Be Careful What You Wish For In Asking Silicon Valley To Police Speech Online

from the why-would-you? dept

We live in a weird moment right now where any piece -- no matter how misleading or unhinged -- seems to be able to find a publication place so long as it blames basically everything on the big internet companies and demands that they do more (or sometimes less) to stop bad stuff from happening online. There are still a few brave souls out there pointing out how problematic all of this might be, and thankfully the EFF's executive director, Cindy Cohn, has taken to the pages of Wired to explain why asking the internet to stifle speech online could backfire in a really big way. She notes that it's a reasonable emotional reaction to mass murdering assholes posting screeds on 8chan to seek to shut the site down entirely, but that comes with serious costs as well.

The hope—for some it may be a belief—is that eliminating online speech forums will help prevent future violence. This is understandable. Everyone wants to live in a country where they are safe in their local stores, at festivals, and in other public places. The vile ideas driving shooters whose actions have caused unspeakable pain and loss are in plain view on 8chan, and the thought that we could just make them go away has strong appeal.

But this is also a critical moment to look closely at what is being proposed and pay attention to the potential consequences for us all. We all rely on our internet communities for connection, information, and organizing against violence. The same mechanisms used to eliminate online forums hosting objectionable speech are all too often used to silence marginalized voices of people who have important things to say, including those drawing attention to hate and misogyny. Rules prohibiting violence have already taken down Syrian YouTube channels documenting human rights violations, while Facebook discussions by black Americans about racism they have experienced have been removed as hate speech.

She then discusses the two key tools that people have proposed for dealing with such speech online: deplatforming and increasing liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Both would have significant costs.

After the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood in Texas, we saw calls to ban forums where Muslims gathered to speak. We’ve seen hate speech prohibitions in companies’ terms of service used to silence conversations among women of color about their experiences being harassed. We’ve seen regulations on violent content result in the erasure of vital documentation of human rights abuses in Egypt and Kashmir, and domestic law enforcement brutality here in the United States. We’ve seen efforts to convince upstream providers to block information about problems with electronic voting machines and actions to protect the environment.

Both strategies also assume that we want to double down on the idea that representatives from private companies—generally underpaid and traumatized content moderation contractors, but also the creators of unmoderated forums like 8chan—should be the primary deciders about what gets to be on the internet. They also assume that there is global agreement about what should be allowed and what should be banned.

Indeed, the very fact that increasing liability under 230 might contradict efforts to deplatform individuals is something that is never discussed by those who support these moves. I know it's no fun to be pointing out that the "easy" solutions people say will solve everything aren't easy and won't solve much at all, but kudos to Cindy for doing so.

Filed Under: cindy cohn, content moderation, deplatforming, free speech, regulations, section 230


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 4:25am

    Your objections have nothing to do with helping society, and everything to do with continuing your abusive practices of silencing voices you don’t like, while simultaneously promoting voices (usually fake voices) that you do like. It is so obvious that you have no interest in anything but your own opinions.

    You are simply looking out for number one, but you are too dishonest to say it outright. You make your living by promoting the views of the tiny minority, such as your “queer” audience (including Stephen T. Stone) while silencing the views of the hard working, law abiding, heterosexual majority that just want to live their lives without being forced to listen to queers, trans and hetero-phobic assholes spew their shit about the greatest country in the history of the world - America. Love it or leave it. That includes you.

    Go ahead, silence my voice (hide my post), and make my point for me. I enjoy it every time. :) Everyone knows that all the interesting opinions (not from the Techdirt-mob) are in the hidden comments.

    MAGA

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    • icon
      Gary (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 5:15am

      Re:

      MAGA

      Make America White Again!!

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

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 5:47am

      Re:

      You certainty get the concept correct.

      Too bad there are nut cases here who can not face the fact that what they are spreading is as much hate as the libtarts spread.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 6:03am

      silencing the views of the hard working, law abiding, heterosexual majority that just want to live their lives without being forced to listen to queers, trans and hetero-phobic assholes spew their shit about the greatest country in the history of the world

      Ah, yes, America — the same country…

      …among other ways governments at every level of American society, as well as heteronormative American society itself, keeps trying to marginalize LGBT people and drive them to either complete social isolation or suicide.

      As an American, the most patriotic thing I can do is criticize my country. If something is wrong, it should be set right. Its treatment of LGBT people is one of those somethings.

      Oh, and one more thing:

      Everyone knows that all the interesting opinions (not from the Techdirt-mob) are in the hidden comments.

      The only people who would find this particular opinion of yours interesting are the same kind of people who would want me either dead or in jail for being openly queer.

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      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 6:37am

        Re:

        Those people who want you either dead or in jail for being openly queer live only in your imagination, or in some Muslim country,not America. You never met one that is American and you never will. You’re just a fucking whiny little queer protesting about things that have never happened to you and will never happen to you. You’re an imaginary victim, and little else.

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        • identicon
          TFG, 14 Aug 2019 @ 7:07am

          Re: Re:

          Congratulations, he's just met one. It's you. Well done being the example that disproves your assertion.

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          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 7:19am

            Re: Re: Re:

            Hey, are you Fredo Cuomo? I just bought his T-Shirt on the Trump web site mocking him. You sure sound like him.

            I see your imagination is even more active than Queer Stephen’s. Imagine imagine imagine. Your reality exists only for you, and has not a thing to do with me.

            Wait, are you from the EFF? That explains a lot.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 7:25am

              Queer Stephen

              Hey!

              “Queer” is an adjective, not a title or honorific. For God’s sake, pick up the AP stylebook.

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              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 7:47am

                Re:

                You’re joking, right? Queer is a major honorific in the queer Democratic Socialist Party. It’s a protected class, by your own exclamation, hundreds of times. There is no higher title than Queer in your twisted society, except maybe Trans.

                Why don’t you go establish your own Queer nation, that would be good.Then we wouldn’t have to listen to your phony pony bullshit.

                Wait, are you actually Jessie Smollett? He’s a queer fucking liar that lives in his imagination just like you, right? But if I understand everything, he really is on his way to jail. Not for being queer, of course, nobody gives a shit about that. But for lying about being persecuted, just like you.

                Or are you a Smollett denier?

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 7:57am

                  You’re joking, right?

                  No more than you are, Hamilton.

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                  • identicon
                    TFG, 14 Aug 2019 @ 9:26am

                    Re:

                    You never met one that is American and you never will.

                    It occurs that, for Hamilton not to disprove his own statement, he would have to not be American.

                    If only we could assume he's from Outer Space. Plan 9, perhaps. Alas.

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

                      Re: Re:

                      send him back!

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                    • icon
                      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Aug 2019 @ 4:00am

                      Re: Re:

                      "It occurs that, for Hamilton not to disprove his own statement, he would have to not be American."

                      No, he'll be the first to tell you that just because his arguments are dripping with invectives and very consistently marginalizing Stephen while chanting "queer, queer, queer" again and again...
                      ...He's not really a homophobe or bigot. He just has this nasty habit of inserting random words in his demonizing rants and those words just happen to be "queer" and "trans" right then.

                      /s

                      "If only we could assume he's from Outer Space."

                      I think I'd prefer to believe anyone with the capacity for interstellar travel would possess basic logical ability.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 7:23am

          As it pertains to the “in jail” bit, I can counter that argument with one name: Roy Moore.

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          • icon
            Toom1275 (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 9:48am

            Re:

            Fun trivia: The only false accusation against Moore came from the right-wing's falsehood factory.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 10:31am

              In a microscopic bit of fairness to Moore, every other individual claim was credible enough to believe (especially when considered alongside the other claims), but lacked the evidence to prove them true. That said: While knowing something and proving something are two different things in a court of law, that standard doesn’t matter outside the legal system.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 12:47pm

          Re: Re:

          How’s the weather in the closet today bro?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 6:55am

        Re:

        Don't feed the troll.

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

        • identicon
          Annonymouse, 14 Aug 2019 @ 8:29am

          Re: Re:

          I counter that and assert that you should feed the troll .... to squirrels ... they do like nuts after all.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 12:49pm

            Re: He really packs em in

            Therefore crybaby bitch hamilton is a squirrel because he can’t get the nuts in his mouth fast enough.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 7:08am

      Re:

      everything to do with continuing your abusive practices of silencing voices you don’t like

      Um, that's literally the opposite of what he said in the article. It's also what would actually happen if 230 protections were removed.

      silencing the views of the hard working, law abiding, heterosexual majority

      Everyone else is not "hard working" or "law abiding"? You got proof of that or are you just being a bigot? You also need to provide some proof that said people's views are being silenced. If, as you say, they are the majority, it seems odd then that they happen to be the majority users on social media.

      that just want to live their lives without being forced to listen to queers, trans and hetero-phobic assholes spew their shit

      No one is forcing you to listen to them. Also, this statement is the definition of being a bigot and an asshole. So, nice own goal?

      about the greatest country in the history of the world - America. Love it or leave it. That includes you.

      And the bigotry continues. Not to mention the fact that America's Constitution and laws specifically accepts and welcomes all those people you hate, as well as protects and welcomes any speech that is dumping on America. It's called the First Amendment. You may have heard of it.

      Go ahead, silence my voice (hide my post), and make my point for me. I enjoy it every time.

      And we enjoy flagging it, every time.

      Everyone knows that all the interesting opinions (not from the Techdirt-mob) are in the hidden comments.

      That's an interesting universe with a population of one that you live in.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 9:26am

      Re:

      Shiva Ayyadurai didn't invent email.

      Suck it!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 9:51am

      Re:

      without being forced to listen to queers, trans and hetero-phobic assholes spew their shit about the greatest country in the history of the world

      But you expect everybody to be forced to listen to you spew your shit? Quite telling about how fucked up your way of thinking is.

      Go ahead, silence my voice (hide my post), and make my point for me.

      Hmmm... We are essentially agreeing with you to the extent that we don't want to be forced to listen to bullshit, so the post gets hidden. I bet that is what you would like to see happen to posts from "trans and hetero-phobic assholes".

      I mean it's crazy that you can't see through your own stupidity. You want to force everybody else to listen to your bullshit, but you don't want to be forced to listen to anybody you don't like. Talk about fucking idiocy.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 9:30pm

        Re: Re:

        I mean it's crazy that you can't see through your own stupidity. You want to force everybody else to listen to your bullshit, but you don't want to be forced to listen to anybody you don't like. Talk about fucking idiocy.

        It's not stupidity or idiocy but bigoted hypocrisy, which is notably worse and more contemptible than mere stupidity.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 12:46pm

      Re: That’s Sir Crybaby Bitch Hamilton to you

      Sup bro. Really earning your nickname today.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 4:25am

    Go Cindy/EFF

    Thanks for highlighting the article, Mike.

    It ends beautifully. And, you need to recall that Cindy is a civil rights (on-line) lawyer and thus speaks calmly when others may speak more forcefully:

    Deplatforming and eliminating Section 230 both satisfy a craving to do something, to hold someone or something responsible. But make no mistake: Both carry great risks if we want the internet to remain a place where powerful entities cannot easily silence their less powerful critics.

    This is supported by another wonderful point:

    In our 30 years of helping people make their voices heard online at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we have seen how censorship reinforces power far more than it protects the powerless.

    We can only hope that more people listen to her expert opinion.

    It reminds me a little of Barbarra Lee's congressional speech post 9/11 in which she calls for calm to guard against over-reaction.

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 4:39am

      Re: Go Cindy/EFF

      I sincerely would like to understand what you say saying, perhaps you could consider my question: You say that you are working so that “powerful entities cannot easily silence the voices of their less powerful critics”.

      I don’t believe that anyone would argue that Mike has the most powerful voice on Techdirt. He has the ability to silence or not silence or block or not block any voice at all. He has silenced my voice (a lot).

      Why is it that you are OK with him silencing voices? Who do you think should have the power to silence? Mike and no others? Who exactly?

      Sincere question - what do you stand for? Just for your like-minded friends?

      Or are you just another Charlatan, like Mike? Is the EFF just another totalitarian enterprise that loves only the sound of their own voice, like Techdirt?

      Or do you actually stand for something, other than yourself and your personal views? Any morals? Any principles? Can you share them?

      Or is it all just a sham?

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      • icon
        Gary (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 5:27am

        Re: Re: Go Cindy/EFF

        Or is it all just a sham?

        Yes, your opinions are a sham and you are a twat.
        Section 230 protects free speech, and Mike's article is about Not forcing tech to police our opinions.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 5:38am

        Re: Re: Go Cindy/EFF

        There is a difference between allowing sites to moderate content as they see fit, and forcing sites to moderate content in a particular way. While you cannot see that difference you will feel like you are being censored, otherwise you would find platforms that accept the sort of speech you want to make.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 6:54am

          Re: Re: Re: Go Cindy/EFF

          That argument holds a lot more water when those platforms don't get shut down by others such as banks and payment processors. Which is to say your argument holds no water at all.

          We tried building new platforms. Those platforms which still survive are under constant attack via DDOS, financial deplatforming, and smear campaigns.

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 8:03am

            We tried building new platforms. Those platforms which still survive are under constant attack via DDOS, financial deplatforming, and smear campaigns.

            Gee, it’s almost as if those platforms are associated with heinous and socially unacceptable speech, and the “financial deplatforming” (among other things) is a consequence of that association~.

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            • identicon
              Robert Beckman, 14 Aug 2019 @ 8:26am

              Re: Financial Deplatforming

              The financial deplatforming is much broader than merely heinous speech, but is at least partially done by proxy governmental actors.

              Many (most? All of the big ones at least) are chartered in New York, which has told those financial institutions to sever ties with organizations the regulator disapproves of, by sending letters that amount to “nice bank you’ve got here, it’s be a pity if someone over regulated it.” Today, it’s the NRA. A few years ago it was also porn actresses (during the Obama administration, so it’s not just republican puritans).

              Most people here seem to understand the difference between government censorship and private disassociation, but when the government prompts it I think that’s clearly over the censorship line.

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            • icon
              Mike Masnick (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 12:02pm

              Re:

              Gee, it’s almost as if those platforms are associated with heinous and socially unacceptable speech, and the “financial deplatforming” (among other things) is a consequence of that association~.

              To be clear, I am much more worried about such "financial" deplatformings, especially given the limited number of services available for financial services. After all, a few decades ago, some would argue that "socially unacceptable speech" applied to those supporting civil rights for minorities and LGBTQ folks...

              I'm all for sites being free to make their own decisions on what content to host or not host. But for lower layer infrastructure players (security, payments, DNS, etc.) it gets a lot trickier a lot faster. And while I agree that there are legitimate concerns about what allows for hate-spewing/inducing websites to thrive... be careful what you wish for, because it can easily come back to bite people as well.

              And that's what this article was about in particular -- contrary to the troll above's usual dishonest nonsense about how i'm in favor of censorship.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 5:59pm

            Re: It’s not “deplatformimg” it’s a “business opportun

            Build a new payment processor. I fought you guys were all about the free market.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2019 @ 8:18am

              Re: Re: It’s not “deplatformimg” it’s a “business oppo

              Yeah, one problem with that: there's a fair bit of cartelishness in the payment processing world. You see, payment processors can't work on an island: they have to be able to talk to other payment processors (interbank networks) in order to reach your card's issuing bank from the merchant's bank (the acquirer), and if the interbank networks won't talk to you...well, that's a bit of a pickle now, isn't it?

              Filed under: imagine what would happen if you were an ISP and the feds were running a pressure campaign against anyone who dared peer with you...

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 6:06am

        He has silenced my voice (a lot).

        No, he hasn’t. You’re free to spew your dumb bullshit literally anywhere else on the Internet. We’re free to ignore your dumb bullshit unless we click a single link to view it (typically for either a laugh or a rebuttal of your ignorance). Believing that having your comments hidden is the same thing as being silenced is the same thing as believing a paper cut on your index finger is the same thing as having your femoral artery stabbed deep enough to cause severe bleeding.

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      • identicon
        TFG, 14 Aug 2019 @ 6:19am

        Re: Re: Go Cindy/EFF

        He has silenced my voice (a lot).

        Nah, bro. That's me, clicking the flag. Like I did just now.

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      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Aug 2019 @ 4:04am

        Re: Re: Go Cindy/EFF

        "Sincere question - what do you stand for? Just for your like-minded friends?"

        As opposed to standing for racists and bigots?

        I think the answer to that question becomes obvious once we consider that you seem to believe that refusing to tolerate racism and bigotry is bigotry in itself.

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      • icon
        Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 15 Aug 2019 @ 5:35am

        Re: Re: Go Cindy/EFF

        AC, pay close and careful attention:

        That red button at the end of the coloured bar at the top of every post is called the "Report" button.

        Okay? This is important because the point of the button is to record the fact that we don't like your post. It doesn't belong here. We don't want to see it. Therefore we click it to report your post as undesirable.

        I understand that if at least five people click that button, your post is hidden behind a grey line of text that indicates it is there. This line explicitly says, "This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it."

        It's the community, i.e. the readers like myself, who click the button. We hid your troll posts, okay? Now stop whining about it and push off.

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        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Aug 2019 @ 4:59am

          Re: Re: Re: Go Cindy/EFF

          "It's the community, i.e. the readers like myself, who click the button. We hid your troll posts, okay? Now stop whining about it and push off."

          Yes, but Wendy, bear in mind that you, I, Stephen, and any other poster around here is just a badly paid sock puppet master working for the "liberal censorship machine" of the american political left wing. So obviously we're part of the censorship machine oppressing those poor Prophets Of Unvarnished Truth who are suffering all the pains of hell now that we're not allowing them to spew racist epithets all over other people's forums.
          When we click that "flag" button we oppress those poor people who would so very much like to share their "creative" word walls around why certain minorities are lesser beings. /s

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    icon
    Zof (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 5:29am

    Literally nobody asked them

    Google decided to start manipulating us on their own.

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    • icon
      Gary (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 6:28am

      Re: Literally nobody proves this

      Citation needed! Has Google been manipulating you into posting this Zof?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 6:48am

        Re: Re: Literally nobody proves this

        Yes, they did!

        How, you may ask? Because aluminum foil just does not provide the same protection as tin.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 7:17am

      Re:

      You're right! It wasn't until Google came into existence that people started attacking Google and thinking they were out to get them. We should absolutely stand up to Google and tell them to stop manipulating people and making them attack Google.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 12:54pm

      Re: Literally nobody asked your dumbass opinion

      And yet here you are

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  • icon
    JdL (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 8:00am

    This is not difficult

    Let any organization that wants to allow anything be posted, do so. Words are words, and everybody knows, or certainly should know, the difference between words and blows.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 8:01am

      Let any organization that wants to allow anything be posted, do so.

      8chan does that. Look at what a shithole that place is.

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      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Aug 2019 @ 5:43am

        Re:

        "8chan does that. Look at what a shithole that place is."

        Free speech is a bit like nature. The finest flowers grow out of a mountain of decomposed shit.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2019 @ 11:17am

          Re: Re:

          I would imagine that most prize-winning flowers are grown in carefully curated environments, where everything from the soil to the air to the light the flowers are exposed to are under complete control, and any weeds found in the soil are eliminated with extreme prejudice.

          So, while some decomposed shit might be involved, the "environment that grows the finest flowers," in terms of free speech, would probably be more closely resemble a highly-structured, well-monitored publication like an academic journal than anything like 8chan.

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          • icon
            Toom1275 (profile), 15 Aug 2019 @ 7:43pm

            Re: Re: Re:

            Flowers tend not to do so well when trampled under Nazis' jackboots.

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          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Aug 2019 @ 5:05am

            Re: Re: Re:

            "I would imagine that most prize-winning flowers are grown in carefully curated environments, where everything from the soil to the air to the light the flowers are exposed to are under complete control, and any weeds found in the soil are eliminated with extreme prejudice."

            Prize-winning hothouse flowers, certainly.

            Original ideas don't emerge from controlled environments. They emerge from the conflict between ideals and part of that process is that there needs to be a part where bad and hideous ideas are rejected by the majority.

            The 8chan crowd are free to say whatever they like. elsewhere.
            That's how it should be. If they come here and try to insert some inhumane and hateful agenda I, for one, casually peruse, click the "flag" button, and continue in the debate warned that THAT view is still out there and needs to be opposed.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Aug 2019 @ 4:39pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Okay, are you just ditching the flower analogy? Because you don't actually go into a counterexample of where the "finest flowers" wouldn't grow in curation.

              Original ideas don't emerge from controlled environments. They emerge from the conflict between ideals and part of that process is that there needs to be a part where bad and hideous ideas are rejected by the majority.

              I agree that people need to be taught that these ideals exist, and how to critically evaluate them (which, as they range from fucking stupid to batshit insane, will lead to their rejection). I don't agree that people should be granted an unlimited license to spread those ideas, because, as an array of mass shootings shows, people aren't all that good at critically evaluating these ideas.

              Whatever few "original ideas" might emerge from the conflict between Naziism and rational thought are not worth the lives of the people being massacred by Nazis.

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              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 19 Aug 2019 @ 5:09am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Whatever few "original ideas" might emerge from the conflict between Naziism and rational thought are not worth the lives of the people being massacred by Nazis."

                Where nazism is concerned I'd say that not much is worth saving from stale millenialism, no matter in which guise that meme's propagated again.

                What the conflict between rational thought and nazism is good for is that it keeps the majority alerted and aware that the monster isn't dead yet. The price of liberty IS eternal vigilance. And you can't be cautious of that which you are not aware exists.

                In Sweden a bit more than 20 years ago we had the neo-nazis marching around and continually making waves. Despite repeated attempts they never made it into ANY form of political representation. Then we banned hate speech and most of their paraphernalia...and today the third largest political party in sweden is fixated around the concept of an all-white sweden which should ideally evict anyone without the "proper" genetics. While pseudomilitant zealots march under banners very carefully designed NOT to be swastikas while chanting slogans CAREFULLY avoiding the obviously banned terms.

                And synagogues are suffering a rash of vandalism and violent incidents again.

                Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind!

                The flower growing from the conflict between obviously malign ideology such as nazism and rationality is nothing less than the fact that the public will not be free to forget that these monsters still exist.

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 8:29am

      Re: This is not difficult

      Let any organization that wants to allow anything be posted, do so.

      We...already do that. Any organization that wants to allow anything to be posted is free to do so. Any organization that doesn't also has the freedom not to.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 9:33pm

      Can't stifle any speech after all

      Just wondering, but do you happen to practice what you preach and use an email service that doesn't have a spam filter(or turn off the filter if they have one), or does that standard of 'let everything through for the users to decide on' only apply to others?

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Matthew A. Sawtell, 14 Aug 2019 @ 8:08am

    As one that has 'fun' with fine folks with SARFT in P.R. China..

    ... it has amused me to no end the amount of contortion that Mike and the rest of the Techdirt folks have gotten themselves into since the 2016 U.S. Elections and leading into 2020. The ability to spout 'rules for thee, but not for me' because of <insert protected class here> or 'Think of Children' does rival some of the best work the '50 Cent Army' has ever produced. If anything, Mike and the company should be able to find good work as political groups become more naked in their ambitions for the U.S. and beyond.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 6:04pm

      Re: Are you getting paid to post or are you stupid for free?

      Well that was quite a nice little fact free rant from someone who’s website has a grand total of three links.

      One of which is broken.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 10:26am

    That thing were webpages went black to stop other stupid laws, but focused on the IP's for government.
    They can't see the trees for the forest, so sometimes you need to serve them exactly what will happen if they get their way.

    Instead of trying to 'ZOMG DO SOMETHING!!!' about madeup problems by passing the buck, how about they attempt to do something correctly & well thought out?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 11:39am

    Out of sight, out of mind

    Censorship is fundamentally designed to brush problems under the rug, not to solve them.

    As such, some of the proponents of this would inevitably see the deletion of evidence for and discussion of whatever topics they don't like as an intended feature, not a "backlash."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 5:01pm

    I have seen the damage rogue activist employees for Github (pre-Microsoft-buyout) can do to intimidate and punish people who don't listen to activists. I am not thrilled with the prospect of institutionalizing this (or with further gentrifying social media spaces to be more advertiser friendly).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 5:06pm

    I tend to agree. More than a minimal level of discretionary takedown of content based on interpretations of necessarily imprecise policies will always be politicised and will never be trustworthy or widely viewed as fair.

    It is slightly off-track, but I am far more concerned that Facebook etc. is used to opaquely push precision targeted disinformation to uninformed voters in marginal electorates to alter electoral outcomes.

    This generally involves appealing to people’s worst instincts, resulting in a cumulative cultural poisoning as well as potentially getting the worst, most cynical governments re-elected, entrenching social and cultural problems further.

    I don’t think that censorship is the answer to that. Banning the targeted advertising business model is.

    A bonus may be that less psycho trolls are created through large scale propaganda campaigns that appeal to racism and other BS identity issues to manipulate idiots into voting against their own interests.

    Self-regulation certainly isn't working:

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/14/facebook-could-tackle-fake-news-but- chooses-not-to-regulator-says

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 9:38pm

      A 'cure' worse than the disease

      I don’t think that censorship is the answer to that. Banning the targeted advertising business model is.

      Nice idea in general, but here's the problem with taking the legislative angle on that: If you introduce regulations forcing companies to take down/block 'disinformation' who gets to define what that is? Who do you trust to set that definition, keeping in mind that just because you may agree with the current people who would be in charge of that there's no guarantee that someone who you very much don't agree with won't get the job just a few years down the line.

      As problematic as it is for platforms to not do a 'good enough' job combating such content, how much worse would it be for the government to decide what is and is not 'true' and therefore allowed?

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Aug 2019 @ 11:09pm

        FYI: Replace “disinformation” with “hate speech” and your argument still works.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2019 @ 11:50pm

        Re: A 'cure' worse than the disease

        You misunderstood. I suggested banning all targeted advertising, not just the election hacking stuff.

        Yes, I know you can problematise it, but the problems are not nearly as serious as with censoring “antisocial” content or whatever.

        Plus, it would spike the main incentive corporations have for harvesting and selling our personal data.

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

        • icon
          cattress (profile), 15 Aug 2019 @ 2:40am

          Re: Re: A 'cure' worse than the disease

          What about mailing lists? And "rewards" cards (cards that offer me discounts on products based on my shopping history)? I think this is more throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Targeted advertising can be used for good every bit as much and more than evil. We just need more control and transparency in what information is collected, how it's collected, and who can access that info.
          We know that Russian efforts to disrupt our election were varied and widespread, but we have no concrete proof how much they actually influenced anyone. We really can't prove with certainty what outside factors influenced people and to what degree. But nobody was brainwashed into becoming racist in one election cycle; that was always there.
          Certainly we can and should encourage digital literacy, educate people on how to vet sources- especially those older folks that are more susceptible to fake news. We need to put our focus on getting people the tools to craft their online experience how they see fit, and less on demanding big tech shape everyone's experience the same way, which will never be universally agreed on.

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

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Aug 2019 @ 6:02am

            Re: Re: Re: A 'cure' worse than the disease

            "What about mailing lists?"

            No good. Those, according to Baghdad Bob on this board, just get stolen by pirates and then used to finance a thousand shady enterprises with. /s

            Less in jest though, there's an issue with mailing lists in general. Making an online purchase should not, by default, mean you then get spammed by a dozen sources eagerly inviting your business. Among which you'll find a viagra peddler and that nigerian prince simply because most such lists eventually leak to people you never wanted to have your name or email address.

            "And "rewards" cards (cards that offer me discounts on products based on my shopping history)?"

            Something not accomplished by the age-old discount coupon, you mean? Given the consumer metadata you need to collect we're back at the old debate on why tracking cookies were abused to the point where most browsers today specifically offer the option to disallow them. Often by default.

            " I think this is more throwing the baby out with the bathwater."

            There is no baby in the bathwater of consumer metadata. Not for the consumer, at least.
            The only thing we have in that bathwater is a massive intrusion into consumer privacy. Many consumers will no doubt be fine with that. Quite a lot won't. The bathwater can be thrown out without anything vital following it.

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

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Aug 2019 @ 5:48am

        Re: A 'cure' worse than the disease

        "If you introduce regulations forcing companies to take down/block 'disinformation' who gets to define what that is?"

        To be fair, though, banning a targeted advertising business model isn't what you say there - although I can see quite a few issues with how to go about banning political or corporate entities from using consumer data for targeting. GDPR illustrates what a shit-show legislation just preventing data collection can cause...

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


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