma decided they could neither serve nor employ black people, we'd hold them liable according to our laws against discrimination, and rightly so.

                    Yep. Their rights end where other people's begin. This is where I agree with liberals.

                    If that sort of discrimination would be clear and obvious there, I don't understand why it seems legit when women are discriminated against by Hobby Lobby, or gays are discriminated against by Masterpiece Cakes.

                    I get what you're saying here but the Masterpiece thing is different because they were willing to bake the cake itself, not decorate it. What Hobby Lobby is doing is going after female workers' medical privacy. That doesn't apply to the gay guys, who were offered service by another bakery. If they were facing discrimination from other bakeries I'd find it easier to agree with you but whether I do or not is moot; if you force a person to violate his conscience, however misled he is, there will be pushback. Remember, we have gay marriage now due to members of the LGBT community complaining about the rampant discrimination against them across the board. They wanted marriage in order to access the rights granted solely to married straight people. If enough religious zealots can gain traction using the same techniques there will be change.

                    The difference is that 16 million people are taught that blacks suffer the Curse of Ham. Over a billion people are taught that gays go to Hell, and women have no souls and are servants and baby-incubators.

                    Eh, not sure about that. I wasn't. Not on either count.

                    To me, that's iniquity justified by religion, and implies that the rights conferred by religion supersede rights established by the state. We secularists have a lot to resent.

                    I'm secularist too as a result of growing up Protestant in a Catholic country. The rights established by the state ought to always supercede those conferred by religion because those rights tend to be reserved for the faithful while the rest of us don't get a look in.

                    This is complicated, isn't it?

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                    • icon
                      Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Sep 2018 @ 12:39pm

                      Re: Re: Sunday school

                      Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop declined [Craig's and Mullins'] cake request, informing the couple that he did not create wedding cakes for same-sex marriages owing to his Christian religious beliefs, although the couple could purchase other baked goods in the store. (wikipedia), but they weren't asking for a specific message or a specialized cake, rather they requested one of Phillips' stock designs.

                      The notion that there are other businesses that will serve a given group has been a justification to ignore public accommodations since before the civil rights movement (when non-whites could only get served in colored neighborhoods). It's not a remedy. Religious discrimination remains discrimination nonetheless.

                      As for my comments regarding women having no souls (and remaining subservient to men) that remains part of the Roman Catholic dogma (granted, in the United States, the more conservative the clergy get, the lest seriously the laity take it), granted, the Pope could (and should IMO) declare otherwise from the pulpit, but so far he has not. I suspect the College of Cardinals can apply pressure to the Pope -- lethal pressure if necessary -- which is why no Pope yet hasn't declared universal salvation retroactively to save 200 billion souls. (Catholic dogma is more cruel than the Elder Gods.) At the same time the Southern Baptists (big in the United States) have declared in their statement of faith that women should graciously submit to their husbands, and they push policies to assure that grace need not apply when women get uppity and demand equal treatment. It's a sentiment pretty common among right-leaning denominations.

                      This is not to say that all of Christendom is this way, of course. There are forty thousand separate denominations (not including non-denominational churches which go by their own custom-brew statements-of-faith). Many focus on Jesus' notions of tolerance and inclusion, and then there are the Universalists, who accept that their own faith is not exceptional and doesn't give them any special favor.

                      If I look at the numbers, left-leaning Christian denominations are considerably less popular, but as Catholic Americans demonstrate there are a lot of parishioners whose own belief systems are entirely more liberal than the official positions of the churches they attend. That happens a lot.

                      The thing for me is, it's a natural human desire to want to belong to the cool kids club, the Gryffindors, the Real Americans or what have you, and as such those churches that promise that they're the One True Faith (and all others burn in Hellfire) are more popular. It's just better marketing. It also can't be true for all of them simultaneously.

                      It's also better marketing to teach people they need to fight evil things, rather than make good things. When we're hungry and frustrated, we sooner thirst for an enemy to vanquish than look towards making a working solution.

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                      • identicon
                        Wendy Cockcroft, 24 Sep 2018 @ 2:47am

                        Re: Re: Re: Sunday school

                        but they weren't asking for a specific message or a specialized cake, rather they requested one of Phillips' stock designs.

                        Fair enough, you get that one.

                        It's not a remedy. Religious discrimination remains discrimination nonetheless.

                        Yes, and it is misguided as it alienates people. I'm not particularly right wing, to be honest; I find such people are harsh, cruel, and indifferent to the suffering of others. I'm amazed about the Roman Catholic teaching (Protestant here); if true, it makes you wonder about their female saints and Mariolatry in general. I mean, the Queen of Heaven has no soul? Wow!

                        The thing for me is, it's a natural human desire to want to belong to the cool kids club, the Gryffindors, the Real Americans or what have you, and as such those churches that promise that they're the One True Faith (and all others burn in Hellfire) are more popular. It's just better marketing. It also can't be true for all of them simultaneously.

                        Well that's true. The trick is to stick to the script but as society moves further away from traditional positions that becomes hard as you end up being downright offensive just for existing. I try to get along with people I disagree with and to be a good example instead of trying to force my views on others.

                        It's also better marketing to teach people they need to fight evil things, rather than make good things. When we're hungry and frustrated, we sooner thirst for an enemy to vanquish than look towards making a working solution.

                        Sad but true. I'm with you on making a working solution. To my mind, that is how you fight evil things.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Some folk like to call it their "religious liberty".

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:06am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "once your corporations gobbles up a big enough portion of the market share, you become a monopoly"


          This is incorrect. If there is competition there is no monopoly, market share is not a determining factor.

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        • icon
          Cathy Gellis (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes we are talking about newspapers. The right to resist being forced to carry (or censor) speech is a right that is not just reserved for newspapers. That's the whole point of the post, that it's broadly applicable.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:28am

        Re: Re:

        Cathy,

        Do you now or have you ever worked for or on behalf of Facebook, Google, or any subsidiary of either?

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

    • icon
      Matthew Cline (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 4:00pm

      Re:

      I'm curious as to how you would apply that to, say, Reddit. Reddit is a for-profit corporation, yet the vast majority of the forums (subreddits) it hosts are administered and moderated by people who aren't doing so on behalf of any corporation. Should those moderators be able to delete posts and ban users as they see fit, since the mods aren't acting on behalf of a corporation, or since this is all taking place on Reddit's servers should those mods have to follow the same restrictions as placed on the Reddit corporation itself?

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 20 Sep 2018 @ 5:48am

      Re:

      **Two glaring errors in your analysis.

      First, once you launch an IPO and become a publicly traded company, you are voluntarily accepting a whole new set of regulatory framework that you have to operate under. There is no comparison between your privately owned and published blog, and the publications of a publicly traded company.**

      Please can you specify which regulations apply where speech is concerned?

      Second, once your corporations gobbles up a big enough portion of the market share, you become a monopoly. The government has an obligation to break up monopolies which stifle free enterprise (and free speech, in the case of information monopolies).

      Define "market share." Neither FB nor Twitter are anywhere near monopoly even though they're very popular.

      Ironically, this is very similar to the Citizens United case, in which the Supreme Court ruled (idiotically) that, in essence, corporations were people and therefore are provided all the rights of citizens, including 1st amendment rights. In reality, corporations are not people. They shouldn't get constitutional rights the way people do.

      As Mike pointed out in a comment on an earlier post, if that were true, newspapers, etc., wouldn't be able to operate.

      Corporations are legal constructs that provide limited liability, legal protections, tax benefits, and a whole host of other (questionable) benefits. They are not people.

      Well it would be nice to seen them have the same responsibilities — and penalties, as natural persons.

      We as a society are under no obligation to grant corporate charters to corporations that serve no public benefit - and we shouldn't.

      Citation? Assuming you're right, in the world you're describing Walmart would be shuttered for the way they treat their employees because many of them are resorting to food banks to cover day-to-day living expenses. That's a liability, not a benefit.

      Nor do we have an obligation as a society to treat corporations as if they have all the constitutional rights that real people do - because they aren't people.

      Corporations are run by people. The trouble with boxing off their rights compared to the legal entities they run is, where do you draw the line? As I reminded you before, Mike has already pointed out that if you were right, media outlets wouldn't be able to operate.

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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:58am

    Who would want to risk building a web-based business, run a blog with comments, or even have a personal Facebook post that might go viral, if, as a consequence of its popularity, it meant that you no longer could control what other expression appeared on it?

    …an anarchist?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Cowherd, 18 Sep 2018 @ 12:05pm

    Except its not you deleting or not deleting stuff on your own page, it's Facebook et al.

    The question is, if it's OK for Facebook to decide what you're allowed and not allowed to say online just because your words are going through their servers, why not also your ISP, their ISP, or any number of other people or entities who's systems those same words also go through?

    Does every node in the network get editorial discretion over communications passing through it? If not, where does the line between communication service and publisher go? And at what point along that line can one have the editorial discretion of a publisher but none of the responsibilities thereof?

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 12:33pm

      Re:

      Except its not you deleting or not deleting stuff on your own page, it's Facebook et al.

      And if "you" are Facebook, then Facebook is your own page.

      The question is, if it's OK for Facebook to decide what you're allowed and not allowed to say online just because your words are going through their servers, why not also your ISP, their ISP, or any number of other people or entities who's systems those same words also go through?

      This is like a backwards version of the nonsense the ISPs keep peddling to defend the position that they shouldn't be subject to privacy regulations or net neutrality: "Well Google and Facebook aren't!"

      An ISP is not a host, and a host is not an ISP. They're entirely different things. Saying "If a host isn't required to do this, why should an ISP be?" is whataboutism.

      Does every node in the network get editorial discretion over communications passing through it?

      No.

      If not, where does the line between communication service and publisher go?

      I think you're using "publisher" interchangeably with "platform". We'll circle back to that in a moment.

      I believe when you say "publishers" you're referring to sites that host content. Communication services transfer data between endpoint nodes (either client/server or peer-to-peer). The distinction seems pretty clear to me.

      And at what point along that line can one have the editorial discretion of a publisher but none of the responsibilities thereof?

      The difference is defined in Section 230.

      Techdirt has discussed Section 230 at considerable length. The short version is this:

      Techdirt is legally responsible for everything that appears above the part of this page that says "Reader Comments".

      Techdirt is not legally responsible for anything that appears below where it says "Reader Comments" (unless, of course, it's a comment by somebody who works for Techdirt).

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Cowherd, 20 Sep 2018 @ 11:12am

        Re: Re:

        And if "you" are Facebook, then Facebook is your own page.

        The users who create the pages on Facebook would disagree with that.

        I believe when you say "publishers" you're referring to sites that host content. Communication services transfer data between endpoint nodes (either client/server or peer-to-peer). The distinction seems pretty clear to me.

        If we use the time content rests in a particular system as the criteria, the question remains: where is the line? How long do 1's and 0's have to stay in a particular hardware before it's owners get the right to edit them?

        And more importantly, at what point does an editor become responsible for his edits? How much is it possible for a person to alter another's communications, before it stops being the original person's communications and becomes that of the editor instead?

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

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 3:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The users who create the pages on Facebook would disagree with that.

          Disagreeing with a statement of fact doesn't make it any less of a fact.

          If we use the time content rests in a particular system as the criteria,

          You are once again redefining the problem to make it appear much more complicated than it actually is.

          I do not accept the premise that you do not understand the difference between a hosting provider and an ISP. You understand the difference perfectly well; you're merely obfuscating.

          And more importantly, at what point does an editor become responsible for his edits? How much is it possible for a person to alter another's communications, before it stops being the original person's communications and becomes that of the editor instead?

          Instead of just yammering vaguely like a stoned college freshman, give me an example of a time when this has been a relevant question. A real one, not a hypothetical one. An occasion when there has been a dispute about Section 230 liability due to an editor making such substantial changes to a comment that it no longer reflected its author's intent.

          If you have such an example, then good news: it probably contains your answer.

          If you do not have such an example, well, what does that tell you?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:10am

      Re:

      "if it's OK for Facebook to decide what you're allowed and not allowed to say online"

      Facebook is not the internet
      Facebook is not the web
      Facebook is a platform

      Facebook is not capable of (as you say) deciding what you are allowed to say online as you are free to go to some other website - Facebook is not stopping you from doing that - right?

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

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    identicon
    John Smith, 18 Sep 2018 @ 12:18pm

    So to INVESTORS, Facebook is an integral part of our lives, without which we will self-destruct in five seconds, but to REGULATORS, it's "just a website." Got it. Kind of like when Hooters wants to defend against an EEOC complaint brought by men, it's an adult-entertainment company, but when it wants to open up next door to a high school, it's a family-friendly business (that would be subject to EEOC regulations).

    What Mike seems to be saying is that if the platform on which you post or allow comments is regulated (beyond just abolishing Section 230), that at some point you can lose control over the conversations over which you now have control. That's the situation on USENET, which is completely decentralized. Once you post something you can't control the reply chain, and in fact no one can. Thtat is total free speech that people abandoned in favor of the gatekeepers (I call them tolltakers).

    If such a reality were to occur, then comments sections would have to adapt or be deleted. Alternatives would spring up, most likely with dueling columnists answering each other via articles, and commenters doing the same. This would seem to support free speech and open discussion rather than limit it, though it would eliminate editorial control. I'd conclude that this is better for the First Amendment than what we have now, though people who want both "free speech" and the ability to silence or shadowban cwould be annoyed, as Mike seems to be here.

    My conclusion? Mike is a....blog owner.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 12:24pm

      This would seem to support free speech and open discussion rather than limit it, though it would eliminate editorial control.

      This is the exact issue with such an idea. Editorial control is an implicitly guaranteed right under the First Amendment. The government cannot, and should not be able to, force Fox News or MSNBC to cede editorial control to some governing body or regulator. The same goes for InfoWars and Techdirt. Such a move would violate the idea of a free press that the First Amendment was, in part, written to protect.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 12:44pm

      Re:

      Unable to read bylines, I see.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 1:40pm

      Re:

      Abolish section 230 and similar laws, and even usenet hosts can be sued out of existence. Make a host responsible for speech on its platform, and its only option is to control what speech it allow to appear, and that reduce the comments sections etc. to the level of letters to the editor.

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

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        identicon
        John Smith, 18 Sep 2018 @ 5:51pm

        Re: Re:

        Except other countries don't have Section 230, but a notice-and-takedown scheme similar to what exists offline with distributor liability in the US (which was not applied yet to the internet though the SCOTUS has yet to check in on this; the issue is not solved), hasn't caused anyone to shut their doors or to be "sued out of existence." People have posted to USENET from all over the world, including the UK.

        There's always nominal damage es for situations where4 the law technically applies, like with Food Lion v. ABC (or Disney or whoever owned them at the time). They won two bucks. Donald Trump's USFL lawsuit won teble damages of $3 against the NFL (it was antitrust).

        The post office and phone compnmay don't have editorial control, and the post office once tried to.

        Neee we recall what libel laws were designed to replace? DUELING. This ight imply that the right to defend one's reputation is o9n part with the constitutional right o life, making any publisher also a "state actor." Why should "I heard it on the internet" be a problem?

        Fake reviews and fake news have been allowed to spread like a cancer because of Section 230, since sites cannot be held accountable for either. Teens have committed suicide due to online bullyin over which they cannot sue the platforms. Many other constitutional rights have been sacrificed at the alter of Section 230. My "Jon Smith" solution works well enough but should we have to change our names to protect our privacy?

        I saw a post about a landlord who talked about searching names of his applicants, and debated whether or not to tell a female tanent that she was dating someone he found questionable. Think in the #metoo era women want their privacy invaded like that by their landlords? Look up Marla Hanson.

        The solution: move every two months, and it's just too abd for those who move into where some stalking target used to live if they get murdered in a case of mistaken identity., What's the market rent for an apartment that's been targeted anyway where the internet still think s the target lives there? What's the sale value to the owner of a house that has been used as a pawn for someo9ne's internet grudge?

        Do wse really want to live in a world where asking someone's name is equivalent to asking to do an inaccurate background check on them, or where people have to keep moving, change their names, or take other precautions just to9 protect themselves and their reputations? we can live this way, but the era where we used to trust strangers somehat or give them the benefit of the doubt is gone.

        The large number of people that the internet folk claim are easily-manip0uated idiots have often wound up sued bcause some person from a geek website didn't like them, put up a bunch of crap that the "useful idiot" thought was true, then repeated, is much larger than people think. One mass murderer who targeted his ex actually got her fired by feeding lies to her employer.

        To those who worship Section 230, the aove is all acceptable collateral damage. Is it? Some would say yes, others would say no. I would say to anyone, hwoever, not to be surprised if someone you don't know doesn't bother to introduce themselves to you or answer your questions even fi they do.

        Is it a HIPAA violation if your doctor searches you online, because he or she is feeding enough information to the search engines to reveal that you're a patient?

        A geek or someone smart can easily avoid most of humanity, while schooling the few intelligent individuals not to believe what they read online, butwhy should someone have to answer to liars every time they meet someone, look for a job, ask someone out, etc.? This does not make for a very good society, and brings us back more to law of the jungle.

        I know of lawyers who actually set people up to be sued by using hackers to put a virus-infected website with lies ononline, then follow the target around until the target has an internet fight with someone, jump in the conversation with a link to someone already predisoposed to believing the olies, at which point the "pawn" has confirmation bias, repeats the lies as their own, gets sued, and loses everything to legal fees paying the lawyer who set them up.

        Want to guess which internet site many of these lawyers read and post to? They may be experts in defamation law, but when you use landlords and employers as pawns, fair-housing and employment law come into play, and truth is not a defense against anIIED claim.

        On another note, is it a CFAA vio9lationo or identity theft for someone to pretend to be someone else by logging into a social-media site in order to fish out information throught he password-recovery feature? I would think it is.

        If you say "people are good" or "too bad" for those targeted as above,k you're basically saying that the internet is more important than the individual, even his or her life and reputation. I'm not willing to make that political leap, which is why I'm against Section 230.

        This site is free to censor people, and I'm free to conclude that the advertising on a site which practices censorship and which isimmune from fal-seadvertising under Section 230 cannot be trusted to provide all relevant information for me. The site has its free speech rights, but ut its advertisers don't have my business. If a site allows even ONE incident of namecalling or other cyberbullying against me, I neer do business with its sponsors. All freedoms remain intact.

        As the public sees what I've outlined above, Section 230 will be history. It's already begun with the right to be forgotten, and with revenge porn. It's a matter of time before the law is junked altogether, much like segregation in the United States, once it was shown the piecemeal approach didn't work (the first desegregation ruling was at a law school in 1939, where a single black student has his own campus dorm, dining area, etc.).

        One nice defamation loophole is that someone can't be defamed on their own page or blog. Some celebrities have gotten rude awakenings in this loophole with what some internet suers have posted to9 their page. Like I said, Mike Masnick is a...blog owner, but I could pretty much call him anything I want here without worrying about a defamation suit, since he has the power to delete it. That's one reason why posting an accusation to someone's site or channel is actually less damaging than doing so at a third-party site.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 7:00pm

          Like I said, Mike Masnick is a blog owner, but I could pretty much call him anything I want here without worrying about a defamation suit, since he has the power to delete it.

          Yes, that is, generally, what 230 does: It gives Mike the power to moderate these comments without worrying about being sued for doing so. If he wanted to sue you for defamation because of something defamatory that you said here, though, he probably could. (IANAL, so hell if I know for sure.)

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:13pm

            Fractally wrong

            What makes the comment particularly funny is that it's not just wrong in general, it's wrong on every level.

            Just because Mike can delete comment should he so wish does not shield the one making said comment from a defamation lawsuit filed by Mike, and you'd have to be just all kinds of stupid to leave that evidence on the very site of the person you're defaming, because they wouldn't have to ask anyone for access to it or the details of who left it.

            No need to go to a court to get a ruling to bring to a site to get the details of who posted the defamatory comment which you would then take to court to being a defamation lawsuit, because he'd already have all that information.

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

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          identicon
          Knott O'Really, 18 Sep 2018 @ 7:07pm

          Re: Re: " This site [or corporations] is free to censor people"

          Not after inviting the public in and stating that it's for "free speech": editing outside of common law rules then constitutes civil fraud.

          Sigh. You have adopted the enemy's key principle and are guaranteed to lose. -- Indeed, it's such a crucial and easy to avoid key point that I have to wonder why even those arguing against corporate control keep just giving it away!

          Corporations are fictions, NOT persons.

          The Communications Decency Act was to put in place a deal whereby host "platforms" are immunized against what users publish IN EXCHANGE FOR those being allowed to exist outside of the prior laws on publishing. Period.

          CDA was NEVER to authorize mega-corporations to control all speech of "natural" persons.

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

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 7:14pm

            CDA was NEVER to authorize mega-corporations to control all speech

            Facebook cannot stop me from posting on Twitter. Facebook cannot stop me from posting on Tumblr. Facebook cannot stop me from buying a server, connecting it to the Internet, and hosting a site on the url facebooksucks.xyz that features Time Cube-style ranting about how Facebook is a tool of the Illuminati that will one day cause Second Impact and thus drench the world in orange Tang before Jesus shows up on Aslan and smites the universe. Show me the law that says they can control my ability to do any of that.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 8:04pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Why did you run away yesterday?
          We were having such fun talking about how so super important you were. CEO, rock star, movie mogul, misspeller of many, many, words.

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

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            identicon
            John Smith, 18 Sep 2018 @ 8:51pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Small minds talk about other people."

            Masnick's in much more perilous territory than he realizes, for allowing this.

            You started this, not me. You seem to like fukcing with people who didn't provoke you. Good luck with that.

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

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 9:02pm

              Masnick's in much more perilous territory than he realizes

              You get a Funny vote for that.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 9:46pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              “You’re not a person. You’re a fukcing muppet.”

              Hey bro. You’re the one threatening to fistfight other people because they the gall to call you out on your oh so obvious lies.

              You gonna run away again bro?

              You gonna cry again?

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

            • icon
              techflaws (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 9:48pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Ooh, scary.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:30am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Masnick's in much more perilous territory than he realizes, for allowing this.

              Really? How so? What laws has he broken? What laws have the commenters on this site broken? What has anyone done to even remotely warrant some nebulous upcoming smackdown, other than calling you out on your BS and mocking you for it?

              You started this, not me.

              No, pretty sure you did. You were the OP and the one who posted that incredibly long, rambling, moronic, uneducated reply comment.

              You seem to like fukcing with people who didn't provoke you.

              If your definition of "people who didn't provoke you" is someone who posts a long rambling post that demonstrates he is unhinged from reality, then yes, yes I do. What are you going to do about it?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 4:27pm

      Re:

      Careful, Johnny boy. Capitalizing random words is blue's gimmick.

      You don't want to go full retard.

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

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        identicon
        John Smith, 18 Sep 2018 @ 8:49pm

        Re: Re:

        How brave to use a bigoted slur that costs people their jobs now without attribution.

        Verbal violence reveales the speaker to be a danger to society. One day, not too long in the future, even one utterance of a word like that will be a crime, and/or result in sterilization. In an extreme example, it could result in their descendens being sterilized in order to sanitize the gene pool.

        I could easily respond in kind, or much stronger, but we no longer live in a society which allows it.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 9:08pm

          I could easily respond in kind, or much stronger, but we no longer live in a society which allows it.

          You can insult them and call them names all you want. You just have to face the social consequences for doing so. That is why you refuse: Not because you think it is right to avoid insulting people, but because you think facing consequences for insulting people is a far greater insult.

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

        • icon
          techflaws (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 9:49pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Verbal violence reveales the speaker to be a danger to society."

          Keep making shit up.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 9:51pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Bitch please you were doing exactly that yesterday. Don’t act like you hold the moral high ground just cause you got your panties in a wad and had to run away again. Your level of projection is almost as Hamilton’s. And that’s full retard.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:14am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Verbal violence"

          I thought the word violence implied physical contact .. I suppose if one were to yell loud enough there could be possible damage as a result of the high level of acoustic "violence".

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

          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:40am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Alternatively, people talk about "doing violence to the [English] language", or to particular words therein, by severe misuse or mispronunciation. I suppose that could be considered "verbal violence", at least when the words in question are verbs.

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

  • icon
    Vermont IP Lawyer (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 12:44pm

    Anonymous Coward says "two glaring errors in your analysis"

    The two "errors" alleged are (1) once you launch an IPO and become a publicly traded company, you are voluntarily accepting a whole new set of regulatory framework that you have to operate under and (2)once your corporations gobbles up a big enough portion of the market share, you become a monopoly [that the] government has an obligation to break up [if they] stifle free enterprise (and free speech).

    As to #1, public companies are subject to an elaborate regulatory framework but it has to do with stuff like accurate quarterly reporting of financial performance and various other SEC-promulgated regulations. Those regulations do have some rules about what speech is and is not allowed but they are mostly to do with "quiet periods" when a public offering is pending. It would be quite a stretch to interpret those regulations as affecting content moderation outside of quiet periods.

    As to #2, now we are talking about antitrust law. Federal antitrust law does not make it illegal to become a monopoly but it does make it illegal to use monopoly power in specific ways: to fix prices, exclude competitors, etc. First of all, it seems to me doubtful that the biggest players of interest (Facebook, Google, etc.) are really monopolies as that notion is conventionally defined. Even if they are monopolies, is the regulation of, or failure to regulate, third party speech an illegal use of monopoly power? I am open to being enlightened but I am doubtful that that is an established legal principal.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous, 18 Sep 2018 @ 3:12pm

    Imagine if you’re the President on Twitter

    So, does that mean that Trump should be allowed to block whoever he wants on his Twitter channel? Or is platform management only allowed for the owners of the platform?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 5:01pm

      Re: Imagine if you’re the President on Twitter

      Imagine if government officials and private businesses were two completely different things governed by different rules.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 6:48pm

      We did, it didn't work out for him very well

      Is Twitter a member of a government branch and/or agency, or a representative of it?

      Is Trump a member of a government branch and/or agency government, or a representative of it?

      Answer those two questions and it becomes pretty clear why there are different standards and limitations in place between Trump(government member/representative) and Twitter(private company).

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

  • icon
    luzarius (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 6:56pm

    We need law that protects free speech on social media

    I read the article. I'm going to use Alex Jones in my example to prove why we need government to regulate Social Media to a certain extent. It takes the articles arguments into consideration, because she makes valid points.

    Alex Jones should be able to start a Facebook page. However, If he posts a comment you don't like on your Facebook page, you should be able to decide to keep it or remove it. Should Alex Jones lose his Facebook account because he posted a right wing political argument? No, but that's the problem. Right wing channels are being shut down for alleged wrong think. These social media websites have vague hate speech and be nice rules that are so non-specific that they have the power to silence people for political views.

    Alex Jones should be able to go to Google's blogger and create a new blog. If he makes a comment on your blog comments section, you should be able to remove it if you want, after all it's your blog, but should he be banned for his right wing political views? No, but that's the problem. Right wing blogs get shut down for alleged wrong think. These social media websites have vague hate speech and be nice rules that are so non-specific that they have the power to silence people for political views.

    Alex Jones should be able to go to Youtube and create a youtube channel. If he leaves a comment on your youtube video, should you be able to remove it? Yes, but should he be banned for his right wing political views? No, but that's the problem. Right wing channels are being shut down for alleged wrong think. These social media websites have vague hate speech and be nice rules that are so non-specific that they have the power to silence people for political views.

    In no way do I want this law to prevent people from blocking others on twitter or prevent people from regulating the content on their own blog or Facebook page. This free speech law or Digital Bill of Rights for social media websites would ensure that no one is discriminated against because of their political ideology. It would also ensure people can't exploit vague hate speech rules to silence people with differing points of view.

    Jonathan Haidt explains why hate speech rules don't work: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ckrkh2EVEAEmGs1.jpg - This shows that hate speech rules are always abused to silence people with valid criticisms.

    If you create a forum to discuss Democrat ideologies and someone talks about Republican ideologies, obviously they're not following the forum rules, so you can remove their topic, because the forum is for Democrat ideologies only. But, is this what the internet will become? A socially segregated space? Do you want Youtube, Facebook and twitter to be Democrat & Leftist only?

    My last question. Are you a Social Media Segregationist? Do you believe that left wing and right wing politics can't share the same social media platform? Democrats are silencing right wing channels like crazy. I believe Youtube, Facebook & Twitter can be shared spaces that embrace viewpoint diversity. Like Trump said, let's give everyone a voice, good or bad and we'll figure it out. In other words, although I'm a Trump supporter, I stand side by side with Democrats in their condemnation of racism. I'll help them defeat racists online on the battleground of ideas. I believe in a law that protects free speech on the internet, but still lets you regulate your own channel, blog or facebook page.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 7:09pm

      If you create a forum to discuss Democrat ideologies and someone talks about Republican ideologies, obviously they're not following the forum rules, so you can remove their topic, because the forum is for Democrat ideologies only.

      Under the logic expressed in your post, that seems to be an abridgement of the Republican’s freedom of speech. The forum is apparently open to the public (just like Facebook is), governed by a Terms of Service (just like Facebook is), and owned by private citizens (just like Facebook is). Other than the size of the forum’s userbase compared to that of Facebook’s, what makes that forum any different than Facebook on a fundamental level, and how do those differences (if you can name any) preclude that forum from the same restrictions that you would place upon Facebook?

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      • icon
        luzarius (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 7:26pm

        Re:

        Mr. Stone, we have to compare the mission statement of Facebook vs the Democrat Ideology Forum.

        1. What is the purpose of the Democrat Ideology Forum? A place to discuss Democrat ideologies only, right? The description is clear. Posting a non-Democrat ideology would violate the rules.

        2. What is the purpose of Facebook? A place to discuss almost any IDEA. That was always been Facebook's original intent. HOWEVER, if you introduce hate speech rules, then like Jonathan Haidt explained, hate speech rules get abused to silence people with valid criticisms: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ckrkh2EVEAEmGs1.jpg ... If Facebook is not defined as a Democrat only space, then it's only fair to let non-Democrats onto Facebook as well.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 7:34pm

          Facebook is not a public space, nor is it owned by the government. Facebook’s owners and operators can set any Terms of Service that they want (within the boundaries of the law). And like that Democrat forum, Facebook is a privately-owned platform—and the owners of both those platforms have rights that the government cannot abridge for the sake of “fairness” to a political ideology.

          If Facebook were to boot every Republican from the service and declare itself a Democrat-only, American-only platform, what could the government possibly do to stop that from happening without infringing upon the rights of Facebook’s owners and operators to make that change?

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          • icon
            luzarius (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 10:25pm

            Re:

            I agree that Facebook is a private company. They can do whatever they want right? But when they team up with other Social Media giants to form a political monopoly to ban people for alleged wrong think, that scares me, doesn't that bother you?

            For the first time, I realized that the internet is NOT America and it was a terrifying thought. When I login to the internet, I feel like I'm logging into a Democrat controlled VIRTUAL COUNTRY. A virtual country where the Democrats are the supreme leaders. There is no free speech protections. If Democrats form a political monopoly to control all Social Media and all of Big Tech, don't you think that's an unfair advantage? Imagine being able to control the flow of what people see and can't see on the largest platforms on the net where ideals are exchanged? Should the government not step in to protect viewpoint diversity and prevent political monopolies?

            Hear me out. What was the internet like before Obama won? It was a VERY free and open place. There was TONS of free speech, but also a lot of racist areas of the internet. But then, Democrats won, Obama won... Hmm, I wonder why? I'm a former Democrat. Every way I look at it, you have EVERYTHING TO GAIN and nothing to lose by embracing free speech on Facebook, Youtube & Twitter. Democrats literally have the chance to openly announce free speech for all Americans. GIVE THEM THE GIFT OF POWER, THE POWER TO SPEAK and they will rally behind you. Democrats have the keys to winning elections, but don't know which doors to open. It's simple, if you empower the people, they'll rally behind you. Give them power in the name of DEMOCRAT and they will rally behind you! Trust the people with power, don't decide what they should and shouldn't be exposed to. What do you think? :)

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:20pm

              Re: Re:

              Have you suffered a concussion lately? You sound very disoriented.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 1:21am

              Re: Re:

              Hey bud, the term you're looking for when a group colludes to exercise monopoly power without technically being a monopoly is oligopoly.

              And when you have a government that is decided, funded, and controlled by a small group it's an oligarchy.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:36am

              Re: Re:

              "But when they team up with other Social Media giants to form a political monopoly to ban people for alleged wrong think, that scares me, "

              Examples? I have not read this story, care to share?
              Hopefully it is not brietbart/infowars silliness.

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            • icon
              Thad (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 9:48am

              Re: Re:

              I might take you more seriously if you stopped the dogwhistle tactic of using "Democrat" as an adjective.

              But probably not. If you want to push the narrative that Republicans are an oppressed minority with diminishingly small forums in which they're allowed to express themselves, consider waiting until they control fewer branches of government than "all of them" to make that case.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 11:13am

                Re: Re: Re:

                They have plenty of safe places in which to discuss their political points of view, but that is not what they are crying about. They want to have a megaphone planted into everyones' ears and only they control what is blasted into everyone's brains 24/7. They still do not know what to do about deaf people.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 12:30pm

              Re: Re:

              when they team up with other Social Media giants to form a political monopoly to ban people for alleged wrong think, that scares me, doesn't that bother you?

              It would, were there any proof of such collusion happening. I have yet to see any such proof; you have yet to offer any of your own.

              I realized that the internet is NOT America and it was a terrifying thought. When I login to the internet, I feel like I'm logging into a Democrat controlled VIRTUAL COUNTRY.

              You are welcome to feel that way, but before you do, ask yourself a simple question: What opinions do you hold that would be “wrongthink” according to “Democrats”? As a registered independent who votes Democrat, I roll my eyes at certain conservative opinions, but the ones I despise are the ones with racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise bigoted overtones. People who express those opinions are typically the ones getting pushed off of otherwise reasonable platforms. I have yet to see anyone banned from Twitter because they stan for trickle-down capitalism.

              If Democrats form a political monopoly to control all Social Media and all of Big Tech, don't you think that's an unfair advantage?

              Two things.

              1. Prove “Democrats” have a political monopoly in re: ownership and control of Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet/Google, and all other companies and social interaction networks you would consider to be part of “Big Tech”.

              2. Honey, life is unfair; anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.

              Imagine being able to control the flow of what people see and can't see on the largest platforms on the net where [ideas] are exchanged

              Imagine making the same complaint about Fox News or MSNBC, which both arguably do on TV what you are accusing Facebook, Twitter, etc. of doing on the Internet.

              Should the government not step in to protect viewpoint diversity and prevent political monopolies?

              No. It should stay out of regulating speech in any way. How would you feel if the government forbade citizens from using certain words? How would you feel if the government forced a platform you owned to host speech which you did not want to host—speech that expressed ideas which you personally find revolting and want no part in spreading—under threat of legal punishment/monetary penalties?

              What was the internet like before Obama won? It was a VERY free and open place. There was TONS of free speech, but also a lot of racist areas of the internet.

              You say that like anything has changed. 4chan is still a thing ten years after Obama got elected the first time.

              Democrats literally have the chance to openly announce free speech for all Americans.

              What, are they going to announce “First Amendment Plus” or some shit⸮

              Democrats have the keys to winning elections, but don't know which doors to open.

              They might not even have the smarts to use the keys, but that is a discussion best left to pundits and talking heads on the 24-hour political pundit networks.

              Trust the people with power, don't decide what they should and shouldn't be exposed to.

              If you can prove that Twitter, Facebook, etc. are deciding what I can and cannot look at on the Internet, by all means, do so. Until then, they do not control what I say or look at on any other platform besides their own. Jack Dorsey cannot ban me any non-Twitter platform for saying “fuck Donald Trump” any more than he can do the same to you for saying “fuck Barack Obama”.

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    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Knott O'Really, 18 Sep 2018 @ 7:12pm

      Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

      Since you're new here and I haven't put this up for a couple days, here's my notions:

      Is Section 230 CDA to benefit The Public or corporations?

      Obviously The Public by providing speech outlets. You could not find a single politician who'd say it's to benefit corporations. -- Though it's entirely possible that was and is the intent: a stealthy form of censorship.

      Corporations have PR departments with large budgets to get their message out. It's only individual "natural" persons who need outlets for their views.

      CDA 230 provides a new form of immunity that allows corporations to HOST content without the full liability of PUBLISHING it as still true for print outlets.

      And it pretty much REQUIRES that "platforms" police the sites for The Public:

      "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of-

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

      That just states causes valid in common law. It's a requirement for simple decency -- the "D" in CDA. Not controversial so far...

      Corporations get a DEAL: immunity IN EXCHANGE FOR opportunity.

      The deal of CDA 230 is to be NEUTRAL HOSTS for The Public's speech.

      Otherwise, corporations MUST obey the traditional laws of publishing and be responsible for EVERY BIT on the "platform".

      The deal was granted BY The Public (through our representatives) and clearly meant as a convenience to allow The Public to use the internet without having to manage technical details. PERIOD.

      CDA 230 NEVER in least authorizes corporations to discriminate (for their own purposes) as to WHO and WHAT is published. That's controlled by common law.

      We The People don't have to allow the hosting corporations to exist at all! It's entirely our option. They're to SERVE The Public or be broken up.

      Of course, GREEDY GRASPING corporatists soon found a loophole that they claim allows them POWER OVER THE PUBLIC.

      Corporatists try to twist CDA into control of OUR PUBLISHING!

      How did "Communications Decency Act" get twisted into authorizing complete corporate control of The Public's new forums?

      "Immunize platforms so The Public can make use of the new medium for almost unlimited speech!", is what They SAID to LURE us into a trap. And now that they've obtained power, masnicks STATE that corporations have an absolute and pre-emptive "First Amendment right" to CONTROL.

      No one thinks that "natural" persons on a "platform" have endorsement by the corporation. No one is mistaking the speech of "natural" persons for the corporation's. The corporation is not in least impaired in getting its message out. -- But what the corporatists want is to CONTROL "natural" persons.

      The ultimate purpose of Masnick / EFF blather (both funded by Google) is to sweep on to:

      They claim that corporations can use that "restrict access or availability of" clause to, whenever wish -- even explicitly over YOUR First Amendment Rights -- step in and EDIT comments by their own arbitrary standard, to point of becoming THE publisher, even to PREVENT we "natural" persons from publishing on "their" platforms at all!

      But those are OUR platforms, The Public's, NOT theirs.

      Corporations are allowed (by The Public) merely to operate the machinery which is to convey The Public's views. Corporations are NOT to control who gets on, nor WHAT The Public publishes, except under OUR common law terms.

      But Masnick is for corporations CONTROLLING the speech and outlets of "natural" persons. He repeats it often, can't be mistaken. From last year:

      "And, I think it's fairly important to state that these platforms have their own First Amendment rights, which allow them to deny service to anyone."

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170825/01300738081/nazis-internet-policing-content -free-speech.shtml

      Masnick is not hedging "lawyers say and I don't entirely agree", or "that isn't what I call serving The Public", but as VERY RARE for him STATES FLATLY. By deeming it a fundamental "Right", Masnick STATES that he wants a few corporations to have absolute and arbitrary control of ALL MAJOR outlets for The Public! He claims that YOUR Constitutional First Amendment Right in Public Forums are over-arched by what MERE STATUTE lays out!

      Masnick flips the First Amendment from protection for "natural" persons into a POWER for use by corporations!

      Such control (by ANY entity) to remove First Amendment Rights from The Public CANNOT be purpose of ANY statute. It'd be null and void because directly UN-Constitutional.

      It's NOT law, only the assertion of corporatists. No court has yet supported what Masnick claims. Corporatists are reaching for the moon without even a step-ladder. It's simply a trick the New Fascists are trying to pull.

      The provisions over-riding First Amendment Rights ONLY apply if done in "good faith" for The Public's purposes. A corporation intent on stopping YOUR publishing in favor of its own views CANNOT be "good faith" for The Public, but only de facto tyranny and censorship.

      Businesses TRADE "private" for permission FROM The Public.

      The first act of anyone wanting to form a corporation or go into business is to ASK permission from The Public through our Public Servants. We The People are the Master in all, and any business ranks WELL BELOW Our Officers. IF the business meets certain conditions including promises to SERVE The Public and OBEY our laws and regulations, THEN a business is granted LICENSE to exist (supposedly for limited time, but in practice, perpetual).

      Businesses are LICENSED entities. A corporation of course has no actual "corpus", that's the sheer FICTION. Next, calling them "persons" is only a convenience for language. It does not by some magic make a fiction equal to a Person. (And what's a "Person"? Best answered by that there is only ONE "person" in the entire United Kingdom: the monarch. That's why the USA was founded by FIRST stating "all men are created equal".)

      ONLY WITH permission can a business open its doors and invite in The Public to buy and sell. -- And if want to sell things like Liquor, there's MORE licensing required. -- The second doors open (during "business hours"), any "natural" person has a certain degree of "right" (during good behavior as defined in common law) to be on the formerly private property. (I simplify / ignore VAST area including frequent usage, easements bought / granted / eminent domain by which persons esp as Citzens gain a "right" to use or be on property of others.)

      Similarly, corporations ASKED permission to exist, set up web-sites for serving The Public, INVITE them in --- under terms stated by "forms contract" which means only the visible terms, not any hidden, or "unconscionable", and definitely not solely at discretion of any given corporation, let alone for later changes, but ALWAYS must be within common law.

      Now, Corporations wangled Section 230 of the Communications Decency (note how that's been forgotten!) Act to immunize them from what users might publish. This is COMPLETE change from the law print publishers must follow. Purpose was for good of The Public to use the new possibilities of communicating on the Internet.

      The Deal was: in exchange for new business opportunities, We The People immunize businesses (within reasonable) for what's on the sites.

      Those are The Public's sites on which to publish as wish (within common law as ALWAYS). The businesses provide only the technical "platform" to make it easy for us.

      BUT NOW corporations are trying to claim that the policing requirements given above actually grant them absolute and arbitrary POWER OVER The Public's speech.

      This is the KEY power that Masnick wants and asserts in the quote above. Clearly, if that view is allowed to continue and grow, then We The People will effectively be subject to a new form of corporate royalty.

      Posting on a "private web-site" is NOT a "privilege",

      any more than is reading it. THAT'S THE PURPOSE. Two-way communications is the purpose of the internet.

      1) What does "private" even mean when published to and invites entire world?

      2) WHO owns a "web-site", anyway? Like physical business, if allow The Public in, then have CEDED some right to "private property". The Public gains, NOT loses. That's the deal.

      3) Where is this "corporation"? Show it to me. And UNDER WHAT PRIVILEGE AND RULES is it even allowed to exist? -- By The Public giving it permission, and NOT for the gain of a few, but for PUBLIC USE.

      4) Again, mere statute doesn't over-ride The Public's Constitutional Right. And no, corporations are NOT persons, do not have rights, they are FICTIONS.

      5) The Public's use is the PURPOSE of any and every web-site. If allows comments, then it's governed only by common law terms: no arbitrary exclusion.

      Yet fanboys promote mega-corporations to rule over themselves!

      THAT is the BIG puzzle at Techdirt. What's in it for fanboys? -- They're happy to throw away their own First Amendment Rights! And another part of the US Constitution, too, which is interesting to compare: they say content producers have NO right to income from or control copies of creations, but these pirates then stand up for even larger corporations to control their own SPEECH!

      On that point, I'm going to assume they're just aping Masnick.

      And what is the (mere) statute or court decisions that grant corporations the RIGHT to over-rule First Amendment to absolutely and arbitrarily control "platforms" as Masnick says? -- There is NONE! It's just his assertion. -- AND EVEN IF WERE, THAT CAN CHANGE.

      WE THE PEOPLE DON'T HAVE TO SUBMIT TO CORPORATIONS! AT MOST, THAT'S MERE STATUTE!

      Masnick never states that there is an alternative way, doesn't even want it to appear on the site! -- WHY is that, except he's utterly dedicated to corporatism?

      (Remember: last knew can't put "Masnick" into subject line!) Masnick advocates CONTROL BY OPENLY POLITICIZED GATEKEEPERS.

      Masnick extols the new wonders of "platforms" hosting free speech (of "natural" persons) on the Internet from the enabling statute CDA Section 230 -- which immunizes the "platform" from liability that print publishers still have -- then twists that into claim that corporations can STILL, like print publishers, exercise complete and arbitrary old-fashioned editorial control ver what "natural" persons publish. All without any clear firm rules let alone sing common law terms, and even in advance by deciding that some are "bad persons" whom they will not host.

      Masnick's view of Section 230 is NOT THE DEAL that The Public made in order to easily use the new Internet. It's not even a "deal", it's a power-grab totally in favor of unaccountable mega-corporations.

      So WHY does he assert that corporations operating "platforms" are empowered to control the speech of "natural" persons? That's EXACT OPPOSITE INTENT OF ALL LAW.

      Only Mitt Romney and Mike Masnick will say that corporations are "persons" -- Romney got roundly hooted for it, and Masnick only does it here in this little walled garden where he's cultivated vegetables who don't question him.

      Masnick is a total corporatist. Only the mistaken presumption that he acts in "good faith" and shares YOUR views gives him any credibility. -- Take away that presumption for a week, and READ what he writes: he's very open about particularly that "platforms" have an alleged First Amendment Right to arbitrarily control access of we "natural" persons. Masnick believes not only that The Public can be denied access, but since Google controls search, that it can effectively "hide" speech even on alternative smaller outlets you're forced to use. -- Masnick uses "hiding" right here to disadvantage dissenters until they give up and quit commenting. He can thereby claim doesn't censor.

      Corporatists are going for TOTAL control over "natural" persons, period.


      By the way, this is NOT a site that in any degree supports a right of Alex Jones or any other conservative to even exist. Don't be misled by the surface show. I've had hundred of comments censorored here (they call it "hiding") because of viewpoint, while the fanboys are let run wild.

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 7:16pm

        “Natural persons” is still SovCit crazytalk, and actual people still own corporations (and thus the platforms provided by those corporations).

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      • icon
        luzarius (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 7:31pm

        Re: Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

        Thanks for taking the time. This will be good reading material for the next week while I drink fine gourmet coffee.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 7:58pm

          Re: Re: Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

          May I recommend bourbon instead. Wild Turkey makes a nice 101 proof one. Use liberally. That material will make more sense.

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

      • identicon
        John Smith, 18 Sep 2018 @ 8:41pm

        Re: Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

        Section 230 should not cover DISTRIBUTOR liability, since a DISTRIBUTOR of defamation is not the "publisher or speaker."

        Usually, when Congress omits a word like that, is is a clear signal of congressional intent. Only the Seventh Circuit has questioned 230 and ruled against it, while the Supreme Court has never fine-tned its ruling that allowed 230 to remain constitution by saying that it applies to distributors.

        A simple ruling like this is all it takes to topple 230:

        "X is not entitled to Section 230 immunity because it was put on notice of the defamation, yet refused to take it down. Constitent with almost two centuries of precedent, we therefore hold that they are liable not as a publisher or speaker, since Section 230 does not allow that, but as a distributor, much as a bookstore would be once put on notice that it was selling a defamatory book."

        Ask the five or six attorneys who always defend 230 this question and you will NOT get a direct answer, nor will they note that the SCOTUS has yet to rule one way or another. Never mind that other countries don't have 230 and the internet companies still have a presence there.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 9:05pm

          X is not entitled to Section 230 immunity because it was put on notice of the defamation, yet refused to take it down.

          AFAIK, a platform is not legally required to remove defamatory content until a court says the content is defamatory.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 10:20pm

          Re: Re: Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

          22 years later and you’re the first person to ever think of that. No wonder you hate lawyers; you’re the finest legal scholar since Daniel Webster.*



          *Sorry, what I ment to say is you’re a complete fuckwit.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 4:23am

          Re: Re: Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

          Hey John Smith (or other Legal Beagles),

          How much do you think it would take to test your idea? For example, let’s say someone identifies something that they believe is libelous and slanderous, and notifies Techdirt that they should remove it. Predictably, they will do nothing but mock the demand to remove the offending material, as they have always done.

          Then, a suit, and maybe an appeal. This does not sound like a complex issue that should require a lot of testimony or a lot of experts or a lot of opinions outside legal opinions. It would be a straightforward test of your theory regarding section 230 and distributors liability when given a clear notice of offending materials. My full expectation is that Techdirt would be a willing offender (likely they would crow about it).

          How much, do you think, “ball park” legal fees to see if this works? It might be worthwhile if was not terribly expensive.

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      • identicon
        John Smith, 18 Sep 2018 @ 8:45pm

        Re: Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

        Mitt Romney quoted Bob Marley's "Redemption songs" to support his position that corporations are persons:

        "How long shall they kill our profits, while we stand aside and look?"

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:42am

          Re: Re: Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

          LOL - Romney quoted Bob Marley and couldn't even get that right?

          It is prophet .. not profit.
          Slight diff there Biff.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2018 @ 4:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

            The problem is if John Smith quoted the words correctly he'd have to turn himself in for copyright infringement since he doesn't believe fair use exists!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:15am

      Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

      "we need government to regulate Social Media "

      and this coming from a small government conservative type?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 12:22pm

      Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

      Your entire premise is faulty. Saying the same thing over and over again doesn't make it true. It just shows you are a misinformed person who is indignant about perceived, but not actual, slights.

      These companies are not silencing differing points of view they disagree with. They are silencing people and groups for violating their TOS. Nowhere in their TOS does it state I have to only post things that agree with their political idealogy or GTFO. The proof of this is the massive amounts of "left" and "right" wing people and groups who are still on all these platforms. If they were really on a vendetta against all people who disagree with them, why haven't they swung out the ban hammer on every single one already?

      Do you want Youtube, Facebook and twitter to be Democrat & Leftist only?

      Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn, because they are private platforms and have the right to turn themselves into "demorcrat/leftist only" platforms if they so choose, AS YOU YOURSELF STATED IS PERFECTLY FINE. And I quote:

      If you create a forum to discuss Democrat ideologies and someone talks about Republican ideologies, obviously they're not following the forum rules, so you can remove their topic, because the forum is for Democrat ideologies only.

      Your logical inconsistency and hypocrisy is more than a little sad.

      Are you a Social Media Segregationist?

      No, and neither are any of the major social media platforms. But, as you yourself stated, it's perfectly fine if they want to transform themselves into that. So what exactly are you so upset about anyway?

      I believe in a law that protects free speech on the internet, but still lets you regulate your own channel, blog or facebook page.

      It's called the First Amendment. I suggest you familiarize yourself with it before you further insert your foot into your mouth.

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

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 20 Sep 2018 @ 7:18am

      Re: We need law that protects free speech on social media

      Right wing channels are being shut down for alleged wrong think.

      Lies that encourage the persecution of alleged crisis actors are not "wrong think," they're just wrong. They're not even "political views," they're lies.

      Democrats are silencing right wing channels like crazy.

      Which ones? The loony liars? No loss. I mean, how much disinformation does a conservative like me need? I'm sick of being given a bad name by the likes of Jones. Call him what he is: a liar.

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    identicon
    John Smith, 18 Sep 2018 @ 8:52pm

    Last warning, MIke: stop yhour users from harassing me.

    You're too weak with way too much to lose to be allowing this.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 9:03pm

      Re:

      For you, the day you were insulted on Techdirt was the most important day of your life.

      But for us, it was Tuesday.

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

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 9:50pm

      Re:

      Ooh, scary!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 10:02pm

      Re:

      Oh shit it’s the “last warning” guys we better straighten up and fly right, or rumpled foreskin over here is gonna get a real narc on.

      Seriously if we don’t watch out he might go so far as to make up several new professions that he made millions of dollars from.

      No really if we don’t stop hurting his felling he might come and beat us up.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:19pm

      Re:

      Mr. Masnick you do engender a lot of hatred, don’t you?

      I would just caution you, John Smith (do you know Pocahontas?) that many of the commenters here literally feed on emotional responses, hatred is their currency. The majority of their agenda is to get a “rise” from well spoken people, that’s their objective.

      You made your points quite well, many literate people read them and understood them.

      Controlling Mike’s Mob is a lost cause. Any attempt at control will only play into their hands. Don’t roll in the shit with the pigs, that would be my advice.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:39pm

        Re: Re:

        Well, well, well, look at what we have here. It’s the real fake indian apologist. You two will make a real purty couple. It’s strange how you both happen to have famous American names isn’t it. 😉 Might be a match made in copyright heaven. 😍

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

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 11:56pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I saw an anonymous letter for a young lady that says you tried to grope her when she was in school behind the swings. You should immediately withdraw from your professional work, apologize to her, and send me money. #MeToo

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 1:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Ohhh, topical. My turn.

            You gotta pay to play, mariokart that is, except your choad looks like toad and and you spun out tryin to get that run out on a blue shell lookin like that blue pill, thats you gots to take so your little mistake, can pop up like a feather as you try to get wit her, but the pace is too fast and you just can’t last. Boy you’re a 50 cc fungus while I run among us, on that rainbow road, dropping that gold, cup and you’re just a dumb schmuck,with no taste, best you can manage, barely 8th place.

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

          • identicon
            GOP, 19 Sep 2018 @ 11:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Nah - no reason to think those charges have any weight, you're an important politician and politics can not wait for minion complaints - we have a country to destroy.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:22am

      Re:

      You are a selfish, racist, sexist, bigoted lying moron, who never outgrew your schoolyard bully antics.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:25am

      Re:

      See, this is the sort of threat that might carry some weight if people recognized you as someone whose influence and reputation might carry some clout.

      Oh wait, that's right. You don't want to be recognized.

      You copyright types are pretty shit at thinking anything through, aren't you?

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

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:45am

      Re:

      yhour users from harassing me.

      ERROR: ASSUMES FACTS NOT IN EVIDENCE

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

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:47am

        Re: Re:

        I've Already seen at least two vexatious litigants fail miserably attempting to prove the lie that "mocking my stupidity online" = "harassing me"

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 9:09am

      Re:

      it's not harassment when you keep coming back for more, it is masochism.

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

  • icon
    Jinxed (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 5:42am

    Throughout human history, it has always been the few who work to silence the voice of the many through various laws, regulation, and tools.

    Remember, the original point of copyright law wasn't to protect works, it was to prevent works from being spread to others.

    The internet is no different a technology than was the first printing press. Immediate reaction was information could spread quickly, educating people, or seeding thoughts of uprising against governments, thus it was necessary to ban such spreading of ideology.

    This is what we're seeing, from the EU to the US, governments are working to ban the "printing press", and history repeats itself.

    What's even more troubling is this regulation isn't directly tied to government. People, daily, tell others to "shut up" because of information they disagree with.

    How is it an intelligent species, who prides itself on ideology and culture, then immediately turn and try to ban any ideology or culture which is not in alignment with their own?

    Techdirt often reported the many sites which have turned off comments over the years and have even introduced their own comment-blocking system on the site.

    All so others can easily carry out their own moderation, while voicing opposition when others do the same.

    Typical the hypocrisy spreads.

    You're either against all forms of censorship or for it. There is no middle ground.

    The second one presses the "flag comment" button, they are for censorship in all its forms.

    So perhaps remember this as governments continue to work having sites moderate their own content.

    Poetic justice, I'm afraid.

    Finally, before anyone throws out that idiotic xkcd comic, remember: tossing someone out for being an asshole is still stifling the speech of another, or moderating the conversation.

    Don't like what someone has to say? Then perhaps the one removed from conversation need not be the one speaking.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:04am

      Re:

      U mad, bro?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:12am

        Re: Re:

        I vote for best comment of the week (above).

        Maybe longer.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 8:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Seriously, “Then perhaps the one removed from conversation may not be the one speaking”.

          That is art. Serious literary art. Hemingway, Tolstoy, Pushkin class of writing, I mean art.

          I wish I could write like that.

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 9:50am

      Re:

      You must be fun at parties.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 12:09pm

      Re:

      Allow me to retort.

      STFU

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 19 Sep 2018 @ 1:17pm

      Re:

      You're either against all forms of censorship or for it. There is no middle ground.

      The second one presses the "flag comment" button, they are for censorship in all its forms.

      Since you apparently don't care for xkcd, here's an alternative.

      I certainly hope you practice what you preach and disable any spam filters you may have. Can't stifle any speech after all, and since there is no middle ground, all or nothing, well it would be downright hypocritical for you not to allow and/or encourage all speech.

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

      • icon
        Jinxed (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 5:20am

        Re: Re:

        Excuse me, I need to make sure I understand your statement correctly.

        You're stating because I refuse to allow comments into my own personal area, unsolicited, it is the same thing as entering a public area and asking the speaker to cease?

        You sir, are a moron, but feel free vomiting vile rhetoric on the belief you're making a point. I assure you I will not flag your comment for being a moron.

        I'll simply excuse myself as your ignorance gives me a headache.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 9:19am

          You're stating because I refuse to allow comments into my own personal area, unsolicited, it is the same thing as entering a public area and asking the speaker to cease?

          Show me the sentence where they said or even implied that. Otherwise, stop otherwording them to make yourself look better.

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 6:22pm

            Re:

            That actually is a fair assessment of what I said, however I was merely turning their own argument against them to highlight it's flaws and their potential hypocrisy when it came time for them to put it into practice in a way that would impact them.

            I certainly understand that there's a difference between the two, however their 'all or nothing' assertion eliminates context, such that there's no real difference between the two actions under their argument, which I attempted to make clear with my example.

            This makes the insults and attempts at acting superior all the funnier in my mind, because I'd agree, my example is rather stupid, however the reason for that is because of what I had to work with.

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

            • icon
              Thad (profile), 21 Sep 2018 @ 9:36am

              Re: Re:

              Plus, their "private is different from public" goalpost-shift isolates the wrong variable. If the argument is that it's okay to run spam filters on a private account because it's private, that implies that it's not okay to run spam filters on a public forum. Which is a ridiculous assertion.

              The important distinction in your spam filter example isn't the distinction between public and private. It's the distinction between spam and not-spam.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 1:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          And I quote:

          You're either against all forms of censorship or for it. There is no middle ground.

          The second one presses the "flag comment" button, they are for censorship in all its forms.

          Don't make extremist, 'Either A or B, all or nothing, there are no other alternatives' assertions if you can't handle them applied back to you.

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

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 20 Sep 2018 @ 3:18pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          One of the most valuable pieces of advice a teacher ever gave me was that my use of flowery language didn't make me sound as smart as I thought it did, and that if I wanted to impress him I should quit showing off and just communicate clearly.

          I offer the same advice to you.

          Are you under the impression that if you use enough fancy words, complex sentences, and alliteration that we're not going to notice your post is just a strawman followed by name-calling followed by running away? You are mistaken.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 11:41am

    "Far from actually helping level the playing field to foster new websites seeking to be better platforms than the ones that came before, in targeting editorial policies with regulation we would instead only be deterring people from building them."

    Well, honestly, I don't think you could have better described the Trump Dynasty's and their Republi-fascist (m&b)illionaire backers' (here and abroad) hopes and dreams for the future of the web, any better than that.

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


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