Blatant Hypocrite Ajit Pai Decides To Move Forward With Bogus, Unconstitutional Rulemaking On Section 230

from the that's-not-how-any-of-this-works dept

For years, FCC Chair Ajit Pai has insisted that the thing that was most important to him was to have a "light touch" regulatory regime regarding the internet. He insisted that net neutrality (which put in place a few limited rules to make sure internet access was fair) was clearly a bridge too far, and had to be wiped out or it would destroy investment into internet infrastructure (he was wrong about that). But now that Section 230 is under attack, he's apparently done a complete reversal. He is now happy to open a proceeding to reinterpret Section 230 to place a regulatory burden on the internet. This is because Ajit Pai is a hypocrite with no backbone, and no willingness to stand up to a grandstanding President.

The key parts of his statement:

“Members of all three branches of the federal government have expressed serious concerns about the prevailing interpretation of the immunity set forth in Section 230 of the Communications Act. There is bipartisan support in Congress to reform the law. The U.S. Department of Commerce has petitioned the Commission to ‘clarify ambiguities in section 230.’ And earlier this week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas pointed out that courts have relied upon ‘policy and purpose arguments to grant sweeping protections to Internet platforms’ that appear to go far beyond the actual text of the provision.

“As elected officials consider whether to change the law, the question remains: What does Section 230 currently mean? Many advance an overly broad interpretation that in some cases shields social media companies from consumer protection laws in a way that has no basis in the text of Section 230. The Commission’s General Counsel has informed me that the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230. Consistent with this advice, I intend to move forward with a rulemaking to clarify its meaning.

“Throughout my tenure at the Federal Communications Commission, I have favored regulatory parity, transparency, and free expression. Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.”

This is bullshit. And what's worse is that Pai knows it's bullshit. And he's still doing it. Because he's a coward. He saw what happened when his fellow Commissioner Mike O'Rielly -- who was effectively fired for daring to point out that the 1st Amendment blocked forcing internet websites to carry his propaganda -- and Pai folded like a cheap suit.

Pai is wrong in almost everything he says above. The FCC has no jurisdiction over internet websites. Previous lawsuits have already held that. Furthermore, the FCC has no jurisdiction over Section 230, which was explicitly written to deny the FCC any authority over websites. The FCC has no power to reinterpret the law.

The final paragraph is the most ridiculous of all. He is correct that social media companies have a 1st Amendment right to free speech. And Section 230 as was written and properly and regularly interpreted by dozens of court decisions -- none of which the FCC has ever said a word about -- helps guarantee that right is not diminished through frivolous, bogus, and mis-directed litigation. That Pai would ignore all of that to keep a whiny President happy should tarnish Pai's legacy much more than his dismantling of net neutrality. The fact that he now goes back on everything he has ever said in the past about the FCC and regulations on the internet is just the fetid, rotten cherry on top of a giant pile of bullshit that he has created over the years.

Also, the claim that the immunity is "denied to other media outlets" is straight up wrong. ANY outlet is protected from liability for 3rd party content on their websites. It's why Fox News and Breitbart can have comments on their websites. It's why things like Parler and Gab can exist. Pai knows this. He's just being disingenuous.

In terms of actual impact, all this will serve to do is rile people up, waste a ton of time, and not actually change anything. Because it can't. But it will create a huge mess in the meantime, distracting everybody, and wasting a ton of resources.

As a final note: we've long disagreed with Pai about his stances on many issues, regarding net neutrality, the digital divide, municipal broadband and more. But at least he was consistent. I'd previously believed that he was misguided, but stuck true to his principles. That is clearly no longer the case. He's a lying hypocrite with no principles, no backbone, and should be regarded as a complete joke. No one can even say that his stance on net neutrality was a principled "small government, fewer regulations" stance any more, because this moves proves it was not. He has no problem moving for regulating the internet when it's politically convenient. And that's just pathetic.

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, ajit pai, cda 230, fcc, hypocrite, net neutrality, rulemaking, section 230


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 12:09pm

    Pais gotta Pai

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Rex, 15 Oct 2020 @ 12:12pm

    Facebook and Twitter suppressing news stories doesn’t help

    People are very protective of the First Amendment. Even if what they did is perfectly legal it will not stand if enough people don’t like the way they censor. Do not be surprised that if they continue censoring that people will be in favor or restricting their Section 230 rights.

    In a conflict of free speech rights between corporations and ordinary citizens the citizens should have more rights.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 12:40pm

      Even if what they did is perfectly legal it will not stand if enough people don’t like the way they [moderate].

      I wonder if people will enjoy not having those services when those services decide, after a repeal of 230, that they’d rather shut down or severely hamstring posting to the point where they may as well have shut down instead of dealing with endless lawsuits over someone else’s speech.

      🤔

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 3:21pm

        Re:

        I'm quite certain, that too will be viewed as censoring conservative voices.

        Doesn't matter what one does, it will adversely affect a conservative voice somewhere, and some are getting a bit crazy.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 6:24pm

          Re: Re:

          Doesn't matter what one does, it will adversely affect a conservative voice somewhere, and some are getting a bit crazy.

          Yep, and that's the point. Conservatives think that they are supposed to be allowed to do whatever the fuck they want, and everyone else is to grab their ankles and cry "Please Master, may I have another?"

          It's the reason why when I saw the initial backlash against Twitter and Facebook my first thought was: "Welp, what bullshit did Conservatives push this time?" After all it's not like this "story" is new. It's been around in one shape or form since Conservatives started targeting Social Media, with repeats on the uptick since Social Media platforms caved and started making their moderation practices more known.

          And before anyone rushes in and says Democrats would be better "Vote blue no matter who": The Democrats would just as gladly silence the public given the chance. I'm sure in a few years we'll be making comments about how Democrats want Section 230 gone because of Identity Politics or some other PC crap. If nothing else, we'll definitely be making comments because of all of the CP on the internet and how getting Section 230 removed would "magically make all of it go away."

          Crap like this is the reason why the US is about to implode. Too many idiots willing to do anything to "beat teh libz!", which is just idiot speak for "people I disagree with", even if it means shooting themselves in the head to do it.

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

      • icon
        lucidrenegade (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 5:58pm

        Re:

        My problem with Facebook, Twitter, and social media in general is that it gives people who used to be relegated to the fringes of society an easy way to reach the masses. Unfortunately there are a lot of gullible or stupid people who latch onto that garbage.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 6:02pm

          That’s less of a “230 needs to be repealed” problem and more of a “human nature is fucking weird” problem.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:00am

          Re: Re:

          Its not just the fringes can reach the masses, but also the fringes can find each other. It used to be that the fringes knew they were the odd one out because no one else shared their "thing". But with the internet these fringes can find each other and it encourages them to stand out and/or do things they wouldn't have before. When the fringe "thing" is something harmless like knitting socks out of dog fur, it's no big deal, but when it's holocaust denial and white supremacy it's a much bigger deal.

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

        • icon
          Samuel Abram (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 4:43am

          Re: Re:

          That's less of a social media problem and more of an internet problem.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 12:48pm

      Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news stories doesn’t help

      In a conflict of free speech rights between corporations and ordinary citizens the citizens should have more rights.

      The problem is that free speech rights for corporations can often be the same as the free speech rights for ordinary citizens.

      I can tell Twitter it can't post on my personal website as much it can tell me I can't post on its corporate website. That's the same free speech right. You can't differentiate it as two different rights.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Prometheus's son Amateurmetheus, 15 Oct 2020 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news stories doesn&rsqu

        I can tell Twitter it can't post on my personal website as much it can tell me I can't post on its corporate website.

        You're misunderstanding that the whole of Twitter is NOT its "corporate website". It offers a PERSONAL websites to each user. Twitter is no different than other HOSTS, except facilitates communication between those personal sites.

        Problem is that Twitter (and the rest of the globalist corporations) asserts control over USERS speech.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 1:30pm

          Problem is that Twitter (and the rest of the globalist corporations) asserts control over USERS speech.

          Mastodon instances assert their right to moderate speech however they see fit, and I’m hard pressed to find a corporate-owned Masto instance (or one that’s widely known, at any rate). You gonna tell them that they can’t moderate speech, either?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 2:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news stories doesn&

          It offers a PERSONAL websites to each user.

          Even if that is true, and Twitter and Facebook are more than that, they can still refuse service to anybody, especially as they are paying the bills.

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

        • identicon
          Rocky, 15 Oct 2020 @ 3:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news stories doesn&

          You're misunderstanding that the whole of Twitter is NOT its "corporate website". It offers a PERSONAL websites to each user.

          Not really, they allow the use of their service AFTER you agreed to the TOS. You wouldn't violate a contract, right?

          Problem is that Twitter (and the rest of the globalist corporations) asserts control over USERS speech.

          No, they do not. You agreed to their TOS, so if you post something they don't like you are out. Or do you regularly violate contracts and scream about your imaginary rights to use property you don't own?

          The solution is very simple, take your speech somewhere where it's welcome. Nobody is forcing you to use Twitter, Facebook or whatever - it's entirely your choice.

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

          • icon
            Samuel Abram (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 4:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news stories do

            The solution is very simple, take your speech somewhere where it's welcome. Nobody is forcing you to use Twitter, Facebook or whatever - it's entirely your choice.

            Pretty much this. Leaving Twitter and Facebook was always an option, and those wishing to amend or repeal §230 either don't realize this or refuse to do so.

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

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 11:04am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news storie

              I imagine there are a few who honestly do not know that there are other options, but for most they almost certainly do know that there are other options but also know that no-one uses those other options such that switching to them would requiring giving up the large audience that current platforms have, not to mention involve swapping to a platform with nothing but people like them, and all that would involve.

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

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 18 Oct 2020 @ 2:01am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news st

                In actual fact, I'm not sure I know anyone who only uses one social network exclusively, so the claim they don't know about competition is laughable. Sure, they tend to gravitate to the same handful of platforms but that's where the people are.. TikTok demonstrated that a new network can gain popularity today as much as Facebook did when it started, so the main problem seems to be that people just don't want to go to sites like Gab, rather than there being any actual block.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 3:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news stories doesn&

          No, you're misunderstanding. By personal site and corporate site, I was differentiating ownership. You own your personal site. Twitter owns twitter.com.

          Twitter owns all of Twitter's "sites," whether you think they're personal to the users or whatever. What you call personal sites still belong to Twitter. The platform is all Twitter. And it's the same legally as your personal blog if you self-host. The only thing Twitter doesn't own is other people's speech, but it can moderate and choose not to host the speech of others on their site. The same way that if you host a Wordpress installation on your own site, you get to moderate the comments that others make on it. You can make up your own TOS and enforce it as you please.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 12:40am

          Re: Re: Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news stories doesn&

          " It offers a PERSONAL websites to each user"

          No, it really doesn't. Again, you have to invent an alternative reality to complain about, because the one the rest of us live in doesn't agree with your fantasies.

          "Problem is that Twitter (and the rest of the globalist corporations) asserts control over USERS speech."

          Nope, Twitter can't do jack shit about your speech. But, they have the right to control their own private property. Those right include the ability to tell you to go elsewhere to exercise your speech, and use their many, many competitors or even your own property.

          When your local bar kicks you out for being a belligerent asshole (as I suspect is a regular occurance), they haven't stopped you drinking, they've just told you not to do it on their property. Why do you have problem with private property rights?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 12:57pm

      Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news stories doesn’t help

      In a conflict of free speech rights between corporations and ordinary citizens the citizens should have more rights.

      Citizens have never had the right to force a corporation to carry their words. Indeed the newspapers and traditional publishers place even more restriction on what they will publish that Internet sites that allow user generated content.

      Your problem is that people do not want to listen to you, so you want the government to force them to listen. You will not succeed in that, as people will find other ways of communicating where they can avoid the likes of you.

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

    • icon
      mattfwood (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 1:44pm

      Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news stories doesn’t help

      A private website can't censor the president. The 1st Amendment protects Twitter and its users from the government; it doesn't protect the government from Twitter.

      And the notion that a single social media platform tamping down on a particular piece of propaganda somehow curtails the president's ability to say it and to distribute it widely is laughable.

      What do you want next, a law that says every newspaper has to carry the Russian I mean NY Post story on Hunter Biden, or else that is censorship too?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 4:44pm

      Re: Facebook and Twitter suppressing news stories doesn’t help

      In a conflict of free speech rights between corporations and ordinary citizens the citizens should have more rights.

      Then why can't the gov't force a corporation to bake a cake for a gay couple?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 12:30pm

    Book publishers/sellers, print media, and broadcast media enjoy the same type 3rd Party Liability Immunity as websites have under 230 ?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 12:41pm

      Re:

      Book publishers/sellers, print media, and broadcast media enjoy the same type 3rd Party Liability Immunity as websites have under 230 ?

      Book publishers / sellers, print media and broadcast media enjoy the same 3rd party liability immunity on their websites as with all websites under 230.

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

      • icon
        BernardoVerda (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 2:15pm

        Re: Re:

        It's been a while, and I've forgotten many of the finer points, but...

        Isn't this where the question of whether a party (platform, publisher, etc) has or exercises a significant curatorial role, comes in?'

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 2:31pm

          Irrelevant to Section 230, which makes no mention of “publisher” or “platform”. Neither does the First Amendment, for that matter.

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

          • icon
            BernardoVerda (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 9:50pm

            Re:

            My question was actually about how much difference curation makes.

            My understanding was that the more involved some party is, in deciding what gets published, the more likely they are to be held responsible or found to share responsibility for that material.

            (So, for example, book publishers and newspapers are considered more involved -- and more at risk -- than an online comment board or social media platform, as they may be considered participants in the process, rather than merely the medium of communication.)

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 10:21pm

              Re: Re:

              Curation makes no difference, that's the entire point of Section 230. Its intent is to remove any liability for user content so websites can be free to moderate it as they see fit. That was seen as desirable because if the level of curation determines liability then companies will simply moderate nothing to be legally safe.

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 12:48am

              Re: Re:

              "My understanding was that the more involved some party is, in deciding what gets published, the more likely they are to be held responsible or found to share responsibility for that material."

              You may be confused. All that section 230 does is protect a platform from the consequences of actions over which it had no control. It does not protect them if they post the content itself.

              So, for example, if you go a newspaper's website and read a story posted by a journalist, editor or contractor for the newspaper, they would be liable for the content since the newspaper posted the content themselves. However, they would not be held liable for any comments posted by the general public on that page, since they had no control over that speech (although they would be held liable for any responses made by newspaper staff in the same section). The level of curation is irrelevant, it's all about who posted it and their relationship to the platform used.

              This is all section 230 is - if somebody did or said something objectionable, you have to go after the person who actually did that thing, rather than suing whoever owns the property it happened on, or the nearest cash-rich innocent. bystander.

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

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 3:22am

              My question was actually about how much difference curation makes.

              None whatsoever. Every interactive web service has a right to decide what speech is and isn’t acceptable on that service. To say otherwise is to say that the government doesn’t allow services to moderate speech — and we all know that’s not true.

              My understanding was that the more involved some party is, in deciding what gets published, the more likely they are to be held responsible or found to share responsibility for that material.

              Not quite true, but you’re on the right track: Legal liability for speech falls upon those who make that speech. A service such as Twitter holds no responsibility for the speech of third parties (e.g., Donald Trump). But if a Twitter employee were to, through direct action, help craft that speech (in part or in whole) or aid in its publication, the law would put Twitter on the hook for that speech. This is why the Backpage case happened: Backpage employees were found to have helped in the crafting/publishing of the content that got Backpage in trouble.

              Moderating speech is not an act for which services can be punished. Twitter admins have the absolute legal right to decide what speech Twitter will and will not host. Without 230, that right would not exist — or not in the way it currently exists, at any rate.

              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, 16 Oct 2020 @ 6:08am

                Re:

                " Twitter admins have the absolute legal right to decide what speech Twitter will and will not host. Without 230, that right would not exist — or not in the way it currently exists, at any rate."

                No

                Twitter distributes an edited/curated media product and is subject to longstanding Common Law & statute liability for defamation, etc.

                However, S230 granted Twitter and internet media SPECIAL IMMUNITY from laws that still apply to everyone else.
                That's why S230 is so controversial !

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

                • identicon
                  Rocky, 16 Oct 2020 @ 6:39am

                  Re: Re:

                  Please cite which laws that Twitter and internet media has special immunity against. Or are you just going to wave your hands wildly while yelling common law again?

                  I doubt you have even read Section 230, which explains your incredible ignorance.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 6:41am

                  Re: Re:

                  Make Twitter liable for every and any tweet published by its service, and twitter shuts it doors. If you get what you are demanding, you will find that you have returned the world to the pre-internet state, where corporations decide what speech can be published, and leave the majority with no realistic way of getting their words published.

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

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 7:02am

                  Re: Re:

                  "However, S230 granted Twitter and internet media SPECIAL IMMUNITY from laws that still apply to everyone else."

                  No, it hasn't. They have the same rights as everybody else. You're just bitter because that means they can choose not to associate with you in the same way that the bar you get kicked out of every Wednesday morning can choose not to.

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

                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 7:44am

                  Section 230 protects Twitter from legal liability for the speech of third parties. You can’t sue Twitter for defamation over a tweet someone else posted unless you can prove Twitter employees helped either write or publish that tweet through direct and knowing action. That law applies to all other interactive web services, no matter how small.

                  And by the by, you can’t sue an offline business for third party speech, either. If someone slaps a flier that defames you on the window of a local Dollar Tree, you can’t sue Dollar Tree unless you can prove a Dollar Tree employee either wrote or “published” the flier (i.e., put the flier on the window).

                  230 does not grant a “special right” to any company. It codifies the law surrounding liability for third-party speech as it relates to web services. Without that law, the Prodigy ruling might have become the precedent that governs the Internet — and as much as you seem to hate Twitter being legally allowed to moderate speech, I bet you’d hate even more an Internet that is far less interactive.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:32am

                  Re: Re:

                  I think you misunderstand how the internet works.

                  Twitter is a computer tool company with a platform. They create and host a tool that gives people the necessary items to write a digital sign and hold it up where others can see. Twitter should no more be held liable for what you write on your sign than the grocery store should be held liable if you stand on their property with an offensive picket sign you created. Just because Twitter provided the sign and the markers also doesn't mean they can't tell you to get off their property and never come back when you start drawing swastikas or spreading conspiracy theories.

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

            • icon
              techflaws (profile), 18 Oct 2020 @ 1:53am

              Re: Re:

              My question was actually about how much difference curation makes.

              You could by now have read

              Hello! You've Been Referred Here Because You're Wrong About Section 230 Of The Communications Decency Act.

              which should be prominently linked to from any article covering this subject (it's in the trending posts on the right though).

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 2:54pm

        Re: Re: immunity law

        well then, what law grants these other types of media the very same immunity as internet media ?

        And why doesn't THAT law also grant same immunity to internet media, thus eliminating any need for Section 230 ??

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

        • identicon
          Rocky, 15 Oct 2020 @ 3:49pm

          Re: Re: Re: immunity law

          well then, what law grants these other types of media the very same immunity as internet media ?

          The first amendment.

          And why doesn't THAT law also grant same immunity to internet media, thus eliminating any need for Section 230 ??

          It does (first amendment), but the amount of content generated on the internet doesn't lend itself to be curated like news-print or other traditional media.

          To explain the problem, imagine if an internet service could be liable for all content they moderated. Now imagine that the same internet service could also be liable for all content they didn't moderate. That was the untenable situation before Section 230 clarified who really was liable.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 5:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: immunity law

            "but the amount of content generated"

            .... so you have determined that 1st Amendment protections vanish if some large amount of free speech content is produced ???

            Nobody else in history has ever before asserted such nonsense.

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

            • identicon
              Rocky, 16 Oct 2020 @ 6:08am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: immunity law

              so you have determined that 1st Amendment protections vanish if some large amount of free speech content is produced

              No, that's you jumping to conclusions by taking something out of context.

              You specifically asked And why doesn't THAT law also grant same immunity to internet media, thus eliminating any need for Section 230 ??, and I said that the first amendment still applies. The "but" I added is for the need of Section 230 to clarify WHO is liable for content posted.

              It's almost like you didn't read the entirety of my post. Do yourself a service, go and read Section 230 (it's short) and come back if you have any questions: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 6:29am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: immunity law

              ".... so you have determined that 1st Amendment protections vanish if some large amount of free speech content is produced ???"

              No, since we're not talking about the government.

              "Nobody else in history has ever before asserted such nonsense."

              I agree that we're dealing with historical amount of ignorance, but not in the way your fevered imagination is projecting it.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: immunity law

              Section 230 codifies something that should be blatantly obvious (and is for those in the industry) given the 1st amendment, personal liability, and how the internet works. The problem was back in the 1990s (and seems to continue based on your responses) that there is a very limited understanding by the average person how internet tools and platforms work. Since there was a famous case involving CompuServe where a platform was held liable for their user's content, a few legislatures decided to make it absolutely clear in the law that just because a platform creates tools and hosts other people's speech, its the speakers of the speech and not the platform who should get the blame.

              Just as you shouting "fuck the police" while riding past a cop in my car

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 9:01am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: immunity law

                Oops -- got cut off.

                Just as you shouting "fuck the police" while riding past a cop in my car should be protected by free speech, the state should not be allowed to penalize or harass me just because I was there with you and gave you a way to make your comment.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 12:42pm

      Re:

      Correct, they do.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 12:44pm

      Re:

      They do.

      If I take a copy of a book and write something actually defamatory on the book jacket, you don't get to sue the publisher or the author of the book.

      If I hang signs that imply false things about the president with actual malice on the notice board in the local Panera Bread, he doesn't get to sue Panera.

      If I somehow splice into the local TV broadcast and inject porn into the ABC Local News reports, you don't sue ABC Local 4.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 3:53am

      Re:

      Book publishers can be sued for allowing libel through if it can be proven they knew it was libel. Sellers can't.

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  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 12:46pm

    It's on brand for Pai

    I suspect this is less about Pai caring about the integrity of section 230 and more that it's in vogue to throw shade on it, especially because the conservatives don't like it when people notice they conflate conservatism with racial bigotry and supremacist rhetoric (and overly permissive use of racial slurs).

    That's what Pai's superiors are harrumphing about so Pai, being a master line-toer shall harrumph also.

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  • icon
    Atkray (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 12:49pm

    Sorry Mike, Santa is not real.

    Mike,
    Your statement:

    " I'd previously believed that he was misguided, but stuck true to his principles. "

    Is because even though you spend most of your time in a cesspool, you (as demonstrated by your end of year posts) try to see the good in people.

    It is what makes the site readable and often infuriating but keeps it from becoming overwhelmingly depressing.

    Many of the rest of us have long felt that Pai would sell his dying mother's hospital bed out from under her.

    That said,

    Thank you for being a lighthouse in the storm that is 2020.

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    • icon
      lucidrenegade (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 6:01pm

      Re: Sorry Mike, Santa is not real.

      I wonder if Tom Wheeler could be convinced to return to the FCC when Biden takes over in January. That would be a nice little "fuck you" to Pai.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 1:05am

      Re: Sorry Mike, Santa is not real.

      "Many of the rest of us have long felt that Pai would sell his dying mother's hospital bed out from under her. "

      Pai would go further than that. He'd be on the phone with doctors, at her death bed, negotiating a good price for her kidneys. And claim with pride that her last lucid moments in life would be of her son being successful at his business.

      Most rational people believe there's common ground with even the worst adversaries. A bottom line to be found. Lines that if crossed should provoke shock and outrage.

      When it comes to republican top posts it's pretty clear that anyone with even a shred of decency, ethics and morality has been carefully and painstakingly vetted out, leaving only people so absent of positive traits they could be reasonably compared to Heinrich, Himmler and Hess.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 2:13pm

        Re: Re: Sorry Mike, Santa is not real.

        godwin'd at 1:05AM

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        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Oct 2020 @ 7:00am

          Re: Re: Re: Sorry Mike, Santa is not real.

          "godwin'd at 1:05AM"

          That rule does not apply when the people in question do, in fact, possess the relevant qualities. Heinrich, Himmler and Hess have been the field of very extensive psychological scrutiny - and as it turns out their particular profiles aren't rare.

          Ajit Pai and a number of other people in recent times, such as Shkreli, fit the profile perfectly.

          But hey, I'm game. I'll just talk about the Very Fine People instead, if you think that's better.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 1:09pm

    I can see it now.

    An advertiser, sends 3rd party data to sponsored sites.
    Its a stupid one that says stupid things, and should be banned for just being stupid.

    But who is liable?
    Lets not go after the Advert agency, nor the group who bought and paid for it to be Broadcast around the net.
    LETS SUE THE SITE CREATOR, and why not add the Server owners?
    Someone has to be responsible for Checking a 3rd party advert, before its displayed on THEIR own site?

    What newspaper/TV channel/Radio is held responsible for Adverts?
    At this point, anyone creating a Internet site would need to become an LLC. To protect themselves.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 1:16pm

    "He's a lying hypocrite with no principles, no backbone, and should be regarded as a complete joke." This is different from any other lawyer working for Trump?

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 1:37pm

      Any other lawyer working for Trump

      The difference is that Trump found Pai already in place. Someone else wedged him in there like used chewing gum.

      Trump typically has to go to his used-chewing-gum farm and fetch one of his own to wedge into places he wants to befoul to his liking.

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    identicon
    Prometheus's son Amateurmetheus, 15 Oct 2020 @ 1:20pm

    Nor do corporations have right to control the speech of "users"

    But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.

    S230 made an exception to ALL prior law and left a loophole so that hosts get to claim are publishers, not mere hosts, and thereby control speech of The Public, and while IMMUNE too.

    Tell ya, Maz, that immunity and control are not going to be allowed to continue. Was never the intent -- CANNOT be in American Law -- that hosts get to control Public Forums.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 1:26pm

      Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech of "use

      Was never the intent -- CANNOT be in American Law -- that hosts get to control Public Forums.

      I guess it's a good thing that Twitter and Facebook aren't Public Forums then.

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 3:38am

        Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech of

        Actually twitter IS a public forum, and has been ruled so by the Courts. Remember when they said Trump couldnt block people from his twitter account because its was official governement communications?

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        • identicon
          Rocky, 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:24am

          Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech

          You didn't really read the opinion from the judge in that case it seems. The case touched upon the subject of government censorship and since Trump et al said that his twitter account was used as an official government communication channel they are then not allowed to block people on his account for which they where sued.

          That doesn't translate into Twitter becoming a public forum, because if that where the case any service that the government uses in an official capacity would then become a "public". For example, if the government buys a page in a news-paper to inform people of something that's official government communication - do you really then believe the news-paper then becomes a "public forum"?

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:27pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the sp

            "Opening an instrumentality of communication “for indiscriminate use by the general public”creates a public forum. The Account was intentionally opened for public discussion when the President, upon assuming office, repeatedly used the Account as an official vehicle for governance and made its interactive features accessible to the public without limitation. We hold that this conduct created a public forum."

            So. sayeth the 2nd Circuit.

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            • identicon
              Rocky, 16 Oct 2020 @ 9:17pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control th

              I see you don't understand the context. I'm not surprised since it's the normal MO of someone who thinks they are right because they just read one paragraph that fit their narrative without even reflecting on what they read.

              Let me explain the context (which is blatantly obvious in the quote from the 2nd circuit): When the judge says that the conduct created a public forum, he is actually referring to the specific account in question.

              Here's a quote from the opinion:

              President Trump established his account, with the handle @realDonaldTrump,(the "Account") in March 2009. No one disputes that before he became President the Account was a purely private one or that once he leaves office the Account will presumably revert to its private status. This litigation concerns what the Account is now.

              See, the judge is talking about the public/private nature of the account, not Twitter.

              And here's another where the Judge affirms the earlier decision:

              The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Buchwald, J.) found that the "interactive space" in the account is a public forum and that the exclusion from that space was unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. We agree, and, accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the District Court.

              See, here the judge says it's the "interactive space" in the account that is a public forum, not Twitter.

              Here's a tip: If you are going to prove someone wrong, don't try to be an smart-ass when you haven't done the due diligence, it only makes you look like a fool.

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 1:13am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control th

              Yes, the 2nd circuit rules that the account was a public forum. What does that have to do with any other account?

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 5:09am

          Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech

          "Actually twitter IS a public forum, and has been ruled so by the Courts. "

          No, it hasn't. They have ruled that, since Trump was using his personal Twitter account to broadcast official White House communication, his personal account would have to be included as an official White House communications outlet and thus be subject to retention rules that cover all White House comms. But, this did not affect any other account on the platform.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 5:12am

          I do remember that ruling.

          It was about whether Trump could block American Twitter users from viewing his personal Twitter account since he used it for government business so often that it became a de facto government account. That case had nothing to do with the government forcing Twitter to become a public forum where all speech must be hosted and treated equally. You’re probably thinking of Manhattan Community Access Corp v. Halleck — which didn’t directly deal with the idea of “social network services are public forums”, but did address the idea in both the ruling (written by Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh) and in Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent.

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        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:22am

          Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech

          If younwere literate, you would have known "Twitter is a public forum" is 100% the opposite of how courts have actually ruled.

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

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 9:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech

          Actually twitter IS a public forum, and has been ruled so by the Courts

          No. This is blatantly false information and you should not spread it.

          Remember when they said Trump couldnt block people from his twitter account because its was official governement communications?

          What they ruled was that the space beneath a public officials official tweets (the replies) constitutes a limited public forum. But just that space. They're not saying all of Twitter is. It's the same thing as if the President gives a rally at an arena, that rally is considered a public forum and they cannot block anyone from attending based on their speech or beliefs. But it doesn't suddenly turn that arena into a public forum for all time.

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the sp

            Not true.

            "Opening an instrumentality of communication “for indiscriminate use by the general public”creates a public forum. The Account was intentionally opened for public discussion when the President, upon assuming office, repeatedly used the Account as an official vehicle for governance and made its interactive features accessible to the public without limitation. We hold that this conduct created a public forum."

            So, ANY government account on Twitter, such as @PressSec is a public forum. The "we hold" language establishes that.

            So. sayeth the 2nd Circuit.

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            • icon
              Mike Masnick (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:48pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control th

              I don't see how you're disagreeing with me here. Rather you are disagreeing with your own original comment. You initially said that "Twitter is a public forum." I pointed out to you that is incorrect, and the 2nd Circuit ruled only the discussion space in response to an official's posts is the public forum.

              And you responded saying "not true" and then repeating the point I made refuting you.

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 1:14am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control th

              "So, ANY government account on Twitter, such as @PressSec is a public forum."

              Any government account, yes. What does that have to do with non-government accounts?

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              • icon
                Toom1275 (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 9:05am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to contro

                Another important fact to note: That government accounts become limited public forums does not restrict Twitter's rights to moderate users in any way - the only restrictions are upon the accounts' government employee operators.

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

        • icon
          techflaws (profile), 18 Oct 2020 @ 1:57am

          Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech

          Actually twitter IS a public forum, and has been ruled so by the Courts.

          URL to that verdict?

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

    • identicon
      TFG, 15 Oct 2020 @ 1:27pm

      Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech of "use

      I see you haven't read and understood the actual language of section 230 nor paid any attention to what the creators to the law have said about it.

      Nor have you paid any attention to the fact that the Supreme Court already ruled it constitutional when the rest of the CDA (that section 230 was never really intended to accompany) was struck down.

      It is, perhaps, the most American law there is, when you're looking at laws that exemplify the actual virtues that the country is supposed to stand for.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 1:32pm

      230 does not use the “publisher”/“platform” distinction anywhere in its text. Neither does the First Amendment, the protections of which are afforded to sites like Twitter by way of 230.

      We get that you want to force your speech onto services like Twitter and force those services to give you an audience. You could at least show a little honesty and admit to it.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 5:37pm

      Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech of "use

      “That host get to control forums”

      Well sir I’m afraid your wrong.

      Here let me show you.

      “Hits flag”

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 11:35pm

      Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech of "use

      Was never the intent

      The authors of the legislation have said, repeatedly, that it was exactly their intent.

      You went away for a few months. One would have hoped that when you returned you would have learned to stop lying. Too bad.

      Maybe next time.

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      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 7:47am

        Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech of

        "One would have hoped that when you returned you would have learned to stop lying. Too bad."

        It's a fundamental sign of decency that you still have optimism and hope about the state of the alt-right/copyright trolls, Mike.

        Unfortunately this particular one, ten years a veteran of pushing the same incoherent and malicious garbage, isn't likely to change. There's a reason he never even tries to use an actual account these days - because he truly can not help himself and never learns.

        I'm fully convinced old Bobmail will end his days, decades down the line, still spewing the same self-defeating nonsense on some hapless forum as the primary highlight of his day, likely still trying to push one last call for "Punishment!" of liberals and pirates out.

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    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 1:12am

      Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech of "use

      "Was never the intent -- CANNOT be in American Law -- that hosts get to control Public Forums."

      Just like a bar, a private home, or the local mom-and-pop store a privately owned platform is still not a public forum.

      I'm pretty sure that actual communism where the state seizes control over the means of production - private enterprise and property - was even less American Law or Intent...but apparently that's how you see it.

      Neither Facebook nor Twitter are public forums. They are private platforms and no more public than your own living room or the wal-mart next block is. The rules by which you are allowed entry is clearly described on the door and if you don't follow the rules set by the home owner, out you go.
      Yet here you are, arguing like a soviet commissar that private property is a lie and must be curtailed by the glorious state.

      Honestly, I shouldn't be surprised by now that "alt-right" appears to mean "extreme left" - by european standards, at that.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 3:31am

        Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech of

        I'm pretty sure that actual communism where the state seizes control over the means of production

        Actually that is socialism, while communism is when the workers own the means of production. Communist parties adopted the theory that they needed to implement socialism, as a step on the way to the communist heaven, but having achieved that objective, they decided not to work on the next step which involved them giving up power.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 6:46am

          Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech

          Interesting there are no actual countries that are by definition socialist, communist or capitalist.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 11:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the sp

            Its the nature of people who go into ideologically driven politics, when they gain power, they become tyrants, and staying in power become more important than delivering what they promised.

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

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 12:07pm

            No one is, by definition, communist

            That's correct. China is, and the Soviet Union was, a provisionary pre-Communist authoritarian regime. People put in such positions tend to try to king it that is, they consolidate power and try to hold onto it.

            Even Lenin couldn't follow through, and we're not sure Lennon could either.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 7:51am

          Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech

          "...but having achieved that objective, they decided not to work on the next step which involved them giving up power."

          I stand corrected. Although for most semantic purposes I doubt the alt-right would recognize the difference anyway. I mean, a not insignificant proportion of the alt-right actively wants to abolish government in favor of complete county-owned principalities, which ironically renders many of them dictionary-definition communist.

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          • icon
            nasch (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 9:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the sp

            Although for most semantic purposes I doubt the alt-right would recognize the difference anyway.

            Forget alt-right, mainstream Republicans think regulated privately owned for-profit health insurance is socialism, so they definitely don't know the difference between socialism and communism.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 2:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the sp

            The alt right is more fascist, that is you build and own the business, and they tell you how to run it for their benefit.

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

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 3:52am

        Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech of

        "Neither Facebook nor Twitter are public forums."

        Yes they are. The Courts have said so.

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        • identicon
          Rocky, 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:27am

          Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech

          They haven't. Here's the opinion from Judge Parker for the case you where to lazy to read: https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/1365-trump-twitter-second-circuit-r/c0f4e0701b087dab9b43/opt imized/full.pdf#page=1

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 5:04am

          The Courts have said so.

          The Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority in the United States, said otherwise. Now, who do you think I’m going to trust: the Supreme Court or some rando schmuck who makes a claim of fact without presenting the evidence to back it up?

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 5:13am

          Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech

          No, they haven't. Read the actual decision.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 6:48am

          Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech

          "Yes they are. The Courts have said so."

          I would like to see what convinced you of this.

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

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the sp

            Not true.

            "Opening an instrumentality of communication “for indiscriminate use by the general public”creates a public forum. The Account was intentionally opened for public discussion when the President, upon assuming office, repeatedly used the Account as an official vehicle for governance and made its interactive features accessible to the public without limitation. We hold that this conduct created a public forum."

            The "we hold" language establishes that.

            So. sayeth the 2nd Circuit.

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

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 5:17pm

              And the ruling was strictly limited to Donald Trump’s personal Twitter account — because if Trump were using that account for government business (which he is), the American public would have every right to either tell him off or suck him off in equal measure with their own accounts. The court didn’t rule that Twitter itself is a public forum. It ruled that Donald Trump’s account on Twitter is a public forum, subject to the same rules as public forums in meatspace, so long as he remains part of the government.

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

              • icon
                bhull242 (profile), 19 Oct 2020 @ 1:09pm

                Re:

                Just to clarify, the ruling could apply to other government officials’ accounts, but not Twitter itself or private accounts, and only to the people running those accounts.

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            • icon
              Toom1275 (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 7:50pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control th

              If you were literate, you would have realized your quote just debunked your false narrative.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Oct 2020 @ 7:10am

          Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the speech

          "Yes they are. The Courts have said so."

          If that was the case the whole GOP would have launched suits the very second the ruling came out. Your claim is self-evidently false.

          What the courts have said is that the personal comment section of POTUS is covered by the rules around official government publication.

          Meaning that Trump's tweet history will be retained for as long as the US exists and must be publicly available for all that time, to any who asks.
          The rest of twitter, not so much.

          This should be a pretty easy exercise in logic. If POTUS holds a public address at a stadium then for the duration of his rally that stadium is covered by government publication rules.

          It is not so before or after the rally.
          It is not so for any other stadium owned by whoever owns the stadium POTUS is talking in.
          It is not so for any other stadium anywhere.

          Your logic is...as childish and broken as what we've normally come to expect from the alt-right.

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 20 Oct 2020 @ 7:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Nor do corporations have right to control the sp

            "What the courts have said is that the personal comment section of POTUS is covered by the rules around official government publication."

            ...and that the specific reason for this is that he was using it for official government communication instead of using the already publicly used @POTUS Twitter account. If he'd have done that, as Obama did, then no such decision would have been necessary. But, instead, he used his personal account to such a degree that his Twitter feed was finding about policy decisions before his own staffers were, and there's a public need to retain that information and to stop Trump from blocking people from knowing about what's communicated.

            These guys are taking a decision to stop Trump from bypassing the public need to record the official communications made on behalf of the White House, and pretending that the decision means that the government seized all private property in that location... which is apparently a good thing despite them hating communism and hating Hillary for trying to bypass official communications channels.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 1:53pm

    they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.”

    I'll take this as "denied to offline media outlets". Obviously the online comments section of the newspaper, if they still have one, gets this immunity too.

    But anyway, I agree. They don't have a First Amendment right to special immunity denied to print newspapers. They have the exact same First Amendment rights as everyone else.

    What they DO have is a special statutory immunity, known as Section 230. Statutes trump regulations, generally.

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  • icon
    Jojo (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 2:24pm

    Me: YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE! YOU WERE TO BRING BALANCE TO THE INTERNET! NOT LEAVE IT IN DARKNESS!

    Punt: I A M T H E I N T E R N E T .

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 3:37pm

    Left wing tears... yum.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2020 @ 4:59pm

      Re:

      Are they as tasty as the bleach you inject into your veins?

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 5:03pm

      Any repeal of Section 230 will also apply to “right-wing” websites. I’d worry less about “liberal tears” and more about your own when your favorite conservative social media network gets shut down because you were too invested in the suffering and pain of others to realize how much you were hurting yourself.

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 10:12pm

      Is that all that US conservatism has become?

      By 2017 the right wing has only become a dark reflection of the left, the republican agenda dissolved to nothing except to decide to undo all things that the black president did. Everything on the table is acceptable so long as it makes the libtards hurt.

      If it weren't for liberal tears, the right wing would die of dehydration, and once they massacre / deport all the immigrants, they'll start in on the black and browns, then the lower class whites.

      And they'll not stop. Are you on a first name basis with a billionaire? Do you have an uncle who's a billionaire? If neither of these things, you're on the list, once they're done with the trade unionists and communists and Jews. It's a long list, and the hatred fuels the movement.

      It's terrifying to me that people would define themselves as an antithesis to an enemy.

      But that's the greatest trick that Satan ever pulled, isn't it? By giving mortals a paintbrush by which to label others as evil we then have license to do whatever we want. Torture them. Rape them. Enslave them. Suck the scream out of them. It doesn't matter because they're diabolic by fiat. Witches are such a convenience!

      So long as someone else is themonster we can rest assured that we're not the real monsters. Right?

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      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 1:32am

        Re: Is that all that US conservatism has become?

        "...the republican agenda dissolved to nothing except to decide to undo all things that the black president did."

        Naturally. By the time Trump stood for candidacy the republicans were in a pretty bad state. Their power base old and dying, the last shreds of rationale and reason dropping off with McCain, and their whole new base centered around the entitled misfits who thought equal rights for women, the HBTQ-folks, the nonreligious and, of course, the non-whites and "ze jews" meant taking away that very last thing they had to feel good about.

        US liberals had better realize they're in a war, because the "alt-right" certainly sees it that way. There's no longer a "two sides of the aisle" or a "difference of opinion". There's just one side which believes in reason, science, and humanitarian ideals to at least some extent...and the other side, composed of a savage death cult rejecting science, education, and equal rights as tools of the devil, standing ad portas with battering rams.

        "...once they're done with the trade unionists and communists and Jews. It's a long list, and the hatred fuels the movement."

        And it never has any purpose beyond that hatred. No actual positive or constructive cause. It's just a persistent drug trip where the biochemical high of hate fuels the search for more people to hate. The DHS - ironically - has a published paper; "Addicted to Hate: Identity Residual among Former White Supremacists" which describes how disengaging from a lifestyle of hate causes withdrawal symptoms.

        "It's terrifying to me that people would define themselves as an antithesis to an enemy."

        And yet defining yourself entirely by what you hate is easy and makes you feel good. So it's always a popular choice which can only be fought by persistent efforts of intervention and deprogramming.

        "But that's the greatest trick that Satan ever pulled, isn't it?"

        Leave the hypothetical devil out of it. Even assuming we could give scripture credibility the "Devil" only emerges as the chosen scapegoat by which human beings eager to push the blame on anyone other than themselves can stand up and claim "the devil made me do it" rather than have to face the fact that they themselves chose to be monsters.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 2:41am

        Re: Is that all that US conservatism has become?

        I'm sorry, but us witches don't believe in the diabolical. Although I do wonder at times if Trump is Satan :)

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        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 1:30pm

          Witches, Other Witches, Wiccans and Witchcraft

          The criminalization or demonization of magic is a fascination of mine. Still active as I recently learned the Roman Catholic Church still endorses Ouija Boards as a channel for talking to demons rather than subconsciouses of the participants. Mostly in their warnings not to try to talk to dead loved-ones. I wonder if the RCC accepts ghosts as a valid phenomenon.

          But the term witchcraft has a long history of being the term for criminalized magical practices, much the way sorcery was (still is) used in the east. The Islamic Golden Age came to a close in the 14th century largely due to a rise in religion, in which previous scientific and mathematical methods were criminalized as sorcery. Algebraists, chemists and astronomers disappeared into the woodwork, and astrologers (who were somehow still legal) hung shingles in record numbers.

          But the Satan and the Witches in my rhetoric are an old literary device. They're a label we give to those we other to justify the horrible things we do to them. When Hansel and Gretel are found dead in the woods (from exposure), Someone Must Pay and usually it is the most marginalized among the known folk who get lynched for it.

          And for some reason, once someone is the enemy, we're allowed to do anything to them, which is how the CIA Extrajudicial Detention and Enhanced Interrogation program was pulled together by two devoted members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You'd think such guys would know better than found a program that tortures innocent people without even due process.

          But yes, in the twenty-first century, there is a wide gamut of (generally benign or even benevolent) witches and witchcraft. And in the meanwhile, the more religious institutions betray their own principles to preserve institutional power, it reveals that old Scratch may have a valid point.

          I certainly approve of The Dark One's long line of products.

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    identicon
    Appreciative user, 15 Oct 2020 @ 5:24pm

    I think you are obviously right when it comes SPECIFICALLY to section 230. But then you are just addressing the poor arguments of "that" side and not the steelman argument of what the government CAN do to effectively get the same outcome. The broader picture is that they can likely reclassify platforms like Twitter/Facebook as public squares. Even Mark Zuckerberg has come out and said similar (and saying they SHOULD provide more regulation). You can argue all you want about the 1st amendment, but we have long ago ruled that

    1. At a certain level of public good/need
    2. At a certain level of a companies power over the public and/or public discourse

    a private company can be treated as a govt entity when it comes to protecting the rights of people it interacts with.

    This is a well litigated fields, just not specifically when it comes to virtual things like online platforms. It hasn't got there yet.

    The need for protections given to people from the government (by the amendments) isn't for some random reason. The reason is that government has overbearing power on you as an individual. At a certain point, because of their size, many corporations are getting close to having this power. I'm not making an argument of exactly when that would be. Maybe not today. But maybe today.

    You can no more create a social network that hosts billions of users, than creating your own parallel phone line. So "make your own" isn't a good faith argument. It is maybe a good argument when talking to other large corporations or someone with political reach like a politician. But not to the every day man. Even more to the point, the fact that solar power is affordable and many people have been able to get "off the grid", doesn't invalidate the need for the electric company to be classified as a utility.

    This is NOT a left vs right debate. IT doesn't matter who is currently benefiting or at odds with it. You want to make laws that you would be confident giving your enemy to work with.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 5:36pm

      Man, you really are stumping for the fascist takeover of major social media platforms by a government that is more than willing to stomp out dissent, huh?

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    • icon
      cattress (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 9:19pm

      Re:

      Build your own is absolutely feasible. Snapchat. Tiktok. Parler. Doesn't have to get all the millions of users of Twitter or FB, or else you'll just end up with the same demand to moderate according to the same preferences. Just has to reach the like-minded people.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 11:39pm

      Re:

      I think you are obviously right when it comes SPECIFICALLY to section 230. But then you are just addressing the poor arguments of "that" side and not the steelman argument of what the government CAN do to effectively get the same outcome. The broader picture is that they can likely reclassify platforms like Twitter/Facebook as public squares.

      Not under the 1st Amendment they cannot.

      Like, literally just last year, Brett Kavanaugh issued a ruling in the Supreme Court saying that's not how any of that works. You can read about it here: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190617/16001942415/supreme-court-signals-loud-clear-that-social- media-sites-are-not-public-forums-that-have-to-allow-all-speech.shtml

      The government doesn't just get to declare a website a public square. The Supreme Court has said that's unconstitutional in all but a very, very limited number of cases, and social media sites come nowhere near qualifying for that.

      This is a well litigated fields, just not specifically when it comes to virtual things like online platforms. It hasn't got there yet.

      You're wrong. I just pointed you to a ruling.

      This is NOT a left vs right debate. IT doesn't matter who is currently benefiting or at odds with it. You want to make laws that you would be confident giving your enemy to work with.

      Then you want to support the 1st Amendment and not the ability to "declare" private property a "public square."

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      • identicon
        Appreciative user, 16 Oct 2020 @ 10:04am

        Re: Re:

        I appreciate your response. I have read your linked article, and a few others now. You have potentially changed my mind on something that I have been very dug in on. I have done a good amount of research on this topic and unfortunately could not come up with concise matter of fact explanations on the topic like you provide. All that I found clear politically biased half truths on both sides. Not being a constitutional lawyer myself, I was left to do the best I could with the information I had in front of me. I wish your break downs had more reach and I found them sooner.

        If you had to steelman the opposite sides argument (regulating social platforms and their moderation to some extent), could you come up with a way that the government COULD potentially enforce regulation on the social platforms? Monopoly laws? What about if it reaches certain thresholds of importance in everybody's every day lives. Etc..

        Not saying it would change any outcome, but it seems feasible that at a certain point government says that a company like twitter may have to break up its main business, from the business of moderation, from the business that now generates relevant news and puts it in your search feed, etc..

        Thanks again.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 11:05am

          could you come up with a way that the government COULD potentially enforce regulation on the social platforms?

          Any regulation to control content would be challenged — and likely defeated — on First Amendment grounds. Any regulation to control data (e.g., user data that Twitter, Facebook, etc. collect and store) might have a better shot of passing, since that would hit upon privacy issues and such.

          What about if it reaches certain thresholds of importance in everybody's every day lives.

          How do we objectively determine when a service such as Twitter becomes “important” to someone, never mind “important” enough to a certain number of people that it requires government control? When you can come up with an answer for that, have it stand up to scrutiny, and further explain how a smaller service that hits your arbitrary threshold must adjust how it operates to stay within the boundaries of the law, you can raise that point again.

          it seems feasible that at a certain point government says that a company like twitter may have to break up its main business, from the business of moderation, from the business that now generates relevant news and puts it in your search feed

          You’d first have to determine the point where that should happen. See my paragraph above about that. But going back to your point: How would — could — you break up Twitter such that its “main business” (a privately owned communications platform) is separated from “the business of moderation”, especially when the thing that makes its “main business” work is “the business of moderation”?

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          • identicon
            Appreciative user, 16 Oct 2020 @ 11:52am

            Re:

            It seems like the points you bring up are valid, but ones we may have already answered. We do have utilities right? Someone did decide that it was important enough to require special treatment. What am I missing?

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            • icon
              nasch (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 12:04pm

              Re: Re:

              We do have utilities right? Someone did decide that it was important enough to require special treatment. What am I missing?

              Are you suggesting that Facebook and Twitter are like utilities (electricity, water, natural gas), and should be regulated accordingly? Or something else?

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 12:23pm

              You’re missing the part where you explain the reasoning behind thinking Twitter and Facebook should be government-run public utilities.

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              • icon
                Appreciative user (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 2:23pm

                Re:

                There are plenty of utilities that are not government run. I don't know what the percentage is, but ALOT of utility companies are private companies.

                The reasoning would be from what I said previously:

                What about if it reaches a certain thresholds of importance in everybody's every day lives.

                Again, before utilities had the current regulations that they have (that I assume your atleast mostly agree with), the argument was go build your own X. But it was decided against them anyways, riight? Why?

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 3:00pm

                  ALOT of utility companies are private companies

                  And they’re subject to far stricter rules and regulations than interactive web services as a result of being utility companies.

                  What about if it reaches a certain thresholds of importance in everybody's every day lives.

                  I addressed that already in a different comment.

                  it was decided against them anyways, riight?

                  I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt this one time and believe you’re not using a certain rhetorical gimmick in bad faith.

                  Yes, the government strictly regulates utility companies. Those companies maintain the infrastructures for public utilities — electricity, water, etc. — and should be strictly regulated. Twitter, Facebook, and their ilk are not public utilities, nor should they be. And I’ve seen no reason given for why they should be that stands up to scrutiny.

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                  • icon
                    Appreciative user (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:29pm

                    Re:

                    I believe what I said is not a gimmick and it is certainly not in bad faith. You can agree with my question and disagree with everything else.

                    I was leading you down a thought process to get you to answer your own concerns. In good faith and not to trick you.

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                • icon
                  nasch (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 3:24pm

                  Re: Re:

                  Utilities are a natural monopoly. It does not make sense for multiple companies to run power lines to your house and compete for your electricity business. Social media networks are not a natural monopoly. Anyone can create a new one, which is of course how all the ones we have now came to be. Are there barriers to entry and/or success? Sure. But that is not sufficient reason for the extremely high level of government regulation that utility companies get. If they're acting in anticompetitive ways, we already have antitrust law to deal with that, though it does need to be enforced better.

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                  • icon
                    Appreciative user (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:26pm

                    Re: Re: Re:

                    It is only a "natural" monopoly through the lens that we view it now. Again, before they didn't think that. It has just been so long since society decided this, that it feels natural. It doesn't make sense for half the USA to use lightning ports and the other half USB (example picked out of thin air and stats not accurate), but they do it all the same. It is a variety of factors and not just the equivalent of it not making sense to run power lines. Which I am sure you agree as well as you didn't say that specifically.

                    The power a company has over your life and your liberty is a big part as well.

                    There are certain ventures that take SO much capital, that it is the equivalent of running power lines. As you mentioned, it may have more to do with anticompetitive behaviour than free speech laws exactly. For example, youtube is a huge financial loss for google, year after year. They use their profits in other markets to continue their video domination. This is similar to Amazon's selling side is a loss for them (not 100% sure if that is still true) but they use their computing side to cover costs. That makes it nearly impossible for a competitor to compete and they are near monopolies. When all the top social media and tech companies are near monopolies in all their respective categories and they all have the same type of moderation targeting the same people, it is a big issue.

                    Social media specifically brings another challenge. Other than minute details, it doesn't matter if you have comcast or at&t providing your internet. You ultimately get to the same "internet" more or less. If 99% of people use one company for a specific type of service (e.g. twitter), there is little to no chance that another company. There is a minimum capacity and population for there to be any chance of competing and more importantly, it is important to be on there for alot of real world things. Which would require revolutionary change or insane funding (same that can be said of utilities). This isn't a once side of the aisle issue. Almost no progressive candidate would of standed a chance if they were unilaterally banned from places like twitter/youtube/etc. In fact progressives probably suffer more than conservatives in this way as power usually ends up benefiting the status quo.

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                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 5:02pm

                      It is only a "natural" monopoly through the lens that we view it now. Again, before they didn't think that.

                      And now we do. Times change, thinking changes.

                      It doesn't make sense for half the USA to use lightning ports and the other half USB (example picked out of thin air and stats not accurate), but they do it all the same.

                      Competing computer and mobile phone hardware vendors aren’t obliged to make one’s hardware work with the other’s.

                      The power a company has over your life and your liberty is a big part as well.

                      If Twitter has the kind of power over someone’s life and liberty that you think it can/does, how could I have quit Twitter without so much as a peep from the service about how I’m defying that power?

                      There are certain ventures that take SO much capital, that it is the equivalent of running power lines.

                      Twitter is not one of them. Twitter is not essential for communicating with other people. Neither is Facebook. Or Gab, or Parler, or any other social media service. Do they make communicating with other people easier? Absolutely. Do we need them to communicate? Fuck no.

                      That makes it nearly impossible for a competitor to compete and they are near monopolies.

                      Other video services exist. Like, right now. Vimeo and Dailymotion come to mind. That they’re not as big as YouTube in terms of public awareness, traffic, userbase, and the sheer amount of content available (legally or otherwise) doesn’t stop them from being “competition” for someone’s attention. And YouTube also has competition from streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, so…yeah…

                      Other than minute details, it doesn't matter if you have comcast or at&t providing your internet. You ultimately get to the same "internet" more or less. If 99% of people use one company for a specific type of service (e.g. twitter), there is little to no chance that another company

                      (I’ll assume you meant something along the lines of “can succeed” at the end of that third sentence and reply accordingly.)

                      Buying access to the Internet is nowhere near the same thing as using a social media service. You need one to get to the other, and the equation doesn’t work the other way around. And Internet access should be regulated like other public utilities, if you want to get into that argument. (You don’t want to get into that argument; you’re not doing so hot in this one.)

                      There is a minimum capacity and population for there to be any chance of competing and more importantly, it is important to be on there for [a lot] of real world things.

                      Twitter has competition. It comes in the form of Facebook, Reddit, Gab, Parler, Mastodon instances, Discord, and virtually every other kind of social media/social networking service on the Internet. That Twitter remains the “go-to” service for many social media users is more about the sunk cost fallacy than anything else — which is to say, it remains their “go-to” service because they’ve invested so much time into the service that leaving it (one way or another) for another would be costlier, to them, because of the loss of contact with mutuals and whatnot.

                      But none of that is a good enough excuse for the government to declare Twitter a “public utility” and essentially take it over.

                      Almost no progressive candidate would [have stood] a chance if they were unilaterally banned from places like twitter/youtube/etc.

                      [citation needed]

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                    • icon
                      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Oct 2020 @ 7:39am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      "It is only a "natural" monopoly through the lens that we view it now."

                      No, not really. In times past the US did not impose restrictions on utilities - and the result was a shit-show. Some of the shit pulled in the early days would, today, fall under direct racketeering law.

                      "There are certain ventures that take SO much capital, that it is the equivalent of running power lines."

                      But that is irrelevant. Running multiple power grids - or multiple water grids - or multiple road networks - actively harms the whole city. Notable is that multiple social networks do not, in themselves, set fire to or flood your neighborhood.
                      How much money was invested, otoh, is a complete non-issue.

                      Investment cost is also not even the factor for success when it comes to media. Parler and Gab were both started with multiple times the funding Twitter and Facebook started with. No matter how many funds are poured into either network they won't expand - simply because the sane majority does not want to share social space with neo-nazis, bigots and the KKK.

                      The reason I doubt good faith here is that your arguments are...insanely nonsensical. You can't compare utilities you literally can not have more than one off in a given area with non-utilities of a type where you can have access to several dozens of them from your pocket.
                      That argument is insane.

                      Secondly, money is not what makes a social network. That argument is pure straw man. There are plenty of social networks and FB and Twitter are on top because, generally speaking, they have established a brand. Parler can't match that brand no matter how much money is invested in it, because even the people it caters to can't stomach it.

                      "When all the top social media and tech companies are near monopolies in all their respective categories and they all have the same type of moderation targeting the same people, it is a big issue. "

                      ...and the answer is not to take away the rights of platforms to govern their own property. Sure, splitting Amazon's marketplace away from AWS would undermine Amazon's anticompetitive position and might arguably be the proper thing to do...
                      ...and neither side of the aisle will do that because the main competitors are Alibaba and a few other chinese online retailers.

                      However, again this is an irrelevant straw man which has nothing to do with a social platforms right to moderate itself.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 2:55pm

              Re: Re:

              All regulated utilities, have a common characteristic, they are natural monopolies because of a heavy investment in infrastructure, like pipes and wires. That means it is almost impossible for a competitor to enter the market. Social media is not a monopoly, and it is possible for a competitor to enter the market. You can start small, with minimal investment, and grow the business as you gain users. Amazon and Cloudflare supply expandable infrastructure, and opensource software provides the database and search engines. You only need to design and implement a thin layer of user interface and system logic. It is possible, but difficult, to start a competitive social media service without spending much money up front.

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              • icon
                nasch (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 3:24pm

                Re: Re: Re:

                Sorry, didn't see this comment before I basically duplicated it.

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              • icon
                Appreciative user (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:39pm

                Re: Re: Re:

                I replied to Nasch further up the chain addressing some of your other points.

                Ultimately I think we disagree drastically on the possibility of opening up an alternative to Social Media's. I addressed it in my other reply but to summarize. There is a HUGE minimum population needed for it to catch on, which would take power and funds that are likely on the level of infrastructure. Making an app getting people to play a viral farming game isn't the same thing as making a platform like twitter that holds a big portion of conversations between journalists, politicians (president of USA uses it to announce policy!), etc.. Gab is already made, but even if it was "better", it can't compete simply because of the monopoly Twitter already has on the space.

                It is near impossible for a legitimate competitor to enter. When something like Tik Tok entered, it didn't compete with the others. It carved out it's own space. Instagram didn't steal from Facebook, they carved out it's own space. Both the govt and Facebook agreed with my view on this as that is why FB buyout of Instagram was allowed. There are no real competitors to twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube, etc..

                Also, when all the companies are centered in the same geographic areas with the same type of employees, you end up with moderation that comes from the same place and the same people banned. They are effectively acting the same. It is not uncommon for moderation to happen to the same things or people from all the companies at basically the same time.

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 5:12pm

                  There are no real competitors to twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube, etc..

                  There are competitors. That they’re not to your liking, or that they’re not as big as those major players, doesn’t make them any less competition. (And yes, that includes shitpits like Gab and Parler.) And that is no excuse for the government to decide it can regulate those services, regardless of size, by telling those services what speech they will and will not host.

                  when all the companies are centered in the same geographic areas with the same type of employees, you end up with moderation that comes from the same place and the same people banned

                  Facebook is centered in California, arguably the most “liberal” state in the country, and it bends over backwards — like, it actively fucks with its own algorithms! — to make sure either conservative voices are given special positive treatment or liberal/progressive voices are given special negative treatment. So stop trying to sell me on the clear implication that California-based companies are all bastions of liberalism. I don’t buy it now, and I won’t buy it in the future.

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                • icon
                  Mike Masnick (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 1:11am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  There are no real competitors to twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube, etc..

                  "There are no real competitors to [names four competitors and still has to say etc]"

                  Yeah, no. That's not going to work. There are many competitors.

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                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 1:17am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "There are no real competitors to twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube, etc.."

                  Not only are there real competitors, you missed the fact that they also compete with each other.

                  "When something like Tik Tok entered, it didn't compete with the others"

                  Yes it did, unless you're going to try defining each market so narrowly that the definition is useless. You're trying to say that Taco Bell, KFC and McDonalds don't compete with each other because they sell different types of fast food. That's just stupid.

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              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Oct 2020 @ 7:43am

                Re: Re: Re:

                "...they are natural monopolies because of a heavy investment in infrastructure, like pipes and wires."

                The investment is actually not really relevant, as such.
                You literally can not have, more than option of sewer network, road network, water network, or power grid. If your addition of a competitive network might flood the city or set it on fire that's where you draw the line of "natural monopoly".

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2020 @ 8:29am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Look at how phone lines are vanishing in areas where there is also cable. Both networks could co-exist when they used different technologies to deliver different services. Since they both converged on digital technology, and both can deliver phone and data, cable is taking over from phone, and becoming a local monopoly of digital services where both were built out, especially as many people have abandoned land lines for mobile phones.. That is natural monopoly at work, only one infrastructure can be supported by the available customers. With phone companies abandoning the urban areas, they are losing the income that partially subsidized the rural areas, and those networks are falling apart as well.

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            • icon
              Mike Masnick (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:46pm

              Re: Re:

              Regulated utilities are a very, very limited subset of companies and social media companies do not apply. They tend to have two characteristics, neither of which apply here:

              1. They are a natural monopoly, in which it does not make sense to rebuild identical infrastructure (i.e., gas or water lines). That is not the case with social media.

              2. They are providing a commodity service that is effectively identical wherever you go. Electricity in California is the same product coming out of the wall socket as electricity in Florida. That is not the case with different social media apps.

              It would be an almost impossibly difficult case to turn social media platforms into regulated utilities.

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            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Oct 2020 @ 7:17am

              Re: Re:

              "We do have utilities right? Someone did decide that it was important enough to require special treatment. What am I missing?"

              Two words; "Core infrastructure".

              It's not practically - or often physically - possible to have competing water treatment plants, competing power grids, sewer networks or competing road networks.

              You can, however, have as many newspapers, book publishers, online social networks or car manufacturers as the market will bear.

              That's the difference, and it's not a minor one.

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

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:43pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If you had to steelman the opposite sides argument (regulating social platforms and their moderation to some extent), could you come up with a way that the government COULD potentially enforce regulation on the social platforms? Monopoly laws? What about if it reaches certain thresholds of importance in everybody's every day lives. Etc..

          There are antitrust rules, but those could not be used to break up the company because of moderation practices. Indeed, any breakup is unlikely to have much of an impact on content moderation (it's not like you can create "mini-Facebooks based on region" or whatnot. You'd still have giant Facebook and maybe slice off Instagram and Whatsapp. Doesn't much impact moderation.

          Not saying it would change any outcome, but it seems feasible that at a certain point government says that a company like twitter may have to break up its main business, from the business of moderation, from the business that now generates relevant news and puts it in your search feed, etc..

          This would be impossible on 1st Amendment grounds, because the gov't would be telling a company it can't have editorial control over its own property.

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

          • icon
            Appreciative user (profile), 19 Oct 2020 @ 6:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Something doesn't smell right. I understand the rebuttals of some of the attacks on section 230, but I still think its being interpreted far too widely. Free speech still has consequences. It still seems like many of the complaints against these companies can be interpreted in a way to have them held liable in some way.

            When I say there is a fire, I may be allowed to say it, but I am responsible for the outcome of my false statement. What happens when I tweet there is a fire and Twitter algorithm pushes up my tweet. Its protected by section 230 in its current interpretation I think , but it should not be. If there are consequences to the original fire tweet, there should be consequences to the free speech act of amplifying it as it's directly responsible for extra damage. I think this is part of what Clarence Thomas meant.

            What about other false statement. I understand it is twitters right to be biased and moderate as it likes.. however when twitter says it is unbiased and is apolitical then it moderates in biased ways (amulets assume thats true), has it not lied to its customers? You are giving them your data and using the platform under certain pretenses. Its dishonest to just say "well no one is forcing you to use it". This may not be a direct attack on section 230 but it speaks to the exact complaint against these companies. If McDonald's advertise meat in their burgers and then when it comes out there is no meat, you wouldn't say their advertisement is free speech nd if you dont like the deception go somewhere else. No. They would be sued for fraud.

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 19 Oct 2020 @ 9:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "However when twitter says it is unbiased and is apolitical then it moderates in biased ways (amulets assume thats true), has it not lied to its customers?"

              Not in the current political climate, where stating basic medical and scientific facts is taken by the Trump cult as a direct political attack.

              Whine about Twitter all you want, but the real problem is that a significant proportion of the US population is so tied to their political identity that basic reality is considered an assault on them. There's nothing Twitter can really do in that scenario, since simply placating them with their lies would be equally considered an assault on knowledgeable people.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2020 @ 4:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If there are consequences to the original fire tweet, there should be consequences to the free speech act of amplifying it as it's directly responsible for extra damage.

              If you make a site responsible for what is posted, you force the site to check user generated content before it is posted.

              That is how to destroy the Internet in one easy move, ensuring that a few producers and editors decide what can be published. If a site can be held liable for anything on the site, they have to pre-vet everything before it is published, and that vetting becomes the bottleneck that ensures very little is actually published. The internet would become a means of delivering pay for content services, along with online shopping.

              As only manually curated search engines would exist, it would be harder to search the Internet, making it harder to find an individuals blogs, if the continue to exist, with few if any allowing comments. Depending on the exact wording and interpretation of such a law email may survive.

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

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 20 Oct 2020 @ 6:00am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "If you make a site responsible for what is posted, you force the site to check user generated content before it is posted."

                ...and when those checks fail (as they will do because it's impossible to moderate at 100% effectiveness), either the site removes the ability to post (thus killing your "freedom of speech" far more than mere moderation would do), or the only sites capable of dealing with the legal consequences of those mistakes are the ones with the most money (i.e., you just locked in all the current tech giants in a dominant position indefinitely).

                These people aren't very good at thinking things through to their logical conclusions.

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

            • icon
              bhull242 (profile), 20 Oct 2020 @ 5:03am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              1. Where exactly does Twitter claim to be unbiased specifically?

              2. I believe that, under the current case law, claims that someone is “unbiased” is far too subjective to be taken literally or be considered “puffery” and thus nonbinding. In fact, I think there was a case mentioned on this site where YouTube or Facebook or Twitter was specifically held to not have to be unbiased just because of supposed promises to uphold free speech and such.

              3. The McDonald’s comparison is inapt. The existence/nonexistence of meat in a burger is something that can be objectively and readily determined. Bias or lack thereof is nowhere near as straightforward and is highly subjective as to where the line is to be drawn.

              4. Section 230 specifically exempts ISPs like Twitter from being held liable for moderating decisions for most situations, not just under defamation.

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

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 20 Oct 2020 @ 6:03am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Bias or lack thereof is nowhere near as straightforward and is highly subjective as to where the line is to be drawn."

                Indeed. As I noted above, documented, verifiable, falsifiable scientific fact is currently being treated as political bias in some circles, while some people are claiming that allowing a moderator to do their job during a debate is oppression. There's no way this can possibly be as straightforward as "does this contain cow?".

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 12:55am

      Re:

      "You can no more create a social network that hosts billions of users, than creating your own parallel phone line."

      Why do you believe that your speech is only valid if it reaches billions of users?

      What you're saying essentially is that the government should seize Wal Mart's entire property portfolio because the small craft store you would prefer to visit won't be available in as many locations.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 9:26am

      Re:

      but we have long ago ruled that

      1. At a certain level of public good/need
      2. At a certain level of a companies power over the public and/or public discourse

      a private company can be treated as a govt entity when it comes to protecting the rights of people it interacts with.

      No, we have ruled that when a private company substantially takes over the functions of government, it can be treated as a government. Think of a mining company town, where the company runs the police, the post office, the utilities - everything. No resemblance whatsoever to Twitter.

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 15 Oct 2020 @ 6:10pm

    And if this were Russia or China, then that would be enough. (I wonder if it will be possible for Pai to extract his mouth from Trump's rump come next month.)

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    restless94110 (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 7:17pm

    Cliff Notes

    Can you give me the Cliff Notes on why you believe it unconstitutional to promote free speech from tech totalitarians?

    All of us want to know your latest leap of logic and truth.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 15 Oct 2020 @ 11:33pm

      Re: Cliff Notes

      No "cliff notes" version needed. The full version is quite short:

      It is against the 1st Amendment to compel speech. See:
      West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. Forcing websites to host content they do not wish to associate with would violate the compelled speech doctrine. Separately, the Supreme Court has frequently cited a right of association to be a part of the 1st Amendment, and that includes a right to not be forced to associate with someone.

      Or, to put it more bluntly: if the FCC stepped in and said that Fox News had to be "fair & balanced" and present more positive news regarding Joe Biden and Donald Trump, I think you'd be among the first screaming to high heaven about how that was a violation of Fox News' 1st Amendment rights.

      Same fucking thing.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 12:49pm

        Re: Re: Cliff Notes

        The sad thing is that the far right wants to force association for a number of reasons. I think the first and most obvious one is that they think by crowding out the social media sites with their messages they'll silence their opposition (whether it's LGBT folks, pro-choice folks, and so forth). The problem is that the Internet is nearly inexhaustible with respect to communication and free association. Since that's a hurdle they can't overcome they're willing to burn the whole thing down to a mere cinder of what it is now. Think the old Big Three of air TV era. They're so desperate for this that they seem to not care about the consequences of it. It's just a more dishonest form of the Fairness Doctrine.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:05pm

          'If we can't make them listen to us they won't.'

          I think the first and most obvious one is that they think by crowding out the social media sites with their messages they'll silence their opposition (whether it's LGBT folks, pro-choice folks, and so forth).

          That might be part of it, but at this point I think the main reason is that more and more they're facing the unpleasant realization that if they can't force people to listen to them then most people will choose not to. That when presented with two platforms, one were they don't get to make the rules and one that they do most people are going to choose the former rather than the latter. That the only way they can stay on the platforms people actually want to use without changing their behavior by acting civilized(which is clearly not in the cards) is if the platforms aren't allowed to kick them off.

          Or in tl;dr format, they're in favor of forced association because more and more that's the only way they can get most people to associate with them.

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

  • identicon
    DS, 16 Oct 2020 @ 7:54am

    Pai is just playing for time

    I agree that this move cowardly, but I think Pai is just trying to take the heat off the FCC while they run out the clock on the Trump administration. Even if they were to publish a draft rule today, there is not way that they could complete the rulemaking process before January 21 -- and that's assuming that they are exempt from OMB limitations on rulemaking just prior to a presidential election.

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

  • icon
    Tim R (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 7:55am

    As always, backpfeifengesicht...

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

  • identicon
    Joe Johnson, 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:02am

    Law of Unintended Consequences my friends...

    The part I don't understand about all this from conservatives is that stripping Twitter and Facebook of their liability protection will simply mean these services will start banning the very conservatives who were calling for their protections to be stripped. Why would Facebook and Twitter put up with hosting Trump's content if they are going to be held liable in court for his speech? The only reason why they host such speech is they don't have to potentially spend millions in court defending libel and slander lawsuits. *facepalm*

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 9:08am

      Re: Law of Unintended Consequences my friends...

      The one's calling for the destructing of 230, well, they're not the brightest. They see platforms taking down content and when challenged in court the platforms are able to dismiss the case early by invoking 230, and they think that this means that it's 230 that allows them to engage in moderation, and as such removing 230 would remove that ability.

      They're dead wrong, to put it mildly.

      What would actually happen is exactly what you noted, in that without 230 to act as a legal shield against liability platforms would be taking down content much quicker and in much greater number, assuming they allowed user posts at all, resulting in the same people whining that they're being 'moderated' today losing what's left of their minds as they get moderated into oblivion, since social media would now risk liability if they kept something legally questionable up.

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

  • identicon
    plank, 16 Oct 2020 @ 12:57pm

    Please tell me if I'm being naive

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately and reading nearly all of the articles TD puts out about this issue, and I had an idea for how to proceed with this kind of regulation that, while it might not make everyone happy, it would at least make most parties less miserable.

    It seems to me one of the biggest problems with removing or altering Section 230 is that any changes would unequally affect small platforms such as this who want to have comment sections and the behemoth corps that are required to use ML algos to make any attempt at content moderation at all.

    So why not make that division explicit in the law? Come up with some threshold or tiered system where there would be different requirements on content moderation depending on the size of the platform the content is hosted on. This could be based on revenue, page hits, market share, take your pick (this a question to be hashed out later by relevant stakeholders).

    Now, I know that in the current state of things this could never happen due to the outsized lobbying influence of the megacorps, but perhaps a rule(s) like this could be included in any upcoming antitrust push? It certainly seems like some traction is beginning to be made on that front what with the recent Cicilline antitrust report.

    Just some thoughts, I'd love it if anyone could point out what I'm missing here because I must be missing something.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 1:17pm

      Once you decide what arbitrary threshold will be used to determine when a specific service (let’s say Twitter) qualifies as “too big” or whatever, you have to figure out a few things:

      • How many other services would qualify under this threshold?

      • If a service is not quite the same kind of service as Twitter (e.g., Instagram), how would that threshold translate to those services?

      • How much control over moderation efforts on qualifying services should the government have?

      • For that matter, how can the government control moderation efforts on qualifying services without violating the First Amendment?

      • What must a smaller service do to adapt itself to the legal realities of its new situation if, in the future, it qualifies under your arbitrary threshold?

      • Plenty of sites that aren’t what we think of when we think “social media” have systems in place for users to socialize. (For example: DeviantArt has comment sections on userpages and submissions and gallery pages, and it also has forums and private messaging.) So the last question here is obviously the most important: What qualifies as a “social media service”?

      Your idea is like the proposition of a “flat” tax: It sounds nice when you hear the basic idea, but a minute’s worth of digging into the details will destroy any appeal it might have had.

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

      • icon
        plank (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 11:25am

        Re:

        These are all good questions to be directed at congress, whose job it is to hash out tough and unpleasant questions -- at least that's what they're supposed to do.

        But without a framework for regulation, none of these questions that ought to be posed will be posed and we'll continue down this road of bad legislation being proposed while all of the smart people who know better shoot it down without suggesting any workable alternative.

        Perhaps it is in the best interests of society to let things go on as they have been with the large platforms fumbling around trying to figure out how to do content moderation at scale, as they have been. But perhaps it would make sense to bring government into the process. That's all I suggest.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2020 @ 11:59am

          Re: Re:

          Content moderation at scale rune into the big problem, people will never be in total agreement as to what should or should not be moderated. The solution to that problem also exists, alternative platforms with different moderation policies. However that does not deal with the real root of the calls for changing section 230, and that is a very vocal minority who which to force their views down the throats of those who disagree with them.

          When, as they have, discover that most people avoid the forums where that are allowed to say what they want, they want the law changed so that they can force their way onto platforms where the most people are.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 2:16pm

          perhaps it would make sense to bring government into the process

          Do you want me to repeat all those questions to you? Because I can do that.

          If you’re going to suggest that the government should somehow regulate the moderation practices of Twitter and Facebook, you’ll need to answer those questions. To act as if you can ignore them and still think you can reasonably justify a government takeover of moderation practices is…foolish, to say the least.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 18 Oct 2020 @ 2:06am

          Re: Re:

          "But perhaps it would make sense to bring government into the process."

          So... You're saying that because a private entity is exercising their speech in a way you dislike, the government should be brought in to control said speech?

          Think about that for a minute...

          Also, content moderation at scale is hard because reality is hard. Forcing a bureaucracy to sit in top of that won't magically make reality change to make it easier.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 1:32pm

      Re: Please tell me if I'm being naive

      You are being naive, as it involves governments telling companies what speech they can and cannot carry. It also fails in that when a company establishes a popular moderated platform, success mean they have to give up the moderation that made them popular.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:41pm

      Re: Please tell me if I'm being naive

      So why not make that division explicit in the law? Come up with some threshold or tiered system where there would be different requirements on content moderation depending on the size of the platform the content is hosted on. This could be based on revenue, page hits, market share, take your pick (this a question to be hashed out later by relevant stakeholders).

      This idea comes up every so often, but (like content moderation itself) is a lot more difficult in practice than people recognize. How would you set that boundary? How would you avoid gaming to avoid that boundary (this is seen in nearly every other industry that sets up a size threshold).

      And, more to the point, how would you apply it to different types of service that might not reasonably qualify: Wikipedia is huge, one of the largest on the planet. But would die without 230. It handles moderation quite differently, and under your plan it would be in trouble.

      Or how about Github?

      Or how about Reddit? Reddit is large enough that the new rules would likely apply, but Reddit is really a bunch of independently moderated subreddits. So would you have to write the law to say that each subreddit only has to comply with the new laws if it reaches a certain size?

      And those are just a few of the issues off the top of my head. It is not as easy as you think.

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

      • icon
        plank (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 11:21am

        Re: Re: Please tell me if I'm being naive

        I don't mean to suggest that it would be easy, far from it. But given the sheer force of political will behind the issue of reforming the law in some way (mostly extremely bad ways), perhaps it's time to start thinking of how this could be done in practice to make all parties involved the least amount of miserable possible?

        I understand this may not be a popular stance in this forum, but sometimes free speech maximalism is forced to contend with unpleasant realities.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2020 @ 12:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: Please tell me if I'm being naive

          How can protect the interests of the majority, when you change the law to allow a bigoted minority to be obnoxious and drive them away from the platforms that met their needs. The real problem is not moderation, or that those shouting for reform do not have platforms that they can use, it is that those doing the shouting cannot get on to the more popular platforms to attack whatever group they hate that is on the platform, or preach their politics to the heathens, and brow beat them until the agree with the true faith.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 2:24pm

          given the sheer force of political will behind the issue of reforming the law in some way (mostly extremely bad ways), perhaps it's time to start thinking of how this could be done in practice to make all parties involved the least amount of miserable possible?

          I gave you a series of questions to consider that, had you answered them instead of trying to do this ridiculous “view from nowhere” act, would’ve given you an idea of how dangerous your idea truly is in re: free speech rights and the Internet.

          free speech maximalism is forced to contend with unpleasant realities

          You…you think we’re free speech maximalists around here?

          holy shit did you get the wrong impression

          I can’t speak for every Techdirt writer and commenter, but I can reasonably claim that a hefty amount of them don’t believe in free speech maximalism. If a service like Twitter wants to moderate the speech of its users, it should have that right; the government shouldn’t force Twitter to host all legally protected speech (which is the real position of free speech maximalism). You want an unpleasant reality? Here’s your reality check: Nobody has a right to use Twitter, Facebook, or any other such service. Either explain the reasoning behind the idea that the government should enact that right — that it should strictly regulate the moderation practices of Facebook and Twitter — or find a new argument.

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

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 3:10pm

            Re:

            the government shouldn’t force Twitter to host all legally protected speech (which is the real position of free speech maximalism).

            I disagree; I think that position infringes on the free speech rights of the people operating Twitter.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 18 Oct 2020 @ 8:17am

          Re: Re: Re: Please tell me if I'm being naive

          If you get one person advocating that the government should burn down occupied orphanages to clear up the land and reduce the amount of taxpayer money 'wasted' on people who aren't contributing to society you do not humor them('maybe only every third orphanage?') and try to meet them in the middle. If a bunch of other people take up that cause you still do not humor them('okay, what about every fourth?') and try to find a compromise, no matter how loud or enthusiastic they are about what a great idea it would be.

          There are positions where compromise is a valid choice, where trying to meet in the middle makes sense. This is not one of them. If there are a bunch of politicians who really want to undercut 230 and the first amendment, and moreso who are doing so dishonestly(as evidenced by the fact that even now their arguments are based upon lies and misrepresentations) the proper response is not to give ground and concede that maybe something could be done to make them happy, it's to stand your ground and keep pointing out how terrible, dishonest, and unrealistic their arguments and goals are.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2020 @ 7:54am

          Re: Re: Re: Please tell me if I'm being naive

          We already have the least worst method.

          All the ways of reforming the law would make the situation worse, not least because they require government intervention in people's freedom of speech, which is bad in principle.

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


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