And Here Come The Completely Ridiculous Lawsuits Over Internet Company 'Bias'

from the these-won't-go-far dept

It was only a matter of time. Given the incorrect and misleading claims of "political bias" in social media moderation/search recently, you knew someone was going to file a lawsuit, and not surprisingly, the first to take the plunge is serial litigant Larry Klayman and his "Freedom Watch" organization. Of course, we've had a few similar lawsuits test the waters, all of which have failed miserably -- from Dennis Prager falsely claiming that YouTube was demonetizing his videos due to his political views (which was not even close to true) to Jared Taylor suing, claiming political bias in Twitter kicking him off its platform.

Klayman's complaint, however, adds layers of nuttiness upon those previous attempts. First off, he's hoping to turn it into a class action lawsuit for "all politically conservative organizations, entities and/or individuals who... have experienced illegal suppression and/or censorship." Second, he's filing it against four companies at once: Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple. Once again, I thought that conservatives believed in free markets and were against the fairness doctrine which (1) is not currently law and (2) even when it was, only applied to broadcasts over the airwaves. Yet, Klayman pretends that there's some sort of quasi fairness doctrine, and also takes every possible rumor or claim of political bias in tech, no matter how incorrect, and assumes it's true for the purpose of the case.

Literally the case dredges up a ton of disproven articles claiming bias where none has been shown to actually exist. It takes things out of context. For example, it puts tremendous weight on the long-ago debunked story of Facebook's "trending stories" being moderated to block conservatives, and mixes that with Facebook's totally unrelated attempt to increase quality of news, to argue it's proof that Facebook censors conservatives. That's ridiculous. First of all, the Gawker article, claiming Facebook bias in trending news, was later shown to be misleading and just the incorrect claims of a disgruntled ex-employee (and trending stories was a feature that few people even used anyway). The attempts to increase quality is not a sign of political bias, it's a recognition of the fact that choosing what is "quality" involves ranking stuff. That's how ranking works. But to say that's evidence of political bias is complete bullshit. The lawsuit also uses PragerU as an example, even though YouTube showed pretty damn clearly that many fewer of PragerU's videos were demonetized than well-known "liberal-leaning" accounts. But that doesn't stop Klayman.

As for the "harm" to Klayman? Apparently, he believes it's against the law for his fanbase to have stopped growing. Really. It must be a conspiracy against him.

Since Defendants, each and every one of them, have begun their conspiracy to intentionally and willfully, and/or acting in concerted parallel fashion, to suppress conservative content and refuse to deal with Freedom Watch, Freedom Watch’s growth on these platforms has come to a complete halt, and its audience base and revenue generated has either plateaued or diminished.

For instance, the number of subscribers to Freedom Watch’s YouTube channel has remained static especially over the last six months, after years of steady grown, which simply cannot be a coincidence given the facts set forth in the previous section.

Wow. Watch out world. Apparently, any time someone's traffic decreases, you can just sue the sites that used to give you traffic according to Freedom Watch.

Also, it wouldn't be a Larry Klayman lawsuit if there weren't a few good conspiracy theories tossed in for fun. First he claims all these companies are colluding against him, and then reveals it's all part of the evil "leftist agenda" to overthrow the President.

Defendants’ agreement has a plainly anti-competitive effect and has no rational economic justification, as they are willing to lose revenue from conservative organizations and individuals like Freedom Watch and those similarly situated to further their leftist agenda and designs to effectively overthrow President Trump and his administration and have installed leftist government in this district and the 50 states.

Citation needed.

There's more silliness in the lawsuit. It quotes Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before the Senate, claiming that Zuckerberg "struggled to name a single competitor," which the very transcript he included shows is not true. The testimony involved Zuckerberg pointing out accurately that the company had many competitors, but that those were for different pieces of Facebook's business, rather than one competitor who did everything like Facebook -- and specifically named a bunch of companies that compete in different ways with Facebook.

It also claims that all of these companies are "quasi-public spaces." It's kind of incredible to think that some conservatives are now apparently against companies having First Amendment rights and believe in nationalizing their platforms. I'm curious if they now support tossing out the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, because part of that ruling is that political bias is protected by the First Amendment.

This lawsuit has no chance and has a high likelihood of being laughed out of court, but in case you were wondering the actual claims, he argues that the companies are violating antitrust laws "in restraint of trade" (namely, his businesses using their platforms), anticompetitive behavior (he claims that FreedomWorks is a competitor to all of the platforms), discrimination, and (most incredibly) a violation of the First Amendment. Apparently, he does not see the irony in claiming that these platforms -- which have strong First Amendment rights to determine what content they show on their own platforms -- are actually violating his First Amendment rights in not giving him enough YouTube subscribers. How? Because they should be nationalized or something:

Defendants act as quasi-state actors because they regulate their public platforms, thereby regulating free speech within their public forums, Google/YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, Apple, Instagram as well as the other social media companies or entities.

Defendants, each and every one of them acting in concert, have deprived Freedom Watch and those similarly situated of its constitutional rights by censoring its content for purely political reasons. Defendants’ censorship is arbitrary and capricious, and is purely viewpoint based.

The use of "arbitrary and capricious" is bizarre, seeing as that's the standard used in administrative law, concerning government body rulemaking is unfair. But, once again, none of these companies are government bodies.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, he's asking for... $1 billion. Because, why not?


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 9:46am

    As for the "harm" to Klayman? Apparently, he believes it's against the law for his fanbase to have stopped growing.

    Well, it is better for the ego to claim that you are being censored, that to accept that you views are unpopular.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 9:54am

    State rights for me but not for thee! First Amendment for me but not for thee! [Insert whatever right] for me but not for thee! - "Any bigoted moron (usually Republican) out there!"

    I say usually because bigotry comes in many flavors!

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    identicon
    Anonymous, 31 Aug 2018 @ 9:58am

    Net neutrality hypocracy

    So, you support net neutrality because a private company shouldn’t be able to throttle internet traffic. But a private company should be allowed to throttle ideas of certain groups they don't like.

    Why is one bad and the other good?

    And why is it bad for governments to censor free speech but ok for large corporations to do so? Outsourcing censorship doesn’t make it right.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:11am

      Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

      A. Those two things are unrelated. Totally unrelated.

      B. It's a private platform with rights to moderate content on their platform as they see fit. Conservative sites are at least as heavily moderated so be careful what you ask for.

      C. Free speech, as a concept, doesn't exist on a private platform. It exists only insofar as government is not allowed to moderate or censor speech of the public. It has nothing to do with private platforms. Again, be careful what you ask for.

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      • icon
        ralph_the_bus_driver (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 7:21am

        Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

        - "Free speech, as a concept, doesn't exist on a private platform."

        I agree, just to add though.

        Biased media is far from new in America. Starting shortly after the Civil War, when tree pulp paper became widely available, newspapers flourished. Every group published their own paper. Some were monthly and others became daily and most published in between. But they all had an agenda.

        Democrats had their papers in every city. Republicans had their papers. Libertarians, socialists, prohibitionists, free trade, even the Catholic Church had their own papers. In NYC 120 years ago they had over 100 papers publishing regularly. Each pushing their own agenda. Within 50 years the vast majority of those papers had ceased publication through either merger, bankruptcy, or the sponsor disbanding. Today most large cities count themselves lucky to have one healthy paper.

        Radio and TV killed the newspaper cults. Instead of each paper with a political agenda, the national broadcasters instituted journalistic standard of neutrality, enforced by the FCC. The surviving newspapers adopted those standards. And the world was a much better place for that.

        Klayman wants to take us back a century where he can publish his agenda. Except he wants to do it on other's dime. Tree pulp paper was cheap. The internet is much cheaper. The same problem exists then as now, people are free not to sell your trash in their stores or give you free space on their servers.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2018 @ 3:04pm

          Re: Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

          "Biased media is far from new in America. Starting shortly after the Civil War,"

          All media was without bias before the civil war ... I doubt that. I was not there personally, but from what I have read your claim is simply false. There was plenty of bias everywhere, always has been and always will be.

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      • icon
        nasch (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 8:04am

        Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

        Free speech, as a concept, doesn't exist on a private platform. It exists only insofar as government is not allowed to moderate or censor speech of the public.

        You seem to be conflating free speech with the US 1st Amendment. Free speech as an ideal exists outside the bounds of the 1st, and can certainly have relevance on a private platform, even if it has no legal weight.

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      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 1 Sep 2018 @ 9:49am

        Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

        In other words you are happy to give Robber Barons power that you would not want governments to have.

        You don't really believe in liberty. You are probably quite pleased to see your enemies being abused by large companies that qualify for anti-Trust prosecution.

        You kid yourself that it could never happen to you.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:14am

      Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

      So, you support net neutrality because a private company shouldn’t be able to throttle internet traffic. But a private company should be allowed to throttle ideas of certain groups they don't like.

      No. That is neither an accurate description of my viewpoint or what the debate is about.

      The issue with net neutrality is that it is about access to the entire internet itself -- which no one owns. Combine that with the fact that there is limited to no competition in broadband access providers, and it makes sense, for the good of the overall network to make sure that access is offered on a non-discriminatory basis.

      That is entirely different than when you're talking about hosting speech. That is, any internet platform is free to determine whose speech they host or don't host. If one platform doesn't want you on their platform, that's fine, because (as long as there is net neutrality) you can easily go to another platform OR BUILD YOUR OWN.

      That's not the case with the underlying broadband infrastructure.

      So one is a question of access to the wider network, for which there is no competition, and the other is an issue of who has to host your speech on their platform. They are extremely different situations, and thus there is no hypocrisy.

      And why is it bad for governments to censor free speech but ok for large corporations to do so? Outsourcing censorship doesn’t make it right.

      I have a post upcoming (perhaps next week, perhaps later today) on this very topic. But, the shorter answer is that because platforms have their own free speech rights as well, and cannot legally kill you or put you in jail. Also, if a business doesn't want to work with you, you can go to others or form your own new business. Governments on the other hand...

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      • identicon
        Anonymous, 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:46am

        Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

        There is a big difference between a small site that has a few hundred or thousand users and gigantic sites like Facebook and Google. If I own a company and Techdirt doesn’t want me on their site it won’t affect me. However, if Facebook or Google decide to prohibit me from using their sites it would be devestating. Like it or not they have morphed from small sites to communication infrastructure and have set themselves up as gatekeepers.

        Up until the 1980’s there was just AT&T (the phone company). Sure, you could get by without a telephone but it was very inconvenient. You had to go throug AT&T to get a telephone. Now suppose that AT&T didn’t like certain groups of people, such as hippies or blacks, and decided that they would drop calls, hide their number from the phone book, or outright remove their phone service. This would be illegal. But this is exactly what Facebook is doing.

        I realize that Facebook is not under the same laws and regulations as AT&T, because they are not legally considered a “communications provider”. However, that is what they are. They are the 21st century equivalent of the phone company. And saying that people can go somewhere else doesn’t mean much if everybody else is still on Facebook.

        Either Facebook needs to become an open protocol that everyone can access or they need to not censor groups that they don’t like.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:03am

          if Facebook or Google decide to prohibit me from using their sites it would be devestating

          Neither Facebook nor Google are legally required to subsidize your speech, business, etc. If you depend on their infrastructure for anything, the responsibility for that dependence rests upon your shoulders. They do not owe you a platform or an audience.

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:06am

          Re: Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

          However, if Facebook or Google decide to prohibit me from using their sites it would be devestating.

          By what standard? I don't use either, and I've seen comments by others in a similar situation, and I and them seem to get along just fine. Exactly what 'devastating' consequences do you imagine would take place by not using and/or being kicked off those two?

          I realize that Facebook is not under the same laws and regulations as AT&T, because they are not legally considered a “communications provider”. However, that is what they are.

          No, they really aren't. A platform is distinctly different than the connection to the platform, in a similar way that the road to a store is not the store.

          If your ISP decides to meddle with your connection then that affects access to multiple platforms and services, Facebook and Google's services being two of them. If Facebook decides to give you the boot from their platform that affects your access to one platform, theirs.

          And saying that people can go somewhere else doesn’t mean much if everybody else is still on Facebook.

          Which is on them, not Facebook. People that are on Facebook can almost always be reached by other means that are fairly comparable(email, chat via other programs and so on), whereas if you don't like your ISP and you live in the US you might literally not have any similar options, or even any other options faster than mail.

          If there was only a handful of platforms like Facebook available, and if the barrier to create a competing(not necessarily at the same scale, but competing in the sense of serving a similar function) was high enough that it was effectively impossible for most people to do so, such that they had no other choice if they wanted to make use of a social platform, then the comparison might hold a bit of water.

          As it is though there's a a significant difference between a general form of communication with a prohibitively high barrier to entry(telephone and/or internet access), and a platform that facilitates communication and has many alternatives available, such that comparing the two as similar enough to apply the same laws doesn't really work.

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        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:48am

          Re: Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

          If you own a company, and rely on Google or Facebook or any other social media for customer contact, I would think you wouldn't do something so egregious as to get kicked off their service. Something like expressing your personal likes or dislikes or arguing politics for one side or the other. To some degree, any of those would probably be fine, so far as the platforms go. For them it's probably a matter of degree. How intense are you expressing those ideas, and whom are you denigrating in your expressions. You customers, however, are a different matter.

          Like TOG, I don't use any social media sites. I have run into a few businesses where the only way to contact them is through their Facebook page. They never hear from me. Not as a purchaser, not as a client, not as a customer. I don't, and won't do business with anyone that would require me to use Facebook. I consider Facebook dangerous, and not just to those who sign up for their service.

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        • identicon
          Will B., 31 Aug 2018 @ 12:05pm

          Hey, Mr. Socialist!

          Are you suggestig that we nationalize Facebook and Twitter? Finally, an idea I can get behind!

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        • icon
          nasch (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 8:07am

          Re: Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

          There is a big difference between a small site that has a few hundred or thousand users and gigantic sites like Facebook and Google.

          Not legally there isn't.

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 12:20pm

        Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

        If one platform doesn't want you on their platform, that's fine, because (as long as there is net neutrality) you can easily ... BUILD YOUR OWN.

        Waitasec. Haven't you had at least one podcast (and I think more than one) on the subject of how that would not be at all easy and may not even be possible in the current legal climate, to build a new social platform that's capable of competing with the incumbents?

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        • identicon
          Christenson, 31 Aug 2018 @ 12:51pm

          Re: Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

          Techdirt may well have discussed the barriers to entry in various markets... which is the statement that such barriers (like copyright) should be minimized or removed.

          Google, Twitter, and Facebook *do* have outsized influence, just like trucking companies, all the hotels in town, etc. It's why there are common carriers and public accommodation laws.

          Figuring out how to do that with Google or Facebook, however, remains unsolved, which is why enabling competition would be the better route.

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          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 4 Sep 2018 @ 5:34am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

            Uh, guys? You can either use an online forum or install a forum on your own hosting. That's all social media is, really. It's not that different. If your views and attitudes are such that you're worried about being censored, go start a forum of your own and set the more contentious areas to private.

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          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 4 Sep 2018 @ 5:35am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

            @Christenson, beefing up privacy laws would reduce their ability to influence via paid ads, etc.

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      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 1 Sep 2018 @ 9:51am

        Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

        Don't kid yourself Mike. That's EXACTLY what's going on here.

        You are content to enable or tolerate REAL censorship. The fact that it's being perpetrated by the modern version of the British East India Company doesn't alter the nature of the situation.

        You either believe in a principle or you don't. This isn't about hiding behind "legalisms".

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    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:16am

      Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

      Perfect demonstration of someone who slept through Civics class in high school.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2018 @ 9:53am

        Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

        You are confused.

        Your sanctimony is unjustified.

        You can acknowledge what the (weak) legal standard is and still believe that the overall principle encapsulated by that law should apply more generally.

        The Constitution is only a limit on the powers of the federal government. It doesn't set a rigid boundary for what we should expect out of society at large.

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        • icon
          orbitalinsertion (profile), 3 Sep 2018 @ 2:36pm

          Re: Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

          The authors and commentariat here overwhelmingly think corporations should do better in many respects, including their handling of speech on social platforms. They say so repeatedly. (And then get poorly played "gotcha" comments from people who somehow think you can't be against a corporate decision but maintain the right of corporations to make certain kinds of bad decisions.) What one cannot expect is any legal foundation for challenging their editorial powers.

          Conservatives, by and large, have far more funding. They can easily set up a conservativebook or extreme right wingnutbook. Probably the latter as i don't see the liberal conspiracy crap from those who fall into the category of what used to be the average (political) conservative.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2018 @ 3:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

            The wingnuts tried their own version, and it failed to attract anybody other that fellow wingnuts, and that won't do for getting their message across. They want the right to spout their racist views where people gather, that is they want to force themselves onto an audience they can't attract to their own versions of social media.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:25am

      So

      otherwording noun — The practice of rephrasing a point of argument to intentionally distort the point into saying something it does not and slander the person who made it; often done to make winning an argument easier

      Example: You can typically find the phrase “so you’re saying” at the beginning of an instance of otherwording.

      See also: strawman; your post

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:17am

        Re:

        The practice of rephrasing a point of argument to intentionally distort the point

        Intent is famously difficult to determine over the internet (see: Poe's law), which would make your definition difficult to apply. The strawman fallacy, by contrast, does not require intent and often occurs due to misunderstanding.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 12:00pm

          Intent is famously difficult to determine over the internet (see: Poe's law), which would make your definition difficult to apply.

          So you’re saying I’m an asshole for trying to define a word?

          …and therein lies an example of otherwording, which is itself a form of a strawman argument. With the use of “so you’re saying”, you can intentionally misrepresent the gist of an argumentative point by rephrasing it in a way that says something else entirely. In your quoted sentence, you did not call me an asshole for trying to define otherwording—but by saying you did, I could force you to address that point instead of a more relevant, on-topic point. The argument would shift in my favor because I would have obtained control of it by making you defend a point that was neither factual nor relevant.

          Otherwording is an insidious rhetorical trick. Your ability to argue/debate/discuss anything, including politics, is only helped by a refusal to use it.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 12:55pm

            Re:

            Your ability to argue/debate/discuss anything, including politics, is only helped by a refusal to use it.

            Sure, but I think debate is also improved when we don't assume ill intent on the part of our interlocutors without good reason (if you're debating a lawyer or master politician, we can assume they know what they're doing; for an anonymous internet commenter, who knows?). Careless/biased reading has got to be more common than malicious reading, maybe even when people write "so you're saying...".

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:11pm

              I can agree in principle with your “intent” argument, yet disagree in that otherwording is insidious because it is a malicious practice even if the person doing it has no ill intent. (As I am fond of saying, execution overrides intent.) Summarizing an argument through otherwording should be avoided whenever possible. If anything, repeating or merely pointing out the actual argument itself before going on to rebut it—as I did in my opening sentence for this comment—would be the best practice.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:35pm

                Re:

                it is a malicious practice even if the person doing it has no ill intent.

                One cannot be "malicious" without ill intent. That's the very definition of the term. The practice could still be insidious, "Producing harm in a stealthy, often gradual, manner."

                Summarizing an argument through otherwording should be avoided whenever possible. If anything, repeating or merely pointing out the actual argument itself before going on to rebut it... would be the best practice.

                That's a pretty thin line to walk, if someone didn't actually understand the argument. Rewording an argument while attempting to keep the same meaning is actually a useful way to make sure everyone is talking about the same thing—it's why students learn to restate things "in their own words". But gone wrong, it looks a lot like "otherwording".

                To quote Wikipedia, "assume good faith". Especially when we're discussing law, it's easy to get some minor detail wrong by accident. It's when a commenter doubles down in response, or ignores contrary information, or has a history of such, that we might assume malice.

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 2:45pm

                  Re: Re:

                  One cannot be "malicious" without ill intent. That's the very definition of the term. The practice could still be insidious, "Producing harm in a stealthy, often gradual, manner."

                  Fair point.

                  That's a pretty thin line to walk, if someone didn't actually understand the argument. Rewording an argument while attempting to keep the same meaning is actually a useful way to make sure everyone is talking about the same thing—it's why students learn to restate things "in their own words".

                  I agree in principle, but the whole thing that makes otherwording insidious, regardless of intent, is that it can easily reword an argument in a way that it was never intended to be interpreted. There are two better options than otherwording:

                  • Asking for clarification on a specific point, even if the question is ultimately rhetorical

                  • Avoiding the key phrases of otherwording (“in other words”; “so you’re saying”) while restating the argument/point as you understand it

                  Ultimately, the trick is refusing to pass off your interpretation of the argument as the other person’s intended interpration. If I were to interpret the sentence “that's a pretty thin line to walk, if someone didn't actually understand the argument” as “you should dumb down your arguments so people will understand them”, I should not respond with “so you’re saying I should dumb down my arguments”. You intended to make a specific and easily understood point; my misinterpretation should not be passed off as your intended point.

                  To quote Wikipedia, "assume good faith".

                  In fairness, I tend to assume bad faith with posts that look trollish from the get-go. An instance of otherwording only makes that situation worse.

                  It's when a commenter doubles down in response, or ignores contrary information, or has a history of such, that we might assume malice.

                  Agreed.

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                  • icon
                    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 5:07pm

                    Re: Re: Re:

                    Stephen, while I agree with your premise, I would guard against overusing the concept of 'otherwording'. Some, entirely straightforward folk might be accused of such merely because they are unfamiliar with the concept, but have no ulterior intent. I use 'so' as a leading article at times (though I do try to avoid it) and I use rewording a respondents words (as you say for clarification) but there are times when the speaker is not as sophisticated as you or I.

                    So (intended) when is it appropriate to come down on someone for 'otherwording', and when is it not? The problem becomes it is an esoteric decision. Sometimes it might be, and other times it might not. Therefore, the 'accusation' of 'otherwording' might be purely a personal decision. Implying intent, rather than rationalizing intent are two different things.

                    In the end, you are correct, but don't make the mistake of imputing 'otherwording' every time a grammatical usage is used. It might just be...inexperience.

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                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 5:48pm

                      don't make the mistake of imputing 'otherwording' every time a grammatical usage is used. It might just be...inexperience.

                      A fair point, though I have to stress that I generally avoid going around and accusing someone of otherwording when I see them start a sentence with “in other words” or “so [you’re saying]”. (A sentence starting with “in other words” can be the punchline to a joke, after all.) When a comment looks like a bad faith argument/strawman, however, I feel secure in calling it an instance of otherwording.

                      This comment from an article posted earlier this week contains what I consider to be an instance of otherwording. While I do not believe they argued with me in bad faith, that particular “so” question intentionally distorts my statement into something so far from what I said that it completely misrepresents what I said. That is why I take issue with otherwording instead of genuine misinterpretations.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 12:21pm

          Oh, and...

          Thanks for making me go back to the book from which I picked up the notion of what otherwording is (How to Think by Alan Jacobs) so I could go over that bit again and refresh my memory of it.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:44pm

        Re:

        So you're saying there's a chance!!!


        One of many quotes from dumb and dumber.

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      • identicon
        Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 2 Sep 2018 @ 12:43am

        Re: otherwording

        Does that apply to logic as well?

        For example, saying “A is as bad as B” is also saying that “B is no worse than A”. For for example example, saying “uttering racial slurs is as bad as committing actual genocide” is also saying “committing actual genocide is no worse than uttering racial slurs”.

        In other words, is logical deduction allowed in this new, label-it-like-it’s-a-bad-thing climate of discourse?

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    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:40am

      Re: Net neutrality hypocracy

      *So, you support net neutrality because a private company shouldn’t be able to throttle internet traffic. But a private company should be allowed to throttle ideas of certain groups they don't like. *

      You're confusing **access to the internet** with **people running their own services**.

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  • identicon
    David Longfellow, 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:21am

    Better Solution...

    Lawsuits are a tremendous waste of resources.
    We would be far better served if the general public was continually reminded that they're being fed an unending stream of false, biased information that they should always assume is a lie until proven otherwise.
    That goes double for social media and "journalists".

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:28am

      We would be far better served if the general public was continually reminded that they're being fed an unending stream of false, biased information that they should always assume is a lie until proven otherwise.

      Cool, can we start with your comment?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 4:19pm

        Re:

        Better to stay a bit paranoid than to assume one "side" will always have a winning horse.

        If the people you dislike are capable of lying to you, egregiously, it's also possible that the people you like could be doing the exact same thing. It's always possible.

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        • identicon
          Marvin, the Paranoid Android, 3 Sep 2018 @ 11:00am

          Re: Re:

          Just because one realizes that one is being paranoid does not mean that they are not out to get you.

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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:21am

    That isn’t a class-action lawsuit. It’s a class-action shitpost.

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  • identicon
    CRomeow, 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:34am

    Apples and oranges

    So, you support net neutrality because a private company shouldn’t be able to throttle internet traffic. But a private company should be allowed to throttle ideas of certain groups they don't like.

    Why is one bad and the other good?"

    Because ISP customers are paying the ISPs for bandwidth, and, with net neutrality, the ISP customers decide how they will use the bandwidth. Without net neutrality, the ISP steps into the data stream and tries to extract further profits by making deals with the sites who make the data available to the ISP customer.

    Control over what users see is inherent to the business of search engines and social media sites. The biases of successful companies are toward actions that will draw more users more often. For a search engine, it means quickly providing highly relevant, high-quality links. For a major social media site, it means catering to a broad audience and using terms-of-service agreements and other means to censor or block materials or users who violate the terms or otherwise devalue the brand in the view of the site owner.

    And why is it bad for governments to censor free speech but ok for large corporations to do so? Outsourcing censorship doesn’t make it right.

    The relevant term is legality. The Constitution limits government action to restrict free speech. That same Constitution offers corporations a largely unrestricted right to free speech, which would include the right to determine what is published on its site by users.

    Your reference to "outsourcing" censorship falsely implies that the corporations are acting at the direction of government. In fact, the lawsuit that is the topic of this article accuses the corporations of acting to "overthrow President Trump and his administration."

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    • identicon
      Anonymous, 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:56am

      Re: Apples and oranges

      So a government ordering a company to restrict free speech is bad, but if they ask their Good Buddy the CEO if they could do a favor and suppress those they don’t like that’s OK?

      The mistake a lot of people are making is that sites like Facebook are just bigger versions of websites like Techdirt. They are not. Techdirt does not set themselves up as a way for people to keep in touch. They have not created a large two way infrastructure that connects millions of people together. They are more like the phone company than a website.

      This is no different than if Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile were colluding to suppress groups they didn’t like. Any company that puts itself out as a mass communications platform should not be able to discriminate as to who uses it. As long as a person is not communicating anything illegal they should be allowed access.

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:04am

        So

        What did I just say above about otherwording?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:28am

        Re: Re: Apples and oranges

        "So a government ordering a company to restrict free speech is bad"

        Examples please, in their absence one must then assume certain things or simply ignore your post. I assume you are talking about a private platform here being asked to censor some comment - from a terrorist or a white supremist I guess.


        " but if they ask their Good Buddy the CEO if they could do a favor and suppress those they don’t like that’s OK?"

        You've gone off the deep end here and I can not help you as I have no idea wtf yer goin on about. I guess you mean the so called censoring of so called conservative views. And I must add here that if this is the case you are stark raving mad.

        TD is now a phone company - good to know, what are their rates as I may be interested.


        "Any company that puts itself out as a mass communications platform should not be able to discriminate as to who uses it. As long as a person is not communicating anything illegal they should be allowed access."

        Unless they are in the business of making cakes I assume.
        Look, you can not have it both ways and still smirk at the little people as they struggle. You need to try harder.

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      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:39am

        Re: Re: Apples and oranges

        So a government ordering a company to restrict free speech is bad, but if they ask their Good Buddy the CEO if they could do a favor and suppress those they don’t like that’s OK?

        No, that's not okay. That's still government action to suppress free speech and violates the 1st amendment. See: Backpage v. Dart: http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit=Display&Path=Y2015/D11-30/C:15-3047:J:Po sner:aut:T:fnOp:N:1663542:S:0

        The issue is always whether the government is doing the action of if it's a private company doing it at its own discretion.

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      • identicon
        CRomeow, 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:56am

        Re: Re: Apples and oranges

        So a government ordering a company to restrict free speech is bad, but if they ask their Good Buddy the CEO if they could do a favor and suppress those they don’t like that’s OK?

        Again, the relevant term is "legal," not "good" or "bad." The Constitution limits government actions to restrict speech. There are a few situations where the government order would be found legal by the courts and many situations in which the order would not.

        As far as the First Amendment is concerned, it is legal for government officials to ask a corporate CEO to favor the government viewpoint, provided the government provides neither an incentive to agree nor a penalty to turn the request down. However, there could be other laws at issue (such as campaign-finance laws), depending on the facts.

        This is no different than if Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile were colluding to suppress groups they didn’t like.

        Much as you refuse to distinguish between legality and desirability, you refuse to distinguish between those who carry the data signal and those who publish the data. A carrier could prevent your access to huge numbers of sites, much like the Chinese government does in that country. A data publisher just controls what is available on the sites it owns. You could still visit Breitbart, Infowars, etc. even if Facebook decided to become the official mouthpiece of the Green Party.

        But, to leave the hypothetical world and return to the Klayman lawsuit, the evidence that any of the four companies is suppressing viewpoints for partisan or ideological reasons is laughable. Test it yourself on Facebook. Spend the next 30 days there strongly supporting your ideology and harshly criticizing opposing ideology and its adherents in a manner that doesn't violate the terms of service. I can confidently predict that there will be no action against you by Facebook.

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  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:55am

    Hypocrisy at its finest

    This is what's confusing me:
    Republicans say they're all about the free market and letting business decide how to run their business. If a cake maker doesn't want to sell to gay people, then that's perfectly fine and it's not discrimination.
    But when Facebook and YouTube want to kick people like Alex Jones off the site for hateful speech, then it's "not fair" and the sites are "targeting conservatives".

    So, Republicans need to make up their mind: either companies can be allowed to discriminate, which means choosing to not serve gay people *OR* Republicans.
    OR all companies must follow government rules and offer service to everyone, no matter if anyone else finds them distasteful.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:23am

      Re: Hypocrisy at its finest

      It's less confusing when you realize they have no real principles.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:33am

      Re: Hypocrisy at its finest

      Yes, well put.

      It seems that some so called conservatives are unable to see what you have described, it is incomprehensible to them. I do not understand why, perhaps I should read up on abnormal psychiatry.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:55am

      The righteous victims

      Oh but you see when a righteous christian man/woman, acting according to their deeply held religious beliefs does something which some poor, misguided and/or ungodly fools might consider 'discrimination' that is their god-given right, and to punish them for acting in accordance with their personal beliefs like that is nothing less than an assault(nay, a war!) on their very Religion And God.

      (As I've noted once before I suspect it would be very interesting and/or entertaining were some religious but non-christian to use the 'religious belief' wedge created against a christian, and excuse it by likewise invoking religious belief. Say a fundamentalist muslim refusing to sell anything to an unescorted, unveiled woman, or someone with a religious belief that assistance in the form of selling to heathens/heretics was against their god's wishes.)

      Likewise to punish conservatives/lunatics/racists for their views and words word be discrimination of the highest order, and since Facebook and the like aren't kicking those poor victims off due to Facebook's deeply held religious beliefs then clearly they are demonstrating unjust discrimination and the conservative/lunatic/racists free speech 'rights' should absolutely trump the ability of a platform to choose who gets to use it.

      (Ignoring of course property rights and the fact that there is no 'free speech right' to use someone else's private platform.)

      It would still be grossly hypocritical of course, but to the right(?) kind of person I can almost see how it could make sense, in that in both cases it would be 'unfair' to punish someone for their beliefs, especially if they cloak those beliefs under the guise of religious beliefs. So long as you completely ignore the other side of course, the rights and wishes of the platforms/people who don't happen to fall under what your religion considers 'good and righteous'.

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    • identicon
      CRomeow, 31 Aug 2018 @ 12:38pm

      Re: Hypocrisy at its finest

      So, Republicans need to make up their mind: either companies can be allowed to discriminate, which means choosing to not serve gay people OR Republicans. OR all companies must follow government rules and offer service to everyone, no matter if anyone else finds them distasteful.

      Just to clarify, gay people have legal and Constitutional protections against discrimination in many locations and situations, but members of a political party generally don't.

      So, what you are saying is that to be consistent, Republicans (in this particular case) either need to change the Constitution to prohibit private businesses from discriminating against any political view, or they need to change laws and, in some cases, the Constitution to allow private businesses to discriminate against gay people.

      People are free to be as hypocritical as they want, but they look terribly silly when they insist that, for the sake of fairness, the First Amendment be interpreted as "free speech for me, but not for thee."

      I'm of the view that the Supreme Court has gone too far toward giving corporations the same protections as human persons under the Constitution, but I would never say that the First Amendment should be flipped for corporations and be read as a restriction on the corporation rather than as a right.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:10pm

        Re: Re: Hypocrisy at its finest

        Just to clarify, gay people have legal and Constitutional protections against discrimination in many locations and situations, but members of a political party generally don't.

        What I would find particularly funny regarding people who held both of those positions would be they would be putting forth the idea that something that isn't legal should be allowed, whereas something that is legal shouldn't be allowed. Essentially arguing that the law got it completely backwards twice when it comes to discrimination.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 2:20pm

      Re: Hypocrisy at its finest

      Obviously it's fine if you let businesses not serve those 'icky' LBGT people.

      But when a good Christian like Klayman or Donald Trump get harmed by it then it's a 1st amendment violation.

      Freedom for Christians and conservatives, no freedom for Liberals and LGBT essentially is their stance.

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

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 2:17am

      Re: Hypocrisy at its finest

      What did you expect? Just look at Trump always whining about how others are treating him unfairly. Boohoo.

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  • identicon
    David, 31 Aug 2018 @ 12:14pm

    Sorry, you are wrong.

    The attempts to increase quality is not a sign of political bias.

    Have you been hiding under a rock the last year? Increasing quality is totally politically biased since quality and political leaning have been most painfully correlated.

    There always has been some tendency since the intellectuals tend to gravitate towards the left. But with the current president being the poster child for stupidity, it has become much harder to provide even very basic quality reporting without making the current government look bad.

    If you want to be politically unbiased, you basically have to invent rather than report your news. There are "news" outlets like that, and they'd have to be quite more artificially promoted than they already are to get news that does not make the current government look bad.

    The facts are politically biased, making the government look like incapable idiots compared to the opposition.

    Without getting rid of them (and significant progress has been made on that), you won't arrive at politically unbiased reporting.

    Cat videos, anyone?

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  • identicon
    Isaac Teapish, 31 Aug 2018 @ 12:22pm

    We love ya, Mike

    Hey Mike,

    You know man, I've been reading Techdirt since the beginning. I have. It's been a great place to get news that other people aren't covering. But, in your articles, in the particular, at least the last few years, it's been my observation that when you get partisan, you sometimes miss the forest for the trees.

    I'm not going to defend any of these guys. I think half the conservative names you mentioned are idiots. But, even the Liberal voices on these platforms are complaining about it. The core of the issue is that the platforms themselves aren't especially forthcoming about the reasons these posts and videos are getting labeled.

    The rules of the road are ambiguous and unclear, and the reasons given when action is taken are vague, often seeming either oblique or completely out of of context. You missed this on the Prager post too, so I'm not blaming you for it.

    For example, in the case of Prager, it took a freaking lawsuit for Youtube to tell him what he did wrong. Seriously. It would have been a lot easier, and cheaper for everyone involved if someone in Trust and Safety would have just given him that kind of clear concise reasoning upon review, but that's not what happened. Not at all.

    In this case, it's more of the same.

    Some of it's manufactured anger. Conservatives need their fanbases to be an angry, persecuted minority, even when they're winning political elections in numbers never seen before in history. And I'll grant you, it is an incredibly cynical use of a real problem to weave a narrative.

    But it is still a real problem that, as you pointed out, is affecting everyone, and one that's only getting worse.

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    • identicon
      CRomeow, 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:15pm

      Re: We love ya, Mike

      I'm not going to defend any of these guys. I think half the conservative names you mentioned are idiots. But, even the Liberal voices on these platforms are complaining about it. The core of the issue is that the platforms themselves aren't especially forthcoming about the reasons these posts and videos are getting labeled.

      The rules of the road are ambiguous and unclear, and the reasons given when action is taken are vague, often seeming either oblique or completely out of of context.

      The confusion you are seeing reflects several facts, I believe:

      --The platforms aren't discriminating on the basis of party or ideology. If they were, their decisions would be easy for them to make and easy for us to understand.

      --The platforms would really, really prefer not to pay any attention to posted content or to how content on the platform can affect the real world. They would like to be left alone to collect every bit of data they can and monetize it as much as they can.

      --The real-world impact of the platforms (especially Facebook) has grown to the point that they have become a political issue whether they like it or not. The companies do not have a culture or a business model that is well-suited to the task of figuring out how to adapt to their place in the world. It may be that nobody really knows what Facebook should be doing right now to balance its business, its potential power, and the external forces that want to exert some control over the power.

      Between the totally uncurated platforms (such as chat) and the totally curated platforms (such as newspapers and magazines), there is a huge gray area. Facebook and Twitter got really big and important almost before they even began to realize that they were far out in unknown waters with no charts to warn them of dangers and no compass to tell them where they are going.

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      • identicon
        Christenson, 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:38pm

        Re: Re: We love ya, Mike

        +2 insightful!

        We are *all* in uncharted waters, and no, Facebook/Twitter/Google really don't want to pay attention to or deal with the political reality of being held to account for their accidental power. They just want the ad revenue!

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    • identicon
      Christenson, 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:44pm

      Re: We love ya, Mike

      There are some that don't *want* to understand what the problem is. And youtube, as a private platform, should be allowed under CDA 230 to remove Prager for any reason or no reason. The extent to which it is not allowed to do so, indicates that its influence has become outsized and it is treated as a public accommodation.

      And then there's the DMCA notices being sprayed everywhere with no effective recourse.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 2:14pm

      Re: We love ya, Mike

      But, in your articles, in the particular, at least the last few years, it's been my observation that when you get partisan, you sometimes miss the forest for the trees.

      I'm curious what you think is "partisan" about this post? I am describing a very stupid lawsuit. Were the same lawsuit filed by a so-called "liberal" organization, I would treat it exactly the same.

      There was nothing "partisan" about my analysis.

      But, even the Liberal voices on these platforms are complaining about it.

      Yes, as I've pointed out in other posts, everyone is complaining about it. That doesn't mean any side has a right to tell the platforms how they must moderate.

      Or, worse, have the courts do it for them.

      For example, in the case of Prager, it took a freaking lawsuit for Youtube to tell him what he did wrong. Seriously. It would have been a lot easier, and cheaper for everyone involved if someone in Trust and Safety would have just given him that kind of clear concise reasoning upon review, but that's not what happened. Not at all.

      And I've been among the most vocal arguing for greater transparency and due process from the sites, so I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. The reason I discuss Prager above is because Klayman uses it as evidence of something it clearly is not.

      Though, separately, you know exactly what would have happened had YouTube given a transparent explanation to Prager, which is that Prager would have gone and found some other "liberal" video that YouTube messed up applying the same rules to and screamed bias.

      But it is still a real problem that, as you pointed out, is affecting everyone, and one that's only getting worse.

      This post is purely about the lawsuit. That's it.

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

  • identicon
    Ron Thompson, 31 Aug 2018 @ 12:23pm

    Free $peech

    Thanks Mike, I needed a good laugh today and this did it!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 12:53pm

    Yes Mike...

    You do have a bias, but that is okay.

    Keep in mind what the power of a monopoly does here. Yes, I do support the rights of businesses to refuse customers for any reason but don't pretend that you agree with that.

    I bet you will not support allowing businesses to turn people away based on a protected class, which means you are biased, just that you feel your bias is balancing out a perceived problem opposite to them.

    Keep in mind what the fallout could be as well. The majority of minorities are usually in one party, so if it is okay to refuse service because they are republican, then it will also be okay for people to refuse service because they are democrat creating a backdoor method to oppress.

    Now, I am okay with this because I lean towards liberty. If a business wants to exclude groups then so be it. But you have to be able to support that idea entirely in order to be intellectually honest about it, and you don't.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:10pm

      Re: Yes Mike...

      That's not what bias means, the rest of your post is largely invalid. Bias means you have a preference to lean towards a certain viewpoint... it doesn't mean you agree or don't agree with constitutional or legal protections.

      The left leaning groups generally aren't the ones who are in favor of discriminatory business practice, it's the right ones.

      And Don't be like "oh oppression blah blah" because this has nothing to do with left vs right... because in most countries left vs right actually has a left vs right. The US is a right vs extreme right which is why the republican party is a baffling laughing stock to the rest of the world.

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

    • identicon
      Christenson, 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:32pm

      Re: Yes Mike...

      Umm....
      a) Twentieth century progress in the US was made possible in part by a bunch of laws that required powerful businesses, such as trucking companies, railroads, utilities, hotels,and public accommodations to offer their services without discrimination, as long as customers are willing to pay and comply with minimal, public rules. It's also founded on the breaking up of those powerful businesses (Standard Oil) into smaller, less powerful units.

      This is the source of the impulse to regulate Google of Facebook; their influence is outsized.

      b) Regulation of speech is, well, difficult, and it's only been implemented in the comics code and movie ratings. Are you proposing to force the carriage of some speech, or to forbid it??? Little imagination is required to see how that could fail badly, and, we do have this thing called the first amendment. Facebook is losing lots of points on all sides for banning Alex Jones: Liberals for taking too long, Conservatives because they did it at all, and Techdirt because they obviously caved in to political pressure and failed to find a good third alternative. How to deal with that is something that no one besides Facebook should be deciding.

      So I think where we are at is that what is needed is to encourage robust competition, meaning lots of choices: Don't like twitter? Go to your mastodon.tech.com or whatever.

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 8:27am

        Re: Re: Yes Mike...

        Regulation of speech is, well, difficult, and it's only been implemented in the comics code and movie ratings.

        That isn't regulation in the usual sense, because it's a voluntary effort, not imposed by the government. If the government tried to impose entertainment ratings, and particularly if they tried to restrict viewership in any way (such as by age) that would probably be unconstitutional.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 2:17pm

      Re: Yes Mike...

      You do have a bias, but that is okay.

      Of course I have a bias. I didn't claim I didn't.

      All I said is that (1) these sites are not moderating based on a POLITICAL bias and (2) they are legally allowed to no matter what they choose.

      The rest of your comment is typical nonsense of an Ayn Randian high school student who thinks he's brilliant because he read half of Fountainhead and doesn't actually understand the issues and makes lots of really dumb assumptions.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 2:49pm

        an Ayn Randian high school student who thinks he's brilliant because he read half of Fountainhead and doesn't actually understand the issues and makes lots of really dumb assumptions

        …Paul Ryan?

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  • icon
    ShadowNinja (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 2:22pm

    > First off, he's hoping to turn it into a class action lawsuit for "all politically conservative organizations, entities and/or individuals who... have experienced illegal suppression and/or censorship."

    Someone should tell him that several SCOTUS rulings I'm sure he loved at the time that attacked class action lawsuits will make this nearly impossible.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 7:37pm

    TIme to sell Google

    Techdirt wrote about how Google has agreed to serve the Chinese government by tailoring their platform according to the wishes of the largest facist government on the planet. No problem.

    In the US, it’s a different story. They have only THEIR OWN SECRET AGENDA, but that may not last. Consider Senator Hatch and the pending FTC investigations, or Tucker Carlson recently saying “Google is not an American company, it is a Multi-National, and a clear and present THREAT to Americans.”

    And yippee, it’s an election season, so the outrage will be multiplied a thousand fold.

    Time to sell Google or Alphabet or whatever it’s calling itself these days. The pressure is going to get intense and it’s going to happen FAST.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 7:49pm

      Why should Alphabet sell Google to one or more of the few people that can afford it? Also:

      They have only THEIR OWN SECRET AGENDA

      [citation needed]

      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, 31 Aug 2018 @ 7:50pm

        Re:

        That has to be the stupidest comeback I’ve ever seen. A citation for a secret agenda. Wow. You are nothing if not creative in your criticisms. Wow.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 8:44pm

          Re: Re:

          In which case how do you know that their SECRET AGENDA isn't to solve cancer and give everyone either a puppy or a kitten, based upon preference? I mean it's SECRET, so it could be anything.

          Sarcasm aside, Hitchen's Razor it is then.

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

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2018 @ 9:00pm

            Re: Re: Re:

            The results are not secret, idiot. Their strange anti-American bias is not secret, idiot. Only the details of their agenda is secret. Which they deny, of course, the same way Techdirt denies their obvious censorship. Every tyrant denies tyranny.

            It will all soon come to an end. The political will already exists (witness Trump), and the political mechanisms exist, or soon will. Watch.

            The American People will restore order. God Bless America, Land of the Free. Freedom will soon return to the Internet, and the Tyranny of Google and their ilk will be put to an end.

            Watch. I’m telling you, sell or short their stock. There is NO WAY their valuation will not be affected.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 9:13pm

              So you’re saying Google is part of the QAnon conspiracy⸮ 🤔

              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, 31 Aug 2018 @ 9:20pm

                Re:

                I am saying Google is about to get a spanking from Papa Trump on behalf of the American People.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2018 @ 12:03am

                  Re: Re:

                  For what, exploiting the masses for profit? Trump does the same thing. If anything, he's probably pissed that he doesn't own Google.

                  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, 1 Sep 2018 @ 1:25am

                    Re: Re: Re:

                    He will soon.

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

                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 1:45am

                      Are you a QAnoner, Mr. Coward⸮ 🤔

                      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, 1 Sep 2018 @ 1:47am

                        Re:

                        You are uniquely full of shit: shall I reprint another hundred instances of you smearing shit all over your comments?

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

                        • icon
                          techflaws (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 2:20am

                          Re: Re:

                          Bring it on, jackass.

                          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, 1 Sep 2018 @ 4:08am

                            Re: Re: Re:

                            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 10:12pm ... Nobody cares about this sort of shit but you. Die angry about it.
                            Aug 24, 2018 ... Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Aug 2018 @ 10:55pm ..... Have me arrested and sue me for flagging your shit, Blue Light Special. Go on.
                            These are only being done in H265 because Amazon have shit the bed, and it's a choice ... Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Apr 2018 @ 4:47pm
                            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Aug 2017 @ 11:04pm ..... Re: Re: Toilets are less full of shit than you, sir. Ah, yes, some fun ...
                            Feb 7, 2018 ... icon. Stephen T. Stone (profile), 7 Feb 2018 @ 7:13am ..... Is your advice so shitty that you refuse to take it yourself? [ reply to this | link to this
                            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 7 Aug 2018 @ 5:12pm ..... as if it's their god given right to spew shit everywhere and everyone else is forced to eat it.

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

                            • icon
                              That One Guy (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 8:24am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              You remind me of a (possibly urban legend) scenario where a group of 'concerned citizens' went through a newly printed dictionary looking for 'naughty' words, sending in thanks to the publisher for not printing them, only for the publisher to congratulate them for looking for those particular words so hard.

                              He may have used the word a smattering of times but you're the one who went digging through his comment history(which is totally not stalker/obsessive behavior at all...) looking for it. Of the two of you it would seem that you are the one fixated on the word, to a far greater extent than he is.

                              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, 1 Sep 2018 @ 8:44am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                Yes I find it astonishing that this word is considered acceptable in normal social discourse on this forum. In my culture, this type of epithet was removed from social discourse at age 5, reappearing briefly about 15, and then again abandoned. It find it shocking and unusual that it is tolerated so repeatedly in this forum, and the speaker is never criticized. To my knowledge, none of this crude and disgusting profanity has ever been censored, or even deemed at all inappropriate. When used repeatedly by the same speaker, over and over, again and again, without a single observer suggesting that it is inappropriate, I find it nothing short of astonishing. It’s like conversing in a open sewer or a public toilet. And yet everyone is so comfortable. Stocking and strange.

                                So I mention it. I’ll bet some people agree with me.

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

                                • identicon
                                  Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2018 @ 8:50am

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

                                  And from my point of view, it is disappointing to follow a thread and a train of thought only to have it end with disgusting versions of fecal matter in various forms and various places. It is demeaning to the speaker, the counter-speaker and the reader. Yet it seems to be encouraged here as a reasonable retort.

                                  Disappointing. Very low standards for discussion here. No one seems to uphold any reasonable community standards at all.

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

                            • identicon
                              Christenson, 1 Sep 2018 @ 10:04am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Strong Language

                              So? The man uses strong language from time to time.

                              Maybe using the word frequently lessens his thunder, but shit, that's his problem, not yours! It's not like we wouldn't have a severe Scunthorpe problem if the word was censored!

                              Or would you prefer we all pretended the word didn't exist, like the catholic church pretends sex does not exist, and then find ourselves doing horrible things to children???

                              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, 1 Sep 2018 @ 10:22am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Strong Language

                                My point not that it “lessens his thunder”, my point is that he uses it in the place of a rational argument.

                                About the Catholic Church, I find your reference hard to decipher. You speak in the first person about doing horrible things to children. I have no idea how your doing something horrible to children relates to anything.

                                I just appreciate good writing, which I do find sometimes on Techdirt. Mark Twain style writing, clever and insightful comments that really expand points of view in interesting ways.

                                Use the same word and various versions of smearing it, eating it, smelling it and otherwise putting excrement to use I find offensive. No doubt the occasional use could be easily and casually employed in expanding on a point. However, take some extreme usage as the substitution for an argument I think is just sad. Arrested development, teenage class imagery and humor, the casual “forbidden fruit” of the childish mind. Not worth engaging with when shit is substitute for argument.

                                There are other voices here that are worth listening to, so it is especially dissapointing when shit is encountered in this form, I think for everyone.

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

                                • icon
                                  Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 11:11am

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Strong Language

                                  How do you know that he wasn't referring to the married pope with several children who decided that priests should be celibate (modeled after, I think, the Benedictines) where is real goal was to prevent priests from having children who might make claims on parish property when their fathers died thus weakening the stranglehold the church had over a lot of land?

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

                                  • identicon
                                    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2018 @ 11:24am

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Strong Language

                                    I’m not familiar with that history, but I did spend a little time with the Russian Orthodox Church, and I thought their rituals were interesting. You could study to be a priest, but no be ordained, until you were married. You could not legitimately divorce, under any circumstances. But, you could not rise in the church, that is, become a cardinal, unless your wife was dead. Wow. Combined with how much Russian Orthodox priests drink, it made for a lot of shocking conjectures, about both priests, would-be bishops, and bishops. You can imagine how the wife of an old ambitious priest feels. Maybe a little unwanted.

                                    The church, almost every church, is a complicated place, only simple on the surface.

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

                                • identicon
                                  Christenson, 1 Sep 2018 @ 6:16pm

                                  If you insist on being obtuse...

                                  Many might think you are being a lawyering troll. It's a thing, you know.

                                  Mr Stone can, at worst, be accused of feeding the trolls sometimes. Going after his occasional cussword stinks of a movie called "The troll strikes back!". Sorry, no net nanny here with a scunthorpe problem!

                                  As to the catholic church, we are seeing a new round of revelations about the horrible things it has done to children. IMHO, part of the problem is that the church basically denies sexuality, and that sexuality then comes out in evil ways. The lesson here is not to deny part of the language and not to let it get in the way.

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

                    • icon
                      techflaws (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 2:20am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Before or after the wall has been built?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2018 @ 12:43am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              the Tyranny of Google and their ilk will be put to an end

              And what are you going to replace with it, Bing?

              Last I checked, Breitbart isn't a search engine. If they're that pissed that they're not being profiled high enough they can make their own search engine and "media monopoly".

              I mean, making a search engine to fit certain designated specs is easy, right? Just like the RIAA said!

              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, 1 Sep 2018 @ 1:45am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Replace Google with Google under the control of Americans, not secretive globalist socialist anarchists. Allow the public to vote for the “algorithms” that govern search results. Destroy the “for profit” business model in favor of a “for the public good” model. They made enough money. Take the toy away from the children now, they’ve abused it and can’t be trusted with it.

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

                • icon
                  techflaws (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 2:21am

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

                  How very socialist of you.

                  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, 1 Sep 2018 @ 4:00am

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

                    Socialism is the widespread replacement of competition with government control. No one is advocating that (except socialists). No one will miss replacing a few fanatics that are operating outside the bounds of American values and American interests. They made their money - now they need to go spend it and let Americans decide how Americans get their information. Thanks for your help, thanks for the phony patent (actually invented by your father), now get the fuck out, see ya later, bye.

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2018 @ 8:34am

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

                      No one will miss replacing a few fanatics that are operating outside the bounds of American values and American interests.

                      Problem is, those guys are now running the government with Trump in charge!

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

                    • icon
                      bhull242 (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 9:00pm

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

                      You literally suggested that the President would own Google in the near future. You also suggested that the government would forcibly remove control of the company from its current owners to “Americans” (apparently to be an American, you have to subscribe to certain beliefs, which is anathema to what America was founded on). That is socialism.

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

                      • identicon
                        Wendy Cockcroft, 4 Sep 2018 @ 5:47am

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

                        Confirmed correct. Twenty points to Gryffindor for correct usage of the term.

                        I'm serious; I get fed up with people misusing it to mean "People who aren't bug-eyed right wing loons like me."

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 2 Sep 2018 @ 12:43am

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

                      You’re the biggest crybaby I have ever seen. And I’ve worked in a daycare.

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

        • icon
          techflaws (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 2:19am

          Re: Re:

          Said the guy who claims to know about something that's secret.

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

  • icon
    Wolfie0827 (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 8:40am

    "
    Defendants’ agreement has a plainly anti-competitive effect and has no rational economic justification, as they are willing to lose revenue from conservative organizations and individuals like Freedom Watch and those similarly situated to further their leftist agenda and designs to effectively overthrow President Trump and his administration and have installed leftist government in this district and the 50 states.

    Citation needed. "

    More like "Reality check" needed, and in this case it failed every time!

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

  • identicon
    John Smith, 1 Sep 2018 @ 8:45am

    Every internet censorship problem since AOL's in the 1990s has been solved by the market. Power dynatmics on the internet shift every few years, and today's censor is tomorrow's irrelevancy. There are countless examples of this, such as AOL itself. In 1996, if AOL gave you a TOS violtion or nuked your account, you were effectively cut off from the world. You could use alternative ISPs, but not chat with AOL users, and your e-mail could take up to two days. Moreover, if you did something like give stock trades out "on the fly," AOL didn't want you using your account for business purposes, even for a willing audience.

    By 2001, e-mail had become instant almost everywhere, AIM and other IM platforms like Yahoorose to prominence, while websites had message boards and chatrooms, and of course USENET was still there for public discourse. Someone even sued AOL once over this, and quickly withdrew the case. Despite having more censorship power over the information superhighway, AOL could not keep that control for more han a few years.

    Now, we have a balkanized internet where this type of censorship certainly exists, yet alternatives are now perpetual. The same people on Twitter know how to fiind Facebook, YouTube, or even Gab, if they want, while USENET is still around. You can even cnect to it by Google.

    These lawsuits are unnecessary. Investos should be wary of publicly traded companies who practice censorshipTwitter Facebok), but there will always be new platforms, new alternaties, and someone making money by providing a home to hse xiled from one platform or another, with those platforms losing relevance and audience. At least that's been the case for two decades online, and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

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

  • identicon
    Jacob, 1 Sep 2018 @ 5:26pm

    Disagree

    If this opinion expresses by the author were true, we would not have videos of Twitter engineers stating that the bias was real and in action, nor would Facebook have chosen those particular organizations as censors. I am sorry, but you just aren't credible here.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 2 Sep 2018 @ 8:46am

      Re: Disagree

      Which videos would those be? The only 'the big tech companies totally have a liberal bias!' videos I've seen mentioned so far were from I believe Project Veritas, and as noted in an article that covered them they were hilariously dishonest, taking things out of context on multiple occasions.

      If you've got some other videos however feel free to share them.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2018 @ 11:09am

      Re: Disagree

      But you are?

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

  • identicon
    Digitari, 2 Sep 2018 @ 5:09am

    False Advertising

    I have no problems with bias, just don't claim to being neutral. If social media had proclaimed it's proclivites from the beginning, would they have gotten so popular?

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


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