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A Heretic's Guide to Deplatforming (easydns.com)
250 points by StuntPope 46 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 427 comments



> The tech giants today are by their own actions cultivating the motivation and the will to necessitate the creation of their own challengers and everybody is watching closely what works and what doesn’t.

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.


I am right there with you! I am oddly excited by the recent waves of de-platforming. I think they are hastening the next step of development.


Indeed, sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.


Reading this article is like watching someone beat the ocean with a stick. What would it look like for an "anti-deplatforming" initiative to succeed? All ideas have equal access to all platforms? Just the big ones? The objective is so poorly formed, it's not even wrong.

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.


First people get kicked off their platforms "build your own platforms"

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.


You are mistaking "good faith" for satisfying others' entitlement

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.


>You are mistaking "good faith" for satisfying others' entitlement

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".


After some thought, here is what really matters. The same people who make demands on companies to effect deplatforming are the ones who post about "freedom of association" for those companies when the deed is done. This is not a real argument, just an excuse.

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?


I love how you're treating customers and employees petitioning a company, and then the company taking their concerns seriously, like it's some kind of bullying conspiracy. Never mind when a platform manager like Matt Prince [1] goes out of his way to make it clear he is autocratically representing his own judgement, after grappling with the very real moral tradeoffs involved in excluding someone.

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.

[1] https://blog.cloudflare.com/why-we-terminated-daily-stormer/


>I love how you're treating customers and employees petitioning a company, and then the company taking their concerns seriously, like it's some kind of bullying conspiracy

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 [1] 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:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/cloudflare-and-its-free-speech...

"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
They don't say anything about moral character of account holders. And yet people use Twitter screenshots as "proof" that Gab's deplatforming was justified, endorsing the crazy notion that PayPal should take such things into account.

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.


> It usually involves partisan press, activist organizations and whipped-up online crowds with no stake in the platform they're trying to affect.

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?).


> why don't you put forward a concrete vision of what your definition of free speech is?

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.


Got it, seems like you plan to keep misrepresenting my words instead of explaining your own. Nobody deplatformed 800k Gab users and I didn't call them jerks (I'm sure there are all kinds). They deplatformed Gab's jerk founder/operators who specifically marketed to dangerous crazies, including by bragging about profiting from a tragedy. Anyone who has a problem with that has every right to sever ties. Gab's users have alternative homes on 4chan and Reddit, or the next platform which prioritizes diverse expression without marketing to hate so actively that upstream providers stop doing business with them.

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.


>> satisfy the requirements of every platform you build on top of

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.


No argument, and it wasn't meant to sound simple -- just depends on how deeply you are aligned with the goals of the platform. I agree from painful experience that platforms can be capricious and even disingenuous. But that's also part of how they adapt to a changing world and business. Still boils down to: nobody said it would be easy (to get others' attention).


> …just depends on how deeply you are aligned with the goals of the platform.

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're shuttering our API" (which kills your business model) is very concerning if you're the business that's just been torpedoed.

"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).


People keep saying this "ought to be concerning". What I see are mainstream commercial conveniences refusing to be complicit in spreading bigoted messages that have gotten people killed. Why am I meant to be surprised by that? If I ran a hosting provider I sure as shit wouldn't let that happen either.

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?


>> spreading bigoted messages

"Bigoted messages"? Would that be content that's

* against the law

and/or

* against the upstream AUP/TOS

and/or

* "someone said something that offended someone else"

>> that have gotten people killed

Not wishing to pour more gasoline on the raging fire, but ... source?


I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're asking.


It doesn’t sound any more complicated given that. “I had no idea they would have a problem hosting my anti-Semitic writings or calls for violence, because the rules aren’t well defined, and they’re constantly changing, it’s so arbitrary!” is not convincing at all.


What's the alternative to "build your own platforms" though. Are you willing to compel Stripe by threat of force to keep processing credit cards for nazis? Are you willing to completely torpedo freedom of association, as long as the people demanding your company continue associating with them are sufficiently monstrous?


What makes the 'deplatforming' threat viable is that so many critical aspects of an online business are a choice between private-enterprise players. Stripe or Authorize.net. AWS or DigitalOcean. GoDaddy or Namecheap.

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.


Ah, state-hosted platforms calling for the extermination of Jews. It's not exactly Radio Free Europe, is it?


I don't want my tax money used for that. Not because I object to the content, but because it's a waste of money and government officials have more important things to focus on.


> it creates the chilling effect-- a business that's technically legal but can't get the services they need

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.


>They can get it, but have to pay for that. Just like the porn industry had to build their own payment providers.

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.


I'd love to see Republican senators voting to fund an antifa 24/7 channel. I mean, they can't even get behind Sesame Street so I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem.


> 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.

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.


>> That my $.25 artisanal dog cupcake business can't get the services it needs at the price I can afford doesn't raise complaints.

If you can't get services you need at any price isn't that when competition authorities [ought to] start investigating?


The is no evidence that Gab can't find a price at which to run its service. Again: even Stormfront is still up and running. And Stormfront is just Gab without the pretend rules forbidding threats and harassment.


So, once again, "Are you willing to compel Stripe by threat of force to keep processing credit cards for nazis?"


In the 1950s, your question would've been "Are you willing to compel Stripe by threat of force to keep processing credit cards for leftists and commies?" You believe because your political faction has a little leverage currently that it will always remain that way; not so. If you legitimize deplatforming, it is a weapon that will someday be turned against you.

Given the unwelcome resurgence of the right worldwide, that day may come sooner than you think.


If memory serves, at least in the US this was the opposite. The free market was fine with serving least wing groups. It was the government that stepped in and told individuals to not be leftist, under threat of force.

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.


The government isn't an entity with its own independent will; the US public broadly voted in officials that put in place those policies. Leftists who openly identified as such faced all sorts of problems doing business even without government intervention.


Hollywood blacklists, the most famous example from the red scare, only began after HUAC subpoenaed and held people in contempt.


You're just repeating the same invalid argument. Go and look up the history of widespread small scale anti-lefist incidents in that era that occurred before the HUAC existed.


The onus is on you to provide examples. Most of what I know of, and what I can find documented, was government sanctioned or under (implied) threat of government retaliation.

Please cite examples of these widespread small scale, grassroots anti-leftist incidents.


"Somebody someone else really doesn't like" != Nazi

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.[0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hessian_state_election,_2018 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bavarian_state_election,_2018 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_presidential_election,_... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_legislative_election,...


I assume that you have a proposal that would differentiate between the two? So that they would be forced to serve "somebody someone else really doesn't like", but not be forced to serve Nazis?


This is such a common thing that you're doing.

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.


>Nothing in this article mentions passing a law [...] 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.)


I agree with you, but your four levels really need to be refined by a fifth level, corporate power.

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)


Very good point


No need to jump to the idea of compulsion. If there were an established social norm that "platform platforms" should make an active attempt to be viewpoint-neutral, chances are that enough of them would voluntarily follow that norm to allow platforms like Gab to continue operating. If the norm isn't established, well, good luck passing a law to force anyone to follow it. Right now, the trend seems to be against such a norm.


Why should "platform platforms" establish a norm attempting to actively appear "viewpoint neutral"?

"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!


I'm not sure what you mean about medical staff. I'm not suggesting that anyone bend over backwards to aid organizations like Gab, merely that they don't go out of their way to ban them merely because they don't like them. For example, in the case of Stripe and PayPal, there doesn't seem to be any suggestion that Gab falls under any of the normal categories that would cause a financial services platform to ban a merchant – e.g. suspicion of fraud or money laundering, high chargeback rates, high rates of fraud among people giving money, anything like that.


And - how or why would I care that stripe processed infowars transactions, unless I was actually in the process of buying something from infowars?


The issue isn't whether you in particular care or not.

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.


[flagged]


But they don't want that. They want to silence opposing viewpoints, not protect them.


Makes you wonder why they haven't, despite controlling all three branches of government.


>What reason is there to assume those platform platforms will not get kicked off the platform platform platforms?

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.


When people complain about being deplatformed, they're just saying "the platforms that accept me aren't popular enough".

What happens when you or those who share your opinions don't get accepted by the popular platforms?


There are already a large number of fights over this. And the solution is the same: complain and hope for the court of public opinion to go your way.

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.


But gab isn't far right. As I understood it, it's just a Twitter alternative. It doesn't make it inherently left or right.

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.


Gab's frog logo is not a coincidence. The network was created by people who believed they were being censored by the left.

> 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.


> 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.


Twitter, reddit, facebook, hacker news aren't the public street. They are someone else's public meeting hall that you may rent out for the small price of contributing useful dialog and not being an asshole. The fact that they don't allow all comers is a feature not a bug because some would be patrons are hateful vandals whose presence is liable to discourage your more useful patrons from visiting.

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.


>> Twitter, reddit, facebook, hacker news aren't the public street.

I'd say these are the online equivalents of pseudo-public spaces[0], "[spaces] that seem public but are actually owned by corporations"

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/jul/24/revealed-pseu...


I'm sorry, this is just false. Gab is white supremacist Twitter. Its founder was kicked out of YC for harassing minorities. Its (verified) Twitter account has been repeatedly screenshot promoting white supremacist and anti-Semitic messages. Virtually all of Gab's users are either white supremacists or right-wing conspiracy theorists --- even the account that posts inspirational landscape photos turns out to be a white supremacist on Gab.

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.


what the person above me said: SPOT ON!!!

"It's noticeable which people only show up to defend far right speech on the internet."


Hopefully they'd find something more productive to do than complain on the internet....

...Actually, that may mean they get more involved in politics, so that's kind of scary.


> 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.

What does that even mean "stop being trusted payment providers"? If their API works and payments go through, that seems trustworthy to me.


I assume it means the mass of people might stop using those services (like paypal) because they don't want to support sites that talk about racist things like happens with gab. gab is different than say reddit to me because while reddit might have some people posting racist things or threatning to kill someone or rape them, but reddit will ban them or the group - but allowing for that kind of speech ends up appearing to be the main reason for a site like gab to exist.


Wells Fargo has laundered billions of dollars for drug cartels, yet people have not stopped using them: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/al-capone-meet-wells...

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.


So you think somebody else should make that business decision, rather than the actual company involved? Who would that be?


People still use the international financial system and the banking system in particular even though they have done and still do business with very dodgy people. Afaik HSBC is still alive and kicking even though it has helped some Mexican cartels launder their money, we’re talking about monsters who like to skin their victims alive.


I'd love to see your equivalent ancestor in the 1640s when Milton published the Areopagitica.^1

> 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


Wow, that is an edudite reference and a flatteringly thorough translation. But, taken seriously, the comparison of anti-deplatformers (can y'all make up a catchy name?) to Milton is facile. Milton was fighting for the right to distribute his work, you're fighting for the right to be distributed by others.

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.


How are those not synonymous in this day and age? The point of freedom of expression is not inhibiting the right to an audience or explicitly interferring in the marketplace of ideas in civil society. Saying that Facebook, Twitter, Paypal, et. al face any actual injury or diminution in service as a result of hosting pernicious speech is absurd, especially in light of the role of Chapter 47 in the history of the freedom of the Internet.^1

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.”


>Saying that Facebook, Twitter, Paypal, et. al face any actual injury or diminution in service as a result of hosting pernicious speech is absurd,

It isn't absurd because an example of such an injury happened last year at YouTube with the "adpocalypse" demonetization debacle.[1]

- 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[2]. 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.[3]

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.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_by_Google#Advertise...

[2] https://www.google.com/search?q=biggest+advertisers+abandon+...

[3] https://www.tubefilter.com/2018/04/20/pg-resumes-youtube-spe...


> What would it look like for an "anti-deplatforming" initiative to succeed?

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.


Interesting comment. I think you are right but what OP is predicting is the inevitably of the overton window being narrowed on these services via the mechanisms described. This narrowing will lead to more and more services being preformed outside the mainstream over time.


When people complain about being deplatformed, they're just saying "the platforms that accept me aren't popular enough".

This is perfect.


No, it's crazy. In that case, ideas aren't being judged as ideas. It's the same sort of "technically not" dishonesty that Noam Chomsky called out in Manufacturing Consent. Western media did indeed cover events not favorable to the US/Nato side. But it was covered in back pages, in the plainest language. Technically, it's not censorship in the same way as Pravda airbrushed people out of photos was censorship. However, it had pretty much the same effect.

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.


I’m sure Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines only wanted their ideas to be seen as ideas, just like all others!


We should let the crazies advertise themselves as crazies. Bad ideas should be exposed so they can be argued down. Suppressing ideas instead of arguing just creates a Streisand Effect entrenching them. There is another comment here, where someone analyzes the Weimar Republic's actions as doing just this. The Judiciary and Law enforcement seemed biased towards one side, which increased support for the other. The legislative government seemed to support the other side, which increased support for their opponents.

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.


I don't think you caught the reference. Maybe plug that name into Wikipedia and revisit your argument.


I'm seriously interested in what you thought of that argument after you looked up Radio Mille Collines.


"It received support from the government-controlled Radio Rwanda, which initially allowed it to transmit using their equipment. ... Critics claim that the Rwandan government fostered the creation of RTLM as "Hate Radio", to circumvent the fact they had committed themselves to a ban against "harmful radio propaganda" in the UN's March 1993 joint communiqué in Dar es Salaam. ... During the Genocide, the RTLM acted as a source for propaganda by inciting hatred and violence against Tutsis, against Hutus who were for the peace accord, against Hutus who married Tutsis, and by advocating the annihilation of all Tutsis in Rwanda. ... An estimated 10% of all the violence within the Rwandan Genocide is resulted from the hateful radio transmissions sent out from RTLM."

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. :-)


> You shouldn't let rule of law break down. Media and the judiciary should remain impartial and not push an agenda

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, they are complaining about mistreatment on the basis of opinion. Minority rights are important.


“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.”

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.


So, you think these businesses took an existential risk with their reputation for the ephemeral benefit of looking cool? You are seriously underestimating the acumen of the folks who each went from zero to critically central providers in a cutthroat industry in less than 10 years.

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.


“So, you think these businesses took an existential risk with their reputation for the ephemeral benefit of looking cool?“

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.


Consumer rights protection/anti-monopoly law.


“A platform's identity and ability to attract an audience are determined by the activities they accept / cultivate, not vice versa.”

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.


The basic infrastructure is there regardless.of whether you can access the internet. People will still have eyes and ears and can walk to each other, just like they always do.


Making the Nazis blog stop working CAN help us contain their crap. Propaganda works full stop. People perceive what is normal and correct based on repetition and social proof.

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.


please show me the content neutral platforms on the internet that are optimal for creative and productive exchanges of ideas.

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.


The question is if there is alternative and if this thing applies consistently. If I want to create a club which only accept men or whites it will not be allowed and there was the famous case with the bakery that refused to make a cake for a gay wedding. The supreme court in the US actually sided with the bakery but then there is the question of alternative and whether it is a monopoly. The bakery was certainly not a monopoly but access to a payment system could be completely blocked for people with certain view and that's a bit worrying. We don't allow it with certain other critical utilities and we should ask ourself if some of those services are not critical utilities. I feel also very worried that when it comes to people views the people who decide which voice will be heard and which not is some tech company manager. The idea of the first amendment was that the government will not suppress speech because the government was the one with the power to suppress it but these days it is few unelected people in power position in a very specific industry and location of the US with a very obvious point of view and set of believes. So although I don't like certain opinions I like less the precedence we have here and the power given to very few people that I can't even influence by voting. It is like the city square fell under the control of some private company, companies like facebook and twitter are the modern city square and the first amendment should apply to it the same way it applies to any other public place.


This is very very difficult to read. Instead of writing extemporaneously as one thinks it would profit you to break your thoughts into paragraphs. A few minutes spent editing the end result, trimming the fat, and organizing what remains could profit innumerable readers.

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 wonder how many of the people arguing for the good of deplatforming have, in other circumstances, argued that internet access is a human right. Also, those denying that internet access is a human right decrying deplatforming. It’s interesting the interaction between those two ideas.


Internet access is not the same as forcing somebody else to host your content. I think most people can tell the difference.


I was unaware that having access to the internet meant a one-way pipe.

I guess you’ve got a right to read email, but not write it; read wikipedia, but not contribute; etc.


[flagged]


If you continue to post uncivilly to HN we are going to have to ban you again.

Please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and post civilly and substantively, or not at all.


You appear to think that you know what would be better for Facebook's business than Facebook itself does.

Perhaps you should take your business acumen and start a Facebook competitor.


> 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.

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.


> No, Paypal and Stripe were given orders from above and this is them carrying out those orders.

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.


I have no idea who is the "above", and nothing on which to speculate. The internet's two largest payment processors both pulling out at the same time that Gab loses hosting, and becomes the target of a widespread slander campaign, definitely seems orchestrated. You can't dismiss that as "conspiracy theory material".

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.


The definition of conspiracy theory is: "a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators" (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conspiracy%20theo...)

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.


Oh, hush.

"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?


> No one is going to stop using Paypal and Stripe because they support a platform.

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.


They're a payment processor. If you believe in a non-discriminatory economy, where anyone with a legal, useful service or skill should be able to collect payment for it, then you simply can't have this position.

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.


Lots of people don't accept your premise that white supremacists deserve FRAND terms for access to commercial hosting providers. I'd go so far as to describe it as the mainstream opinion. So: they can quite simply have that position.


This isn't an issue of what should be legal. It's an ethical issue.


If it's ethical, it's even more baffling why this would be a problem; providing services to enable and amplify white nationalism is clearly unethical.


If you're familiar with Jesse Singal's journalistic work I think it's straightforward for us to consider what was meant above there.

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.


I’m pretty familiar with Singal and doubt he has much of a problem with Gab getting booted from Godaddy. Want me to ask him?


I wasn't really invoking his opinions on Gab specifically, but I would be curious to know them. My point was more like: What happens to journalists like Singal when any writing deviating from to the most mainstream of progressive frameworks of thought endangers the resources/finances of the outlet publishing it? Have you Googled his full name?


Yeah, we follow each other on Twitter. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here, but I'll ask what he thinks about Gab.

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.


My point is exactly the opposite of saying the two are comparable...

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.


Isn't it a little ironic that your example of a problematic counterpart for Gab.ai is itself a site in part dedicated to boycotts?


A boycott of a country with a government and military killing unarmed protesters and carrying out other human rights violations?

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.


I am sympathetic to the BDS movement! I'm just saying, you're suggesting that commercial entities could use commercial coercion against Electric Intifada, which is itself an organization that enthusiastically seeks to use commercial coercion against supporters of Israel.

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!


The Overton Window is moving too quickly these days for us to be making judgements on deplatformization based on what is and isn't something the average person wants to see.


I don't know what this is supposed to mean. The ethical status of white supremacist organizing hasn't changed.


Censorship is unethical because it's a giant slippery slope of subjectivity. Are we really calling Alex Jones a white supremacist?


Censorship is unethical because it's a giant slippery slope of subjectivity

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,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Jones#White_genocide


"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a socialist.

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.


"Calling for the extermination of other races would make him a white supremacist."

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.


You could be right about that. I'm not really here to defend Alex Jones' position. I honestly don't know enough about the dude and what he wants. However I will defend his right to a platform as long as he is operating within legal bounds.

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.


"Right to a platform". What does that mean? Can you generate an answer that isn't morally equivalent to a demand for FRAND terms for Alex Jones? Remember, FRAND is an exceptional case in commerce; it's (for instance) what you do to get your patented IPR into a global standard. It's not the expected default.


Sweet, let's engage in Learned Quote Battle!

"How now, how now, chop-logic! What is this?"

--William Shakespeare

a very real assault on demographics like the straight white male

Oh! Never mind, I'll see myself out.


Try to have a debate in any moderately left forum about topics like feminism or economics without having some people come out of the woodwork with character assassination and insults, disregarding your opinion as a priviliged cis white male. It's a real thing and it's ridiculous. I get told all the time I'm not allowed to participate in conversations based on my sex, sexual orientation, and skin color.


I feel like I need to correct you on a couple of things.

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.


What an incredible strawman.


'strawman' you're going to have to look up yourself since I already did all the other ones.


You lack quite a bit of self-awareness.


I disagree. I doubt we'll get to any sort of shared position via internet forum, I was simply pointing out that the parent comment was objectively false.


It's probably unrealistic to expect us to stop seeing threads about this (Gab's #1 objective at this point will be to make more noise and surely something "newsworthy" will happen with them sometime soonish). But it's worth noting that we've had several recent discussions about Gab stemming from the events that occurred after the mass shooting.

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.


Jeftovic here.

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.


I'm certainly not blaming you for not being up-to-date on the antics of the Gab team! That's not a reasonable ask of anybody.

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.


You've added an update to your article pointing out it was 'flagged' after 'rapidly ascending'. Flagging is done done by users, so both the (brief) rapid ascent and the flagging are results of user action.


So what's your point?


There's nothing 'ironic' about it, flagging is like downvoting. You aren't being 'deplatformed' by some inscrutable power, users just don't think it's a fit for the site.


No, flagging is not like "downvoting", this isn't reddit.

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.


Can I offer a different complaint? Mine is: you updated your post to reflect that it had been flagged by HN users, but not with material new information you acquired from the thread before that flag had occurred. That feels a little dishonest.


What material new information is that?


You acknowledged it upthread!


> flagging is not like "downvoting", this isn't reddit.

"Flag" on HN has devolved into an overpowered downvote button.


People commenting on something does not make it 'on topic'. I'm guessing people flagged this because it's the Nth iteration of the same discussion which, by this point, is quite repetitive and tedious. It's a dupe.

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.


We must protect the rights of "white nationalists" or whatever to organize and speak on the Internet. Free speech is for everyone.


They have the right to organize and speak on the Internet. Not only can they, they can even do it on Twitter! The whole premise behind Gab is kind of a grift. Twitter is choc-a-bloc with white nationalists, many of them with blue checkmarks. The things that get people kicked off Twitter (most notably: targeted harassment) are ostensibly things that also get you kicked off Gab. Gab doesn't want you thinking too carefully about that, of course.

Also: beware the subtexts of brief statements about the rights of white nationalists that begin with "we must".


We must protect Free Speech as broadly as we can manage. Otherwise, one allows the gatekeeping of speech, and Free Speech is dead.


No, that logic doesn't hold. Free speech doesn't require private actors to enable noxious speech, just as the First Amendment doesn't require the government to buy you a printing press.


Free speech doesn't require private actors to enable noxious speech, just as the First Amendment doesn't require the government to buy you a printing press.

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.


I think you're confused, and that the precedent works in the opposite direction. See, for instance, Hudgens v NLRB. What may have you scrambled is decisions from other countries, or decisions that public officials operating pages under color of office on social networks cannot declare those pages to be private property.

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.)


> Most successful deplatformings are Pyrrhic victories

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.


Likewise, almost no one cares what a Jehovah's witness has to say.

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.

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

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 US government coming in and telling a private entity, no you must tolerate free speech on your property is historical fact and precedent."

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.


It is plainly wrong to say the 1A has “nothing whatsoever” to do with private entities.

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.)


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.

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.

You would be protecting a wholly imaginary free speech interest while trespassing on a real one.

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.


In other news if you start holding an open air forum on your political issue of choice inside your nearest walmart you will probably be asked to go do this outside on the public sidewalk.

Nobodies rights will be violated by this.


Ain't gonna happen in this case, for two reasons:

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.


A muslim shot up a gay night club, we don’t ban Islam or mosques or deplatform Muslims from the internet for holding similarly antisemitic views. To suggest such an action would be roundly decried and the person drummed out.

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.


> A muslim shot up a gay night club, we don’t ban Islam or mosques or deplatform Muslims from the internet for holding similarly antisemitic views. To suggest such an action would be roundly decried and the person drummed out.

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?


If that guy was an "otherwise typical" user of gab, and gab has ~500,000 active users(per wikipedia), why hasn't there been more than one story about gab-user-gone-wild in the media?


Isn't that (the fact this guy shot 11 Jews dead and the other users haven't) exactly what "otherwise typical" refers to?

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 is the violence that people have a problem with not the speech right? I mean if the neighbors upstairs are talking about how much the hate me I don't have a problem though that would change if they knock on my door with baseball bat in hand.

It sounds like Gab is being de-platformed for the typical part and not the otherwise part.


I've got a pretty big problem with the speech too!

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 sounds suspiciously as if you're drawing a direct comparison between the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War 2 and Gab getting kicked off GoDaddy. That can't possibly be an argument you really want to make.


That's clearly a refutation by counter-example, not an argument or claimed equivalence of the events.

It's weird that you would try to push such an infamous counter-example out of bounds instead of making an argument.


His argument is that few people caring about something doesn’t mean that thing doesn’t matter.


Isn't that, like, an extremely banal observation? It doesn't mean it does matter either. Meanwhile: what was the point of comparing this situation to internment camps?


Banally true, yes.

> 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.


> 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.


The complaint wasn't that it was worded poorly, but that a direct comparison was made at all, using kinda spooky language such as "It sounds suspiciously as if you're drawing a direct comparison" and "That can't possibly be an argument you really want to make.".

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.


It sounds suspiciously as if you're drawing a direct comparison between the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War 2 and Gab getting kicked off GoDaddy. That can't possibly be an argument you really want to make.

You know better than that, and you should know full well I'd expect better of you.


Then why not just write

"Surprisingly few people cared" is a very poor metric to apply to a principle of rights and justice.

?


Because I'm not as skilled at 1st drafts as you are, apparently.


I agree it probably won't matter. I wish it would, but it won't.

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.


You can say that! But: if, rather than just writing a chin-stroking blog post, Easydns had actually hosted Gab's zones, I think they'd find the impact on their customer base would not be net positive.


Would it be negative? Why do I care whose DNS records are also hosted there?


how much of this has to do with whether you personally care? It's about whether their customer base cares.


>Previous deplatformings (Milo, Alex Jones) haven't produced any visible negative consequences for the platforms.

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.


Deplatforming fuels polarization, so one thing I would look at the PEW research study that shows how the center has collapsed, making it impossible for moderates to win elections: http://www.epsilontheory.com/things-fall-apart-pt-1/


> Deplatforming fuels polarization

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 before deplatforming was a big thing. I think you have the arrow of causation backward. Deplatforming is driven by increasing polarization.

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.


Interesting thought. Given that the majority in all western countries already seem pretty OK with wealth redistribution in the form of their current welfare systems, calling for more of it doesn't seem that extreme.

But I could turn out to be wrong about that. We certainly live in interesting times.


It seems like many people are caught up in the details here and missing the wider principles.. What kind of internet do you want? I grew up with an internet that was entirely open and free, there have always been the hate dens and their garbage. I view domain services as essentially infrastructure, not arbitrators of content. If sites/services are being shut down at the infrastructure level, we've entered a new age of the internet and it is terribly frightening.


Stormfront is still up and running. They had a hard time getting access to the same QOS and pricing as do sites that companies actively want to host, but at some point we're complaining that white nationalists don't get FRAND terms, and it's a little hard to get worked up about that.

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?


> Gab's users have a disconcerting tendency to blow up synagogues.

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.


I'm sorry, I'm having a very hard time connecting the dots from Gab finding it can't get FRAND access to hosting to "the entire Internet has to be destroyed". Since the entire Internet is (checks notes) not actually being destroyed, it feels like your argument is self-refuting.


Your response is inapt, because the comment about Gab’s users “blowing up synagogues “ is a rhetorical argument, not a literal one.

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.”


Again, details.. What if every single domain company decides to blackball them? What do they do then? Nothing, they are off the internet.


I guess they'll have to return to sharing their desire to kill black people the old fashioned way, in person.

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.


Actually inciting violence or conspiring to do so is covered under common law statutes and can be easily prosecuted. This is far different, it is companies deciding on their own volition to unilaterally ban entities from accessing the very "pipes". Today it's at the domain level, so the convenience of being able to type in a name versus an IP is what's at stake. What next, ISP's blocking traffic?.. Like I've said it's the principle. I believe in free speech and a free and open internet, if there is criminal activity the FBI, et al. can easily get involved. This is about the fact that the very infrastructure of the internet is largely dictated by private entities who are now imposing their own discretion based on content they object to, odious as it may be. I for one am not keen on allowing the sociopolitical whims of the time to dictate who is allowed on this great thing called the internet. I see something once pure, beautiful, and glorious entering its first stages of death.


I understand the principle. I understand you have a belief. I share the principle, and used to have the belief. What I am asking you to do is test the belief on the basis of evidence. I am also asking you to do a cost-benefit evaluation of the principle in terms of other principles.

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.


As far as I am aware people can usually call for nonspecific violence without ending up locked up in America today either de jure or de facto.

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.


I’m responding to your comment more as a representative of a general sentiment.

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 problem that these new communication platforms are trying to deal with is unprecedented.

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.


Large portions of the Internet were cordoned off from commerce altogether. There was a weekend back in the 90s (probably more than one, but this is the one I remember) where there was an Internet-wide netsplit that cut commercial ISPs like Ripco off from the rest of the Internet.

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 spent a decent amount of time on news.admin.net-abuse.email in 1993 and in the mid-1990s. (ISTR that is where spam on Usenet was mainly discussed.) I was very curious about Usenet, but recall no restrictions on any unmoderated newsgroup (and most newsgroups were unmoderated).

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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Fleece_Award

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).


The rise of ubiquitous networked social platforms is very new. In the earlier days of the internet, it simply did not have the reach it does today. It is the mass effects that are causing problems, especially since you can now purchase direct access to millions for the purpose of spreading propaganda.


I was around at the time, too, and you're missing that the early Internet wasn't free at all: the great majority of the users were part of some postsecondary educational organization. Those places strongly select for very specific kinds of people (smart, collaborative, curious, reasonable, not murder-y), and imposed both formal and informal controls on what was said.

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.


Maybe we remember different things. The way I remember it, the early internet had plenty of horrible stuff and the sky didn't fall. I think silencing people (legally or otherwise) doesn't help reduce murder rate or anything. It just silences people.


It depends on what you mean by early. Certainly up until The September That Never Ended, the great bulk of users were academics of one sort or another. That declined over time, but early adopters were still early adopters. There was some horrible stuff, sure, but it wasn't established. There weren't organizations actively recruiting. The truly horrible people of the time were still mailing newsletters and goose-stepping in person.

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.


[flagged]


> [Muslims] have a fairly high rate of terrorism compared to other ideologies

that seems like a big assumption.


Muslims are not a coherent whole like your opening statement might make out.


Neither are gab users though. It's not like there is a "hates jews" requirement in the TOS to sign up.


> they have a fairly high rate of terrorism compared to other ideologies?

This is untrue.


If enough people are actually impacted perhaps they can start their own name registration system or adopt one of several upstarts that have come into being over the years.

Here are 8 such

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_DNS_root


Domain names aren't mandatory. IP addresses still work.


For now. The question of "where does it stop" is still on the table.


ARP. To Ethernet address resolution, and no further.


This is a good article that explores many of the angles involved.

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.


> 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.


> Spare me the tired arguments that these private companies have a right to not serve customers at will.

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.

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

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 pretty much every online community starting from the smallest web forums, you need an ability to remove unwanted content and people from that platform. Even platforms for very free, unrestricted discussion need to fight commercial spam and simple vandalism. The ability to have a community of group A for topics that interest group A requires effective moderation, i.e. the ability to remove unwanted topics and people from that forum, blocking them before the majority of the group have had to encounter that unwanted content, otherwise you have a very, very poor experience full of spam that kills the forum, and that 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.


If I start a company that allows users to upload content over the internet, is it your contention that I should not be within my rights to control what is stored and who is allowed to use my services?


[dupe]


why is this downvoted? seems very good counterpoint to private companies can do whatever they want.

The reality of the free speech online is that US constitution comes stapled with a "Terms of Service" by tech oligopoly


I see a tag that says "dupe" on the comment, so maybe that's why. I did see that anecdote about the company town elsewhere in the thread.


> Deplatforming is a dangerous step for a free society, especially when so much power is accumulated in a few platforms

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.


If you take the riffraff from the pub and inject them into the library, you're going to have a bad time.

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.


> has similar impacts and risks to the government imposing similar restrictions through the law

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.


> We can't really compare them to the government until they have a standing army.

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.


[dupe]


> There is a lawsuit where a company owned this mining company town, including all of its roads and sidewalks

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.


> And when a single company has similar control over the internet, even for a particular group of people such that they are otherwise unreachable

ICANN?


Sure, you'd at least have a debatable case of a First Amendment issue under the Marsh v. Alabama precedent if the federal or a state government was enforcing a content-based deplatforming effort by ICANN.

But that's not at all the actual present issue.


The distinction between "actively relaying" and allowing through in 2018 is now as empty and outdated as the idea that property rights extended up into the sky, so farmers could charge airplanes for passage.

The purpose of such a distinction is simply for people with power to regulate discourse.


>We can't really compare them to the government until they have a standing army.

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?


The US does that too; it's called sanctions, and secondary sanctions.


> Deplatforming is a dangerous step for a free society,

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.


[dupe]


> That's just as silly as if someone had said, "Certain people losing their 1st Amendment rights is simply the natural consequence of the operation of the marketplace of ideas."

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.


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.

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.


It is a natural consequence of the marketplace of ideas and of capitalism in general. Capitalism ascribes values to speech. If speech therefore has negative value, capitalism has the imperative to censor or prevent that speech from occurring. I would even hasten to argue that if you don't follow that train of thought you would be inherently anti-capitalist or unable to understand the full extent of the free market.

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.


[dupe]


I want you to cite the part where it is widely recognized by US jurisprudence, because we've seen similar cases arise (see: Cyber Promotions vs AoL) where it was argued that a company does not have freedom of speech rights to send unsolicited emails to another company's users.

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.


I want you to cite the part where it is widely recognized by US jurisprudence, because we've seen similar cases arise

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.


No, my point is that I think you're wrong. I don't believe it was ever widely recognized by US jurisprudence and I want you to cite your claims that prove it was. Preferably from a neutral source. Because as far as I can tell, it only explicitly applied to company towns, which means you bringing it up in this argument is entirely moot.

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. [1]

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.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/407/551#writin...


I don't believe it was ever widely recognized by US jurisprudence and I want you to cite your claims that prove it was.

Take it up with Rekieta Law.

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


I won't because as I tried to allude to earlier, he's an incredibly biased and poor source of any sort of information. One glance at his twitter and youtube account told me everything I need to know.

Again, give me a neutral source and I'll be more than happy to debate you.


Nobody has lost their first amendment rights and the person you're replying to hasn't made such an argument at all - your paraphrase is just putting words in their mouth. That's a cheap and poopy thing to do.


Nobody has lost their first amendment rights

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.


> The person I'm replying to is advocating for the practical loss of free speech

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, 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.


You are free to make whatever argument you want - what you can't do is deliberately misrepresent the other person's argument, which is what you are doing. HN even has a weird rule about that involving quotation marks. There's no 'technically' about this, you're doing it, it's bad and you shouldn't.


I'm not misrepresenting the other's argument at all. I'm clarifying it.


No you aren't. You don't get to decide what the other person's argument is and then rail against that. It's a pretty fundamental rule of reasonably civil discourse. I'm sure you've seen dang berate people about this but in case you haven't:

https://hn.algolia.com/?query=author:dang%20quotation&sort=b...


I'm pretty clear about what is the other person's idea, and what other ideas that idea is parallel to. In that case, I'm not misstating the other person's argument. I'm clarifying the idea's implications.


Well, you were, quite blatantly, but you've now edited the comment to not do that - thanks. It seems we're in agreement on the important bit.


[flagged]


You edited the comment. If the end result is a less poopy comment, I'm fine with that.


This is a pretty blatant example of demonizing mischaracterisation via totally arbitrary metaphor. It's poison to conversations.


Gab illustrates a “catch-22” around setting out to be specifically a “free speech platform”. You initially appeal to the most fringe elements of public discourse. Your first wave of users are going to be people for whom this has been a problem, and if you’re an absolutist and let them on then suddenly that’s your base.

For me, this is one of the more profound take-aways from the article. This piece is very thought provoking.


Yes, the first wave defines the project; if the first wave has problems, the project is infused with these problems. This is true of free software projects also. I have a couple of examples:

• 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.


Yeah, that's obvious on the face of it and not what grabbed me.

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.


You use your hypothesis to prove your point. So you prove nothing.

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/


The forums for Free Speech in the 60's also came with a lot of what was thought of as perverted toxic nonsense. Some of that is still thought of as unacceptable today.


There are some very real problems where oppressed people of various sorts have a real need to be able to "speak the unspeakable" in order to sort their own problems. New ideas are also inevitable heretical.

Sorting the wheat from the chaff is a challenge. Trying to not throw the baby out with the bathwater is a challenge.


oppressed people of various sorts have a real need to be able to "speak the unspeakable"

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.


I'm aware. I also know that if you are the oppressed person, it can be hard to sort such things out. It can be hard to figure what is legitimate and righteous anger that is nonetheless Verboten to express and what is merely outrage fuel.

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.


> There's a difference between letting people express themselves and ratifying hate to fuel more outrage

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.

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