Supreme Court To Hear Case That Could Possibly (But Not Really) Impact Social Media Content Moderation

from the not-going-to-happen dept

This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal in a case called Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, which some are arguing could have a major impact on whether or not social media sites are barred from moderating content because they're quasi state actors and the 1st Amendment blocks them from moderating content.

Let's be clear on this: while something could go completely wacky and sideways (it is 2018, after all) the chances of this ruling directly impacting social media platforms is very, very, very, very, very, very, very small. That does not mean whatever ruling won't be cited by various plaintiffs to make bizarre arguments -- as we've seen repeatedly with people misinterpreting the Packingham decision. However, given both the facts of this case, and the way the Supreme Court works, I would be shocked if this ruling has any significant impact at all.

This case involves a public access channel, Manhattan Neighborhood Network, where two producers -- DeeDee Halleck and Jesus Melendez -- were apparently fired for making critical comments about the network. They sued, claiming their First Amendment rights were violated, because the city and the network -- as a state actor -- were punishing them based on the content of their speech. The city has been dismissed from the case as it has basically nothing to do with any of this. The question at issue is whether or not this public access channel is a "traditional public forum," in which even a private operator can be judged to be a de facto representative of the government and subject to the limits on the state -- such as the First Amendments ban on suppression of speech.

While the lower court sided with the network, the 2nd Circuit reversed, deciding that this particular public access channel represented a public forum. MNN warns, in its petition for cert that if allowed to stand, this ruling could be used to go after social media sites as public forums.

Courts are routinely faced with the state actor conundrum in new contexts. For example, a New York district court recently had to rule on whether part of President Trump’s Twitter account is a constitutional public forum. See Knight First Amendment Inst. at Columbia Univ. v. Trump, No. 17-cv-5205, 2018 WL 2327290, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. May 23, 2018). There, the court held that a portion of the President’s Twitter account— but not Twitter itself—was a constitutional public forum because the government controlled the content of the tweets sent from the President’s account. Id. at *15. See also Davison v. Plowman, 247 F. Supp. 3d 767, 776 (E.D. Va. 2017) (holding that a municipal county’s Facebook page was a “limited public forum”).

Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are all popular social media venues used for sharing political opinion. And, though they are all privately owned and operated, they are subject to numerous federal and state laws, exist because the government created the Internet, and are utilized by all levels of government. But applying the traditional state actor analysis should still lead to the conclusion that these entities and their employees are not state actors. See, e.g., Prager Univ. v. Google LLC, No. 17- cv-06064, 2018 WL 1471939, at *8 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 26, 2018) (dismissing First Amendment claims against YouTube and Google); Shulman v. Facebook.com, No. 17-cv-00764, 2017 WL 5129885, at *4 (D.N.J. Nov. 6, 2017) (Facebook not constitutional state actor). Under the new test announced by the Majority, it is not so clear that these entities are divorced from state action.

While I'm not against the Supreme Court clarifying that this is not accurate, it would be a pretty amazing stretch for courts to read the 2nd Circuit's ruling in a way that leads to this result. As we discussed in our post about the ruling in the Knight 1st Amendment Center's case against Donald Trump for blocking people on his Twitter feed, there's a big difference in a general "public forum" and a "designated public forum" which is limited to just a specific area that the government itself has created and has control over. Just as that case was limited very specifically to followers of Trump (as opposed to Twitter users in general), the 2nd Circuit's ruling in this case appears pretty clearly limited to the facts of this case, where the government made it clear that it wanted this public access channel to be a general public forum. A key issue here, as laid out in the brief of the fired producers is that the NY government specifically created this particular forum:

New York City created the public access channels: New York State obligates municipalities to compel the creation of public access channels, and New York City fulfilled that obligation in the requirements it has imposed on cable franchisees in New York.

That is, quite clearly, not true of internet social networks. Indeed, the lawyers for the fired producers argued that the network and its lawyers appear to be a bit confused about the difference between a general public forum and a limited designated public forum:

First, as we have already explained, petitioners are wrong to assert that the court of appeals established a per se rule that governs all public access stations. See pp. 13-20, supra. Petitioners’ analysis conflates the “traditional public forum” analysis (which often does establish bright-line rules) with the “designated public forum” doctrine (which does not). Because the decision below is specific to the particular “framework” (Pet. App. 13a) that governs New York City, it has no implications for localities that have made different choices.

Second, petitioners lose sight of the fundamental principle that only the government may designate a non-traditional place as a public forum. That is, for “a place not traditionally open to assembly and debate,” it is a “public forum” only if “a government intended to designate” it as such. Walker, 135 S. Ct. at 2250 (quotation and alteration omitted). See also Arkansas Educ. Television, 523 U.S. at 677 (“Designated public fora * * * are created by purposeful governmental action.”). A place cannot be designated a public forum absent intentional government action.

So, that really seems like it would limit the impact of any such ruling in this case to apply more broadly to the content moderation choices of internet platforms. I have no problem with the Supreme Court taking this case, and hope that they do clarify what counts as a state actor in public forums -- especially in limiting it to true state actors.

But I would be absolutely shocked if the Court really rules in any way in this case that will impact social media platforms, because it's such a stretch to read the lower court ruling that way. My guess is that -- as it often does -- the Supreme Court will seek to rule narrowly and won't even address the issues regarding private social media platforms. One hopes that they will be careful enough not to leave a few stray sentences and arguments that might be spun around by various people to argue it means that internet platforms cannot moderate content at all. But, given the way so many people have been trying to turn the Packingham ruling into something it is not (ditto for the Pruneyard case about malls as public forums -- which is a very limited ruling, but is regularly cited by people who don't understand it). So, it would be nice if the Supreme Court makes a clear ruling that prevents such abusive claims outright, but I'm guessing the ruling will be much more narrow and will have no clear impact on social media platforms, which basically everyone recognizes are not "state actors" and have every right to moderate their own platforms however they would like.


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Oct 2018 @ 10:02am

    Funny thing: I still have yet to see any of the usual suspects show us the law, statute, or court ruling that says Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. must be forced to host someone else’s speech. You would think that, if they believe in the whole “social media is the new public square” idea, they would be able to cite the one thing that would legitimately turn social interaction networks into a “true” public square.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 10:08am

      Re:

      Social Media MUST be absolutely allowed to moderate however it sees fit, regardless if the posts that sink or stand are true or false.

      But don't worry, if social media start tilting to the right a lot of people will start changing their tunes.

      I love to watch the left and right constantly chance stances on opinions when it serves their purposes.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 10:13am

        Re: Re:

        That's some classic both-sides imaginary nonsense you've got there.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 10:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/545-people/"

          I am not the only person to have come to this conclusion. It seems to me that the only people NOT coming to this conclusion are the ones spouting... "nonsense".

          The only difference between them are the things that they say, but the results of both are a plague upon all who experience their tyrannies!

          Is it really so important for you to distinguish someone who wants to see you controlled via Corporate rules vs someone who wants to see you controller via Government rules. Both seek to control you... and controlled you shall be whether you take the train or the bus to get there.

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Oct 2018 @ 10:39am

            What relevance does any of this have to the discussion I started or the article above?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 12:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Considering the point of a government is to govern, your comparison is stupid.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 3:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Is it really so important for you to distinguish someone who wants to see you controlled via Corporate rules vs someone who wants to see you controller via Government rules.

            Um... yes? I mean, even if you are equally concerned about and opposed to both, the methods of fighting back are going to be very different between those two scenarios. Indeed, it's failing to make that distinction that leads to silly attempts at legal arguments like "social media is the public square and the first amendment prevents moderation".

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              icon
              Sayonara Felicia-San (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 8:27am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yes. Everyone wants to seem smart, and have a 'mature' opinion on subjects being discussed.

              The 'mature' anarcho-libertarian approved opinion, is that if someone misused the term "censorship" and applies it in a broader context which includes large corporations, because, there is no alternative terminology in our language, then the correct "educated, mature, approved" response to either:

              A. Make a witty low-iq reddit-esque quip about the topic.

              B. "Educate" the people about how censorship ONLY applies to governments, therefore, removing the terminology necessary to discuss the issue.

              C. If all else fails, claim there is no issue, no evidence, and cite some obscure graduate students 'study' as proof.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2018 @ 12:01pm

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

                Actually I don't really care if people sometimes choose to use a broader definition of "censorship". But that is not the same as claiming there is no point in distinguishing between government and corporate control.

                You can't vote out a CEO, and you can't boycott your government. Companies and governments are two entirely different entities operating under significantly different legal frameworks. Even if you think both are guilty of censorship that needs to be stopped, you are going to need to understand the difference between them if you want to do anything about it.

                I'm sorry if that's too "mature" for you.

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          icon
          Sayonara Felicia-San (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 8:14am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Louis Farakhan compared Jews to insects, yet remains on Twitter, because Black people are allowed to be racist.

          This is the latest and most well known example of corporate-leftist bias in social media moderation.

          Twitter was a platform which sold itself on absolute freedom of speech. Now, like any monopoly, since there is no more competition left, it was all but a joke you see, they never said that.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2018 @ 12:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            For real? Farakhan's an ass, but don't try to make that reflect on all Black people.


            This kind of puts a dent in the globalist Jewish conspiracy theory, though. Or are the Jews letting it pass for their own ulterior motives? The very nature of reality hangs upon this question. Stupid claims, 1 2 3 go!

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              icon
              Sayonara Felicia-San (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 10:19pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Blacks are a protected class on Twitter, not because of policy, but because of the stupid left wing indoctrination these dupes were taught in college.

              Most of the 'moderation team' are young low wage college grads who are all group think nazi's taught that 'blacks can't be racist' etc etc etc

              If you happen to be black, and don't want to be in the protected class, unfortunatly, outside of sticking pubic hair on a can of coke, there is no procedure to formally exclude yourself.

              It also doesn't matter that Louis Farakhan is clown who nobody above a certain IQ takes seriously, because the same could be said of Alex Jones.

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 10:15pm

            Twitter was a platform which sold itself on absolute freedom of speech.

            And now it has learned how utterly foolish such a position truly is.

            Now, like any monopoly, since there is no more competition left

            Tumblr, Facebook, LiveJournal, Blogger, Medium, Ello (is Ello still a thing?), Mastodon/GNU Social/Pleroma instances, Reddit, MetaFilter, Quora, Twitch, YouTube, 4chan and its multiple clones, Discord, Telegram and other messaging programs, niche standalone forums…I mean, if you plan to argue that Twitter has “no more competition”, you will need to go all Shiva Ayyadurai by defining a social interaction network in such narrow terms that only Twitter would ever qualify as one. I doubt you would go that far, even for the sake of “winning an argument”.

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          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 22 Oct 2018 @ 5:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Other social media platforms exist, e.g. gab.ai, so your comment is nonsense, Sayonara Felicia-San. Twitter is not a monopoly just because it's popular.

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

        Hi, ostensible leftist here. Stormfront has as much right to moderate its forums however its operators wish as Twitter does. If I dislike the way Twitter is moderating, I can speak up about it or even leave the platform altogether; I cannot, through willpower or legal action, prevent Twitter from moderating in favor of ideologies with which I do not agree.

        I do not visit Stormfront because I do not agree with the racist ideologies of its users. If Twitter were to openly embrace racist ideologies and ban people who disagree with such ideologies, I would not visit Twitter, either—and I certainly would not try to force Twitter into hosting anti-racist speech.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 10:31am

          Re:

          I am not saying that exceptions will not occur and that you specifically are going to change stance when it benefits you, but most of your brethren will definitely change stance.

          I am ostensibly in the middle, so I appear right, possible far right to you.

          You may not have the willpower but many others do, and they will create the legal action necessary to bring content moderation under law.

          While you and I are obviously not in agreement with many things we do happen to agree on freedom of speech. But don't look upon the rest of your fellow humans with the same lens you view yourself, they like you and me, have matching and mismatching ideals all over the place.

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Oct 2018 @ 10:37am

            most of your brethren will definitely change stance

            How can you say, with the absolute omniscient certainty of God, that even a slim majority of “leftists” will “change their tune” about Twitter given the circumstances I described above—and how can you expect me to believe you when no one can be that certain of anything?

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              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 12:26pm

              Re:

              History and how humans work.

              I watch it happen all the time.

              Take for example how you can get many "lefties" to become racist by implementing racist laws and just calling them "affirmative action".

              Take for example how you can get many "conservatives" to become pro gun control if you show them pictures/video of "scary" black guys carrying guns.

              In both of those cases people changed how they "support" laws because they served their own political agendas.

              What is congresses approval rating right now? Lower than Trumps approval rating. Is that really saying much? No, but it does show that a lot of people think there is a lot of corruption up there, and governments are direct reflections of its people. Only corrupt people elect corrupt leaders consistently enough to produce this problem.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 11:49am

            Re: Re:

            You might want to hop off that high horse before you fall off, again.

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      icon
      Sayonara Felicia-San (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 8:11am

      Re:

      Wow, talk about a circle jerk. Have you no shame sir?

      We get it, you want absolute freedom for your sociopath corporate friends, to continue shadow banning and censoring speech.

      Don't bother responding with your irritatingly derivative "there is no evidence of bias" virtue signalling drivel.

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 10:08pm

        Have you no shame sir?

        I have a little. Not much, but it’s there—sort of like the conscience of a GOP lawmaker.

        We get it, you want absolute freedom for your sociopath corporate friends, to continue shadow banning and censoring speech.

        As I said above: I still have yet to see any of the usual suspects show us the law, statute, or court ruling that says Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. must be forced to host someone else’s speech. You have not done so—nor can you do so.

        Don't bother responding with your irritatingly derivative "there is no evidence of bias" virtue signalling drivel.

        Before I get to this, I have a little spiel for you:

        “Virtue signalling” is an accusation that someone has conspicuously expressed a moral or ideological position only so they can improve their social standing. This accusation, however, attacks only the character of a person, not their viewpoint. The accusation could be true, but if the idea itself is sound, the reason someone has for expressing it is irrelevant.

        Now, as to the “there is no evidence of bias” thing, here is how I handle that argument: Prove it.

        You can argue that Twitter, Facebook, etc. are biased against right-wing/conservatives/Republicans. Do it all you want. But ask yourself why they are being banned—is it because of their political ideology, or is it because they say horrendous things such as “Sandy Hook victims are just crisis actors” or “fuck the queers”? Do they get banned because they support a flat tax or because they use racist slurs and sexist language? Are their bans due to opposing Democrats or supporting violence against Democrats?

        How many users who lean left are banned for similar reasons? How many of them are banned because of reportbombings from right-wingers? (Hi there, Gamer- and Comicsgate! Fuck you both!) I know of people who got at least suspended from Twitter for posting “trebuchet TERFs”; why would they deserve worse treatment than someone who might theoretically say “trebuchet trans people”?

        Besides all that, platforms such as Twitter go far out of their way to placate conservatives precisely because they get way too riled up about “being silenced” and cause PR nightmares. Look how long it took Twitter, Facebook, etc. to finally boot Alex Jones off their platforms: They gave him every possible chance to stop being an asshole, they gave him temporary suspensions as a “warning”, then finally banned him after the PR nightmare caused by keeping him around was too much for even the men at the top to hold off.

        Show me where social interaction networks that are not explicitly built with specific views/speech banned from the get-go (e.g., the average Mastodon instance) have an anti-conservative bias. Show me the objective facts that prove it; anecdotal evidence—including your own personal experience—does not count. If you plan to deflect from a direct answer and mock me with terms such as “useful idiot” in the process, do not bother with such a reply. I will only flag it, then ignore it.

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    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 6:13am

      Re:

      ...is there a law, statute, or court ruling that designates the central square of the village, through which people pass on a daily basis, as "the public square"?

      I didn't think that designating a public square was the business of the law; I thought the laws relating to the public square were more about recognizing what society and the public already treats as being the public square, in something akin to that historical village-square sense, and ensuring that it is dealt with appropriately.

      Indeed, if the government attempted to pass a law defining X as being the public square (even for the purpose of expanding the public square), I would probably be inclined to view that as government overreach - as something that extends beyond what it is the government's proper power to do. Based on my current assessment of my own feelings on the subject (and this is an acknowledgement that this is biased), the public square should be defined entirely by some combination of the behavior, practices, and expectations of the public itself; it should at most be recognized by the government, not defined thereby. (Though I do acknowledge that such recognition would almost certainly take the form either of law or of court ruling.)

      (A probably-tangential thought: if being privately owned completely precludes a place from qualifying as the public square, what would apply in the case of "company towns" - such as are alleged to have existed at some point(s?) in history - where the primary-if-not-sole employer owns all the land, all the buildings, and all the local businesses? Would there be no public square in which the people of those towns - who can't afford to leave for any meaningful period, if at all, because of the very economics involved in those towns to begin with - can engage in free speech, et cetera?)

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 10:56am

    Not sure I understand the reasoning behind the "State Actor" claim. How do they justify this designation?

    What, exactly, are these platforms doing for the US government? What stops the claim that all citizens and business are acting on behalf of the government?

    And ... I have yet to see any definitive proof of censoring one side of political speech while ignoring the other.

    "In United States law, a state actor is a person who is acting on behalf of a governmental body, and is therefore subject to regulation under the United States Bill of Rights, including the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, which prohibit the federal and state governments from violating certain rights and freedoms."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_actor

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Oct 2018 @ 11:02am

      Re:

      How do they justify this designation?

      From the brief filed by the fired producers, per the article: “New York City created the public access channels: New York State obligates municipalities to compel the creation of public access channels, and New York City fulfilled that obligation in the requirements it has imposed on cable franchisees in New York.”

      In short: Since the NY state government says municipalities must make public access channels, the public access channel is an extension of the government (in this case, whatever local/state government office or official oversees the channel).

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

        Re: Re:

        So then anyone or platform that links to said public access channel is subject to the requirements as if they were the public access channel?

        This is a rather weak argument.

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        • icon
          James Burkhardt (profile), 18 Oct 2018 @ 1:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          NO, the lawsuit is against Manhattan Community Access Corp, the 'private' corporation who administers Manhattan Neighborhood Network a public access channel

          Because the public access channel is a traditional public forum (according to the appealate court), the private corporation who owns/administers the channel functions as a state actor. Its not "anyone or platform that links to" Manhattan Neighborhood Network. I read the commentary we have seen to limit state actor to the Administrators of the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, the Manhattan Community Access Corp, which is probably a joint venture between the cable franchisees of NYC.

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        icon
        Sayonara Felicia-San (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 8:16am

        Re: Re:

        Big Government AND Big Business, operate and have virtually the same access to abuse of power. Therefore Big Business should be regulated just like Big Government, by guaranteeing freedom of speech on their platforms.

        If you don't like what someone is saying, you can just use the block feature.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 9:47pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          guaranteeing freedom of speech on their platforms

          The government cannot compel a platform to host speech that its owners do not want to host. Donald Trump can no more force Twitter to host pro-Nazi speech any more than he can force Twitter to ban anti-Nazi speech. Besides, the idea of “absolute free speech” on a platform such as Twitter means Twitter admins could no longer moderate the site save for legitimate threats and illegal content (e.g., child porn).

          You can argue that users should have greater control over the curation of their experience; I would even agree with you on that. But curtailing the rights of Twitter by handcuffing them from enforcing the terms of service in all but the most absolutely narrow instances is a position with which I can neither agree nor debate. Debating it would give it credibility; agreeing with it would go against all of my moral and ethical positions on “free speech”.

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  • identicon
    John Smith, 18 Oct 2018 @ 3:05pm

    Wouldn't any company large enough to be considered a state actor also have to be large enough to be considered a monopoly and broken up under antitrust law?

    I don't tink any platform is so large that they should be required to enforce total free speech. AOL in the 1990s perhaps, but not now. Back then, AOL was the only ISP where you could reliably send e-mail instantaneously, which impacted newsletters nad others whose information was time-sensitive. By the time a lawsuit would have been heard, AOL's censorship policies had destroyed it.

    They could say, however, that since Twitter has become an official means of communication for government and elected officials, that this indirectly makes the law apply to them.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Oct 2018 @ 3:28pm

      Three things.

      1. Twitter being an official channel of communications for government officials does not make Twitter either a “state actor” or a “public square”.

      2. If Twitter’s owners said Twitter would shut down tomorrow—all access to the site blocked, all servers wiped, full and complete shutdown of everything—what could the government of the United States legally do to prevent that from happening?

      3. You talk about “breaking up” Twitter and talk about it being a “monopoly”, but how many other social interaction networks exist beyond the borders of Twitter, and why does their existence not count when it comes to talking about Twitter as a “monopoly”?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 5:43pm

        Re:

        Holy shit you guys, John Smith was Alex Jones all along!

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Oct 2018 @ 6:23pm

          Re: Re:

          Sad thing is, that is believable.

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

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            icon
            Sayonara Felicia-San (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 8:21am

            Re: Re: Re:

            The sad thing, is that you responded to this, now, childish immature one liner, about the indefensibility of Alex Jones.

            Alex Jones did nothing wrong. He deserves the same right to express himself on that platform as anyone else. If he wants to talk about frogs being turned gay, and lizard people, that's his right, and he should not be stopped in the darkness, by corporate two faced crooks like Tim Cook.

            ....and their useful idiots, like you and Mike.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 9:40pm

              Alex Jones did nothing wrong.

              He referred to the families of Sandy Hook victims as “crisis actors”. If you see nothing wrong with referring to grieving parents as actors—and that speech subsequently emboldening the people who drove those parents into seclusion, such that they cannot even visit the graves of their own children—you have…issues.

              He deserves the same right to express himself on that platform as anyone else.

              He deserves, and has, the right to express himself. He deserves, and has, the right to do so on a platform he owns. He does not deserve, nor does he have, the right to force any other platform into hosting his speech.

              If he wants to talk about frogs being turned gay, and lizard people, that's his right, and he should not be stopped in the darkness, by corporate two faced crooks like Tim Cook.

              And what, exactly, has Apple, Twitter, Facebook, etc. done to revoke Alex Jones’ First Amendment right to use InfoWars to host his own speech? Using other people’s platforms to host your speech is a privilege, not a right. You cannot show me a law or a court ruling that proves me wrong.

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                icon
                Sayonara Felicia-San (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 10:32pm

                Re:

                NO. You have issues. You are classicly brainwashed. You cannot seem to understand that the right to hurt other people's feelings, go hand in hand, with the right to free speech.

                Your faux outrage and indignant does constitute an argument against the right to freedom of speech.

                > "subsequently emboldening the people "

                Alex Jones did not call for people to harrass the Sandy Hook victims. He cannot control other people.


                As for your 'platform' argument, yes he does, once that platform reaches a certain size, it should be treated by a different set of rules. Moderation should be 100% transparent and enforced equally, only intervening to filter out spam and DIRECT threats to other people's PHYSICAL safety.

                > "Using other people’s platforms to host your speech is a privilege, not a right. "

                Yes, this is a classic monopolistic argument used throughout history. Twitter & YouTube gained their market dominance through combinations of fraud and 'free' services promising freedom of speech, only to then impose Kafkaesque extremist corporate social progressivism, behind the scenes, using shadow bans to hide their activities.

                There is no court ruling yet. This is about ethics and principles. Something your legalist literal arguments have yet to grasp properly.

                Now tell me about how censorship, only applies to the government, to complete your hackneyed rehashed drivel.

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

                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Oct 2018 @ 12:38am

                  Oh, I am going to enjoy this one.

                  the right to hurt other people's feelings, go hand in hand, with the right to free speech

                  I agree. Wholeheartedly. That said: Hurting other people’s feelings has consequences, and the First Amendment is not a shield with which someone can protect themselves from those consequences.

                  Alex Jones did not call for people to harrass the Sandy Hook victims. He cannot control other people.

                  And yet, he did everything he could to rile them up, then refused to do damn near anything meaningful that would have calmed them back down.

                  As for your 'platform' argument, yes he does

                  Oh I can’t wait to see the citation for th—

                  once that platform reaches a certain size, it should be treated by a different set of rules

                  —iiiiiiiiiiis is a load of crap.

                  Everyone who has ever made this argument fails to mention an objective, universally agreed-upon standard by which a platform becomes “big enough” to be governed by “a different set of rules”. No privately owned, privately operated platform—regardless of size or “bias”—has a legal obligation to host anyone else’s speech. Alex Jones can no more legally force Twitter to host his speech than Colin Kaepernick could force a Blue Lives Matter forum into hosting a pro-Black Lives Matter essay. Your opinions about what Twitter “should” do because of its size are irrelevant because the law does not give a damn what you think Twitter “should” be doing.

                  Moderation should be 100% transparent and enforced equally, only intervening to filter out spam and DIRECT threats to other people's PHYSICAL safety.

                  If Twitter admins decide that they want to boot White supremacist speech from Twitter, what law says Twitter admins absolutely cannot do just that? If Twitter admins see racial slurs being tossed around by White supremacists toward people of color, what court ruling says Twitter admins absolutely cannot ban the people using those slurs? You say you want “absolute free speech”, yet you ultimately want the right to force Twitter into hosting even the most vile speech so long as it is legal—a right that you do not, cannot, and will never have.

                  Yes, this is a classic monopolistic argument used throughout history.

                  It works on non-monopolies and things other than social interaction networks, too. My being able to shop at my local Wal-Mart is a privilege, not a right, and Wal-Mart can revoke that privilege any time it so wishes. I have plenty of other stores I could go to if Wal-Mart banned me, and I could still shop on Amazon besides.

                  Twitter & YouTube gained their market dominance through combinations of fraud and 'free' services promising freedom of speech

                  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Where is yours?

                  only to then impose Kafkaesque extremist corporate social progressivism, behind the scenes, using shadow bans to hide their activities

                  See my paragraph above.

                  There is no court ruling

                  At least one of you trolls can admit the factual truth.

                  yet.

                  Do not wait for one; you will die of old age and disappointment.

                  This is about ethics and principles. Something your legalist literal arguments have yet to grasp properly.

                  My arguments for the legalities of site moderation do not take ethics and morals into account because, on a fundamental level, you have been arguing for access to a legal right that does not and cannot exist under United States law. Until you come to terms with the fact that no one can force Twitter to host speech it does not want to host, I have no desire to discuss the ethical and moral implications of Twitter moderation with you.

                  Now tell me about how censorship, only applies to the government

                  I’ll let Morpheus do it.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2018 @ 2:44am

                  Re: Re:

                  If a group or individual cannot attract an audience to their own platform, why should they be allowed to force their way onto somebody else s platform? The right to free speech does not come with any guarantee of an audience.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2018 @ 12:12pm

                  Re: Re:

                  once that platform reaches a certain size, it should be treated by a different set of rules

                  So then, should Fox News be subject to a different set of rules too? I am pretty sure it has more viewers than Twitter does users. So why does it get to have total editorial control over who it puts on air and what news it covers? Shouldn't the process be 100% transparent and equal, with everyone who wishes to have a segment on the channel getting one?

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

                  • icon
                    The Wanderer (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 6:36am

                    Re: Re: Re:

                    Without necessarily adopting the position being argued: because Fox News is a one-way channel, from a relative handful of speakers (who have no way to hear their listeners) to many listeners (who cannot speak and be heard), whereas Twitter is a mass communications platform, from many speakers (who can also listen) to many listeners (who can also speak).

                    There are really three entities involved: the speaker(s), the editor / moderator / what-have-you, and the listener(s).

                    In the case of Fox News, the speaker(s) are employed by and under the authority of - and may in some cases be the same as - the editor / moderator / et cetera. Thus, to a certain extent, the speech of the former may be treated as the speech of the latter - to that same extent, the latter has just as much right to control that speech as if the latter were speaking directly.

                    In the case of Twitter, the overwhelming majority of the speakers have no connection to the editors / moderators / etc., except in making use of the platform which they moderate. Thus, the speech of the former is in no way the speech of the latter[1], and the latter does not thereby acquire any particular right to control that speech. (Although such a right might arise by other channels; for example, the decision to not carry that speech would itself be an act of speech, with everything that implies.)

                    [1] (There may be room to argue about "failure to condemn constitutes condoning as acceptable, which is a minor form of endorsement", with the idea that the endorsement - much like the decision not to carry - constitutes its own separate act of speech. I would be surprised if there weren't fairly well-established legal precedent on that subject, but aside from a few things regarding Section 230 - which is relatively recent, in legal terms - it's outside my scope of expertise.)

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 4:00pm

      Re:

      Do all large corporations have a public access channel?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2018 @ 4:29am

      Re:

      In the 1990s, AOL was most definitely NOT the "only ISP where you could reliably send e-mail instantaneously."

      I have no idea where you get your information but I was there, I was online, there were other options available, and they were reliable.

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

  • icon
    edie (profile), 20 Oct 2018 @ 1:45pm

    Public Access Might Be Redefined

    In addition to the comments that NYS and city laws created the MNN, many public access stations around the country rely primarily on either state or county funding in order to exist in the first place. These station place restrictions on the public access producers who do pay for membership, rental of the equipment and studio for their productions. Lately, many producers - produce their shows with their own equipment and just distribute their shows to their station with restrictions based on old archaic policies which may be unenforceable at this point. However, in many localities it is still the government that provides the station with the majority of operating funds for the station which includes funds for equipment, operations and capital budget. Therefore, for public access stations in these circumstances are probably "Quasi-government agencies". Let the fireworks begin.

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

  • identicon
    Edie, 21 Oct 2018 @ 9:38am

    Public Access TV Might Be Redefined

    I am looking for the Supreme Court to define the rights of Public Access TV which would be limited to the question of whether these particular entities are "quasi agencies".
    Because of the unique status of these stations i.e. that they exist because of local statutes which include State, county and municipal codes, and get their funds from said gov't agencies- the ruling may apply to them as a "quasi-agency". Fall out from that.

    It may be a stretch to try to include other types of websites not in this category.

    However, Public Access tv stations have put in restrictions on producers on what they can produce, restrictions on them making money on their productions, prohibition on them selling their shows to commercial stations -- this may be rolled back. In light of the fact that many public access producers use their own equipment. spend money on their productions - said policies are unfair, impossible to apply and unenforceable. MNN suit will result in more challenges. Let's keep this in perspective - the case is about a Public Access tv station. Also with a Republican stuffed Supreme Court not friendly to Public Access - I suspect the 2nd Circuit decision will be affirmed.

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


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