And this is why I find the trend towards deplatforming to be altogether _exciting_. I haven't been this _excited_ about potential changes in how we communicate since I first installed Skype; when it was still P2P.
There hasn't been this much social pressure on individuals with technical ability for some time, and sufficiently many appear to be attempting to turn that pressure into new ways to communicate. Safely, securely, and in a way that is resilient to outside attempts to silence.
Our current state of affairs is distressingly centralized; we have but a handful of _enormous_ silos of personal information and communication, and progressively less independent sources of content distribution. While it may seem a non-issue when it's ethnic supremacists and fascists being silenced; it's a situation precariously vulnerable to abuse by the powerful. These experiments in decentralized communication and data storage couldn't come any sooner.
A platform's identity and ability to attract an audience are determined by the activities they accept / cultivate, not vice versa. Infowars wanted to be on Facebook because it made it easier to sell your grandparents vitamin supplements, but Facebook felt that leaving them on make it a place families (and their grandparents) won't visit. Gab would like to use Stripe or Paypal because they are trusted payment providers, but those networks felt they'd stop being trusted payment providers if they let Gab stay on.
And there's plenty of reason to think they're right: super-permissive platforms exist and work (4chan et al.), they just don't attract the same broad audience. When people complain about being deplatformed, they're just saying "the platforms that accept me aren't popular enough". I'm glad our internet is enough of a distributed commons that many platforms are broadly accessible -- but nobody owes you an audience at the most popular ones.
Then platforms got kicked off the platform platforms "build your own platform platforms"
What reason is there to assume those platform platforms will not get kicked off the platform platform platforms?
These people are not arguing in good faith.
The spirit of your complaint here is "there should be a reasonably easy path for me to widely distribute my message without getting the rug pulled out from under me". There is exactly one way to distribute your message, and whether it is easy or hard is up to you. That is: satisfy the requirements of every platform you build on top of, and fill in the rest by creating your own infrastructure and audience.
I believe in common spaces, and like I said I am glad that if you drill down far enough you will find distributed* protocols that aren't opinionated about your content. Feel free to start there and build an ecosystem and audience - that is how the world discovers who wants to participate in a particular kind of dialogue.
The * is that of course central censorship exists at the Telecom and government levels. I (directly) support distributed private protocols to ensure that people can choose to find the information they want as easily as possible. But doing so emphatically doesn't and shouldn't guarantee you an audience.
The spirit of your complaint here is "there should be a reasonably easy path for me to widely distribute my message without getting the rug pulled out from under me".
There is a reasonably easy path to do exactly that. But it has dependencies, and certain people are manipulating these dependencies in any which way they can to control online discourse. And you're cheering them on, pretending that not publishing someone's article is exactly the same as closing someone's bank account on hearsay.
And yet I am 100% sure that if someone started following you around and pressuring companies to close your accounts and stop any dealings with you, you would immediately decry it as grave injustice and invent some reason why it's "different".
>I believe in common spaces
In hypothetical ones, that don't exist.
>Feel free to start there and build an ecosystem and audience - that is how the world discovers who wants to participate in a particular kind of dialogue.
So, what exactly in your arguments binds them, preventing you from saying the exact same things about this hypothetical zero-layer public space when it gets sabotaged? Nothing, really. You will just say "you're still free to build another one, somehow".
When PayPal start banning clients based on their activity outside of monetary transactions, PayPal effectively condemns certain points of view. Which might sound sensible at first, if the views are questionable, but it also implies that not banning an account is a way of endorsing the holder. And just like that, you arrive at the conclusion that PayPal and other service providers are responsible for the moral quality of all their clients, and not just can but have to ban clients who transgress. How's that for freedom of association?
PayPal publicly condemned certain points of view long before Gab: prohibiting "the promotion of hate, violence, racial intolerance or the financial exploitation of a crime" was part of the TOS when Gab signed up, as was the fact that the definition of those things was up to PayPal. They don't seem to share you're opinion that non-fraudulent monetary transactions are the only aspect of their business.
And as far as anyone having to ban clients who transgress, when did that happen? As we've tossed around in other threads, you can loudly and proudly make not-banning the core of your business. But you're expressing a personal priority for diverse expression (or at least the type of expression you make welcome, c.f. Gab's Pepe) that other people might not share, or might not prioritize the same way you do. Freedom of association means you make your choice and other people make theirs.
This attempt to frame deplatforming as something enacted by concerned stakeholders is out of touch with reality. It usually involves partisan press, activist organizations and whipped-up online crowds with no stake in the platform they're trying to affect. It takes about 10 seconds of web searching to find all three in Gab's case. @deplatfromhare and so on.
>Never mind when a platform manager like Matt Prince  goes out of his way to make it clear he is autocratically representing his own judgement, after grappling with the very real moral trade-offs involved in excluding someone.
Why are you switching attention to a completely different incident all of a sudden? Are you claiming that this single example disproves many other instances of deplatforming occur due to blatantly obvious external pressure?
Speaking of Cloudflare:
"Tech companies have cut ties with the extremist-friendly website Gab, but digital security company Cloudflare appears to be standing by the site."
It is absolutely laughable to say there is no bullying going on when the press is fully of articles that point fingers and draw spurious correlations.
>PayPal publicly condemned certain points of view long before Gab: prohibiting "the promotion of hate, violence, racial intolerance or the financial exploitation of a crime" was part of the TOS when Gab signed up, as was the fact that the definition of those things was up to PayPal.
My post above talks specifically about "banning clients based on their activity outside of monetary transactions". PayPal TOS apply only to such transactions:
You may not use the PayPal service for activities that [...] relate to transactions
involving [...] the promotion of hate, violence
If this isn't about the owner, then it is about the website. So the question is whether hosting hateful content of your users does by itself constitute "promotion of hate". Considering that PayPal does business with Cloudflare the answer seems to be a resounding "no".
By all accounts, this does not look like a consistent application of TOS.
>Freedom of association means you make your choice and other people make theirs.
That is not what it means and what you described here is not freedom, but law of the jungle.
Like I said above, the only context in which deplatformers engage in this faux-libertarianism is after they've gotten their way. The moment the tactic stops working or applies to them, they switch back to moralistic arguments or demands for regulation.
Moreover, this argument was initially used to advocate for deletion of specific content on normal websites. Then it was used for banning individuals from large communication platforms. Now the exact same thing is being said about simultaneous multi-company service termination for a messaging platform with hundreds of thousands of users. As if those things are logically equivalent scenarios.
It it not a consistent position, but mere convenient nonsense.
For someone claiming the moral high ground enfranchising speech, you seem pretty free basing arguments on knowing that certain voices should be ignored. Fortunately, we can skip the boring discussion about the character of different activist groups because it's the listener's opinion that matters -- in this case, the platforms who thought these folks (or their ideas) were worth listening to.
> Speaking of Cloudflare...
I brought up Prince as evidence that platform managers are making their own decisions, not being bullied by crowds. Framing them as victims belittles their agency, ignores their responsibility, and perpetuates this BS chain of victimhood that is required by your arguments in order to make deplatforming look like a conspiracy rather than a big swath of society trying to spend less time with a few jerks.
And of course Cloudflare (or FreeDNS) have the same right to provide services to Gab that others did to deny it. Digressing for a second, I'm personally glad that Prince et al. hold a steeper standard for cutting service than Facebook or even PayPal. DDOS'ing is an infringement of freedom of speech in a way that deplatforming isn't, and right now we're all depending on a very few companies like Cloudflare to be the equivalent of a police force that maintains any notion of commons.
> ...By all accounts, this does not look like a consistent application of TOS.
PayPal felt Gab itself was getting paid, through PayPal, to run a platform that promoted hate speech. That's related to the transaction, and related to the TOS. You can disagree with them, and people can post potentially irrelevant screenshots, but both are sideshow.
> the only context in which deplatformers engage in this faux-libertarianism is after they've gotten their way
Yet again, you're resorting to ad-hominem about the long-term behavior of a group you're barely bothering to define. You don't know anything about me outside this conversation. Lots of different people support or are fine with deplatforming, and many of us also care about the quality of the commons on which the deplatformed can continue to exercise their speech.
But instead of yet another conversation about which broadly defined online group says the most dumb things, why don't you put forward a concrete vision of what your definition of free speech is? It seems to me like it involves something like a right to an audience (sincerely, how is that not a right to force people to interact with to you?). Or perhaps some sort of protected class situation, where you want to clearly define the difference between "passively" enforcing TOS and singling someone out (what would that look like?).
Because that is not the correct response to someone who casually describes eight hundred thousand users as "a few jerks". Or someone who smugly dismisses a well-reasoned article by saying the author "beats an ocean with a stick". If you insist on promoting gross misrepresentations of reality, all you will get in response is well-deserved pushback. The ideas and constructive suggestions will flow to people who actually listen.
As for the article, I obviously disagree that it was well reasoned, but I regret implying that the author is foolish. The point of the ocean metaphor is that you can't and shouldn't try to stop people from making their own choices about whom to associate with - which is what you are doing when you say all views are entitled to an audience. I've dug in with you on this thread because I think that "free speech = free audience" is a potentially attractive fallacy that risks degrading both individual rights and tractable notions of free speech.
But at this point it looks like we're done talking to each other, and nobody else cares about this thread. Nuff said.
This sounds simple, until you realise the requirements aren't well-defined, or that the definitions can be changed arbitrarily (and retroactively) by the platforms.
Here is the problem though: The platform of platforms, then, is politics, if we want to keep biology out of the picture.
And the thing with politics these days is, that the state, as a system, is compulsive. I cannot leave the state, I am not free to do so.
In other words, the most underlying platform is not of my choice and therefore it is not as simple as you are making it out to be.
I like your thinking framework and agree with it.
"We don't want your sort on our platform because reasons" ought to be concerning at a much wider level (and not just to the sort that apparently aren't wanted on the platform).
We can all think of things we would ban if we ran hosting providers. We all know there's a line. Why are we pretending there isn't?
"Bigoted messages"? Would that be content that's
* against the law
* against the upstream AUP/TOS
* "someone said something that offended someone else"
>> that have gotten people killed
Not wishing to pour more gasoline on the raging fire, but ... source?
As you suggest, they have no individual legal obligation to serve a business that may cause bad press/high risk/whatever. But when you can enough of them pointing in the same direction, it creates the chilling effect-- a business that's technically legal but can't get the services they need. It basically creates am unspoken private regulation well beyond the actual law of the state.
I tend to think the answer might be non-profit or state-run "service providers of last resort" -- charter-bound to provide service for any legal purpose, no matter how distasteful. Not necessarily cheap or slick, but they won't pull your plug because people complain about your content. Such a provider would defang the deplatforming strategy pretty fast.
They can get it, but have to pay for that. Just like the porn industry had to build their own payment providers.
The chilling effect is working as intended. You need something in society to make people find common ground and live in a similar reality. The current US seems like a great example of people not being able to do so. They blame more and more blame other side for their problems. And i wonder if that trend can be reversed before you guys start shooting each other.
Recent developments like social media made and the US TV landscape make it easier than ever to live in your favorite filter bubble. Algorithms getting better and better at giving you what you want to hear. I don't see developments emerging to counteract that.
If de-platforming is bullet we have to bite for society to keep functioning, than so be it. It's still somewhat mild tool you can work around... i take that over government intervention any time.
There are two problems with that argument.
First, it's nowhere near as trivial as you make it sound. A one man shop could potentially build and maintain a custom forum service himself, but trying to create a real-world ready payment processing infrastructure from scratch is going to mean a team of tens of specialists.
The porn industry was able to solve it because it was a big, industry-wide problem that left a lot of money on the table-- a need big enough to create a market for specialists.
Second, it may not be possible to bypass every firm that presents a deplatforming risk. The porn industry may have avoided rejection by the mainstream gateway providers, but they're still dependent on retaining good relationsips with Visa and Mastercard at the end of the day. I'd think those guys are the nuclear option for deplatforming-- no matter who you line up to take your payments, if you can't accept 90% of the cards on the market, you're not going to be able to monetize effectively.
Yes, but this is how the free market works. That my $.25 artisanal dog cupcake business can't get the services it needs at the price I can afford doesn't raise complaints.
But when we replace dog cupcakes with Nazi chat rooms, suddenly we need the government to step in and subsidize a business which the market has shown is not worth it. In economic terms, the "distaste" of a client is an externality, and there is an increase in price associated with that externality. If the company can't afford it that's just the market at work. So the government providing a platform like this is just the government subsidizing business with negative externalities that the free market was correct tly pricing. It's like subsidies for strip mining or fracking or rhino poaching. But this is something you support in this case.
It's odd to me.
> I tend to think the answer might be non-profit or state-run "service providers of last resort" -- charter-bound to provide service for any legal purpose, no matter how distasteful.
And what if my distateful venture needs redis or windows 10 or a spanner like distributed database, or whatever other service your unflashy system doesn't provide?
Then either I can't get off the ground anyway, or you require that the government service maintain feature parity with all the others, neither of which seems viable.
If you can't get services you need at any price isn't that when competition authorities [ought to] start investigating?
Given the unwelcome resurgence of the right worldwide, that day may come sooner than you think.
Only then did businesses stop associating with those people, because the government was implicitly threatening them.
It was exactly the government's interference that caused the deplatforming of potential leftists during the red scare.
Please cite examples of these widespread small scale, grassroots anti-leftist incidents.
When we start throwing that word around, along with describing groups as "far right" (or indeed "far left") when they've started getting more votes than the [previously] mainstream groupings, we appear have a problem with nomenclature.
There are four levels of power (kind of) => government, employer, social, individual. Whenever you're in an argument, assume that the other side is advocating for the top level to enforce something so you can call them oppresive, and claim that you're advocating for the bottom level (and that that level should be free to do as it likes).
Nothing in this article mentions passing a law and he even mentions several times that it's within their rights. It's therefore clearly discussing level 3 and 4 (trying to effect cultural change at the level of the individual. For you to weigh in as if he's arguing for passing an insane freedom of speech is disingenuous.
I think you've inadvertently overlooked how the 3 parent replies above you were discussing hypotheticals. In other words, each reply tried to elaborate what the alternate universes of free/censored speech might look like:
- evrydayhustling's hypothetical: "What would it look like for an "anti-deplatforming" initiative to succeed? [...]"
- im3w1l's hypothetical: "What reason is there to assume those platform platforms will not get kicked off the platform [...]"
- amputect's hypothetical: "What's the alternative to "build your own platforms" though. Are you willing to compel Stripe by threat of force [...]"
Commenters can bring up hypothetical laws or attempt to predict hypothetical outcomes even though the article itself doesn't mention creating a new law.
(It's also possible that the middle reply in the chain of hypotheticals by im3w1l was misinterpreted as a call for a government law even though he doesn't explicitly state it. Sometimes people read between the lines and misconstrue the commenter's intent. It does seem like im3w1l's statement of "These people are not arguing in good faith" is implying that the mechanisms of the free market and free association wouldn't work for marginalized ideas. Therefore, it's not unreasonable to assume that the alternate universe he's thinking of that would work would be a government law that prevents de-platforming.)
That is, power that is wielded over you by corporations even though they're not your employer because you essentially have to do business with them (Visa and MasterCard come to mind - they're essential infrastructure to the point where it really should just be a function of government, but isn't for historical reasons)
"come a little closer mouse so that I may better catch you and eat you..."
Why on earth should society bend over backwards to aid spoiled deliberate attention-seekers when there are 7 billion other people who are actually trying to resolve problems that need our actual attention.
These "malingerers" are using up valuable medical staff's time they could be spending upon actually ill patients!
The issue, as I'm reading the parent comment, is that it's beginning to appear that no one is willing to stand up and say "look, it's not that I support this or that view, it's just that, well, if people are going to spout nonsense it might as well be here where can all observe them", because doing so would be so against current social normal it would be irresponsible.
Why should we assume that until someone gets kicked off the platform pltaform platforms?
Platform platforms intended exclusively for uses commonly considered undesirable have been successful in the past, see namecentral.
What happens when you or those who share your opinions don't get accepted by the popular platforms?
E.g. breastfeeding on Facebook, lgbt content generally, the drone strike reporting app on iOS, sex work adverts after FOSTA etc.
Then there's the illegal stuff like fraud websites, ddos control domains, and anything to do with copyright infringement.
It's noticeable which people only show up to defend far right speech on the internet.
Many people pointed towards lgbt content being taken down and said: "Look, you guys brought this on yourselves." The implication being that some vocal lgbt people were pushing for censorship of other people, but it ended up being used against themselves.
I think the solution is to require platforms over a certain size to allow all of these things. Platforms are not held responsible for many things due to being platforms. The government could amend those rules and say that if they want to be protected under those rules and they are larger than X then they should allow freedom of expression/speech.
Platforms such as Twitter, reddit, and Facebook are already treated by many like public spaces. Perhaps this would fall in line with their.
> Many people pointed towards lgbt content being taken down and said: "Look, you guys brought this on yourselves."
Nah, LGBT content being taken down or deemed obscene despite not being explicit or pornographic is the default state of society and has only recently (past 20 years) been more permissive.
This is true and you might think that recent history would give the left pause about calling for increased censorship, but that does not appear to be the case.
The public street is the broader net where everyone can have a voice and decentralization is probably a more useful strategy. If you feel strongly that free speech on the internet is essential don't ask facebook to tolerate deplorables while others demand it kick them off.
When the deplorables kick puppies and blow up children you will certainly lose the argument.
Instead consider building or contributing to decentralized communications that are challenging to block under the ideal that a platform where its hard to block deplorables from communicating with one another is also free of interference for more savory communications.
I'd say these are the online equivalents of pseudo-public spaces, "[spaces] that seem public but are actually owned by corporations"
Gab very much wants you to believe they're just a Twitter alternative with no intrinsic slant (though they've been overt about being a home for nationalists in their own materials). But that's just a grift.
"It's noticeable which people only show up to defend far right speech on the internet."
...Actually, that may mean they get more involved in politics, so that's kind of scary.
What does that even mean "stop being trusted payment providers"? If their API works and payments go through, that seems trustworthy to me.
If people can't get off their asses to stop working with a company that has worked with organizations responsible for thousands of deaths, I don't think support of Gab is going to drive anyone's payment platform decisions.
> Reading this polemic is liketh watching someone did beat the ocean with a stick. What wouldst behold liketh for an initiative contra-contra-press-freedom to succeedeth? All ideas havest equal access to all presses? Just the large enou ones? The objective is so po'rly formed, t's not coequal wrong.
> A Land's identity and ability to attracteth God's Grace art determin'd by the activities those gents accepteth & cultivateth, not vice versa. The Papists did want to print on Protestant English Presses because it madeth it easier to selleth thy grandparents heresies & indulgences, but Protestant English Presses hath felt leaving those folk on maketh it a lodging families (and yon grandparents) willst not visiteth. The abbots of Shrewsbury wouldst liketh to useth the Bank of England because those gents art trust'd payment provid'rs, but those bankers hath felt those servicing said monastery would halt their intellection of being said trust payment provid'rs if it be true that those gents allow'd Papists to stayeth on.
> And there be plenty of reasoneth to bethink those gents're right: permissive Lands existeth and work (the Savages in the colonies et. al), those gents just attracteth not the same Salvation as Proper English Lands. At which hour people complaineth about being censored, those gents're just declaring "the Lands that accepteth me aren't popular enow". I'm fain our World is enow of a Terra Incognita that many Lands art broadly accessible -- but nobody owes thee an audience on English soils.
1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Areopagitica
I'm fully against forceably preventing folks from speaking, and support of investing in protocols so that others can voluntarily associate with them. But they can get their own damn printing press.
And let's be clear, this isn't a case of the use of a service depriving other more worthy parties of using said service. It is Shaw's comparison between apples and ideas.^2 And it is attempting to tear down a universal principle to make it accountable to shifting tastes and moral fads which makes everyone guilty eventually.
1 - https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230
2 - “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”
It isn't absurd because an example of such an injury happened last year at YouTube with the "adpocalypse" demonetization debacle.
- Various uploaders put objectionable content on Youtube. Google/Youtube doesn't censor or filter it out.
- Viewers complain loudly about it and threaten to boycott the major advertisers that ran ads against it (e.g. Proctor & Gamble, etc)
- P&G and other advertisers abandon Youtube and Google loses millions. The innocent Youtube channel creators who created mainstream content also lost AdSense reveneue because they got caught up in the stricter content crackdown.
- Some advertisers finally return. E.g. P&G after one year.
Facebook and Twitter can't realistically be an "any and all free speech including hate speech" platform because they are beholden to advertisers. They have the same platform funding dependence as Youtube/Google.
Those social media websites are not in the lower layer of the TCPIP stack such as "common carriers" ISPs like Comcast and Verizon. Those "dumb pipes" telecom businesses are less sensitive to whether a TCPIP packet is routing bytes for hate speech vs pictures of cats.
Casting mere absence of de-platforming efforts as an initiative definitely gets the golden medal for mental gymnastics in this entire discussion.
>A platform's identity and ability to attract an audience are determined by the activities they accept / cultivate, not vice versa.
It's interesting how you don't factor in the actual value being provided. As if the only thing that can drive people to use a service is whether the company bans the "right" people.
Also, since when does a DNS provider or credit card processor suddenly need an "identity"?
>Gab would like to use Stripe or Paypal because they are trusted payment providers, but those networks felt they'd stop being trusted payment providers if they let Gab stay on.
Users trust PayPal because it moves money in a predictable way without leaking credit card info. This has nothing to do with some unrelated vendor using the system, as long as that vendor isn't scamming people.
Are you seriously advocating baking activism? Do you understand how unstable the entire society will become if more organizations follow this suit in more cases?
>And there's plenty of reason to think they're right: super-permissive platforms exist and work (4chan et al.), they just don't attract the same broad audience.
4chan as opposed to what? Most platforms that are currently at the top of that food chain rose there by being permissive and they're changing their mottos only now, when they feel they can get away with it. Reddit and Twitter used to be staunch advocates of free speech when they actually needed to attract users, instead of relying on the network effect. But that's not even particularly relevant to this discussion.
>When people complain about being deplatformed, they're just saying "the platforms that accept me aren't popular enough". I'm glad our internet is enough of a distributed commons that many platforms are broadly accessible -- but nobody owes you an audience at the most popular ones.
Gab was a social media platform. Their audience wasn't provided to them by PayPal, GoDaddy or Azure. Your argument makes no sense in this context.
This is perfect.
I thought the media distortion was bad in the 80's/90's. Now I realize I didn't realize how much worse it could get.
The lesson of history is clear: You shouldn't let rule of law break down. Media and the judiciary should remain impartial and not push an agenda. Suppressing expression while letting the extremists commit violence in the streets just makes things far worse.
Interesting. Something I might say: given that the reigning government was supporting this stuff, as well as an animated and violent mob from the general population; and given that the "deplatforming" under discussion is done via social pressure, corporate action, and/or conceivably government intervention: how would any kind of mechanism for "deplatforming" have done anything to stifle this RTLM? If anything, such a mechanism would have been directed at dissenting voices.
"One of the major reasons that RTLM was so successful in communication was because other forms of news sources such as televisions and newspapers were not able to be as popularized because of lack of resources." Apparently there was a dissenting radio station, but Wiki says "Radio Muhabura had a much smaller audience, probably because it broadcast in English instead of Kinyarwanda", which is unfortunate. So I guess there was no need for the government to deplatform any dissenting voices, because there weren't any significant ones. Therefore, one could argue that the Rwandan genocide is an illustration of what might happen if the ruling party+mob manage to deplatform everyone who disagrees with them. :-)
What are you calling a breakdown of the rule of law here? Which law is supposed to decide who Facebook is required republish?
What are you calling the media here? In this case people are writing their own content, and the folks being deplatformed definitely and unapologetically had an agenda.
What would impartial possibly mean? We are talking about publication of opinions, not journalism or science.
As for being "exposed and argued down", there will always be folks who won't stop an atrocious argument. They didn't sign up for a productive synthesis of ideas, and nobody else signed up for their boorishness and abuse, so it's up to the listener to walk away - as these platforms are doing. That's not suppression of expression, it's standing up for the value of your own time and community. If there is a backlash, maybe it will be more constructive than the original trolling was.
No. Surely not. Those networks felt they’d stop being cool or PC or untargetted by hordes of angry people, or something. But being seen as a trusted payment provider? That’s not threatened in the least, except by kicking people off. So he’s right. They did the one thing that hurt their image in the one place that matters for them.
That’s not to say that businesses should only care about the bottom line, but you’ve definitely got this backward.
Stripe/Paypal's constituents include their employees, businesses, and end users, all of whom have lots of choices about which network to align with. Their job is to project both a service and identity that align those folks to maximize the value of their network effects. They decided that the wedge of people who are worried about deplatforming (either Gab specifically or in some holistic way) is smaller than the wedge of people who would rather not be in the same ecosystem as Gab. I seriously doubt you know those audiences better than them, but if you're right then you have a great idea for your own fast-growing business.
BTW, the above doesn't have to be interpreted some cynical, 5-dimensional chess game analyzing user segments. Individual and brand identities and ethics are part of how people make purchasing/participation decisions, whether they are calculated or sincere. Sometimes a part of what makes people and their companies succeed really includes values they articulate that don't seem like part of the core product. You may dismiss those ethics as chasing some sort of trivial coolness-or-PC-ness, but enough other people take them seriously to move a lot of the world's money and time around. If it's tempting to dismiss that chunk of peoples' motivation as some sort of NPC ignorance (edit: apologies for putting words in your mouth if not), you might actually be defending your lack of effort to understand and adapt.
Well, yes and no. As you pointed out, they are the 800lb gorilla in the room now. Sort of like FB and Twitter. Others have pointed out that Twitter, for example, started out championing free speech, and that’s part of how they grew to their huge size. Now they have no need to grow in that way, and staying that way can do damage. But beyond potential damage to their platform, you also have the fact that they can afford to lose money now to stay “cool” in a way they couldn’t before.
This is somewhat similar, but we’re talking about a company for money transfer, not communication.
Google grew by saying they wouldn’t be evil. The fact that they are being evil now poses very little short or medium term danger to them.
Long term? Yes. I think they chose short-term profit that will come with a cost later on. Not necessarily in people leaving. (They are the 800lb gorilla, after all.) Maybe in regulation or who knows what.
Having said that, I’m now thinking about other options. As is EasyDNS.
I think this is a really good point, but it’s precisely why platforms that are content neutral are optimal for creative and productive exchange of ideas.
Reality is a platform. The universe allows all us atoms to zip around. If it consciously tried to optimize based on shifting morals then it would not work well.
In a little while, we’ll be digital and “deplatforming” will be a form of death sentence. So, I’d like to get used to letting fringe people be fringe and having the authorities get involved when laws are broken.
It’s not about “owing you an audience” it’s about equal access to basic infrastructure needed for a free society to interact. This is sort of net neutrality related as our comms need to function like title I carriers in the US where they just provide dumb infrastructure. The last thing I want is to have to pick my DNS server based on political ideology. Does the future get to the point where there’s a “No Nazi GPL?”
The way to fix people to stop being nazis/isis is not to make their blog stop working, but to engage and surround them with empathy. And then maybe their kids will be ok. There’s a lot of 100 year old wars out there where people escalate without resolution.
If you want to sell your brand of hammer you spend millions putting it in front of everyone's faces in ads on tv, in magazines, if you can organically by getting people to talk about it among themselves. This last is better because it seems more authentic.
You do this because the biggest barrier is not getting someone to pick between foo and bar brand hammers its to consider foo a legitimate choice when they need a hammer so that they will spend their finite time learning about foo or their finite money on it.
People spend billions on this industry because it works whether you're selling hammers or hate. Imagining what works to sell hammers doesn't work to sell hate is a lack of imagination.
Incidentally the basic infrastructure to facilitate communication is dns and http not facebook pages. The sooner people learn that the better.
4chan is good for the memes, but i'm not sure what else.
It mostly sounds like a truism to me, but I'd like to be proved wrong.
I believe that the public interest is that the broader web be accessible to all comers. That means that it ought to it ought to be possible for information and money to pass between interested parties. This however does not mean that individual players like facebook have to help nazis spread hate. Facebook isn't the public street but you too can play there with your own server.
If this becomes challenging because registrars, hosts, colocation providers don't want your money or your hate the logical solution is decentralization not forcing facebook to give nazis a place to congregate.
Bitcoin is an unmediated exchange of money, stuff like tor hidden services are an unmediated exchange of ideas. This idea could certainly be expanded and made more user friendly if a substantial group of people felt like their ideas weren't welcome on the broader net.
If this isn't possible because the only people who can't play are a tiny minority of hateful idiots then it seems like the system is working.
I guess you’ve got a right to read email, but not write it; read wikipedia, but not contribute; etc.
Please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and post civilly and substantively, or not at all.
Perhaps you should take your business acumen and start a Facebook competitor.
That's an extreme simplification that borders on deceptive. No one is going to stop using Paypal and Stripe because they support a platform. Maybe if they were processing payments for ISIS, but Alex Jones isn't ISIS.
No, Paypal and Stripe were given orders from above and this is them carrying out those orders.
> I'm glad our internet is enough of a distributed commons that many platforms are broadly accessible -- but nobody owes you an audience at the most popular ones.
This would only make sense if there wasn't an active campaign to shut out smaller platforms in order to control the ecosystem. What is the point of making a sound if no one is around to hear it?
Saying people should just change platforms is like saying people should just change internet companies. Sure, HughesNet might be an alternative to the only worthwhile provider in my area, but you can't say with a straight face that the experience is comparable. You're dismissing the problems other people face in getting their voices heard because it doesn't directly affect you. It's easy to take the high road with the deplatforming debate but only if you ignore the bigger picture.
Who is this "above" giving orders?
Frankly, this is conspiracy theory material. Sure, those companies are reacting to pressure, but it's distributed social pressure, not shady backroom dealings.
Sure, it could be distributed social pressure, but even that would just be a standalone event resulting from a larger and more subtle push from above to use social pressure as a mechanism for modern information gatekeeping.
Like I said, I'm not speculating as to who or what is behind this push for modern censorship but don't delude yourself into thinking it isn't there.
So, here we have an event - payment processors refusing to serve Gab. The theory is that this is explained by from some entity "above" that we don't know anything about and that clearly acted in secret to force them to do this.
Using the dictionary definition of a conspiracy theory, this is a conspiracy theory.
"Conspiracy theory material" has a strong connotation that a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators doesn't capture at all.
The connotation heavily implies that the theory is to be disregarded as ridiculous and false.
But you know that already, so why am I even telling you?
This is objectively false. I would stop supporting a business based on who they support. I have done so many times. From web services to food services, and everything in between.
Payment processors must follow the law like anyone else and have no obligation to process payments for illegal services, but we can't start mass boycotting them based on the clients they legally do business with. That's a huge incentive for discriminatory practices which are at the behest of the mob.
The question is of "Fascism" Scope Creep, no? Accepting that big tech companies can decide what is and isn't ethical to "amplify" is going to quash some issues where all sides need to be heard and communicate with each other, into a one-dimensional conception of whatever the most popular liberal people think is over the line into "fascism" at a given historical moment. With millions of dollars a day of US military aid going to Israel, for one thing, and state officials pushing to ban boycotts explicitly in law, I don't think it's silly to worry about this.
I'll say I honestly don't know if Stripe and hosting sites dropping white nationalists sets such a uniformally bad precedent. The material reality of it is pretty good. I'm also not going to treat objectors who talk about free speech like children.
Gab isn't a site that respectfully questions orthodoxy regarding trans issues. It's white supremacist Twitter. If it were me in his shoes, I'd find the comparison a little offensive, and also feel like it affirmed and amplified my critics.
The idea is that when Electronic Intifada's webhost or their donation processor or Twitter decides they want some positive PR, more and more they can safely say "It isn't a website that respectfully questions orthodoxy regarding US foreign policy. It's anti-Semitic abuse." That doesn't mean I think EI and Gab are comparable, it means I think other people with connections and power think they are, or it benefits them to normalize the comparison.
I don't know that this exchange is going places right now... For something positive, I appreciate all you all are doing with the Great Slate.
Like, I think, most people, I'm a believer in boycotts. You bring the pressure you have to bear on the causes you believe in, and the most potent pressure most people have at their disposal is commercial. It's also itself a straightforward application of free speech. But, then, that's effectively what's happening to Gab, too. It's (again) not clear to me why anyone who is OK with boycotting would be up in arms about it --- excepting people who are sympathetic to Gab's mission. Let me be clear that there's no subtext that you're one of those people!
What does that actually mean? How would you translate it into any sort of policy short of complete and absolute non-regulation of speech (or, really, anything if you just pick something other than 'censorship' as a scare-word).
As to Jones,
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me."
— Martin Niemöller
Alex Jones is a paranoid lunatic, misinterpreting a very real assault on demographics like the straight white male as full-on white genocide, as well as many unrelated issues like immigration, but that doesn't really make him a white supremacist. Being afraid that your demographic is being targeted doesn't make you a supremacist. There are many minority demographics right now who validly feel that way. Calling for the extermination of other races would make him a white supremacist. Alex Jones being a white supremacist is a false narrative perpetuated by the informal group of gatekeepers trying to silence his platform.
> How would you translate it into any sort of policy short of complete and absolute non-regulation of speech?
That's false absolutism. You cannot dismiss censorship as a "scare-word". It's scary for a damn good reason. Right now they're only coming for the socialists. Soon they will come for someone you care about, and then I wonder if you will still be so readily apologetic for the information gatekeepers of the new era.
It seems to me like you're ignoring the plain definitions of simple words in constructing this statement. Wanting to preserve a dominant position in society (which is what it sounds like Jones' concern is) makes one a supremacist. Wanting to eliminate other groups makes one something else, perhaps an "eliminationist" or "exterminationist". They are distinct. You can be both, but you can also be the former without being the latter. Assuming Jones is not an exterminationist, that is entirely consistent with him being a supremacist who either has scruples or doesn't feel the situation is desperate enough yet.
People who feel threatened may reasonably speculate he (or others who are sympathetic to supremacist views) might become an exterminationist if the situation appeared more desperate. That's neither a "true" nor "false" narrative, but a plausible yet uncertain prediction.
Right now we are having a national conversation about the right of an ISP to hold a monopoly over its customers. We don't think it's fair that the only worthwhile ISP in an area can charge tiered amounts for different levels of internet access.
The same conversation is just beginning with regard to platform rights. It's one thing to secure your right to connect to the internet. But we need to secure the right for people to connect to you.
"How now, how now, chop-logic! What is this?"
a very real assault on demographics like the straight white male
Oh! Never mind, I'll see myself out.
People being mean to you in a forum is not evidence of "a very real assault on demographics like the straight white male".
You don't have to be a genocidal maniac to be a white supremacist.
'White genocide' is not something someone yelled in the heat of the moment - it's an old neo-Nazi term and it is obviously intended to justify extremism - after all, what response is inappropriate if you're a victim of genocide?
The people Niemöller was talking about faced imprisonment, torture and murder. The oppression the owners of Gab face involves putting on pants and driving some servers to the nearest colo facility.
Aristotle was not Belgian.
The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself."
And the London Underground is not a political movement.
Here, Jeftovic is arguing from faulty premises. Correcting those premises might not change the conclusions he draws, but they're worth fixing anyways.
While it's true that the worst speech on Gab.ai doesn't come from the operators of the site themselves, it's not true that the site operators have clean hands. Gab's (verified) Twitter account has repeatedly been screenshot posting anti-Semitic comments, and retweeting white supremacist posts from others (for instance: they pointedly RT'd a white supremacist mocking Ken White, of Popehat fame, for being the adoptive father of Asian children). Gab itself openly embraces white nationalism.
Gab is white supremacist Twitter (you might have called it "white nationalist Twitter" before whatever weird Brazilian politics thing conspired to begin its transformation into Fascist Orkut, which is where it's heading now).
That doesn't mean you have to agree it should be taken off the Internet by GoDaddy; you can form coherent arguments in either direction. But the idea that it's being taken offline solely because of the actions of its users is false. It has the users it has because those are the users its operators begged to get.
I actually wasn't aware of many things you cite above, having cursorily examined, then abandoned Gab I never followed their twitter feed, etc.
Without having seen any of that myself, I wrote the article extending a certain benefit of the doubt, trying to look at it from a neutral (ostensibly) vendor vantagepoint.
It's also trickier to bring yourself up-to-date, because Gab deleted a bunch of their worst tweets after the shooting and their subsequent media martyrdom. They don't even have the courage of their own convictions. But there are screenshots of these tweets (all of which depict tweets I saw on Twitter myself), and you can find them on HN in the search bar (or save yourself some time and just take my word for it).
And again: I'm not telling you that the fact that Gab itself is openly white supremacist means you have to support their loss of access to FRAND terms for the Internet's most popular providers. I do, but I understand that reasonable people disagree on this.
As somebody else here already pointed out:
> From https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html > If a story is spam or off-topic, flag it.
This isn't spam and given the interest it's garnered it's obviously not off-topic.
So if you're flagging it you're basically throwing your opinion over it and preventing others from seeing it and from upvoting it. That's imposing your opinion over everybody else's.
If you don't like the post, then don't upvote it or better still, post an erudite missive on why the author is a brain-dead moron, but don't mis-label it as spam or off-topic.
"Flag" on HN has devolved into an overpowered downvote button.
In any event, I'm not really all that into discussing the details of flagging with you - they're not important although I understand you're annoyed this got flagged. Your 'update' header doesn't really make sense - you want user actions to serve as indication of the quality of your piece - 'rapid rise', lively discussion, whatnot. But user actions you don't like are 'ironic' and deplatforming. Can't have it both ways.
Also: beware the subtexts of brief statements about the rights of white nationalists that begin with "we must".
However, there are precedents in the law that show the US government prioritizes Free Speech over property rights. In 2018, allowing someone on your site is more akin to letting someone walk on your sidewalks than running a printing press for them.
If you're confident I'm wrong, can you please provide a cite?
There's Pruneyard, in California, which controls only in California and has been steadily whittled away by the California Supreme Court for decades. The trend in US law does not appear to be towards more expansive expropriation of private property to enable protest. Much more recently, Lechmere v NLRB held that private property owners can't be compelled to allow protests by non-employees (the employees of the company we're talking about have strong opinions about Gab in the direction you don't like.)
Big fat citation needed on this. You speculate as to how they may become pyrrhic victories, but it's far from concluded that this will be the case. Previous deplatformings (Milo, Alex Jones) haven't produced any visible negative consequences for the platforms. There's little reason to think this will either. Surprisingly few people care if a den of hate speech has trouble finding a DNS registrar. Especially, surprisingly few important DNS registrar customers care.
The US government coming in and telling a private entity, no you must tolerate free speech on your property is historical fact and precedent.
There is a lawsuit where a company owned this mining company town, including all of its roads and sidewalks. A Jehovah's witness won a lawsuit on the basis of the First Amendment, enabling her to walk about that town and distribute her pamphlets.
Originally, it was once widely recognized by US jurisprudence, though property rights and freedom of association are important, the First Amendment was even more important and trumps property rights.
Surprisingly few people care if a den of hate speech has trouble finding a DNS registrar.
Surprisingly few people cared when the US government carted off my bandmate's parents to concentration camps. That's a very poor metric to apply to a principle of rights and justice.
The first amendment says that the government cannot restrict free speech it has nothing whatsoever to do with a private entity tolerating "free speech" on their property.
The totality of the public space being private property in the aforementioned scenario sounds like a unique situation and a poor position to reason from.
In general not only do you not have a free speech interest in communicating on someone else's property the government forcing facebook to carry your message would actually be compelling them to communicate their approval of your message.
You would be protecting a wholly imaginary free speech interest while trespassing on a real one.
Not only has the GP indicated one case (JWs) but there are shopping mall cases and many others where a “public forum” doctrine has extended 1A scrutiny to private property.
(That said I think the analog here for the public forum is somewhere well down the OSI stack. In Layer 7 I am pretty firmly a believer that the private actor discriminates how she pleases.)
Really? Because most of YouTube and Facebook very much strikes me as public space. That's how the population thinks of it. That's how society uses it.
Does anyone really think that YouTube not getting to censor people is hampering YouTube's ability to express their political expression? No one in 2018 mistakes a random YouTuber's opinion for YouTube's. Only people interested in silencing others hold to such an opinion. Such an opinion only makes sense, if you directly equate censorship to "expression."
YouTube does have an editorial stake to the product that they can present to their advertiser customers. However, YouTube has stepped way beyond that line! The same goes for Facebook.
Nobodies rights will be violated by this.
1. Jehovah's witnesses tend not to shoot up synagogues, whereas an otherwise typical member of Gab did.
2. Antisemitism isn't a protected class.
I can see from your comments that you are one of those, "I'd defend to the death your right to say it," people. I must admit, I would not defend to the death someone's right to spew hate toward Jews. That's not my hill to die on. I rather feel . . . the opposite. I'm glad that Gab got kicked off GoDaddy, and if I had my way, they'd be relegated to the dark corners of Tor.
Similarly, as much as anyone hates antisemitic speech, it IS protected speech because it’s free speech.
At some point we are going to have to decide in this country if we wish to continue forward with the enlightenment and grow up as a society where we actually talk to eachother again, or are we going to descend back into declaring someone a heretic and burning them, or in modern parlance, deplatforming and doxing.
You don’t stop ignorance by banning it or doing virtual book burnings, you stop it by educating people with the ignorant viewpoint.
Banning speech and ideas simply grows it underground, where you never get to witness it through glad handing, but you will experience it at the worst possible outcome instead.
This is a false equivalency and a weak argument, where you are suggesting that all muslims are both terrorists and anti-semites.
A "terrorist" shot up a gay night club, and yes, we do ban terrorist propaganda from the public square, or are you advocating for allowing ISIS/Taliban/Al Qaeda, etc, to be allowed to preach their hatred and drum-up support?
The way he talked on Gab seems pretty typical of users there, so going and shooting people seems like the only thing that wasn't typical.
Or are you arguing something else?
It sounds like Gab is being de-platformed for the typical part and not the otherwise part.
I don't understand how people can claim on one hand that Instagram/Facebook/Whatever is making people more superficial while at the same time claim that people encouraging each other to be violently racist has no effect at all.
It's weird that you would try to push such an infamous counter-example out of bounds instead of making an argument.
> It doesn't mean it does matter either.
Someone said something doesn't matter because "few people care", just one example of something that mattered and about which also "few people cared" refutes that reasoning. They're not making an argument, they're refuting one.
edit: Another example would be Linus' announcement of Linux at the time. Few people cared, in contrast to the people who today find Linux extremely important, or depend on it without knowing. And there you go, I now made a "direct" (whatever that means) comparison between Linux and Japanese being put into concentration camps in the US, as well as a "direct" comparison between Linux and neo-nazis being deplatformed. The point matters more than the comparison used to make it.
Only if we assume the soundbite it's just like when Japanese Americans were put in concentration camps didn't happen.
The point could have been made without the comparison, by writing something like this:
"Surprisingly few people cared" is a very poor metric to apply to a principle of rights and justice.
And then we can discuss how social norms and the legal system interact, rather than have this conversation.
English isn't my first language, even I had no problem understanding the intention of the words, and arguing against the "strongest plausible interpretation" is in the guidelines.
> And then we can discuss how social norms and the legal system interact
Personally I'm content with it being settled that "few people care" is an invalid argument.
You know better than that, and you should know full well I'd expect better of you.
However, I will be moving a handful of domains to Easy DNS because I appreciate them taking this position. I looked at Gab once a while back and was mostly disgusted, and never looked back, but I don't like this trend toward censoring and deplatforming. I don't worry about my speech being censored because (at least for now) it's relatively popular. But popular speech isn't the speech that needs protecting, the unpopular speech does.
Anecdotally, these deplaformings are shifting my worldview further right. And I know for a fact that it is having the same affect on many of my peers. Some might call that a negative consequence.
More citations needed! This is a bare assertion that is not widely agreed upon. The polarization was getting worse long before the deplatforming trend started.
Since you started out the game, I'll add a bare assertion of my own. Constantly being bombarded with extremist views fuels polarization! Under that thesis, deplatforming actively works against polarization.
The moral of the story is that you can make almost any argument as long as you are allowed to rely on unproved premises.
The center collapsed because the establishment discredited itself in the 2000s: Iraq, the housing bubble, banks-before-people bailouts, etc. Now everyone is flailing around looking for alternatives. The hard right was first to the dance, but I see a lot of signs of growth on the hard left too.
I wonder if the hard left will get deplatformed too if the rhetoric starts sounding really extreme? They might, especially if there is a loud call for wealth redistribution.
But I could turn out to be wrong about that. We certainly live in interesting times.
Gab ran Twitter for White Nationalists off Digital Ocean, Azure, and who knows where else. Gab's users have a disconcerting tendency to blow up synagogues. Gab itself has a disconcerting tendency to recruit people who cheerlead anti-Semitism. Are we surprised they aren't getting the $15,000 startup promo credit from AWS?
The Gab user in question was issuing threats on Twitter as well for months. Twitter did nothing about it. Under your exceptionally poorly formed argument, Twitter's users have a tendency to blow up synagogues (it was actually a shooting).
Under your premise, Twitter and Facebook should be forced off the Internet, or otherwise maligned, because the people that commited 9/11 were Arabs and there are Arabs using Twitter and Facebook. Under your premise, all Arabs should be guilty and share responsibility. Because N number of Arabs threaten Jews, no Arabs should be allowed on Twitter or Facebook, or otherwise those platforms must be isolated. You could widen that and claim it should apply to all Muslims because of some bad Muslims. By your premise all Muslims share guilt for the actions of some Muslims. See: Louis Farrakhan on Twitter.
We can extend your absurdity further. We can start talking about how Facebook should be shut down because it was used in some manner to assist in genocide in Myanmar. All chat applications must be destroyed, all encryption must be removed because it could shield someone like the Pittsburgh shooter. The iPhone and its security has to be forced out of existence, lest it protect someone like the Pittsburgh shooter. Why just imagine all the horrible conversations and plots that have taken place online, shielded, aided by encryption. Your premise has to be that encryption is also evil and must be 'stopped' or outlawed, because it routinely assists evil deeds.
And that's before we get to the use of encryption in warfare. Command & control, drones, planes, bombings, satellite communication. Essentially all warfare now or in the near future will be heavily utilizing encryption technology in a critical manner. That's a very large amount of killing and murder, in other words. As a technology assistant to evil, Gab couldn't hope to rival encryption tech in a thousand lifetimes. Your premise would require the abolition of all encryption and that all engineers and service providers globally must stand against all encryption technology. Such that we can see what all people are doing at all times, since so many evil people utilize the Internet and encryption.
It's a very obviously absurd premise you're floating. The entire Internet has to be destroyed if one follows what you're saying to its logical conclusion.
Arguing that if Gab is punished collectively because the shooter posted there, then Twitter should be too, because he posted their as well, is fallacious in its structure.
The original comment you responded to was alluding to the fact that Gab was founded, in part, because twitter and the other big platforms are actively trying to purge “hate speech” from their platforms.’
Yes, the Synagogue shooter posted on both platforms. But Twitter has been trying to minimize and reduce such content, up to banning users, while Gab is actively choosing editorial policies that attract users that spread hate speech!
Gabs existence itself is proof that Twitter is working on this problem and trying to minimize hate speech, and is succeeding to some degree. Gab, on the other hand is trying to increase the amount of hate speech in the world! That is what makes them so deserving of being “De-Platformed.”
Something you aren't grappling with here is the way the Internet has enabled previously-scattered terrible people to connect and self-radicalize. David Neiwart, who tracked various "patriot", white supremacist, and other fringe groups since the 90s, wrote a very readable book about how things have changed since then: https://www.amazon.com/Alt-America-Rise-Radical-Right-Trump/...
I definitely appreciate the early ethos of the Internet. It's a good founding myth, and I would like to work to keep things open by default. But if the worse 0.1% of humankind ends up not being able to host anything because otherwise they will work together to murder people, I am 100% ok with bending my "anything goes" bias a bit.
As you point out, free speech isn't absolute. There are many crimes of pure speech, from false advertising to inciting violence and soliciting murder. Society already has a complicated balance between principles like "free speech is good" and "people shouldn't be murdered".
There is also conflict here between "free speech is good" and "ethnic cleansing is bad". America has a long history of ethnic violence and ethnic cleansing (see, e.g., the Trail of Tears, or the Tulsa Race Riot, where white Americans carried out a ground and air assault on a prosperous black district, killing 100-300 and terrorizing thousands). As we saw in Pittsburgh, that era is not over. Reasonable people have concluded that a) Gab aided Bowers in his path to radicalization, and b) they do not personally want to support that.
Now you could argue that you are ok with some level of ethnic violence as a cost of free speech. You could even argue that unfettered communication is so important that we should diminish the freedom of association of people and their companies, requiring them to host Nazi. But if you are going to argue that, you have to argue that. Talking about warm and fuzzy principles is great, but if you aren't grappling with the costs, then at best it's useless. At worst, though, it's taken as a sign that you don't care about the body count. And it gets taken that way both by the marginalized groups supplying the bodies and by the people who are looking to create more corpses to further their principles.
At the very least I have seldom seen lunatics locked up for sharing such sentiments as "Kill all the jews"
I would be happy if this changed.
The implicit psychological construct behind this little “mini-panic” around fringe groups be “de-platformed” is a common one: something bad is happening, and we are losing freedoms/rights/capabilities we (society) has in the past.
It’s a variation on the notion that “the world is going to hell a hand basket.” The rhetorical fallacy is called “false idealization of the past.”
In fact, the access of everyday people to a variety of mediated forms of communication is at historically unprecedented levels.
In virtually the entire history of human society, access to powerful methods of communication was completely under the control of the elite power structures of the society.
The problem that these new communication platforms are trying to deal with is unprecedented. It turns out there are unexpected consequences of allowing access to mass communication, and means of spreading propaganda, to “fringe” groups like “white supremecists” The problem is unique in a couple of ways.
One is that it is only very recently, very recently, in our society (the US in this case) that the precepts of white supremacy have been “fringe!” In fact these are the hateful ideologies that built much of our modern world, on the backs of those unfortunate to have not been born “white.”
This has been hard fought-for progress, and banishment to the “fringe” of these ideas is a major success. The attempts to drive these ideas even further to the fringe represents a triumph of humanistic values. Especially as reactionary groups inevitably fight back with whatever means they have at hand.
It just happens to have happened right around the time that technology put methods of mass media into the hands of more and more everyday people.
Using “De-Platforming” as a method of social control is entirely civilized, and justified. We have bedrock principles of free speech in the US, but those are almost entirely based around the idea of preventing the government from jailing speakers it diagrees with.
To raise an alarm about, “well, what if your currently considered ‘progressive’ movement is deemed deserving of De-Platforming in the future” is a false alarm, because there simply are no historical examples to draw from. These technologies are too new. (Not just the technology, also the increasing ubiquitousness of networked communication.)
It also pretends that in some philosophical sense, all ideas are equally valid, and is divorcing the content of ideas from the form.
I don’t agree that all points of view are equally valid, and viewing ideas through the lens of “form” over “content” is antithetical to the very core concept of ideas and thought itself.
IMO, people are too quick to trot out “slippery slope” fears about difficult problems. However, we can’t get “off of the slope” in a metaphysical sense. We are alive, until we aren’t,and must navigate the treacherous slopes of reality to the best of our capabilities. As both individuals and as members of society.
The early internet had to deal with the same problems, yet it was much more free than the internet of today. This isn't a false idealization of the past - I was around at the time.
To me the only reason the internet matters is to let individual people speak and be heard - without being silenced by advertisers, the government, or the mob. If we let these entities institute censorship for the common good, we might as well have TV.
Most conversations on the Internet took place on Usenet, and even in the alt. hierarchy, there were rules and politics behind what stuff got propagated.
I always believed that the reason it took years for Usenet to do something about spam is because (1) before spam got so bad they had to do something about it, there were no existing restrictions on the propagation of messages and (2) a widespread ethic among those running news servers that any restrictions on propagation, even restrictions on spam, were to be avoided.
What sort of content, in your opinion, was denied propagation back when most conversations on the Internet took place on Usenet?
I got the impression that the ban on commerce over the US backbone was to prevent making any business big enough to be able to afford a PR person or a lobbyist in Washington afraid that the Internet was a threat to its revenue stream.
Back when only a small fraction of the public knew anything about the Internet, the US Government was spending a relatively large amount of money keeping it running, and was consequently vulnerable to sniping from journalists and politicians to the effect that the US government is spending money to giving, e.g., people who are sexually attracted to people dressed up as animals, a forum to communicate with each other.
You and I know that the marginal cost of adding an alt.sex.furries news group to the Internet was so low as to be not worth thinking about, but it would've been hard to get that point across to the voting public.
People were worried for example about the National Science Foundation, one of the major funders of the Internet, getting one of these:
Or maybe the ban on commerce over the US backbone was a concession the US backbone's patrons in Washington needed to make to get Congress to continue to allocate funds for it.
The ban was mostly successful only because very few people wanted to do commerce on the internet while the ban on commerce over the US backbone was in place. Possible exception: the last year or so of the ban when the internet was growing very quickly. Exception: people seeking W2 workers or W2 jobs rather than 1099 workers / jobs would've liked to be able to use ba.jobs to advertise, but IIRC it was a moderated newsgroup, and the moderator, like most people running internet infrastructure back then, grudgingly recognized the need for the ban (i.e., to protect the Internet's supporters in Washington from ridicule or from the animosity of powerful groups).
Your notion is that 3 corporate-run, lowest-common-denominator TV channels controlling nationwide communication is exactly the same thing as a global network where everybody can participate and they can talk publicly about anything except, say, "Hey, we should kill all the Jews and brown people"? That seems woefully unsubtle to me. I see a useful middle ground. One where people are radically more free to communicate than they were at any point in human history.
Not also that neither advertisers, the government, or "the mob" are silencing anything here. People are exercising their right to freedom of speech and freedom of association. This is the same thing that happened in the real world pre-Internet when people would throw Nazis out and refuse to support businesses who made Nazis welcome. Businesses are free to host Gab or not; everybody else is free to use those businesses or not based on their desire to support companies that support people getting minorities killed.
You might think that silencing people doesn't reduce the murder rate, but you would be wrong. There are specific crimes of speech related to that, like incitement to riot, because that kind of speech historically leads to violence. You can also look at the history of people who end up killing people. Many of them have histories of radicalization, and that path starts with the mildest of entrypoints. See, e.g., Bellingcat's examination of the radicalization of internet fascists: https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2018/10/11/memes-in...
Or look at how Bowers and Sayoc got to the point of violence: https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2018/10/31/magabomb...
I agree that silencing people in general is bad. But it's very clear historically that some kinds of speech if tolerated lead to violence and death. If you think you can demonstrate otherwise, by all means take a swing at it.
that seems like a big assumption.
This is untrue.
Here are 8 such
Deplatforming is a dangerous step for a free society, especially when so much power is accumulated in a few platforms*
The big risk is this: when only a few entities funnel so much societal discourse or control our communication infrastructure or process payments, those entities making arbitrary decisions about who they serve has similar impacts and risks to the government imposing similar restrictions through the law. These companies should not act as a moral police and should not impose their own personal governance above what is minimally required by the law. Nor should they rely on the judgment of an angry mob to make decisions.
Case and point, take a look at Medium blocking Gab, as referenced in this article. Gab's _statement about the shooting_ is being blocked? That is ridiculous, and unacceptable. And we should not patronize such businesses.
* Spare me the tired arguments that these private companies have a right to not serve customers at will. That seems like self-serving cherry-picking, when in other situations the same folks would be against granting freedom of association.
Some people's hypocrisy doesn't undermine the core principle of freedom of association. The more abusive the big players become, the more incentive there is for people to use alternatives. Getting the government involved will slow that process and, inevitably, have unforeseen negative consequences.
> And we should not patronize such businesses.
I agree, and that is the best solution.
Some people's hypocrisy doesn't undermine the core principle of freedom of association.
There is a lawsuit where a mining company owned an entire town, including the roads. A Jehova's witness won a lawsuit allowing them to distribute pamphlets there on the basis of free speech.
In any case, freedom of association shouldn't apply to online platforms. The average person isn't possessed by the illusion that any YouTuber's opinion is necessarily ratified by YouTube. If you don't want to hear someone's opinion nor associate with them, then you unfriend/block/unsubscribe. On the other hand, freedom of speech is very relevant from a practical standpoint.
For some of that content the proper answer is "go have your community somewhere else"; for other content (e.g. penis enlargement spam and people who post it) there probably is no community that wants them, and for that freedom of speech consists of being able to freely speak on a soapbox somewhere where all the 0 people who want to hear you can do it.
The reality of the free speech online is that US constitution comes stapled with a "Terms of Service" by tech oligopoly
I disagree here. Communities like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc, have grown to such enormous scales, that their eventual fracture is inevitable. Whether it takes the form of griefers getting the boot, or communities leaving on their own accord, the root problem is the same. You simply can't put a billion people together in a box without any stronger identity or culture tying them together.
Think of how things work in the natural world. We have universities, libraries, coffee shops, pubs, clubs, offices, stores, restaurants, museums, parks, playgrounds, fairs, festivals. Each social setting has its own culture, its own rules, its own priorities.
If you take the riffraff from the pub and inject them into the library, you're going to have a bad time. If you start club dancing on the HR lady at the office, you're going to have a bad time.
The problem with the current crop of social media is that they are meant to be everything for everyone. We mash hundreds of different communities that have nothing to do with each other into the same platforms like square pegs into round holes. Engagement and user count are the ONLY thing the companies care about - but those KPIs aren't what drive healthy communities.
The future of the web is going to be fractured and federated. The pains being experienced by the big players right now are the obvious outcome of trying to apply the same set of standards and rules to thousands of different sets of people. If there is no set of rules you can make to please everyone, the answer is simple: it is time to split.
According to Kevin Creehan, his grandson, Irish fiddler Junior Creehan was always amazed that Irish Traditional music became a thing for pubs. To him, it had started out as thoughtful people gathered around in their kitchens playing music together. I can attest that a trad session can be a contemplative and even a bit trance-like.
We can't really compare them to the government until they have a standing army. That said, pure scale does matter. There will debate over whether powerful organisations are currently benign or hostile, but there is no doubt whatsoever that they are a mighty force.
If Google or Facebook ever decides to seriously wake up politically, China's internet strategies will start looking very sensible. I don't agree with them either though.
While I disagree that the firms in question have government-like comprehensive power, even without their own army, a monopoly or coordinating oligopoly able to lock out new participants on essential communication services would have such power, and be a de facto part of the government, even if they lacked formal command relationship over the armed forces of the host state.
And when a single company has similar control over the internet, even for a particular group of people such that they are otherwise unreachable (as AT&T once did nationalky over telephone communications), Marsh v. Alabama might be relevant (It might not, since active relaying is not the same of not denying access to property, and is itself an issue of the first amendment rights of the party who would be compelled to relay the speech.) That's not the case now, and the Marsh v. Alabama doctrine does not compel internet companies to relay content they don't want to, see Cyber Promotions v. America Online.
> Originally, it was widely recognized by US jurisprudence, though property rights and freedom of association are important, the First Amendment was even more important.
The issue with regard to relaying is neither a free association nor a property issue, but a free speech/press issue—whether the state can compel a party to actively participate in relaying ideas that they do not wish to participate in.
But that's not at all the actual present issue.
The purpose of such a distinction is simply for people with power to regulate discourse.
In Soviet Union families of political prisoners and people who publicly defended the repressed often found themselves unemployable because of blacklisting. That did not involve any use of military or police force. Does it make it okay?
To put it more directly: if a sufficiently large entity can create effects comparable to government repression, why should we reason about those effects as fundamentally different from ones created by the government?
Deplatforming is simply the a natural consequence of the operation of the marketplace of ideas, a central necessity for a free society. If ideas don't have to compete for the privilege of access to resource to relay them, there is no marketplace of ideas, and society drowns in noise.
> The big risk is this: when only a few entities funnel so much societal discourse or control our communication infrastructure or process payments, those entities making arbitrary decisions about who they serve has similar impacts and risks to the government imposing similar restrictions through the law.
It's arguable that the concentration of these organizations is too great as private businesses and they should either be broken up or regulated as monopolies with common carrier style neutrality and government price, access, and service regulations. But unless you are going to advocate that—and strangely those who selectively dislike deplatforming when it targets right-wing extremists never do, and in fact often oppose sich government intervention universally and support explicit legal protection for denial of generally-offered services based on religious disagreement, especially when the actor so doing is a member of the dominant religious community—the idea that businesses cannot exercise their right to free speech, free press, and free association to choose not to participate in relaying
certain views is incoherent.
Only if you equate exercise of first amendment rights with loss of first amendment rights. Choosing to relay content or not is a first amendment right, compelling other people to do so on your behalf is not.
While there might be a legitimate debate that some positive rights exist, the rights enshrined in the first amendment are negative, not positive.
> There is a lawsuit where a company owned this mining company town, including all of its roads and sidewalks. A Jehova's witness won a lawsuit on the basis of the First Amendment, enabling her to walk about that town and distribute her pamphlets.
But no one entity is positioned the way Gulf Shipbuilding was in Marsh v. Alabama, so as to exercise the power to control the expressive rights of an entire community. Were there a single internet monopoly that did this at any level of the stack, perhaps the situation would be comparable (the fact that broadband ISPs are often local monopolies or in very narrow oligopoly and can essentially gatekeep all internet usage is, in fact, the basis of a common first amendment argument for net neutrality), but this is not the case, which is why Cyber Promotions v. America Online decided that spam filters did not violate the First Amendment.
The "not relaying" gambit is irrelevant and dishonest in 2018. It's as irrelevant as farmers claiming they had the right to charge tolls to airplanes overflying their land, because originally, land deeds extended upwards indefinitely. YouTube "not relaying" is indeed a lot like a company town not wanting someone to walk their streets.
But no one entity is positioned the way Gulf Shipbuilding was in Marsh v. Alabama, so as to exercise the power to control the expressive rights of an entire community
In 2018, this is also dishonest. There are plenty of things which call themselves "communities" which indeed have the substrate of the lion's share of their discourse controlled by one entity.
A great example of this is Elon Musk. Elon has said quite a lot of stupid things on twitter, many of which can be easily argued that as a result has hurt the value of his company. The imperative for his company then would be to get him to shut up.
Another example is companies firing people who go on racist tirades. By doing so, they effectively link the company to those same racist arguments and can cause the company to lose value. Of course every company is going to make a judgment as to how much value they'll lose from firing an employee: That's why companies can and do shield or defend employees who commit sexual harassment or do things that would otherwise create negative value.
Make no mistake. This is a feature and not a bug. People are just realizing that the best way to manipulate companies into action is by forcing them to lose value by association, whether it's linking ads they show in a negative context or painting employees actions in a different light. Those are all examples of consumers in a free market exercising their collective power to influence it. And I am by no means a strong proponent of capitalism at all.
Additionally you make a large mistake in assuming that a company using the government to censor someone is the same as the company itself censoring someone. If we were to take your argument to its logical conclusion and apply that ruling to individuals, I would not have the right to tell people to leave my property. If they stuck a sign in my lawn, I would not be allowed to remove it lest I am censoring them.
You stripped away the past tense from my argument. Was that intentional, or was that a trick? Put back the past tense, and you have no point here.
If we were to take your argument to its logical conclusion and apply that ruling to individuals, I would not have the right to tell people to leave my property.
Here, you demonstrate that you didn't familiarize yourself with the case. If it's in the interest of Free Speech, then yes, as shown in the case in the YouTube video. You can answer the door and tell the Jehovah's witness to leave, but you can't keep her from walking down the sidewalk to your house. You can get a restraining order if you can show she's harassing you unlawfully. The law specifically makes a distinction between a private person who owns a house and a mining company that owns all the sidewalks and roads in town.
And again, you miss the distinction. A private person has the right to prevent people from being on their property, but not prevent them from using the sidewalk. A company similarly has the right to prevent people from using their property, but not the right to stop people from accessing the greater internet.
Facebook, Google, Twitter etc may be large, but them removing you or preventing you from accessing their services is not the same as a company town using the government in attempt to prevent your distribution of pamphlets. The wikipedia article for this ruling even covers this case as someone being banned from a mall is not a sufficient violation of their freedom of speech rights. To appropriately cite the case of Lloyd Corp vs Tanner:
>The facts in this case are significantly different from those in Marsh, supra, which involved a company town with "all the attributes" of a municipality, and Logan Valley, supra, which involved labor picketing designed to convey a message to patrons of a particular store, so located in the center of a large private enclave as to preclude other reasonable access to store patrons. Under the circumstances present in this case, where the handbilling was unrelated to any activity within the center and where respondents had adequate alternative means of communication, the courts below erred in holding those decisions controlling. 
Of which the decision should be clear: Given that there were clear alternatives in communication, this was not a violation of his rights to free speech.
Take it up with Rekieta Law.
Again, give me a neutral source and I'll be more than happy to debate you.
That's just what Universities say when they create protest zones where no one can see the protest. That's what Universities say when they slap outrageous fees and fines on groups who invite speakers they don't like. Technically, they're correct, but in the spirit of the law, suppressing speech is what they are seeking to do.
the person you're replying to hasn't made such an argument at all
The person I'm replying to is advocating for the practical loss of free speech, while it's not technically a violation of the law. I'm merely pointing out that sneaky indirection.
No, I'm arguing that your free speech rights do not give you the right to compel me to repeat your speech for you, and that the idea that they do negates my free speech rights.
No one in 2018 really thinks that someone having a YouTube channel means that YouTube means to say or approve everything said on that channel. That's only pretended by people whose aim is just to silence those they disagree with.
I should think that the small fraction of a percent of people who'd genuinely have that sort of idea is far outweighed by the impact on hundreds of millions of people who feel their voices are squelched in part or whole by YouTube's so-called "free speech" decision to silence opinions they don't like.
For me, this is one of the more profound take-aways from the article. This piece is very thought provoking.
• The KDE project (to create a nice graphical desktop environment based on the X windowing system) was initially formed around using the Qt library for graphical user interface widgets. The Qt library had, at the time, a somewhat friendly but distinctly non-free license. The first wave of developers on KDE, therefore, were developers who considered proprietary software and/or sketchy licensed to be A-OK.¹ This will probably forever define the development practices of the KDE project.
• The Go language is, by many accounts, a very nice programming language. But it was started, and still run, by Google people, for Google purposes, and with Google backing. This means that the first wave of developers were and are those developers who think it’s perfectly fine to work at Google, or to work with Google to further Google’s goals. People who don’t like Google will of course have stayed away from the Go project at the outset, and so the developer elite of the Go project will probably always reflect Google values and priorities.
1. Those developers who did not agree went on to start Gnome, which is in fact the very reason Gnome was started.
I'm fascinated by the power of positioning of the creators of the project and how easily that can go wrong. That has long fascinated me and this is an incredibly powerful example summed up in a nutshell in the paragraph I quoted, which is a rare thing to see.
The KDE project is very focused on software freedom and does not consider proprietary software A-OK. This is written in the https://manifesto.kde.org/
Sorting the wheat from the chaff is a challenge. Trying to not throw the baby out with the bathwater is a challenge.
There's a difference between letting people express themselves and ratifying hate to fuel more outrage. Doing that is throwing the justice baby out with the bathwater -- also because it's more viral and you make more money and get more political power that way.
It can be hard to find your own voice. It is necessary to have a little latitude when trying to do so.
It gets vastly more complicated when you are trying to do that in some kind of group setting. It easily goes bad places.
Maybe, but then somebody has to make that call and get it right. Who's going to do that? You? The mob?
Giving all ideas the same platform and letting it sort itself out isn't the worst strategy humanity has come up with. You might even call it democratic.
And I don't remember refusing to judge something being the same as ratifying it, I thought that was tolerance. But I guess you're either with us, or against us - there can be no other option. /s
If letting a few people talk about hate is magically going to convince a large majority, either that's condescending or we're fucked as a species.