Changing Section 230 Won't Fix Politicians' Issues With Section 230

from the these-are-not-the-solutions-you-are-looking-for dept

In the week leading up to a potentially extremely consequential election, Congress is once again setting its sights on its favorite whipping boy, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 clarifies that users are responsible for the content they post online, not the websites that host it. Yet, this simple law was the subject of a hearing which brought the CEO’s of Twitter, Google and Facebook to the hill to be questioned over the law. These companies have been blamed for everything from increasing hate speech online, promoting election disinformation, and censoring conservative speech.

Seemingly sensing the winds of change are blowing against them, some of the companies brought to the hill have acquiesced that Section 230 will be reformed and will support some changes to the law. What exact changes to the law they will support remains unclear, but what does have clarity is that this tactic is a monumental mistake.

The problem is supporting the reform of Section 230, or even changing the law, will do nothing to get Congress off their back, as any change to the law will fail to address the concerns of those demanding reform. If anything, changing Section 230 will only exacerbate those problems, leading to further scrutiny and calls for reform.

Examine the standard Democratic and Republican complaints. Democrats are concerned that there is far too much hate speech, disinformation, and fake news allowed on various platforms. They want the websites to proactively remove more content they believe is poisoning the civil discourse. Republicans, meanwhile, are upset that websites are removing too much content. Twitter blocked the posting of the Hunter Biden laptop story for days, leading to claims of election interference. Similarly, posts from the satirical Babylon Bee have also been subject to removal. These actions place no doubt in the minds of many on the right that big tech is out to censor them.

Listening to these complaints, it seems Section 230 is the cause of both too much and not enough content being removed? How can this possibly be? One thing is certain--the problem is not Section 230. The problem lies with the fact that platforms aren’t conforming to one side or the other’s content moderation preferences. But rather than admitting that, both sides are using Section 230 as a pretext to haul the companies before Congress and question them on moderation decisions.

It’s likely that our political leaders already know this. If, by chance, they were able to agree and Section 230 disappeared tomorrow, websites would be left with two choices. They can moderate at an incredibly high rate to attempt to avoid liability, thus angering Republicans. Or, they can choose to not moderate at all, leaving any conspiracy theory, offensive speech or disinformation up, which would certainly anger Democrats.

Any other proposal that attempts to cut the baby in half will similarly fail to leave both sides happy, and we will be stuck right back where we started. Giving in to these political demands is a mistake. The Congressional approval rating remains dramatically low, while technology companies are more popular than ever in wake of COVID-19. The general public does not care about this issue, and reforms will not fix the problems of those that have a bone to pick with certain tech companies. Any changes to Section 230 will not only fail to get Congress off their back, but they also threaten the very internet ecosystem that has made them rich and enriched the lives of people across the globe.

Congress should leave Section 230 alone, and tech companies should be prepared to fight back against the disinformation spouted about the law.

The law is working exactly as intended.

Eric Peterson lives in New Orleans where is he the Director of the Pelican Center of Technology and Innovation

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Filed Under: content moderation, politics, section 230


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  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 1:41pm

    Republicans will complain about bias as long as people are able to call them out for their bulls**t. They don't want interaction, they want to stand on the balcony and issue sermons to captive audience of people who are forced to stand there and listen.

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

  • identicon
    mcinsand, 30 Oct 2020 @ 1:57pm

    I am extremely confused

    So, let me see if I understand this correctly. Some politicians are whining because misleading posts (aka lying posts) are getting flagged. They're blaming Section 230, which gives hosts some liability protection from content that the users create. These rocket scientists have concluded that undermining Section 230 will help them to not be 'censored.' If S230 is weakened, then what kind of a host can afford to not block misleading posts? If the legislators get their way, much more content will get blocked than is now, or am I missing something?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 2:05pm

      Re: I am extremely confused

      Nope, that's pretty much it, whether stupidity or simple corruption the politicians whining about 230 are attacking the very thing that's protecting them from being either given the boot entirely or being faced with an avalanche of reprehensible content depending on which side they're on.

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

      • identicon
        AM FM, 30 Oct 2020 @ 3:18pm

        not at all confused

        governments and government politicians ALWAYS seek to control the population they rule.
        Controlling mas comunications systems is critical to controlling populations.

        Try operating even a small radio/tv station or local cellfone service without "permission" (license & heavy regulation/control) from politicians.

        The internet and ISP's are obvious next target for strong government control --it is guaranteed to happen soon.
        S230 is a trivial obstacle that will be easily swatted aside within 2 years.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2020 @ 7:16pm

          Re: not at all confused

          But they refuse to control the actual pipes whatsoever.

          You are confusing agendas of two+ factions with "the government". Of course, most of those making the biggest noises right now clearly do not understand the issues, nor that to which their absurd performances may lead. The gatekeeper industries (you know, the ones with actual full control of static content and how it is consumed) and similar interests probably do understand that "reforming" 230 will not accomplish any goal but to make things worse, fueling the "need" for more ridiculous laws and furthering the full fruition of their oligarchical fascist state. Wait for some goofball in power to demand Twitter be sold to Exxon.

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

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 31 Oct 2020 @ 12:56pm

          Maybe all radio should be pirate.

          It was opined by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1997 (Reno v. ACLU maybe? I heard about the ruling second hand, and haven't looked it up.) the internet should be under its own jurisdiction and unregulated. Partly because large chunks of the internet were expected to be served from outside the borders of the US, but largely because regulating it would be ultimately impossible.

          So what we have is a voluntary armistice. Different nations have been working to offer reasonable regulations the people are willing to tolerate on consensus, like sticking porn behind age-gates, forgoing child porn, and so on. And so far, so long as we get our porn (and our cat pics and our user-supplied videos and so on) we've been adhering to these rules more or less.

          The problem has manifested in two ways. One is the capacity for flash mobbing. Protests can now organize very quickly, as we've seen with Santa mobs and zombie walks and the Arab Spring. So now, when the people have a grievance, they are making a nuisance of themselves less easily dismissed during the pre-internet age.

          The other problem is on the other side, now when police in riot gear menace an MLK Jr. Demonstration it goes straight to the people via Twitter and YouTube and Facebook (and if all those fail, .torrent plus Barbara Streisand), rather than having to go through the heavily-gated six-o-clock news. As such we're seeing a lot of law enforcement doing very bad things to people who really don't deserve it, and it's raising questions as to the legitimacy of the police, and the legitimacy of governments who let their police be so brutal.

          Oh, also, the RIAA, MPAA and other IP industries want more money than they're getting, and they're trying to build themselves an oligopoly on content. All content.

          Hence the whole thing about 230, which allows public forums to exist legally. 230 is the armistice.

          But if we kill moderation entirely, it's not child porn and bomb plans that come to bear, rather we drown in spam. Adverts for many many products -- some might even be legitimate -- will fog the forums, everyone will have to wade through all the spam to get their cat-pics and nazi propaganda.

          There's also a matter of griefers who will post cat-slaughter videos (seriously. It's gross.) And anti-nazi-propaganda posts that fact-check or memify uncomfortable truths about nazi ideology. And while our Prouds and Boogaloos and alt-right allege Libs Can't Meme these encroachments on their bubbles of ideological illusion sting enough to fluster right-leaning elected officials.

          And if we kill forums entirely, it will be a shot of adrenaline to the dark net where forums about illegal stuff continue on. Then all the people wanting their cat pics and ordinary porn and ideological discussion will go dark and join the child-porn connoisseurs and would-be terrorists, much the way Palestinian resistance taught protestors in Ferguson that milk does a good job against tear gas and pepper spray.

          And when everyone on the internet has an anonymity suit that makes them look like someone else, and all their traffic is end-to-end encrypted, it's going to be really hard to stop the people from talking and sharing brutal-cop videos. Or state secrets. Or incriminating / exonerating evidence. Or printable armament designs.

          Or company secrets.

          That's a can of genies they can't recan, and at the moment fewer people than ever have respect for the law, or believe that government agencies have respect for rule of law. So it would be a great time to get the people on board with a high-crypto internet protocol.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2020 @ 1:26pm

            Re: Maybe all radio should be pirate.

            It was opined by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1997 … the internet should be under its own jurisdiction and unregulated.

            I think you've got the year a little itty teensy-tiny bit off (—maybe '96?) But it is indeed a very famous opinion by Justice Barlow.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2020 @ 2:03pm

    What happens if the law is changed to make web sites liable for what appears on their sites whether they moderate or not, and also liable to answer for the moderation decisions?

    How long would the Capitol remain standing if Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, etc. shutdown?

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

    • identicon
      Rocky, 30 Oct 2020 @ 5:33pm

      Re:

      Your scenario is exactly how it was before section 230. Section 230 was specifically drafted to address it.

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

      • icon
        TKnarr (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 10:21pm

        Re: Re:

        No, prior to Section 230 web sites were liable for content if they did any sort of moderation. They could only escape liability if they didn't moderate at all. If the law were changed to remove the second one, making web sites liable for user-posted content even if they didn't moderate at all, a total shutdown would be the only viable option.

        It's amusing that one of the major drivers behind Section 230 was Republican complaints about material they objected to being posted and web sites refusing to implement any sort of moderation policies on the grounds they couldn't afford the liability that came with moderation. The Republicans were all for Section 230 because it would allow web sites to block pro-choice, anti-gay and other content the Republicans found objectionable without running afoul of the law as set in Cubby v. Compuserve and Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy.

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

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 11:34pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, prior to Section 230 web sites were liable for content if they did any sort of moderation. They could only escape liability if they didn't moderate at all. If the law were changed to remove the second one, making web sites liable for user-posted content even if they didn't moderate at all, a total shutdown would be the only viable option.

          That's not quite true. There was one local case -- the Stratton case -- where a judge said that. But the general consensus was that most other courts wouldn't go as far as that judge, and instead would apply a more standard form of distributor liability.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2020 @ 8:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The problem that the sites would face is not so much losing cases, as the expense of defending multiple cases. How long would any site survive against a concerted politically driven campaign led by multiple attorney generals, along with bottom feeding lawyers looking for a quick settlement?

            The costs of winning can be fatal to a business.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2020 @ 11:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            [T]he general consensus was…

            An honest consensus would tend more towards the firm, definite, and certain statement: “Who the hell knows …?”

            Jeff Kosseff stated a few months ago in his prepared testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee's Subcomittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet (July 28, 2020), on p.10 (p.11 in pdf):

            Because Section 230 has been on the books since 1996, it is difficult to know with certainty what the Internet would look like without it. This uncertainty stems from the lack of caselaw that extrapolates common law liability standards to modern online platforms.

            The overall consensus is now that the general answer to most legal questions is, “Well, it depends…”

            In the counter-factual world where the Cox-Wyden “Online Family Empowerment” amendment to the Communications Decency Act never became part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the god-awful truth is that current law would probably depend at least as much on whatever certain individual judges had for breakfast on some particular mornings.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2020 @ 11:37am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              their two groups are looking for change, one because they think they should not be moderated, and one because they think that not enough is moderated. Both want rid of 230 because it stops them using a legal suit to force sites to comply with their wishes. Therefore only a fool would place a bet on any change in the law making the Internet a better place.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2020 @ 10:34am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I suspect it would be an unstable mess given that the Wyden ammendment was essentially the only surviving remnant after getting struck down. Probably another "Roe vs Wade" bit of red meat performative passing of laws that courts immediately strike down while website whack-a-mole was a norm along with fund raising campaigns for website operators, jury nullification rising in younger generations as the "fuck off with this bullshit" internet movement would be akin to Marajuana legalization of starting out small and despite being geneally popular and polling being treated like a radioactive leper with COVID-19 by the prior generation of politicians. Meanwhile the least crazy country would take tbe lead for the internet globally and growing multi-billion dollar equivalent industries and being spoken of like China as a feared rival power even if they were say Paraguay.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 2:08pm

    Ditch the facade already...

    Ultimately the objections aren't against 230 so much as the first amendment and property rights, with those complaining about the fact that private companies aren't moderating as they want them to and trying to force them to do so, so it would be nice if they would ditch the lies and just admit it already.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 2:16pm

    "Congress should leave Section 230 alone"

    Congress should repeal SESTA which cut a nasty gash in 230 that has only rendered the situation worse for trafficked persons and disabled services on which sex workers depended to defend themselves.

    If we're going to prescribe, let's include the damage already incurred by the congress of the US that needs to be undone.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2020 @ 6:36pm

      Re: "Congress should leave Section 230 alone"

      While I would agree, we know it's not gonna happen because that would involve them admitting they were wrong and that's just not gonna fly.

      More likely they'll double down with EARN IT.

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

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 31 Oct 2020 @ 7:17pm

        Admitting they were wrong

        I'd feel a lot better about the competence of our federal government if they did on occasion admit that a policy was a mistake, and went on to repeal it and not do that again.

        I get that we sometimes have to trial-and-error our way through determining what cocktail of policies works.

        But if they're going to insist that once we pass a law we can never ever change it back, then they better be able to back those laws up with a tuckfun of research that such a policy might work.

        They totally were guessing with SESTA, and for the damage done, now I want careers ended and assets seized.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 3 Nov 2020 @ 8:09am

          Re: Admitting they were wrong

          They totally were guessing with SESTA, and for the damage done, now I want careers ended and assets seized.

          If you want to encourage lawmakers to admit mistakes and fix them, demanding that careers are ended and assets seized is counterproductive. We should make it as easy and painless as possible to fix errors. If it's disastrous to admit a mistake, they never will.

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

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 3 Nov 2020 @ 1:55pm

            End careers. Seize assets.

            Yes. I have dissonant sentiments.

            Part of my desire to end careers and seize assets has to do with their insistence on lying to pass it and then lying to justify it was a success. So I guess their refusal to admit mistakes is why I want (proverbial) asses chewed and heads on pikes.

            It may require a culture change in the federal government, but as it is we elect incompetent people who look good and cover their asses, rather than competent people who take responsibility.

            It's this sort of thing that drives me to want to scrap the whole system for a newer model.

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

      • identicon
        teka, 2 Nov 2020 @ 6:37am

        Re: Re: "Congress should leave Section 230 alone"

        But at this point any reform or repeal would be handing any and all election challengers a free "Representative X Literally Voted To Have Your Children Sold To Online Russian Casino Bitcoin Sex Trafficking Mobs, Literally" card.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 2 Nov 2020 @ 7:01am

          Re: Re: Re: "Congress should leave Section 230 alone"

          Such is the sad state of affairs at the moment. Reversing legislation that is proven to harm vulnerable women is not possible because propaganda is more powerful than the truth.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Koby (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 2:23pm

    Competition

    It’s likely that our political leaders already know this. If, by chance, they were able to agree and Section 230 disappeared tomorrow, websites would be left with two choices. They can moderate at an incredibly high rate to attempt to avoid liability, thus angering Republicans. Or, they can choose to not moderate at all, leaving any conspiracy theory, offensive speech or disinformation up, which would certainly anger Democrats.

    I think that this is exactly what is needed: more models, rather than a one-sized-fits-all platform with a near monopoly. Have a platform that censors just about anything. Another platform can be open. If viewers encounter speech with which they disagree, then they can instead use the site/app that deals with it to their liking. Just don't give any one product the dual advantage of being a publisher and a platform at the same time, because it will result in the Network Effect.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2020 @ 2:31pm

      Re: Competition

      I think that this is exactly what is needed: more models

      That already exists, with Facebook and Twitter, versus Gab and Parler. Guess what, the moderated sites are more popular.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        Koby (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 3:43pm

        Re: Re: Competition

        That already exists, with Facebook and Twitter, versus Gab and Parler. Guess what, the moderated sites are more popular.

        That's why I mentioned "near monopoly" and the Network Effect. We've seen how certain products aren't more widely used because they have more useful features, but instead because they created a large network first. Despite the ubiquity, many are clamoring for a break-up of the big tech companies. It's a sign of discontentment with the Network Effect.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 3:54pm

          That’s nice.

          How does any of that justify government-compelled hosting of speech on Twitter or Facebook?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2020 @ 4:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: Competition

          It's a sign of discontentment with the Network Effect.

          That claim makes no sense, because if people were discontented with the network effect, they would be migrating to smaller platforms. That is the network cannot keep people locked in if they do not want its results.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2020 @ 8:01am

          Re: Re: Re: Competition

          What hes means is there’s no liberals on parlor the convert and he’s sad everyone who does come is scared away by his friends “network” of interesting ideas on what it would be like if wolfenstien was real lol

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

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 31 Oct 2020 @ 11:33am

          Near monopoly

          I can think of the telecommunications sectors (cable and cell networks) which have been even more abusive of their near-monopoly standards.

          Our officials don't care about them because their abuses don't hurt government official feelings.

          Seriously, we should be protesting with bombardment.

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

        • icon
          JMT (profile), 1 Nov 2020 @ 2:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: Competition

          "We've seen how certain products aren't more widely used because they have more useful features, but instead because they created a large network first."

          You mean because that's what the users want, not because they're forced to and need government protection.

          "Despite the ubiquity, many are clamoring for a break-up of the big tech companies."

          No, they really, really aren't. It's a small bunch of anti-social conservatives and grandstanding politicians.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 2:32pm

      Time to answer One Simple Question.

      Yes or no, Koby: Do you believe the government should have the legal right to compel any privately owned interactive web service into hosting legally protected speech that the owners/operators of said service don’t want to host?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2020 @ 2:57pm

        Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

        In the absence of a viable alternate explanation:I choose to believe this question always triggers a segfault in Koby, and it remains offline until someone physically walks up and kicks it a couple times.

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

      • icon
        Lyeco (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 4:18pm

        Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

        Yes.

        I used to believe that the government shouldn't intervene in private business as much as possible but with their recent content moderation practices, I started to change my mind and have the government step in and make them accountable for their bullshit content moderation practices.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 4:29pm

          Okay. Let’s test that belief.

          lgbt.io is a Mastodon instance geared towards LGBT people. To the absolute best of my knowledge, no corporation owns or operates that instance. Part of the code of conduct for that service bans content that includes (and I quote) “discrimination against gender and sexual minorities, or advocation thereof”. To that end, I can assume anyone that calls for the overturning of Obergefell v. Hodges would see such speech deleted from the instance.

          Now, here are your $64,000 questions: Do you believe the government should have the legal right to compel lgbt.io into hosting speech that calls for the overturning of Obergefell — which is legally protected speech regardless of whether you agree with it — even if the owners/operators of lgbt.io don’t want to host that speech? If so, for what reason should it have that right? If not, what makes lgbt.io fundamentally different from Twitter besides the size of their userbases?

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

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 4:29pm

          Re: Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

          I used to believe that the government shouldn't intervene in private business as much as possible but with their recent content moderation practices, I started to change my mind and have the government step in and make them accountable for their bullshit content moderation practices.

          Do you want to get rid of the 1st Amendment? Because you would need to do that first.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2020 @ 4:52pm

          Re: Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

          Why should the big sites moderate as you would like, rather than in a fashion that maximises their user count?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2020 @ 7:04am

            Re: Re: Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

            Who is forcing this decision upon whom?
            I'm confused.

            afaik, in the us, a private business is free to do whatever legal activity generates the most profit. Are you claiming moderation will cause users to leave? Ok, how many does moderation attract?

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

      • identicon
        Kitsune106, 30 Oct 2020 @ 6:37pm

        Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

        Wasn't that already decided with religious freedom? It was no.

        Then becomes what if rhe religion of the company says they cannot host it?

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Disambiguate Your Own Position, 30 Oct 2020 @ 6:50pm

        Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

        Yes or no, A. Stephen Stone: Do you believe the government should compel privately owned businesses to physically admit and serve persons that the owners/operators of said business don't want to serve?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2020 @ 7:29am

          Re: Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

          I will answer for.

          Your beliefs are not a protected class. Also nice Try bringing race into it. Which was really a bad idea considering your party has a bad history with it. That would get dismissed becuase your beliefs are not a Race.

          Now fuck off you obsolete dinosaur who never would have invented the internet becuase his BELIEFS would have kept him from achieving such a feat.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 1 Nov 2020 @ 1:52am

          Re: Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

          "Do you believe the government should compel privately owned businesses to physically admit and serve persons that the owners/operators of said business don't want to serve?"

          I'll answer, since it's been repeated many times and your wilful feigned ignorance should not be used to fool the gullible if they happen to read it.

          Yes, the government should do that as they do now. Which means that you can't deny service based on protected classes like gender, religion or race.

          However, and they do now, they should also reserve the right to deny service for non-protected reasons, such as being a disruptive asshole.

          Your problem seems to be that you think that "disruptive asshole" should be a protected class. Which it's not, online or offline.

          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, 30 Oct 2020 @ 6:50pm

        Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

        As in Southern lunch counters? Hotel and other accommodations? -- Even Louis Armstrong and other famous people weren't allowed into the SAME businesses. -- Eisenhower sent in the National Guard to guarantee one girl's right to attend the SAME school as whites. Do you agree with using literal ARMED TROOPS to guarantee Rights?

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

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        identicon
        Disambiguate Your Own Position, 30 Oct 2020 @ 6:51pm

        Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

        YES OR NO. None of your stupid diverting claiming it's not the same, because it IS.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Disambiguate Your Own Position, 30 Oct 2020 @ 6:52pm

        Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

        Businesses are PERMITTED entities (literally their FIRST act is to REQUEST permission) to exist by The Public to serve OUR purposes, not just to gain money for selves.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Disambiguate Your Own Position, 30 Oct 2020 @ 6:52pm

        Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

        We either hold businesses / public places to ONE standard (Common Law) or make some persons second class citizens. -- As you and Masnick clearly wish to do when it's your "political" opponents. -- But that's not America, it's corporatism.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Disambiguate Your Own Position, 30 Oct 2020 @ 6:53pm

        Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

        For anyone new (I doubt are any): I sprawl comments so that when censored here, clearly isn't just one bit of commercial "spam". -- And Masnick is fully authorized to remove "commercial speech", he does so in practice, pointing up that he regards businesses as less than "persons"!

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2020 @ 7:19pm

          Re: Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

          No, it's because you're an asshat.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 8:02pm

          Do you believe the government should compel privately owned businesses to physically admit and serve persons that the owners/operators of said business don't want to serve?

          If those people are being denied access/service because of their conduct rather than their being part of a protected class of people? No.

          When you step into the public sphere, you make an implicit compromise with everyone else: Your rights end where another person’s rights begin. When the right of association clashes with one’s right to enter and participate in the public sphere, the first one must generally give way. Only through such a compromise can we have a functioning society.

          A person who assaults a business owner shouldn’t have the right to patronize that business if the business owner feels so unsafe in the presence of the assaulter that closing up shop becomes the only viable course of action. The business owner’s right to participate in the public sphere would be compromised that way. By the same token, a business owner who doesn’t want to serve Christians shouldn’t have the right to discriminate that way if their business purports to serve the general public. A Christian’s right to participate in the public sphere would be compromised that way.

          Eisenhower sent in the National Guard to guarantee one girl's right to attend the SAME school as whites. Do you agree with using literal ARMED TROOPS to guarantee Rights?

          This is ultimately irrelevant to the issue at hand, but…

          When the alternative to that action is letting people ignore the law for the sake of systematically discriminating against — and possibly commit acts of violence against — people of color, who deserve the exact same rights and opportunities as White people? Yes, I do.

          Businesses are PERMITTED entities (literally their FIRST act is to REQUEST permission) to exist by The Public to serve OUR purposes, not just to gain money for selves.

          So what? Even public-facing privately owned businesses can still kick people out for being assholes. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

          We either hold businesses / public places to ONE standard (Common Law) or make some persons second class citizens.

          We already do this. In case you missed this information:

          • Masterpiece Cakeshop was never required to bake a cake for any gay person, and the bakery stopped selling wedding cakes to everyone so the owner could avoid selling such cakes to gay customers.

          • Hands-On Originals was sued for refusing to print an LGBT Pride message on t-shirts. The printshop prevailed because the courts agreed that forcing them to print the shirts would’ve been compelled speech. And for the record, I agree with that ruling.

          • Twitter can’t legally ban/refuse to serve people just for being gay or Christian or White or transgender. It follows the same rules as every other public-facing privately owned business in that regard. And just like those businesses, Twitter can ban anyone from the service on the basis of their conduct. If you think my local Food Lion should be allowed to kick me out because I knocked down a whole shelf of cereal boxes and pissed right on Cap’n Crunch’s face, I fail to see how you can think Twitter shouldn’t have the right to kick someone out for using racial slurs.

          when censored here

          You’re not censored. I read each and every one of your posts. And after they’re hidden — which they likely will be by the time I submit this comment — I’ll still be able to read them with the aid of a single mouse click.

          Moderation is a platform/service owner or operator saying “we don’t do that here”. Personal discretion is an individual telling themselves “I won’t do that here”. Editorial discretion is an editor saying “we won’t print that here”, either to themselves or to a writer. Censorship is someone saying “you won’t do that anywhere” alongside threats or actions meant to suppress speech. Techdirt has never censored you — you’ve simply perverted the term to throw yourself a decade-long pity party over the fact that, because of your spam and your insults and your bad faith arguments and your voluntary ignorance, no one here likes you.

          Shit, son, I know I’m probably not well-liked by several people around here (not including you since I don’t give a fuck) because I know I can be a pain in the ass. But you know what’s different between you and me? I don’t throw pity parties about that fact, and I don’t think the law should force people to read my bullshit.

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

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 2 Nov 2020 @ 8:09am

          Re: Re: Time to answer One Simple Question.

          I sprawl comments so that when censored here, clearly isn't just one bit of commercial "spam".

          Apparently, you don’t know what “spam” is. One characteristic that can be a sufficient (but not necessary) condition to call something spam is if someone bombards the comments/inbox of someone/thing, especially with repetitive comments or when it could have been done in fewer comments. In saying that you “sprawl comments” as a common practice, you’ve just admitted to spamming the comment sections here deliberately.

          Also, no one claimed that any of your comments—spam or otherwise—were commercial in nature. Commercial spam is a subset of the broader category described by the word “spam” that no one would claim any of your comments fall under. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t spam (see above). Any kind of spam (commercial or not) can and generally does get flagged by the community and subsequently hidden; they can also lead a user’s subsequent comments to be caught up in a spam filter depending on various circumstances. However, only commercial spam actually gets removed from the comments of this site even if it was not originally filtered out through whatever spam filter they use. This has never happened to any of your comments as far as I can tell; all of those can still easily be viewed by anyone who chooses to, unlike the commercial spam.

          And Masnick is fully authorized to remove "commercial speech",

          He is also fully authorized to remove noncommercial speech. That’s his right as the owner/operator of this site under the First Amendment, CDA §230, and common law.

          he does so in practice, pointing up [sic] that he regards businesses as less than "persons"!

          Nope. I mean, he does only remove commercial spam, but not because “he regards businesses as less than ‘persons’.” It’s because these comment sections are meant for a particular purpose (to promote discourse and discussion of the articles on this site, the topics they discuss, and related ideas, as well as to allow people to express their views and opinions), and commercial spam clearly and objectively does not contribute to or promote that purpose at all by any stretch of the imagination.

          Also, whether or not one person or organization acts as though businesses are less than persons has no bearing on whether or not corporations are or should be legally less than other legal “persons”. That was pretty well settled in Citizens United, Whether you agree or disagree with whether or not that’s a good idea, common law in the US is pretty clear that, under the First Amendment at least, corporate persons are treated equally with human persons.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2020 @ 2:40pm

      Re: Competition

      As a wise man once said,

      Fuck off Koby. You are truly too stupid for words. Go wallow in your pit of deception and ignorance.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 5:02pm

      Competition... already exists

      I think that this is exactly what is needed: more models, rather than a one-sized-fits-all platform with a near monopoly. Have a platform that censors just about anything. Another platform can be open. If viewers encounter speech with which they disagree, then they can instead use the site/app that deals with it to their liking.

      Drop the bullshit, you already have that in the form of multiple platforms for people to use, what you want is a 'one-sized-fits-all' set of rules so that platforms can no longer keep kicking out the assholes.

      If this really was a matter of trying different models then guess what, that can already happen, the problem you're running into is that when presented with a moderated versus unmoderated experience most people aren't choosing the one that lets the assholes, bigots and conspiracy theorists run wild while the more civilized people have to suck it up in the name of 'neutrality'.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 5:13pm

        the problem you're running into is that

        …the other platforms aren’t as big as Twitter or Facebook. That’s what it really boils down to.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2020 @ 7:20pm

          Re:

          And some people demand the largest potential audience possible.

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

          • identicon
            SpaceLifeForm, 31 Oct 2020 @ 12:13am

            Re: Largest audience possible

            And they want to spread their propaganda for free.

            They know now that Faux Noise is a waste of money.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2020 @ 8:04am

              Re: Re: Largest audience possible

              Wefound happiness online then the demon of ailes found an internet connection.
              -codex 4 year 7

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 1 Nov 2020 @ 2:02am

            Re: Re:

            Those people can demand all they want, they won't get everything they ask for. Most of us learn this before puberty, but some seem to lack the ability to learn adult concepts.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2020 @ 6:13am

              Re: Re: Re:

              It may have something to do with the silver spoon they were born with.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2020 @ 5:12pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re:

                They can get China leading the technology market and everything else since America is fading into the past and Congress is doing this in stupid domestic power grabs thinking it’s still the 80s and they can solve all prob,ms by pointing guns at Everyone and saying move.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 1 Nov 2020 @ 2:00am

          Re:

          ...and the reason why they're not as big is because they don't kick out the assholes who ruin the experience for everyone else. So, they choose to go to places where they can actually enjoy using the platform.

          The free market has spoken, he just doesn't like what it's said.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2020 @ 2:56pm

    Remove Congress?

    Really I think that is a better answer at this point. Primary the clueless evil fucks and tell them why.

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

  • icon
    Miles (profile), 30 Oct 2020 @ 5:02pm

    I haven't read the post

    I haven't read the post, but I don't need to. The headline says it all.

    Every single one of those clowns want the same thing: Speech I don't like I want suppressed. Speech I do like I want advanced.

    It's the exact same thing with the "Free Market." Nobody wants a free market. Everybody wants the rules bent in their direction.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 30 Oct 2020 @ 6:21pm

    Bottom line

    Nothing will fix politicians issues. They'll fuck section 230 and then be off to find the next thing.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2020 @ 3:28am

      Re: Bottom line

      What can be done about the extremely low level of competence seen in our cadre of politicians? There is a definite lack of knowledge and experience necessary in the execution of their daily duties.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Oct 2020 @ 5:15am

        Allowing outside expertise to help educate politicians would be a good start. Too bad Republicans have been shutting down or shitting on every source of outside knowledge and expertise for decades because those things challenge the Republican “tribe”.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2020 @ 7:44am

        Re: Re: Bottom line

        But this is what they do.

        The only reason you don’t see soldiers marching into twitter hq right now is becuase they hav Not found a way yet.

        The republicans are pretty much the Nazi party in all forms now for gods sake lol

        Democrats...hold off words for a little bit...

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

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 31 Oct 2020 @ 11:27am

        Epidemic of incompetent officials

        What can be done about the extremely low level of competence seen in our cadre of politicians?

        Eat the rich.

        At the moment we're looking at alternatives to this final alternative, but one by one, they're coming up empty or untenable.

        What's fascinating to me is the incompetence of our officials extends to the lack of awareness -- or interest -- in the rising pro-insurgency sentiments.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Oct 2020 @ 2:01pm

          Eat the rich.

          Hey now. C’mon.

          That would be incredibly wasteful. We should compost the rich.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Nov 2020 @ 6:58am

          Re: Epidemic of incompetent officials

          "Eat the rich."

          I'm not sure what the FDA would say. I mean, sure, the lobby has successfully pushed a lot of shady shit through the federal approval process, but I can't see the same sort of money brought to bear to have THAT particular product approved for consumption.

          ...although, I can imagine a certain orange ultra-narcissist screaming "I'm the best! The tastiest!" and insisting his name is all over the packaging in yuuuge letters.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 1 Nov 2020 @ 2:07am

        Re: Re: Bottom line

        "What can be done about the extremely low level of competence seen in our cadre of politicians?"

        Voters need to grow up and instead of voting for teams or single issues, actually vote for those that are able to competently do their jobs. At the very least, vote for people who will listen to actual experts in a field they don't understand rather than jumping on to whatever position they think will win them votes next time round. Then, participate in the smaller local races ever time there's a vote, not just vote for the presidential race and forget about their civic duties until next time there's someone they feel they desperately need to kick out.

        We'll see how this works next week, but in many districts it seems that people are as likely to choose QAnon weirdos as than people with a full grasp on reality. Let's hope they get restrained to a small minority of representatives, but let's see.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Nov 2020 @ 7:13am

          Re: Re: Re: Bottom line

          "Voters need to grow up and instead of voting for teams or single issues, actually vote for those that are able to competently do their jobs."

          Yeah, barely possible where you and I live, Paul, where half the citizenry doesn't view a completed high school education and a college degree with scorn and mistrust, and "religion" isn't regularly an outright anti-science doom cult obsessed with the götterdämmerung bits of their scripture.

          It's easy to speak about fixing the US electorate system - deep-six the college of electors, introduce ranked-choice voting as standard...but in the end that's just window dressing where the real problem is that out of every currently living american, fully half have the view on "scientific experts" you'd expect from people who still subscribe to creationism.

          This time around the election will be carried primarily because the half of the US which isn't stark, raving insane has been taught to be proud of having no education, may finally drag itself to the ballots, even if it can take up to 11 hours of standing in line before they get to vote.

          But what about next time? The time after that? The US needs to find a way to stop fanaticism, bigotry, racism and science scepticism to pass to later generations - because as bad as Trump is he's still just a symptom of fully half of the current US political body being...well, pretty good representatives of the citizens who elected them, to be fair.

          And until they find that way the best we can hope for is for the US to flip-flop between another GWB or Trump, and some inefficient democrat man or woman who gets to spend four to eight years doing their best impression of sisyphus.

          Anything less than that best case scenario just slides quietly into the weimar scenario.

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


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