Conservatives Want Common Carriage. They're Not Going to Like It.

from the that's-not-what-common-carrier-means dept

From calls to break up Big Tech to Florida’s latest anti-tech law, one thing is clear—America’s lawmakers and bureaucrats are looking to regulate the online world. Building on the momentum of the Facebook Oversight Board’s recent ruling on President Trump and Justice Thomas’s concurrence in Biden v. Knight Institute, alternative proposals like common carriage are gaining traction among conservative lawmakers looking for new regulatory solutions.

More and more conservatives critique social media by arguing that websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google are effectively the modern public square that shouldn’t have moderation practices built to balance online safety and free speech. So it’s only natural that a proposal like common carriage gained traction in the Trump presidency and has not lost momentum since. Just look at Sen. Hagerty’s 21st Century FREE Speech Act.

Some conservative critics think treating these sites as common carriers ticks many of their boxes—less content moderation, less alleged anti-conservative bias, and more regulation of America’s tech companies. But they’re wrong. Not only is it an unconstitutional solution, its design to work around First Amendment jurisprudence will almost certainly make the internet worse, not better, for conservatives. Common carriage will inch the internet towards an online ecosystem devoid of family-friendly options and teeming with the worst humanity can offer— including the very content conservatives hate like pornography, indecency, and profanity.

An attempt at common carriage regulation is unlikely to succeed in court—social media simply doesn’t fit the criteria necessary for this centuries-old designation. Derived from common law, common carriage was a way for the entire public to receive and transport goods and services deemed essential. When America started its own classification of common carriage in the 1800s, the principle of nondiscrimination was at the forefront of the discussion. American courts identify industries and businesses as common carriers if they do not distinguish between customers or decide what they will and will not carry.

Nondiscrimination is a central feature of traditional common carriers, but it is not a feature of social media. Unlike the railroads and communications companies of the Gilded Age, social media relies on the ability to contextualize and discriminate between different content to provide useful information to users. Content moderation is at the center of that, providing websites the ability to balance free expression and online safety to maximize both and make the internet somewhere we want to spend time. Concerned parents shouldn’t have to wade through expletives, references to violence, and sexual content just to connect with their friends and family as well as protect their kids online.

The ability to moderate is a feature, not a bug, of social media. This is not a matter of transporting goods and services from California to New York—in fact, it's not really a matter of transporting anything. Rather than transporting data like telecommunications businesses, social media hosts content. They offer a space online on which content is posted and established in perpetuity as part of internet history, more like a museum than a railroad. Therefore, ensuring a curated collection of high-quality posts is a key part of their business model, rather than simply serving as a conduit of communication.

This is a matter of private forums and businesses with constitutional protections from government action under the Bill of Rights. Social media sites like any private businesses have First Amendment rights that prevent the government from coming in and forcing them to host speech they disagree with.

Placing social media under common carriage regulations would fall counter to their First Amendment rights and ensure content moderation is effectively impossible as the incentive to maintain online safety disappears. And by taking away websites’ ability to moderate what gets posted online, the internet could easily become rampant with unwanted, offensive, and disgusting content, rendering many services unsafe for use at work or with family. That would only run counter to the founding values and family principles that conservatives seek to protect.

By doing their utmost to ensure websites aren’t allowed to remove lawful but awful content, conservatives may feel like they’re fighting to defend the principles of free speech, but instead they are stifling the free speech rights of media companies and risking exposing the everyday American looking to connect with family, friends, and coworkers to the worst aspects of the internet.

Conservatives, like all Americans, have the right to voice their concerns about the decisions made by social media platforms—and they should do so. But they shouldn’t mistakenly support actions that could put American families and kids in harms’ way online and that would undermine free expression and free enterprise. No matter how it’s sliced or diced, common carriage classification will force social media and the internet writ large to become a cesspool of filth, completely devoid of either conservative or family-friendly values. Treating social media like common carriers could lead to a staggering increase of content that conservatives actively work to mitigate like online harassment, the proliferation of pornography, and other explicit materials that undermine the conservative commitment to family values.

Social media relies on the ability to discriminate between user-generated posts to succeed, actively not treating themselves like neutral transports of information or services like a common carrier would. With their longstanding practice of content moderation and their lack of a natural monopoly, the courts would simply be unlikely to categorize social media as common carriers. And we should be wary of categorizing websites for users of all ages as common carriers lest they become filled with offensive content even adults don’t want to engage with.

By turning to common carriage in their crusade to fight alleged anticonservative bias, conservatives might not like the result—an internet that ignores the best it offers while proliferating the worst.

Kir Nuthi is the Public Affairs Manager at NetChoice and a Contributor at Young Voices.

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Filed Under: common carriage, conservatives, content moderation, family values, public square
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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 10:47am

    Ignoring the issue of who is qualified to determine "misinformation"

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 10:55am

    Anyone who can read that article and still defend trying to strip away the ability of social interaction networks to moderate based on “equality” or “being apolitical” or whatever — which includes efforts to revoke Section 230 — is braver than I thought.

    …okay, well, they’re not “braver”, but it’s a far nicer word than the more accurate (and more demeaning) alternative.

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

    • identicon
      Glen, 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:00am

      Re:

      Kolby comes to mind.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        Koby (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 1:09pm

        Re: Re:

        Common carriage will inch the internet towards an online ecosystem devoid of family-friendly options and teeming with the worst humanity can offer— including the very content conservatives hate like pornography, indecency, and profanity.

        This portion was already destroyed with the CDA, over 20 years ago with Reno v. ACLU. Not that I personally mind it. But if that's the main takeaway, then you lost conservatives a long long time ago. The internet is already a hive of scum and villainy, and noone cares anymore. Bring on the common carrier.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 1:25pm

          Bring on the common carrier.

          Yes or no, Koby: Do you believe the government should force Twitter to host Ku Klux Klan propaganda? Keep in mind that Klan propaganda is technically “political speech”, so you can’t duck the question by claiming otherwise.

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            icon
            Koby (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:14pm

            Re:

            I really don't like the KKK, but if they just have a presence on twitter to say things like "Have a nice day!", or maybe post some photographs of Senators Robert Byrd and Joe Biden together, I wouldn't mind. But then you get into a thorny issue of "propaganda". If twitter can spell out banned words, that's certainly fine, because I'm not a big fan of obscenity.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:26pm

              Re: Re:

              Why would the KKK post pictures of someone who disavowed them?

              Oh... is that like some kind of ham fisted right wing nut job talking point you just recycled from Hillary’s presidential run?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:30pm

              Re: Re:

              You have basically agreed with what Twitter is doing in its moderation, so what are you calling for them to change?

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

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:59pm

              Not an answer.

              Yes or no, Koby: Do you believe the government should force Twitter to host Ku Klux Klan propaganda? Keep in mind that Klan propaganda is technically “political speech”, so you can’t duck the question by claiming otherwise.

              Answer the goddamn question. A “yes” or a “no” will suffice.

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

        • identicon
          Rocky, 8 Jun 2021 @ 1:53pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The internet is already a hive of scum and villainy

          Some minor parts are, but the scum is now loudly cheering on anything that will spread the villainy - like destroying section 230 and arguing for classifying some internet services as common carriers or "public spaces".

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2021 @ 1:16pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "But if that's the main takeaway, then you lost conservatives a long long time ago. The internet is already a hive of scum and villainy, and noone cares anymore. Bring on the common carrier."

          OK now your contradicting yourself- so which is it - we lost the conservatives or its a hive of scum ?

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

  • identicon
    bobob, 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:12am

    Conservatives want whatever they can spin into votes through emotional appeal to voters who are lucky to be able to spell logic much less make use of it. How it turns out won't matter, unless it's a benefit that can be attributed to democrats.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:33am

      Re:

      What they want is the ability to brow beat people into supporting them, or at least not opposing them. The way some of them jumped onto the stolen vote theory show just how much they respect any vote that they lose.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:39am

      Re:

      Conservatives would also be fine with being allowed to harass people off of platforms, contrary to what the Koch-funded author of this article says about conservatives wanting to mitigate harassment. They’d also be fine with revenge porn and porn in general as long as the revenge porn is targeted against people they hate and the porn isn’t porn featuring people of mixed race, or LGBTQ+ folks.

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

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:24am

    Right-whingers never wanted freedom of speech, they only want freedom from consequences, primarily others' speech.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 1:26pm

      Re:

      Trump has shown that his type of conservative cannot attract an audience to their own sites, even with all the free advertising that it gained. Therefore their way forward is to be able to force themselves onto the sites where people gather.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:44pm

        Re: Re:

        "Trump has shown that his type of conservative cannot attract an audience to their own sites, even with all the free advertising that it gained."

        The problem is that they can attract AN audience, but it's a small minority of the general public, and not even they like hanging around exclusively with people like them. Part of the wider problem with Trump's site, however, is that he promised a social platform and delivered a blog.

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

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Jun 2021 @ 12:36am

        Re: Re:

        "Therefore their way forward is to be able to force themselves onto the sites where people gather."

        What really does my head in is that what these benighted morons fail to realize is that once they are allowed on to a major platform, that platform dies almost instantly as the vast majority just up and leave it in disgust.

        In brief; They can't get the audience they're looking for. Not by any means. Because the reason they're marginalized is that they are horrible people no one sane wants to be around.

        If alt-right asshats did get to stay on Facebook or Twitter and starts threads hashtagging "lesser races" or "the BLM conspiracy" then either FB and twitter come up with a way to compartmentalize them so everyone can opt-out of ever reading anything they write or those major platforms collapse instantly.

        Worse, from their part, platforms who did carry them are going to have to toe a very fine line because the clientéle could suddenly turn the platform liable in law for massive litigation. I'm sure lawyers everywhere are already gearing up, salivating at the thought.

        The end outcome of removing 230 will be that liberals may have problems. The alt-right and assorted trolls would be utterly bereft of speech. I'm almost at the point where that sounds like a reasonable exchange.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:29am

    Winning the battle and losing the war

    If it wouldn't be so damaging I would actually hope that they did get what they're demanding, if only for a bit, because in no case does it work out well for them.

    If sites aren't allowed to moderate every platform will quickly become unusable as it is overrun by assholes posting the most heinous but legal content they can find and waxing poetic about how those smartly dressed nazis and KKK members had the right ideas.

    If sites are allowed to moderate but are held liable for what's on the platform what's allowed will become extremely restrictive, with anything that even might be questionable quickly removed and the posters likewise shown the door and if 'conservatives' think they're being 'persecuted' now then they are really not going to like how sites treat them under that system.

    And then you've got option three, where sites decide that they simply lack the resources or interest in dealing with the hassle of such extreme moderation efforts and shut down user content entirely, in which case the poor persecuted conservatives will find themselves, like everyone else, entirely unable to post anything

    Even ignoring the blatant first amendment concerns other than pandering to gullible fools and assholes for votes and money(the primary goal I'm sure) there is no way for them to win this, because the best outcome for them is if they never get what they demanding as a 'win' would quickly and decisively show just how stupid their demands really were.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:42am

      Re: Winning the battle and losing the war

      For the more forward-thinking and cynical, i am pretty sure that the awful consequences of getting what they want is part of the plan. Then they can "crack down" on everything else they don't like while still leaving their own vicious rhetoric up.

      For all their worship of the "Founding Fathers" and "originalism", most only believe in a little bit of it, if at all, and really want some kind of Christian Soup Theocracy Capitalist Dictatorship. Some complain about blah blah corporations, but they never had a word to say about megacorps until big social media companies arose. (And they always and only refer to them, unless they pull out the "globalism" dogwhistle, in which case no one ever actually mentions specific corporations at all.)

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

    • identicon
      MightyMetricBatman, 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:41pm

      Re: Winning the battle and losing the war

      In a land where no moderation is allowed, the spam bot is king.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:31am

    If it was literally anybody else criticizing common carriage for internet content, they’d make a good argument. But this Koch-funded talking head of course uses “family values” as their main talking point in a way that reeks of a thinly-disguised anti-porn and anti-LGBTQ+ attitude. That’s what I expect from a Koch-funded outlet like Young Voices.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:34am

      Re:

      Also I find it hilarious that the author says that conservatives want to mitigate online harassment when most conservatives would be fine with being able to harass certain people (BIPOC, LGBTQ+ folks) off of platforms.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:35am

      Re:

      Um. For what it's worth, I was the one who suggested that she add in the family values point after the original version did not include that. I thought it was an important point to highlight how the demands for common carriage do, in fact, go against the claims that conservatives have spent decades pushing for.

      And I can tell you that the point is NOT "anti-porn" or "anti-LGBTQ+" but rather that the internet should be enabled to create all different kinds of spaces, including some where there isn't porn (such as kid friendly spaces).

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:47am

        Re: Re:

        But conservative family values are anti-porn and anti-LGBTQ+, and their end-goal is to get rid of that content entirely, not simply create spaces where there’s no porn allowed. This is similar to how conservatives want their “freedom of reach” to be able to say whatever garbage they want on mainstream platforms. They don’t want their own space; they want other spaces to allow them to spew crap where they have an audience and can gain enough of an audience to push people they don’t like off the platforms.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:52am

          conservative family values are anti-porn and anti-LGBTQ+, and their end-goal is to get rid of that content entirely, not simply create spaces where there’s no porn allowed

          And by pushing for common carriage rules for social media services (at a bare minimum), conservatives will fail in that goal. Under common carriage rules, there wouldn’t be a space “where there’s no porn allowed”.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:05pm

            Re:

            But as I pointed out:

            They don’t want their own space; they want other spaces to allow them to spew crap where they have an audience and can gain enough of an audience to push people they don’t like off the platforms.

            Conservatives want to be able to use common carriage to create environments of fear to drive people off those platforms, so that the stuff they dislike is allowed in name only because a mob will drive you off if you try to post it. Conservatives are fine with harassment as long as it advances their goals.

            What I see in the author’s article is them presenting an alternative where common carriage isn’t a thing, and instead conservatives pressure sites by using “protect the children” rhetoric to get them to ban and take down porn and LGBTQ+ content.

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

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:16pm

              We already have the situation where common carriage isn’t a thing. We already see those pressure campaigns. What do you want done about that right now other than the passage of common carriage rules for social interaction networks?

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:31pm

                Re:

                Idunno, maybe Techdirt refusing to publish articles from Koch-funded propaganda orgs like Young Voices?

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

                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:45pm

                  Well good luck with that fam. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:18pm

                  Re: Re:

                  maybe Techdirt refusing to publish articles from Koch-funded propaganda orgs like Young Voices?

                  So... are you unhappy that the author works for a Koch-funded organization, or about the article itself? Without this article, you would not have had the opportunity to rebut.

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 4:06pm

                    Re: Re: Re:

                    Both.

                    Conservative "Founding Values" and "Family Principles" are regressive and theocratic. I'm really curious what the author meant by "other explicit materials that undermine the conservative commitment to family values." To your average conservative, two men kissing is explicit material.

                    Koch money gets pumped into various anti-LGBTQ+ causes and the election of anti-LGBTQ+ officials.

                    The article is, in my opinion, essentially saying "Hey conservatives, don't go for common carriage if you want to eliminate porn and gay people from the Internet." to buy time for Koch-funded advocacy groups put pressure on social media companies to "think of the children" by banning anything that could be classified as porn or LGBTQ+ content and for those same groups to install crooked judges and legislators that will regulate porn off the Internet and turn LGBTQ+ people into second-class citizens.

                    It's for this reason that I think that Techdirt would be better served by avoiding the publishing of articles from Koch-funded outlets in the future and refusing Koch funding for future projects. It's dirty money from bigoted people.

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

                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 6:22pm

                      The article is, in my opinion, essentially saying "Hey conservatives, don't go for common carriage if you want to eliminate porn and gay people from the Internet."

                      It isn’t. The article is saying “hey, conservatives — go for common carriage and everything you want to delete from the Internet will overrun the Internet instead”. It is literally pointing out that conservative-minded content will be just as washed away by spam, porn, and spam porn (those sick fuckers…) as will liberal/progressive content. Family-friendly spaces, religious spaces, any space earmarked by and for conservatives — all of them will come under attack, and all of them will eventually fall.

                      Look, I’m no fan of prudish conservative bullshit like keeping queer people in the closet and thinking a picture of a bare tit is more dangerous than a video of someone getting shot in the head. But pushing common carriage laws will not stop that shit from happening. If anything, the flood of “degenerate” content will precede a push for stronger content controls, which will inevitably turn into a push for making the Internet a one-way broadcast system instead of a communications network. Common carriage rules for social interaction networks will benefit nobody but spammers, trolls, con artists, and assholes.

                      …huh. Now I can see why conservatives want common carriage laws.

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

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 8:19pm

                        Re:

                        The article is saying “hey, conservatives — go for common carriage and everything you want to delete from the Internet will overrun the Internet instead”.

                        They are saying that, yes. And my interpretation of the article is that its thrust is that, and "We've been helping install crooked judges and legislators all over so that we can delete the stuff you want deleted. Stop ruining what we're trying to do for you!"

                        The Koch conservatives have been playing the long game and the equally-bigoted reactionary far-right conservatives that deludedly believe that common carriage rules will get them what they want are wrecking those plans. They're both groups of shitheads fighting for the same ass-backwards goal from different directions, and both groups deserve to have their hateful dreams torn up and scattered to the winds. Neither of the groups will stop at just making sure that there's "space earmarked for conservatives" and be happy. They want to turn every space into a conservative space.

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

                        • icon
                          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 8:57pm

                          And my interpretation of the article is that its thrust is that, and "We've been helping install crooked judges and legislators all over so that we can delete the stuff you want deleted. Stop ruining what we're trying to do for you!"

                          You need some help from some airport terminal workers? Because you seem to be carrying a fair bit of baggage with you.

                          As I’ve said: I’m no fan of the Kochs or modern American conservatives in general. But this article doesn’t even remotely say “I want conservatives to shut the fuck up so they can keep fucking things up”. You’re the only commenter here bringing that bullshit into the conversation.

                          Whatever issues you have with the Kochs, conservatives, or whatever else can (and probably should) be put aside to look at the broader point — which is, as I’ve also said before, conservatives think voting for common carriage laws won’t be a vote for a Leopards Eating Faces outcome when it absolutely would be. I’m not saying “don’t stay mad at the Kochs”. Stay mad at them. But for this moment, maybe consider that there is a tiny bit of common ground between them and you on this subject. Then celebrate the fact that you can find even some minor common ground with people whose houses and livelihoods you’d probably want to see burned to the ground.

                          We’re brought together when we can put aside our differences and work towards common goals to benefit all peoples. Fighting against common carriage laws for social interaction networks is one such instance where that can happen. Rather than spit at people with differing politics who want to work with you in preventing those laws from becoming a reality, agree to disagree…on a great many things…while also accepting the help.

                          I would bet something about my political beliefs would piss you off. (If I took sucker bets, that is.) Would you spit in my face and refuse my help in fighting against common carriage laws if that were the case?

                          tl;dr — Stay mad at the Kochs for everything else, but if they’re on your side in this fight, that has to count for something.

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

                    • icon
                      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Jun 2021 @ 2:22am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      "Conservative "Founding Values" and "Family Principles" are regressive and theocratic."

                      They have become so, yes, in much of the US. Context matters. Especially so in a nation where the battle for the narrative has turned much of the political discourse into actual newspeak.

                      "To your average conservative, two men kissing is explicit material."

                      ...except that a great many people having grown up with then-liberal values are now old "conservatives" who just think that's an image of romance. By now you almost need to specify that what you're talking about is conservative bigotry. Not fiscal, cultural or political conservative values - the "Oh, you know the ones" usually posted by Stephen T. Stone.

                      "...to buy time for Koch-funded advocacy groups put pressure on social media companies to "think of the children" by banning anything that could be classified as porn or LGBTQ+ content and for those same groups to install crooked judges and legislators that will regulate porn off the Internet and turn LGBTQ+ people into second-class citizens."

                      This is old hat though; that pressure has always been there and I'm gonna go full Chomsky on this one - there's no actual plan. It's just a large group of old money and old political clans reacting in knee-jerk fashion to lobbyist suggestions mouthed by religious extremists.

                      "It's dirty money from bigoted people."

                      So it is. And if you refuse to take that money, you will lose to those who get their message out to millions by paying for the ads. Because in the world of today, money talks but bullshit walks. Nowhere is that more clear than in the US where even the most zealous religious fanatic would cheerfully nail christ to the cross again the very second he started on the "meek shall inherit the earth" message or started overturning the tables in wall street.

                      There are entire channels, tons of adverts, shoutouts on podcasts and forums all dedicated to only the NRA, anti-LGBTQ propaganda, hate disguised as religious zealotry and asshats like Carlson and Hannity who've set their dogwhistles aside in favor of bullhorns lately. They get their message out - because they spend the money. They get people voting for them - because they can condense their message into something the average Joe and Jane can understand. Worst of all they get politicians to help them out because the alt-right brings them a base which can be catered to by memorizing half a dozen talking points.

                      For Techdirt to publish this OP is, imho, not a bad thing - there are some very true takeaways in it. Your criticism and the retorts thereto is valuable addition. This is how "debate" works.

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

          • icon
            ladyattis (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:15pm

            Re:

            For some conservatives, I think the goal is to make the Internet so toxic that everyone cries for draconian laws to squash any dissent and variation on the Internet. Essentially, they want to turn it into cable TV minus the bundling. It works for them, in their minds, because they really think they can "teach us a lesson" or whatever nonsense rationale some of them have cooked up. It's like dealing with the racist uncle that keeps insisting on being at a nephew's cookout after he called his biracial children mongrels (or worse), just so he can keep saying such racist things to him and his family without consequence.

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Jun 2021 @ 2:26am

              Re: Re:

              "I think the goal is to make the Internet so toxic that everyone cries for draconian laws to squash any dissent and variation on the Internet."

              This sounds familiar. Like "internet vintage 90's" familiar. We've been there, and what we have right now is the result. On that road we've fully come to understand that no matter how draconian the laws are, squashing "dissent" and "variation" online isn't happening. Not as long as people are still free to own computers and learn to code.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:56am

          Also, I should note that the “family-friendly spaces” bit was part of the original intent of Section 230, and if’n you don’t believe me, believe the actual, factual, on-the-Congressional-record words of Republican lawmaker Chris Cox:

          We want to encourage people like Prodigy, like CompuServe, like America Online, like the new Microsoft network, to do everything possible for us, the customer, to help us control, at the portals of our computer, at the front door of our house, what comes in and what our children see.

          [O]ur amendment will do two basic things: First, it will protect computer Good Samaritans, online service providers, anyone who provides a front end to the Internet, let us say, who takes steps to screen indecency and offensive material for their customers. It will protect them from taking on liability such as occurred in the Prodigy case in New York that they should not face for helping us and for helping us solve this problem. Second, it will establish as the policy of the United States that we do not wish to have content regulation by the Federal Government of what is on the Internet, that we do not wish to have a Federal Computer Commission with an army of bureaucrats regulating the Internet because frankly the Internet has grown up to be what it is without that kind of help from the Government. In this fashion we can encourage what is right now the most energetic technological revolution that any of us has ever witnessed. We can make it better. We can make sure that it operates more quickly to solve our problem of keeping pornography away from our kids, keeping offensive material away from our kids, and I am very excited about it.

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

        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:12pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Considering that Conservative family "values" are "Abortions only for my mistresses and my convenience, not for your health" "You're not allowed to be a family if I don't like it" "Gay people are abominations ignore me soliciting men" and "look at this pizza parlor instead of our pedophilia" they must like their porn better when it's "illegal."

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

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:57pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          But conservative family values are anti-porn and anti-LGBTQ+

          That may be true of some, but I think you're painting with a ridiculous biased and bogus brush to assume that all of them are -- especially within the Koch/libertarian realm.

          But, hey, you do you.

          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, 8 Jun 2021 @ 4:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I posted this a few comments up, but Koch money goes to bigoted causes quite often. The Texas anti-trans bill, the election of an anti-LGBTQ+ judge to a state's Supreme Court, and organizations that fund anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ+ hate. I don't think I'm painting with a "ridiculously biased" and "bogus" brush when ALEC, which has received plenty of cash from Koch over the years, gets buddy-buddy with bigoted groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the National Association of Christian Lawmakers. Looking at where the money goes, the Koch realm is far from libertarian.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 5:52pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Christians to the lions!

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

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 6:48pm

              Would you have Techdirt refuse to run material from anyone who might be even incidentally linked to Koch money? Or anyone who identifies themselves or their political ideology as “conservative”? Because that sounds like a bunch of bullshit to me, and I’m against modern American conservatism in general.

              If Techdirt was running articles extolling the virtues of scaring queer people back into the closet or “maybe letting the rich hoard their wealth is actually a good thing” or whatever, I’d probably be one of the first regular readers to abandon ship. But they’re not. They ran a perfectly fine article about how common carriage laws for social interaction networks would backfire on conservatives who think such laws are the way to eliminate the imagined “anti-conservative bias” on social media. Which are you really more concerned about: The excellent point being made, or who may have funded the writer making that point?

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

            • icon
              Mike Masnick (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 9:46pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Do you automatically discount someone because of the publication they publish in?

              I know Kir personally, and whatever you think of her associations, the only one biased and stereotyping in this conversation is you, assuming all sorts of nonsense about her that's just not true.

              Maybe look at your own biases first.

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Jun 2021 @ 2:33am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "...but Koch money goes to bigoted causes quite often."

              It does. No dispute about that.

              But to paraphrase Bill Maher, if the bad guys pour money your way once in a while, grab it. No matter the worthiness of your cause the only outcome of taking the high ground when it comes to funding is that your army will remain less well equipped than the opposition.

              And last I checked the rallying cries of "God is with us!" or "For the cause!" only seems to pay off when you're already in a superior position. The moral high ground is great in philosophical debates yet contributes nothing at all to taking and holding ground.

              This may be why US conservatives, who ought to be a dying breed given how their poll numbers look, keep holding ground they should have been run right out of a long time ago.

              If liberals want to actually win this one they'll just have to roll up their sleeves and get right into the mud pit, because it's always going to be the opposition who chooses the battleground in this war.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:14pm

        Re: Re:

        including some where there isn't porn (such as kid friendly spaces).

        The idea that porn needs to be kept away from children never made sense to me. What adults seem to overlook is that kids just don't care about porn. They might think it's gross, or giggle at it, but they're not going to seek it out (and it won't seek them out)—until puberty, at which point they're not really "kids" (and, historically, have always been able to obtain porn and/or sex regardless of parental efforts).

        What's disappointing to me, though, is that there's little effort to build decentralized moderation on top of common-carriage networks. It's hard to get any random grouping of a hundred people to agree on anything, yet one party gets to (and kind of has to) make decisions on what billions of people can see.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:52am

    All the world's a stage

    Act 1: Fascists posing as Conservatives pretending they are all for free speech.

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

    • identicon
      David, 9 Jun 2021 @ 5:20am

      Re: All the world's a stage

      Well, let's not misuse the "fascism" moniker too much: the "conservatives" do not want extra rights for the government, they want extra rights for themselves. At the moment, those are different things even if they want them to be the same.

      But the "Common Carriage" moniker in this article's headline in its aptness highlights that those "conservatists" are not vying as much for fascism as for hard-core socialism that confiscates and redistributes corporate property.

      Basically they have a very dim view of anybody's interests and rights other than their own.

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

      • identicon
        Annonymouse, 9 Jun 2021 @ 12:02pm

        Re: Re: All the world's a stage

        You had me until you parroted the socialism bugaboo.
        That's not what that word means and you should know that already by now.

        If it is then stay with your corporate insurance controlled Healthcare, corporate welfare on the taxpayer dime, and rampant abuse of customers, employees, the environment, their suppliers and the taxpayer in general, by the corporations to ever enrich themselves.

        Neuromancer was a scifi book that was a warning against entrenched corporate power and rampant greed.
        Looks like it is now just another how to book for dummies, just like 1984 and Machiavelli.

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

  • icon
    z! (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:33pm

    Conservatives cry-
    Less government regulation (unless we thought of it)!
    Let people do whatever they want (unless we don't like it)!

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:45pm

      To wit: Voting restriction laws and gerrymandering.

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

      • identicon
        David, 9 Jun 2021 @ 9:11am

        Re:

        Well, the conservatives are very much invested into proving democracy being a superior manner of government that will naturally gravitate to the best political state in the form of conservativism (with "conservativism" meaning "what I historically know to deserve over my lesser brethren"). The problem is that the voters are in increasing amounts miseducated into voting non-conservatively. That needs to be addressed by stopping their votes from damaging democracy until they have been reeducated to vote conservatively.

        I think Tom Lehrer described it in 1965 in his song "Send the Marines" as "For might makes right, until they see the light they got to be protected, all their rights respected till somebody we like can be elected."

        Now that was a description of foreign policy at that time, but there is no reason why it should not apply equally well in the country itself.

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

  • icon
    freakanatcha (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:58pm

    Google's a common carrier, but not Comcast?

    Show of hands if Congress should make real, honest-to-god monopolies, with demonstrable harm to consumers, like Comcast and AT&T, common carriers instead of social media

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 1:09pm

      'Let the free market decide! ... unless it decides against us.'

      That is one of it not the main tell that the calls to regulate social media and tech companies is not being done in good faith, as for all the cries that social media platforms have too much power and need to be reigned in for the public good when it comes to companies that have much more control over internet access you get deafening silence or strident arguments that regulations are terrible and should never apply to companies.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 1:10pm

    And everything being done, everything that is trying to be done, is by corrupt politicians, corrupt law makers and corrupt law upholders just to give the Internet over to the Entertainment Industries! Just like the European Commission, the USA cant do enough, quick enough for these industries. Mark my words, once it has been handed over and all because the thick cunts didn't get in on the ground floor, expecting the Internet to never take off and be as successful as it is, now they want the whole thing and want to completely control it, it will be gone forever!

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

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 7:52pm

    They don't want common carriage, they want conman carriage.

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

  • icon
    Tanner Andrews (profile), 9 Jun 2021 @ 6:39am

    the modern public square

    effectively the modern public square that shouldn’t have moderation practices

    Such a view is not well taken.

    The ``classic'' public square had moderation practices. While any goof could bring a soap-box upon which to orate, the public very effectively moderated. Williams Jennings Bryan drew huge crowds interested in hearing about the basis for currency, such that he traveled from town to town in a private car and spoke from the rear platform.

    Contrast: A guy in the vaguely yellowish pants and obviously unwashed shirt, ranting about how there is a satanic ring of child molesters operating out of a pizza parlor basement, and how the election was stolen, and perhaps even how the Jewish space laser affects all this, draws fewer people. By which, I mean that people avoid that area of the public square. He speaks to a very small crowd, perhaps a few local party executive committee bosses and aspiring bosses, not a crowd of ten thousand.

    This is effectively moderation, where people are choosing and avoiding speakers.

    In modern times, I can go to Parler, or Twitter, or Facebook, or 4Chan, or donaldjtrump.com, or even techdirt, all as I will. I choose the section of the electronic public square where I will hear the orators. Maybe I do not hear much from the odoriferous gent with the interesting theories, but that is my choice. The guy is speaking freely there in his part of the electronic public square, and surely enjoys his audience of proud boys and Illinois nazis. I am in my part of the square, occasionally downvoting the proud boys and Illinois nazis who pop up here.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 9 Jun 2021 @ 11:36pm

      Re: the modern public square

      What these people wish to avoid is that the "public square" in their analogy is not Twitter or Facebook, but the internet as a whole. The analogy doesn't quite fit until the day where connectivity is a full public utility, but within its parameters that's what is most apt by comparison.

      The problem with that is that it diminishes their complaints even further. They're no longer simply complaining that a single store or a mall is able to exercise their right to refuse entry, they're also admitting they have millions of alternatives if they admit that analogy. Which is why their demands are roundly mocked - this sort of complaint would never be taken seriously if they weren't inserting "on the internet" at the end and surrounding themselves with many others who also get themselves kicked out for their own behaviour..

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2021 @ 8:25am

    I kinda hope this works out. Conservatives aren't ready for a world where we dogpile on to call them dumb fucking nazis without getting banned.

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

  • icon
    Tim R (profile), 9 Jun 2021 @ 8:25am

    What we're discussing here is obviously quite different, legally speaking, from the concept of net neutrality, but the irony is not lost on me that they'd be proposing something similar to it to be used here. And all of their arguments as to why social media should bend the knee to them actually apply better to the telecom companies where NN is involved. The post-Trump Republican Party version of US political hypocrisy at its finest.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Jun 2021 @ 2:44pm

      Re:

      It's amazing how quickly they can shift from 'regulations are satan's edicts!' when it comes to companies they like to 'companies need to be strictly regulated to ensure they are acting responsibly!' when it comes to companies they don't care for...

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


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