Arizona Legislator Wants To Strip Platforms Of Section 230 Immunity If They're 'Politically Biased'

from the good-luck-with-that-[stares-at-bio]-'Constitutional-Legislator' dept

Another bill containing some bad ideas is being floated in the Arizona legislature. Rep. Bob Thorpe thinks social media companies are biased against conservatives and feels the best way to address this is to steamroll the Constitution and Section 230. (via Eric Goldman)

Thorpe's bill [PDF] says it will turn platforms into publishers at the drop of a bias accusation:

Specifies a person who allows online users to upload publicly accessible content on the internet and who edits, deletes or makes it difficult for online users to locate and access the uploaded content in an easy or timely manner for politically biased reasons is:

a) Deemed to be a publisher;

b) Deemed to not be a platform; and

c) Liable for damages suffered by an online user because of the person's actions, including damage for violations of rights guaranteed to the online user by the Federal or State Constitutions.

To be clear, there are no enshrined rights guaranteeing unimpeded use of private companies' platforms or access to "uploaded content." Writing a bill that proclaims there are doesn't make the false assertion any more true. If platforms are perceived to be engaging in politically-motivated moderation, the bill allows the affected user (or state Attorney General) to engage in litigation that's doomed to fail.

For someone so concerned about walled gardens of the political variety, Rep. Thorpe doesn't seem all that interested in practicing what he's preaching to his voter base. Thorpe's Twitter account is protected, which means most constituents don't have access to it and it allows him to pick and choose who gets to see his tweets.

This is only Thorpe's latest attempt to adversely affect protections and rights while claiming to be very concerned about rights violations. Journalists and activists have already pointed out Thorpe's tendency to block critics, all while claiming his account (@azrepbobthorpe) is for personal use, rather than for his legislative work. His bio points claims he's a "Christian Constitutional Legislator," but his account is an ongoing Constitutional violation.

In 2017, he introduced a bill that would violate First Amendment under the theory it would somehow make public universities more protective of the rights he's undermining. Thorpe has a problem with any "divisive" speech -- especially the kind that might come from teachers and professors who might -- as the bill put it -- "promote division, resentment or social justice toward a race, gender, religion, political affiliation, social class or other class of people." As Fire noted then, Thorpe's proposed government interference in classroom instruction would only harm the First Amendment, not save it.

Prohibiting instructors from teaching particular perspectives or topics is precisely the kind of content- and viewpoint-based restriction forbidden under the First Amendment. This does not change even if someone on campus might deem those perspectives or topics likely “to promote social justice, division, or resentment.” In practice, this legislation would confer unfettered discretion on campus administrators to shut down discussion on nearly any subject.

During the next legislative session, Bob Thorpe proposed another free speech-threatening bill that suggested free-market capitalism should be shielded from criticism.

This week, Arizona Rep. Bob Thorpe (R – Flagstaff) introduced a bill that would designate "American free-market capitalism" the state's official "political-economic system", and declares the legislature's intent "that taxpayer dollars not be used to promote or to provide material support for any political-economic system that opposes the principles of free-market capitalism."

Thorpe thinks he's a free speech warrior. But all he does is try to erect content-based restrictions on speech -- the kind of thing no court has been sympathetic to. As Reason noted, the bill was stupid political point-scoring bullshit that had zero chance of surviving even the most cursory Constitutional glance..

For starters, the bill contains a naked content-based restriction on the use of taxpayer dollars to promote something other than "free-market capitalism". From what activities Thorpe would want to yank state support is not entirely clear; his bill says only that it would include the promotion of "socialism, communism, and fascism."

Over at the Phoenix New Times, Antonia Noori Farzan notes that "taken to an extreme, it could potentially mean that state universities would be banned from providing any resources to campus chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America." Depending on your definition of free-market, the bill could be used to deny resources to college Democrat and Republican chapters too.

The good times roll on. Bob Thorpe is finally winding down his state house career, exiting his unstoried seven-term career with another stupid bill that ignores the Constitution in favor of allowing people who don't understand Section 230 or the First Amendment feel like their grievances are being redressed.

Filed Under: 1st amendment, arizona, bias, bob thorpe, cda 230, free speech, intermediary liability, platform, publisher, section 230


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  1. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 8:29am

    Conflating conflation for the purpose of obfuscation

    ""American free-market capitalism" the state's official "political-economic system""

    Is he talking about money in politics? Afraid that something might negatively impact his political funding ATM?

    ..."Rep. Bob Thorpe thinks social media companies are biased against conservatives..."

    Just how is he going to 1) differentiate between sort of conservative, almost conservative, far right conservative, and bat shit crazy beyond the horizon conservative? Then, 2) prove that some platform took some action because of that and not for other reasons?

    The double standard he proposes (he claims that conservative voices are being blocked by platforms, yet he is the one blocking his own conservative voice on Twitter) is most certainly blatant. Try as I might, I cannot visualize the spaghetti noodle mass of conflicting thought processes that brings him to the conclusion that this is OK.

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

  2. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 9:48am

    Question - Don't most political positions make them swear to uphold the constitution??

    Why can't someone just sue them when they do stuff as being unfit for office. This clearly on its face runs afoul of the Constitution, 1st Amendment, and shit tons of settled legal doctrine.
    Hes obviously not fit to serve if he wastes the tax payers time & money on pushing for something that will never happen.

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

  3. icon
    Thad (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 9:51am

    Re:

    Why can't someone just sue them when they do stuff as being unfit for office.

    If you think our civil courts are overrun with frivolous lawsuits now...

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

  4. icon
    Thad (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 9:54am

    R – Flagstaff

    I was wondering how somebody like this could get elected in Flagstaff (one of the most liberal parts of the state and home to my alma mater, Northern Arizona University). Turns out district 6 occupies a way bigger area than just Flagstaff.

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

  5. icon
    wshuff (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 9:56am

    A Republican who wants to outlaw speech about social justice. I’m stunned.

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

  6. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 9:57am

    Arizona Legislator Wants To Strip Platforms Of Section 230 Immunity If They're 'Politically Biased'

    aka 'unbiased'

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

  7. identicon
    Damien, 12 Feb 2020 @ 9:58am

    OK, so I'm usually well versed in US state and federal jurisdiction and law, but how exactly does a state level politician even have grounds for enacting laws like the proposed ones here? Last I checked, states don't have the authority to rescind or alter federal law like he seems to think he does.

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

  8. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:02am

    "Turns platform into publishers"

    Isn't all this idiot's bill's bullshit pre-empted by CDA 230, though?

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

  9. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Zof (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:06am

    So, punishing social networks for limiting free speech...

    limits free speech. That's some amazing bullshit you wrote up there.

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

  10. icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:06am

    Thrope has tried to ban university professors from making statements that might, as presented in the article,

    "promote division, resentment or social justice toward a race, gender, religion, political affiliation, social class or other class of people."
    He also claims a social media bias against conservatives exists. Notably, most evidence presented by people who argue there exists a social media bias against conservatives involves individuals who "promote division [or] resentment...toward a race, gender, [or] religion...". Feels strange that a university professor could not discuss it, but any high school dropout can.

    Does that content not impact economic decisions? Can anyone ever prove such a moderation decision was entirely political without any economic considerations? Even someone like Youtuber Steve Shives, who has gone on long rants about how those who disagree with his progressive views can fuck off, that he doesn't want views or money from racists or mysoginists or Nazis and he will ban them and delete their comments....are those only cynical political calculations that his political viewpoint and brand need him to reject these individuals regardless of financial impact or are they genuinely held moral beliefs that are not politically motivated? Based on the Hobby Lobby decision, it would seem the SCOTUS has ruled that it is not for courts to decide the legitimacy of closely held personal beliefs. I see no way to enforce a liability shifting based on "Politically-Motivated Moderation".

    As a note: I am going to guess he really wanted to ban the "promotion of...social justice..." and thought by also banning the outright Nazi stuff he might get it through.

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

  11. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Zof (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:07am

    Censorship is protected free speech!

    If a tech company does it! How dare you attack that brave tech company for censoring their members! That's protected!

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

  12. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:08am

    230 doesn’t require “neutrality” of any kind for an interactive computer service to retain its 230 protections. Anyone who thinks there should be has yet to offer a compelling argument in their favor.

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

  13. identicon
    David, 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:11am

    Re:

    I mean, just think how much censoring of Trump would happen if platforms deleted hate speech and demagogic lies?

    Clearly it would significantly harm the Republican party if there were a bias for truth.

    At any rate, why would we have different offerings if they were not differently biased?

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

  14. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:13am

    Three things.

    1. Twitter saying “we’re punishing you for posting racial slurs” is moderation.

    2. You saying “I won’t post these racial slurs on Twitter” is discretion.

    3. The government saying “we will arrest you if you continue to post racial slurs anywhere” is censorship.

    Now, which one are you upset about?

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

  15. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:17am

    Twitter, Facebook, etc. can be as biased as their owners/operators want those platforms to be. You have yet to provide any argument as to why that shouldn’t be the case (or cite a law that says that isn’t the case).

    …and not for nothin’, but I bet you’d be the kind of person who would tell “snowflake liberal pussies” to “go start their own platform” if Twitter suddenly went all-in on conservative ideologies to the point where “okay, boomer” was punished more often and with more fervor than “f⸺t”.

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

  16. icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:19am

    Re: Censorship is protected free speech!

    The proposal doesn't punish moderation (or censorship). It punishes "political motivation", which as I highlighted above, is nearly impossible to prove. You can prove a bias exists, proving the motivation behind that bias is another thing entirely. An economically motivated bias against Neo-Nazi memes is not a political motivation, for instance.

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

  17. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:21am

    The issue isn’t that Twitter, Facebook, etc. are biased against conservatives. The issue is those companies having a bias against speech such as racial slurs, anti-queer slurs, xenophobic language, and other such hateful speech. If conservatives feel they’re being “censored” because that speech is being targeted for deletion — if that speech goes against the TOS of Facebook, Twitter, etc. — maybe they should ask themselves why they so closely conflate conservatism to that speech.

    I mean, Twitter isn’t banning conservatives for promoting trickle-down economic theory, so…

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:22am

    Re: So, punishing social networks for limiting free speech...

    Forcing people to publish or listen to your speech by law is not an exercise in free speech, but a huge step towards a one party state.

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:23am

    In a way, I kind of agree with Thorpe.

    As soon as an algorithm is applied to a feed, it alters the page that the user sees to align with what the web service wants the user to see. That makes them a publisher.

    A service that presents a chronological feed from sources the user selects without modification is a platform.

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

  20. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:26am

    Yeah, I think Zof needs reminding that the First Amendment prevents the government from interfering with someone’s speech, but it also explicitly protects everyone else’s right to not listen — and to not host — that someone’s speech.

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

  21. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:30am

    Simple yes-or-no question: Do you believe Twitter should absolutely and without question lose all of its 47 U.S.C. § 230 protections — that the owners and operators of Twitter should be put in legal jeopardy over every illegal post on Twitter regardless of their level of knowledge of said posts — because of an algorithm that may or may not have explicit political bias?

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

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:48am

    "Data Wars"
    bam!
    I said it first. I own it. I'll trademark/copyright/patent it. Pay me.
    -and-
    "Pocket size personal data projectors" (like an EMP that shoots packets of garbled data in all directions)

    Fight stupid legislation and encroaching surveillance with stupid inventions.

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:54am

    Politically Biased Man Seeks to Punish Political Bias

    ...says, "I know it when I see it."

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

  24. identicon
    Avideogameplayer, 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:56am

    'Wah! Someone posted something I don't like! Nuke everything!'

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

  25. identicon
    Glen, 12 Feb 2020 @ 10:59am

    Re: So, punishing social networks for limiting free speech...

    No Zof, the amazing bullshit are your comments.

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

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:00am

    Re:

    You think they are telling the truth when they swear to uphold the constitution?

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

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:32am

    Owners - no. I don't think shareholders should be jailed or fined.

    Operators - yes. I don't think low level people at Twitter should be held responsible, but the executive team and board should have the same responsibilities as the people that run any other publication.

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

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:46am

    Our official state religion is free market capitalism? Wonder why i never see any of that, then.

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

  29. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:48am

    Do you believe a Twitter executive with no day-to-day moderation responsibilities and no prior knowledge of a third-party Twitter post containing illegal content should absolutely and without question be held legally liable for that post if the police find out about that post before Twitter’s moderators can do something about it?

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

  30. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:48am

    Every freakin' time...

    His bio points claims he's a "Christian Constitutional Legislator," but his account is an ongoing Constitutional violation.

    Almost without fail it seems that those that boast the loudest about how dedicated they are to free speech, making sure to remind people often about it, are the ones who violate it and hold it in the greatest attempt.

    He doesn't want free speech, which would include platforms being able to choose what to allow on their sites, he wants speech he agrees with to get special protections and treatment, and he's willing to hold legal protections hostage until he gets it. The sooner he's out of office the better.

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

  31. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:54am

    Re:

    Our official state religion is free market capitalism?

    That actually explains a lot, then.

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

  32. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:55am

    'If we make it official does that mean you'll actually do it?'

    Good catch. Saying that free market capitalism is the official 'political-economic system' is rather like saying that the state's official sport is playing calvin-ball with leprechauns, in that neither of them currently exist in any real sense, and what makes it extra funny is that by trying to hold legal protections hostage unless platforms do what he wants he is showing that he's not actually a fan of free speech or free market capitalism.

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

  33. identicon
    cpt kangarooski, 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:09pm

    Re:

    As soon as an algorithm is applied to a feed, it alters the page that the user sees to align with what the web service wants the user to see. That makes them a publisher.

    So what?

    The point of section 230 was to protect internet services that made decisions about what to show, even if that made them publishers. The publisher / platform dichotomy was basically made up by people who hate the internet in order to create an excuse to eliminate the safe harbor.

    Under the law a "platform" is totally protected even without the safe harbor. The only purpose of the safe harbor was to protect "publishers" too so as to encourage internet services to ban content without fear of legal repercussions.

    Don't be suckered. (Or if you know better and are an enemy of the safe harbor, fuck off.)

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

  34. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:15pm

    Re:

    What's the standard for other publishers? What would happen if CNN broadcast illegal content? The same thing should happen if Twitter directly or by proxy (via the algorithm) decided to include illegal content in somebody's feed.

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

  35. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:17pm

    Yeah, the whole reason 47 U.S.C. § 230 even exists is because its authors wanted to give “family friendly” services the ability to legally moderate speech without risking legal liability for any speech left unmoderated (which was the legal precedent prior to 230 because of the Prodigy ruling). That isn’t even speculation — it’s an on-the-Congressional-record fact.

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

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:18pm

    Re: So, punishing social networks for limiting free speech...

    I play a little game I call "Guess the Idiot" when I occasionally click that tiny "click here to unhide" link. So far I'm running 100% guessing it's you just from reading the first reply.

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

  37. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:20pm

    If you can’t or won’t directly answer my question, I will treat that refusal as an acknowledgement of your ignorance. Your further contributions will thus be read accordingly. So let’s try that again:

    Do you believe a Twitter executive with no day-to-day moderation responsibilities and no prior knowledge of a third-party Twitter post containing illegal content should absolutely and without question be held legally liable for that post if the police find out about that post before Twitter’s moderators can do something about it?

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

  38. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:27pm

    Re:

    In your tightly bounded scenario, no, but it is a supervisors responsibility to know what their direct employees are doing, as well as how they are doing it. When organizations get bigger, say 100,000 employees, holding the top dog responsible for what the least peon is doing becomes a bit much. Then one has to look at policy and control. In theory the boss knows what his directs are doing, and those directs know what their directs are doing and those directs know what their directs are doing and so on. If proper policy is in place, and good controls are used, then everybody is following the corporate line. At least that's the theory.

    But theory isn't practice. It could be possible that some unit, or individual at some sub level of an organization steps out of bounds and the brass doesn't know it. So the responsibility for that out of bounds goes to the bad actor as well as the supervisor and their manager who should know what that out of bounds employee was doing. How egregious the act was, and how closely it impugned policy, as well as how long the bad act was going on should probably impact any resulting action.

    In the case of content moderation, and all the press it has been getting, I would suggest that the top dogs should be very tightly integrated with the general actions of those moderators, but not necessarily monitoring them on even a daily basis. In that scenario, then the brass has skin in the game, and should take heat for bad acts. The fish stinks from the head first.

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

  39. icon
    Thad (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Every freakin' time...

    The sooner he's out of office the better.

    I've seen enough terrible Arizona politicians replaced by even worse ones that I'm not ready to commit to a statement like that yet.

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

  40. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re:

    The same thing should happen if Twitter directly or by proxy (via the algorithm) decided to include illegal content in somebody's feed.

    That is not how it works, as the algorithm decides what to exclude, with the default being Include.

    There is also the slight problem that if you make twitter, Facebook or any other social media site responsible for anything the algorithm misses, they shut up shop, and if they leave them alone, you are back to email and phones to keep in touch with people.

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

  41. identicon
    cpt kangarooski, 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re:

    But theory isn't practice.

    In theory it is.

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

  42. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:38pm

    That would not apply to sites outside of Arizona.

    Arizona law does apply to sites in California

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

  43. identicon
    cpt kangarooski, 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:40pm

    His bio points claims he's a "Christian Constitutional Legislator,"

    I don't think that either of the adjectives he describes himself with are true.

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

  44. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:44pm

    if you make twitter, Facebook or any other social media site responsible for anything the algorithm misses, they shut up shop

    As I pointed out elsewhere: Under the Prodigy ruling (and until 230 overrode that precedent), a service could be held liable for content it didn’t moderate. Going back to that legal precedent would spell disaster for the Internet at large.

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

  45. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:45pm

    It’s not about jurisdiction, it’s about precedent.

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

  46. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Censorship is protected free speech!

    How dare you attack that brave tech company for censoring their members!

    It bears saying again - build your own shit, and say whatever you like on it. For that matter, ban liberals from it while you're at it. I'd be willing to bet liberals don't cry like you little bitches do for getting kicked off Gab.

    Being a conservative seems to equate with "whiny little bitch" more often than not, doesn't it? Even when you're winning, you're still losers.

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

  47. icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Re:

    Your implementation of the Tu Quoque Fallacy to deflect from answering the question at hand is not appreciated. I will assume you recognize the unreasonableness of your policy as highlighted by stone's question and are unable to defend your policy suggestion.

    But for those that come later, I will address your 'concern'. It is impossible address your vague, open-ended hypothetical in which a CNN producer chooses to broadcast unknown 'illegal content' in an unknown format. Let us instead try to find a reasonably specific event we can assess.

    We will ignore any pre-recorded segment, as in a pre-recorded segment CNN has full control of the content on display and is not analogous to the twitter hypothetical. No one disagrees CNN would hold fault in this situation.

    So we have to assume a Live segment. But I really don't need to assess a hypothetical once we get to live TV. We have a historical example. The famous Justin Timberlake/Janet Jackson Super Bowl segment.

    In this case, without any input from the broadcaster, Justin Timberlake grabbed a portion of Janet Jackson's top, and ripped it off. This resulted in the exposure of Janet Jackson's breast on public broadcast television.

    The broadcaster (CBS) was fined. I am against this for the same reasons I am against holding twitter responsible for the content of my feed. Twitter ultimately is unaware of the content of tweets as they appear in my feed. The person who tweeted the illegal content is the one who had control over the content's display.

    I am not alone in this thought. A court voided the fine on the basis that CBS was not in control of the display and did not authorize the display. CBS immediately (less than a second after the exposure) switched to a wide aerial shot of the stadium to prevent further broadcast.

    So if CNN displayed "illegal content" that was within CNN's control to prevent, yes CNN would be held responsible, just as much as Twitter is already responsible for the content it posts. Twitter is however not aware of the content of posts in your 'Feed', and there is no way to display a feed that is not, in the end, an algorithm. even if its just a chronological display of tweets from subscriptions, Twitter has to collect and collate those tweets via algorithm. At that point by your standards Twitter is responsible for everything on the platform.

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

  48. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:13pm

    Re:

    I tried to answer. Twitter isn't special. The consequences for them showing illegal content should be in line with the consequences for CNN doing the same.

    So yes, I am ignorant. I have no idea if CNN executives (even if they don't manage programming) bear any responsibility for what is shown on the channel. If they don't, then my answer would be no, Twitter executives shouldn't be liable. If an executive at a traditional publisher could be held liable for publishing illegal content, then yes, a Twitter executive should also face liability.

    I'm not sure how to be more clear...

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

  49. icon
    Thad (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:17pm

    Re:

    He barely earns the noun.

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

  50. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Arizona, "abuse of [free speech] right"

    Probably depends on the judge. But for sure, you'd have to bring suit in an Arizona court.

    Oh, and having looked it up, Arizona does have free speech rights in the constitution. But...

    Title 2, Section 6. Every person may freely speak, write, and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right.

    Um... what constitutes abuse of that right? The Arizona constitution doesn't say.

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

  51. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:28pm

    Re:

    First Amendment issues aside, I'm not sure why this guy thinks a state law can somehow alter or override the provisions of Section 230, which is a federal law.

    Last I checked, state legislatures can't amend federal statutes.

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

  52. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:29pm

    Re:

    What's the difference between social justice and justice?

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

  53. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re:

    What would happen if CNN broadcast illegal content?

    What is 'illegal content'?

    Other than obscenity-- child porn and the like-- which is not what's under discussion here, what content is illegal?

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

  54. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re:

    The consequences for them showing illegal content should be in line with the consequences for CNN doing the same.

    Show me the public forums CNN uses to display content generated by third parties? Then we're talking apples-to-apples.

    Or conversely, you are limiting your "illegal content" to things that Twitter employees themselves generate in the course of Twitter's business, omitting anything generated by third parties. Again, apples-to-apples.

    Sure, sure. CNN makes their own content for the most part; Twitter enables third parties to publish, for the most part. Not a lot of overlap there. But y'know? That's not what anyone else is talking about, anywhere. Feel free to read up, though, and join the conversation.

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

  55. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:40pm

    Just proves that if you put a three piece suit on a rat, the rat will think it is a lawyer.

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

  56. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:44pm

    You didn’t have to insult rats like that.

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

  57. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    This is a great response but I have a couple of comments.

    A live segment is one concern, but there are others. They show user content during broadcasts (like a Twitter crawl), they show commercials produced by others, and late at night they sell entire blocks of airtime to third parties (maybe CNN doesn't do this, but other channels do).

    Any of those could contain illegal content and when it happens rarely (like the CBS example you cite) there generally aren't consequences beyond an on-air apology. Is there an example where day-after-day-after-day a publisher displays illegal content and never has to answer for it?

    Twitter ultimately is unaware of the content of tweets as they appear in my feed.

    I don't think that's true because they do try to filter out things like some types of pornography. The content of tweets definitely factors into the decision about what to show and in what order.

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

  58. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re:

    If he's been trying similar stunts for years now without success I'd say it's entirely possible, and in fact likely, that he's trying not because he thinks that his bills will actually succeed and/or stand up to legal challenge but rather they're just being proposed for cheap PR.

    'Look at me, I'm Doing Something so you should give me money so I can stay in office and keep Doing Something.'

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

  59. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 2:23pm

    they do try to filter out things like some types of pornography

    Should Twitter execs/admins be held liable for the pornography that isn’t filtered out by the platform’s algorithms? Should they be held liable for any death threats, homophobic language, racial slurs, etc. that aren’t filtered out by the algorithms? Should they be held liable for spam and malware links that aren’t filtered out by the algorithms? If your answer to any (or all) of those questions is “yes”, congratulations: You’re an enemy of 230 and an ally of Rep. Bob Thorpe.

    230 puts liability where it belongs: Not on the tool used by a third party or the person who provides the tool to the third party, but the third party themselves. When someone uses a hammer to kill a person, the law doesn’t hold Craftsman execs liable for that murder. When someone uses a car to mow down pedestrians, the courts don’t say “yeah, sure, you can sue Honda’s CEO for that” to the families of those victims. For what possible, thinkable, absolutely good goddamned reason should we do that to Twitter executives whenever some rando makes a death threat, algorithms be damned?

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

  60. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re:

    Actual justice is blind, and cares only about actual deeds done. "Social justice" is an attempt to redefine justice to blatantly bias it based upon the identity of the parties in question, rather than their deeds.

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

  61. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re:

    Do you realize that what you demand will have the result that you cannot publish anything without somebody else approving it for publication? That is exactly what the legacy publishers want, as it means that once again they control what gets published, and make most of the profit from what does get published.

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

  62. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Cool - but what do we call the real life justice as seen in practice?

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

  63. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 3:00pm

    "for politically biased reasons"

    Isn't this one of those phrases that fuels tyranny?

    Customs Officer: The detainees in this room are ready for transport and processing.

    Inspection Agent: These are children in cages.

    Customs Officer: Yes, sir.

    Inspection Agent: Why are they being detained? Where are their parents?

    Customs Officer: They have political bias, sir.

    Inspection Agent: So what?

    Customs Officer: Separate detention is standard for all detainees found to have political bias, sir.

    Inspection Agent: And how do you determine political bias?

    Customs Officer: That's classified sir.

    Inspection Agent: Find a way to unclassify it.

    Customs Officer: I couldn't tell you anyway, sir.

    Inspection Agent: And why not?

    Customs Officer: You may also be politically biased, sir.

    Maybe Representative Bob Thorpe needs to just out and say social media on the internet is only for card-carrying party-members only.

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

  64. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 3:13pm

    I’m guessing you have a problem with people who commit gay bashings being prosecuted for hate crimes.

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

  65. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 3:24pm

    "Actual justice is blind"

    I don't believe this actual justice ever expressed itself in a real life human civilization.

    Social justice concerns itself with understanding how human justice systems fail to meet that standard, or even get close.

    The animosity towards social justice comes from those who like the intrinsic biases in legal systems, or those who don't like the groups who are adversely affected by the intrinsic biases in legal systems, or from those who want to imagine IRL legal systems as nearly perfect in their execution of justice.

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

  66. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 3:51pm

    Re:

    dafuq?

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

  67. icon
    R.H. (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The problem with this line of reasoning is that this guy is retiring at the end of his current term (as mentioned in the article above). Why grandstand like this when you aren't running for re-election?

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

  68. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 4:34pm

    To preserve a legacy and to give his successor something to work with.

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

  69. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 4:39pm

    From the post I replied to:

    "Social justice" is an attempt to redefine justice to blatantly bias it based upon the identity of the parties in question, rather than their deeds.

    Under their definition, the courts convicting a man for beating another man would be “justice”, whereas “social justice” would be the courts convicting a straight man for beating a gay man for being gay.

    If the poster who wrote that doesn’t have an issue with “social justice”, I apologize for the incorrect assumption and withdraw my statement. But if they do, well…my initial reply still stands.

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

  70. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 4:45pm

    Re: Re:

    "What's the standard for other publishers? What would happen if CNN broadcast illegal content? "

    There are different laws that govern paper, airwaves and the internet and they are not necessarily consistent across medium.

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

  71. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:30pm

    Re:

    Just as a minor point of clarification -- while the Prodigy ruling was terrible, and was the clear (and explicitly stated) inspiration for Section 230, it was not precedential. Section 230 did override the ruling, but it's main role was in preventing other courts from ruling similarly.

    But, yes, beyond that, the point is legit.

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

  72. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:48pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    There is a scale difference in the volume published by or on paper, the airwaves and the Internet. In the first two cases the daily output per publisher is such that one person can easily read/view everything published any one company. The exception being any user comments on a web site, where they are protected by section 230.

    The larger Internet platforms have users publishing content at such a volume that it would take tens of thousands of employees to read/listen/view all content published by their platform. That is web sites can only give people a voice if they are not held liable for what those people publish on their platform.

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

  73. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 12:19am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Swing and a miss.

    You maybe want to try an actual definition this time?

    No?

    Didn’t think so bro.

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

  74. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 12:20am

    Re: So, punishing social networks for limiting free speech...

    “That's some amazing bullshit you wrote up there.”

    It’s so close to self realisation.

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

  75. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 12:22am

    Re: Me not letting you use my soapbox is protected free speech!

    Bro seriously move to Russia.

    They actually pay people to write the garbage you shit out for free.

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

  76. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 12:23am

    Re: Re:

    “Twitter isn't special”

    Actually by law bro. Yes, it is. You maybe wanna try again?

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

  77. icon
    PaulT (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 1:44am

    Re:

    "The issue isn’t that Twitter, Facebook, etc. are biased against conservatives. The issue is those companies having a bias against speech such as racial slurs, anti-queer slurs, xenophobic language, and other such hateful speech"

    Indeed. As I've often said, if you find that the people who associate with are being banned for such speech, maybe the problem is the company you keep? I'd be more concerned about all the homophobic white supremacists in my peer group, than whether or not Twitter are being nice to such people, but maybe that's just me.

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

  78. icon
    PaulT (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 1:46am

    Re: Re:

    "I'm not sure why this guy thinks a state law can somehow alter or override the provisions of Section 230"

    Judging from what I've seen on these subjects - he may might not actually think this, but understands that his voting base is dumb enough to believe it. Sometimes these guys are true believers, sometimes they're just fishing for votes.

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

  79. icon
    PaulT (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re:

    "What's the difference between social justice and justice?"

    Social justice is a subset of the overall concept of justice, as is the legal concept of justice. A person might be treated justly under the law, but be treated unjustly due to socioeconomic conditions.

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

  80. icon
    PaulT (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 1:52am

    Re: So, punishing social networks for limiting free speech...

    First, since these platforms are not government entities, their users' free speech rights are not being infringed. You have a right to speech, not a right to use someone else's property to exercise it, and a company does not magically become a government agent because they kick you off their private property.

    Secondly, removing the platforms' right to free association is infringing upon their free speech rights, and since the government is forcing them to speak in a manner in which they do not wish to speak it's a direct violation of the first amendment.

    One day you children will get this.

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

  81. icon
    PaulT (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 1:54am

    Re: Re: Censorship is protected free speech!

    "It bears saying again - build your own shit, and say whatever you like on it"

    The issue is that they tried that, and are faced with the realisations that no decent person wishes to associate with them willingly, and that no advertiser or sponsor wants to support such a toxic mess as the ones they create. So, instead of changing their ways, they want to force everybody else to put up with their behaviour.

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

  82. icon
    PaulT (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 2:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "They show user content during broadcasts (like a Twitter crawl), they show commercials produced by others, and late at night they sell entire blocks of airtime to third parties (maybe CNN doesn't do this, but other channels do)"

    You seem very confused about what their role is regarding those vs. the role that a social media platform has.

    "I don't think that's true because they do try to filter out things like some types of pornography."

    Yes, they try to apply some filters after the content has been published. That does not mean they had any prior knowledge before that fact - nor does it mean that said filtering is anywhere near effective or accurate.

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

  83. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 7:16am

    I appreciate the clarification and will adjust my rhetoric accordingly. 👍

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

  84. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re:

    I'd be more concerned about all the homophobic white supremacists in my peer group, than whether or not Twitter are being nice to such people, but maybe that's just me.

    I imagine that would be because you would object to those kinds of people, both publicly and in private.

    Contrast that with 'conservatives' pointing to such individuals and claiming 'they're with me', an all-too telling argument that paints a rather damning picture of just what the people making those claims really think, even if they aren't honest enough to admit it out loud.

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

  85. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yup, and hence - different laws governing them

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

  86. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Same underlying idea though, which is what makes it so funny when people try to spin 230 as 'special' protections that online platforms have that others don't. 'You are only liable for what you do/say, not what someone else does/says.'

    You would have to seriously work to find someone who would agree with the idea that if someone writes defamatory content on a newspaper they bought/picked up that means the newspaper is responsible for what they wrote, yet for some reason it needs to be spelled out when it comes to online platforms.

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

  87. icon
    JMT (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Re:

    "Twitter isn't special."

    Twitter also isn't a publisher or broadcaster that is actively deciding what content to produce and provide. It has users that make those decisions, and they're legally protected because of that.

    "The consequences for them showing illegal content should be in line with the consequences for CNN doing the same."

    No, the user that posted it should be. It shouldn't be hard to understand this.

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


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