No, Revoking Section 230 Would Not 'Save Democracy'

from the what-is-wrong-with-you-people? dept

Steven Hill, the former policy director with the Center for Humane Technologies -- the non-profit that everyone seems to look to as some sort of knowledgeable source on "anti-Big Tech" talking points -- has come out with one of the most ridiculous op-eds regarding Section 230. And I say that as someone who seems to wade through a dozen or so terrible Section 230 op-eds every day. The title alone, should already make you nervous, but honestly this piece is so bad, so wrong, and so disconnected from reality, it completely undermines the Center for Humane Technology's credibility, even though this guy is no longer associated with them.

The piece is titled: Biden should revoke Section 230 before we lose our democracy, which is just bizarre framing, but I'm open-minded enough to give any piece about Section 230 at least a chance to make its arguments.

Of course, it starts off on the wrong foot since, you know, Biden literally cannot revoke Section 230. That's not how any of this works. You'd think that at least someone would point out that the President doesn't get to just revoke laws that Congress passed and were signed into law. That's just not how any of it works. But... maybe it's just a clueless editor at the Chicago Tribune and the article itself is better... Or maybe not.

The 1st half of the article is basically one long "correlation / not causation" error. It talks about how we now have big internet companies and before we didn't -- and now we also have Trumpism, and before we didn't. Ergo, the theory goes, big tech is somehow responsible for Trumpism. There is not even any attempt to logically connect the two, it's just stated as if it's obvious:

Since the birth of the Big Tech media platforms 15 years ago, democracies around the world have been subjected to a grand experiment: Can a nation’s news and information infrastructure, which is the lifeblood of any democracy, be dependent on digital technologies that allow a global free speech zone of unlimited audience size, combined with algorithmic (nonhuman) curation of massive volumes of mis/disinformation, that can be spread with unprecedented ease and reach?

The evidence has become frighteningly clear that this experiment has veered off course, like a Frankenstein monster marauding across the landscape.

Hill seems totally unaware that we've gone through other periods in history in which nationalists/fascists/populists have become popular and taken over countries. I don't remember social media being to blame for Europe in the 1930s, but maybe I missed it in my history books.

But, even if this was accurate (and it's not), it's still not clear Section 230 has anything to do with any of this (because it doesn't, even in this fantasy world in which social media is responsible for Trumpism/nationalism). The connection to 230, like his connection between social media and growing nationalism is just some random weak correlation bullshit: these companies like Section 230, ergo, any bad things I think have come from these companies, must be the fault of Section 230.

Notably, of course, the essay makes no effort to engage with what problem he's actually trying to solve other than hand-wavey "threats to democracy," nor any attempt to explore how Section 230 works or what role it has here. It just seems to assume that if you removed Section 230, these non-defined problems would be fix.

It is time to push reset in a major way. President Joe Biden should start by revoking Section 230 of 1996′s Communications Decency Act. That’s the law that grants Big Tech Media “blank check” immunity for the mass content that is published and broadcast across their platforms. Revoking Section 230 is not a perfect solution, but it would make these companies somewhat more responsible, deliberative and potentially liable for the worst of their toxic content, including illegal content. Just like traditional media is liable.

No, Steven, that's not how any of this works. They would be "liable" for what, exactly? What is illegal about "toxic" content? What toxic content violates the law, that would somehow make the platforms liable? What is the actual cause of action? He doesn't answer that because the answer is none, whatsoever.

Also it's an ignorant fool's pipedream to believe that removing Section 230 would make companies "more responsible" or "deliberative." How do I know? Because unlike Steven, I actually study this stuff, and look at other areas of the law and the world where they don't have Section 230. For example, even in the US, we already have the DMCA for copyright, which has a regime (notice-and-takedown) that is what most people assume would develop in a world absent Section 230. And how's that working out? Do we see platforms dealing with user-generated content being "more responsible and deliberate" regarding copyright claims?

[insert uproarious laughter here]

No, of course not. What we have instead are companies who are quick to pull down all sorts of perfectly legitimate content to avoid any threat of liability. They practically knock themselves over to takedown content. And studies have shown that a huge number of DMCA takedowns are abusive and not about legitimate copyright claims. Remove 230 and we'll get a lot more of that, and a huge amount of stifling of perfectly fine speech based on a legalistic heckler's veto.

Why do newspapers like the Chicago Tribune let people who clearly have no understanding of this issue write op-eds for them?

Of course, immediately after that Hill recognizes that it wasn't social media that incited the mob to invade the Capitol, but the President, and admits that his own proposed solution is really kinda... not going to help.

But let’s be clear: Some of the worst past outrages would not likely be affected by 230′s revocation. While President Donald Trump’s inciting speech to the mob about a stolen election was false and provocative, other media outlets publish untrue nonsense all the time. It would be difficult to prove legally that any particular individuals or institutions were harmed or motivated by the president’s many outrageous statements.

So revoking Section 230 will likely not have as much impact as its proponents wish or its critics fear.

So then why did you write a whole essay calling for the revocation when you admit it won't actually work?

Then he switches arguments, like he's a Twitter troll and people have called him out for not knowing what he's talking about. Instead of talking about 230, he jumps to another dumb argument: that internet companies should be regulated like public utilities.

The Biden administration should treat these companies more like investor-owned utilities, as the U.S. previously did with telephone, railroad and power companies. (Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has suggested such an approach.)

As utilities, they would be guided by a digital license — just like traditional bricks-and-mortar companies must apply for various licenses and permits — that defines the rules and regulations of the business model according to a “duty of care” obligation, a kind of Hippocratic oath that says “first, do no harm.”

That... is also not how any of this works. First of all, utilities tend to have "must carry" rules, which would do the opposite of what Hill himself claimed was the reason we needed 230 in the first place! Second of all, the entire point of having utilities is when you have natural monopolies over commodity style, non-differentiated products. That's not true of social media. Third, if they were regulated by the government in the manner that Hill seems to want, you'd run into serious state actor problems, potentially making any "duty of care" obligations to be subject to a 1st Amendment analysis, meaning that all of the speech Hill wants them to take down to "protect democracy" would have to be left up because it's mostly protected by the 1st Amendment.

This isn't just an ignorant argument from someone who doesn't understand the issues. It's a self-contradicting one!

And then he totally shifts arguments again!

One abuse that is ripe for stricter rules is “data grabs” of users’ personal info. These companies never asked for permission to start sucking up our private data, or to track our physical locations, or mass collect every “like,” “share” and “follow” into psychographic profiles of each user that can be targeted and manipulated by advertisers and bad political actors. The platforms started that sneaky practice secretly, forging their destructive brand of “surveillance capitalism.”

Surveillance capitalism! Drink! So he's gone from a "they've allowed bad people online" argument, to "they're a utility" argument (which contradicts the first argument) to now a privacy argument... which has nothing at all to do with Section 230.

Why would anyone ever trust this guy to opine on anything related to this subject?

These companies’ frequent outrages against our humanity are supposedly the price we must pay for being able to post our summer vacation and new puppy pics to our “friends,” or for political dissidents and whistleblowers to alert the world to their just causes. Those are all important uses, but the price paid is very high. We can do better.

I think the Chicago Tribune can do a lot better and maybe find someone who actually knows what they're talking about to opine on this stuff?

Though, at least, the paper did juxtapose this utter dumpster fire of an op-ed with a much better one from Will Duffield talking about the dangers of repealing Section 230, but it's stunning that the first one made it to print at all.

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Filed Under: democracy, joe biden, privacy, section 230, steven hill
Companies: center for humane technologies


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  • identicon
    jean, 29 Jan 2021 @ 10:00am

    no win situation

    At first, I thought it would be effective for websites to show what they be like, if section 230 was actually repealed.
    No direct user posting, or extremely limited and harsh monitoring, to err on the side of caution as it were. Kinda like that mass website protest when they were putting banners up or shutting down

    But now, I'm not sure that would be a good idea, it will be taken as an attack, massively multiplied cries of "censorship", now from both sides. Low gutteral growls of BiG tEcH yAdDa yAdDa echoing in alleyways and public bathrooms everywhere. It would be perceived not as a compliance test for proposed legislation, but as a mob like threat. Having the opposite effect of the intent of the protest.

    Who knows though, maybe there is a workaround where everyone hosts their own speech and social network becomes more of an API instead of a black box website with unknown and pervasive analytics by a corporation that does not have your interest at heart. (Mission statement yes, heart no)

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 6:58am

      Re: no win situation

      It would be perceived not as a compliance test for proposed legislation, but as a mob like threat. Having the opposite effect of the intent of the protest.

      The simple thing to point out is that is exactly what they would get as a result of such legislation passing. It's not a threat, it's a promise.

      If they want to call that a "mob attack," it's the their fault for using such mob like tactics in the first place. "Nice website ya got there, be a shame if you became liable for some troll's commentary...."

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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 10:07am

    Damn. Even skiiers don’t zig-zag as much as that guy.

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  • icon
    crade (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 10:19am

    You want to save democracy fix it so the pres doesn't get to decide who is in charge of investigating him for undermining democracy and still fire them if he disagrees with what they do

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 10:55am

      Re:

      Re-upping the Independent Counsel Act would be a good start. I can understand why it wasn't after Ken Starr's fishing expedition, but on balance I think we were better off with it than without it.

      Though we've got a deeper problem here, in that our constitutional mechanism for removing a president from office does not account for the possibility that half the Senate would fall under the control of a suicide cult unwilling to hold the president accountable for any crime so long as he belongs to the same cult.

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

      • icon
        crade (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 11:21am

        Re: Re:

        The senate, at least are separately elected so they still served as a check against the will of the people. That might not have turned out the way you or I like, but I wouldn't say it's anti-democratic.. However, the president having control over his own investigation means that the people never get the information so there is no chance for democracy to work, the senators never had the chance to represent the people's will even if they wanted to. We don't know what the people's will is because we don't know the extent of what happened or Trump's involvement, and what we do know was intentionally obfuscated to prevent people from understanding it. That does break democracy in my view.

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        • icon
          Thad (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 1:16pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The senate, at least are separately elected so they still served as a check against the will of the people. That might not have turned out the way you or I like, but I wouldn't say it's anti-democratic..

          ...it's not anti-democratic, it's just a check against the will of the people?

          However, the president having control over his own investigation means that the people never get the information so there is no chance for democracy to work, the senators never had the chance to represent the people's will even if they wanted to.

          Of course they did. The Senate has the power to launch investigations. The Senate set the terms of the impeachment trial. The Senate chose not to call any witnesses or issue any subpoenas for said trial. Don't you dare let Senate Republicans off the hook for what they did.

          We don't know what the people's will is because we don't know the extent of what happened or Trump's involvement, and what we do know was intentionally obfuscated to prevent people from understanding it.

          By the Senate.

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          • icon
            crade (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 2:53pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            it's not anti-democratic, it's just a check against the will of the people?
            Correct. meant like checking against an answer sheet. They are elected separately, the senate and president are in bed together because that's how the people voted.

            Of course they did. The Senate has the power to launch investigations.
            There already was an investigation. Launching one isn't an issue. Actually getting one performed without interference is. The resources with the capability to investigate and access to the info you need answer to the target.

            The senate could tried to do another investigation, in our opinion they still had enough to go on that they should have done more, but they made all those calls on tainted information.

            they could have called witnesses if they knew who to call, they could have tried to do independent investigation, with whatever resources and intel were given to them by the justice department under the president (more realistically the house also had the same options) but how much of an investigation can you do if you can't rely on Justice Department resources?

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            • icon
              Thad (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 3:15pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Correct. meant like checking against an answer sheet. They are elected separately, the senate and president are in bed together because that's how the people voted.

              ...Christ, Crade, do you really need me to explain fourth-grade civics to you?

              Most people didn't vote for Trump or a Republican Senate in 2016. Or a Republican Senate in 2018.

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              • icon
                crade (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 4:35pm

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

                I thought it was obvious but I wasn't trying to make the claim that the electoral college system is a true full proper democratic representation and gives everyone a fair say or whatever blah blah, that's a whole separate horse that has been beaten to death already. It's what you have for your elections check right now regardless, it's never going to be perfect.

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              • icon
                crade (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 4:57pm

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

                You might need to explain fourth-grade civics to me though, our system is different.. I'm just a guy from canada who balked when I saw your president fired the person in charge of investigating him and replaced him with a stooge who covered it up to the best of his ability.. But maybe I just don't understand and that isn't a problem

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              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 5:50am

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

                "...Christ, Crade, do you really need me to explain fourth-grade civics to you?"

                Bear in mind that the US version of "fair elections" isn't exactly intuitive to a non-american who may rightly assume a system called a "democratic republic" would not have been deliberately designed to keep the will of the people at quite such a distance from the electoral results.

                Most non-americans might follow US elections and come away with a somewhat confused expression on finding that the person with the most votes didn't, in fact, win. And lets not get started on the first-past-the-post idiocy.

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                • icon
                  crade (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 6:09am

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

                  Every system is around is an estimation and not "perfect democracy", so that doesn't surprise me at all.

                  I have a lot of family ties to the U.S. I wish I could trick myself into believing the whole problem is that small fraction of people between the popular vote and the electoral college. If you have a way to convince me I'm all ears.

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                  • icon
                    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 4:36am

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

                    "I wish I could trick myself into believing the whole problem is that small fraction of people between the popular vote and the electoral college. If you have a way to convince me I'm all ears."

                    I wish I had that sort of answer for you, I truly do.

                    But my guess is that the "whole problem" consists of 1 in 3 american voters being brainwashed since early childhood to disbelieve science and factual reality in favor of whatever grimdark horror story Dear Leader - or their closet racist drinking pal, televangelist prophet or pseudo-nazi facebook friend tells them.

                    The only solution I'm seeing to the US problems with democracy is to isolate and ostracize the fuckwits who have a problem with living and letting live - until they die out as a demographic, the same way Germany had to do it after world war 2.

                    And to get that done without the next generation turning out adherents of the same bullshit their parents subscribe to, a massive focus on public education will be required. Until the US has at least the same general standard of erudition as Canada or the EU.

                    That'll be a tough sell when 74 million citizens will be fully convinced forcing their children to learn math, history, civics and logic is tantamount to handing them to the "Kenyan Muslim and his gang of satanist child-traffickers".

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                    • icon
                      crade (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 8:12am

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

                      You see, I'm not actually as concerned with that. That part seems to be going away slowly, those people make up less and less of the U.S. every election.

                      what concerned me more is they aren't going to go quietly, and before that happens they are willing to subvert democracy to win and what I saw a system unable to deal with that problem

                      You were lucky enough that he leaked some evidence that he was trying to use the power of the presidency to subvert democracy, you even had one of the branches of government trying to expose him, but he was able to suppress everything because he had control of the justice department and intelligence communities and a large portion of the media. He and the senators all still had plausible deniability because Barr made sure we wouldn't get answers.

                      From what I saw the only thing that saved democracy was Trump's incompetence. He had the will and all the power needed to rig the elections in his favour, he could largely control both the ability to investigate any wrongdoing and the message that got to the people
                      all signs pointed that he was trying to do so, setting up the justice department and intelligence community as him personal propaganda machine, and working with foreign leaders to try to get their assistance falsifying information;

                      Elections were your only safeguard against election interference, nothing in the system could stop him and you just got lucky and he bungled it himself.

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                      • icon
                        PaulT (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 11:12am

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

                        "From what I saw the only thing that saved democracy was Trump's incompetence."

                        Yes, from where I'm sitting, the scary thing isn't Trump as such. He was an incompetent, egomaniacal, delusional idiot who only cared about grifting for himself and his friends, and feeding his petulant ego. Extraordinarily damaging to the US and the world at large, but there's little he actually achieved that's not reversible in the fairly near future. What's concerning is if the pendulum swings the other way toward a competent fascist before the things he exploited are fixed.

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

                      • icon
                        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Feb 2021 @ 2:21am

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

                        "That part seems to be going away slowly, those people make up less and less of the U.S. every election."

                        Not slowly enough. As you imply they won't go quietly, and now they've had their version of the beer hall coup the options is out there that violent insurrection is an option on the table.

                        "You were lucky enough that he leaked some evidence that he was trying to use the power of the presidency to subvert democracy, you even had one of the branches of government trying to expose him..."

                        Point of note that I'm a european and thus fortunate enough to see the shenanigans of The Donald from a safe distance. But yes. Trump is inept. Always has been and only has his compulsive lying and the rescue money from his dad to thank for being a "success" in his earlier career.

                        "Elections were your only safeguard against election interference, nothing in the system could stop him and you just got lucky and he bungled it himself."

                        That's my point. The system is built to favor the status quo and requires a disproportionate dose of voters to accomplish constructive change. And the US citizenry simply doesn't have the proportion of enlightened, educated, or critical voters required to sustain a push for reform in any direction.

                        The US system has more serious flaws by far from a democratic standpoint this side of the EU, but it's still subject to vox populi. It's just that the US doesn't have a citizenry capable enough or willing to wield the democracy of the system properly.

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                        • icon
                          crade (profile), 3 Feb 2021 @ 9:07am

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

                          I'm not just talking about a system that favours the status quo, I'm saying they have shown they really have nothing preventing someone coming in and using the weight of the government to make elections into a farce and ending up with a system like Russia has. If trump was as smart as putin, they would already be on an irreversible path to that

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          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 5:43am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "...it's not anti-democratic, it's just a check against the will of the people?"

            Well, it certainly is anti-democratic and thus a check against the will of the people. Just as the founding fathers intended, mob rule being a great fear of theirs. With the average citizen being an uneducated peon easily seduced by any passing demagogue they may have had a point in this; As we can observe from looking at the US where we have 74 million americans just as badly educated and easily swayed as the average 17th century englishman or colonist.

            In modern times and in most countries where education is pervasive and comprehensive, a "senate" to check the balance of democracy might seem like a bad idea, of course.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 7:19am

        Re: Re:

        Though we've got a deeper problem here, in that our constitutional mechanism for removing a president from office does not account for the possibility that half the Senate would fall under the control of a suicide cult unwilling to hold the president accountable for any crime so long as he belongs to the same cult.

        That's not really a failure of the system of government. It's a failure of both morals and ethics of the electorate. A Democracy isn't truly a Democracy (rule by and for the people) if it can't be used to destroy itself. That would imply that the people were forbidden from changing the government to a certain extent dictated and enforced by said government. A proper Democracy should never have such restrictive laws in place.

        In a Democracy, by definition, the final check and balance against governmental overreach is the morals and ethics of the people. Should the people falter in that critical role, corruption like that is not only expected, it's required by Democracy.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 7:48am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "That's not really a failure of the system of government. It's a failure of both morals and ethics of the electorate"

          Victim blaming is such an easy excuse, so why not. Not like the lowly commoner has the resources to respond and call out the bullshit.

          Politics and corruption go hand in hand, capitalism is no exception.

          "A Democracy isn't truly a Democracy (rule by and for the people)"

          The US is not a democracy. More like a Corporatocracy, and under the Trump administration it was a Kakistocracy.

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

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 7:12am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Victim blaming is such an easy excuse, so why not. Not like the lowly commoner has the resources to respond and call out the bullshit."

            And yet it's completely correct; Vox Populi, Vox Dei. In a democracy you get the leaders you deserve.

            I'd have to point out that in most countries in the world elected leaders do get called on their bullshit more often than not. It's just in the US where the proportion of gullible ignorant fools dedicated to a pseudo-religious narrative of fear and hate comes to 1 in 3 people where this becomes a real issue.

            Yeah, The US system is broken by design when it comes to proportionally representing the will of the people, but the most harmful loopholes in it - the electoral college and the senate - could be plugged overnight if the citizenry all decided to spend a miniscule amount of time fact-finding and using critical thinking rather than simply get spoonfed utter garbage by Fox or OANN and call it a day.

            Instead the current situation is beyond dangerous - an entire generation's worth of a sizeable proportion of the citizenry has grown up believing in a reality-detached grimdark fairy tale where they are the persecuted minority surrounded by the minions of a satanist child-trafficking ring run by the "liberals" and being a "True American" means to blindly follow Dear Leader and The Party. Or desperate enough to follow those who do believe in that grimdark tale.

            "The US is not a democracy. More like a Corporatocracy, and under the Trump administration it was a Kakistocracy."

            It would be more accurate to call it an oligarchy. Corruption aside most effective power lies in the hands of a very few people in key positions, such as Mitch McConnel.

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 7:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Corruption aside most effective power lies in the hands of a very few people in key positions, such as Mitch McConnel."

              This is always something that's worth bringing up. Whatever voters decided nationally, McConnell had been majority leader for many years, during which time he openly made it his mission to block anything coming over the aisle, even things written originally by Republicans. He was notably opposed to pretty much anything the Obama administrations wanted to do, announcing before Obama was sworn in that he would do anything in his power to make him a one-term president.

              He failed at that, of course, but his position and unwillingness to compromise ensured that the will of the people who voted Obama into office were essentially ignored. Why is this a problem? Well, in the 2008 Kentucky election, McConnell got 168,127 votes. Obama won the Presidential election with 69,498,516 votes, a popular majority of nearly 10 million votes.

              There's many issues, but surely that one's clear - nearly 70 million Americans chose someone to represent them, but the guy they wanted to represent them was crippled, because the guy who was chosen by 170 thousand people decided he wanted to play brick wall.

              It's hard to say what the solution is to that, but there is a clear imbalance of power when you have ideologues overriding those that the people actually wanted in charge.

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

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 4:48am

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

                " Whatever voters decided nationally, McConnell had been majority leader for many years, during which time he openly made it his mission to block anything coming over the aisle, even things written originally by Republicans. "

                And before him, Newt Gingrich.
                It's not as if they're the sole position of abusable authority either. There are several key positions very loosely tied to democratic appointments, if at all.

                "It's hard to say what the solution is to that, but there is a clear imbalance of power when you have ideologues overriding those that the people actually wanted in charge."

                Well, it could be a start to strip out the part of the US electorate system which assumed the will of the people also need to be checked and balanced. Any modern nation in the G20 today will have a citizenry educated enough to not simply fall for the obvious bullshit pushed by the first demagogue to grasp their levers.
                Any G20 member nation not located between Canada and Mexico, at least.

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            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 11:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              And yet it's completely correct; Vox Populi, Vox Dei. In a democracy you get the leaders you deserve.

              In the 2016 election literally millions more people voted for Hilary than voted for Trump, but they got Trump anyway thanks to the batshit election system we've got. When you've got a system that allows one person to stonewall efforts by elected representatives, and that allows someone to 'lose' the popular vote by literal millions yet still make it into office the idea of 'you get the leader you deserve' doesn't really hold up well.

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

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 5:27am

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

                "When you've got a system that allows one person to stonewall efforts by elected representatives, and that allows someone to 'lose' the popular vote by literal millions yet still make it into office the idea of 'you get the leader you deserve' doesn't really hold up well."

                The US system being tied to the concept that the "will of the people" needs to be checked against certainly doesn't help.

                Still, uphill struggle or not it's still a fact that if 70% of the citizenry decided to have the system changed and persistently voted only for candidates driving such a reform for a period of about ten years, then the system would be changed.

                The reason this doesn't happen can be found in the exasperated statement by Malcolm X about fearing the well-intentioned liberal more than the nakedly aggressive klansman; It takes four years worth of someone as inept, outrageous, and sociopathic as Trump - and a 400k death toll - before the 70% even realize there's a problem to the extent they really start moving.

                The 1 in 3 americans, those 73 million plus change, for whom authoritarianism and outright white supremacy aren't showstoppers? They've always been there.

                "Law Enforcement" so riddled with xenophobia, corruption, and malice it produces a thousand times as many dead citizens as actual criminals do in some countries? It's always been there.

                Systemic racism and classism? It's always been there.

                Regulatory capture and cronyism? It's always been there.

                The problem is that the american middle class - the overwhelming majority - seem to be politically lazy. Unwilling to spend unpaid time actually finding out for themselves where the system fails and cast votes backed by knowledge and higher interest. The party tells them which candidates to vote for and they eagerly assume the people with the most vested interests in a certain candidate winning are telling the factual truth without challenge. A system unchallenged is a system entrenched.

                Also...I keep hearing that "Fuck you, got mine" is the republican motto. That may be true, but irrespective of party affiliation that motto seems, to more than a little extent, to be a generally american one. The US as a whole has a view on infrastructure and general societal problems of all kinds which seems to be that if you aren't personally affected by something right now then it isn't a problem. So dams, bridges, roads, water and power grids are falling apart all over the country, health care for everyone is a pipe dream, and every politician knows advocating tax money spent on other people* is political suicide.

                It just isn't enough to stand up and loudly proclaim humanitarian values. For it to matter what you need to do is to man up and vote for the guy who says he'll tax you a few bucks more and spend it on public health care, public roads, stricter monitoring of law enforcement, and public education...all the while realizing that as a country you're all in this shit together and getting out of it means everyone needs to start paying their dues.

                Instead almost everyone - even among the liberals - rejects the guy who might actively fight for change in favor of the guy flavored More of the same. You get a Biden to restore the status quo instead of a Bernie who'd try to change it.

                So yeah, you get the leaders you deserve because when you really look at it, enough americans simply don't want change to make the inertia of the broken system present an effective barrier for those who do.

                Sure, you can put a few systemic fixes in which will to large extent alter that equation - like ranked-choice voting on every level, for instance, or undoing a few unfortunate concentrations of power such as letting the senate majority leader own effective veto power on which bills get to be heard. That'll help.

                But what really screws the US currently is that too many citizens are actively unwilling to rock the boat, or even care, when the perceived problem, monumental though it may be, doesn't affect them personally right then and there.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 10:25am

    'He said it, not us, we're just a harmless paper.'

    Why do newspapers like the Chicago Tribune let people who clearly have no understanding of this issue write op-eds for them?

    Pretty sure you just answered your own question there.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 11:33am

    30's Social Media

    "I don't remember social media being to blame for Europe in the 1930s, but maybe I missed it in my history "

    Surely there was a more cromulent argument.

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    icon
    DataMeister (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 11:48am

    I'd say section 230 does not need to be thrown out. If anything it could be slightly modified to say the protections there apply to sites wanting to operate as a "public square". If a site decides they want to prohibit speech which isn't actually illegal then they are acting as a publisher and section 230 doesn't protect them.

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    • icon
      crade (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      That doesn't make any sense.
      -The only point of section 230 is to protect sites when they want to prohibit speech that isn't illegal..
      -They are already in the clear if they only every prohibit speech that is illegal.
      -Figuring out what is legal and illegal speech from users is basically impossible at scale which is one reason you need 230
      -Just because speech is "legal" doesn't mean it can't make your site completely and utterly non functional. It's not illegal to post a picture of your feces in someone's comment section, but parler figured out it's probably a good idea to try to prevent it anyway if they want to stay in business

      • public squares need to be public, thats what differentiates them and makes them public squares.

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    • identicon
      cpt kangarooski, 29 Jan 2021 @ 12:03pm

      Re:

      Great! Advertisements are not illegal. Malware isn't illegal if you present it correctly (they volunteered to install it). Pornography isn't illegal. Your "public square" is going to be pretty shitty to be in, like late 1970s Times Square. And if you try to clean it up even a little, you're a publisher and you dare not allow user generated content.

      Of course, as a regulation that imposes an obligation of content neutrality and which denies sites their right to freely associate, you may have trouble with the First Amendment yourself, but I wasn't expecting a solid legal analysis out of you anyway.

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        icon
        DataMeister (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 1:55pm

        Re: Re:

        I'm not saying a site can't have rules of conduct, just like one can't run around a public square naked or get up in someone's face and shout at them. But, I think there should be rules or guidelines to prevent companies who have presented themselves as a public forum from biasedly subverting their own rules, especially if they are large enough to sway public opinion.

        https://100percentfedup.com/if-twitter-is-banning-people-for-inciting-violence-they-might-w ant-to-take-a-look-at-this-video/

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 2:19pm

          there should be rules or guidelines to prevent companies who have presented themselves as a public forum from biasedly subverting their own rules

          What rule, guideline, or regulation could you possibly suggest that wouldn’t be immediately undercut by the First Amendment?

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          • icon
            DataMeister (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 3:23pm

            Re:

            I imagine it would be around the idea that if you create a communication platform then the actual platform isn't an extension of your own speech. So an owner can create an account and join in the conversation but the owner couldn't claim blocking other people is a form of their own free speech.

            That's not to prohibit preset rules on the platform though. If an owner started misapplying their posted rules to one group and not another then they would lose the 230 protection. That is also not to say that if something slipped through their filters they would be considered as biased if they remedy the issue once it is pointed out. Losing section 230 protection also wouldn't automatically mean they were breaking a law, but it would open the door to them being held responsible to what others post. As long as they fairly apply their own rules then Section 230 protects them.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 3:45pm

              Re: Re:

              Sounds like a Socialist Town Square to me. Don't most Town Square types not like socialism? Or is socialism good when you benefit and bad when others benefit? I forget.

              If you want free market capitalism to provide high tech platforms where private business can take place then you can not tell private companies how they must conduct business as that would no longer be free market capitalism now would it?

              Face it .. you want the government to provide you with your own personal bullhorn that everyone is forced to listen to.

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                icon
                DataMeister (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 7:40pm

                Re: Re: Re:

                No, I just want everyone to play fair.

                When they start colluding together to kick people off what is essentially the primary communication systems of the world it starts to be concerning. Saying build your own software platform is one thing that is easy enough, but when they start saying build your own server farm, and then build your own payment processing service I start to get worried. What is next, build your own Internet and your own ISPs?

                I think the U.S. constitution was smart to restrict the government from censoring the people, but I don't think the writers ever envisioned a corporation could possibly one day have equal or more control over free speech than a government. It seem like that is dangerously close to being the case.

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                • icon
                  Toom1275 (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 7:49pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  When they start colluding together to kick people off what is essentially the primary communication systems of the world it starts to be concerning.

                  By your own definition, it's not concerning.

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 9:46pm

                  When they start colluding together to kick people off what is essentially the primary communication systems of the world it starts to be concerning.

                  Yes or no: Can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube knowingly and directly colluded with one another (as well as other interactive web services) to ban Donald Trump from said services?

                  Saying build your own software platform is one thing that is easy enough, but when they start saying build your own server farm, and then build your own payment processing service I start to get worried. What is next, build your own Internet and your own ISPs?

                  When we get to the point where Internet access providers are censoring people, we can have that discussion. But until then: Amazon is under no legal obligation to host Parler, Twitter is under no legal obligation to host speech Parler would consider “fine and dandy”, and the government has no legal right to make either company do otherwise.

                  I don't think the writers ever envisioned a corporation could possibly one day have equal or more control over free speech than a government

                  We’re not at that day yet. We’re not even close. “Free speech” doesn’t mean “having a large audience”, “forcing someone to host your speech”, or “forcing someone to give you an audience”. Losing your spot on Twitter doesn’t silence you. It only takes away something you weren’t entitled to in the first place: your spot on Twitter.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 1:54am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "When they start colluding together to kick people off "

                  I realize that current affairs can change quickly, but I had not read this particular story, perhaps you could provide details such that I may investigate further. Who colluded with whom, over what and how did this become documented?

                  Yes, it may be difficult for the lowly citizen to build their own town square, are you suggesting the government provide this town square as it is apparent that business has no interest in such a thing.

                  Do not worry about corps having more power than the government, that ship sailed long ago.

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                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 2:47am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "Who colluded with whom, over what and how did this become documented?"

                    I think he means that when armed insurrectionists tried disrupting the democratic process, he has to pretend that the reaction to that was some sort of collusion. Or, maybe that because Q and white supremacists keep getting told to take their shit elsewhere, that it has to be some kind of conspiracy rather than those types of people naturally finding it difficult to hang around with normal people.

                    It's amazing how the story differs when you filter it through the pathetic victim narrative rather than the eyes of people who just want a decent place to socialise without literal Nazis stinking up the joint.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 4:36am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  When they start colluding together to kick people off what is essentially the primary communication systems of the world it starts to be concerning

                  What is concerning is people demanding the right to push their violent political opinions in front of any audience. You do not have a right to an audience, only a right to try and attract an audience to where you are speaking.

                  Also, there are platforms available where you can say almost anything, but they do not attract a mainstream audience. That lack of an audience is an indicator of how popular those opinions are.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2021 @ 3:26am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I am beginning to think that mainstream conservative thought includes the right to a bully pulpit, for them, and anything that gets in the way of this endeavor is censorship.

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                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Feb 2021 @ 2:27am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "When they start colluding together to kick people off what is essentially the primary communication systems of the world it starts to be concerning."

                  So everyone not liking manifest assholes on their premises is now "collusion" to you? I'm afraid that no collusion is required at all for every sane person in the world to want nazists, misogynists, racists, homophobes, or ultra-authoritarian apologists gone from their private property.

                  Here's a hint, "DataMeister" - picking a new nickname and continuing to peddle the stormfront party line isn't fooling anyone into believing you are somehow just a new arrival here to carry a rational debate in good faith when every argument you try to bring is either an outright straw man, irrelevant, or a moved goalpost.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 4:23pm

              If an owner started misapplying their posted rules to one group and not another then they would lose the 230 protection.

              230 has no such provision right now. For what reason could you possibly want such a provision, other than to force speech onto a platform such as Twitter?

              Losing section 230 protection also wouldn't automatically mean they were breaking a law, but it would open the door to them being held responsible to what others post.

              Losing that liability protection would mean a service without the bankroll of a Google or Facebook would stop hosting third-party speech.

              I like the Mastodon instance I use right now. Taking 230 away means taking that instance away from me because of some ridiculous notion of “neutrality”. For what reason do you want to do that to both me and everyone else who uses that instance?

              As long as they fairly apply their own rules then Section 230 protects them.

              I don’t know if you’ve paid attention to the Content Moderation series on this site, but moderation isn’t perfect. Applying rules fairly “or else” would mean either a lot of bullshit would stay up or a lot of perfectly legal speech would go down. 230 allows moderation to exist as it does now because it protects those decisions.

              Take 230 away — or make its protections contingent on “neutrality” — and sites will either overmoderate lots of legal speech, undermoderate to the point of becoming another 8kun, or stop accepting speech altogether. Which outcome do you want?

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              • icon
                DataMeister (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 7:43pm

                Re:

                I don't follow your logic. Basically the only way a platform would lose section 230 protection is if the owner of the platform started censoring people they didn't like in opposition to whatever guidelines they had. Is that what Mastodon is doing?

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 9:59pm

                  the only way a platform would lose section 230 protection is if the owner of the platform started censoring people they didn't like in opposition to whatever guidelines they had

                  As soon as Twitter starts violating the First Amendment rights of its users by doing that, you let me know.

                  (You won’t let me know. Because that can’t happen.)

                  Is that what Mastodon is doing?

                  …no. Dunno what gave you that idea.

                  When Gab began using a Mastodon-compatible protocol, a sizeable portion of the Fediverse defederated with Gab (and any instance using Gab’s fork of Mastodon) in an instant. That didn’t censor Gab in any way. Defederation can’t censor anyone. It only makes sure bullshit from a shitty instance never darkens the doorstep of any instance that wants no part of said bullshit.

                  Just as Twitter shouldn’t be forced to host speech it doesn’t want to host, Masto instances shouldn’t be forced to federate with instances they don’t want on their public timelines. Arguing otherwise would say more about you than you’d probably care to admit — and none of that would be kind to you.

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                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 12:54am

                    Re:

                    "As soon as Twitter starts violating the First Amendment rights of its users by doing that, you let me know"

                    Let us all know, since that would mean that the US government had seized control of Twitter, and I'm sure that's information we'd all like to have.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 8:13am

                  Re: Re:

                  And just how much is it going to cost to prove that your stayed within your own guidelines? Make it easy to sue sites for perceived bias and you make it expensive to run a site.

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            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 7:28am

              Re: Re:

              "I imagine it would be around the idea that if you create a communication platform then the actual platform isn't an extension of your own speech. So an owner can create an account and join in the conversation but the owner couldn't claim blocking other people is a form of their own free speech."

              Sp, logically extended, the bar owner can not ever throw someone out for behaving appallingly.
              If you hold an open party in your own home you are not allowed to throw out guests or deny them entrance.

              Here's the thing; You don't get to tinker a whole damn lot with what a privately owned platform must and must not do before you start flushing the right to ownership down the toilet.

              People aren't bound to 1A. the government is.

              That's why every last person who tries to argue against 230 can't muster any ethical defense of their arguments and instead, like Koby and the other alt-right trolls, keep having to dance around the fact that what they're really after has nothing to do with free speech and more to do with forcing other people to provide a bullhorn and a soapbox to stand on in their private yards.

              This alt-right parody of 1A is what is often referred to as "freeze peach" by saner people.

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        • identicon
          Rocky, 29 Jan 2021 @ 2:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm not saying a site can't have rules of conduct, just like one can't run around a public square naked or get up in someone's face and shout at them.

          It's exactly what you are saying. You think it's unfair that private property owners have full control over who can or cannot use their property.

          But, I think there should be rules or guidelines to prevent companies who have presented themselves as a public forum from biasedly subverting their own rules, especially if they are large enough to sway public opinion.

          Here is something someone should have told you when you grew up: EVERYONE is biased. There is no rule or law that says a platform have to be neutral. They can be as biased as they want, and they can kick people off their platform at any time for any reason, this is in most major sites TOS. Suggesting otherwise means you think it's okay for a 3rd party OR the government to control someone else's private property. And subverting their own rules? Talk about clutching after straws.

          Here is something else someone should have told you when you grew up: The world isn't fair, not all viewpoints are of equal merit, assholes will always complain that they are unfairly treated.

          The whole "public square" reasoning is bogus, unless you believe communism is the way to go.

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 3:49pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          But, I think there should be rules or guidelines to prevent companies who have presented themselves as a public forum from biasedly subverting their own rules, especially if they are large enough to sway public opinion.

          Couple of things here... first, bias is entirely legal and allowed, if you want to argue that being able to sway public opinion means there needs to be limits placed upon you not only are you going to run smack into the first amendment but you are putting a lot of heads on that chopping block, and last maybe try to sign up for one of those services, you'll notice that one and all they have a 'Terms of service/EULA' that makes it clear that while they are allowing you as a member of the public to use their platform it is still a privately owned platform and they set the rules, including the right to give the boot to anyone they please at their discretion.

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        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 7:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I'm not saying a site can't have rules of conduct, just like one can't run around a public square naked or get up in someone's face and shout at them."

          Yeah, and that's why a private platform isn't a public square.

          Facebook, Twitter, etc, aren't "public" anymore than your damn lawn is "public". Like a mall, bar or privately owned library open to the public they are private property.

          "But, I think there should be rules or guidelines to prevent companies who have presented themselves as a public forum..."

          No company, anywhere, presents itself as a public forum.
          And even if they did SCOTUS already has rulings declaring that you don't get to be a public forum or public property just by declaring yourself that.

          Because a public forum means - very specifically - that it must be owned by the public. Essentially you advocate that as soon as private property becomes too popular the state must seize it for the common good.

          Just for your information, that unwitting marxist spiel is, to date, the clearest tell possible that the person suggesting it is an alt-right troll willing to grasp ANY argument which let's them force themselves into civilized company. If I were you, I'd avoid it, lesty people start mistaking you for Koby and Shel10.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 7:30am

        Re: Re:

        Your "public square" is going to be pretty shitty to be in, like late 1970s Times Square. And if you try to clean it up even a little, you're a publisher and you dare not allow user generated content. Of course, as a regulation that imposes an obligation of content neutrality and which denies sites their right to freely associate, you may have trouble with the First Amendment yourself, but I wasn't expecting a solid legal analysis out of you anyway.

        *Promptly imagines "user generated" diarrhea all over public squares.*

        OK, even that is better than what we have currently. As it stands you're just having an argument over who gets to cover up the public square with their feces. Is it going to be the politician / moneyed interests or is it going to be the electorate? Neither is really preferred, but at least if it is covered up in feces maybe then people will stop and realize just what they have ruined.....

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 12:19pm

      Re:

      Spam, claiming that non-whites are clearly inferior to whites and the laws should reflect this, arguing that women are too 'flighty' to make rational decisions and as such shouldn't be allowed to hold any real authority, saying that gay people are abominations and should be excluded from any 'civilized' society, that the nazi's had some really good points and those sneaky jews had it coming anyway, all of these are 'legal' to say and as such would be required to be allowed if a platform wanted the 'privilege' of not being held liable for the words and actions of others, so congrats on supporting all of that being imposed on platforms whether those on said platforms wanted it or not.

      As I am and sure many others have said in the past, you want a platform where the dregs of humanity can freely wallow in their own filth find or make it yourself, stop trying to force others to host it for you.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 12:24pm

      Re:

      If you try that you will be left with cable tv, newspapers, 8kun and letters to the editor. All forums a social media sites that make the Internet so useful would disappear. Oh on line shopping would remain, but with no reviews.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 12:57pm

      If a site decides they want to prohibit speech which isn't actually illegal then they are acting as a publisher and section 230 doesn't protect them.

      Hi! You must’ve missed [a story from a few days ago]:

      Under section 230, interactive computer service providers have broad immunity from liability for traditional editorial functions undertaken by publishers—such as decisions whether to publish, withdraw, postpone or alter content created by third parties. Because each of Murphy’s causes of action seek to hold Twitter liable for its editorial decisions to block content she and others created from appearing on its platform, we conclude Murphy’s suit is barred by the broad immunity conferred by the CDA.

      230 has no “publisher” cut-out nor any “public square” or “neutrality” requirement. Forcing one into 230 would be forcing speech onto platforms. That way lies madness…and a sure-to-win First Amendment challenge.

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 1:17pm

      Re:

      *jackoff motion*

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    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 4:09pm

      Re:

      If you knew anything about what you were talking about, you'd know that no privately-owned platform is, or could ever possibly be, a "public square."

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 4:17pm

      Re:

      Yes, you just said section 230 needs to be thrown out. Then you proposed something entirely unConstitutional.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 12:53am

      Re:

      "If anything it could be slightly modified to say the protections there apply to sites wanting to operate as a "public square""

      First, you have to define "public square", and explain why certain sites should lose their free speech rights and be held responsible for things they didn't do, while their many competitors get away with not losing their rights like that.

      I'm yet to hear a good argument other than "at this moment in time, certain sites that are currently popular are moderating their own property in ways that white supremacists don't care for".

      "they are acting as a publisher and section 230 doesn't protect them."

      Seriously, where do you people get this false idea from? It can't be the popular social network sites since you're all whining about being barred from them, so what is the source for your misinformation?

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    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 7:07am

      Re:

      "If anything it could be slightly modified to say the protections there apply to sites wanting to operate as a "public square"."

      So your "solution" to a non-problem is to rewrite property law?

      No site or platform today operates like a public square. Not a single one. They operate like bars, restaurants, or coffee shops.

      "If a site decides they want to prohibit speech which isn't actually illegal then they are acting as a publisher and section 230 doesn't protect them."

      So the bar owner doesn't get to throw out patrons who act within the law but who are upsetting the other patrons?

      Let's get this straight, once and for all; No property owner should be forced to open his/her doors and then be bereft of the ability to throw people out at their own cognizance as a result.
      If your argument is to the contrary of that then that's an argument to abolish the concept of property.

      Advocating that for the good of the people, property must be nationalized is a mechanism mainly written off in one body of political thought ever; The Communist Manifesto, by a certain Karl Marx.

      Ironically it's the american self-described "alt-right" which keeps pushing that idea. I guess we finally found the american communists Hoover was looking for for so long - they've been masquerading as extreme right-wingers all this time.

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  • icon
    takitus (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 12:24pm

    "Just like traditional media is liable"

    Hill's comparison with "traditional media" is especially thoughtless and unintentionally ironic. He, like hundreds of other opinion writers, is allowed to express uninformed and disingenuous opinions, and his publishers are allowed to print papers containing them, without fear of liability.

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  • icon
    ECA (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 1:23pm

    SMOKE BOMB

    "any democracy, be dependent on digital technologies that allow a global free speech zone of unlimited audience size,"

    Does anyone understand the past and HOW to isolate and regulate information in localized areas?
    Cable TV got us to National coverage of our nation and being able to see WEATHER, in other areas, to SEE how other peoples are dealing with things AROUND our nation. But that soon lost its Global concepts and was more controlled. Even now Cable/sat Kinda limits the IDEAS that can be spread across the TV. Does anyone remember When After 10pm there were ADULT programs? Even PBS, kinda, showed More interesting programming LATE at nite.
    When a few parties can Control the directions and options you can see. You tend to be limited, even if its only by your friends and neighbors and religion.

    Hill does hit the point then Runs off into the woods, with the comment backed by NOTHING but trees. We can see the trees, but not the one we want, with the swing attached.
    Can we find out how much he is being paid to do this.? i cant believe someone would debate like this.
    What ever happened to that agency that was supposed to be watching the BANKING needs of our politicians?? ?I know we had one.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 1:44pm

    Section 230 is a textbook example of good legislation. Unlike most laws (that I'm familiar with), it effectively accomplishes exactly what it needs to and only what it needs to. It protects free speech by blocking frivolous lawsuits in a clear, concise and unambiguous manner, without being overbroad. There aren't any real arguments against it that don't immediately boil down to blatantly suppressing speech or speakers someone doesn't like.

    What anti-230 people really want to say is that they hate free speech on the internet (either the free speech of the services themselves, that of their users, or both), but can't because saying that would be political suicide. So they inevitably must put out incoherent rants blending some combination of appeals to emotion, clueless technobabble, conspiracy theories, willfully ignorant wishful thinking and/or deliberate lies instead. Because that's all they have to oppose it with.

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 7:58pm

      Re:

      Victims of revenge porn, which wouldn't have been possible without Section 230, would disagree.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 8:43pm

        Re: Re:

        To quote your own examples, a lack of Section 230 would not have stopped creepy landlords trying to harass female tenants in a time before widespread usage of the Internet became mainstream.

        But you think all women are whores who sleep their way into jobs, so what do you care?

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      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 11:23pm

        Re: Re:

        Back in the real world, there is zero causal link between CDA 230 and the existence of revenge porn.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 2:55pm

    But what about the children!

    ... who's going to think about the children!

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    • icon
      ECA (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 3:04pm

      Re: But what about the children!

      Umm,
      If this country and its Corps give a DARN...
      YOU will.
      you will get time off,
      you will get REAL medical coverage, not just while you are working,
      If you need a day off, they will have enough employees to cover, as you goto your Son/daughters Sport event.
      You will get paid enough to pay your bills and the basics, and have abit left over to invest or buy another car.

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

      • icon
        ECA (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 3:05pm

        Re: Re: But what about the children!

        Lets ask this differently.
        HOW in hell do other countries that HAVE(not Are) capitalism, deal with these same problems??
        And most DONT have unions, do they??

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 3:38pm

    The motives are painfully clear.

    Why do newspapers like the Chicago Tribune let people who clearly have no understanding of this issue write op-eds for them?

    This anti-230 campaign comes from the same place as the Google News fights in Spain, Australia, et al:

    The dinosaur media has watched their influence and profits dry up as "Big Tech" grows and expands. They want to shove the information genie back in the bottle and get back to their profitable guild system of "we tell the people what they need to know."

    The politicians see 230 as a no-cost whipping boy. "Big Tech" has no defender constituency, no single-issue voting block. They're not reliable campaign donors, nor can they be made to accept 'gentleman's agreements' about what they will and won't allow to be shared, like old-school reporters. They can rail against it, pass laws that cripple it, and then write fundraising letters proclaiming how they 'fought for you against Big Tech.' Better still, it's a bipartisan hatred, so both sides can play.

    I hate to say it, but 230 is doomed.

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 7:56pm

      Re: The motives are painfully clear.

      When 230 falls, anyone who has been defamed online (or targeted for revenge porn) can finally get some relief, either by suing any site which leaves the defamation up, or just by having it not appear in the first place.

      Won't be a moment too soon.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 8:45pm

        Re: Re: The motives are painfully clear.

        Pseudonyms can't be defamed, Jhon, especially not ones as shitty as yours.

        Would you like to submit your fantasies about Shiva Ayyadurai to your press release? Or how about the time you simped in John Steele's name in defense of suing grandmothers?

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 9:19pm

          'Nothing they could say would be worse than the truth.'

          As courts have pointed out before some people are simply so terrible that there's no positive reputation to harm, making them essentially defamation-proof.

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      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 11:23pm

        Re: Re: The motives are painfully clear.

        Back in the real world:

        a) CDA 230 gives zero protection to defamers

        b) without CDA 230, frauds suing platforms for defamation will still lose their meritless cases in the end.

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    icon
    JJ Mendoza (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 3:51pm

    Hill's oped sounds good to me -- put some rules around Big Tech!

    After reading the unhinged diatribe from Mike Masnick, I couldn’t resist reading Steven Hill’s op-ed in the Chicago Tribune. I was prepared to read something that sounded, well, kind of idiotic, based on what Masnick said. But I actually found quite the opposite.

    Hill clearly identified a major problem with Facebook and other digital media platforms, defined the problem fairly succinctly, and then set about with proposing a number of solutions. The solutions ranged from something simple, like revoking Section 230 which is much in the news these days, and then moved on to other more complicated solutions that Hill seems to think would be more effective.

    Hill clearly acknowledges that (quoting here) “revoking Section 230 will likely not have as much impact as its proponents wish or its critics fear.” Including (I would say) unhinged critics like Mike Masnick, who seems to think the sky will fall if Sec 230 bites the dust. Such a Chicken Little!

    So Hill then goes on to explore other possible solutions. His discussion of those solutions – including transforming the business model into an “investor-owned utility” – seems quite lucid, practical and rooted in US history. The US has a long history of turning certain systemically-important industries into some version of a utility, including (as Hill points out) telecoms, railroads and power companies. This all seems quite reasonable for discussion to me.

    For reasonable people, that is. I wonder if Masnick’s viewpoint is colored by who he is paid by? TechDirt is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Copia Institute. Go to its website at https://copia.is/, see who some of its funders are. Want to take a guess? Google, Andreessen Horowitz and other troglodytes of Silicon Valley. You are who you hang out with.

    Clearly Masnick is not interested in discussing real solutions. He would rather attack those who do, adding no substantive ideas of his own, in defense of the status quo. Tech Dirt should revoke his column and give it to writers like Hill.

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    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 4:12pm

      Re: JJ Mendacious

      Clearly Masnick is not interested in discussing real solutions. He would rather attack those who do, adding no substantive ideas of his own

      [projects facts not in evidence]

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 4:23pm

      Re: Hill's oped sounds good to me -- put some rules around Big T

      Are you in propaganda, or advertising? Because lol.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 4:25pm

      Go to bed, Mr. Hill.

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

    • identicon
      Rocky, 29 Jan 2021 @ 5:44pm

      Re: Hill's oped sounds good to me -- put some rules around Big T

      Found the sHill...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 8:10pm

      Re: Hill's oped sounds good to me -- put some rules around Big T

      Similar things were said to push the approval of FOSTA and SESTA. Claims that their approval would not result in the harm pointed out by the people most likely to be affected.

      How'd that turn out again? Oh, right - sex workers are more vulnerable to exploitation while police can't track anything because the laws forced trafficking even further underground. Nice going.

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      • icon
        ECA (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 2:22am

        Re: Re: Hill's oped sounds good to me -- put some rules around B

        The interesting part was having a person On TV that was supposed to have been taken and Molested and turned into a prostitute.
        This was 1 person.

        "Chappelle then tells the story about Iceberg Slim and his 1967 book Pimp. Slim was one of the most influential authors within the black community during his time, publishing several books about his history as a pimp and whose work has often been referenced in other aspects of pop culture. Chappelle discusses a specific moment in the book about Slim’s ability to determine how much of a shelf life one of his best sex workers had. When she was near leaving the game, Slim executed an elaborate rouse to keep her, tricking her into thinking she killed a man, giving her no choice but to accept his help, and therefore re-affirming her loyalty to Slim."

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1o99QLzewA

        In all this story telling, the true story is a person being misled. NOT the person who Ran away and made a better life. Even as we look at the information that was Set out for us to analyze. If the info was true, it would have been over 1/2 of this nation being prostituted on the corners of this country. the Facts missing from that info were that Most of the run away's/never found/other was never compiled and corrected with those Found, returned home, Family dispute's and what ever, the Police didnt FIX the data on reports. And out of the data Less then 1000, in 10 years were on the streets. Thank-god, they werent DEAD. thank-God they hadnt been taken to another country. thank-God they hadnt been In a cellar Tied to a wall, and abused.

        But how do you find these people that DID, do this. The Pimps arnt to hard to find or catch. And hardly ever, were. The Newspaper, friends, Fathers and Many others Knew who to contact for a good time.
        There ARE many that have escaped, and in THIS GREAT LAND, had to go back, themselves to make MONEY to survive. Even those that were Never taken, nor abused. Have taken to the Joys of the streets to make ENDS MEET.
        With abit of knowledge, we can help and protect them, that HAVE nowhere else to turn, to get a simple life. the only reason to RESTRICT them is because of Jealousy, or thinking that they MAKE MORE MONEY Then you do.
        To the women. what would you do to keep your man? even tho this other person MAY do something special, Your husband is STILL coming home.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 7:55pm

    Sites and platforms do harm people, or there wouldn't be a need to immunize them from liability for that harm.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2021 @ 8:11pm

      Re:

      Nice try, Jhon Smith. You rape any Aspies today while asking them to wear the Masnick mask?

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 10:02pm

      Tools don’t hurt people. People who use tools in an act of violence hurt people. A hammer can’t get up and smack you in the foot, and the code that runs Twitter can’t start itself up and defame you.

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

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 29 Jan 2021 @ 11:21pm

      Re:

      In the real world, the only harm being immunised from is that coming from the frauds that want to improperly sue platforms.

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

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 3:14pm

      Re:

      Dear AC,
      How many TV channels would we have, if 1 persons complaint could stop it from broadcasting?
      The religious minority Screaming, about this and that, has caused enough problems. It was funny that they got upset because People, husband and wife SLEPT IN THE SAME BED. ask Robert Petrie about that one(Dick Van Dyke).

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

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    icon
    Devonavar (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 1:22am

    I'm not convinced

    Second of all, the entire point of having utilities is when you have natural monopolies over commodity style, non-differentiated products. That's not true of social media.

    It's not??? Ok, yes there are plenty of options for social media, but that's not the business that Google and Facebook are in. If you evaluate the need to regulate them as utilities based on their actual industry — online advertising — I think the claim at least deserves consideration.

    Do Google and Facebook have a monopoly on online ads? There are other ad networks, but, as Techdirt has discovered in moving away from Google, the pool isn't very deep, and advertisers tend not to be as interested. The two companies may not have complete dominance yet, but things are tending in that direction. Both companies have network effects that lock-in they eyeballs they are selling, as insofar as those network effects are effective, that pushes their duopoly towards being "natural". Users may have a legitimate choice to go elsewhere, but if advertisers want to buy effective ads, they have no choice but to buy from the companies that have attention to sell. That means the companies that successfully aggregate attention, and Facebook and Google do this on a scale that is unmatched.

    Are they selling a commodity? You bet they are: Attention, measured in standardized units (CPMs, views, engagements). It doesn't matter whose attention; eyeballs are interchangeable from the point of view of the ad buyers.

    Is the attention differentiated? Well ... a little bit. To the extent that targeting is believed to be effective, the different targeting models serve as product differentiation. But, mostly that amounts to selling advertisers what they want to hear. At the end of the day, advertisers are looking for conversions (i.e. sales), and there simply isn't much differentiating a sale via Facebook from a sale via Google. The mechanisms may be different, but the end result is fairly similar.

    So ... maybe it's not cut-and-dried that Google and Facebook are natural monopolies that deserve to be regulated as utilities, but I think there's enough of an argument to be made that it shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

    P.S., because I know this will come up: I haven't read and don't have an opinion on the original Tribune article about Section 230. This comment isn't about Section 230 at all. I'm purely critiquing Mike's assumption that it's self-evident that social media is not like a utility. When you look at the actual business (advertising), rather than user-facing service, I think there's plenty of reason to consider them utilities.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 1:59am

      Yes, companies use social media services to sell advertising space. Yes, online advertising should be regulated. (To what extent is a discussion for another day.) But social media services are not advertising businesses per se. Applying regulations meant for ad businesses to social media services will accomplish nothing you’d like to see happen by doing that.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 2:42am

      Re: I'm not convinced

      "Do Google and Facebook have a monopoly on online ads?"

      Perhaps, but it's not the ad networks you people keep bitching about. If you would keep to talking about issues where you have a point and stop complaining about communities kicking off toxic members who threaten the entire platform, the conversation would be a little less one sided with the facts.

      Also - do you realise that section 230 has absolutely fuck all to do with ad networks? True story.

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      • icon
        Devonavar (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 8:55pm

        Re: Re: I'm not convinced

        you would keep to talking about issues where you have a point and stop complaining about communities kicking off toxic members

        Who do you think I am exactly? Where did you see me complain in the slightest about users being banned? That has nothing whatsoever to do with my post.

        do you realise that section 230 has absolutely fuck all to do with ad networks?

        I do realize, and I explicitly said as much. I literally wrote "This comment isn't about Section 230 at all." So ... why are you bringing it up?

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 11:45pm

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not convinced

          "Who do you think I am exactly"

          Someone who's repeating the tired, half-assed, widely debunked arguments of people whose only argument is that they didn't like it when their white supremacist buddies got kicked off platforms that didn't want them.

          I'm sorry if I'm a little curt with my responses, but they are very tiresome at this point.

          "I literally wrote "This comment isn't about Section 230 at all."

          Yes, I read that after I clicked submit. Which just raises the question of why you're bringing it up on a discussion about section 230, when it's a completely different subject with no bearing on what everyone else is talking about.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 2:53pm

      Re: I'm not convinced

      It's not??? Ok, yes there are plenty of options for social media, but that's not the business that Google and Facebook are in. If you evaluate the need to regulate them as utilities based on their actual industry — online advertising — I think the claim at least deserves consideration.

      Whatever your thoughts on this, or anyone else's, that has absolutely nothing to do with Section 230, full stop.

      You wanna regulate things like monopolistic behavior in the advertising space or such, then bloody regulate monopolistic behavior in the advertising space. (And everywhere else while you're at it.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 11:38am

    When are you gonna stop talking about 230? No offense, But isn't it getting tiring?

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

  • icon
    Vermont IP Lawyer (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 1:07pm

    Reworking Section 230

    As an intro to this comment, I am a fan of Sec. 230 and get the arguments about the difficulties with content moderation at scale. But it strikes me that there is an alternative to articles explaining, every time someone has a proposal to amend Sec. 230, why the proposal is defective (as, indeed, they generally are). The alternative would be to propose one or more ways to improve Sec. 230. I do not have an immediate proposal in mind but this comment is triggered by this article in the NYTimes: www.nytimes.com/2021/01/30/technology/change-my-google-results.html. It describes a situation where the true villain is essentially "judgment proof" and the only way to remedy the situation may be to force the platforms hosting the villain's post to take some constructibe action. I would like to hear what everyone thinks about this.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 1:37pm

      Re: Reworking Section 230

      Most sites will act on a court order, and any other means of getting a site to take action will be abused, just like the DMCA is abused.

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

      • icon
        Vermont IP Lawyer (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 2:02pm

        Re: Re: Reworking Section 230

        One cannot prove anything via weird corner cases which, perhaps, this is. But the victims described in this article seem to have deployed multiple legal resources to address their problem without success. Is it impossible to think of anything to improve the situation? Just to throw out an idea, suppose new legislation created a DMCA-style take down system. Without more, it would surely be abused but, again, suppose we try to fix that. E.g., before I can send a take down notice, I have to deposit a $1,000 bond with an independent escrow agent. If a court ends up concluding my take down was in bad faith, I forfeit the bond. This is just off the top of my head so it undoubtedly has bugs which the Techdirt community will soon point out. But the Techdirt community contains a lot of smart people--let's see if we can debug the idea or come up with a better idea.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 2:26pm

          We don’t need a notice-and-takedown system for all speech. You can offer prerequisites all you want, but if the system still works on notice-and-takedown, it will still suck.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 3:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: Reworking Section 230

          Yes, sure, i have seen this problem before, but thanks for the article, it is a history of crazy.

          You see, what we do to fix that is allow people to sue John Doe for defamation (or create a new, easier, and more direct procedure) where one shows they are not a pedophile or whatever, and the courts issue orders to online hosts to take down material. In blatantly obvious campaigns like those described, it's really a no-brainer. One should not need to prove exactly who did a thing to prove that something is defamation.

          But also, i don't know if it is the way the story is written or what, but it sounds like these people (including lawyers) seem to have skipped obvious steps in investigating and addressing the problem. Which is sad.

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 11:22pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Reworking Section 230

            Lawyers use hackers to defame adversaries (Remember the threats against Rose McGowan)?

            Masnick is neck-deep in this and it's going to come out in litigation that already would have been filed were it not for the pandemic. The money trail that runs through here is discoverable.

            Masnick thinks only in terms of defamation law and that will be his downfall.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2021 @ 3:35am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reworking Section 230

              What does TD have to do with Rose McGowan?

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

            • identicon
              Rocky, 31 Jan 2021 @ 3:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reworking Section 230

              You forgot to take your meds again.

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

            • icon
              Toom1275 (profile), 31 Jan 2021 @ 10:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reworking Section 230

              [Projects facts not in evidence]

              Because notice how the only thing remotely defamatory on Techdirt is Jhon's knowingly and intentionally making these false lawyer-conspiracy claims and accusations against Mike.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 6:50pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reworking Section 230

              Your "litigation" was supposed to come out in 2019, Jhon. Along with that press release expose you kept hyping but never delivered. Now your boy Trump is out of the White House, after you promised to have God bless him if he killed Section 230, you still have nothing. The pandemic is no excuse. Especially after your team tried to pull off a hostile takeover on Jan 6th.

              As for your money trail, I'm still waiting for my cut to come in. It's almost as though your grudge against everyone here who disagrees with you is based on a foundation of Grade A horse shit.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 3:23pm

          Re: Re: Re: Reworking Section 230

          $1,000 to get that embarrassing blog article removed until after the election would be money well spent. It could also be money well spent to enable a scam to continue.

          Also, most of those who want notice and take down want it to protect a dodgy business, scam, or political ambition, or convictions which is hindering them from doing what they want..

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2021 @ 5:28am

          Re: Re: Re: Reworking Section 230

          "Just to throw out an idea, suppose new legislation created a DMCA-style take down system."

          The system that's utterly broken, for which nobody has ever face court for making bad faith notices, even on content they don't own?

          "E.g., before I can send a take down notice, I have to deposit a $1,000 bond with an independent escrow agent"

          That would be nice in the case of bad faith DMCA notices, but I don't see where that applies here.

          "If a court ends up concluding my take down was in bad faith, I forfeit the bond."

          But, what notice? All 230 does is to allow platforms to police their own property without fear of being legally liable for things other people did on that property. The moderation doesn't involve legal notices, it's the result of people complaining to the manager, or staff working to avoid people wanting to complain.

          You seem to be imagining a situation where lawyers are involved with every decision, but the issue with section 230 is more like allowing a restaurant to ask a disruptive customer to leave without fear of legal retribution. Without section 230, they may be forced to keep the bad customer there against their will, even if they drive out their other business.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 2:24pm

      Section 230 works as it was designed to work. It doesn’t need “fixing” or “improving”.

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

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 3:19pm

      Re: Reworking Section 230

      The alternative would be to propose one or more ways to improve Sec. 230.

      Only if you accept the false premise that any changes to 230 are needed.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2021 @ 5:21am

      Re: Reworking Section 230

      "The alternative would be to propose one or more ways to improve Sec. 230"

      That assumes that there is actually an improvement needed, rather than the problem being simply that certain types of people want to force speech on to platforms that just don't want them there.

      Honestly, I don't see a real problem with the law as written. The problem is the fact that it gets used as a scapegoat under claims of it somehow being unfair every time some bully, racist or conspiracy theorist gets shown the door. That's a problem with the guy who keeps getting kicked out for his behaviour, not the bouncer who kicks him out or the manager who says they're not allowed back in.

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

  • icon
    Vermont IP Lawyer (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 2:57pm

    Sec. 230

    Mr. Stone, whose thoughtful commentary I admire, says "if the system still works on notice-and-takedown, it will still suck." He may be right but I want to keep trying. Let's invent a system where takedown's have to be "certified" before they take effect. We invent a certification system involving independent arbitrators who the issuer of the takedown request has to pay (pick a number) to have them do their job. The system can identify someone as "vexatious" and increase the fee due on subsequent takedowns. There is a suitable appellate process to deal with situations where the first level gets it wrong.

    Once again, I repeat, this is just brainstorming. I am a fan of Sec. 230 vs. repealing it or vs. any of the public proposals for change. But surely it is not perfect. Can we not do better?

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 3:15pm

      Let's invent a system where takedown's have to be "certified" before they take effect.

      Let’s not and say we didn’t.

      You can make people jump through all the hoops you want. But if they’re rich enough, powerful enough, smart enough, or just plain shitty enough, they’ll make it through those hoops. The system could be — and would be — abused like the DMCA is now, but it would apply to all possible speech instead of only copyrighted works.

      Can we not do better?

      No. No, we cannot. 230 works fine as-is; it requires no changes. Any idea that claims to “make 230 better” won’t make it better. Such ideas will weaken 230.

      Say “I have a problem with 230” already. You can’t credibly say “I’m a fan of 230” if you’re actively trying to destroy it.

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

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2021 @ 11:41pm

        Re:

        Guy Babcock and the woman writer for the NYT who was attacked for covering his story disagree with you Mi-er, "Steve."

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Jan 2021 @ 6:18am

          I’m sorry that someone had their reputation torn to shreds. That doesn’t mean they should be able to destroy Google. (Neither does your blatant, unyielding, and altogether fucked up hatred of women.)

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 3:17pm

      Also: Stop with the flattery. Metaphorically sucking my dick won’t make me go easy on you.

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

      • icon
        Vermont IP Lawyer (profile), 31 Jan 2021 @ 6:39am

        Re: More of the same

        I apologize for the (gentle) flattery. It was not designed to have anyone "go easy" but, rather, to invite reasoned discourse. I do not want to destroy Sec. 230 but neither do I think it perfect beyond improvement. When I looked a little while ago, the NYTimes article had several hundred comments, the large majority from uninformed people who do not understand the issue and many of whom think the Babcock story is a good reason to destroy Sec. 230 and/or take various steps antithetical to traditional First Amendment rights. To argue that Sec. 230 is beyond improvement runs the risk that those uninformed people and their uninformed political representatives will prevail on these issues.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Jan 2021 @ 7:28am

          230 doesn’t need improvement because 230 doesn’t need to change. That a self-proclaimed IP lawyer believes otherwise is more telling than you likely care to admit.

          Also:

          It was not designed to have anyone "go easy" but, rather, to invite reasoned discourse.

          You can have reasoned discourse without kissing my ass.

          Flattery is a smokescreen for bullshit. Don’t use it again.

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

        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 31 Jan 2021 @ 10:03am

          Re: Re: More of the same

          I do not want to destroy Sec. 230

          Your arguments prove otherwise.

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

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 30 Jan 2021 @ 3:20pm

      Re: Sec. 230

      Or how about not coming up with moronic end-runs around due process and justice?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2021 @ 3:45am

      Re: Sec. 230

      "Let's invent a system where takedown's have to be "certified" before they take effect. We invent a certification system involving independent arbitrators who the issuer of the takedown request has to pay (pick a number) to have them do their job. "

      Maybe I have not been paying attention, but hasn't this been tried already?

      Doesn't this approach have scalability issues? How would a large site handle the large quantity of submittals, hire thousands of independent arbiters?

      Victims will need to pay in order to receive justice? What the hell are my taxes for?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2021 @ 5:30am

      Re: Sec. 230

      "Let's invent a system where takedown's have to be "certified" before they take effect"

      So, you're saying that bar can't kick out a disruptive customer straight away, they have to first call their lawyers and get them to hash out a deal with someone else's lawyers? I hope you realise the problem here.

      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 Jan 2021 @ 11:40pm

    Try insulting writers for the NYT yeah that'll work

    Platforms do nothing? Sue the original author? Looks like Masnick's on the wrong side of history here.

    One person having a meme video taken down for a week is heinous, but THIS is just acceptable damage for Section 230:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/30/technology/change-my-google-results.html

    If it were MIKE MASNICK rather than the subject of this article he'd understand very quickly what was going on. We also need punishment for those who ACT on search-engine defamation. There's another legal angle no one has thought of that can definitely put a stop to this (it's not defamation law again).

    From the article:

    "Google results are often the first impression a person makes. They help people decide whom to date, to hire, to rent a home to. Mr. Babcock worried that his family’s terrible Google search profiles could have serious repercussions, particularly for his 19-year-old nephew and his 27-year-old cousin, both just starting out in life."

    People who inflict these "repercussions" need some of their own, legally speaking.

    "He and members of his extended family reported the online harassment to police in England and Canada, where most of them lived. Only the British authorities appeared to take the report seriously; a 1988 law prohibits communications that intentionally cause distress. An officer with the local Thames Valley police told Mr. Babcock to gather the evidence, so he and his brother-in-law, Luc Groleau, who lives outside of Montreal, started cataloging the posts in a Google document. It grew to more than 100 pages."

    Since they try to drive people to suicide in some cases or base their hate on disability (perceived or real) that's a hate crime in much of America.

    "this was her official work portrait from 1990, when she worked in a Re/Max real estate office the Babcock family owned"

    "Mr. Babcock felt lightheaded. A memory came back to him: When his mother died in 1999, the family had received vulgar, anonymous letters celebrating her death. A neighbor received a typed letter stating that Mr. Babcock’s father “has been seen roaming the neighbourhood late at night and masturbating behind the bushes.” The Babcocks had suspected ****, who was the only person who had ever threatened them. (she denied making threats or writing the letters.)"

    Turns out she did this to a lawyer.

    "His brother-in-law, Mr. Groleau, contacted Ms. Wallis. She had represented a bank that foreclosed on two properties * owned in the early 2000s. Dozens of people had come under online attack: employees of the bank, lawyers who represented the bank, lawyers who represented those lawyers, relatives of those people and on and on. The attacks seemed engineered to perform well in search engines, and they included the victims’ names, addresses, contact information and employers. ( **** denies being the author of many of these posts.)"

    "A relative of one lawyer said she spent months applying for jobs in 2019 without getting any offers. The woman, who asked not to be named because she feared *****, said her bills piled up. She worried she might lose her home. Then she decided to apply for jobs using her maiden name, under which she hadn’t been attacked. She quickly lined up three interviews and two offers."

    Men don't have this option obviously.

    "For victims, these sorts of attacks “can literally end their life and their career and everything,” Ms. Zemel said."

    "In June 2020, Matthew Hefler, 32, the brother-in-law of a colleague of Ms. Wallis, became one of the latest targets. Mr. Hefler, who lives in Nova Scotia, is a historian who recently completed his Ph.D. in war studies. He is trying to find a teaching job. But anyone who searches for him online will encounter posts and images tarring him as a pedophile and “pervert freak.”

    "During multiple interviews in recent months, ***** refused to divulge much about herself. She told me she was worried about the impact of a New York Times article. “Anyone who Googles my name, this will come up, and I don’t want this to come up,” she said."

    "In 2009, Matt Cameron, a junior lawyer working with Ms. Wallis on the case, started getting calls and emails at the office from men interested in meeting for sex. Someone impersonating him had responded by email to raunchy Craigslist ads and given his contact information. (Metadata from those emails, filed in court, pointed to **'s involvement.)"

    "“I also see her as a victim here,” Dr. Essig added. “Tech companies have given her the power to do something that has really taken apart her life.”"

    "Gary M. Caplan is the lawyer for Ms. Wallis, Mr. Babcock and 43 others who have sued **** for defamation. One of those plaintiffs is Mr. Caplan’s brother, who came under attack after Mr. Caplan got involved in the case. There are another 100 or so people who have been targeted but aren’t plaintiffs. Over the last two years, there have been more than 12,000 defamatory posts, according to software that Mr. Babcock’s brother-in-law created to track new posts."

    "Many of the victims have tried to get tech companies to remove the abusive posts. Mr. Caplan said they have run headlong into American laws that protect American websites. There is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. It says that publishing platforms aren’t liable for what their users publish, even if they moderate some content. (Section 230 has become a touchstone in politicians’ fight against Big Tech. Conservatives argue it enables companies like Facebook and Twitter to censor them. Liberals argue it allows the companies to host harmful content with impunity.) And under U.S. law, a foreign court generally can’t force an American website to remove content."

    Early last year, Judge Corbett found Ms. in contempt of court because she had written to another judge, violating the restrictions placed on her as a vexatious litigant. She was sentenced to 74 days in prison. While she was locked up, the online attacks slowed to a trickle. (The fact that they didn’t cease altogether might have been because some complaint sites take content from one another, a pattern of mimicry that can keep attacks flowing.) When she was released in March, they resumed. Ms. told me it wasn’t her.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2021 @ 3:53am

      Re: Try insulting writers for the NYT yeah that'll work

      "search-engine defamation"

      You will need to define this term.

      Did someone disparage your search engine?

      "Google results are often the first impression a person makes."

      What is this ... google is responsible for the wild hallucinations of anyone who uses google search?

      You be crazy yo

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2021 @ 5:31am

        Re: Re: Try insulting writers for the NYT yeah that'll work

        "Did someone disparage your search engine?"

        It's one of his go to rants. When he can't call other people names or lie about them or completely misrepresent all arguments in an article or thread, he loves to pretend that any bad thing that happens after Google returned a valid search result is their fault.

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

  • icon
    Rokky Singh (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 12:57am

    leather products

    When I looked a little while ago, the NYTimes article had several hundred comments, the large majority from uninformed people who do not understand the issue and many of whom think the Babcock story is a good reason to destroy Sec. 230 and/or take various steps antithetical to traditional First Amendment rights.
    Once again, I repeat, this is just brainstorming. I am a fan of Sec. 230 vs. repealing it or vs. any of the public proposals for change. But surely it is not perfect. Can we not do better?

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

    • identicon
      Rocky, 1 Feb 2021 @ 4:42am

      Re: leather products

      But surely it is not perfect. Can we not do better?

      In what way isn't it perfect? And how do you improve on it without a lot of unintended consequences?

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

      • icon
        Vermont IP Lawyer (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 5:26am

        Re: Re: leather products

        I have the most difficulty with the latter question and agree that, if politicians start fiddling with Section 230, there is clearly a very great risk of undesirable consequences. That might be the best argument I've heard for not touching it at all. (As to the former question, we've seen multiple cases and essays where the judge or the author manages to misunderstand Section 230. With 20-20 hindsight, one can imagine drafting the words to avoid those misunderstandings.)

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 5:47am

          Re: Re: Re: leather products

          "That might be the best argument I've heard for not touching it at all"

          I'll flip that question around - what are the reasons for touching it? All I've heard is some whining that certain types of people don't like the fact that they have been kicked off platforms that don't want them there, be that because they violated terms of service or because other users kept complaining about them. That doesn't seem to me like it's a problem with section 230. There's also vague complaints that some moderation seems to be politically motivated, but there's nothing actually wrong with that, there's no real evidence for that, and I don't see any way of modifying 230 to force platforms to host political speech against their will that won't violate other laws, including the First amendment.

          So, the question is - what are the valid reasons for needing to reform section 230 in the first place? Bearing in mind that, despite the claims often made, any change would not just affect a handful of currently popular social media sites.

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

      • icon
        Vermont IP Lawyer (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 5:46am

        Re: Re: leather products

        Also, on your first question, I return to the NYTimes Babcock/Atas article that got me started on this thread. The Babcock's were damaged and are continuing to be damaged online by the activities of a person against whom there is little or no effective remedy. In a perfect world, they'd have a remedy against someone. One source of the damage to them seems to be folks like "RipOffReport" and other "complaint" sites. So, maybe a remedy against them? But maybe it's a slippery slope and better to leave things alone. I don't have a perfect answer--just wanted to ask the question.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 5:59am

          In re: asking questions

          I don't have a perfect answer--just wanted to ask the question.

          What’s that old saying about good lawyers, questions, and answers?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 6:15am

          Re: Re: Re: leather products

          The Babcock's were damaged and are continuing to be damaged online by the activities of a person against whom there is little or no effective remedy.

          How much of that damage is due to their efforts to counter what the person is saying?

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    JJ Mendoza (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 12:51pm

    Censorship on TechDirt

    I am deeply shocked to discover that my contribution to this discussion has been deleted by TechDirt. You can see the remnants of my post in the original subject line of, “Hill's oped sounds good to me -- put some rules around Big T” that other people have commented on. As my original subject line indicated, I disagreed with the viewpoint put forward by Mike Masnick, the author of this TechDirt article, who really offered little substantive critique of Steven Hill’s op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, but instead engaged in mischaracterization. When I read Hill’s article myself, instead of relying on Masnick, I found Hill’s viewpoint to be lucid and compelling, and said so in my orginal post. I suggest all of you read Hill yourselves. Here's the link https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-opinion-section-230-big-tech-congress-pro-repea l-20210128-oxzxss4zqvbxniussz5yyt4g74-story.html

    It is ironic that TechDirt would CENSOR a comment in a discussion over whether revoking Section 230 would LEAD TO MORE CENSORSHIP (Masnick: “a huge amount of stifling of perfectly fine speech”). Apparently Masnick and TechDirt are against censorship – except for when THEY WANT TO CENSOR SOMOEONE!

    The other important point I made in my original contribution was I speculated if Masnick’s unhinged hostility towards Hill’s reasonable article wasn’t perhaps a function of the fact that TechDirt is a project of Copia, which is itself sponsored by Google, Andreessen Horowitz and other “old boy” companies of Silicon Valley. See it yourself, go to the Copia website, scroll to the bottom https://copia.is/ I think that is fair game to point out. Apparently Masnick and TechDirt do not, they don't want you to know that so they deleted my post.

    Masnick and TechDirt have revealed their true face. For those who didn’t know, now we do. This is a hack job website shilling for Silicon Valley!

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 1:04pm

      You weren’t “censored”. Your original comment is still there. If anyone wants to read it, all they need to is click through a warning.

      The point of the article is no more lucid now than it was when you first talked about it. The argument has so many logical holes in it that, if turned into a foodstuff, it would be Swiss cheese. And it never addresses the key question that all anti-230 articles need to answer: “What are the valid reasons for needing to reform 47 U.S.C. § 230 in the first place?”

      And yes, revoking 230 would lead to more “censorship”. Either sites would overmoderate speech (which would silence a lot more speech than you might think), undermoderate speech (which would end up chasing decent people off platforms and create another “Worst People Problem” platform), or stop accepting third-party speech altogether. One has to wonder which outcome you’d prefer, because there is no alternative to those outcomes if 230 is revoked.

      Oh, and one more thing: This site rips on Google, Twitter, and other “Big Tech” companies all the time. You offer no proof that Google funding Copia affected editorial content — or that Google is still funding Copia, for that matter.

      When you want us to take you seriously, offer a serious argument instead of whining about how Mike tore apart a shitty column. Until then: Go to bed, Mr. Hill.

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

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    JJ Mendoza (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 2:56pm

    Stepehn T. Stone enters the game

    Ah hah, Steven T. Stone enters the game. And who might you be sir, rushing to the defense of Masnick and Tech Dirt? Or are you actually Masnick himself (since you seem to be accusing people of masquerading as others)? You have the same sneer and snide-filled style. One thing you have going for you that Masnick did not is brevity. You succinctly outlined, at least, what he was having so much trouble articulating: his fears for what will happen if 230 is revoked. As you wrote: “Either sites would overmoderate speech (which would silence a lot more speech than you might think), undermoderate speech (which would end up chasing decent people off platforms and create another “Worst People Problem” platform), or stop accepting third-party speech altogether.”

    You and Mr. Masnick put yourself out there as “experts”, but even a layperson’s understanding of these matters knows that much speech on digital platforms is already protected by the First Amendment. So the real question is: what additional legal protections does Section 230 provide, beyond the First Amendment? And is it necessary?

    Mostly it provides protection for what is often called “illegal speech,” and also for “libelous speech.” The First Amendment does not protect those, but Section 230 does. In the US context, illegal speech has to do with things like child pornography, incitement to violence (crying “fire” in a crowded theater etc.), hate speech, which together make up a fairly narrow class of speech (in places like Germany, “illegal speech” has a slightly broader definition, due to its Nazi past). The First Amendment also has more limited protections for “commercial speech,” such as advertising, and Section 230 provides some additional protection for that.

    So revoking Section 230 really is about whether the platforms will be held responsible for illegal speech, libelous speech, and for when platforms' algorithms accept advertisements that veer into speech that is either illegal or libelous.

    That’s it. That’s a pretty narrow range on the broad spectrum of “free speech” that you and Masnick are losing your knickers over. In fact, as I read Hill’s op-ed, I think he is probably right that “revoking Section 230 will likely not have as much impact as its proponents wish or its critics fear.”

    Instead your fears are highly speculative in nature -- about sites over moderating, under moderating or refusing to accept third-party speech altogether. I’ll take the last first.

    The sites will never refuse accepting third-party speech because that’s how they earn their profits. Whether the third-party speech is “user generated content”, from which the platforms hlep themselves to all of our private data they want and monetize it in various ways, or the third-party speech is advertisements, this IS their revenue model. They will never stop refusing third-party speech.

    Over moderating speech? Also not going to happen. In fact, turning poor Masnick's vapid logic on its head, there are many countries around the world that do not have a Section 230-type protection, and yet in those countries Facebook, Twitter and other digital platforms are still a gutter effluent of disinformation and garbage, even that is not “illegal” speech. The platforms take next-to-nothing down. Indeed, whether you have a Section 230 type law or not seems to make no difference about whether these portals are a flood of all kinds of speech.

    The only way that your and Masnick’s fear about platforms “pulling down all sorts of legitimate content” would ever become realized is if these platforms had any fear of being sued by a particular user. Do you have any idea how much resources it takes to sue Facebook, Google, and Twitter? The army of lawyers that they already use to handle such issues? It takes years and millions of dollars to sue them, with little chance of winning. Heck, even the FTC reluctantly takes on Facebook and Google, and even when it fined FB $5 billion – the largest fine in the history of the FTC – it was a small speedbump for Facebook. As are the legal costs. This is a company raking in $80 billion in revenue per year.

    So your fear that the platforms will be so worried about lawsuits and liability that they will start taking down content is simply not real world. Both the cost of litigation, as well as even legal settlement in the extremely rare circumstance that some lawyer will actually beat these platforms in the courtroom, would be just a rounding error for their revenue stream.

    Finally, under moderate speech? Good heavens, they already do that. They really couldn’t under moderate speech anymore than they already do. If you don’t believe me, see the New York Times expose about how child pornographers, rapists and other evil users have been using various platforms to live stream their horrendous criminal acts of violence in real time. And the companies have sometimes refused to take down some of this content, even when requested by the victims.

    So, to my way of thinking, as I indicated in the subject line of my first message that you censored -- or hid with a "warning" (like Twitter did to Trump, eh?) -- I think we need to put some rules around Big Tech. In fact, I am not sure I agree with Steven Hill that we should waste time trying to revoke Section 230 because it will be a big fight and I don’t think it’s going to accomplish a whole heck of a lot.

    Instead, we should move forward vigorously with the other proposals that he laid out in his op-ed – turning the business model into an investor-owned utility, and forbidding these platforms from taking our personal data without user consent.

    I would add other things to that list, such as restricting the hyper-targeted advertising model, and further restrictions on how these platforms design their products to target young people. I note that Italy just mandated that TikTok should block users whose age cannot be verified after the death of a 10-year-old girl who was encouraged via that platform to engage in dangerous behavior. How about some product liability, ever heard of that?

    Age verification is extremely important, yet the platforms are putting very little R&D into that because they don’t have any skin in this game. Tell me Mr. Stone/Masnick -- do you think the platforms should come up with a way to verify age? I await your answer....

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

    • identicon
      Rocky, 1 Feb 2021 @ 3:41pm

      Re: Stepehn T. Stone enters the game

      Mostly it provides protection for what is often called “illegal speech,” and also for “libelous speech.” The First Amendment does not protect those, but Section 230 does.

      Those who post "illegal speech", "libelous speech", CSAM etc isn't protected by section 230. Where did you get that idea? Section 230 isn't about "protection", it's about placing the blame on the guilty party and the ability of interactive services to moderate content on their service.

      Considering that you are wrong about that, what else are you wrong about.

      So your fear that the platforms will be so worried about lawsuits and liability that they will start taking down content is simply not real world. Both the cost of litigation, as well as even legal settlement in the extremely rare circumstance that some lawyer will actually beat these platforms in the courtroom, would be just a rounding error for their revenue stream.

      I see now, you think "platforms" is synonymous with "big tech". That explains your myopic perspective. Perhaps you should realize that there are a lot of smaller sites/platforms on the internet, and removing 230 will kill them, for the simple reason that they don't have the legal muscles or money like the big ones have. As has been said numerous times, increasing the legal costs for operating a platform only means the big ones can afford it.

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

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        icon
        JJ Mendoza (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 4:41pm

        Re: Re: Stepehn T. Stone enters the game

        Hi Rocky, to clarify, it is the PLATFORMS that are immunized by Section 230 from what users post, even if users post libel, hate speech, incitement speech etc. But if the plaforms lose Sec 230 protection, the platform is still protected by the First Amendment for all other speech that is not libelous, inciting violence, etc.

        And I am very aware that there are smaller platforms out there. I share your concern about what might happen to them. But again, they too will still have First Amendment protection. And while I understand they don’t have the resources of Big Tech, there is a part of me that thinks, “if you can’t monitor your own platform sufficiently, either with humans or algorithms or both, to make sure that it doesn’t have hate speech, incitement speech, kiddie porn, libel – in other words that it doesn’t have illegal speech – then maybe you shouldn’t be in business.” There are too many startups in Silicon Valley that go along with the “move fast and break things” mentality and don’t structure into the core of their business model some reasonable degree of oversight. That libertarian approach seemed OK in the early years of the Internet, when these platforms were new and Section 230 was put into place, specifically in 1996. Now, there have been too many incidents and headlines about the problems that this mentality, and the broken media machine that it has unleashed on the world, has fostered. It’s time to hit reset, wouldn’t you say?

        BUT -- we also could put some conditions on WHICH platforms would be targeted by regulations. And just target those that are "systemically important," i.e. big enough that they define the market, i.e. Big Tech, which would be defined by something like "number of users" or "annual revenue," etc. That is the approach that the EU is taking in its recently proposed Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act. What do you think of that approach?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 5:56pm

          Re: Re: Re: Stepehn T. Stone enters the game

          The EU approach will have one effect, and that is to prevent competition to the big players. You can be small, or you can be big, but it stops growth through whatever criterion they set because of a big jump in costs.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 6:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: Stepehn T. Stone enters the game

          Hi Rocky, to clarify, it is the PLATFORMS that are immunized by Section 230 from what users post, even if users post libel, hate speech, incitement speech etc.

          You're proposing that Party A be liable for what Party B writes?

          “if you can’t monitor your own platform sufficiently, either with humans or algorithms or both, to make sure that it doesn’t have hate speech, incitement speech, kiddie porn, libel – in other words that it doesn’t have illegal speech – then maybe you shouldn’t be in business.”

          Perhaps you are not familiar with the idea that content moderation is impossible to do "correctly".

          https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=content+moderation+at+scale

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

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            JJ Mendoza (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 8:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Stepehn T. Stone enters the game

            Thanks for the link. Yes, I am very familiar with the difficulty of doing content moderation when the volume of content is so enormous. Have you seen this one, the Wall Street Journal reporting that Facebook executives scaled back a successful effort to make the site less divisive when they found that it was decreasing their audience share, which means fewer people seeing ads and less profit? https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-knows-it-encourages-division-top-executives-nixed-solutions-11 590507499 With those kind of extreme "for profit" motives, it will always be hard for FB to moderate content successfully -- don't you think? They have no real desire to it, because it would decrease their profits. Isn't that obvious?

            But here's what so interesting to me about the article you referenced -- to me, when I read about how impossible mass moderation is, how no amount of technology, or human moderation assisted by algorithms will ever suceed, that to me is shouting, loud and clear "Rein in this FB monster. Enforce product liability on this very dangerous "machine." Cut it down in size, force it adopt a subscription model (which will cut number of users), turn this digital infrastructure into a investor-owned utility with strict rules around taking user data, using hyper-targeted content and ads, etc." That's what that says to me.

            But to the author of the article, it says just the opposite. He write: "we are lucky to have Facebook and other major social media companies based in our country.... require that we protect and help Facebook and other social media companies as they do the best they can to preserve and expand American – and even global – democracy....How do we recognize the value to democracy and support our top social media companies which now dominate the world?"

            WTF!! FB has been used to undermine democracy in the US, as well as in Philippines, Brazil, dozens of countries. And saying "Well, at least it's better than China is unacceptable -- we can send humans do the moon, we can transplant the human heart, but we can't do better than FB or China when it comes to the new media infrastructure?

            This FB machine is hopelessly broken. And FYI, it cares nothing about free speech, it only cares about grabbing user attention with scandalous, conspiracy-hyped info that keeps them watching ads = more profits, even if democracies melt down in the process. There is nothing here to protect, tear it down, start all over. Put rules around FB to return it to its early days when people could find their long lost college roommate, post their pet pics, and engage in "social connection," and the reach was not unlimited, there was more friction in spreading disinformation. Remember those days? That's no longer FB's mission, free speech is an accident of FB, not its mission, only because the more users are posting the more ads they see = more profit.

            In short, we need to rebuild FB, because FB won't do it by itself.

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

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 8:18pm

              when I read about how impossible mass moderation is, how no amount of technology, or human moderation assisted by algorithms will ever suceed, that to me is shouting, loud and clear "Rein in this FB monster. Enforce product liability on this very dangerous "machine."

              A site nowhere near as big as Facebook can still have issues with moderation. Moderation will never be perfect, and moderation doesn’t scale. That shouldn’t be a reason to break up Facebook.

              force it [to] adopt a subscription model

              That sounds awfully close to the idea of the government running the service. You, uh…you got some communist tendencies you’re not telling us about, hmm? Got a little red in ya, maybe?

              [Facebook] cares nothing about free speech, it only cares about grabbing user attention

              So do conservative-friendly social media services. Do you want to regulate them like Facebook, too?

              we need to rebuild FB, because FB won't do it by itself

              Again: This sounds a lot like “the government should take control of a private company and tell it how to operate”. That’s communism, man.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2021 @ 2:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Stepehn T. Stone enters the game

              to me, when I read about how impossible mass moderation is, how no amount of technology, or human moderation assisted by algorithms will ever suceed, that to me is shouting, loud and clear "Rein in this FB monster.

              The problem is not the size of Facebook per se, but rather the size of the human race. It does not matter whether it is one large site, or millions of small sites, it is impossible to police the speech of the human race.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 7:40pm

          they too will still have First Amendment protection

          I’m sure that will be a big comfort to the owners of those smaller services as they consider shutting down their services to avoid a lawsuit they can’t afford to fight over speech for which they shouldn’t have been legally liable~.

          if you can’t monitor your own platform sufficiently, either with humans or algorithms or both, to make sure that it doesn’t have hate speech, incitement speech, kiddie porn, libel – in other words that it doesn’t have illegal speech – then maybe you shouldn’t be in business.

          For the record: Defamatory speech isn’t technically defamatory until a court rules it is. But as for the rest of your shit: Any site/service that refuses to take down unlawful speech upon either notification or knowledge of such content should be (at a bare minimum) investigated for that refusal.

          Oh, and hate speech is legal, fam. The law can’t stop you from saying racial slurs, anti-queer slurs, and “Mad Max: Fury Road sucks”.

          we also could put some conditions on WHICH platforms would be targeted by regulations

          We could. But I can’t see how you can get around the inequality of targeting certain platforms for speech-related regulations and leaving others intact — or the First Amendment issues of speech-related regulations in general.

          target those that are "systemically important," i.e. big enough that they define the market, i.e. Big Tech, which would be defined by something like "number of users" or "annual revenue," etc.

          What happens when a new platform becomes big enough to be considered “systemically important” practically overnight? What happens when an old platform that would’ve qualified at the apex of its success suddenly stops being “systemically important” — e.g., MySpace or LiveJournal? What happens to platforms that aren’t as big as Twitter, Facebook, etc. but are still “systemically important” to a given niche or community — e.g., FurAffinity?

          You’re not prepared for a discussion of the approach for which you advocate if you’re not prepared to answer any of those questions.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 7:24pm

      who might you be sir

      Someone who recognizes a bullshit argument and calls it like it is.

      One thing you have going for you that Masnick did not is brevity.

      Stick around. You’ll soon learn that brevity is not one of my strong suits.

      You … put yourself out there as [an “expert”]

      I don’t, can’t, and won’t speak for Mike. And I’m no expert at anything. Alls I am is a regular jackoff who recognizes what 230 does and how destroying it will also destroy the Internet of today.

      what additional legal protections does Section 230 provide, beyond the First Amendment?

      230 provides what I’d probably call “don’t blame the tool” protections: When someone uses a third-party platform to say/do something unlawful, the law puts the liability for that act on the person who did the unlawful thing. People don’t get to sue Ford or Craftsman whenever someone uses one of its products to commit murder. Twitter shouldn’t be held liable for defamation it didn’t directly create or publish.

      And is it necessary?

      Yes, if we judge by how many cases keep getting brought against social media services for speech they didn’t create.

      Mostly it provides protection for what is often called “illegal speech,” and also for “libelous speech.”

      230 doesn’t protect either of those kinds of speech. It protects a service like Twitter from being held liable for third-party speech that falls under those two descriptors. It also makes sure a service like Twitter keeps that protection depending on what moderation decisions it makes.

      Unlawful speech is unlawful no matter who says it. 230 makes sure the responsibility for that speech is put where it should be: on the shoulders of the person who said it.

      That’s a pretty narrow range on the broad spectrum of “free speech” that you … are losing your knickers over.

      Take away 230 and services like Twitter will either overmoderate, undermoderate, or stop accepting all third party speech. And “all third party speech” doesn’t mean “hate speech” or “unlawful speech” — it means “all third party speech”. No service will want to risk being held liable for third party speech, which is why only three outcomes would occur: overmoderation, 4chan clone, or “full Madagascar” (shutting down everything).

      The sites will never refuse accepting third-party speech because that’s how they earn their profits.

      If a site stands to lose more money than it makes because of lawsuits, it’ll stop accepting third party speech. Nobody wants to get sued — especially people who can’t afford to fight lawsuits.

      Over moderating speech? Also not going to happen.

      If a site stands to lsoe more money than it makes because of lawsuits and still wants to keep accepting third party speech, one of two things will happen. Overmoderation is one of those two things.

      In a theoretical situation where 230 is toast, Twitter would likely overmoderate to keep its metaphorical ass out of any legal fires. More speech would be deleted — even speech that might seem otherwise innocent — so Twitter couldn’t/wouldn’t get sued over it. The famous example (before they had to go and ruin it) was Donald Trump: Had he managed to get 230 repealed, Twitter likely would have banned his account soon after the repeal because of all the potentially actionable shit he said.

      there are many countries around the world that do not have a Section 230-type protection

      They don’t need a 230 if their laws/traditions already bar what 230 exists to stop.

      The only way that your … fear about platforms “pulling down all sorts of legitimate content” would ever become realized is if these platforms had any fear of being sued by a particular user. Do you have any idea how much resources it takes to sue Facebook, Google, and Twitter?

      Do you have any idea how many services aside from Facebook, Google, and Twitter exist on the Internet? Because 230 protects them all. And revoking 230 would leave MySpace, LiveJournal, Soundcloud, GoodReads, Mastodon instances, and any other site/service that is smaller than “Big Tech” on the hook for third party speech.

      …oh, and Techdirt. Techdirt would be fucked over by 230 being axed, too.

      under moderate speech? Good heavens, they already do that.

      You misunderstand what I meant by “undermoderate speech”. I’m referring to the outcome that could be called “becoming another 4chan”.

      If a platform can keep its legal liability protections by refusing to moderate speech (it can’t be sued over what it doesn’t know about!), it will do exactly that. That means anything short of CSAM will never be touched — which would make that site another 4chan/8kun shitpit.

      see the New York Times expose about how child pornographers, rapists and other evil users have been using various platforms to live stream their horrendous criminal acts of violence in real time.

      It’s almost as if platforms can’t easily and immediately identify livestreaming material as CSAM/violent content and don’t have the ability to predetermine whether someone is about to livestream violence. Imagine that~.

      And the companies have sometimes refused to take down some of this content, even when requested by the victims.

      And that sucks. And they should be investigated for that. But that doesn’t justify taking out 230.

      we need to put some rules around Big Tech

      When you have some ideas on how to do that without trampling all over their First Amendment rights — and without doing the same to smaller sites/services in the process — you let me know.

      turning the business model into an investor-owned utility

      Oh, wonderful — now how would that apply to Mastodon instances that don’t have a Twitter-like business model but operate a Twitter-like service?

      forbidding these platforms from taking our personal data without user consent

      restricting the hyper-targeted advertising model

      restrictions on how these platforms design their products to target young people

      See, these are actually reasonable-ish ideas. Too bad you surrounded them with a whole bunch of bullshit.

      Italy just mandated that TikTok should block users whose age cannot be verified after the death of a 10-year-old girl who was encouraged via that platform to engage in dangerous behavior

      I’m fine with the idea of that regulation. But I’m always wary of any law passed after a tragedy with the intent to prevent a similar tragedy. Such laws can (and often do) have unintended consequences. I mean, look at the Patriot Act.

      How about some product liability, ever heard of that?

      TikTok didn’t tell that girl to attempt that stunt. TikTok didn’t make her attempt that stunt. TikTok didn’t make her botch the attempted stunt.

      We can have a discussion about the role of social media in younger people’s lives, how such services are designed to be addictive, and anything else that runs along those lines. But if we don’t hold Home Depot liable for someone using a hammer bought at Home Depot to kill someone else, for what reason should TikTok be held liable for a death it neither committed nor played a direct role in making happen?

      Tell me[ — ]do you think the platforms should come up with a way to verify age?

      I think they have plenty of ways already, although they would all involve a user voluntarily giving up a not-zero amount of personal data to those services. Yes or no: Would you trust Twitter with your Social Security number, your driver’s license, the account and routing numbers to your checking account, and any other sensitive information that people could use to commit identity fraud?

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


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