NY Times Joins Lots Of Other Media Sites In Totally And Completely Misrepresenting Section 230

from the seriously,-guys? dept

So, about a week ago, the NY Times properly mocked politicians for totally misrepresenting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This week it needs to mock itself. Reporter Daisuke Wakabayashi wrote a piece provocatively titled (at least as it was originally published) Why Hate Speech On The Internet Is A Never Ending-Problem, with a subhead saying: "Because this law shields it." And in case you believed it might be talking about some other law, between the head and the subhead it showed part of the text of Section 230 (technically, it showed Section (c)(1)).

If you want to see how badly the NY Times botched this, just check out the current headline on the piece. It's pretty different. Now it says: "Legal Shield for Websites Rattles Under Onslaught of Hate Speech." Even that's... not great. Also, the NY Times added the following whopper of a correction notice:

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the law that protects hate speech on the internet. The First Amendment, not Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, protects it.

Yeah. So that's kind of a big deal. The original version blamed Section 230 -- a bill currently under attack from both sides of the aisle -- for somehow being the root cause of hate speech online, saying it's what "protected" it. And now the article admits in the fine print that, oh, whoops, actually it's that old 1st Amendment that protects it. Kind of a big difference, and one that completely undermines the entire point and thrust of the original article. That's a pretty massive fuck up

Of course, it's not entirely clear who is to blame here. Editors, not reporters, tend to write the headlines, so it's very likely that the incorrect headline came from the editorial team at the NY Times, and not Wakabayashi himself. After all, the article itself suggested that he had done some research on the matter, including speaking to Section 230 expert Jeff Kosseff, who spends much of his time these days debunking myths about 230. It also notes the actual history of Section 230, and how it was designed in order to encourage content moderation, not block it. Of course, you would not get that from that original headline, which suggested something very, very different.

Law professor and the UN's expert on free speech, David Kaye, wrote an excellent piece in response to the NY Times piece detailing not just the problems with that original headline, but some other important points regarding the idea that Section 230 is somehow responsible for hate speech:

But that headline… Does hate speech persist online because Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act “shields it”? I’m sorry, Times readers; if you were looking for an easy fix to online hate, this isn’t it.

From there he goes on to list four important questions anyone looking to regulate "hate speech" online needs to answer. You can read his entire piece for explanations of each question, but I'll just list them out there:

  • First, what is “hate speech”?
  • Second, who should regulate it? Who decides?
  • Third, should there be a global standard and global enforcement?
  • Fourth, and finally, what to do about Trump and other public officials who trade in hateful content?
Too often people get stopped at that first one, with some sort of "well, it's obvious" kind of response. And that would be great if that were so, but it's not. And when you combine the first and second questions, we've noticed quite a pattern, in that when governments get to define hate speech, they quite frequently use it to target critics, the marginalized, and the powerless. I mean, it's not like we have a ton of articles showing just that.

And, given that Kaye's final question is what to do about Trump and other public officials, a related "5th" question might be why would you want a government led by someone like Trump, who has shown a propensity to ratchet up tensions and hate, deciding what counts as hate speech? Because he (and his supporters) certainly would argue that nothing he says should count as hate speech. To them it's either everyone else "misinterpreting" him, or it's a joke. Or, I guess, sometimes they'll just lie and claim "fake news."

But there's a bigger point here. Taking away Section 230 certainly doesn't do anything to stop hate speech online. Making platforms liable for content could very likely increase that kind of speech online for a variety of reasons. First of all, as noted, at least in the US, it's protected by the 1st Amendment. And some of the proposals to modify Section 230 are premised on the idea that platforms need to leave up all speech that is protected under the 1st Amendment. That would certainly lead to much more of the kind of speech that the NY Times is apparently concerned about.

Other proposals try to put some sort of "knowledge" standard on the speech. And, in such cases, you go back to a standard where platforms are encouraged to just look the other way and deliberately blind themselves to avoid having any kind of "knowledge." It's hard to see how that makes any sense at all.

The whole point of Section 230 -- which the NY Times of all papers should understand -- is that it created an important balance to try to enable the most "good" speech possible, while limiting the most "bad" speech. And it did so in a very clever way -- by letting the various internet platforms decide how best to meet that balance, rather than by dictating what is and what is not "good" and "bad" speech. Different platforms can and do create their own standards. That has been incredibly valuable not just for free speech online, and not just for innovation on the internet, but also in allowing for widespread experimentation with platform moderation.

It's too bad that rather than educate its readership about all of that, the NY Times decided to jump on the misleading (and simply incorrect) bandwagon claiming that 230 is somehow to "blame" for bad stuff online.

Filed Under: free speech, moderation, new york times, section 230, social media


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 9:45am

    Why are you surprised by this? Anytime there's a media sensational story involving mass shootings, the first two scapegoats are immediately pulled out: video games and anything else to avoid the fact Americans are fucking idiots when it comes to guns.

    I think that bitch in Ohio summed it up nicely: everything except rational recourse to fix the issue.

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

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 7 Aug 2019 @ 9:51am

    The Good with the Bad

    NY Times decided to jump on the misleading (and simply incorrect) bandwagon claiming that 230 is somehow to "blame" for bad stuff online

    Technically 230 is responsible since without it we'd have no user content online good or bad. The problem here is that some people can't accept that it allows any "bad" stuff and have this vivid fantasy that eliminating all speech will someone make things "better." (Certainly the media companies would love to wipe out all user generated content since it competes with their IP monopolies.)

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 12:42pm

      Re: The Good with the Bad

      I don't think 230 is so much a panacea. In it's absence something else (a technical solution) would have evolved- perhaps something like syndicated self hosting on distributed/shared p2p resources, with embedded remote social content via something like magnet links....so the aggregation of commentary didn't contain the actual content, but instead had instructions on where to find it. -which anyone could decide for themselves whether/how to follow.

      In such a case- we'd all be "our own" hosts, and responsible for "our own" speech, AND what we wanted censored from "ourselves".

      Anonymous speech could be handled as it's own category... People could be free to make and share all the tribal lists of undesirables they wanted to exclude in there preferred filter bubbles.

      Or free to just deal with the toxic mess that is a small/loud/ugly part of reality; with the comforting knowledge that neither gov, corp, partizan, or religious agendas where controlling their view and ability to engage with alleged commentary.

      This would be much more inline with the ideals of the first amendment- and it would avoid consolidation of power... I think it would also somewhat alleviate the pressure of hate speech- a part of which is founded on the concern of being manipulated and controlled through censorship...

      Hate speech is a symptom of a much deeper problem- trying to cure it through censorship; is like curing an ingrown toenail with amputation... Effective censorship requires absolute control- something both the gov and mega corps would love to have; and that will almost certainly destroy freedom of speech.

      Censorship can be a slippery slope in either direction, why not leave it to the individual to decide?

      At least we'd be responsible for "our own" filter bubbles, or lack there of, rather then some proprietary profit-driven black box AI system, or an arbitrary and subjective set of new laws that people would quickly learn to subvert and dog-whistle around, only to have them ratchet up until Whinne the Pooh was banned, like in china.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 1:43pm

        Re: Re:

        I don't think 230 is so much a panacea. In it's absence something else (a technical solution) would have evolved

        No technical solution can provide you legal liability protections from hosting someone else's content. Without it, you could punish an innocent person for the actions of someone else. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous.

        perhaps something like syndicated self hosting on distributed/shared p2p resources, with embedded remote social content via something like magnet links...In such a case- we'd all be "our own" hosts, and responsible for "our own" speech, AND what we wanted censored from "ourselves".

        As you state, this would require people to run their own hosts/servers. This would mean that all internet connected users would have to run their own server and make sure it was constantly online or the content would disappear. The level of technical knowledge required to do this would exclude the vast majority of internet users. So much so as to make it absolutely worthless. Only people in IT or those with a tech hobby would even attempt it. And even then, they may not have proper ISP service to do it, since broadband coverage sucks and by the TOS, you can't use residential broadband services to host a server.

        Anonymous speech could be handled as it's own category... People could be free to make and share all the tribal lists of undesirables they wanted to exclude in there preferred filter bubbles.

        This makes absolutely zero sense. Since it's all self hosted, there is NO anonymous speech.

        Or free to just deal with the toxic mess that is a small/loud/ugly part of reality;

        This is the current state of affairs with social media platforms.

        with the comforting knowledge that neither gov, corp, partizan, or religious agendas where controlling their view and ability to engage with alleged commentary.

        This is disingenuous. The only important part of that statement is the government. The government is the only one that should be barred from interfering in online speech. Everything else is protected as its own free speech. Currently you are free to do just that. 8chan is still online if you are so inclined to go there.

        This would be much more inline with the ideals of the first amendment

        No it would not since the First Amendment ONLY applies to the government. Corporations, religious groups, individuals, etc... are free to block or allow whatever content they want on the platforms they own/control.

        it would avoid consolidation of power

        By making the entire system useless.

        I think it would also somewhat alleviate the pressure of hate speech- a part of which is founded on the concern of being manipulated and controlled through censorship

        As far as I know, the only pressure on hate speech is to NOT say it. That hasn't stopped anyone so far who really wanted to say hateful things. Nor would your solution prevent that either. Your assertion (the concern of being manipulated and controlled through censorship breeds hate speech) does not engender more speech (hate or otherwise), it reduces speech over all. You only have to look at countries that severely punish their citizens for saying something that goes against approved speech rules to see massive reductions in their speech.

        Hate speech is a symptom of a much deeper problem

        Agreed.

        trying to cure it through censorship; is like curing an ingrown toenail with amputation

        No one is trying to cure it by cutting these people off of the internet (except maybe politicians but we already know they are delusional). What we are trying to do is make the internet a nice place where people can come and not have to see disgusting and offensive views.

        Effective censorship requires absolute control

        Something that is currently impossible with the internet.

        something both the gov and mega corps would love to have

        Government? Yes. Mega corps? I think you'd find they don't, at least not generally. In specific areas maybe, but not over the entire internet. That would be a nightmare for them.

        that will almost certainly destroy freedom of speech.

        Well it's a good thing then that the internet was created as a decentralized network so that no one person or entity can take control of it. This will never come to pass so long as the internet remains decentralized. And changing that is nearly impossible.

        Censorship can be a slippery slope in either direction, why not leave it to the individual to decide?

        Exactly. Which is how it functions currently, including corporations' rights to block or allow whatever content they wish and they have decided to not allow this content. They are run by individuals as well after all and those individuals have the same rights as the rest of us. The First Amendment and censorship only applies to the government. It does not apply to any other individual or entity.

        At least we'd be responsible for "our own" filter bubbles, or lack there of,

        We still are. There is nothing preventing anyone from reading something from a person or site that does not align with their views/beliefs.

        rather then some proprietary profit-driven black box AI system

        This doesn't exist in any form today.

        or an arbitrary and subjective set of new laws that people would quickly learn to subvert and dog-whistle around, only to have them ratchet up until Whinne the Pooh was banned, like in china.

        Which is why the government should not pass any new laws dictating what social media platforms should or should not allow on their sites. You claim to want zero government interference in online speech, yet in the exact same breath you want the government to force speech restrictions on people online, namely that they can't speak out against speech they don't agree with, or ban it from their site.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 5:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You're too quick to dismiss my theoretical system, without understanding what I was even theorizing about. Remember the original thought was if we didn't have cda 230, something better might have come along, and I attempted to explain what I thought it might be. I'll try again- This would be a VERY useful system which would respect all parties rights, and place accountability where it naturally should be.

          gnunet, freenet, i2p....

          it's been so long I forget- one of these networks had (has?) exactly this sort of setup, where a person could publish and maintain control of their content even when they where off line, through the use of shared resources- you help cache other peoples stuff when you are online, others helped you when off, but the creator of the content remained in control (and responsible) of it. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is this would put a network member in a position of not a host, but more like a cache service (like what cloudfair does). iirc the content was also encrypted, so the person caching couldn't even see what it was without the key (which would be shared for public posts- and could be subject to blocklist type filtering for both users and individual content). So this sort of thing isn't so far fetched as you might think- the bones have been around for quite some time. The content could be linked/embeded to comment sections, and a browser feature or plugin could load everything not on the individuals chosen blocklist. Blocklists could be crowdsourced; and platform providers could come up with their own blocklist to exercise their rights and define their platform and editorial discretion, without interfering with others rights of speech and free association.* This could all be done seamlessly with easy to understand UI- requiring little effort on the users behalf to setup- or none at all, just defaulting to the platforms blocklist, but allowing others to opt out, and into their own, or none.

          What is it Doctrow called it? adversarial interoperability...

          Recall- I'm theorizing about a world where cda 230 never existed, and geeks improvised...Like filesharing, but more literally speech... it's seams foolish to imagine there's no creative technical solutions here. Also suggesting that this could be a better system then what we have- rights, personal responsibility, freedom of speech- and no corporate, gov, or religious overlords.

          You have a point about accessibility, but that would have evolved with need; this might be a bit resource intense for low end machines, but these days it could all be done with webapps and plugins- wouldn't necessarily need software install and fine grained knowledge.

          iirc there was some sort of means for anonymous speech as well= but I can't remember at all how that worked. Perhaps it was like an open access shared account that any/everyone could access. This sort of thing gets spottier of course, but anonymous speech is important to- it's a shame so many seam to use it to create cesspools like 8chan.

          ISP TOS- is something I hadn't thought of; but in absence of 230 one might imagine people being pretty pissed if their means of communicating where shut down. I used to run minor private server stuff on residential dsl- no one ever bothered me about it; are they really that anal about stuff now? surely kids host games and things on residential? I have no idea what kinda bandwidth something like that would burn though though.

          What do you call the Youtube algorithm if not a proprietary profit-driven black box AI system? Or whatever facebook is shoving in peoples faces? Perhaps AI, is a bit of a stretch, the rest seams quite accurate.

          I agree with you, the gov shouldn't pass more laws restricting speech- my argument is for increased speech, and increased choice in what speech to subject yourself too- not restrictions- the platforms would be free to make there own blocklists which would define their editorial choices- people would be free to use that, or not. This doesn't remove the platforms speech, it prevents the platforms speech from interfering with others speech.

          "The government is the only one that should be barred from interfering in online speech. Everything else is protected as its own free speech."

          *On this we seriously disagree- the constitution was not written with knowledge or understanding that private entities could ever acquire the influence and power as they have. What's going on now goes against the spirit of the laws wise intent.

          The right to editorialize speech to the scale and extent of completely changing its nature is most certainly not what the framers intended (or could even imagine). I really have a hard time understanding how anyone could be ok with that and not see the need for change.

          I understand social media companies have the legal right to do this as current law is interpreted- I say that should change- it's not a proper balance of rights. One persons rights end where anothers' begin.

          I dislike toxic people/speech as much a the next person, but I was taught to respect freedom of speech, even when I disagree with what someone says. The answer to bad speech is supposed to be more good speech.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2019 @ 7:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You're too quick to dismiss my theoretical system, without understanding what I was even theorizing about.

            I apologize, I thought you laid it out quite clearly. Please do clarify.

            Remember the original thought was if we didn't have cda 230, something better might have come along

            Well, that is a false premise then since the underlying protocols that make up the internet we use today were developed long before cda 230. So your scenario actually happened and we still ended up with the internet we have today. Your theory is wrong by factual refutation by history itself.

            I attempted to explain what I thought it might be. I'll try again- This would be a VERY useful system which would respect all parties rights, and place accountability where it naturally should be.

            What you described originally required all users to run their servers/hosts. This requires a technical capability not possessed by the vast majority of internet users, therefore it would fail outright because no one would use it.

            gnunet, freenet, i2p....

            I'll note that most, if not all, of these have been developed AFTER Section 230 was passed and nothing is preventing the internet from adopting them at large. Nobody has. Also, it's not that hard to re-work the current internet to pass traffic as encrypted by default. Indeed, that change is already starting to occur. None of which has anything to do with a social media platform, however.

            it's been so long I forget- one of these networks had (has?) exactly this sort of setup, where a person could publish and maintain control of their content even when they where off line, through the use of shared resources- you help cache other peoples stuff when you are online, others helped you when off, but the creator of the content remained in control (and responsible) of it

            You are factually incorrect. If anyone other than you hosted your content when you were offline, then they would be responsible for it if Section 230 did not exist. That's the entire reason Section 230 exists in the first place, to prevent people who host other people's content from being held liable for it. The scenario you describe is exactly the scenario we are in today with social media, minus people being able to locally host their own content on said platforms. You publish and maintain control of your content on Facebook even when you are offline because Facebook shares their resources with you, they cache your stuff for you.

            I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is this would put a network member in a position of not a host, but more like a cache service (like what cloudfair does).

            You don't need to be a lawyer to understand this because it's not a legal point, it's a technical one. Caching is hosting and vice versa. If you host content, that content resides on your server. Caching is no different, you can't cache something and not have the data reside on your server, it literally does not work any other way. If you don't have the content on your server and the original content is unreachable, there is no way to display or access it.

            iirc the content was also encrypted, so the person caching couldn't even see what it was without the key

            This also happens today with ecrypted file storage. This is also similar to having your social media post visible only to your friends. You don't have to publicize it to the world if you don't want to. And while having your social media post encrypted from even the host itself is an interesting idea, it wouldn't make a difference in relation to the fact that the host is still hosting it, whether they can see it or not.

            So this sort of thing isn't so far fetched as you might think

            Yes, it is. As noted above, some of what you suggest is technically impossible.

            the bones have been around for quite some time

            And yet no one has adopted it.

            The content could be linked/embeded to comment sections, and a browser feature or plugin could load everything not on the individuals chosen blocklist. Blocklists could be crowdsourced;

            That sounds like a very complicated and a major pain in the ass for users. It's unlikely anyone would use that type of system en masse.

            platform providers could come up with their own blocklist to exercise their rights and define their platform and editorial discretion, without interfering with others rights of speech and free association.

            No social media platform is currently interfering with ANYONE's rights of speech and free association. If that's what you are trying to fix then you are trying to fix a problem that doesn't actually exist.

            This could all be done seamlessly with easy to understand UI- requiring little effort on the users behalf to setup- or none at all, just defaulting to the platforms blocklist, but allowing others to opt out, and into their own, or none.

            Except for the fact that they would have to install and configure their own server to host their own content and participate in this imaginary social media network. And while some of what you suggest for blocklists could be automated, not all of it could, again requiring a level of technical capability not possessed by the masses.

            Recall- I'm theorizing about a world where cda 230 never existed, and geeks improvised

            That is literally what happened in our history of the internet. CDA 230 didn't exist until the late 90s. The protocols and infrastructure that is the internet existed long before then. Your world existed and the current internet is what we got.

            it's seams foolish to imagine there's no creative technical solutions here.

            Because you fail to understand how technology works at a basic level. The type of system you are suggesting won't even work because it's technically impossible, and it won't even solve the problem your are worried about, in part because that problem doesn't exist.

            Also suggesting that this could be a better system then what we have- rights, personal responsibility, freedom of speech- and no corporate, gov, or religious overlords.

            Well it's not because, once again, your system would literally not work from a technical standpoint. But regardless of that, the only one of those that is actually restricted from dictating online speech is the government. Corporate or religious organizations are completely and totally within their rights to restrict whatever speech they want on the platforms they own and operate. This is the law.

            You have a point about accessibility, but that would have evolved with need;

            Considering that many people still don't understand how to use the simple computer interfaces we have, you are factually incorrect.

            this might be a bit resource intense for low end machines,

            You misunderstand, I'm not talking about whether the technology exists to handle it, I'm talking about whether people have the knowledge to operate it. They do not. Many can't even operate the simple interfaces we have today. To suggest they would somehow have an easier time adapting to an infinitely more complex system is delusional.

            these days it could all be done with webapps and plugins- wouldn't necessarily need software install and fine grained knowledge.

            Except for the fact that everyone would STILL be required to host their own server and that would require software install and fine grained knowledge. Not to mention the fact that is against the terms of use for most ISPs.

            iirc there was some sort of means for anonymous speech as well= but I can't remember at all how that worked

            Then it's irrelevant to the discussion then.

            Perhaps it was like an open access shared account that any/everyone could access. This sort of thing gets spottier of course, but anonymous speech is important to- it's a shame so many seam to use it to create cesspools like 8chan.

            Yes it is. Unfortunately that is the nature of anonymous speech. It can be used for good or bad. The internet already allows for anonymous speech, there is no need to blow it all up.

            ISP TOS- is something I hadn't thought of; but in absence of 230 one might imagine people being pretty pissed if their means of communicating where shut down.

            Yes they would but they would be powerless to prevent it. Most people don't have the choice to switch to a different ISP if they don't like the one they have because there is only one ISP that serves them.

            I used to run minor private server stuff on residential dsl- no one ever bothered me about it; are they really that anal about stuff now?

            If it was not internet accessible, or if your traffic was not high, you probably skated under the radar and got lucky. But yes, they have been anal about that since the beginning. Nothing has changed there.

            surely kids host games and things on residential?

            That depends on what you mean. Hosting a temporary game server for a few of your friends to play on and is shut down when you stop playing is different than hosting a dedicated, always on, server that gets high traffic from thousands of internet users. It's technically still against the TOS but it doesn't get enough traffic to get noticed.

            I have no idea what kinda bandwidth something like that would burn though though.

            It all depends on the application and usage.

            What do you call the Youtube algorithm if not a proprietary profit-driven black box AI system?

            An algorithm. But even if it was a "proprietary profit-driven black box AI system", so? There is nothing against the law in them creating such a system.

            Or whatever facebook is shoving in peoples faces?

            Facebook makes recommendations to you based on your friends list and other sites/ads you click. If you don't like the results it spits up, maybe you need better friends and stop visiting those sites.

            Perhaps AI, is a bit of a stretch, the rest seams quite accurate.

            Except it's not.

            I agree with you, the gov shouldn't pass more laws restricting speech- my argument is for increased speech, and increased choice in what speech to subject yourself too- not restrictions- the platforms would be free to make there own blocklists which would define their editorial choices- people would be free to use that, or not. This doesn't remove the platforms speech, it prevents the platforms speech from interfering with others speech.

            But you want to require this system to be implemented. That requires government intervention since no one else is particularly interested in it.

            On this we seriously disagree

            The Constitution says you are literally wrong.

            - the constitution was not written with knowledge or understanding that private entities could ever acquire the influence and power as they have

            Which is irrelevant to the point that they still have rights under the Constitution. You can't restrict them without violating their rights.

            What's going on now goes against the spirit of the laws wise intent.

            No, it's really not. You want to force companies to host speech that someone else decides is ok or not. Who gets to decide what that is? How do you decide what that is. The wisdom of the First Amendment remains intact because it says the government should not get to decide that, and that exactly what you are suggesting the government do.

            The right to editorialize speech to the scale and extent of completely changing its nature is most certainly not what the framers intended

            By the government, no. But they were completely fine with anyone else doing that. But that is not what social media is doing. They are saying "you can't say despicable things on our platform". They aren't changing its nature at all.

            I really have a hard time understanding how anyone could be ok with that and not see the need for change.

            And I have a really hard time understanding how anyone can in the same breath argue for more freedom of speech and government dictation of what speech is and is not allowed online.

            I understand social media companies have the legal right to do this as current law is interpreted

            Then why are we here?

            I say that should change

            Then you are in favor of government censorship of speech. This is undeniable.

            it's not a proper balance of rights

            Yes it is. What you are saying is that people should be forced to listen to something on their own property that they don't agree with. That is NOT a proper balance of rights. The size of the place it takes place on is irrelevant.

            I dislike toxic people/speech as much a the next person, but I was taught to respect freedom of speech, even when I disagree with what someone says.

            The right to freedom of speech ONLY applies to the government. The government cannot and should not force anyone to say or listen to anything. But that does not apply to corporations. Corporations are owned and run by private individuals and as such forcing them what they can and cannot allow on the things they own is an infringement of THEIR right to freedom of speech.

            The answer to bad speech is supposed to be more good speech.

            It is, and it is what is happening. That doesn't mean you don't eject the Nazi from the convention center when he starts insulting people, spewing hate, and generally making everyone else uncomfortable. You say "we don't allow that here" and kick him out.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2019 @ 5:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Your assertions about my belifes are false, bizarre and confusing. I think you misunderstood what I was describing.

          We agree that gov should not pass new laws suppressing speech- corporate and editorial or otherwise.
          The system I (poorly?) attempted to describe respects, protects, and improves the rights of all parties. As far as I understand, it would respect both the letter and spirit of the first amendment, and in the absence of cda 230, this is what I imagine would have evolved- based on how other technology in adjacent areas progressed.

          I post in good faith with relevant applicable understanding of both tech and law (afaik, ianal).

          You accuse me of being disingenuous- but don't seam to understand what I was suggesting. Think cloudfair, but p2p. Content would be available without active online presence, and would not put anyone but the content creator in the position of host. This IS possible, as I'll explain*.

          The bones of such tech have existed for some time- gnunet, i2p, freenet- it's not a new idea. Accessibility would have improved rapidly with need/demand- in absence of cda230... Modern hardware could easily run this via webapps- no install/knowledge needed. A system like this could run invisible to the user, defaulting to the platform providers blocklist, protecting their right to editorial discretion- while also allowing the option for the end-user to opt-out and chose their own moderation source.

          remember without cda 230- commentary would have had to be done p2p style as hosting would have resulted in legal culpability -this is how all this would have evolved...

          *This network would use shared member resource caching which would put network members in a legal position similar to cloudfair- NOT a host; a free agent in a cache system. The content creator maintains control of and responsibility for content availability- However, content can also be blocklisted by network members, by post or whole user account. Blocklist are maintained by network members, or whomever they entrust this process to. -in most cases this would default to platform providers. These lists could be crowdsourced, and created by platform providers to exercise editorial discretion rights. Generic open access accounts where available for anonymous speech on those networks (iirc). -admittedly those would likely degenerate into 8chan like cesspools; and this is an area which might need more fine grained options. -haven't researched this in many years, maybe they've already refined this sort of thing.

          It's foolish to dismiss anonymous speech by it's potential/propensity for misuse. Anonymous speech is certainly very problematic, but it's an important part of free speech/association- one crucial for academic freedom, and exploration and discussion of controversial ideas/perspective. The answer to bad speech is more good speech- as such for bad ideas; exposure to critique is necessary for people to figure things out; and in some cases that won't happen without access to anonymity. Freedom of association requires freedom of lack of association.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2019 @ 5:11pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            opps... they approved my original comment when I was typing this... assumed it was lost.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2019 @ 8:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Your assertions about my belifes are false, bizarre and confusing.

            I am only going off what you wrote and what you wrote is in conflict with reality.

            I think you misunderstood what I was describing.

            I am open to that possibility. Please point out exactly what I misunderstood and how, and what you really meant. I'll be happy to re-evaluate.

            We agree that gov should not pass new laws suppressing speech- corporate and editorial or otherwise.

            Yet you are arguing for government to do exactly that as nobody is interested in adopting the system you describe, in part because it wouldn't work from a technical standpoint.

            The system I (poorly?) attempted to describe respects, protects, and improves the rights of all parties.

            Not any more than the current system does. The only thing it does is make all communication encrypted and potentially more anonymous. It doesn't provide any more or less protection of someone's rights.

            As far as I understand, it would respect both the letter and spirit of the first amendment,

            And as I stated, your understanding is then flawed, both from a technical and legal standpoint.

            in the absence of cda 230, this is what I imagine would have evolved

            The current internet already evolved in the absence of cda 230 because cda 230 didn't exist until the late 90s, long after the foundation of the current internet was laid.

            based on how other technology in adjacent areas progressed.

            Which tech would that be?

            I post in good faith with relevant applicable understanding of both tech and law (afaik, ianal).

            As I've pointed out, you unfortunately do not have enough of an understanding of either tech or law as the scenario you imagine (internet evolving without 230) already happened and what you suggest is not technically possible.

            You accuse me of being disingenuous

            Because you have posted blatantly false and misleading information.

            but don't seam to understand what I was suggesting.

            Perhaps, but what you wrote seems very simple and easy to understand, despite the fact that it is incorrect.

            Think cloudfair, but p2p.

            I assume you mean "Cloudflare". This exists today but it wouldn't work to force the entire internet to function in that way. Plus, if the original host goes down, Cloudflare can't show you the content unless it stores a copy of that content on their servers. Therefore they would still be held liable for it without Section 230.

            Content would be available without active online presence

            This right here is what I am talking about. You do not understand how technology and the internet works. Without an active online presence, content can not be shown. Content has to be online somewhere in order to be shown. It doesn't matter if you host or someone else does, it just has to be online. If it's not online, nobody can access it.

            and would not put anyone but the content creator in the position of host.

            Yes it does. If the content only exists on your host, and your host goes down, then nobody gets to see your content. If someone else caches your content, that means it now exists on their host too and they host it in addition to you.

            This IS possible, as I'll explain.*

            It quite literally is not. What you describe is magic.

            The bones of such tech have existed for some time- gnunet, i2p, freenet- it's not a new idea.

            All of which require that content be hosted on an online server. If the only server that hosts that content goes down, so does the content. If someone else caches your content, that means that some one else is now playing host to your content in addition to you.

            Accessibility would have improved rapidly with need/demand- in absence of cda230

            CDA didn't exist before the late 90s, long after all of this would have supposedly developed. History says you are wrong.

            Modern hardware could easily run this via webapps- no install/knowledge needed.

            Those webapps still have to run on hardware and that hardware has to be installed and configured. Install and knowledge both required.

            A system like this could run invisible to the user,

            Only if the user didn't host it. Kind of like how current social media works.

            remember without cda 230- commentary would have had to be done p2p style as hosting would have resulted in legal culpability

            The basics of the internet evolved without CDA 230 because people operated under the assumption of "yeah duh, you don't sue the hoster for content someone else made, the hoster is innocent, go after the actual guilty party". CDA 230 was put in place because some people didn't get that so it had to be spelled out and made a law.

            this is how all this would have evolved

            History quite literally proves you wrong. I suggest you read up on it.

            This network would use shared member resource caching which would put network members in a legal position similar to cloudfair- NOT a host; a free agent in a cache system

            Caching means you store a copy of the content on your system. If the original host goes down, you are now the defacto host of said content and, without CDA 230, legally liable and culpable for it. You can't magically display content you don't have access to.

            The content creator maintains control of and responsibility for content availability

            This is how things currently work.

            However, content can also be blocklisted by network members, by post or whole user account.

            You can block whoever you want on social media.

            Generic open access accounts where available for anonymous speech on those networks (iirc).

            Or we could just keep the current system which allows for private access accounts for anonymous speech. Seems like a much better system to me.

            admittedly those would likely degenerate into 8chan like cesspools

            Then we probably shouldn't implement your system then, should we?

            haven't researched this in many years, maybe they've already refined this sort of thing.

            Then perhaps you should do your research first instead of speaking of things that you are obviously not knowledgeable about.

            It's foolish to dismiss anonymous speech by it's potential/propensity for misuse.

            I agree. No one is doing so. 8chan was shutdown because there was no moderation, not because it was anonymous.

            Anonymous speech is certainly very problematic

            Only for those who don't like what is being said.

            but it's an important part of free speech/association

            No one is suggesting otherwise or that it be shut down. The internet is a veritable bastion of anonymous free speech.

            one crucial for academic freedom, and exploration and discussion of controversial ideas/perspective.

            I agree.

            The answer to bad speech is more good speech- as such for bad ideas;

            I agree. That doesn't mean that we can't kick the Nazi out for being an asshole.

            exposure to critique is necessary for people to figure things out;

            One of the ways of critiquing is to say "we'll kick you out of our private property if you say those things here. You're free to say those things on your own time and property, but not ours".

            in some cases that won't happen without access to anonymity

            Yep. Thank goodness the internet is already almost completely anonymous unless you want to be identified.

            Freedom of association requires freedom of lack of association.

            Then why do you want to take that freedom and right away from corporations?

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 7 Aug 2019 @ 9:59am

    why would you want a government led by someone like Trump, who has shown a propensity to ratchet up tensions and hate, deciding what counts as hate speech?

    This is especially important to remember when the right wing goes on and on about antifascists as terrorists, but say next-to-nothing about White supremacists being the main drivers of domestic terrorism (e.g., the mass casualty shooting in El Paso). If Trump and his goons had their way, anyone who criticizes Trump and his goons would be dealing in “hate speech”, while anyone who says the kind of shit Trump says about Mexicans, Black people, women, etc. would be “exercising their free speech rights”.

    Hell, just last night, Tucker Carlson said White supremacy “is a hoax, just like the Russia hoax. It’s a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power.” Imagine someone like him being allowed to define what “hate speech” means — especially since he already has the ear of the current sitting POTUS and could thus influence what Trump would say in that regard.

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

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 7 Aug 2019 @ 11:56am

      Re:

      Once again Stone you are suffering from TDS, a sure sign of mental illness and a red flag. Your account should be suspended for such hateful speech. /s

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      icon
      btr1701 (profile), 7 Aug 2019 @ 9:42pm

      Re:

      Conversely, who would want someone like a potential President Warren or President Sanders deciding what is and isn't 'hate speech'?

      Don't agree with their views on global warming? You're a 'denier' and can be censored and imprisoned.

      Refuse to use made up words to reinforce someone's mental delusion? Hate speech. Censorship and reeducation for you.

      Call someone who jumps the border and illegal alien? Hate speech. Censorship and fines.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 10:25pm

        Re: This is your brain on BRT any questions?

        Warming up the whataboutwarren a bit early today aren’t we? You’re sounding awful paranoid bro. Perhaps infowars.com is more your level of cognitive impairment.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 11:57pm

          Re: Re: This is your brain on BRT any questions?

          Personally I get around the custom word issue by not using pronouns.

          It still boggles the mind that "Yes, let's continue amplifying our pollution and consumerist behavior on the off chance that a majority of scientists might be wrong" and "human rights are an obstacle in our border security regimen that need to fucking die" are the hills that btr1701 wants to die on.

          Is this what it looks like to observe a person turning into a zombie?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2019 @ 12:29am

            Re: Re: Re: This is your brain on BRT any questions?

            I think this is what senile dementia looks looks from an outside perspective. So yeah a zombie.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Aug 2019 @ 5:36am

        You sound like the religious conservatives who said Barack Obama would put Christians in either prison or a FEMA death camp. In case you needed reminding: That didn’t happen even once.

        No one has been jailed or censored by the government for denial of global climate change, being a disrespectful asshole to queer people (and trans people in particular), or imitating Trump’s rhetoric about undocumented immigrants. No one will be. Handwringing over what a left-leaning president might do about “hate speech” (even though their hands would be tied as much as Trump’s are in this regard) is paranoia on an absurd level.

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Aug 2019 @ 10:05am

    One says it's pink, the other says it's purple

    I hate these discussions of what is or isn't hate speech.

    Is that hate speech?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 10:46am

      Re: One says it's pink, the other says it's purple

      Or: what if I think NY is trying to stir up (more) hate for CDA 230?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 11:34am

      Re: One says it's pink, the other says it's purple

      Really hate speech as a term is far too broad to be useful and invites such overreach and abuses. It would probably be better off if made more like hate crimes and explicit in its name why they are more heinous.

      If someone lynches their neighbor over having grass too high they are a vile murderer who should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. If someone lynches someone over their ethnicity they are not only a murderer but also intimidated or attempted to intimidated the entire protected class.

      Now hate speech even in that framework may be restricted to already illegal threats due to the doctrines of what makes a threat outright illegal or not.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 10:09am

    Have to have something to point at and blame, not many can handle the truth that society has always had an outcast.

    The "hate" of today is just a revolution of our evolution

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

  • icon
    JFoxworthy (profile), 7 Aug 2019 @ 10:15am

    The Blame Game

    Is there ANY chance at all that CDA 230 will survive now, since The New York Times has directly blamed the El Paso shooting on the law's existence?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 10:22am

      Re:

      A pretty good one actually. Any law passed repealing/modifying Section 230 is likely to violate the First Amendment and as such would ultimately be struck down by the courts as unconstitutional, thereby reinstating 230 as it stands.

      If they just try to simply excise 230 from the law, I think the blowback on that will make the SOPA/PIPA protests look like child's play.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 4:00pm

      Re: The Blame Game

      Depends on how fast the lawfare starts when everyone starts suing each other over who called who named who after a woman’s infected blue thing first

      DO NOT SEARCH

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 9 Aug 2019 @ 10:07am

      Re: The Blame Game

      The New York Times typically doesn't pass legislation.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 10:47am

    as this seems to be a trend, why not have someone who FULLY UNDERSTANDS section 230, what it can and cant be used for, what can and cant be achieved by using it and under what circumstances? perhaps put a piece yourself into all these papers, Mike? the responses would make great reading as all the idiots tried to throw you and your knowledge of it out the window in order to maintain their totally distorted and downright wrong ideas!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 11:14am

    The Gray Lady has died.

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

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 7 Aug 2019 @ 1:33pm

      She died a long time ago

      The Grey Lady died when she supported the invasion of Iraq and–in an Orwellian fashion–called torture "Enhanced Interrogation".

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Aug 2019 @ 12:23pm

    'Destroy that bridge!' '... that we're standing on?' 'Uh...'

    So eager to jump on the 'rag on 230' hype train that they ended up ragging on the very thing that allows them to survive without being sued into the ground any time they post something someone with enough money/power to sue doesn't like.

    No really, by all means continue to undercut and attack the first amendment, I'm sure that will go great for you...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 12:38pm

    Well! I never knew!

    An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the law that protects hate speech on the internet. The First Amendment, not Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, protects it.

    And here I was sure that the First Amendment was a part of the constitution, not a law.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 12:51pm

      Re:

      The Constitution is an overarching set of laws so, yes, it is a law. All other laws in the US are subject to the Constitution but by definition the Constitution is still a collection of laws, of which the First Amendment is a part.

      In case this was a grammatical comment, note that the commas encapsulate the phrase "not Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act", and hence you can read the sentence thusly: "The First Amendment protects it, not Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act".

      If the comma came right after "not Section 230", then it could be read as implying the First Amendment was part of the Communications Decency Act, like so: "The First Amendment of the Communications Decency Act protects it, not Section 230". Since the comma comes after it, that's not how it would be read, though, and would instead be correctly read as referring to the First Amendment of the Constitution.

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

    • icon
      btr1701 (profile), 7 Aug 2019 @ 9:44pm

      Re: Well! I never knew!

      And here I was sure that the First Amendment was a part of the constitution, not a law.

      The Constitution is a law-- the supreme law of the United States.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 4:11pm

    Reverse

    You could get rid of the New York times reporting and offense mistakes just by taking away its first amendment immunity

    Whoops.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 6:44pm

    It sure is pleasant when reading an article about section 230 and see that the regular (and non-regular) trolls haven't been shit posting all over the comments sections.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2019 @ 6:48pm

      Re:

      Oh, give them time.

      You don't seriously think the local Trump activists aren't already frantically typing their fevered responses?

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

  • icon
    btr1701 (profile), 7 Aug 2019 @ 9:36pm

    Third, should there be a global standard and global enforcement?

    Not sure how that would even work. No global or U.N.-style body has the right to limit the free speech and 1st Amendment rights of American citizens. No extra-territorial ruling is superior to the U.S. Constitution in America.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2019 @ 9:32am

    Sectino 230 "IS THE DEVIL"....

    Mama says Section 230 "is the devil", mama always right, if mama says, then it's right.

    Now where do I collect my 2 bits of silver?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2019 @ 9:52am

    Anti-hate speech on the internet is a never ending solution...

    So if hate speech on the internet is a never ending problem, then I would say anti-hate speech on the internet is a never ending solution...

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

    • icon
      Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 9 Aug 2019 @ 5:12am

      Re: Anti-hate speech on the internet is a never ending solution.

      Assuming there's enough of it to counter the hate speech. In theory, your "solution" is simple and works perfectly. In practice, not so much.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.