Justice Department Releases Its Own Preposterous Recommendations On Updating Section 230

from the guys,-what? dept

Because today wasn't insane enough, just hours after Senator Josh Hawley released his ridiculous bill to flip Section 230 on its head and turn it from a law that protects against frivolous lawsuits into one that would encourage them, the Justice Department has released recommendations for Section 230 reform that appear to have been written by people who haven't the first clue about how content moderation works online.

Professor Mark Lemley sums it up best:

One of the things many have pointed out about the "bipartisan" hatred for Section 230 is that each party hates it for opposite reasons. That is, Republicans are mad that sites are taking down too much content, while Democrats are mad that not enough content is being taken down. And they both (incorrectly) blame Section 230 for "enabling" that situation.

The DOJ's attempt to thread the needle on this is saying that sites should both take down more and less content at the same time. No, seriously. First, the DOJ says that platforms should be liable for lots of content on their platform if they don't magically stop it:

Incentivizing Online Platforms to Address Illicit Content

The first category of recommendations is aimed at incentivizing platforms to address the growing amount of illicit content online, while preserving the core of Section 230’s immunity for defamation claims. These reforms include a carve-out for bad actors who purposefully facilitate or solicit content that violates federal criminal law or are willfully blind to criminal content on their own services. Additionally, the department recommends a case-specific carve out where a platform has actual knowledge that content violated federal criminal law and does not act on it within a reasonable time, or where a platform was provided with a court judgment that the content is unlawful, and does not take appropriate action.

Then, on the flip side, the DOJ wants to make sure that platforms don't take down too much (read: "silence nazis who support President Trump") because [reasons].

Promoting Open Discourse and Greater Transparency

A second category of proposed reforms is intended to clarify the text and revive the original purpose of the statute in order to promote free and open discourse online and encourage greater transparency between platforms and users. One of these recommended reforms is to provide a statutory definition of “good faith” to clarify its original purpose. The new statutory definition would limit immunity for content moderation decisions to those done in accordance with plain and particular terms of service and consistent with public representations. These measures would encourage platforms to be more transparent and accountable to their users.

The specifics of how they want these two things done are utter nonsense. In order to force more taking down of "bad" content, the DOJ literally says that "bad actors" no longer get 230.

Bad Samaritan Carve-Out. First, the Department proposes denying Section 230 immunity to truly bad actors. The title of Section 230’s immunity provision—“Protection for ‘Good Samaritan’ Blocking and Screening of Offensive Material”—makes clear that Section 230 immunity is meant to incentivize and protect responsible online platforms. It therefore makes little sense to immunize from civil liability an online platform that purposefully facilitates or solicits third-party content or activity that would violate federal criminal law.

But what does that even mean? The "facilitates" bit in there is what's problematic -- and that's the same language we've already seen in FOSTA, which has created massive collateral damage and frivolous lawsuits against CRM and mailing list software providers. Does offering up some mailing list software that might be used for criminal activity make you a "bad" actor?

Then there's a further FOSTA-like expansion, carving out exceptions beyond sex trafficking to include "child abuse, terrorism, and cyber-stalking."

Second, the Department proposes exempting from immunity specific categories of claims that address particularly egregious content, including (1) child exploitation and sexual abuse, (2) terrorism, and (3) cyber-stalking. These targeted carve-outs would halt the over-expansion of Section 230 immunity and enable victims to seek civil redress in causes of action far afield from the original purpose of the statute.

Again, as we've seen with FOSTA, this expansion is only being use so far for frivolous cases -- and that would definitely be the case here as well. We've already seen a ton of totally frivolous "let's blame Twitter and Facebook for terrorists" lawsuits, all of which are getting thrown out on 230 grounds. The DOJ's proposed legislation would bring those right back -- allowing people who were killed by terrorists... to sue Twitter. Because, why, now?

Then the DOJ says that the entire setup of 230 should be changed:

Third, the Department supports reforms to make clear that Section 230 immunity does not apply in a specific case where a platform had actual knowledge or notice that the third party content at issue violated federal criminal law or where the platform was provided with a court judgment that content is unlawful in any respect.

That's like the whole point of 230. All this would do is turn 230 into a "notice-and-takedown" statute, because as soon as you received notice of any alleged issue, you'd risk liability if you kept it up. We've already seen how that works in the DMCA context, in which tons and tons of perfectly lawful speech is taken down just to avoid liability. This is a proposal for widespread censorship (which is ironic, given that the DOJ claims part of its goal is to try to encourage less silencing of voices).

On that front, the proposals are equally uninformed.

First, the Department supports replacing the vague catch-all “otherwise objectionable” language in Section 230(c)(2) with “unlawful” and “promotes terrorism.” This reform would focus the broad blanket immunity for content moderation decisions on the core objective of Section 230—to reduce online content harmful to children—while limiting a platform's ability to remove content arbitrarily or in ways inconsistent with its terms or service simply by deeming it “objectionable.”

It's important to note that nearly all of the litigation on Section 230 has focused on (c)(1) and not (c)(2), but whiny conservatives who insist that sites are "censoring" them really hate the "otherwise objectionable" language, because it makes it clear that sites have the right to moderate how they see fit. Wiping that out is bizarre, because it would suddenly exempt things like spam filtering from Section 230.

Second, the Department proposes adding a statutory definition of “good faith,” which would limit immunity for content moderation decisions to those done in accordance with plain and particular terms of service and accompanied by a reasonable explanation, unless such notice would impede law enforcement or risk imminent harm to others. Clarifying the meaning of "good faith" should encourage platforms to be more transparent and accountable to their users, rather than hide behind blanket Section 230 protections.

This is similar to Hawley's proposal, and raises serious 1st Amendment questions. The government cannot and should not be determining whether editorial decisions are made in "good faith."

Then there's the funniest part of the DOJ proposal. Because everyone who understands anything about how content moderation works has pointed out that all of these kinds of changes would create a true "moderator's dilemma" (no liability if you don't look, so you don't want to look, or if you look you feel the need to heavily moderate everything to avoid liability), the DOJ just says "oh yeah, add in something saying there's no moderator's dilemma." Really.

Explicitly Overrule Stratton Oakmont to Avoid Moderator’s Dilemma. Third, the Department proposes clarifying that a platform’s removal of content pursuant to Section 230(c)(2) or consistent with its terms of service does not, on its own, render the platform a publisher or speaker for all other content on its service.

But none of that fixes all of the other parts of the moderator's dilemma created by this very proposal.

Separate from those two major prongs, the proposed reform hits on two other points, both of which are kind of odd. First, it says it would open up civil enforcement actions from the federal government, making them exempt from Section 230 as well. Already, federal criminal law is exempt, but by exempting civil enforcement, it could allow for things like the FTC to go after websites for... something based on user content? It's not entirely clear how that would play out. And then it says that federal antitrust law is not covered by 230, which... seems like an odd thing to call out. I guess the focus here is on whether or not the government could make an antitrust claim on moderation choices (so, for example, if Apple or Google blocked a competitor from being in their app stores). The specifics of such a proposal would matter, so it's not clear how big a deal that might be at a first glance.

All in all, the DOJ proposal is, at the very least, craftier than Hawley's silly proposal. But when looked at together, its attempt to thread the needle of the "too much moderation/not enough moderation" debate is one that will only make things much worse, and not solve any of the actual problems online. But it may be a field day for lawsuits, and maybe that's the point: let's punish Silicon Valley with a ton of lawsuits, just because we can.

Filed Under: bias, content moderation, doj, good faith, intermediary liability, otherwise objectionable, section 230, terrorism


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  • identicon
    Rocky, 17 Jun 2020 @ 1:52pm

    Oh my...

    I think the only solution to comply with these proposals is to hire Schrödinger's cat to handle the moderation.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:18pm

      Re: Oh my...

      I thought you could get away without Schrödinger's cat (you know, to avoid making a Rube Goldberg machine out of your moderation) by using a quantum computer.

      It didn't work out. The quantum computer calculated all possible moderation solutions and shut down the comment section. It then calculated all possible legal responses, sued itself and won. It is now vacationing in Tahiti while the appeals wend their way through court.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 4:28pm

        Re: Re: Oh my...

        Do it the other way around, and using the Many Worlds interpretation. Take everyone who see the thing one way, and toss them into another universe.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 1:54pm

    Lol.... I foresee websites doing an example of what post-230 would look like, basically zero comments sections, no posting to social media unless human verified. The backlog of comments and posts and images would instantly back up petabytes, with a banner at the top that says 'This is what you asked for arseholes!' Once all the senators children, families, and constituents rip them apart for not being able to post, they may start possibly almost slightly begin getting a clue how idiotic this whole charade is...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:05pm

      Re:

      Upgrade that banner:
      "Please allow 8-14 weeks for post approval, click here to ask your congressman why!"

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

    • identicon
      nonny, 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:46pm

      Re:

      Why? All the providers have to do is redirect your www.facebook.com traffic to www.facebook.co or www.facebook.uk or www.facebook.cn, hell, they could round-robin to all of them except for .org, .com, .net, .us
      And the tell the DoJ to rightly fuck off.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 4:30pm

        Re: Re:

        And redirect their incorporation and headquarters (and possibly all servers and business and offices and employees, etc., to another country).

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 2:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah, just using a foreign registered URL wouldn't be enough, but it certainly would be funny to watch an exodus of major US corporations as a direct result of these attempts to stop them from running their own property.

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

    • identicon
      Adam Gordon, 19 Jun 2020 @ 12:57am

      Re:

      What's interesting in this is that this proposal is close to something that might pass Congress. That is, Section 230 still protects platforms & communities from liability but only for "lawful" content, and also can no longer be used as a ban hammer. That puts the social media & video platforms into the moderation business. They'll have to justify bans of controversial but "lawful content" (like some fake news) on user appeal. They'll also have pressure to ban users & content that include hate speech, misleading claims, and other content that might fall under "unlawful". Other smaller platforms & communities might, as suggested, just get out of the "comment business" entirely, especially after years of overly aggressive moderation. For readers of this site however, I think it's getting to be about time to realize that the status quo's days are numbered, and that automated & aggressive moderation isn't a solution for small or large platforms. There is a growing consensus that the Internet has not been an improvement for the vast majority of the world's people, and that a push back is coming. Maybe the time has come for a decentralized, comment-free Internet.

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

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 19 Jun 2020 @ 1:50am

        "growing consensus"

        What growing consensus is this? The problem is the internet does what western media does for China: provides the people notions that things are worse than they imagined, and that things can be better than is offered.

        Yeah, considering the blogs of dissent coming out of China, the organization of the Arab Spring, the distribution of private videos of police brutality during recent protests (and the realization that police brutality and war on minorities is a problem we've been turning a blind eye to for over a century), I'd say the internet serves the people a lot, and this growing consensus is not of them.

        And that is the problem for a growing consensus of authoritarians who don't want the public choosing their own destiny, or knowing that there are possibilities other than misery in the service of a plutocratic elite.

        No, Congress, the DoJ even the NSA might kill the visible web, or make it good only for large markets and news agencies, but the rest of us will turn to the dark web to interact and exchange information. And that will mean more of us will be rubbing (virtual) shoulders with anarchists, lunatics and terrorists the very people governments don't want us friendly with.

        Not that the shadowy masters of our officials seem to be able to plan for the long game, which is how the US got into this fix in the first place.

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  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 1:57pm

    Big Tech will be bigger

    All in all, the DOJ proposal is, at the very least, craftier than Hawley's silly proposal. But when looked at together, its attempt to thread the needle of the "too much moderation/not enough moderation" debate is one that will only make things much worse, and not solve any of the actual problems online. But it may be a field day for lawsuits, and maybe that's the point: let's punish Silicon Valley with a ton of lawsuits, just because we can.

    And only the big players (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) will survive; nobody would want to start up a new website with that much liability. I mean, journalists and politicians act like "big tech" are the only websites in existence, but there are also websites like Kickstarter and Patreon, and other crowdfunding services like fig, unbound, indiegogo, etc., not to mention that you could actually shop at places other than Amazon if you wanted to.

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

  • icon
    tz1 (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:00pm

    This is why we can't have nice networking

    We can't have "net neutrality". because they need to stop whitelisted packets while letting blacklisted packets burn sites for real or imagined sins of people in the 1850's.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:06pm

    DOJ supported, KKK and nazi approved

    First, the Department supports replacing the vague catch-all “otherwise objectionable” language in Section 230(c)(2) with “unlawful” and “promotes terrorism.”

    It's important to point out that bigotry of all stripes, photos of such charming scenes like car crashes with mangled bodies and 'just offering an opinion', no matter how vile it is, are all perfectly legal, and therefore moderation relating to those subjects would not be covered under the revised 230 rules.

    By narrowing 230 to only apply to very specific content they are effectively giving their support for all the rest that currently gets moderated, and it's worthwhile to point out just what that can and will include.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:08pm

      And before anyone says “well no one would support the government forcing Twitter into hosting White supremacist propaganda or videos of people being shot to death”, I can think of at least one regular commenter here who — even if only by implication — supports that exact position.

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:09pm

      Re: DOJ supported, KKK and nazi approved

      DOJ supported, KKK and nazi approved

      But you repeat yourself.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:08pm

    Something something bad actors...

    Like the guys who ran Backpage, actively assisted LEO's in investigations, & still had their business destroyed?
    I mean if you help them you are screwed, if you resist them you are screwed. Facts do not matter if you can get enough sound bites out of it.

    Over 110K dead & all the air in the room is sucked into claiming conservatives are under attack.

    Its nice to see the priorities spelled out so clearly.

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

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:10pm

      Re:

      Over 110K dead & all the air in the room is sucked into claiming conservatives are under attack.

      Its nice to see the priorities spelled out so clearly.

      Why are you bothering us about a deadly pandemic? Can't you see that the president has been insulted, which is far more serious? /s

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 12:18am

      Re:

      "Over 110K dead & all the air in the room is sucked into claiming conservatives are under attack."

      "Its nice to see the priorities spelled out so clearly."

      Well, yes. When pandemic experts around the world are all saying that about 50k of those dead could have been prevented by simply not being an idiot about handling the situation, of course the highest priority is to divert attention from the amount of dead citizens you can place directly at the feet of an incompetent republican president and his cadre of republican equally inept yes-men.

      I realize you were trying to be ironic, but unfortunately it's nothing but the factual truth.
      Even more hurtful that it works. Republicans still see absolutely nothing wrong about the desperate attempts by the administration to push a mountain of dead bodies under the carpet.

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 1:12am

        Re: Re:

        Hurm, I wasn't aiming for ironic I don;t think.
        I am genuinely shocked that no one in the government has said anything about it.

        I am so tired of the well we have decorum & thats not how we do things...
        Fsck all of you in power...
        We are dying because neither side has the courage to call Trump out on his bullshit.
        Instead they talk around the issues & leave Trump to spin it how he sees fit.

        His faithful are screaming how the ADA & HIPPA say you can't make me wear a mask b/c it infringes on my rights!!!
        My body my choice!!! (which is TRULY TRULY IRONIC hearing from rabid pro-lifers who seem to have no problem with their choice maybe killing people).

        You didn't speak out when he called it a hoax.
        You didn't speak out when he said it would be over after 15 people had it.
        You didn't speak out at 25K, 50K, 75K, 100K...
        You've let him control the narrative and his faithful will kill themselves to prove themselves true believers....
        I can only hope the Republicans who were sick or got sick keep showing up without masks to support that narrative that masks do nothing... perhaps the shock of seeing McConnell or Barr on a fscking vent might just might make the point this is real & y'all have made it worse.

        They are playing games with 230 right now... when we should be having an investigation as to why states are faking their death numbers & moving to protect health care providers who did fsck all to protect the old & vulnerable... but no we're passing laws to protect them from families suing them into the ground b/c their loved one died b/c these assholes wanted to make a few bucks by letting the governor hide covid patients in care facilities with vulnerable people.

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        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 1:32am

          genuinely shocked

          This is consistent with history. Far-right (pro-aristocracy) movements coincide with extreme wealth disparity which coincide with a certain cowardice and desperation on behalf of the upper class to the point they fail to manage their responsibilities.

          Sure we can blame some of it on the lack of mass communication until very recently, but a lot of it is apathy and dismissal of the conditions in which the peons live.

          It's a mess. At this point the longer we wait before the violence flashes, the more explosive it's going to be. And it will be madness of the sort that makes the Dachau Reprisal videos comprehensible. We'll make the Islamist suicide bombings look tame.

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

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 3:14am

            Re: genuinely shocked

            "This is consistent with history."

            Unfortunately so. This is a recurring pattern which just keeps coming back again and again and again. For millennia.

            "Far-right (pro-aristocracy) movements coincide with extreme wealth disparity which coincide with a certain cowardice and desperation on behalf of the upper class to the point they fail to manage their responsibilities."

            You forgot a key part - entitlement and blindness. At a certain point you get to a disconnect so vast between the two extreme points of the social strata someone from the upper crust sets off the whole tinderkeg with a single unknowing and naíve; "But surely if they have no bread they can at least eat cake?".

            In the US of today illustrated by the almost religious refusal to observe and acknowledge the shit-end of society by much of the middle-class supporting the whole system - out of either ignorant assumption of privilege or fear of ending up on the wrong side of the advantaged/disadvantaged divide.

            Much like in ancient roman times the fact that there are multiple divides - one of class, one of wealth, and one of race, has made it unlikely for any actual uprising to do much more than make a few waves and then peter out. Poor and uneducated trailer trash might be on the bottom of the septic tank, but hey, at least they're white. Latins might be more targeted than white people but hey, at least they aren't black.

            "At this point the longer we wait before the violence flashes, the more explosive it's going to be. And it will be madness of the sort that makes the Dachau Reprisal videos comprehensible."

            That's what I keep seeing and first became aware of in the wake of ferguson and charlottesville. Modern mass communication and the resurgence of outright white supremacy within the GOP and the last few administrations - even under Obama - has been gradually eroding the differences between the groups disadvantaged under the current system.

            It's like watching hoover dam developing visibly spreading cracks and leaks while the reaction of everyone in authority is to say "Nothing to see here, folks" while bolting another patch on top of the ones already giving way...

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:47pm

    Imagine

    If paper companies were responsible for what was printed on their paper...

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

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:49pm

      Re: Imagine

      I had to re-read that sentence three times because by "paper" I first thought Hammermill and by second reading I thought New York Times and by third reading it was back to Hammermill.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 2:52pm

        Re: Re: Imagine

        fair enough: ink companies responsible for what was printed with their ink

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 3:03pm

          Re: Re: Re: Imagine

          Hey at least then it would make the ridiculous cost of printer toner more understandable... they need the money to cover all the lawsuits.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 3:36pm

    How likely are the proposals to pass?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 5:31pm

      Re:

      It’s complicated. My guess is that’ll take some time for actual real progress to be made (if any at all). Remember a recommendation is a recommendation. the only body that can make legitimate changes to section 230 is congress, though I believe that would be an uphill battle. It could feasibly pass senate, but through house, that would be challenging, especially with the pandemic and unrest going about.

      While both the democrats and the Republicans do want to change section 230, but for different reasons. The majority of democrats want a more strict code of moderation while a majority of the republicans want to end any form of bias against them. I don’t align or believe with either argument but I am getting the impression that these requests are too extreme for either. I can see a few democrats support this, but I don’t see them willingly vote to make the Justice Department into the “Cultural Police.” And I don’t think Republicans would be impressed either since it doesn’t address “conservative bias.”

      Really I could be wrong about all of this. Maybe it could be the other way around. Maybe it’s the Democrats who chose to let this pass and the Republicans chose to resist. Maybe there is bipartisan support around this movement. But the real question is whether or not they have the time to even get to passing legislation. The process of a bill into law takes a long time and is usually a shot in the dark. Stuff like this takes months or years, but also take into account that the Trump administration runs its course into this upcoming January, where this version of congress traditionally ends.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 6:28pm

      Re:

      It’s complicated. My guess is that’ll take some time for actual real progress to be made (if any at all). Remember a recommendation is a recommendation. the only body that can make legitimate changes to section 230 is congress, though I believe that would be an uphill battle. It could feasibly pass senate, but through house, that would be challenging, especially with the pandemic and unrest going about.

      While both the democrats and the Republicans do want to change section 230, but for different reasons. The majority of democrats want a more strict code of moderation while a majority of the republicans want to end any form of bias against them. I don’t align or believe with either argument but I am getting the impression that these requests are too extreme for either. I can see a few democrats support this, but I don’t see them willingly vote to make the Justice Department into the “Cultural Police.” And I don’t think Republicans would be impressed either since it doesn’t address “conservative bias.”

      Really I could be wrong about all of this. Maybe it could be the other way around. Maybe it’s the Democrats who chose to let this pass and the Republicans chose to resist. Maybe there is bipartisan support around this movement. But the real question is whether or not they have the time to even get to passing legislation. The process of a bill into law takes a long time and is usually a shot in the dark. Stuff like this takes months or years, but also take into account that the Trump administration runs its course into this upcoming January, where this version of congress traditionally ends.

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

  • identicon
    Gary Bust, 17 Jun 2020 @ 3:37pm

    Well there is always investment dispute clause in the USMCA

    Good thing the trade bills other then SESTA kept section 230 in tact. That is are only way to keep the internet free and that includes Senators Tillis and Coons DMCA notice and stay down bill that there planning on introducing after the November Election

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

  • identicon
    anymouse, 17 Jun 2020 @ 4:14pm

    Simple Solution?

    So what's the problem with just updating the terms of service to include something like the following (re-written in Lawyreez):

    You have no right to post on this website, all posts are at the discretion of the Grand Pooh-Bah, who will review and allow only those posts he feels are most deserving of being seen.

    If your post is posted, it is not guaranteed to remain up, we may randomly (or strategically) remove posts at our whim and as we see fit to maintain our website in the manner to which it is accustomed.

    If your post is removed for any reason, you have no right to complain, what do you think this is, a public square? Not this is our private fiefdom and we will run it as we see fit.

    If you do not agree to these terms of service, then please FUCK OFF and go to your favorite alt-right nutjob site.

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

    • icon
      Celyxise (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 4:59pm

      Re: Simple Solution?

      I think the problem is that that kind of TOS is more or less the current situation, and they don't like it.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 5:06pm

        Re: Re: Simple Solution?

        But if this crap passed, then the LAW would say it's okay to be a dickhead, as long as you spell it out in your terms of service.

        Terms of service:
        I will berate and belittle any conservatives that dare to troll my forum (including but not limited to removing your posts, shadow banning your posts, demonetizing your posts, refuting posts with actual facts - this one will blow them away, and then blocking your account). You have no rights on my site (to post or comment) and I will follow my terms of service as I have defined them.

        I'm sure this is exactly the type of response they are looking for, after they realize that they are NEVER going to get what they are asking for (Conservative favorable bias in everything...)

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

    • icon
      arp2 (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 5:25pm

      Re: Simple Solution?

      This is sort of what they already say, but I like the idea. I think these companies should be leaning on "freedom loving" lawmakers that they are a private business, not the government, etc. Hit back at this sort of stuff with the same infantile argument. "Ted Cruz talks about freedom, but he wants us to only posts things that he personally agrees with. Ted Cruz, wrong for Texas, wrong for America."

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 6:14pm

      Caveat Orator

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 4:26pm

    These reforms include a carve-out for bad actors who purposefully facilitate or solicit content that violates federal criminal law or are willfully blind to criminal content on their own services.

    This isn't a reform, this is already the case. So... yeah, let's get on to your actual motives for changing anything.

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

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 5:17pm

      Re:

      Looking at the entire proposal it is more. They want the ability to 'control' and to provide 'consequences' to those who do not 'conform', which since it is coming from the government a direct 1st Amendment violation. The problems will be, due to the 'rules', finding a way to 'have standing' to sue, that is if one can find the financial backing to take the suit through the many years process and get it to the Supreme Court, and then hope they do the right thing, rather than what their 'supporters' (a.k.a. appointers and advocates) want. Congress is not the only partisan sector of the three legged government.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 4:49pm

    This seems to be how law works:

    If something gray and fuzzy happens, you pay a fine and go to jail.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 4:20am

      Re: This seems to be how law works:

      Except for obviously aggravating circumstances such as Being Brown and, in some cases, Being Poor, at which point jail time is the lenient penalty imposed.

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 17 Jun 2020 @ 5:49pm

    "How dare those people think they have the right to speak their minds!!! Only I am allowed to do that!"

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 6:31pm

    Why you think anyone cares about this AT ALL is beyond me and my friends, both real and imaginary.

    No one real cares.

    You care because you are a shady nasty propagandist that is paid to mislead people and promote un-American and stupid ideas from your globalist masters.

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

  • identicon
    Bruce C., 17 Jun 2020 @ 6:41pm

    Hmmm...

    I've advocated for treating media "platforms" as publishers in the past, but these proposals seem mostly intended to be punitive. The internet can work as a collection of publishers, but it would require the hosts to ignore and hide the vast majority of user submissions. 99.999% of the internet would be an unpublished slush pile. Diversity would suffer, but for the proponents of amending section 230, part of the impetus behind these proposals is that the internet is too diverse/crazy/filled with BS.

    On the plus side, social media "publishers" wouldn't be able to data mine their users self-publishing and browsing habits as effectively -- the amount of data generated would scale down with the lower number of posts that got released. So privacy could be enhanced a bit. Also, the inability to get "published" by the current large media platforms would likely spur creation of new platforms where people have better odds of getting seen (at least until the new sites grow too large). This could result in social media breaking down into a larger collection of smaller sites with more diverse editorial policies than the big incumbents. A moderation policy of deny by default rather than publish by default isn't an unmitigated disaster.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 6:54pm

      Re: Hmmm...

      DIVERSITY WOULD SUFFER? OMG! Call Obama!

      Oh, wait, he's not president anymore? And Trump doesn't give a FLYING FUCK about DIVERSITY and NEITHER DO I?! Could that be it?

      That's it! Take your diversity and your WORD SALAD and Plant them in the Garden in Chaz/Chop and WAIT for your WORD SALAD to turn into SHIT which it ALREADY IS and SWALLOW IT AGAIN!

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 8:32pm

      Re: Hmmm...

      Treat online platforms as publishers and hold them liable for what others post on them and you drastically reduce what will be posted as everything has to be checked and double-checked, putting us right back to the days of the gatekeeper where only The Chosen are giving a chance to shine and everyone else just runs into a wall.

      To say that would cause harm to creativity and culture would be an understatement on the level of saying the surface of the sun is 'kinda warm'.

      Diversity would suffer, but for the proponents of amending section 230, part of the impetus behind these proposals is that the internet is too diverse/crazy/filled with BS.

      Some of them seem to have that as their motivation anyway, with the other half throwing fits because platforms keep giving the boot to the diverse/crazy/filled with BS stuff that they are saying/agree with.

      On the plus side, social media "publishers" wouldn't be able to data mine their users self-publishing and browsing habits as effectively -- the amount of data generated would scale down with the lower number of posts that got released. So privacy could be enhanced a bit

      Yes and no. The number of people who would have to hand over personally identifiable information would probably plummet right along with the number of people who are allowed to post, however in exchange the amount of data gathered would likely rise quite a bit, as sites would want to make very sure that they could identify anyone posting so that they weren't left facing all the responsibility for any problems.

      (Rather relevant to that point posting semi-anonymously as you did almost certainly would not be allowed, you either get an account or you don't even have a chance to post.)

      Also, the inability to get "published" by the current large media platforms would likely spur creation of new platforms where people have better odds of getting seen (at least until the new sites grow too large).

      Quite the opposite actually, make it so that platforms are liable for anything on their platform and while the big current companies might be able to cope any smaller competitor would almost certainly never get off the ground, as one or two lawsuits could cripple them before they get started.

      Even if they did manage to get going however you'd have the problem of siloing, where rather than having one or two platforms where you can meet and talk you'd have to sign up to a dozen plus, something I don't imagine many would care for which would lead right back to the current situation of a handful of giants which everyone flocks to.

      A moderation policy of deny by default rather than publish by default isn't an unmitigated disaster.

      As pointed out above that mindset would have required you to create an account to post your comment and wait for it to be vetted and allowed(if it was), leading to a rather funny instance where you are effectively arguing for something that would have impeded if not outright prohibited your ability to make that argument in the first place.

      As for 'disaster' that depends on how you look at it I suppose, as while it might not fall into 'disaster' territory alongside earthquakes and floods I would certainly consider a massive negative impact on culture, communication and creativity to be a huge loss, both in the short term and long.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 8:49pm

        Re: Re: Hmmm...

        Right. You want immunity for yourself, but not for police, is that right? Immunity for politicians and propagandists and globalists, but not for police. NO IMMUNITY for POLICE but IMMUNITY for YOU and YOUR FRIENDS?!

        You are under arrest. Resist and I will do something you will never forget.

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

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 9:18pm

          Using the same word to mean different things

          This like the officer saying If they won't respect us [our absolute authority] we won't respect them [their right to life and safety]! Yes? Using the same word to mean different things.

          We want internet immunity, i.e. those who host public forums to be immune to legal action due to what is said by someone else in the forum.

          We want we don't want qualified immunity for law enforcement officers, id est, immunity from legal action for violent crimes committed by law enforcement allegedly in the line of duty.

          Incidentally, the first one is currently a law (with some web-wrecking exceptions thanks to FOSTA) where the second one is an established precedent set by courts of law who favor law enforcement officers over the public.

          But one kind of immunity doesn't have anything to do with the other kind of immunity the same way one kind of respect doesn't have anything to do with the other kind of respect.

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 10:15pm

            Re: Using the same word to mean different things

            You want immunity from ... the law while you practice .... censorship and deplatforming and loss of add revenue ... because its OK for you to enforce ... YOUR WILL and ... IGNORE OTHERS ... and you want to keep doing it ... FOREVER and NEVER PAY ANY CONSEQUENCES ... while places like the Federalist have to ... PAY and PAY and PAY consequences ... and you pay ... NONE (sorry have the hickups)

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2020 @ 1:02am

              Re: Re: Using the same word to mean different things

              You don’t know what you’re talking about. No one here’s wanting “immunity from the law”.
              Just for the law to not be changed in a stupid way.

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

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 2:57am

                Re: Re: Re: Using the same word to mean different things

                "No one here’s wanting “immunity from the law”."

                Well, yes and no. What's wanted is immunity from being held legally responsible for things you didn't do, which is both basic common sense and what section 230 allows. Nobodys arguing for immunity for things you did actually do, but idiot boy here is still incapable of following basic facts and logic.

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

                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 11:42am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Using the same word to mean different things

                  Nobodys arguing for immunity for things you did actually do, but idiot boy here is still incapable of following basic facts and logic.

                  Oh I imagine they can follow the logic just fine, it's just that if they admit it and address the actual argument people are making rather than their strawman version of it it shows just how groundless their argument is, and therefore they continue to lie and attack fictional positions that no one holds.

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 1:15am

              Re: Re: Using the same word to mean different things

              That's a lot of whining about "the people who aren't white supremacists, bigots or trolls aren't letting me play in their living rooms!".

              Yeah, the Federalist, if they decide to be an ass and spew a message unacceptable to the majority, is not welcome in the private marketplace which caters to that majority. This is neither surprising nor bad.

              "while places like the Federalist have to ... PAY and PAY and PAY consequences..."

              If you are being an asshole in the eyes of others, there is a social consequence to be paid.

              Honestly, if not being allowed to shout the N-word or fascist clichés on a platform hosted by Google or FB is so upsetting to you then build your own platform where you are allowed to do just that. Oh wait. There are plenty of such platforms already.

              What you guys keep misunderstanding is this - if you were allowed to post unhindered on FB then FB would instantly be reduced to the size of stormfront so the demonetization would follow anyway as that platform loses most of its audience - and thus, ad revenue.

              There's no money for you guys simply because the message you guys carry is not one people are willing to give eyeball time to. It's that simple.

              And by now you should really have realized that, Baghdad Bob. There's just no magical invisible majority of people out there willing to give your lot the time of day. If there was then the Federalist or Stormfront would have taken the place of FB already.

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

        • icon
          JMT (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 3:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: Hmmm...

          "You want immunity for yourself, but not for police, is that right?"

          Conflating two vastly different problems is the absolute stupidest form of argument. Police should be held accountable for their illegal actions. Websites should not be held accountable for someone else's illegal actions. Not rocket science.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2020 @ 2:24am

      Re: Hmmm...

      A moderation policy of deny by default rather than publish by default isn't an unmitigated disaster.

      Apart from silencing the majority, and driving activists underground where they tend to become extremists.

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

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 9:42pm

    Bad Samaritan Carve-Out.

    I know they're making shit up all the time but this mangled expression takes the biscuit.

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

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 10:35am

    Truly bad

    First, the Department proposes denying Section 230 immunity to truly bad actors.

    Oh, well if they're TRULY bad, and you pinky swear it, then by all means carry on.

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


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