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Facebook's Latest Fake News 'Purge' Terminates Several Accounts Known For Their Criticism Of Law Enforcement

from the something-else-that-works-in-theory,-but-is-a-complete-abortion-in-practice dept

Moderating at scale is a nightmare. Anything you do will be wrong. This doesn't mean you shouldn't try. This doesn't mean you shouldn't listen to criticism. Just be aware every move you make will cause unintended collateral damage. Making everyone happy is impossible. Making everyone angry is inevitable.

Mike Masnick's long, thoughtful post -- springing from multiple platforms' booting of Alex Jones -- pointed out two things that seem to get forgotten when discussing social media moderation:

1. Platforms can remove users with impunity without raising legal or ethical issues.

2. This shouldn't prevent us from expressing our concern about how these moderation issues are handled.

This is raising its head again because Facebook's efforts to eradicate fake news and untrustworthy news sources has removed several pages belonging to controversial news sources. For whatever reason, most of these sites are strongly associated with police accountability efforts. Radley Balko listed these sites on Twitter:

If you can't read/see the tweet, it says:

As part of its purge, Facebook has removed the pages of several police accountability/watchdog/critic groups, including Cop Block, the Free Thought Project, and Police the Police. They've also apparently severely restricted activity for the Photography Is Not a Crime page.

To critics of cop critics, this tweet seemed like hypocrisy. Several quoted an earlier tweet by Balko about platform moderation. That one said:

Private companies like FB and Google have every right to remove content they find objectionable. No one owes Alex Jones a platform.

This is where critics of Balko and others stopped reading. This was the supposed hypocrisy of the anti-Jones, anti-Trump, anti-cop, anti-whatever on full display. But that wasn't the end of the tweet. Here's the rest:

But when politicians demand removal with implied threats, I start to worry. Senators shouldn't be deciding what's offensive.

That's the real issue. When the government starts guiding moderation efforts of private companies, the First Amendment comes under fire. But it seems politicians on both sides would rather see speech they don't like disappear than uphold the Constitution. Case in point, Senator Mark Warner, who took to Twitter to applaud Facebook's purge.

If you can't read/see the tweet, it says:

Good step by Facebook. Now that Russia's playbook is out in the open, more bad actors are going to take advantage. Social media companies are going to have to continue being proactive in identifying and responding to bad actors using their platforms.

Maybe so, but the vanishing of a handful of cop accountability-focused pages isn't exactly what comes to mind when someone's talking about Russian interference. Encouraging platforms to engage in further moderation may seem innocuous, but the reality of the situation is there is constant pressure -- applied by people like Senator Warner -- for platforms to do more, more, more because some speech they don't care for can still be found on the internet.

The more politicians push for action, the more collateral damage they will cause. They may feel there's no Constitutional problem since they're not directly mandating moderation efforts. But they are harming free speech, if only indirectly at this point.

Certainly Facebook is free to nuke accounts it finds questionable, but each moderation move expands the definition of untrustworthy to encompass entities who present newsworthy items with biased reporting. Anyone using the platform is free to find more balanced reporting. Senators standing back and applauding bad moderation moves helps no one.


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    Barney Google, 16 Oct 2018 @ 10:51am

    NO, stifling political opponents while PRETEND is "moderation".

    Your first sentence simply sets up LYING.

    Moderating at scale is a nightmare.

    You then triple-down with repeating assertions.

    In short, Section 230 is not to empower corporations to RULE over The People and control our speech.

    This was clearly a political move -- just ahead of crucial election.

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

    • identicon
      Barney Google, 16 Oct 2018 @ 10:55am

      Re: NO, stifling political opponents while PRETEND is "moderation".

      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.

      The KEY trick: assert "editorial" control yet keep immunity:

      Here it is cleverly worked in:

      On Friday, libertarian-leaning groups including FreedomWorks and the American Legislative Exchange Council sent a letter to Sessions expressing "fear" that his "inquiry will be to accomplish through intimidation what the First Amendment bars: interference with editorial judgment."

      https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/2018/09/22/draft-order-for-trump-would-crac k-down-on-google-facebook

      NO! Totally negates the whole "platform" premise and asserts that hosting mechanisms are the actual editors!

      Section 230 establishes The Public as Editors! "Platforms" are to be ONLY the technical means for conveying The Public's Editorial choices.

      CONVEYING, NOT CONTROLLING.

      Section 230 is not difficult to understand. The content of a magazine IS the magazine, and can be mechanically printed on any number of presses, without the owner of the press being liable for the content. PERIOD.

      Corporations which host "platforms" are exactly analogous to owners of a mechanical printing press. Printers do not have liability for what's printed -- within BROAD common law terms, and especially relevant on Techdirt: enforcing copyright law when obviously violated.

      It's ridiculous to hold a mechanism responsible: that's what Section 230 immunizes against. But it's even more ridiculous to hold that the owner of a printing press has total editorial control over magazine content.

      But because The Internet blurs the line between mechanical and editorial, the corporate fiends now claim that owning the printing press DOES give them TOTAL editorial control over what WE want to publish!

      Summary to here: For Section 230 immunity to be valid: 1) hosts must act in "good faith" according to common law standards, and 2) "platforms" are NOT to act as editors or publishers, are NEUTRAL / hands-off (again, by common law standards) with regard to persons and content.

      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.

      6) "Editorial control" of The Public's speech by corporate "platforms" is EXACTLY what Section 230 is supposed to prevent! So of course it's EXACTLY what corporations object to: they can't stand ANY other views even being seen.

      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!

      ARE the fanboys real persons? They sure don't act like it! On this KEY point, they always and uniformly parrot the line that sites have complete editorial control.

      So what is the (mere) statute or court decisions that grant corporations the RIGHT to over-rule First Amendment to absolutely and arbitrarily exercise editorial control on "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 even states that there is an alternative way, doesn't want it to appear on the site! -- WHY is that, except he's utterly dedicated to corporatism?


      PS: editorial control is so highly desired that the fanboys here attempt to prevent me from UPPER-casing my little bits of text as I want! Now scale that urge up to corporations controlling tens of billions of dollars: attempts to stifle ALL opposition to their self-serving notions is 100% CERTAIN.

      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 over what "natural" persons publish. All without any clear firm rules let alone using 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.

      Newly added:

      Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a sacred privilege for social media companies. This law protects Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms from liability over the material published on their websites. One of the reasons these services are granted this privilege is the Congressional finding, embodied in legislation, that they "offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse." [47 U.S. Code S: 230 - Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material] In contrast, newspapers are subject to libel actions over Letters to the Editor, because they are assumed to have exercised editorial judgement in publishing them. [Link to US code: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230 ] Source for blockquote: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-12/google-vs-trump-good-censor-collision-course-patriot-presi dent

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Barney Google, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:00am

      Re: NO, stifling political opponents while PRETEND is "moderation".

      The KEY trick: assert "editorial" control yet keep immunity:

      Here it is cleverly worked in:

      On Friday, libertarian-leaning groups including FreedomWorks and the American Legislative Exchange Council sent a letter to Sessions expressing "fear" that his "inquiry will be to accomplish through intimidation what the First Amendment bars: interference with editorial judgment."

      https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/2018/09/22/draft-order-for-trump-would-crac k-down-on-google-facebook

      NO! Totally negates the whole "platform" premise and asserts that hosting mechanisms are the actual editors!

      Section 230 establishes The Public as Editors! "Platforms" are to be ONLY the technical means for conveying The Public's Editorial choices.

      CONVEYING, NOT CONTROLLING.

      Section 230 is not difficult to understand. The content of a magazine IS the magazine, and can be mechanically printed on any number of presses, without the owner of the press being liable for the content. PERIOD.

      Corporations which host "platforms" are exactly analogous to owners of a mechanical printing press. Printers do not have liability for what's printed -- within BROAD common law terms, and especially relevant on Techdirt: enforcing copyright law when obviously violated.

      It's ridiculous to hold a mechanism responsible: that's what Section 230 immunizes against. But it's even more ridiculous to hold that the owner of a printing press has total editorial control over magazine content.

      But because The Internet blurs the line between mechanical and editorial, the corporate fiends now claim that owning the printing press DOES give them TOTAL editorial control over what WE want to publish!

      Summary to here: For Section 230 immunity to be valid: 1) hosts must act in "good faith" according to common law standards, and 2) "platforms" are NOT to act as editors or publishers, are NEUTRAL / hands-off (again, by common law standards) with regard to persons and content.


      That's the key to refuting masnicks. I stop here only because lazy today, so go ahead and censor away, kids!

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:03am

        Re: Re: NO, stifling political opponents while PRETEND is "moderation".

        If it's not difficult to understand, it's strange that you repeatedly, intentionally, and dishonestly misunderstand it.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        John Smith, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:21am

        Re: Re: NO, stifling political opponents while PRETEND is "moderation".

        Actually, in the offline world, "distributor" liability kicks in when a "platform" (printing press) is put on notice that they are enabling the distribution of defamation, much like the DMCA's takedown provision.

        Enforcing distributor liability does NOT treat the distributor as the "publisher or speaker" of the information, but as a REpublisher. The lower courts in America at least have refused to make this distinction, even though they usually note that when legal terms are omitted from the wording of a statute, that congressional intent can be inferred not to apply the law to that term. Conggree scould easily have said "publisher, speaker, or distributor" of the content, yet it did not.

        Most notable here, however, is that the Supreme Court has yet to rule on whether or not Section 230 protects distributors of defamation. They have found the law constitutional, but have not been clear on how it should be applied. The lower courts have been, though the Seventh Cirsuit has been chipping away Section 230 for quite some time. More insipid is that the distributors, like search engiens, cause 99 percent of the damage, while the single-publication rule should not apply when internet content is so easily removed.

        Forward-thinking people saw this coming twenty years ago. Other countries do not have an equivlanet law, and they are much more civilized. I believe Section 230 will be curtailed by the Supreme Court to resemble the DMCA.

        Another good idea would be to give standing to people to filel defamation lawsuits against employers, landlords, or anyone else who acts out adversely based on internet lies. That would put a lot of stop to the internet crap we see now. Employers and landlords didn't go following their staff or tenatns around when there was no internet, and if they did, it was considered stalking.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:46am

          Re: Re: Re: NO, stifling political opponents while PRETEND is "moderation".

          Look who crawled out from under his rock. Little crybaby Johnny.

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

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            identicon
            John Smith, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:50am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: NO, stifling political opponents while PRETEND is "moderation".

            Funny how the only people who call names like that do it when hiding behind a monitor.

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

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:53am

              …says the liar who uses an obvious pseudonym that allows him to lie without ever having to take responsibility for those lies.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 2:19pm

                Re:

                It should be ILLEGAL for politicians to lie. Those who make their living promoting public trust to further their political agendas should never be caught lying except at the risk of loss of their right to seek office.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 2:14pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: NO, stifling political opponents while PRETEND is "moderation".

              Bring it on old man.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:52am

          Most notable here, however, is that the Supreme Court has yet to rule on whether or not Section 230 protects distributors of defamation.

          Assuming Twitter employees had no role in crafting or publishing a defamatory message, why should Twitter be held legally liable if a Twitter user sends such a message to the world?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 2:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: NO, stifling political opponents while PRETEND is "moderation".

          What BAD laws has the supreme court curtailed in the last 20 years? It seems like the public is losing ground all the time against the tyrants.

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

        • icon
          JMT (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 6:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: NO, stifling political opponents while PRETEND is "moderation".

          "Other countries do not have an equivlanet law, and they are much more civilized."

          And lots of those other countries that don't have an equivalent law are a lot less civilized. The two things have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 1:57pm

      Re: NO, stifling political opponents while PRETEND is "moderation".

      Fuck facebook

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

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    Barney Google, 16 Oct 2018 @ 10:58am

    Newly added to my boilerplate, which got BLOCKED just now:

    That's another reason I have to piece up and make many comments, some one word in this hits the mighty Techdirt filter, just more of the ongoing hidden attempts to suppress dissent here.

    Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a sacred privilege for social media companies. This law protects Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms from liability over the material published on their websites. One of the reasons these services are granted this privilege is the Congressional finding, embodied in legislation, that they "offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse." [47 U.S. Code S: 230 - Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material] In contrast, newspapers are subject to libel actions over Letters to the Editor, because they are assumed to have exercised editorial judgement in publishing them.

    [Link to US code: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230 ]

    Source for blockquote: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-12/google-vs-trump-good-censor-collision-course-patriot-presi dent

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:44am

      How does moderation of a website after content has been posted by a third party equal editorial control of a newspaper prior to the publication of said newspaper?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:04am

    Thanks, Facebook and Twitter!

    The home websites of every page you removed have been added to my "visit regularly" bookmarks.

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

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    John Smith, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:11am

    Section 230 leaves people defenseless against anonymous or judgment-proof defamation, which is then archived. A terminally ill person can also "go out with a bang" by poisoning the internet against anyone they don't like, while they can't be sued, and the internet will never forget what they wrote on the way out. Also Russians engage in reputation-blackmail of white-collar professionals, many of whom often pay the $5,000 ransom rather than risk having their businesses destroyed.

    Masnick has cheered both Section 230 and the First Amendment that allows private companies to censor anyone they want, for any reason they want. That this is now harming those to whom he is sympathetic, or that other sociopaths are beating him at his own game seems to be the real issue. This is why big platforms should be treated as common carriers.

    The "nightmare of moderating at scale" would actually ensure that opportunity, jobs, and wealth are properly spread throughout the economy. Rather than Google making hundreds of billions of dollars, a network of human-edited portals, like Link Exchange was trying to become in the 1990s, would have prevented many problems, allowed many to profit, and left those with expertise in charge of directing fresh internet traffic. Masnick could have been the "legal guy" or the "tech guy" with his link pages, and made money off that.

    I had an idea for such a portal myself but abandoned it when I realized I could not compete at the search engines who had every advantage with Section 230 and the DMCA. I cn function in a world like this, but do not think it is an ideal world. It seems Masnick is claiming to want something changed, but what is his solution? Has he turned against Section 230? Repealing that law would hold internet companies liable for false advertising, fake news, hate speech, revenge porn, and most of the internet cancers that harm individual lives currentlyd evalued by our desire to let billionaires get bigger, under what some call the "you can do no wrong" law.

    Why is gossip now immunized against defamation? "I heard it on the internet" should not be sufficient to defeat a defamation lawsuit, and Section 230 should only be used as a shield,not a sword.

    A better solution, of course, would be to sterilize anyone dumb enough to believe fake news, but I don['t think we're there just yet. Perhaps one day we will be. Our DNA gets very picky over time, and does not suffer fools forever.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:17am

      Re:

      Ah, you've reached the stage of admitting you hate the first amendment. That's a start.

      Now if you can just stop the rest of the lying.

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

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:21am

      Re:

      >I had an idea for such a portal myself but abandoned it when I realized I could not compete at the search engines who had every advantage with Section 230 and the DMCA.

      Except you had Section 230 and the DMCA. Everyone did. Everyone does. That is kinda the point. Im interested to know what google has that SEC 230 protects that you couldn't have as well.

      >Why is gossip now immunized against defamation? "I heard it on the internet" should not be sufficient to defeat a defamation lawsuit, and Section 230 should only be used as a shield,not a sword.

      Well, its always been, largely. SEC 230 has nothing to do with it. Defemation standards have nothing to do with SEC 230, SEC 230 only defines who holds the liability for defemation, not what constitutes Defemation. The idea, which I don't entirely agree with, that people take statements on the internet less seriously, and therefore are more likely opinions and hyperbole than facts does not come from SEC 230 but from the courts.

      Since you seem to be conflating defamation standards with SEC 230 liability standards, I believe you dont quite understand the issues you are discussing.

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

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        identicon
        John Smith, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:26am

        Re: Re:

        Distributor liability is well-established under offline defamation law. Search engines cause most of the damage of defamation. Section 230 is relevant because liability is relevant. People have been bateen up by internet vigilantes who beeilved lies they read about people they met. This would not have happened without Section 230. The DMCA has a lot to do with copyright infringement as well, just like Section 230 hs to do with defamation and who can get away with it.

        The Supreme Court has not yet chcked in, if anyone hasn't noticed, but other countries have, and reject this immunity.

        The reason a human-edited portal doesn't work is that it doesn't need the DMCA or Section 230 the way a bot-driven engine does. The humans can monitor what is posted to their portal, and which links are included. They can also function just as profitably under a notice-and-takedown scheme.

        Internationally, most countries agree with me, not you. There's also the issue of anonymous defamation which is then archived, where no one can find the "original publisher" to sue, and where the republishers (search engines) are immune.

        Those who take your side I would assume support Facebook's right to police "fake news," as they are a private company free to do as they wish.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "The reason a human-edited portal doesn't work is that it doesn't need the DMCA or Section 230 the way a bot-driven engine does. The humans can monitor what is posted to their portal, and which links are included. They can also function just as profitably under a notice-and-takedown scheme."

          It doesn't work because it works.

          Your genius is just remarkable.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The reason a human-edited portal doesn't work is that it doesn't need … Section 230 the way a bot-driven engine does. The humans can monitor what is posted to their portal, and which links are included.

          And 230 protects those humans from liability if a third party posts an “illegal” link to that portal. You can’t be sued if you didn’t post the link—or if you learned of the link and deleted it as a function of moderation. The whole reason 230 exists is so sites like Twitter can moderate their service without being held liable for the “crime” of “knowledge of illegal content” that admins/mods did not know about until it was reported to them. (Again, this is why Backpage got dinged: Backpage staff helped in the creation and publication of what were deemed illegal ads.)

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

        • icon
          Matthew Cline (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 9:51pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Search engines cause most of the damage of defamation. Section 230 is relevant because liability is relevant.

          How would search engines even work if you held them liable for defamation found through them?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 1:17pm

        Re: Re:

        Except you had Section 230 and the DMCA. Everyone did. Everyone does. That is kinda the point. Im interested to know what google has that SEC 230 protects that you couldn't have as well.

        Section 230 couldn't protect John's feelings. They were hurt.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 1:08pm

      Re:

      "Section 230 leaves people defenseless against anonymous or judgment-proof defamation"

      This is simply not true.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 1:12pm

      Re: Upvote - Funny

      John thanks for such an amusing and fantastical description of CDA 230.

      In all fairness, you idea for moderation would make all user generated content vanish and leave us with wall gardens ruled by a few publishes - but that is clearly what you want.

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

  • identicon
    Kinthiri, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:16am

    Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

    For me the whole issue is whether these companies are going to become publishers, or continue to pretend to be platforms. They can't keep having the choice of rules from either camp. They need to pick one and stick with it.

    If they're platforms, then they should publish very clear rules about their content policies. Moderation should be very transparent and they should be required to be accountable for their moderation enforcement.

    If they're publishing companies, then they need to start being accountable in that regard too. There are many thousands of groups and pages on Facebook, for example, that are nothing more than thinly veiled fronts for extremist groups. How many profiles on Twitter exist for ISIS and other terrorist organisations?

    While the big networks continue to pick and choose what rules they want to follow, the people using the service are the ones that suffer for it. If the rules aren't clear, the user always risks having everything they build on a service removed with no accountability for the moderation, while others that would seem to be more "obviously bad" continue to be ignored.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      John Smith, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:29am

      Re: Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

      Anyone is free to use USENET to speak their mind without censorship, and anyone is free to build their own website and market it through traditional media, or even word of mouth.

      These are platforms, and they are allowed to exercise editorial control without becoming publishers. Under capitalism, new platforms will spring up, and always have, to take the audiences that were censored by others. AOL had the greatest censorship power of all in the 1990s, and it destroyed them as their users migrated to the internet.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:47am

        Re: Re: Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

        How many millions of pretend dollars did you lie about losing today?

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

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          John Smith, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:52am

          Re: Re: Re: Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

          Funny how the only people who call names like that do it when hiding behind a monitor.

          "Great minds discuss idea, mediocre minds discuss things, small minds diss people."

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 1:03pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

            And twisted minds like yours troll websites they hate-read. You spend more time here than you do with your family. It is the highest form of flattery.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 2:16pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

            You already posted that gramps. That senile dementia is hitting you hard today.

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

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              John Smith, 16 Oct 2018 @ 5:28pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

              Those are some very costly insults for people who have the power to stop them and do not.

              Very, very costly.

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

              • icon
                Toom1275 (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 5:37pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

                Under California's anti-SLAPP law, prevailing defendents can be awarded attorney fees paid by the plaintiff.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 6:00pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

                See, this might actually hold some water if you didn't choose to have the insult directed at one of the most common names on the planet.

                You're not going to take anonymous comments to court, John, because you'd have to say goodbye to your anonymity. First it was a self-help book empire, and now it's a search engine? Damn, your dreams sound like such a wonderful place to be, I'm only sorry you didn't stay there!

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 6:35pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

                Oh shit are you gonna get you dad to sue me?!? On noes what ever shall I do?

                Now piss off, or I shall taunt you a second time.

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

              • icon
                Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 7:20pm

                So sue him already, old man.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 6:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

            “Twelve year olds threaten to have their dad beat up your dad and sue you to death.”

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 1:10pm

      Re: Publisher or Platform. Pick one!

      There is a choice here, you can have an open Internet where anybody can have their say, or a controlled Internet where only people who have what they want to sat approved by an editor can get anything published. If platforms can be held liable for what other publish on them, or link to via them, then the Internet becomes a medium controlled by corporations, and that responsibility could easily be pushed onto hosting companies eliminating most peoples ability to set up their own server.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:40am

    Free thought project

    In Facebook's defense, ftp does put out a ton of terrible reporting, opinions presented as facts, and other terrible articles. It's just the shear amount of crap in comparison pushes them into the crazy zone.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:56am

      Even if all of what you say is true, so what? The quality of FTP’s reporting should not be the issue here unless said quality makes them no better than InfoWars in terms of spreading disinformation and hatred under the guise of “news”.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 8:45am

        Re: info wars is no better than ftp

        I've seen a lot of anger generated by some of the ftp articles. It's to the point where i don't consider them any better than info wars. If you main line is generating hate via bs articles then yes, they fall under "fake news."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:50am

    I assume the problem here is that Russian trolls were infiltrating legitimate FB groups to twist the narrative -- we can expect to see this happening more in the future.

    Also, this means that if Russia doesn't want a FB group to discuss something, all they have to do is join it and slowly add comments/content that point to it being Russia-controlled. Then FB removes the group and the meta narrative shifts further.

    I don't think there's any real way to stop this from happening once you moderate at scale, either.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      John Smith, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:54am

      Re:

      Astrturfing predates the internet, and many early internet communites were ruined by it.

      Sterilizing the stupid is the only solution that will work in the long run. It's a matter of time before the smart people realize this and make it happen.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:56am

        Re: Re:

        Oh yes, you definitely seem like a rational person worth taking seriously.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:58am

        Sterilizing the stupid

        Are you going to start with the “low income” segment of the country, or do I even need to bother with the euphemisms with you?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 1:16pm

        Re: Re:

        Will you agree with that idea if and when those in charge decide you are stupid?

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

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          JOhn Smith, 16 Oct 2018 @ 2:27pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I think they'll start with those who don't recognize sarcas or facetiousness.

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

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 2:49pm

            Your case for “sarcasm” would be better made if the United States did not have a proven, recorded history of sterilizing people against their will.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 3:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I think they will start with old idiots who can’t spell their own name right.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 3:09pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Considering you continuous support for changes to laws and third party liability that would sterilize the Internet, sarcasm is a bit of a stretch when you make statements like that.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 2:23pm

        Re: Re:

        You gonna run away crying again?

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

        • identicon
          John Smith, 16 Oct 2018 @ 5:31pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm not the one crying.

          People start shit like they're invulnerable and want to fight when usually they don't.

          I take for granted that everyone is hostile and wants to fight to the finish. Very easy way to deal with conflict. Always prepared.

          There are planey of ways to connect the dots regarding what's really going on here or to get justice.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 6:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You? Prepared? Didn't YouTube videos steal all your imaginary self-help book profits, thus dooming you to whining on a site you detest with the intensity of a thousand suns?

            I'm still wondering. What the hell is a rademark? And what's planey supposed to mean? You going to tell me, Grammar Nazi, or does Section 230 prevent you from doing that, too?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 6:45pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            “I’m not the one crying.”

            He said, voice quavering. Tears streaming down his cheeks.

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

  • icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 12:23pm

    Vast Right Wing Conspirace aside....

    ... Gotta wonder how much of this type of thing is simply following the law of unintended consequences.

    You set a filter and run it against a file. It flags everything you wanted it to. But wait... on a closer look, it also flagged everything that has the first word starting with "An" and the third word starting with "Go"...

    PITA to deal with when working a local database. Orders of magnitude worse when working literally billions of constantly changing records.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 12:39pm

      Ah, yes, the Scunthorpe Problem, a long-time scourge of programmers and perhaps the main driver of RegEx usage.

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

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 1:26pm

        Re:

        Scunthorpe is a narrow example of a common problem. But it does apply, I was just thinking of how many times I've built a RegEx filter for something that ended up either selecting every word I wanted plus some, or only catching some of what it should have caught all of.

        And the max dB size was only a few tens of thousand records. I can't see anyone writing a filter to handle something like Facebook and getting it "right" first try.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 12:43pm

    Social media..isnt easy. Social behavior..isnt either

    FAIR comes with questions, answers and opinions..
    Anyone can post, but NOT ADVERT/ANNOY others..
    If someone wishes to see 1 side, then they MUST CLICK to receive the posts.
    If you wish to see BOTH SIDES, you must click BOTH SIDES..
    If you wish to see Everything, you must PICK everything..
    Its the reverse if you want to get RID OF THE GARBAGE/crap/lies/idiocy/misinfo/..

    TRUTH can be your own decision, or another's.. but is it truth?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 2:37pm

    I said it a long time. ago.. "I don't have to be fucking politically correct."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 7:04pm

    _ 1. Platforms can remove users with impunity without raising legal or ethical issues.

    2. This shouldn't prevent us from expressing our concern about how these moderation issues are handled._

    But what about headexplody? Won't someone please think of all the exploding heads? The rigid dichotomy types throw a variety of errors when they go all does-not-compute over this, and things like this.

    For the love of god, have some compassion.

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

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 11:33pm

      Re:

      I find it funny, if you give people the HARD CORE realism of the 20tth century, that they NEVER saw it so It didnt happen attitude Sucks..

      I love the debate with Christians..I ask, how old is the NEW testament..They dont know..Then I ask about the old testament and suggest THAT is what we lived by BEFORE this one...
      They still dont get it..being NICE isnt in the old testament.

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

  • identicon
    John Smith, 17 Oct 2018 @ 4:32am

    The Supreme Court just agreed to hear a case involving public-access television which will decide whether or not, fo First Amendment purposes, a private company is a "state actor."

    Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, No. 17-702

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

    • identicon
      John Smith, 17 Oct 2018 @ 4:33am

      Re:

      I see a lot of oversimplification of the law on this blog and elsewhere. Private companies can censor, but they are also state actors when big enough, etc.

      Didn't see a mention of this case and it's been almost a week. Why not? It's certainly relevant.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 7:13am

        Re: Re:

        "Private companies can censor, but they are also state actors when big enough, etc."

        So a business becomes a state actor simply because they have a large market (lol) or is it more like the government pays the big corp to be a mouth piece.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 6:51pm

        Re: Re:

        Techdirt is not nearly big enough for Trump to step in just because your jimmies got rustled, sweetie.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 5:32am

    Has not Facebook been inviting US government-funded groups to help regulate its operations, vowing on the Senate floor to do more to facilitate the interests of the US government, deleting accounts at the direction of the US and Israeli governments, and handing the guidance of its censorship behavior over to the Atlantic Council, which receives funding from the US government, the EU, NATO and Gulf states? How “private” is that?

    https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/internet-censorship-just-took-an-unprecedented-leap-forward- and-hardly-anyone-noticed-e6ae2d8adaf2

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

  • identicon
    Paul, 17 Oct 2018 @ 6:30am

    Saying those pages are about police accountability because of their name is like saying the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is democratic because it's in the name. At one point that might have been how they started, but as they are currently they exist solely to serve as a platform for disinformation.

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

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Oct 2018 @ 7:12am

      Re:

      Assume that's true. You ought to be able to provide us with one example of disinformation, i.e. a post about police misbehaviour that was proven untrue.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 8:02am

        One example can be a coincidence or an outlier. Any outlet accused of being a “platform for disinformation” should have a broader history of that sort of thing before we take the accusation seriously.

        The New York Times is not such a platform because it has an extensive history of being a credible source of news and information despite “getting it wrong” every once in a while. A site like InfoWars, on the other hand…

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

  • identicon
    steve wgite, 18 Oct 2018 @ 10:20am

    spammy

    i thought they got rid of sites that were being spammy were these sites being spammy ( content aside?)

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


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