Mason Wheeler’s Techdirt Profile


About Mason WheelerTechdirt Insider

Mason Wheeler’s Comments comment rss

  • Apr 16th, 2018 @ 8:49am

    (untitled comment)

    Californian burger chain In-N-Out has no presence in Australia. Or anywhere much further than the U.S. west coast and Texas, really.

    I've seen them in Utah as well.

  • Apr 12th, 2018 @ 12:52pm

    (untitled comment)

    Ok everybody, once more with feeling:

    This is why we need a federal anti-SLAPP law.

  • Apr 10th, 2018 @ 4:04pm

    By Twits, For Twits

    So once again, the Twits at Twitter screw things up for the Twits using Twitter, while the rest of us just sit back and laugh. I cannot for the life of me understand how such an insipid service ever gained even a fraction of the popularity it's achieved...

  • Apr 10th, 2018 @ 8:30am

    (untitled comment)

    After all, however bad Facebook is, you can choose not to use them

    I keep seeing this line on here. So once again, I'll respond, have they stopped building "shadow profiles" on non-Facebook users yet?

  • Apr 9th, 2018 @ 3:35pm

    (untitled comment)

    Meh. This just means people are starting to wake up. Facebook's had serious problems in these areas pretty much since the beginning. It's like I've been saying for years and years now:

    Google: "Don't be evil." Facebook: "Don't even bother pretending we're not being evil."

  • Apr 9th, 2018 @ 12:05pm


    Yeah, the Supreme Court's ruling makes no sense when the First Amendment explicitly guarantees the right of the people to petition the government for the redress of grievances. Just another example of how corrupt the current Court is...

  • Apr 6th, 2018 @ 12:18pm

    (untitled comment)

    This is ridiculous for a number of reasons. First, it assumes the purpose of most bots is to mislead, hence the "need" for upfront disclosure.

    Remove a tiny bit of oversimplification and it becomes a whole lot less ridiculous:

    It assumes the purpose of most bots that pretend to be people rather than bots is to mislead

    Not only is this not ridiculous, it's trivially true.

  • Apr 4th, 2018 @ 9:55am

    (untitled comment)

    I worry about this argument. It appears to expand on the (faulty, in my belief) argument that we've been seeing in numerous recent cases trying to misuse the Packingham ruling to mean that no platform can ever kick a user off their service, as that would violate their First Amendment rights.

    I rejoice in this argument. It shows that this guy gets it. When private entities begin to take over functions that have been traditionally managed by government, such as operation of a de facto public square for public discourse, then the same restrictions on their actions for the protections of the rights of the public that have traditionally applied to the government must also apply to these private entities, such as the First Amendment and the rights to Due Process and to the Presumption of Innocence.

    I don't think that "no platform can ever kick a user off their service" under this legal regime, but rather that they cannot do so arbitrarily or capriciously; to exclude someone from the public square they absolutely should need to be able to show in a court of law that this person has done something worthy of being excluded from the public square.

    With great power comes great responsibility. When your power approaches that of state actors, so must your accountability.

  • Mar 9th, 2018 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Because some who claim to be members of a 'left wing' faction do some bad things does not make the 'left wing' bad, or violent. When the 'left wing' becomes violent, then their whole raisons d'ĂȘtre goes nil.


    Do you know where the basic concept of a "left wing" originated? It came from the events surrounding the French Revolution and its aftermath--one of the bloodiest, ugliest, most violent periods of barbarity, inhumanity, and senseless waste in human history.

    (Preemptive note: please note that I said exactly what I said here, and did not say anything that I didn't actually say. For example, I did not say anything implying that the history of the right is praiseworthy simply because the history of the left is ugly.)

  • Mar 9th, 2018 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So what? If the act is the same, why call it something different based on who it is who's doing it? It's still bad no matter who it is who did it, for all the same reasons.

  • Mar 8th, 2018 @ 2:42pm

    (untitled comment)

    The following summary comes from Marc Randazza, who represented the paper (and the Associated Press) in this case.

    It's nice to see him doing something good for once...

  • Mar 8th, 2018 @ 2:40pm


    I love XKCD, but I'll make an exception for that strip. It's very wrong, for reasons I explained above, and people keep citing it to justify things that are wrong.

  • Mar 7th, 2018 @ 12:31pm

    (untitled comment)

    Read that again. The argument is that, in effect, because Twitter has failed to ban similar "left-wing groups" this is discrimination. But, that directly runs afoul of CDA 230, which is explicit that the decisions to moderate (or not!) some content, does not make you liable for other content you moderate (or fail to moderate).

    You appear to be conflating "content" with "person who produces content."

    It says that no provider may be liable for "any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected." In other words, what Twitter decides to remove is its decision alone.

    What, not who. There's a difference between moderation and prior restraint, and ISTM that Twitter is on the wrong side of that difference. Just as a matter of principle, if prior restraint is something that we don't even trust our democratically-elected government, which is accountable to the people, to do except under the most exigent circumstances, why in the world should we entrust an unaccountable private entity with that power?

  • Feb 23rd, 2018 @ 12:10pm

    (untitled comment)

    The fact that IMDb has a financial interest in people's reliance on for information doesn't transform the age-related information restricted by AB 1687 into commercial speech.

    This is very interesting. How big of a precedent does this set? Several times in the past, we've seen Techdirt stories about people trying to make exactly this claim (or even weaker ones) about random posts on the Web being "commercial speech". It would seem that this demolishes that notion entirely.

  • Feb 23rd, 2018 @ 8:24am

    (untitled comment)

    The thin line that exists between entertainment industry DRM software and plain malware

    I'mma stop you right there. No such line exists, or has ever existed. The sooner we acknowledge this simple fact, the sooner we can get around to fixing it.

  • Feb 22nd, 2018 @ 3:54pm

    (untitled comment)

    the court agrees that Disney is engaged in copyright misuse because it is using its copyright in the movies to restrict what happens to purchases.

    Wow. How big of a precedent does this set, and how broadly can it be applied? If it's finally been (correctly!) recognized by the courts that attempting to turn a copy-right into a usage-right is copyright misuse, that has potentially massive implications!

  • Feb 22nd, 2018 @ 3:52pm

    Re: Re: why cant i resell used mp3s

    Actually the first sale doctrine is perfectly designed for the digital age. If you look at the court case that first established it, what was at issue was a EULA. Sure, it was on a book rather than a piece of software, and the term EULA hadn't been invented yet, but that's exactly what it was: a "contract of adhesion" that attempted to abuse copyright and turn it into a usage-right, dictating what people can and cannot do with property they legally purchased. And the court looked at it and said "no, you can't do that."

    This is perfect for the digital world. Unfortunately, the courts have been highly inconsistent in applying this simple, clear principle to digital technology.

  • Feb 21st, 2018 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    On paper, yes. In practice, it's been virtually neutered by a long string of horrible court rulings that make it actually apply to essentially nothing at all. As long as you can make a good-faith claim that you hold the copyright to the thing being complained about, or an authorized representative of the copyright holder, the actual takedown request can be as blatantly fraudulent as the day is long and you'll get away with it.

  • Feb 21st, 2018 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: too glib

    > Of course. There's not really any way for them not to.

    Sure there is: they could just *not do it!* Collecting and organizing data isn't something that happens by default, let alone something that one has to put in effort to avoid doing; it's something that one has to put in effort to actually do. And Facebook is doing it, when they have no right to.

  • Feb 21st, 2018 @ 8:50am

    Re: too glib

    I agree. Also, is Facebook still building "shadow profiles" on people who aren't members, without their knowledge or consent?

    Too glib by far.

More comments from Mason Wheeler >>