Trump Still Hates The 1st Amendment: Meeting With State Attorneys General To Tell Them To Investigate Internet Companies For Bias

from the oh-come-on dept

It never, ever ends. President Trump is continuing his war on Section 230 and the right for the open internet to exist. The latest is that he's meeting with various state Attorneys General to encourage them to bring investigations against internet websites over "anti-conservative bias" despite the fact that no one has shown any actual evidence of anti-conservative bias beyond assholes, trolls, and literal Nazis upset that they got banned.

The Trump administration is expected to urge Republican state attorneys general on Wednesday to investigate social-media sites over allegations they censor conservatives online, escalating the White House’s war with Silicon Valley at a time when tech giants are increasingly taking action against the president’s most controversial posts.

A different report notes that Trump and the DOJ are also planning to talk with them about "revising" Section 230:

U.S. President Donald Trump plans to meet on Wednesday with a group of Republican state attorneys general about revising a key law that shields social media companies from liability for content posted by their users and allows them to remove lawful but objectionable posts.

“Online censorship goes far beyond the issue of free speech, it’s also one of protecting consumers and ensuring they are informed of their rights and resources to fight back under the law,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said. “State attorneys general are on the front lines of this issue and President Trump wants to hear their perspectives.”

Of course, the State AGs would need a big change to Section 230 to be able to go after social media for bias -- but they'd need an even bigger change to the 1st Amendment, which allows companies to choose which content to host -- and what content not to host. If Trump and the DOJ think that law enforcement can investigate social media for anti-conservative bias, does that mean he'd be okay if AGs in other states investigate Fox News for bias? Or Breitbart? Of course not. The 1st Amendment doesn't allow it, and so we get another stupid culture war from the President shitting on the Constitution he swore to uphold and protect.

In reality, this is all just more posturing. State AGs (of both parties) have long hated Section 230 because it removes a tool for their ridiculous grandstanding to help them get elected to higher office (look at how many state AGs go on to be Governor or Senator). For the better part of a decade, State AGs have been asking to change 230 because, while Section 230 has an exemption for federal criminal law, it does not for state criminal law. That means State AGs are less able to go after social media companies. But, boy do they want to.

Pretty much every internet company, upon getting popular, has gone through an attack from State AGs, that was not based on any legitimate purpose but to get the state AGs in the headlines to claim that they were "protecting the citizens of our fine state" or some other nonsense. Almost exactly 10 years ago, we highlighted what then Topix CEO, Chris Tolles, went through in dealing with state AGs. They put out a press release threatening Topix for how the company moderated user comments.

Tolles did what he thought was the right thing. He sat down with the various AGs who had signed onto the press release, and explained to them the ins-and-outs of content moderation and why Topix made the choices it did. All of those choices, of course, were protected by Section 230 and the 1st Amendment. But, the AGs did not care. They took what Tolles told them, and put out an even more ridiculous press release, misrepresenting nearly everything he told them, and again "threatening" to do something.

So, after opening the kimono and giving these guys a whole lot of info on how we ran things, how big we were and that we dedicated 20% of our staff on these issues, what was the response. (You could probably see this one coming.)

That's right. Another press release. This time from 23 states' Attorney's General.

This pile-on took much of what we had told them, and turned it against us. We had mentioned that we required three separate people to flag something before we would take action (mainly to prevent individuals from easily spiking things that they didn't like). That was called out as a particular sin to be cleansed from our site. They also asked us to drop the priority review program in its entirety, drop the time it takes us to review posts from 7 days to 3 and "immediately revamp our AI technology to block more violative posts" amongst other things.

AGs have been doing this for years (across both parties). The attack on Topix was done by then Kentucky AG, Jack Conway. We've covered similar attacks from then Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal, then South Carolina AG Henry McMaster, then New York AG Andrew Cuomo, then California AG Kamala Harris, then Mississippi AG Jim Hood, current Louisiana AG Jeff Landry and many, many more.

So of course AGs (of either party) are going to tell the President they need Section 230 reformed -- and that plays straight into the President's dimwitted playbook of wanting to harass companies he feels (wrongly) are "against" him. The reform the AGs want is to remove the state criminal law exemption, which will give them significantly more power to attack internet companies and demand ridiculous concessions that don't serve the public benefit, but do serve to keep the AGs in the headlines for "taking on big tech" and "protecting the children" and other similar nonsense. The reform the President wants is anything that lets him drum up a new bullshit culture war and play the crybaby victim about how big tech is "against" him, even as Facebook and Twitter have been two of the biggest tools to make his short political career viable.

It's nonsense, but a politically convenient nonsense for the President right now...

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, anti-conservative bias, bias, donald trump, section 230, state attorneys general


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 3:29am

    no one has shown any actual evidence of anti-conservative bias beyond assholes, trolls, and literal Nazis upset that they got banned

    So there is an anti-conservative bias~.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2020 @ 7:01am

      Re:

      We've had at least one self-described conservative in these comments sections admit that all of the things assholes get banned for are conservative views. In that respect, a bias against assholes is indeed a bias against conservatives.

      I'm glad that these websites have avoided admitting to any bias which would only have sped up the governmental stupidity driving these misguided efforts to chop up 230. But even if they did, any governmental attempt to regulate speech is unconstitutional. Modifying 230 to suit their agendas is exactly that.

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

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 3:29pm

      Re:

      There will always be a Bias.
      But its mostly for 1 BIG reason.

      HOW they express their comments.
      HOw they understand what Is/Has happened to themselves.
      What has been told and expressed to them over many years.
      Finding others, that admit to the same things happening.
      WHO do you blame for your problems?

      The problems tend to be knowing Whats happened to them, and getting them to erase all the indoctrination that happens over the years.

      The best thing Iv learned over time is to feed them Slowly, small simple facts. Get them to admit that its true.(this is a sales trick)
      Give them a few more over time. And let their HEAD add up the facts that you have with a few truths they have seen.

      The Big one they didnt notice, is that the live in the same area's they were born, and never got out to find a better posiion or jobs. They dont see that the Big companies Ran away, and left the areas. You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you are in an area that dont want/need it, you wont get to use it.
      Allot of the Union Tech schools left the smaller areas, and they cut them back allot. They are still there, but in larger cities, where its more costly to live. Most companies DONT pay good wages to start, they hold off for 3-6 months, and if you are still around, you get advancement.

      The really big problem tends to be Pro corp groups, and the laws have been cut back for Pro workers.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Sep 2020 @ 2:34am

      Re:

      "So there is an anti-conservative bias~."

      Well, no, there's an anti-nazi bias, an anti-bigot bias and an anti-KKK bias. This means, apparently, that there is a solid anti-republican bias.

      Last I checked, though, no one ever got banned for saying "I think we should proceed cautiously if we want to do something no one's ever tried before". The only people who can see an anti-conservative bias would be those who think that letting women go and vote or slaves leave the plantation is progressive in 2020.

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 3:54am

    Not conservatives

    ...despite the fact that no one has shown any actual evidence of anti-conservative bias beyond assholes, trolls, and literal Nazis upset that they got banned.

    Ummmm...point...they haven't shown any evidence, either. Not of anti-conservative bias. Their so-called "conservative speech"...isn't.

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

    • identicon
      David, 23 Sep 2020 @ 4:38am

      Re: Not conservatives

      Ummmm...point...they haven't shown any evidence, either. Not of anti-conservative bias. Their so-called "conservative speech"...isn't.

      Well, what do you expect from people who think "make America great again" means bombing it back into the intellectual, humanitarian and social stone age?

      Their so-called whatever usually isn't.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2020 @ 9:38am

        Re: Re: Not conservatives

        Well, what do you expect from people who think "make America great again" means bombing it back into the intellectual, humanitarian and social stone age?

        It's not conservatives setting off explosives and starting fires across America these past four months...

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 10:35am

          Re: Re: Re: Not conservatives

          Nah, that's from a small percentage of a group that's tired of being murdered, facing a system that's shown utter indifference to their plight and that only seems to care that those uppity blacks get back to their proper place and stop bothering their superiors with their 'please stop murdering us and refusing to hold the killers accountable' whining.

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

        • icon
          steell (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 11:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Not conservatives

          Really? Are you saying the Boogaloo groups are not conservatives? How about the Proud Boys? White Supremacists? How about the kid from Illinois that traveled to Kenosha Wisconsin to shoot protesters? His defense is paid for by conservatives with enough money to pay the best lawyers in the country.

          "It's conservatives setting off explosives and starting fires across America these past four months..." FTFY

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2020 @ 3:04pm

          Re: Re: Re: Not conservatives

          No, they shoot cops.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 24 Sep 2020 @ 12:36am

          Re: Re: Re: Not conservatives

          "It's not conservatives setting off explosives and starting fires across America these past four months..."

          Oh, but some of them were. I know this hurts your narrative, but some most certainly were - and the violence you wish to blame on protesters was sometimes in response to those attacks.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Sep 2020 @ 2:38am

          Re: Re: Re: Not conservatives

          "It's not conservatives setting off explosives and starting fires across America these past four months..."

          Ah, no, the conservatives would be the ones kneeling on throats and shooting innocent people in the back, right?
          I'm sure as soon as you people stop doing that the other side will be happy to not have to burn down the places they also live in just to make the fucking point that they're sick and tired of being murdered all the time.

          Feel free to actually debate once you have something to bring to the table other than an offhand comment about how the slaves might be listened to if they didn't revolt all the time.

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

    • icon
      Coffee U (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 9:23am

      Re: Not conservatives

      When did "hate speech" become "conservative speech" ? And why aren't more people explicit about this. They're not getting banned/comments deleted for conservative viewpoints. They're getting banned/comments deleted for inciting violence, for hateful comments against protected minorities and/or for spreading known misinformation. Don't hide behind "conservative speech" - own your fucking disgustingness.

      They're getting banned for "deplorable speech".

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

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 9:26am

        Re: Re: Not conservatives

        When did "hate speech" become "conservative speech" ?

        1968.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 9:30am

        'It can't be because I'm a bigot, so it must be political...'

        Funnily enough it seems the 'personal responsibility' lot have real trouble actually owning their own actions, as they'd much rather think that they're being persecuted for being 'conservative' rather than facing that it's because they're deplorable people putting forth equally disgusting content/ideas that most other people would quite happily do without.

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

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 10:06am

          Re: 'It can't be because I'm a bigot, so it must be political...

          And of course the "free market" crowd who want to interfere with a market that's decided it doesn't want what they're selling.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2020 @ 3:06pm

          Re: 'It can't be because I'm a bigot, so it must be political...

          "Personal responsibility" was a sham from the moment they came up with that talking point.

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 7:09pm

            Claiming the opposite of what you are

            Or looked at another way it could be seen as an example of the inverse of the 'every accusation a confession' rule, 'every self-imposed label a rejection of', as you've got people touting 'personal responsibility' shirking it at every chance, cheering on the 'free market' until it doesn't do what they want it to, trumpeting 'law and order' until it gets in the way of what they want to do, in favor of 'small government' until they want to impose their will on the public...

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2020 @ 12:24pm

        Re: Re: Not conservatives

        Prove it. Then ill prove you wrong. Im that guy

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 9:29am

      Re: Not conservatives

      Meanings change. While it's worthwhile to point out that the current definition of "conservative" in America bears little resemblance to its meaning in the past (and, say, to professed values like states' rights, individual responsibility, and fiscal restraint), I don't know how helpful it is to say "no, that's not conservative."

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

      • icon
        ECA (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 6:14pm

        Re: Re: Not conservatives

        Thad,
        I found out what that word Means to the repubs,
        They wish to pull beck everything in the constitution, Before 1937.
        resend everything after that point.
        All the Social systems, that saved lives and gave people jobs.
        Back to the point when Paying an employee, means nothing.
        There was no over time pay
        There was no Medical
        There were no Unions
        There were NO real labor laws or Rights to the worker.
        And police were the people to Enforce the Corp mentality.

        Explain that to THOSE conservatives. Those that are workers.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2020 @ 5:21am

    How about investigating political parties and churches for running biased websites, or are they a special case when it comes to neutrality.

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

  • identicon
    Kitsune106, 23 Sep 2020 @ 5:32am

    Wait

    Won't that impact fox news too? And what about info wars? I mean it claims to be media and looks like news so should not that be netural? He claims to be anti satanist... So neutrality means he has to have satanic ads...... And guests...

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

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 23 Sep 2020 @ 6:45am

      Re: Wait

      I heard the Conservapedia is biased. I'm sure they will be right up there with this investigation.......nah.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2020 @ 7:02am

      Re: Wait

      Don't forget breitbart and all the others. Any speech on those platforms that doesn't conform to the asshole rhetoric is swiftly banned.

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

    • icon
      crade (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 7:09am

      Re: Wait

      nah that's totally different because they control both the whitehouse and senate.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 8:32am

      'We're for (forced) free speech, but only OUR free speech.'

      Most certainly not. You see when platforms go after the 'conservative' it's unfair persecution, punishing people who are 'just asking question' or 'just giving their opinion', which are most certainly not actions worth a penalty.

      The likes of Fox or Infowars keeping people off and/or refusing to air certain content is just sensible, as they're only keeping the trolls away and refusing to give airtime to people with ideas that really aren't worth anyone's time, so obviously wrong that there's no need to debate them.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Sep 2020 @ 8:25am

    Be nice if they were honest enough to just own it

    ... encourage them to bring investigations against internet websites over "anti-conservative bias" despite the fact that no one has shown any actual evidence of anti-conservative bias beyond assholes, trolls, and literal Nazis upset that they got banned.

    Conservative: I have been censored for my conservative views
    Me: Holy shit! You were censored for wanting lower taxes?
    Con: LOL no…no not those views
    Me: So…deregulation?
    Con: Haha no not those views either
    Me: Which views, exactly?
    Con: Oh, you know the ones

    (All credit to Twitter user @ndrew_lawrence.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2020 @ 2:16am

    'to bring investigations against internet websites over "anti-conservative bias" despite the fact that no one has shown any actual evidence of anti-conservative bias'

    there wasn't anything and i'v not seen any change as yet to prove that Huawei has, is or will be spying on Americans or anyone else, anywhere else but it hasn't stopped Trump from banning it in the USA or from doing whatever he possibly can to get other gutless countries from following him! this is simply him being so paranoid, so shit scared of losing the '2nd term' and turning the US into something akin to what Hitler did, he'll do anything to get his way! just a spoilt brat!!

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

  • identicon
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