Platform Liability Doesn't -- And Shouldn't -- Depend On Content Moderation Practices

from the stifling-free-speech-the-other-way dept

In April 2018, House Republicans held a hearing on the “Filtering Practices of Social Media Platforms” that focused on misguided claims that Internet platforms like Google, Twitter, and Facebook actively discriminate against conservative political viewpoints. Now, a year later, Senator Ted Cruz is taking the Senate down the same path: he lead a hearing earlier this week on “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse.”

While we certainly agree that online platforms have created content moderation systems that remove speech, we don’t see evidence of systemic political bias against conservatives. In fact, the voices that are silenced more often belong to already marginalized or less-powerful people.  

Given the lack of evidence of intentional partisan bias, it seems likely that this hearing is intended to serve a different purpose: to build a case for making existing platform liability exemptions dependent on "politically neutral" content moderation practices. Indeed, Senator Cruz seems to think that’s already the law. Questioning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last year, Cruz asserted that in order to enjoy important legal protections for free speech, online platforms must adhere to a standard of political neutrality in their moderation decisions. Fortunately for Internet users of all political persuasions, he’s wrong.

Section 230—the law that protects online forums from many types of liability for their users’ speech—does not go away when a platform decides to remove a piece of content, whether or not that choice is “politically neutral.” In fact, Congress specifically intended to protect platforms’ right to moderate content without fear of taking on undue liability for their users’ posts. Under the First Amendment, platforms have the right to moderate their online platforms however they like, and under Section 230, they’re additionally shielded from some types of liability for their users’ activity. It’s not one or the other. It’s both.

In recent months, Sen. Cruz and a few of his colleagues have suggested that the rules should change, and that platforms should lose Section 230 protections if those platforms aren’t politically neutral. While such proposals might seem well-intentioned, it’s easy to see how they would backfire. Faced with the impossible task of proving perfect neutrality, many platforms—especially those without the resources of Facebook or Google to defend themselves against litigation—would simply choose to curb potentially controversial discussion altogether and even refuse to host online communities devoted to minority views. We have already seen the impact FOSTA has had in eliminating online platforms where vulnerable people could connect with each other.

To be clear, Internet platforms do have a problem with over-censoring certain voices online. These choices can have a big impact in already marginalized communities in the U.S., as well as in countries that don’t enjoy First Amendment protections, such as places like Myanmar and China, where the ability to speak out against the government is often quashed. EFF and others have called for Internet companies to provide the public with real transparency about whose posts they’re taking down and why. For example, platforms should provide users with real information about what they are taking down and a meaningful opportunity to appeal those decisions. Users need to know why some language is allowed and the same language in a different post isn’t. These and other suggestions are contained in the Santa Clara Principles, a proposal endorsed by more than 75 public interest groups around the world. Adopting these Principles would make a real difference in protecting people’s right to speak online, and we hope at least some of the witnesses tomorrow will point that out.

Reposted from the EFF Deeplinks blog

Filed Under: cda 230, content moderation, intermediary liability, section 230, ted cruzy


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  • icon
    hij (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 12:42pm

    Goose meet Gander

    Wonder how the Honourable Gentleman from Texas would feel about enforcing his personal standards on the FoX News site?

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    identicon
    Dino Palmer -- now there's a palindrome for ya, 12 Apr 2019 @ 1:45pm

    "we don't see evidence" because willfully blind.

    From https://torrentfreak.com/images/grandeadopt.pdf bottom of page 41:

    [footnote] 7 Willful blindness can also satisfy the requirement of actual knowledge. Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A., 563 U.S. 754, 766 (2011) ("[P]ersons who know enough to blind themselves to direct proof of critical facts in effect have actual knowledge of those facts."); see also In re Aimster Copyright Litig., 334F.3d 643, 650 (7th Cir. 2003) ("Willful blindness is knowledge, in copyright law . . . as it is in the law generally.")

    Several times references "common law" too, in way which makes clear is separate from court decisions. (By the way, I upper-case the words only to make stand out here, but when lawyers write it's taken as ordinary and well-known so doesn't need even that distinction, like "hot water".)

    Congress specifically intended to protect platforms’ right to moderate content without fear of taking on undue liability for their users’ posts.

    But to "moderate" does not mean enforce a political viewpoint. Period. You're just using a word trick there to elide the practical fact of viewpoint discrimination.

    Corporations have unlimited tricks that they can pull behind the scenes (as Techdirt does, the myth of "community" doing the hiding when Techdirt provides the code and is administrator okayed), mainly of internal definitions such as "hate speech" that they don't have to enforce uniformly.

    Let's error as benefits The Public rather than ultra-rich corporations. Anyone here against that? -- No, you can't dodge, because only other choice is to support the unlimited arbitrary censorship as masnicks want. You are acting against your own interest and promoting corporations that don't care beans about you -- see last week for the porn ban which you all objected to. These here corporatists say that such ban is all right.

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      identicon
      Dino Palmer -- now there's a palindrome for ya, 12 Apr 2019 @ 1:47pm

      Re: "we don't see evidence" because willfully blind.

      And of course this piece is from Google-funded EFF, professional troublemakers who always arrive at conclusions which benefit Google and other corporations.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 1:52pm

        Re: the hint is in the name.

        Hey blue balls, bro I know you’re a fucking idiot. But the EFF actually helps protect free speech on the internet.

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:01pm

        Several times references "common law" too, in way which makes clear is separate from court decisions.

        “Common law” is the body of law derived from judicial decisions of the courts — in other words, judicial precedent. However you define “common law”, your definition is clearly flawed from the get-go.

        But to "moderate" does not mean enforce a political viewpoint.

        If a Black Lives Matter forum bans someone spouting White supremacist ideology, is that moderation or “viewpoint discrimination”?

        You're just using a word trick there to elide the practical fact of viewpoint discrimination.

        And if “viewpoint discrimination” was legally actionable, maybe we would care.

        Let's error as benefits The Public rather than ultra-rich corporations.

        Let’s not and say we didn’t.

        No, you can't dodge, because only other choice is to support the unlimited arbitrary censorship

        The choice between “all speech” and “no speech” is no choice at all. Under your idea that no platform can moderate “political” speech, a platform meant for LGBT people could not delete posts that decry LGBT civil rights because to do so would be “viewpoint discrimination”. (The same would go for a platform meant for anti-LGBT Christians and posts that support LGBT civil rights, too.) Your one-or-the-other choice is a false dilemma; people can speak their minds without having the absolute right to force a platform into hosting their speech and giving them an audience, and platforms can offer a place for speech without refusing to moderate speech it does not want to host out of fear of legal reprisals.

        see last week for the porn ban which you all objected to. These here corporatists say that such ban is all right.

        Legally, yes, it is all right — platforms have the right to ban and delete pornography and adult content. Whether it is the morally correct thing to do, especially since non-sexual LGBT content is often caught up in such heavy-handed moves, is the actual meat of that discussion.

        of course this piece is from Google-funded EFF, professional troublemakers

        Admit it: You dislike them because they rejected your essay about common law and how it pertains to both the individual and the person.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2019 @ 1:33pm

        To many numbers head hurt scared

        Lol John your don’t know the difference between EEF and WWE.
        It’s like a fantasy game where the tech faction meets a less advanced one and they treat them like the bells and whistles called “technology” they used are witchcraft.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2019 @ 10:20pm

          Re: To many numbers head hurt scared

          Either there's another "John" this person responds to, or they keep mistaking the author for "John."

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2019 @ 5:26am

            Re: Re: To many numbers head hurt scared

            It's the latter... but this is a case of comparing horse shit to bullshit.

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    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 1:55pm

      Re: "we don't see evidence" because willfully blind.

      You may want to look up the definition of "palindrome"...

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    • icon
      Gary (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:02pm

      Re: don't see Trolls because

      Several times references "common law" too, in way which makes clear is separate from court decisions.

      Alright!!! Please explain what you think common law is since you deny the commonly accepted meaning?

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

      Law, derived by court cases. Case Law. Judicial precedent.

      TIme to step up or shut up.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:11pm

      Re: "we don't see evidence" because willfully blind.

      Hey john “try’s to contain laughter”
      Can you prove It?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2019 @ 10:20pm

        Re: Re: "we don't see evidence" because willfully blind.

        There must be two "Johns" here or someone keeps replying to the wrong person.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:13pm

      Re: "we don't see evidence" because willfully blind.

      Your buddies over at Breitbart have had me banned twice simply for disagreeing with them. Here on TD your posts are only hidden and easily exposed for those who wish to read them.

      Are your alt-right bed-buddies ready to accept a less insane voice in their forums?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:39pm

        Re: Re: "we don't see evidence" because willfully blind.

        "Your buddies over at Breitbart have had me banned twice"

        Apparently not.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 4:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: "we don't see evidence" because willfully blind.

          Huh? This isn't Breitbart here, buddy. You've clicked the wrong link in your favorites if you think it is. If I want to post over on Breitbart again I have to create yet another account and that's more trouble than they're worth.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 5:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "we don't see evidence" because willfully blind.

            "Banned TWICE?"

            First ban didn't stick.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2019 @ 12:12pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "we don't see evidence" because willfully bl

              At risk of being repetitive:

              If I want to post over on Breitbart again I have to create yet another account

              You don't create accounts with your social security number, state photo ID and a fingerprint. You can have as many accounts as you can acquire email addresses.

              So no, their bans don't stick. No more than their bullshit does outside their little echo chamber.

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      • icon
        Gary (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 4:31pm

        Re: Re: "we don't see evidence" because willfully blind.

        Your buddies over at Breitbart have had me banned twice simply for disagreeing with them.

        What? Someone must make Breitbart stop this blatant viewpoint discrimination!! lol
        The Feds must intervene!!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 9:38pm

      Your name is not a palindrome.

      Idiot.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2019 @ 3:05am

      Re:

      Hey, blue. What you're looking for is not a palindrome. It's an anagram.

      But thanks for reminding me the importance of free libraries that provide a source for learning, i.e. the thing that you refuse to do, contrary to the belief of copyright fanatics who believe anything offered for free, especially knowledge, is theft.

      Also, another reminder that you're a bottom-scraping rimjobber.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous, 12 Apr 2019 @ 1:54pm

    There is a difference

    Small sites such as Techdirt that moderate article comments are not the same as mega corporations which as Facebook controlling communication access. This is the equivalent of Verizon deciding not to allow black people on their cell phone network because they don’t like them.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:04pm

      Small sites such as Techdirt that moderate article comments are not the same as mega corporations which as Facebook controlling communication access.

      Facebook does not control “communication access”. Facebook is not an ISP, and Facebook does not control any platform, social media network, or method of communication that it does not own.

      This is the equivalent of Verizon deciding not to allow black people on their cell phone network because they don’t like them.

      No, it is not. And Verizon could not legally deny services to people based on race/ethnicity anyway.

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:26pm

        Re:

        Yeah, Facebook is not an ISP, it is something much bigger and powerful. If I cannot communicate on my ISP I can always use a VPN, proxy server, my phone, the library, or even work computer to get around that. Facebook is a global communication network that can block my account preventing me from communicating with anyone else on the network.

        A law needed to pass to prevent companies like Verizon from denying service based on race/ethnicity. Non bigoted people unanimously agree that should cover political beliefs.

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        • icon
          nasch (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:39pm

          Re: Re:

          Non bigoted people unanimously agree that should cover political beliefs.

          It's strange that you would make this claim after reading an article that contradicts it.

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          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:57pm

            Re: Re: Re:

            It's a blatant attempt at poisoning the well, and demonstrates dishonesty and/or a lack of interest in an honest discussion.

            'If you're not with me then you must be a bigot, because only a bigot would disagree with me.'

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              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:14pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Ah look, poor little bigot doesn't like being called out. If you stopped being a bigot maybe people would stop calling you a bigot.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:43pm

          Facebook is a global communication network that can block my account preventing me from communicating with anyone else on the network.

          So can Twitter. And YouTube. And Soundcloud. And basically any other website that facilitates communication between two or more third parties. What is your point?

          Non bigoted people unanimously agree that should cover political beliefs.

          If a White supremacist joins a forum for Black Lives Matter supporters and starts espousing White supremacist ideology, should the law punish the forum for booting the asshole over his “political beliefs”?

          The problem with theoretical protections against “viewpoint discrimination” is that they would tie the hands of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in re: moderation. An anti-gay message could be called a “political belief” by the person who expresses it and nothing could be done about their expressing it on a pro-LGBT Facebook page. If gay people knew they would have to put up with such bullshit because Facebook could do nothing about it because “viewpoint discrimination” was made illegal, gay people would be less likely to use Facebook. I may dislike Facebook, but the idea of people being unable to use it only because of assholes spewing speech that Facebook could not legally delete? I despise that even more.

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:11pm

            Re:

            Ah the typical left-wing bigot. Everyone I disagree with is a Nazi. Funny how you don't mention people calling for white genocide not being banned on either platform. Nice to see the book burner is OK with burning only the books he disapproves of.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:20pm

              I haven’t seen projection like this since I watched The Last Jedi.

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

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                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:25pm

                Re:

                I haven't seen this much deflection since the last Superman movie.

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:30pm

                  I am “deflecting” baseless accusations of supposed “bigotry” from someone who cannot stand the idea of others disagreeing with his political beliefs.

                  …huh. I guess that would make my speech a “political opinion”. Do you want to give me those “viewpoint discrimination” protections now that you know an ideological rival to your viewpoints will benefit from them?

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                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:40pm

                    Re:

                    I do want to give you those "viewpoint discrimination" protections. The difference is that I actually support your right to not be censored by the Internet giants that have a stranglehold on global communications. I want your idiocy to be seen by all.

                    You are so afraid of opposing opinions that you want your corporate masters to censor them so as not to injure your fragile bigoted mind.

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                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:50pm

                      I am not opposed to opinions that differ from my own.

                      But I am opposed to people who try to pass off insults and baseless accusations as opinions (or facts). I am opposed to the idea that a platform should be forced to host anyone’s speech — including mine. I am opposed to the proposition that anyone’s viewpoint should be “protected” by making sure a platform will never be able to moderate any viewpoint that could lead to real harms (e.g., anti-vaxxer bullshit).

                      Someone disagreeing with me is not an issue. People do it all the time. (Hell, I even do it to myself on rare occasions. You have issues; I have a subscription.) The issue here is your poisoning the well by claiming that the only reason anyone can ever be against protections for political viewpoints is bigotry, even though actual bigots would most likely be in favor of such protections because they would love the idea of platforms being forced to host their vile speech.

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                        identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:55pm

                        Re:

                        Bigots would most likely be in favor of such protections so lets not have them.
                        Criminals would most likely be in favor the protections provided in our Constitution so lets just throw out all of them so their vile acts are not protected.
                        Wow, you are actually arguing that we shouldn't have any protections because bad people would have those protections also. You make an excellent brown shirt.

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                        • icon
                          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 4:07pm

                          Bigots would most likely be in favor of such protections so lets not have them.

                          otherwording (or in-other-wordsing) — noun — the practice of summarizing a point of argument in a way that intentionally distorts the point into saying something it does not and attributes the false interpretation to the person who raised the original point; a blatant attempt to make winning an argument easier for someone who is out of their depth in said argument

                          Example: You can typically find the phrases “in other words” or “so you’re saying” at the beginning of an instance of otherwording.

                          See also: strawman; your post

                          you are actually arguing that we shouldn't have any protections because bad people would have those protections also

                          I am arguing that the protections you propose would not only run afoul of the First Amendment’s protections, they would also cause real harm by allowing legal-yet-horrible speech to overrun a platform and push out everyone who does not want to see/hear/experience that much bullshit.

                          Like many people who argue for this sort of thing, you have failed to adequately explain the reasons why a platform should be forced to host speech it does not want to host. To that end, I will ask you a simple question that can hopefully help you in that regard: What would you do if you were the owner of a platform that someone started using to spread racist propaganda, and you did not want your platform to be a source of racist propaganda, but the law says you cannot discriminate against (i.e., moderate) their racist political viewpoints?

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 12:34pm

                            Re:

                            they would also cause real harm by allowing legal-yet-horrible speech to overrun a platform

                            You don't like the opinion of the majority so you want to shut them down? You are being forced to read it/use the site?

                            Publicly traded social media companies are either open to the public, or they are not.
                            What safeguards are in place to prevent the people you wish to ban from purchasing shares and being part owners of said platform? I mean if they don't want them posting, they sure don't want them to have any ownership, right?

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2019 @ 10:50am

                            Re:

                            Wow, you are either to stupid to realize what you said is almost perfectly summed up by my summary or to childish to own up to it.

                            Your quote:
                            "even though actual bigots would most likely be in favor of such protections because they would love the idea of platforms being forced to host their vile speech."

                            My Quote:
                            Bigots would most likely be in favor of such protections so lets not have them.

                            I would say you were to stupid to actually understand the word, "otherwording", you defined except it seems be a fake word. You must be fun to play Scrabble with.

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                            • icon
                              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Apr 2019 @ 7:37pm

                              Re: Re:

                              A fair point; upon closer look, I did indeed misread your comment as disagreement rather than agreement. You have my apologies for the mistake.

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2019 @ 3:31am

                            Re:

                            "What would you do if you were the owner of a platform that someone started using to spread racist propaganda, and you did not want your platform to be a source of racist propaganda, but the law says you cannot discriminate against (i.e., moderate) their racist political viewpoints?"

                            iStephen, don't ask questions you don't want answered

                            Or is my answer an example of the legal yet horrible speech you do not wish to be exposed to?

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2019 @ 8:45am

                            Re:

                            "What would you do if you were the owner of a platform that someone started using to spread racist propaganda, and you did not want your platform to be a source of racist propaganda, but the law says you cannot discriminate against (i.e., moderate) their racist political viewpoints?"

                            Make it private

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                            • icon
                              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Apr 2019 @ 7:47pm

                              Even if you took your platform into a “private mode”, the law might still apply. (An open-to-the-public platform and a private platform are both privately-owned platforms, after all.) If that “no viewpoint discrimination” law could be applied to private platforms, how would you then deal with the racist? (And for bonus points: How would you do it without shutting down your platform altogether?)

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2019 @ 2:20am

                  Re: Re:

                  Much like the last superman movie and your dick, that was weak bro.

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

          • icon
            Bamboo Harvester (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:31pm

            Re:

            Ummm... you're advocating censorship against "vewpoint discrimination" by anyone not agreeing with whatever that LGBTQxyz? decides is Correct Speech.

            I prefer the system here on TechDirt. Blue in his/her many incarnations can spew whatever idiocy they want - and the USERS can just click to hide it. Of course, the frequency of his/her idiocy means we each wear out a mouse every month, but I'll pay for the worn-out mouse happily to avoid true censorship here.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:39pm

              you're advocating censorship against "v[i]ewpoint discrimination" by anyone not agreeing with whatever [LGBT people] decide[ ]is Correct Speech

              I am advocating for the notion that a platform should be able to legally moderate any legally-protected speech it wants for practically any reason it wants (as long as that reason does not run afoul of the law) because those platforms are not government actors. A platform’s owners/operators should have the absolute right to choose what speech it will and will not host; to force “viewpoint neutrality” upon a platform is to force it into hosting speech its owners/operators do not want to host.

              If a pro-LGBT platform wants to ban anti-LGBT speech in any context, so be it. An anti-LGBT platform should be able to do the same with pro-LGBT speech. The law should never be able to force either of those platforms into hosting the content that would otherwise be banned from those platforms.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2019 @ 8:15am

                Re:

                "In fact, when it comes to affecting speech interests it is expressly forbidden by the First Amendment to punish speakers or speech before a court has found specific instances of speech unlawful. To do otherwise – to punish speech, or, worse, to punish a speaker before they've even had a chance to make wrongful speech – is prior restraint, and not constitutional."
                https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190412/16591441995/wherein-copia-institute -updates-copyright-office-first-amendment-problems-with-dmca.shtml

                Let me know how you interpret that comment

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Apr 2019 @ 6:13pm

                  The First Amendment prohibits the government from punishing speakers/speech before a court rules their speech unlawful. Social media platforms are not an arm of the government; they can punish whatever speech they want regardless of the legality of that speech. Believing otherwise means believing someone can force, say, Twitter to host speech its owners/operators do not want to host.

                  I have never gotten a straight answer to this question, and I do not trust to hope. But I will pose it anyway: What would you do if you were the owner of a platform that someone started using to spread racist propaganda, and you did not want your platform to become a source of racist propaganda, but the law explicitly forbade you from discriminating against (i.e., moderating) their racist political viewpoints?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 9:32pm

          Re: Re:

          Facebook is not an ISP, it is something much bigger and powerful

          What. The actual. Fuck.

          Bigger? Maybe. More powerful? No. When one company can only restrict my access to their service, but another can restrict my access TO THE ENTIRE FREAKING INTERNET, I'd say ISPs are FAR more powerful.

          If I cannot communicate on my ISP I can always use a VPN, proxy server,

          That's assuming they still provide you internet access and don't block VPNs and proxies.

          the library

          I have yet to encounter a library that allows you more than 30-60 minutes of internet time in one sitting; let's you install games on their computers; use VoIP of any kind; or do online shopping. Please do tell how this is a replacement for home internet service.

          even work computer to get around that

          Would that be a work computer used at home where you have no internet? Or a work computer at work when you are supposed to be working; where they have acceptable use policies; block many communication sites, protocols, and shopping; you can't stream anything; and also don't allow you to install whatever software you want/need?

          Facebook is a global communication network

          A network. As in one of many. Most Americans have a choice of exactly one viable ISP.

          that can block my account preventing me from communicating with anyone else on the network.

          Yes. On their specific network. That doesn't prevent you from using any of the other networks including, but not limited to: Twitter, Myspace (yes it still exists), Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, LinkedIn, Youtube, Skype, Discord, Slack, IRC, etc... I could go on and on and on. Whereas an ISP cutting you off blocks your access to ALL of those. No exceptions.

          A law needed to pass to prevent companies like Verizon from denying service based on race/ethnicity.

          Yes, because some people are racists and no human should be treated as any less than another solely because of their INVOLUNTARY ATTRIBUTE and INABILITY TO CHOOSE their skin color. That's not the same as violating a site's terms of use by your VOLUNTARY actions that you CHOSE TO CARRY OUT WILLFULLY.

          Non bigoted people unanimously agree that should cover political beliefs.

          No, they really don't. Some may, but a lot of them recognize that making political beliefs a protected class would lead to LOTS of issues. For example, it would make political party support rallies pretty much illegal because they couldn't kick out anyone with an opposing political viewpoint. Which flies right in the face of the First Amendment because now the government is telling people what speech they can and cannot allow. Also, that's not what a bigot is.

          Discrimination based on attributes you can't change and have no control over, is not the same as your voluntary personal thoughts and beliefs that you can change at any time if you so choose. Making those a protected class is absolutely ludicrous.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 2:33am

          Re: Re:

          If I cannot communicate on my ISP

          If you get kicked off your ISP, you lose your ability to communicate via any Internet site, as they are between you and all sites. If you get Kicked off FaceBook, you have Reddit, 4Chan, 8chan, or even Myspace. If anybody want to listen to you, they will follow you onto your chosen platform. If they don't, they won't follow you, and you cannot make them follow you and listen to you.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:27pm

    So as a noted fan of political neutrality I'm sure Senator Cruz is inviting a variety of Democrats and third party political figures to write posts on his webpage. Or is he only saying that neutrality means you can't tell a republican that they are unwelcome, especially when they violate rules that they previously agreed to follow.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:59pm

      Re:

      Strangely enough I suspect it's the former and not the latter, though that most certainly is a question that should be asked, if only to watch him squirm.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:28pm

      Re:

      I hate how he is demanding people be able to write posts on an individuals private website. It is exactly the same thing. Nice straw-man though, would give an 8/10.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:33pm

    your point would be ?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 2:59pm

    control

    Cruz and most all politicians want to control speech, restricting speech they don't like and promoting speech they do like.
    This is routine behavior by governments.
    The FCC has been controlling speech/content on radio/tv for almost a century.

    Social Media entities are private companies and can do as they like, absent any fraud or coercion.
    Congress has zero authority to interfere, under US Constitution.

    =

    Odd that the primary post here asserts: " we don’t see evidence of systemic political bias against conservatives" -- but also states:
    "To be clear, Internet platforms do have a problem with over-censoring certain voices online... EFF and others have called for Internet companies to provide the public with real transparency about whose posts they’re taking down and why."

    If "real transparency" is so lacking -- how do any outside observers know who or what is being censored ??

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 4:47pm

      Re: control

      how do any outside observers know who or what is being censored

      Those censored yell as loudly as they can to as many people as they can to draw attention to their perceived injustice. Those who hear and agree with them then "take to the forums!" of whatever platform allegedly committed said atrocity and raise hell until they, too, violate the terms of service and get banned. Rinse, repeat. After some time you have a whole swath of people with the same political views having been banned and they interpret that as bias against their beliefs by the platform rather than concluding that people who share those beliefs tend to be loudmouthed morons who violate terms of service -- another classic symptom of far right or left wingers aka sociopaths.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 7:07pm

        Re: Re: control

        makes basic sense; however the social media companies will deny any bias or censorship.

        Observers end up with a He Said_It Said situation, lacking definitive proof either claim.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 3:32pm

    Politically neutral.*

    • Except for "terrorists", NAMBLA, Muslims, anyone K-12, BLM, etc., etc., and anyone else this guy doesn't like, most all people agree are obscene, or some people don't like as long as they are the right people.

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 12 Apr 2019 @ 5:09pm

    Did they forget? Censorship is only illegal if it's done by the govt. You know, like passing laws against "hate" speech. Just because you hate what someone else has to say doesn't mean you have the right to censor it... if you're the govt. that is.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 10:19am

      Re:

      That a private company who is not a state actor can engage in censorship doesn't mean they aren't censoring. Many of these companies want to promote themselves as having relevant conversations but those conversations lose relevance the moment someone is silenced.

      Private companies are also free to censor those who are critical of its sponsors, though the sponsors wouldn't want this pointed out to potential customers.

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

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 14 Apr 2019 @ 10:39am

        Re: Re:

        those conversations lose relevance the moment someone is silenced.

        Actually, being able to sweep away detritus like Blue, Jhon, and Alex Jones is what makes it possible for the relevant conversations to remain at the surface.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 4:43pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually, being able to silence unpopular opinions is exactly why censorship doesn't work. The discussions are incomplete.

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

          • icon
            Toom1275 (profile), 14 Apr 2019 @ 5:20pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You're still using the false premise that what is "silenced" actually contributes to the discussion. Even just on Techdirt, one can see that that is rarely, if ever, the case.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 5:23pm

            Re: First one was kinda shit.

            You maybe want to try a second draft of that comment bro?

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

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Apr 2019 @ 4:45am

            In re: "incomplete discussions"

            When will you be pushing for Stormfront to give “equal time” to positive discussion of, say, the Black Lives Matter movement? I mean, that three word phrase is technically an unpopular opinion over there.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 5:31pm

    AOL tried to take over and censor the internet in the 1990s, and failed.

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

    • icon
      John Roddy (profile), 14 Apr 2019 @ 8:10am

      Re:

      Actually, AOL was the very first successful defendant to be protected by CDA 230. Zehran v. AOL is the landmark case that decided Section 230 applies retroactively, and it does apply broadly.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 10:15am

        Re: Re:

        A Third Circuit ruling is not landmark -- that would be the SCOTUS -- and 230 has been expanded to include ALL state-law claims, including negligence (such as in the Grindr case). Section 230 literally overturned over a century of well-established precedent concerning distributor liability for defamation.

        Most people don't get defamed, or targeted for revenge-porn, so they don't care about the few who have had their names and privacy destroyed by 230's immunity for search engines. Long as it's not THEM, they don't care. Many businesses have also been destroyed by malicious competitors or disgruntled employees.

        Section 230 makes people defenseless against defamation, and that chills speech far worse than if intermediaries were held accountable. There is one upside though: if someone's defamed in a search engine, all they have to do is wait for someone else to find the defamation, repeat it in their own words, and sue the person who was dumb enough to believe what they read online. Sharp lawyers can even engineer this scenario and mop up a lot in legal fees defending the person they set up. Google doesn't warn people of this scam so most assume it doesn't exist.

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

        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 14 Apr 2019 @ 10:36am

          Re: Re: Re:

          [Asserts facts still not in evidence]

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 11:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Really? It's not a FACT that search engines would be liable for defamatory content without Section 230? Or that revenge-porn victims had difficulty suing because of 230?

            What exactly is someone to do if a search turns up defamatory results which, for whatever reason (say the "original poster" was in Romania), they can no longer sue to remove? Obviously anyone dumb enough to repeat the search results in their own words set themselves up to be sued. Many individuals face this, but no provision is made for them because their reputations are an "acceptable loss" for giving Big Internet immunity. That's in the US only of course, since in other countries they can sue.

            That lawyers can set people up this way is obvious. Cui bono?

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

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 14 Apr 2019 @ 12:31pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It's not a FACT that search engines would be liable for defamatory content without Section 230?

              They might be, they might not be; it would decided case by case.

              "Under the common law, distributors like newspaper vendors and book vendors could only be held liable if they had notice of a defamatory statement in their merchandise. However, the publisher of the newspaper or book where the statement appeared could be held liable even absent such notice. "

              https://privacylaw.proskauer.com/2006/11/articles/communications-decency-act/distributor-immu nity-for-defamatory-internet-publication/

              A search engine is much more of a distributor than a publisher.

              What exactly is someone to do if a search turns up defamatory results which, for whatever reason (say the "original poster" was in Romania), they can no longer sue to remove?

              You're saying that the solution to a jurisdictional problem preventing a lawsuit is to put liability on someone who didn't do the defamation? Or did I misunderstand you?

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

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 4:42pm

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

                The search engine "did" the defamation beyond the original publication, which might have been seen by a few people, versus say an employer etc.

                There have been female victims of revenge porn who have actually lost their jobs because of their cyberstalkers. The employers didn't find them by surfing porn sites, but because they typed the woman's name into a search engine.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2019 @ 3:01am

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

                  So what are these names? Hell, you don't even need names if a gag order was demanded. Just tell the class any names involved, a case code, a news report. You know, anything citation or evidence that's less flimsy like the smoke blowing out your backside.

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

            • icon
              blademan9999 (profile), 14 Apr 2019 @ 12:50pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If the average reader is unable to determine whether a statement is defamatory, how is the search engine or social media site supposed to?
              This would create an absolutely impssoible burden that would collareral damage many orders of magnitudes greater then a few people having their reputations ruined.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 3:26pm

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

                In my observation, people with terrible online reputations have worked hard to earn them, and complain that somebody else is ruining their reputation. They seem incapable of recognizing their own faults and bad behaviour.

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

                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 4:38pm

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

                  Just like the female victims of revenge porn earned their reputations by sending those pictures? Wow, that's bright.

                  As bright as thinking no one ever lied about someone they deemed a threat (like a whistleblower), or a business owner or disgruntled employee never lied about a competitor or former employer?

                  The previous poster's cynical argument does not address the situation where someone is harmed by 230 as outlined above. That is because to do so would be to say that the internet companies are more important than a few people who are "collateral damage."

                  If this were the case, we wouldn't need libel laws in the first place.

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2019 @ 2:59am

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

                    And last I checked, libel laws haven't stopped working.

                    But to claim "libel" would mean having to put your actual name to a court somewhere and lord knows you don't have the gumption for that.

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

                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 4:40pm

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

                  The people who believe this are the ones who are easily set up by lawyers, btw. They get into an internet argument, the lawyer is waiting in the wings, they're prone to believe lies about someone they don't like, the lawyer (cloaked, or using a third party) links them to the lies, the pawn repeats the lies, the lawyer steps in offering to "defend free speech" and the gaslit pawn spends his or her last dollar funding his or her own financial demise.

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2019 @ 2:59am

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

                    We get it, Herrick, your lawyer gave you an inspirational speech about how you can singlehandedly destroy Section 230 and your gamble paid off... poorly.

                    Caveat emptor!

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

                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 5:57pm

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

                  " In my observation, people with terrible online reputations have worked hard to earn them,"

                  Remember that when the entire truth drops about numerous lawyers with ties to Masnick.

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 7:11pm

                    Re: You earned that rep bro

                    Bro you don’t got shit. Everyone knows you are an impotent old liar.

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2019 @ 2:58am

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

                    I've been waiting for this truth a year. Masnick's been at this game for twenty! There should be a fucking library of material for you to pull your blackmail from. I wanted dirt, not promises of table scraps.

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

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 4:39pm

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

                Notice and takedown, as is the case with distributor liability offline.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 1:14pm

              Re: Impotent Jhon has a sad

              Your claims much like your sex life are comical.

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

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 4:35pm

                Re: Re: Impotent Jhon has a sad

                The previous poster's comment is an example of why Masnick will never be taken seriously by actual high-level journalists.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 5:24pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Impotent Jhon has a sad sac

                  You’re the only one who cares bro.

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

                  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 5:56pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Impotent M*asnick

                    he "doesn't care" so much that he posts repeatedly towards me, even when I'm not the one to whom he is responding.

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 7:01pm

                      Re: better luck next time bro

                      Oh bro I care. I’m the I like to make fun of old, stupid, impotent men, kind of way.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 1:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You still peddling that garbage crybaby Jhon? I would have thought you would have moved to the threatening the president scenario by now. I even borrowed a trump mask from Hamilton.

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 4:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Since the previous poster (the "crybaby" who whines about others) made no logical points, there is nothing to argue against logically. It seems the poster cannot refute the notion that Section 230 has harmed innocent people. Supporters of Section 230 are effectively calling female victims of revenge porn "collateral damage" or "acceptable loss."

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 5:27pm

              Re: Crybaby Jhon king of projection

              “the "crybaby" who whines about others.”

              Classic crybaby Jhon

              Bro your old tired sad argument has been debunked so many times it now stands along with flat earth theory as most debunked garbage in human history.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 5:55pm

                Re: Re: Crybaby Masnick

                Funny that every country other than the US agrees with me.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2019 @ 8:04pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Crybaby Masnick

                  Or maybe in those countries like South Korea, the authorities go after the uploaders, not the platforms. But keep deluding yourself that you're making some sort of intelligent point here.

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

        • icon
          blademan9999 (profile), 14 Apr 2019 @ 1:30pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Read this here.
          https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190411/18521741986/nancy-pelosi-joins-ted-cruz-louis-gohme rt-attacking-cda-230.shtml
          TLDR.
          Without section 230, due to supreme court precedents internet companies would be liable if they moderate their content but not liable if they didn't engage in moderaiton.
          In other words there would be two options.

          1. Don't accept user uploads.
          2. Don't engage in moderation.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 10:17am

        Re: Re:

        My post was more about censorship than 230. AOL used to censor its users and prevented them from using an AOL account for any business purpose, including talking with existing clients who were not spammed. This sent everyone onto the internet at large, which eventually developed the same features as AOL.

        In 1995, however, if you had say a stock picking service and had to communicate your picks immediately to your users, AOL was the only game in town, since its e-mail didn't leave their servers. E-mail involving non-AOL accounts could take up to two days to arrive. Now you have twitter and facebook inviting people to promote their businesses on their backbone.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 1:16pm

          Re: Tell em Why you mad bro

          You mad cause you got kicked off AOL for being a spammy scammer?

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 4:33pm

            Re: Re: Tell em Why you mad bro

            Exactly which "scam" are you talking about, or do you just make stuff up?

            Sounds more like YOU are mad because I don't agree that internet censorship is a problem.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 5:28pm

              Re: Alzheimer’s is a bitch. I said Alzheimer’s is a bitch

              “the "crybaby" who whines about others”

              The one you brag about all the time bro.

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

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 5:54pm

                Re: Re: Alzheimer’s is a bitch. I said Alzheimer’s is a bitc

                Posts like the above are why Masnick is not taken seriously as a journalist.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 7:02pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Alzheimer’s is a bitch. I said Alzheimer’s is a

                  “he "doesn't care" so much that he posts repeatedly towards me, even when I'm not the one to whom he is responding.”

                  And now you’re repeating yourself AND responding to me bro. Alzheimer’s is a bitch.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 6:14pm

    John Herrick Smith angry that he can't sue Grindr because he dated a douchebag, news at 11.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 6:59pm

    "Cat" was banned twice on Twitter, or so she says, for offending feminists:

    https://twitter.com/cat_the_cat_cat

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 7:04pm

      Re:

      Is that who you follow on Twitter in an futile attempt to make your dick work bro?

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 7:53pm

        Re: Re:

        The previous poster is an example of why Michael Masnick will never be taken seriously as a journalist.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 8:03pm

          Re: Once more for the old and impotent

          And now you’re repeating yourself AND responding to me bro. Alzheimer’s is a bitch.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 9:04pm

    Section 230 enables fake celebrity ads on Facebook:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebooks-scandal-of-fake-celebrity-ads-11555270000

    False internet advertising (including disparagement of competitors) thrives under Section 230.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 9:05pm

      Re:

      That's the Wall Street Journal, not some juvenile blogger who allows cyberbullying, bigotry, and threats against government officials on his website.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2019 @ 10:01pm

        Re: Can’t stop, won’t stop projecting

        Is that your new angle crybaby Jhon? That’s sad even by our pathetic standards. Well bro it’s at least better than threatening to rape people like you do.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2019 @ 2:56am

        Re: Re:

        Bitch at the Wall Street Journal then.

        You know, for someone who's made it his life mission to campaign on behalf of poor traumatized celebrities and increase exposure of the issue, you sure seem to enjoy doing so on a website you consider so insignificant no one who matters will actually read it.

        Unless you're doing so on behalf, or in conjunction with a larger awareness campaign for the public. If only people knew what it was, then they'd be able to stand alongside you in your morally outraged crusade, alongside a writer who enjoys more political and social influence than Hollywood's favorite darlings!

        Ah, but that'd require some proof of who you are, Herrick, after a year of promising to tell Mommy, we've all seen your track record. Roughly between the range of jack shit and fuck all!

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


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