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Terminating Service for 8Chan (new.blog.cloudflare.com)
1098 points by sandmansandine 20 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 1376 comments



Who is going to deplatform Facebook and Twitter? After all plenty of shooters have used them too. Before the usual: " But 8chan is a cesspool of bla bla" Probably it is, but, either the users are doing something ilegal in the site and you close it if the owners refuse to comply with a legal request, or they are not doing anything illegal so they have to be left alone.

For the "Free Speech is freedom from government prohibition and this is a private company" brigade. I dont want to live in a world where colored people is being prohibited to enter a night venue, or gay people cannot order a simple cake, or YES, dudes who think their race is more superior being able to blabber their nonsense online as long as it is nothing illegal. After all similar sentiments are expressed (veiled or openly) from many powerful spheres and nobody does nothing.


People of color, and LGBT are demographics. White supremacy is an ideology (a reprehensible one at that). People choose their ideology, not their race, or sexuality. They are not the same thing. Third party businesses should not feel any obligation to do business with "dudes who blabber" about the murdering and hate of others.


I think this is shaky ground. Plenty of people think LGBT "choose" their sexuality (though I do not). White supremacists, religious people etc think their beliefs reflect objective reality, which is clearly not something they can choose. I think making "you chose this" a valid reason to censor/attack/etc. something opens the door to some pretty dangerous things, since it's not difficult to accuse things of being a choice that aren't.


> Plenty of people think LGBT "choose" their sexuality

Right. Even this assumption is loaded with ideology both ways. I.e. either they choose or do not choose. Neither is correct.


No one chooses anything since their is no free will and people are biological automatons.


Uhhh, *there.


Except there is an objective reality that LGBT people don't choose their sexuality.


That is not "an objective reality", it's an opinion.


[flagged]


The accusation of "bigotry" is a common and entirely predictable, tiresome move for those without the academic goods. Why not read the actual research? Nope, sorry/not sorry, the prolix pop culture wishful thinking that homosexuality is innate is fiction https://www.thenewatlantis.com/docLib/20160819_TNA50Sexualit...


"The New Atlantis" is not a peer review publication. It's, by its own description, a "small journals of ideas". Very far from "actual research".


I didn't say the New Atlantis was a peer-reviewed publication, and I know the difference. But did you read it? The NA is a summary of the peer reviewed publications and journals such as The Annals of Statistics, Biometrics, American Journal of Political Science, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Statistical Association, and American Journal of Public Health.

So, nope, it simply won't do to sniff "not peer reviewed!" in response to this and think it's some kind of slam dunk that supports your biases regarding human sexuality.

agent00f 19 days ago [flagged]

Can you explain why you're taking conservative bigots seriously?


People choose their religion, too.


Do they? A key aspect of religion is believing that your beliefs reflect objective reality, e.g. there really is a God that did all this stuff, there really were prophets that performed these specific miracles and said these specific things etcetera. Saying that believing in what you think is objective reality is a choice gives off some strong 1984 vibes.


I think it depends on how you categorize the act of "choosing". It could be cognitive and evidence (more traditional idea of "choosing") based or it could be faith and/or feelings-based (it's not clear if this is "choosing").

There are a thousand religions/sects in the world. Most of them are exclusive (as in the 1st Commandment). You have to make a choice to affiliate yourself with one of them (although not everyone chooses to be specific to one denomination).

I don't think it's reminiscent of "1984" to say that people choose their religion. I think people choose who they want to be around and that tends to be among the largest predictors of religious affiliation.


This is a good argument, but it falls apart when you confront the fact that religious beliefs have no basis in objective reality and are thus entirely unbound from it. People convert all the time, religious beliefs are frequently inherently contradictory, et c.

When your beliefs about objective reality include a bunch of made up delusional shit to satisfy oneself emotionally, it’s pretty straightforward to swap one set of fairy tales that didn’t happen for another set of fairy tales that didn’t happen. No harm, no foul.


Religious groups have a loooooong history of persecution, discrimination, and genocide.


So have ideological groups. The Nazis murdered plenty of communists, too. The communists murdered plenty of critics.


What about communists, anarchists, marxists, mormons, people who believe there are genetically based cognitive differences based on sex/race. What about people who are against abortion, against weed legalization, what about people who consider cops to be a civilian death squad used by the rich to oppress the poor. What about people who think the US Army is an occupation force in every place but America. Is OK to discriminate some of them? All of them? None? Are you going to manage the API so the apps can be built to see who is worthy or not?


I think it's okay to discriminate or moderate against a set of beliefs if you can show that the spread beliefs lead to the widespread harm of others.


Doesn't almost every religious group fall under it then?


No, I wouldn't equate the teachings of ISIS with my neighborhood mosque. Religions have many variations under the larger umbrella.


The point is, who’s gonna be the arbiter of what’s absolute good and what’s absolute bad? What happens if people disagree? Where is the line?

If you find something like 8chan and point it out to Cloudflare, should they ban it? If they say no that’s not as bad, well why is their value judgment worth more than that of other people? If they say okay, then anyone can get anything they judge to be as bad as 8chan ‘banned’ from it.


> I think it's okay to discriminate or moderate against a set of beliefs if you can show that the spread beliefs lead to the widespread harm of others.

Does that also work if you can show that it doesn't cause widespread harm in every country with stricter gun regulations?

Seriously if you make statements like that, you ought to acknowledge the elephant in the room.


> Is OK to discriminate some of them?

If they promote violence and racism. Yes.

> Will you manage the API?

If I thought it would help, sure.


> People choose their ideology

How do you figure that works? Do we wake up, fully equipped with a developed mind but zero preferences and experiences and then ponder which of the available ideologies we would like to subscribe to?


Yes naturally people of color, and LGBT folk can't ascribe to an ideology. Naah .. that's nonsense. They're immune.

Each group will have its own ideologues, its own agenda.


lgbt fanatics aren't much more sane than any other extremists yet they don't have any issues with being on twitter, facebook or reddit. (emphasis on _fanatics_). Widespread propaganda about kids sexualization/abuse and genitalia mutilation on these platform is A-ok and a cause for celebration.

You literally can't express any opinions going against the current flow of ideas without being labelled as hostile (alt-right, nazi, white privileged, whatever the word of the day is, &c.), no matter how valid the point you're making is (even here on HN you can’t have serious discussions about issues like the gender pay gap or immigration). It really isn't a surprise that these loners end up on sketchy websites once they're ridiculed/banned/shut off everywhere else. If you're a man feeling like a girl you'll find a community telling you you should chop off your genitals and ingest a truck load of hormones, if you’re a POC feeling unaccepted they'll tell you it's because of how racist society is [0], if you’re a girl and aren’t successful it’s due to the patriarchy [0], but oh boy if you’re a white man feeling empty inside no one gives a flying fuck about what you have to say.

Anyone thinking these shootings are due to 8chan is a fool, plain and simple, the issues are rooted much more deeply, especially in the US culture, and they've been running for a while. I’d even argue that the root cause of modern white supremacy is very close to the root cause of religious terrorism. But see, no one wants to even consider it through that lens, it's much easier to dismiss it entirely and talk about non-issues ("they're mentally ill", "just an angry loner", "if only he was dating", &c.). Now we can spend days talking about cloudflare, but that's mostly a waste of time, you don't put a bandaid on a broken leg and expects it to heal.

https://www.gwern.net/Terrorism-is-not-about-Terror

---

“These young people find themselves at a time in their life when they are looking to the future with the hope of engaging in meaningful behavior that will be satisfying and get them ahead. Their objective circumstances including opportunities for advancement are virtually nonexistent; they find some direction for their religious collective identity but the desperately disadvantaged state of their community leaves them feeling marginalized and lost without a clearly defined collective identity”

for the individuals who become active terrorists, the initial attraction is often to the group, or community of believers, rather than to an abstract ideology or to violence” ---

[0] Just to be clear I'm not implying these things don't exists or that they're non-issues.


> Widespread propaganda about kids sexualization/abuse and genitalia mutilation on these platform is A-ok and a cause for celebration.

Citation needed.

I see Facebook/Twitter/Reddit in the unenviable role as having to police minimum local standards across the world's largest online community. They also have to do it while running a publicly traded company in the USA, which means they need to optimize for minimum moderation costs.

> You literally can't express any opinions going against the current flow of ideas without being labelled as hostile

s/going against the current flow of ideas //

I straddle the line between US liberal/conservative depending on the issue. I've been labeled lot of things by both the majority opinion holders and minority opinion holders. It doesn't matter. People need to put on their big boy/girl/whatever pants and realize it doesn't matter what you are labeled. People call you far worse behind your back... the internet just allows you to hear it and reduces peoples' social filters.

> Anyone thinking these shootings are due to 8chan is a fool, plain and simple

Citation needed.

I treat {4Chan, 8Chan, 9Gag, etc} as a proxy for "long tail opinion holders" who gather in the same place.

I'm sympathetic to the idea that being a social outlier with no outlet for discourse/self-importance/identity/hope is strongly correlated with those extremism/terrorism, but that doesn't preclude 8Chan from being part of that process of extremification.

I listened to a podcast over the weekend about a Philipino guy who worked as a Facebook moderator. He quit for many reasons, but among them PTSD, nightmares, attraction to sexual images of children, attraction to bestiality, etc. He might well have had those same tendencies before he moderated for Facebook, but the exposure to that content was what accelerated his problems.

The Chans are an exposure channel. They probably help in popularizing fringe ideas, but they also attract window shoppers looking for identity and an ideology that social misfits might be willing to try on. Shutting down the window shopping isn't nothing (although I will admit I don't know that it can be done while preserving the intent of the principle of Free Speech).


You are literally comparing "the chans" to the vile shit Facebook moderators have to endure?? The latter is about an order of magnitude worse, it's literally the worst of Facebook, a constant pressure hose of horrors. People don't need fucking black and white filters to be able to browse 4chan and you don't get PTSD from it. That Facebook moderation feed does.

It's kind of sick, seeing Americans here all ignore the elephant in the room and go "yeah it might be that website" :facepalm:

A whole communications platform just got censored by a private US company (who should NOT have that power), that's pretty big thing. Maybe we should talk about that.

That shooting happened because of America's gun laws and the general way it's been squeezing the life and joy out of its lower and middle class populations. There's some really bleak shit going on there, lives are empty, people are hopeless and fear the future. That's it. The whole world knows it and sees it. Nothing really relevant for HN, either.

> The Chans are an exposure channel. They probably help in popularizing fringe ideas, but they also attract window shoppers looking for identity and an ideology that social misfits might be willing to try on. Shutting down the window shopping isn't nothing (although I will admit I don't know that it can be done while preserving the intent of the principle of Free Speech).

Yeah but no. These "chans" are international places. People outside the US also go ideological window-shopping or hang out around fringes. But somehow the worst we got was, I think years ago .. when a guy (physically) broke into a live news broadcast with a fake gun and then .. nothing much happened and he was taken away. He claimed he was doing it for a hacker collective, or something.

I'm not really sure what site inspired this dude again, but imagine Cloudfare banning it over this.

The difference seems clear as day/night to me, no?

That situation in the live news studio had one glaringly obvious thing missing from it, that saved it from possibly becoming a tragedy and it wasn't a fucking website.

Take away the website, however, and there is a chance this guy would not have gotten inspired by something else, MAYBE--but you still got all those other mass shootings to deal with, USA. I'm totally looking forward reading about the drop in gun violence now that Cloudflare did something about it. I get it, they felt powerless and someone had to do something. But they better hope that the results of their actions were indeed worth the means. It's a pretty brazen act of censorship, that IMHO doesn't weigh up at all to the limited effect it'll have on fringe crazies bouncing hateful ideas off one another.


[flagged]


Don't take time to elaborate, you might be able to actually voice your opinion and add something meaningful to the conversation.

That's exactly what I'm talking about when I say "intelligent discussions are impossible" on these subjects. When someone takes time to write something we can just reply "Lol whatever fam" and continue with our day feeling like we accomplished something. This is level 0 of human communication, you can abstain from it as it doesn't add anything, even a simple down vote would add more value.

Every single time I learned something valuable in life was when I talked with people having diametrically opposed opinions but who were able to have a coherent discourse, the problem is that these people are quickly disappearing and are being replaced by people spewing feel good one liners like yours.


No, it literally makes no sense because you start off with premises that have no correspondence to any sane reality.

There are no "lgbt fanatics". That's not even a concept. I have been around LGBT circles my entire life and the most of extreme forms of advocacy of... anything there, are quite literally incomparable to real, actual extremists. So you're not really off to a good start as far as reasonably informed opinions.

You talk about "a man feeling like a girl", in which you're literally ignoring multiple lifetimes of study of the psychology and clinical evidence, by _very_ qualified experts in the topics who have studied thousands of cases. Again, if you're going to ignore expert advice and call the shots on whatever this isn't exactly helpful.

You continue by claiming that "Anyone thinking these shootings are due to 8chan is a fool, plain and simple". See, again, you ignore strong evidence on the history of deplatforming, going way back to right after WWII.

In what world do you expect to have "reasonable debate" if you spout garbage about subjects that you don't even know where the expert consensus is?


> There are no "lgbt fanatics".

https://mobile.twitter.com/roughly_speakin/status/1083520556...

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.lifesitenews.com/mobile/new...

Literally kids in bikini around men role playing as women on Netflix : https://imgur.com/a/haqn5NY

https://youtu.be/397hRrQWa_c

Come to Berlin gay pride and enjoy kids walking among naked seniors, progress am I right?

All these are applauded by the lgbt community, publicly, every day. I don't know where you stand morally but these things are definitely way out of my acceptance zone and way past the "let people do what they want". Closing your eyes and saying they don't exists is one step under active support.

> You talk about "a man feeling like a girl", in which you're literally ignoring multiple lifetimes of study of the psychology and clinical evidence, by _very_ qualified experts in the topics who have studied thousands of cases.

I just said these people currently have a huge network of public communities to help them through whatever they go through, same for POCs, they're on the current "good side". Not sure what you're hinting here.


You are quoting garbage websites. This "Life site" page is literally nothing more than hot garbage that is about as good as the Enquirer as far as the validity of its reporting goes.

And the idea that trans and POC have "huge networks of support" has no correspondence with real life. You've ever met real trans people? Clearly not, otherwise you would know how their traumas come from intolerant families that disown them, find no support networks and turn to drugs and prostitution as a means of subsistence. The median life expectancy of a trans person is of 35 years, dying from conditions related to drug abuse, STDs, and psychological issues where abandonment is the primary cause of these.

So before copying a bullshit website that seems unhealthily obsessed with trans people, George Soros, and the signs of the antichrist, I dunno, go do some research and try to distinguish real journalism from garbage. This is not even worth our time debating.


Well, you’re quoting precisely nothing, and if you were to quote anything then who’s to say that’s not also just “hot garbage that is about as good as the Enquirer as far as the validity of its reporting goes”?


> You are quoting garbage websites.

I'm well aware of that, but do you happen to know why I have to do that ? Because they're the only ones talking about it (and they're doing a piss poor job at it btw), fortunately there are pics and videos of these events so we can have a glimpse of what's happening. Mainstream medias and "experts" are too busy telling how being fat is healthy and spewing bs stats about the gender pay gap, why would they talk about contrarian ideas ? To get shut off and deplatformed ?

> The median life expectancy of a trans person is of 35 years, dying from conditions related to drug abuse, STDs, and psychological issues where abandonment is the primary cause of these.

Unhealthy behaviors leading to unhealthy behaviors ? Who would have thought.

Do you know what we were telling teenagers looking for a meaning in life in the past ? "Suck it up kiddo it'll get better", and for the vast majority of the time it worked. What do we tell them now ? "Oh my dear, you're simply not in the right body", no wonder they get depressed there is 0 chance of a successful "transition" unless you start before puberty...(and even then you have to go through body mutilation and life long treatments to suppress your natural body processed). When I was 10 I wanted to be a trash trucker driver, at 15 I wanted to be an indiana jones style archaeologist, it was fun for my parents. But somehow if it gets sexual all of a sudden it's DEFCON 1 and you have to comply with their will ?

Feel free to link your experts studies btw, I'm yet to see any of them pointing something out other than "look at all the suicides, you should feel bad".


You totally can still become a trash trucker driver, don't let your parents hold you back, man.


> Come to Berlin gay pride and enjoy kids walking among naked seniors, progress am I right?

Who cares??

(also, who's gonna be the extremist mass shooter in that picture, the kid or the senior?)

> https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.lifesitenews.com/mobile/new....

This article mentions no "LGBT fanatics" cheering it on, just people from the LGBT community condemning it.

> https://mobile.twitter.com/roughly_speakin/status/1083520556....

Who cares, unless the parents are that super controlling "my child is a star" type--which is the only thing that worries me about that situation, who cares if the kid wears a dress and make up.

> Literally kids in bikini around men role playing as women on Netflix : https://imgur.com/a/haqn5NY

So .... ?

> https://youtu.be/397hRrQWa_c

I know it feels bad when you watch something super cringy and you wish it did not exist, but I don't see anybody shooting up people, which is a feeling that is objectively worse than cringe.


>Come to Berlin gay pride and enjoy kids walking among naked seniors, progress am I right?

Are you sexualizing the seniors nudity or the kids viewing of non-sexual nudity? Either way I think you should see a shrink.


> non-sexual nudity

There are videos of dudes having sex on gay pride carts in broad day light in major cities. Let's not pretend that the gay community isn't the most promiscuous community (stds stats, amount of partners stats, &c.) and that half naked dudes in bdsm outfit are "non-sexual". The whole thing is about "sexual liberation". It's not even about being gay or not, it's about decency, I'd have the same discourse for a "straight pride" with straight people having similar behaviors.


> For the "Free Speech is freedom from government prohibition and this is a private company" brigade. I dont want to live in a world where color people is being prohibited to enter a night venue, or gay people cannot order a simple cake, or YES, dude who think their race is more superior being able to blabber their nonsense online as long as it is nothing illegal. After all similar sentiments are expressed (veiled or openly) from many powerful spheres and nobody does nothing.

> Nothing illegal

I think at some point it goes up against the "yelling 'fire' in a crowded movie theater" exemption of free speech.

There are more fundamental fish to fry. 1 Violation of terms of service should categorically be NOT a criminal matter. 2 I strongly believe possession (given we meet safe storage provisions) should never be illegal. ...

I also agree with you that people blabber all the time but when multiple unrelated people take the next step seemingly after reading...


> I think at some point it goes up against the "yelling 'fire' in a crowded movie theater" exemption of free speech.

You know where that phrase came from? It was coined in Schenck v. United States[1], where Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr convicted the defendant for publishing pamphlets opposing the draft in the first world war.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schenck_v._United_States


I'll admit. I didn't know the origin. I don't know whether I'd have supported or opposed this verdict but I can't support the administration's supposed vigorous enforcement.

I think laws are not absolute. We frequently allow prohibited acts because common sense and decency. If you're at a light and it turns yellow, you should stop but not if there's a car close behind you and you're more likely to get in a wreck by stopping rather than speeding up.

I oppose the draft as it exists. It is wrong and immoral to have a draft of only "able-bodied" people of one gender. The draft, if one exists, should be for everyone. No body gets an exemption regardless of their personal belief or body condition. They don't all have to fight. There are plenty of opportunities (I'd imagine) to serve without ever being in a hand to hand combat. Either have a draft of all adults regardless of any other exemptions or don't have one at all.

I'll try to avoid the phrase going forward.


I see your point, but violation of TOS has to be a very clearly defined situation and it is rarely is, at the end it can be ambiguously interpreted to kick anyone if you have the right lawyers, so we are back to step 1.


I suspect GP was referring to Computer Fraud & Abuse Act where 1 ToS violation is a federal crime.


Ah OK, My bad then, thanks!


> I think at some point it goes up against the "yelling 'fire' in a crowded movie theater" exemption of free speech.

I would like to point out (not necessarily to parent) that this was an example of speech that was not protected by 1A in a case where a man was prosecuted by the government for trying to tell young Americans that they don't need to join the draft for WW1.

Also important: yelling fire in a crowded theater is entirely protected speech if you don't believe it to be false.


Does this start to open CloudFlare up to legal issues for all the sites they host? I was under the impression they were more of an infrastructure/utility type service, and weren't liable for what took place, the same way gun manufacturers aren't liable for shootings or gas stations for car crashes.

But if now they're manually deciding who goes on their network and who doesn't, it seems like they're more responsible for everything else that's on it that they allow.

They're a private company and I support them choosing to do business with whoever they want, but I thought there was some sort of legal distinction if they were totally agnostic to what travels over their wires. Is that not the case?


You may be thinking of the "CDA 230" nonsense that will not die, where people claim that companies can't moderate their customers because they'd be liable for what they post.

The opposite is true. CDA 230 makes it clear that companies can moderate their content without becoming responsible for it.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190507/16484342160/one-t...


I've never heard anyone claim that companies can't moderate content without becoming responsible for it. I've heard people say that if publishers show themselves to be capable of censoring, then the legal protections should be rescinded and they should decide if they are a platform or a publisher.

Are you sure you heard the argument correctly?


The techdirt article I linked cites examples of people doing exactly this.

> If Facebook were to start creating or editing content on its platform, it would risk losing that immunity

and

> If Facebook is going to behave like a media provider, picking and choosing what viewpoints to represent, then it’s hard to argue that the company should still have immunity from the legal constraints that old-media organizations live with.

This is all nonsense. Old-media organizations are protected by CDA 230 just like everyone else: they can host third party content like user comments without being liable for it.

Publishers being able to "censor" is the whole value proposition for having a publisher. You're paying for the NYT because it picks who to publish. Facebook has no special "platform" protections that anyone else doesn't get.

Many, many people seem to think that CDA 230 itself makes a distinction between "platforms" and "publishers". I even replied to someone here in this comment section:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20610778


The first one is fair - Vox got it wrong. That vox got it wrong should surprise no one, vox is lowest common denominator agenda driven garbage. \

The second one is asking "should they" - its asking a question not positing a fact.

Should they get immunity for what posted if its clear they have the capacity to censor at will? Why should they and not anyone else on the internet?

CDA makes a distinction between publisher and platform and the talk about this whole issue is that many people are saying that these companies can clearly police their content, and should be liable for it and not specially protected.


The first one was Wired- not Vox- and the second one was claiming in the prior paragraph that "The platforms are immune from such suits under [CDA 230]. The law treats them as a neutral pass-through" which it doesn't. The law specifically says that platforms can moderate any content it deems objectionable.

Where does the CDA make a platform/publisher distinction? What is the definition of the difference, and where is it in the law?

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230

As Techdirt says, "This "publisher" v. "platform" concept is a totally artificial distinction that has no basis in the law.". Are they wrong?


They've kicked people off their service before for content based reasons (eg, Daily Stormer), so this changes nothing. In any case:

> I thought there was some sort of legal distinction if they were totally agnostic to what travels over their wires. Is that not the case?

Not as far as I'm aware, no. The closest thing I can think of is if they were discriminating based on people's membership in a protected class, eg, if they announced a strict "no female clients" policy. This is clearly vastly different.

From a PR point of view, yes, every time they kick someone off for being bad, the more their failing to kick someone off will be seen as an implicit endorsement. But again, that ship has sailed.


They've also removed sex worker websites (including a forum that was just sex workers talking to each other), but for some reason no one complains about it.


I believe you'll find that this was driven by SESTA/FOSTA, rather than being a discretionary choice by Cloudflare, and if you hang out in the right circles, it gets complained about a lot. (EFF, ACLU, Wikimedia, and many more opposed it.)

I think it's unconstitutional and the worst thing to happen to the internet in many years, as well as one of the worst things to happen to civil liberties (which is a pretty high bar!). Unfortunately, it passed senate 97 votes to 2, which suggests legislative fixes will not be coming soon.


Congress recently added sex work as an exception to CDA 230 protections, and every provider scrambled to nuke everything remotely related.


That’s always the way. Censorship/moderation isn’t given a second thought when it’s just sex-related.


Interesting, never heard about that. Are there are other things too?


> "no female clients" policy

For the record, gender isn't a protected class in a place of public accommodation and it's why clubs in Las Vegas can charge Men more than Women.


You would think but apparently that doesn't apply anymore. You can control the content and still get the protections of a common carrier.

I just know I'll remember that cloudflare could pull the pulg on my site if one of my users posts something they don't like. I don't think I can recommend their service to any of clients because of that.


On the one hand, I like the idea of a free, open, and distributed internet, where no one company or government has the power to control what is distributed or discussed. As the great John Gilmore said, more aspirationally than accurately even then: "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

On the other hand, we don't live in that world, and I don't know how well it would work in practice if we did. In this world, corporations and governments have enormous power. Cloudflare has made it clear that it will use that power in a fairly limited and restrained way, but it will use it as it sees fit.

Given that, this seems like a reasonable exercise of that power, and that's about the best we can hope for.


"The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

As if "The Net" is a perfect, neutral, self-supporting entity that behaves with mathematic predictability rather than a projection of the chaotic human society on which its existence depends.

There is a widespread habit among futurists and technologists, perhaps arising from an appreciation for semantic economy and the anonymizing instinct to downplay associations between oneself and one's assertions, to use the passive voice when concocting reductive maxims of this sort.

I believe many of the moral blind spots of technocratic thinking are connected to the peculiar tendency - revealed by this passive voice framing habit - to overlook or outright dismiss the role that human inputs play in the complex systems futurists propose as solutions to human problems.


This is extra funny because in general anyone's internet access is trivially easy to take down with just a bunch of well sent and crafted routing control packets.

Internet was not designed in an adversarial model.


I don't think this statement is ignoring human input. It's extrapolating the result based on what we have observed about the interaction of the technology and the participating humans so far, viewing them as a single system. The passive voice is in recognition that an individual has almost no control over this system as a whole.


We lived in that world until media pushed mentally ill people to the front.

Look at the graphs reporting on racism and the surge of terror.

They basically revived nationalistic movements for clicks. Not wanting to reverse cause and effect but there is ample evide ce that the call for censorship massivle accelerated occurrences like shootings.


> Not wanting to reverse cause and effect but there is ample evide ce that the call for censorship massivle accelerated occurrences like shootings.

That is interesting, but just saying that it is so doesn't lend any credibility to the conclusion. If there is ample evidence, surely you should be able to present it?




>Given that, this seems like a reasonable exercise of that power, and that's about the best we can hope for.

Maybe, this event may become the precedent for all future hosting providers of unpopular opinions and where denial of service attacks become used against these hosting providers. Losing protection from anti-ddos service(s) becomes a process to eliminate the unpopular opinions being expressed.

I think this is dangerous recourse and even if there are competitor services like cloudfare. There are limits in services available and state actors can understand this problem. Then make it impossible for unpopular opinions to be expressed by either orchestrating what's needed to get the anti-ddos services to resent their customers or by other means.

Me personally, I'm alright with 8chan being deleted from the internet but I don't think that will even solve the problem. People with poor quality of life will continue being radicalized and do these acts of revenge in their eyes against a system that made them live in pain (somehow unjust to their views). I think we just need to improve quality of life for people equally without leaving some people left behind because of whatever circumstances. Otherwise people feel the need to leave with sometimes a couple bangs.


> Maybe, this event may become the precedent for all future hosting providers of unpopular opinions

Maybe it won't!

I feel like every time a controversial site gets shut down message boards are flooded with slippery slope arguments, but by and large I haven't seen it ever transpire.


I'd argue reddit is a decent example. They banned some very hateful subs, and then later started banning subs because they 'were not good for advertising' see r/waterniggas.


That's not a slippery slope, though. That's Reddit banning subs for two different reasons. I'd they banned subs for hateful content then changed the definition of "hateful content" to include things advertisers object to then it would be. But if they're publicly stating that they're doing it because of advertisers then it's not really related.


Any time reddit says they are removing something due to "hateful content", it's just PR speak for "we got some media/advertiser backlash for this content so we are removing it".

Reddit was notoriously infested with white supremacist subs, jailbait subs, pics of dead people subs, and more, and they were all brought up to the admins many times, and the admins never took any action on this hateful content until CNN et al started writing articles about it.

It's not entirely unlike this situation with Cloudflare, really. These companies talk a big game about their principles and morals, but at the end of the day the only principle they strictly adhere to is the principle of public backlash.


How are pictures of dead people "hateful"?

Should we ban all pro-abortion subreddits as well because they promote murder of unborn children?


Recently, after Youtube responded to Steven Crowder's harassment of a gay reporter who works for Vox named Carlos Maza, a number of independent youtube personalities who comment on news mentioned they had their videos demonetized. This included people who are on the left. Here's an example and someone I follow[0]. It's not quite what you're talking about, but it's an example of how trying to moderate speech or chill it affects everyone who isn't already an established player (CNN,MSNBC,etc) regardless of their ideology.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX4dDh-EGyI


You’re right about the demonetization effects, but to clarify the Maza-Crowder tiff - Maza previously spent years mocking Crowder and making inappropriate sexual references involving himself and Crowder. Crowder responded inappropriately, thinking he could pull off a Don Rickles act. Still, nothing either of them have done opens them up to harassment charges.

I think the wider demonetization is part of a cynical attempt to sabotage non-publisher media generally, it’s not an accidental side effect. There’s a scorched earth campaign by certain activists at Vox, Media Matters, and even CNN to contact advertisers en masse and essentially threaten that they are considering naming the advertiser in a hit piece about objectionable content. They aren’t dumb - they know the fallout will affect independent journalists and media of all politics.


Yours & my lifetime are limited.

How many controversial topics can we recall that we lived through and where they became accepted overtime? What medium was used at the time and was it the popular communication method for the time. I'm sure historically there was a similar fight with what mediums were available at the time. Burning books or just killing someone who speaks out.

The internet can be the only method nowadays where people with little finances can make a loud enough voice be heard and there are still unpopular views I'm worried won't ever get accepted if people are not being cautious about throwing away measures. That's why the slippery slope argument is worth me typing. Even if maybe it won't!


It is disingenuous to describe white supremacy as "an unpopular opinion".


I think unpopular opinions from life experiences are what gravitates people to whatever categorization and or label is placed upon them.

Btw, the only reason I feel the needs to share my thoughts is because I have an unpopular opinion myself. Assisted death should become available for people that desire it. There are some sites I view that have resources for people that are ending their life and these sites suffer denial of service attacks. They started using cloudflare recently.


It's certainly not an unpopular opinion at all.


This feels like a misunderstanding of the word freedom. Freedom in speech means that I can say what I want.

It does _not_ mean that a hosting company has to host it or that a CDN has to optimize it or that a search company has to rank it or that an ad-network has to monetize it. Each of those players is free to do what they think is best with their time, resources, etc.; which often includes thinking of what "the public" will think of them doing (or not doing) a thing.

Freedom does not mean that I have the "right" to be heard or the "right" to be amplified—either as much as the next person or at all.

The net, as in a network of computers, is quite close to free. Being a part of a society is not. Ted Kaczynski was not arrested for writing manifestos beyond the pale of normative capitalism from a self-built cabin in Montana. He was arrested for sending bombs. The moment one person freely decides to harmfully affect others, those others can do something about it.

It seems much of the hand-wringing about freedom—when we talk about the internet and corporations—is that extremist speech does not have access to the same megaphone, the same means of monetization (and therefore survival). And that…well that's what living in a society is all about.

Are there bad parts about tech as we see it today? Absolutely! But it hardly seems like the problem is "not enough shit is allowed on the internet." I don't know, maybe I'm wrong.


No one has the "right" to have their speech amplified by 3rd parties. However, I don't think Cloudflare is in the business of providing amplification, they are in the business of providing access, which I think is closer to censorship than restricting amplification.

Access means people who WANT this content can get it easily. If you're making it harder for people who voluntarily choose to view 8chan content, you're restricting access.

Amplification means getting content in front of new eyeballs that wouldn't have otherwise seen it. E.g. if Facebook determined that given this user's age, race, zip-code, and favorite TV shows they might be in interested in this racist-meme sharing group that one of their friends joined, and then surfaces that content, that's amplification.


> Amplification means getting content in front of new eyeballs that wouldn't have otherwise seen it.

Which a CDN does as well. If a user visits the site during peak demand and the site without a CDN can't handle it, the user doesn't get the site in front of their eyeballs. With a CDN, they might. Analogy also works during DDoS attacks. Both assume that the user doesn't have infinite memory and patience to keep trying (because that's a realistic assumption).

"Amplification" has be overloaded. You are talking about a viral marketing definition, whereas CDNs are a hardware+software force multiplier for performance.


Cloudflare can't block access to a website. They can protect their customers from DDOS attacks, and they happen to do it more cheaply and effectively than one could do alone. If they refuse to service a website and that website gets DDOSed off the internet, that is not cloudflare's fault.


Should that mean a power company can cut off your power because they don't like what you've said?

Should that mean the water company can cut your water off for criticizing them?

Should that mean that a bank can refuse to give you a loan, because you said something bad, even if your credit is more than acceptable?

-------------------------------

Remember this: its the extremist that the law is made around. And soon enough, the law will be wrapped around non-extremists and used as let another tool of influence and control. The worst part is that anyone who speaks against this sort of law is seen to be defending the extremists, and is seen as a despicable person - yet the criticizers never stop to think about the average Joe and Jane.


> Should that mean a power company can cut off your power because they don't like what you've said?

No. Because they are a public utility and that would be a violation of the first amendment.

> Should that mean that a bank can refuse to give you a loan, because you said something bad, even if your credit is more than acceptable?

Yes. Because they are a private institution and not obligated to do business with you.

There are very simple rules at play here...


Have we all just completely forgotten the years of fighting for net neutrality? The very same net neutrality where we all have been arguing that sometimes even private companies shouldn't be allowed to arbitrarily filter whatever they want?

If all of the major ISPs launch their own email competitor and then go on to block Google, would you be singing the same tune? "It's okay because AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Charter are private institutions and are not obligated to do business with Google"? What if it turns out that the AT&T CEO is a Trump supporter, and he decides that anyone who has AT&T as an ISP will no longer be able to access any news site other than Fox News? "It's okay because AT&T is a private company and has no obligation to do business with the Washington Post"?

The entire argument for net neutrality is based on the premise that sometimes even private companies become so big that they become very similar to 'public utilities' and it is absolutely in the public interest to force those companies to not arbitrarily filter whatever they feel like.

You can argue that Cloudflare, or a bank, or whoever doesn't fit this definition, but you can't both be for something like net neutrality while simultaneously spouting this argument that "private companies can do whatever they want". We have literally centuries of laws that specifically say that no, companies cannot do whatever they want just because they are private.


You're mixing up net neutrality with freedom of speech issues. Net Neutrality seeks to regulate IP packet filtering and prevent transport providers from selling premium services ("fastlanes") to particular companies only. What content those companies deliver or (re-)transmit is not regulated by net neutrality at all.

I'm saying this not because I disagree with your position, but mainly because this confusion was dominating the debate in the US and was to some extent a deliberate strawman pushed by the opponents of net neutrality.


Incorrect , net neutrality also required that ISPs not block.

A lot of pro net neutrality people didn’t really understand what they were arguing for, I think, since the same people will turn around and argue that ISPs should be able to censor content they don’t like.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCC_Open_Internet_Order_2010

“A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.“


Sure, blocking is throttling 100%.

The point remains that the OP mischaracterized net neutrality. What is important is that net neutrality only concerns transport of IP packets. Content providing companies and web site owners can moderate, block, or censor content as they like and as they deem fit. They have done so in the past under net neutrality, do so in countries with net neutrality laws, and are doing it now in the US without net neutrality.

The two issues are frequently mixed up, hence my comment.

On a side note, I've never heard anyone argue that ISPs should block content, that seems like a strawman to me, but I guess if you just search hard enough you can find someone on the Internet who argued for that nonsense.

> lawful content

Good point, that's compatible with restrictions of freedom of speech due to declaring certain kind of content illegal, and clearly illustrates that the two issues are different from each other. Yet people confuse them again and again, and additionally almost always base their arguments on a false dichotomy or on fallacious slippery slope arguments.


8chan is lawful content. Vile, hateful content, but completely lawful. They comply with DMCA and moderate to remove illegal material. If they didn’t, the FBI could already have had them pulled offline just like they do to ISIS websites.

The logical end to deplatforming is arguing that ISPs should be able to block or decline customers based on the content they are hosting. Otherwise a customer can buy business-class internet and host their immoral content themselves on a server farm in their home, which takes away the whole point of deplatforming which is to make the content no longer available on the internet.


> The logical end to deplatforming is arguing that ISPs should be able to block or decline customers based on the content they are hosting.

Not at all. That's an obvious strawman.

You're mischaracterizing what's going on there. If I run a company, it is my right not to make business with radical hate groups and terrorists. They will be someone else's problem then.

That's exactly the reason that Cloudflare has given, not some nebulous talk about "deplatforming".

> which is to make the content no longer available on the internet

LOL. That is decidedly not the purpose of deplatforming, as the word "de-platforming" readily suggests.

> the FBI could already have had them pulled offline just like they do to ISIS websites

It is obvious to me as an outside observer that the FBI applies justice selectively. Domestic terrorism is underrated. Of course, 8chan could be raided and closed for the same reasons as ISIS websites are raided and closed. The laws are there and 8chan could easily be considered aiding and fostering domestic terrorism. The laws are just not applied in this case.

It's also kind of 'reasonable' not to apply them as harshly, since US judges and juries suffer from the same bias. They are unlikely to judge of some deranged gun nut that he was planning or aiding a terrorist attack. They are highly likely to judge of some deranged ISIS sympathizer that he was planning or aiding a terrorist attack. Police authorities make the call on what to pursue and what not to pursue based on the prospects of a successful trial.


>If I run a company, it is my right not to make business with radical hate groups and terrorists. They will be someone else's problem then.

This type of thing is possibly one of the hardest ethical issues to tackle. On the one hand, I don't support racists and fascists at all. But on the other hand, I recognize the potential damage in carving out these exceptions in free speech. As social mores change, the ideas of "acceptable" free speech may change, and we need to be cognizant of the ways that these exceptions could be abused long term. Otherwise, we're just setting up future generations for a collapse of the concept of freedom of speech.

I think the answer to solving hate and bigotry goes much, much deeper than preventing people from speaking their hateful and bigoted views. All that's going to do is sweep the problem under the rug, and eventually that problem will come back out some orders of magnitude worse. Perhaps we could do things like make it illegal to teach kids hate and bigotry? But then you've got the entirety of America mad at you because you're "telling people how to raise their kids". Mere advocacy against bullying and hate doesn't really seem to be working.

I think we'll see better gains in this area when we stop trying to find the first thing we can to "blame" these mass shooting on, and arguing endlessly about what that cause is (guns, video games, unrestricted freedom of speech, etc). We need to dig deep. I think if we understood more on the topic of mental health, we'd have a better chance at understanding these situations.


> On a side note, I've never heard anyone argue that ISPs should block content, that seems like a strawman to me, but I guess if you just search hard enough you can find someone on the Internet who argued for that nonsense.

Well, it's been going on for years in the Netherlands, where the Pirate Bay, almost all of its proxies, and a couple of non-TPB torrent sites are being blocked at the ISP level. It used to be a relatively simple to circumvent DNS block (the ISPs didn't really want to, either), but they've gotten better at it and now if it's blocked, the site is either gone, unless a specific proxy for it exist (or you use a VPN).

To tie it back to the US again, the reason this happened is because of a Dutch lobbying group (Brein) that is funded by and works directly for the gigantic US content industry and rightholders (there are maybe a few Dutch artists attached to them , but they are a mere drop in budget).


>shall not block lawful content

Incitement to specific violence and planning thereof, against specific individuals, is not lawful content.


Net neutrality is deeply entangled with freedom of speech issues. In fact one of the ISP's main arguments against it is that it violates their 1st amendment rights.


ISPs use the public's right of way and air wave spectrum licenses, so I don't think they're good examples.

An example right of way agreement between a municipality and Cable company: https://www.avondalelibrary.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=7086

Summary of right of law statutes in different states:

https://www.ntia.doc.gov/legacy/ntiahome/staterow/rowtable.p...

>but you can't both be for something like net neutrality while simultaneously spouting this argument that "private companies can do whatever they want".

One can definitely pick and choose what you want to support, all those laws did exactly the same. Charities are 'picked and chosen' not to pay taxes, even though they are basically private companies. I don't see a contradiction between supporting net neutrality and supporting Cloudflare's decision.

>We have literally centuries of laws that specifically say that no, companies cannot do whatever they want just because they are private

We have literally centuries of law stating that 'Neo-Nazi White Supremacists' isn't a protected class, hence can be refused service.

If and when this is abused by companies causing real problems which society thinks is unacceptable, new laws will be passed restricting discriminating against neo-Nazis.

Maybe write to your local congressman and senator asking them to pass a law forcing Cloudflare to serve neo-Nazis.


>ISPs use the public's right of way and air wave spectrum licenses, so I don't think they're good examples.

And Cloudflare's business is similarly dependent on these very same rights of way and spectrums. So why shouldn't they be subject to the same restrictions?

Hint: it's because the argument for net neutrality has nothing to do with the ISP's usage of ROW or public spectrum, and everything to do with the effect that it would have on society if ISPs were allowed to arbitrarily filter whatever they want.

What's funny about this is that I actually don't need to make this argument, because Cloudflare's CEO Matthew Prince has already made it for me. The entire blog post that he wrote [1] when Daily Stormer was taken off CF is one big explanation of why companies like Cloudflare having the ability to arbitrarily filter sites is bad. That didn't seem to stop him, I guess.

> Due Process requires that decisions be public and not arbitrary. It's why we've always said that our policy is to follow the guidance of the law in the jurisdictions in which we operate. Law enforcement, legislators, and courts have the political legitimacy and predictability to make decisions on what content should be restricted. Companies should not.

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


>And Cloudflare's business is similarly dependent on these very same rights of way and spectrums. So why shouldn't they be subject to the same restrictions?

Did Cloudflare sign a document like this one?

https://www.avondalelibrary.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=7086

Then 8chan should sue them in court and win.

Why didn't Daily Stormer sue them?


> Then 8chan should sue them in court and win.

In order for them to win, you'll have to ignore the fact that when they created a CloudFlare account, they agreed that CloudFlare had the right to terminate such services for any or no reason.


However, this was a problem when Visa and Paypal cut off donations to Wikileaks. It was actually quite hard for them for a while to get donations in, even though there were plenty of people willing to donate.

Certain banks and their services (e.g. wire transfer), as well as payment providers should be treated like public utilities, especially when they have quasi-monopolies. The same for ISPs in areas in which there is only one or two, and other large companies with quasi-monopolies like Google, Apple and Microsoft. I don't think this applies to companies like Reddit or Cloudflare, though, for which there are easy and widely used substitutes.


Are there easy and widely used substitutes for Cloudflare's DDoS protection?

Because a big reason why I think this is bad is because I thought there are in fact no realistic alternatives to Cloudflare's protection.

If there are alternatives, then I am also in the camp of "okay they can decide who to do business with or not".

But I was under the impression that, if you are a controversial website, at a certain size (not even that big, depending on your enemies) you are likely to draw DDoS attacks of a severity that only Cloudflare can realistically protect against. The DDoS attacks being relatively cheap for whoever orders them.


> No. Because they are a public utility and that would be a violation of the first amendment.

> Yes. Because they are a private institution and not obligated to do business with you.

That's some pretty strong dissonance there. Here in Indiana, the utilities AND banks are all private entities. And there's no actual state or federal law that would prevent a utility from cutting utilities for "being and speaking of white nationalism". I chose my examples carefully - all are much more regulated than some Walmart or Target or Amazon.

My larger discussion was that over very corporate autonomy. Who made them arbiters of what language was acceptable? Why should infrastructure companies be decision makers of what is said online? Years ago, we restricted the phone companies from doing that very thing - and they wanted dearly to forbid classes of speech. Yet somehow when it's "on the interwebz" we throw those ideas and rules out, all so that someone can make a bigger pile of dollars.

Don't forget, cloudflare is a US company. There's absolutely 0 reason why they can't be considered an infrastructure company and subject to common carrier rules as well. Or the counter-offer is they can be responsible for speech over their network. I doubt they'd like that either. After all, they're still hosting piles of stressers and ddos merchants.


> Here in Indiana, the utilities AND banks are all private entities.

It's likely there's one (or at most, a small handful) of each utility enjoying a state-supported monopoly, even if it's technically run by a private company. The same is not true for banks - I can sign up for one of hundreds of nationwide or online banks even if all the local ones decide I'm an ass.


>That's some pretty strong dissonance there. Here in Indiana, the utilities AND banks are all private entities. And there's no actual state or federal law that would prevent a utility from cutting utilities for "being and speaking of white nationalism". I chose my examples carefully - all are much more regulated than some Walmart or Target or Amazon.

I don't see a dissonance. If and when banks and utilities start cutting off neo-Nazis, the public and politicians may find that unpalatable and pass laws restricting it. Or may not. The fact that isn't happening right now means no unnecessary laws are required.

If and when society and politicians feel that Cloudflare shouldn't be able to not serve 8chan, it will pass a law doing so. Call your congressman and senator.

>Years ago, we restricted the phone companies from doing that very thing - and they wanted dearly to forbid classes of speech

Sounds interesting, got any references to read?


[flagged]


The bakery that won their SCOTUS case?


> The bakery that won their SCOTUS case?

No, [1] the bakery that paid $135,000 in fines, went bankrupt, and is stll bound by the lower courts decision because SCOTUS only remanded the case back to a lower court.

And yeah, they might ultimately win... if you want to call that winning.

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/17/scotus-lower-court-should-re...


> and is stll bound by the lower courts decision because SCOTUS only remanded the case back to a lower court.

Wrong, they are not bound by the lower court decision, because the Supreme Court vacated the judgement and remanded the case for further consideration in light of the SCOTUS ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop (as stated in the order linked from the source you linked), because that decision set relevant precedent which the lower court did not consider in its judgement (for timing reasons, as the lower court decision predates Masterpiece Cakeshop, I believe.)


> Wrong, they are not bound by the lower court decision

I am NOT wrong...

... this case is yet to be heard. Therefore; they are still presently bound by the original decision.

PS: And they are still Bankrupt.


Your hypos fall well short of the level of actions undertaken by the two sites which have been terminated by CloudFlare, which advocated for, championed, and celebrated violent actions against innocent and blameless third parties, including children.

Your argument fails to credibly address the situation at hand.


I might add: violent and deadly.


Cloudflare didn't and can't "cut off” 8chan. They can stop providing CDN distribution and bandwidth services to 8chan. As it happens, 8chan's web host _did_ cut off 8chan, so you should be directing your rants at them.


Power and water companies operate as public utilities for a reason. Cloudflare is not a public utility, nor should they be.

Banks can absolutely decide not to do business you, for any reason that's not explicitly forbidden (protected classes, etc.)


When you use the tired, old "businesses can refuse to serve anybody they want" argument, understand that you are using the same arguments used in the past to refuse business to various races, creeds, orientations etc. that are now protected classes. That really ought to make you queasy and perhaps you should contemplate why.

By the way, some states are now recognizing that political affiliation needs to be a protected class as well: https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/political-aff.... It may not be in keeping with modern progressive thought but is certainly in the spirit of classical liberalism as well as an important first step in depolarizing the country.


A black person cannot stop being black, nor is there any reason they should.

A person who believes black people should be killed or kicked out of the U.S. can always change their mind, and they should.

Advocating bigotry or violence is not a political affiliation nor is it a protected class.


Historically, some of the most discriminated people have been people of a different religion. In principle you can "stop believing in your religion" as easily as you can stop believing that immigrants are destroying your country.

In practice, nobody cares to protect bigots and a lot of people want to protect gays, immigrants, women, etc. It is troubling that we only protect certain classes of people since maybe the next group that comes along after the current group of bigots will actually deserve protection but the arguments we built to allow the lack of protection for bigots will be used to deny protection to that group.


The end goal of bigotry is to distort legal structures to eliminate equality and preferentially harm certain people, often because of attributes they can't change, like their ethnicity or where they were born. If you're worried about protecting people of the future, you should be opposing bigotry.

Bigotry has cloaked itself in the mantle of victim and you've totally fallen for it.


Those same arguments were used against freedom of religion. English Catholics were popish spies who would try to blow up parliament and overthrow the government, etc. Therefore, they needed to be persecuted as heretics to protect the common good.

Roman Christians refused to worship the emperor, destabilizing the social order, and therefore needed to be thrown to the lions to protect society.

Atheists couldn’t be trusted because they didn’t believe in hell, and therefore would act immorally, and so should be banned from positions of power (this is actually in a couple of US state constitutions!)

(And of course, the same arguments were used in reverse later on as different groups got power)

I won’t shed any tears for 8chan who are a bunch of immoral scum, but I know these same arguments will be deployed to censor religious minorities and others in the future. Hopefully they are less appealing targets.


Except these were lies.

These people are real, and actually causing harm. Or do you argue that it is not the case?


Were they lies? Guy fawkes was real. The pope actually did excommunicate Elizabeth and sponsor several invasions/rebellions by the French and Irish.

The western Roman Empire fell apart a hundred years after Christianity became the state religion. Some historians blame tensions among christian schisms in Egypt/the Middle East for the byzantine empire losing those regions to the Arab invasion.

(All I’m saying with the above is that the justifications seemed plausible and reasonable to the educated people of the time. Read Pliny’s letter to Trajan seeking counsel for what to do about Christians, for example)


It is a failing of the ego to think that one has foreseen all possible abuses of a policy going forward.

I think the answer is more speech, not less. Any exception you carve out will be abused in the future, based on the history of humankind and the behavior of governing entities throughout.

Take these exceptions to freedom of speech, add to them a codified framework for equity (which some are pushing for), and you're laying the groundwork for a society like that seen in Harrison Bergeron.


You're far too quick to paint me with the brush of "enemy" simply because I can understand why sensible people are worried. That I tangentially refer to 8chan as bigots should have been enough to tip you off. Maybe you should allow a little color into your world of black and white.

I suppose you don't find historical things like McCarthyism very worrying, given how easily you are to think your principle of discriminating by choice separates what you judge to be good from what you judge to be bad. But do you really trust every imaginable leader with such a power?


This is what I worry about. As social mores change, we must resist efforts to carve out exceptions to fundamental rights, in order to prevent those exceptions from being wrongly used against people in a harmful way. I think the Founders understood this on some level, even if they couldn't know what the political and social landscape would look like today.


That doesn’t change the fact that the CRA restricted freedom of association. Still, the better argument for legislating platform neutrality is that those platforms enjoy special legal status based on the notion that they can’t be held responsible for user-generated content. If you can spare resources to purge content that offends your political sensibilities, then you are making a choice not to remove content that is, e.g., defamatory, infringes on copyright, etc.


Beautifully summed up by this XKCD: https://xkcd.com/1357/


So does that count for all the Brianna Wu's and Anita Sarkeesian's as well? All the outroar and backlash to the was called harassment and transphobia.


So you're willing to give unchecked control of online discourse to a private corporation?


The power is not unchecked.

It can be checked through lawsuit -- 8chan could conceivably sue Cloudflare under numerous doctrines, starting with breach of promise / breach of contract.

Another service provider could step up, as was the case with Daily Stormer, and is extensively commented upon in Prince's commentary, and provide services.

Regulatory or legal procedures could be established to specifically address this situation or provide redress.

Public outcry, market sanctions, or labour actions might be taken against providers who exercise such power in manners which are seen as morally reprehensible. For similar examples, see Google employees over Dragonfly or Edleman's emplyee backlash over a contract with a border-wall services company.

The question to be asked, the question we all have to ask, is whether or not individuals, groups, companies, or inchoate movements which are themselves dedicated to abolition or denial of civil order and rule of law are themselves deserving of its full protections in pursuing those ends. And a considerable case can be made for "no".


It's not unchecked- they are free to move to a different service. Why should Cloudflare be forced to keep all customers no matter what? That infringes on their rights as a private business to run their business as they see fit. There is no "freedom of platform" where your right to a platform is being infringed. You have no right to a platform.


Do we really need to talk about closing down a site where people encourage each other to kill other people (no matter who does it)? Why is it so important that there are no exceptions to freedom of speech? Seriously, I just don’t get how the purity of the concept of freedom of speech can be so important that it beats common sense.


"Do we really need to talk about closing down a site where people encourage each other to kill other people"

Oh, so you are in favor of shutting down all army related sites? Well, many pacifist would probably agree ..


Since there are no army related sites which encourage people to kill other people I'm not in favor of that and you are free to convince me otherwise by providing a link. But, if they were doing this I would be in favor of shutting them down, yes.


Army is all about how to kill other people. Not hypothetically, very real. Every day.

And governemnts openly advertise for it. On websites, (even in schools). And private enthusiasts maintain forums where army people discuss about the current wars and how to better kill the current enemy. Etc. Etc.


> Army is all about how to kill other people.

Not necessarily. The purpose of armies is to win wars. If it was possible to win wars without killing people they wouldn't kill people. In fact they are trying to minimize collateral damage. It's different with white supremacists. They have a direct interest in killing people. There is no collateral damage for them, which is also why they do mass shootings and the army usually doesn't.


Most of the latter are interested in expelling those they don't consider their own, violence to most of them is just a means to an end, otherwise "go back" or "send them back" would not have been their rallying cry.

Some really do want to kill people, but then again would you deny that the army or even the police doesn't get their fair share of these people?


I guess we already made the experiment what would happen if white supremacists would lead a country, so we can already tell that it's likely that "sending them back" isn't going to cut it, if "they" refuse to leave.


I think the vast majority of bigots are low-level blowhards who don't even understand their own viewpoints. Only a small percentage of those actually cause direct harm to others.

I don't know the answer, but I know that indiscriminate restrictions on freedom of speech aren't the answer.

It saddens me that this paraphrased prose I'm about to write even has to exist.

First they came for the Nazis, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Nazi.

Then they came for the racists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a racist.

Then they came for the bigots, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a bigot.

Then they came for the rich, and I did not speak out— Because I was not rich.

Then they came for the religious, and I did not speak out— Because I was not religious.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


Have you an example in history when a lack of censorship posed a problem?

I don't, so I value it very much. There were attrocities in my countries in the name of common sense on the other hand.

Even if intuitive, censorship isn't an answer to anything.


I don’t consider deleting calls for violence towards minorities censorship. And I do think that history has shown too many times that propaganda is a powerful tool, that needs to be restricted. I mean you are free to doubt common sense, but I think doubting common sense is always the first step of becoming fanatic. What would be the country you are talking about? The way I could imagine for someone to commit atrocities out of common sense would be if he has a gun pointed to his head.


We are not talking propaganda here, these are individual actors. Some just like to provoke a reaction, some have these believes and I have seen people turning their back on these platforms innumerable times.

Regardless of the reason people visit these places, the moment they get external pressure, their believes get vindicated. We see a large surge in issues with these communities since we got on our little censorship trip. It is just plainly the wrong move to make.

There have been Nazis on the internet since shortly after its inception. But random people going out and shooting crowds in this frequency is a new phenomenon.

Historically censorship has always been applied for the right reasons of course.


This historical comparison just isn't fair since at no point in human history the possibilities of communication were anywhere close to what they are now.


>>>Do we really need to talk about closing down a site where people encourage each other to kill other people (no matter who does it)?

That's a fairly simple metric. So you're saying we can finally shut down Twitter?

https://youtu.be/n2Gu7NqsCfg


Freedom of speech is not without exceptions. You can't yell, "fire" in a crowded theater when there is no fire for example.

Everyone here wants that perfect idealistic and pure world, unfortunately that's now the world we are given. Problem is many here want to just treat the world we have as the idealistic model world as if there is no difference.


As opposed to...what, exactly?

A government funded Reddit?

Which government would fund it? How would it be run?


The government could fund educational programs to teach people to think critically about the content they see on the internet, then they wouldn't have to censor it.


The government already provides 12 years of (somewhat) compulsory education.

Critical thinking skills still seem to be a rarity.


That is perhaps not a bad idea.

If not government funded, a non-profit, like c-span.


> So you're willing to give unchecked control of online discourse to a private corporation

You clearly are okay with it because you are posting on a forum with unchecked, active moderation.


But the power that Cloudflare has, is being one of the only services to offer protection against modern DoS attacks. If you're a somewhat controversial site (be it right extremist or LGBTQ or sex worker forum) you are going to be suffering these attacks. And then Cloudflare is your only option, or suffer being DoS-ed off line constantly.

Correct me if I am wrong, but Cloudflare is the only serious option against heavy modern DoS attacks, right?

Cause if you can go somewhere else, then sure Cloudflare do it's thing. But if you can't ... then that is way too much power for a random company to hold the gate over any kind of controversial group, anywhere on the political, cultural or global spectrum. Because we really needed another US corporation with runaway power, that'll balance things.


Cloudflare is committing itself to do as they are told by the governments, in the spirit of upholding the law [0] on govts' behalf (despite under no obligation to do so), if they deem fit.

Whether this makes them reasonable, time will tell. Full marks to Cloudflare for so eloquently addressing this and covering themselves with as much grace as they could muster. If one reads between the lines, censorship is coming. This isn't different from what jgrahamc said a few months back in the news [1].

Signals a new era for Cloudflare, going from protector to arbitrator [2], for better or for worse.

[0] for instance, it was and still is a crime to be a minority in some countries.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19774347

[2] Not an expert, but it'd be nice if they allowed 30 to 90 day time period before termination, rather than doing it overnight?


> Signals a new era for Cloudflare, going from protector to arbitrator

They kicked off The Daily Stormer 2 years ago. I'm not sure anything changed today.


> still is a crime to be a minority in some countries.

Do you have examples in mind?

I have no doubt that this is the case, but I can't think of any examples.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Saudi_Arabia and in spirit, persecution is a world wide phenomenon.


"the speed with which tech cos change after a bad PR cycle seems like solid proof that none of this is abt principles but abt trying to keep from making hard choices as long as possible. earlier today they argued that keeping 8chan within its network is a “moral obligation”"

https://twitter.com/cwarzel/status/1158193462459506693


This always has been and always will be about publicity. 8ch started getting mentioned on national television, and there started to be questions directed at cloudflare. Reddit used to happily host discriminatory, violent communities, and only banned them once people started paying attention and companies became afraid to advertise on reddit because of its perceived connections to hate by the public. The message to hate communities is to lay low and not get noticed by the media.


Speech cannot be violent.

To the downvoters: speech cannot be violent, by definition. Using your own private definition of a word—in this case, violence—without making an explicit disclaimer is inherently deceitful.


Buy a dictionary. Volence doesn't have to use physical force.


Violence does refer to direct physical harm. There's a subset of people, predominantly in the social sciences, that is trying to redefine violence to include things like "economic violence" and "social violence" (e.g. breaking up with an SO you don't like, or not being friends with someone anymore). This is not the average person's understanding of the word, and personally I feel that it drastically washes down the meaning of violence.

If these things constitute violence then lots of violence is completely legal. In fact, you commit violence probably every day when you decide who to be friends with and who not to be friends with, who gets hired, etc.


It explicitly does. But it doesent always even infer harm. I can swing my arms violently, and not hurt anyone.


Having checked one, I found this: "the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy"

Would you care to offer a different definition?


Where did CloudFlare make or where was CloudFlare quoted as making the “moral obligation” argument? That just looks like a random tweet to me.

Edit: Looks like CEO comment to the Guardian earlier today

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/04/mass-shoo...


Cloudflare in the past was a staunch defender of free speech when people tried to get them to take down a website that was an outlet for pro-ISIS propaganda (I think the quote from the CEO was "A website is speech. It is not a bomb").

When they stopped hosting the neo-Nazi website they mentioned in the link, they made a big deal about how it was a one-off decision and they'll never again again stop serving a website because of its content. Clearly they've changed their minds about that.


That they abandoned those principles due to PR pressure does not mean it was not about principles. I dislike such motivated, deceitful arguments.


You're arguing that their abandonment of their principles, was due to principles.


Not even close. I am arguing that they have principles, but compromised on them due to too high a cost.

What kind of tortured logic do you need to employ where one can only claim to have principles if they hold on to them no matter the cost?


When I was younger I thought I was a few speech absolutist. Then I went to where was free speech was absolute and saw what was discussed. Now I favor moderation.


> Then I went to where was free speech was absolute and saw what was discussed.

That suffers from a selection effect. Since not many sites prioritize free speech and only allow things within some narrower region of the overton window to be discussed it follows that the more extreme positions get pushed to sites that allow more.

If, hypothetically, every site were tolerant then you wouldn't have that association.

Also note that even 8chan is still moderated, each sub-board has its own rules and there also are global rules. What it really enables is a diversity of rules, set by each sub-community. What people seem to want is for sub-communities not to be allowed to exist even though they're not illegal. And that seems pretty dangerous.


I disagree: Free speech absolutism will still involve community sorting.

In the long-term, without moderation and community standards, the bad drives out the good. If you work in a place with an absolute asshole, and nothing is being done to deal with this person, you're more likely to quietly leave for greener pastures. Meanwhile other assholes might find a kindred spirit, and join up. Repeat these interactions for a while, and you're left with a community of assholes and a toxic culture.


What you describe is just communities forming. And that's exactly what the board or subreddit model already does.


These sub-communities that people want to censor, do they have any redeeming value?

Or are you just making a slippery-slope argument that this might be a precedent for some hypothetical future censorship of something worthwhile?


> These sub-communities that people want to censor, do they have any redeeming value?

The usual example would be cartoon child pornography. Some want to see it wiped off the face of earth, others argue it provides an outlet for pedophiles.

> Or are you just making a slippery-slope argument that this might be a precedent for some hypothetical future censorship of something worthwhile?

Maybe that too, but it's more about that they are not illegal, which means the judicial system has not found that they shouldn't exist and no attempt has been made to bring about such a decision. If its not the judicial system, who should be the arbiter of communities that are allowed to exist? Do we want facebook, google and cloudflare to be community-shepherds?


> the judicial system has not found that they shouldn't exist and no attempt has been made to bring about such a decision.

I would argue this isn't necessarily true. "I know it when I see it" -- the famous quote in a SCOTUS decision on pornography/indecency is interpreted to give local communities the ability to determine what is decent/legal. In other words, there is no one court/legal standard; it varies based on regional local standards.


They can host their own if it's legal, can't they? So sure, kick them off if they're disruptive and hateful. They don't deserve a megaphone.


Not when internet infrastructure refuses to host them. Yeah, you could build your own servers, ISP, DNS provider, CDN, and DDoS protection... but that's way beyond the capability of most groups.


If, hypothetically, every site were tolerant then you wouldn't have that association.

Sure, you'd just have extreme content widely distributed, but it would still cluster within sites. Birds of a feather flock together, as the saying goes.


>When I was younger I thought I was a few speech absolutist. Then I went to where was free speech was absolute and saw what was discussed. Now I favor moderation.

How do you determine what speech is "good" and what speech is "bad"? I feel like there is no absolute way to determine this. (I am being genuine in asking, I want to know what caused this change and how you see "free speech")

All speech is good in my opinion. Some actions are bad. 8chan is supporting these actions, they've crossed the line.


> How do you determine what speech is "good" and what speech is "bad"?

Ultimately the courts determine which speech is "good" or "bad" by interpreting the law, but all property owners can determine what speech is permitted on their property (like what cloudflare is doing).

I accept some limits on free speech. I think you shouldn't be able to start a panic without cause (yelling fire in a crowded theater). I think conspiracy is a crime. I think threats are a crime. I support the idea of copyright laws even if I think our current system is bad.

From an internet freedom standpoint I think this signals we have an over dependence on cloudflare, not that we have a free speech problem.


> I think this signals we have an over dependence on cloudflare, not that we have a free speech problem.

I agree. I dislike the idea of large systems. Being able to throw their weight around is a symptom of the problem.


> I think you shouldn't be able to start a panic without cause (yelling fire in a crowded theater)

I would argue this isn't speech any more than saying a phrase to Alexa that causes an API to be called which then detonates a bomb is speech.

I define speech as expression of ideas. Basically, say I maintain a blog. Should there be limits on which ideas I'm allowed to express on that blog? Should I be thrown in jail if I express a "bad" idea?


>Basically, say I maintain a blog. Should there be limits on which ideas I'm allowed to express on that blog? Should I be thrown in jail if I express a "bad" idea?

Aren't Al Quaeda and ISIS websites shutdown all the time? If ISIS was using 8chan to spread Jihadi propaganda that ended up leading to killing on US soil, they'd be shut down quick. But since the extremists belong to a political side, it's called free speech. When Twitter/FB/YT/Reddit remove such speech, it's spun as political bias.


> Aren't Al Quaeda and ISIS websites shutdown all the time

Ironically for your argument, Cloudflare hasn't really shutdown any alleged ISIS sites. This was even noted in their first blog when shutting down the Daily Stormer.


> Should I be thrown in jail if I express a "bad" idea?

If, say, you're aware that your readers have a tendency towards "exuberance" when it comes to dogpiling / harassing / doxing / etc. people you call out on your blog and your "bad" idea expresses a wish that someone has a very bad time of things, yeah, you should definitely be looking at consequences (perhaps not jail-level, mind) for that idea.

(cf people like Gervais on Twitter who have a consequence-free dogpile mob ready to relentlessly harass anyone criticising them. Or POTUS, in the current instance.)


>From an internet freedom standpoint I think this signals we have an over dependence on cloudflare, not that we have a free speech problem.

Both can be true.


I think you shouldn't be able to start a panic without cause[.] I think threats are a crime.

Does that extend to US presidential candidates? The Democrats and Republicans both have quite a history of that. (And I am certain that if I bothered I could dig up hundreds of other examples)

Free speech curtailment never works out well no matter the motivations. It is just another control used by the powerful to advance their own interests.

Yes Cloudflare has the right as a private company to do what they want etc, etc. The argument is not narrowly about staying within legal bounds, but what _ought_ to be.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=902894...


>How do you determine what speech is "good" and what speech is "bad"?

Speech becomes bad when it infringes on the rights of another group or individual. Where that specific line is drawn does vary, but the underlying principle is the same and one that seemingly everyone agrees with. The US happens to be near the absolute extreme to where this line is drawn.

Whether you think hate speech infringes on the rights of the targeted group is up for debate. People don't have an inherent right to not be offended (which is why I am against the few western countries that still have blasphemy laws). However, hate speech on sites like 8chan does often lead to speech that incites violence. There can be no debate that people have a right to safety. Speech that incites violence infringes on that right.


> However, hate speech on sites like 8chan does often lead to speech that incites violence.

Citation needed.


> All speech is good in my opinion. Some actions are bad. 8chan is supporting these actions, they've crossed the line.

It looks like you've just made a determination of what you consider is bad speech.


Hah. I had to re-read your post + delete my original reply rejecting that.

You got me. ;) I guess I am not as absolutionist as I thought.


I was also more of a free speech absolutist when I was younger. Now I’m more on the fence and I struggle to objectively define what is "good" and "bad" speech.


A good definition for good I've come across is:

"Anything which should be done, if done as it should, to the extent to which it should, in the place where it should, at the time when it should, and in view of the end for which it should, is called good."

Kind of explains why the distinction between good and bad remains a grey area for some.


But the idea of 'good' is there smuggled in and already present inside that word 'should', it seems to me.

p.s. Defining 'good' has been a problem for philosophy, see e.g. discussion of Moore's naturalistic fallacy[0]---a problem in trying to define good in terms of something else. Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape has been the most useful book for me on understanding ethics and what good means.

[0] https://www.britannica.com/topic/naturalistic-fallacy Not sure if that's the best link for the topic, but it's a start.


I also feel that there is no absolute way to determine what is good speech and what is bad speech, yet I also realize that the distinction exists.

Sometimes, there are clear markers. Supporting or promoting acts of violence is a poor fit for civil societies. The same can be said for other forms of harm. Yet I also view the use of speech to suppress speech as being a danger to civil societies since the intent is to discourage discourse.

Other cases are more ambiguous, mostly because I would like to live in a fairy tale world where facts and reason will win the day. This is land where others can say things that I find reprehensible and vice versa so that we can eventually arrive upon the truth. The freedom of speech is necessary in this case because we all have our preconceived notions, some of which will ultimately prove to be wrong. If the preconceived notions of individuals and societies are not challenged, it will be nearly impossible to arrive upon the truth.

The thing is that we don't live in that fairy tale world. The words of some people have more weight. That may be due to social status, connections, wealth, or other factors. Other people intentionally convey falsehoods in order to manipulate outcomes to reflect their motivations. People are also more likely to be swayed by emotion than reason, or to manipulate emotions to override reason.

Where does that leave us? I really don't know. Perhaps the freedom of speech should be regarded as an aspiration rather than as an absolute.


You're correct that there's no absolute way to determine what speech is good and bad. We can only muddle through, making value judgments. Some will be right, and some will be wrong, and hopefully we'll learn from the times we screw up.

I'd rather people have the courage to take a moral/ethical stance than to just not care about anything and ignore the negative impacts technology can have on society. If Cloudflare is wrong in this instance, or in any future instance, hopefully there will be enough backlash that they'll learn and walk it back. If they fail at learning, then we have to resort to government regulation, and hope that our governments are up to the task of doing the right thing.

At the end of the day, it's just people making decisions, all the way from the top, down to the bottom. We're all flawed and do the wrong thing sometimes, but my (perhaps naive) hope is that we're slowly converging on more right than wrong.


>8chan is supporting these actions

You don’t know anything about the chans if you think 8chan collectively supports shootings.


I don’t think they are referring to the people on it collectively. The site owners are implicitly supporting it by not moderating that type of content.


That seems like "if you're not with us you're against us" reasoning to me, it excludes the middle ground. Not banning something is not the same as endorsement.


Yes. Reasonable people "exclude the middle ground" on support for domestic terrorism.


You're in favour of censorship. Moderation is keeping discussion civil and on-topic, which interestingly enough mostly happens by itself in 'absolute free speech' spaces.

What you support is the selective suppression of ideas that you don't like. Don't call it moderation. Call it by its name. Censorship.

Cloudflare isn't 'moderating' 8chan. It's deplatforming it and enacting censorship.


"Absolute free speech" is like anarchism. I've yet to meet someone who fully practices them both yet they will preach it and condemn others with their self-righteous hypocrisy. Would you want me to come up to your kid and cuss him out for no reason? Your mom? I wouldn't even have to use foul language to bother them. Any number of reasons I could really annoy you or your loved ones with free speech and in some cases really make them fear for their life, legal or not, especially if I was famous and had an internet army to "play" with them.

Free speech is the equivalent of "utopia". It doesn't exist because even the most ardent endorsers have shown kinks in their armor where they don't want people to use it against them at certain times and certain ways. You argue against the selective suppression of ideas yet you may reply to me and tell me this idea needs suppressed. Most people already see the kinks of hypocrisy in it and have long realized it, like all other freedoms, are best used moderately so as not to infringe on the freedoms of others.


Free speech is a hard requirement for democracy, and a hard requirement of free speech is accepting the freedom of speech you find objectionable. Your nation was founded upon this principle as a cornerstone, and yet you have regressed back to ochlocracy. It wasn't even 100 years ago that any discussions of LGBT welfare were censored the same way by people with the same mindset.

> Would you want me to come up to your kid and cuss him out for no reason? Your mom?

We're talking about an online discussion group that discusses things that some, including myself, find objectionable. We're talking about whether such groups should be allowed to exist, and by extension whether those ideas should be allowed to exist. You're talking about harassment with an example that doesn't even intersect freedom of speech. Terrible strawman.

When I emigrated from the former Soviet Union, freedom of speech was one of the bigger changes in everyday life. It was also something that people were proud of and supported. They understood that it's what allows democracy to function, they understood that by definition it means supporting objectionable speech. Now I'm watching the tide turn and the same people actually supporting censorship in their own nations.

I always thought the censorship and thought-policing started with the oppressive government in the Soviet Union, I didn't believe that people initially welcomed it. But here we are, the cycle is repeating again.


We're not talking about a government shutting down 8chan. We're talking about one (of many) providers being unwilling to rebroadcast 8chan's content. (Rebroadcast, not host. Their hosting provider is still hosting them.)

I understand people's dislike for any kind of censorship, because it's immensely difficult (impossible, perhaps) to trust the people doing the censoring to be free of bias and to always do the right thing. And I agree with that!

But let's not pretend that all ideas are equal and great. That's just a flat-out falsehood. Some ideas don't deserve to see the light of day. And sure, it's difficult to trust any group to make that judgment. But doing nothing isn't a great option, either.

Don't get me wrong: I don't want to see a government making things like 8chan illegal. But I also don't want to see a government requiring that companies like Cloudflare rebroadcast 8chan's content against their will.


That's a separate discussion. How big does a corporation have to get before the government must intervene? Imagine there was only Cloudflare and nothing else. Should they still be allowed to arbitrarily de-platform ideas and individuals?

Should Visa and Mastercard be allowed to arbitrarily de-platform a business and therefore guarantee it can't operate?

Cloudflare et al are particularly heinous because they'll claim to be a dumb common carrier to protect themselves from legal action for re-hosting illegal material, and then turn around and cherry-pick exactly the kind of content they want to re-host. Can't have it both ways.


Most democracies have limits on freedom of speech. Do you think Germany is not a democracy for disallowing some references to Nazism? Do you think Finland is not a democracy since we can and have fined persons for "inciting against groups of people"? Let alone for slander and such.


We are talking about legal speech which is being de-platformed because it's unpopular. And not just a particular kind of speech, but the entire platform on which speech in general takes place.

If it were prohibited speech or if the platform was illegal, this article would not exist and neither would this discussion.

A pretty distinct contrast to the prohibited speech in your examples.


It's only legal in some countries. There are plenty of places where incitement to violence is a crime ...


Then I guess the president of the united states[1], the president of the philippines[2], the president of china[3], and all respective news corporations that broadcast their direct calls to violence should be de-platformed as well, if we're being impartial. Right?

And since we're being impartial, we should just ban entire television channels because they have broadcast these direct calls to violence. Just like 8chan is being de-platformed for a handful of posts that were submitted by users. Right?

[1] https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/donald-trump-incitement-vi...

[2] https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/19/philippines-duterte-inci...

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/01/hong-kong-prot...

Perhaps let's talk about the fact that the individual that precipitated this action also shared his views on twitter and facebook. And they were not removed until he became a figure of media attention. He also used facebook livestream. Time to de-platform those too, yes?


I'd be happy with the leaders of those countries being told to sit in a corner and shut up until they could stop encouraging violence.

That wasn't my point though, and I'm pretty sure you know that.


> Moderation is keeping discussion civil and on-topic, which interestingly enough mostly happens by itself in 'absolute free speech' spaces.

The entire topic of this post -- 8chan -- is a fine counterexample to your idea there.


Ever actually visited 8chan? Most of the boards there keep threads on-topic and at higher snr, than, say, reddit.

Moderation is the process of keeping a board functional and snr high.

Censorship is the process of suppressing certain types of content from the board. In this case legal content.

You can have high quality discussions on less-moderated boards, e.g. any of 4chan's interest boards. And you can have low-quality discussions on highly moderated boards, e.g. all of Reddit default subs.


You supported free speech until you came into contact with groups that freely spoke about things you disagreed with, and now you are against free speech? This line of thought is incongruent, you could be a democrat attending republican rallies, a white supremacist attending an LGBT conference, or a POC attending a KKK rally and this sentiment would apply anywhere.

And at the end of day that's fine, because that opinion is protected under free speech


Of course, the only bad speech is speech you personally dislike?


I feel that an easy rule to apply is that speech about hurting or even killing others is unambiguously bad speech

Everything else is up for debate. But this single exception I hope every human being can agree on.


Can every human being agree that military recruitment ads are unambiguously bad speech?


How about you go and campaign to ban major news networks from reporting on successful drone strikes and bombing raids in Iraq/Syria /other such places.


Reporting on harm is not the same as inciting harm


Except when it is.


Of course it will be true on its face that "bad speech" will be disliked by the people claiming it is bad.

This phrase suggests that ALL speech that non-absolutists dislike will be categorized as harmful enough to society to be disallowed. That is a view nobody I've ever met holds.

I am not a free speech absolutist. I believe 99.9999% of speech I dislike, even speech I dislike intensely and believe is harmful to society, should still be allowed by society. That I think 0.00001% crosses a line where its harm outweighs the benefit of an zero-tolerance, non-negotiable absolute freedom of speech.

Throwing off a facile "oh, you'll just ban speech you don't like" is just jingoism. It's no different than saying people who favour less immigration are Nazis, or people who favour universal health care are communists.

It avoids thinking by name-calling.


OK, so what is the "0.00001%" speech that justifies prison sentence ?

Ordering someone to shoot you? Aka "clear and imminent threat" ?


CloudFlare is not a notice board. They are practically a utility. PG&E aren’t a government, and they can’t cut off your electricity because you’re an extremist.

What about ISPs? Should Cox, Comcast, Frontier, etc be liable for what flows through their pipes? Media companies say yes, but what do you do when your ISP says “bye” because you visit 4chan? Go to another ISP? In most areas of the US, you can’t


Cloudflare is a CDN. 8chan has free choice to pick another. It's not a common carrier or a public service in any way. It's just big, which isn't the same thing.


A CDN isn't necessary for a large website to keep running either.


It's necessary to protect against DDOS attacks. The CDN has privileged positioning in the network -- close to the consumer ISPs -- and can block incoming DDOS attacks directly before the traffic flows deeper.


8chan can build their own if none are willing to host them. though some ISPs might refuse to peer with them.


and then do you suggest 8chan to start making their own ISPs around the nation in areas where there are no ISPs that will peer? As an aside, the owner of 8chan already hosts 8chan with his own ISP.


no, but "high traffic forums" are not a "protected class" when it comes to equality.

Not legally, nor morally.

Morally we can argue that there's virtue (or a lot of global positive utility if we use an utilitarian framework) in making sure that there's an open marketplace for ideas, and every idea has opportunity to be "priced". But there's also virtue in keeping that place healthy, sane and constructive. Hate speech, manifestos, slur memes, and other kinds of low-effort content seems to be rather unhealthy for the place.

While at the same time doing a proper academic study on intelligence, brains, genetics, education, socioeconomic status, social mobility, and group dynamics at large is healthy. Context, style, framing is important. Blurting out that "blacks" have lower IQ in some measure might even be true, but that's not really an idea for that marketplace. Connecting the dots, uncovering the causes, the dynamics (noticing that the main driver is not some inherent genetic/cultural inferiority, but simple socioeconomic status due to historical path dependence) - and raising awareness and offering solutions is healthy.

Yes, of course, it's upon us to make a value judgement about what's a virtue, what's healthy. And no wonder some people think that even adopting the Golden Rule (do only what you want others to do, see also Rawl's reflective equilibrium) just means we have to "purge the weak" and that "civilizations are destined to clash". Of course we can't do much with that, other than trying to persuade them AND trying to minimize these voices so they remain a weak but vocal minority. (Hence our choice of idea policing is not just because we happen to think equality and pacifism are virtuous, but because our survival, way of life and so might depend on it.) [And in that way, yes cultures are destined to clash, and we ought to think a pacifist-equalist is the one that should win - nothing to do about it, another value judgement to make.]


decent peering is neither a right nor a requirement for a website.


A utility is typically a natural monopoly providing some sort of essential service. Cloudflare is neither.


What happens if all other providers refuse you as well on same basis? What if Comcast refuse you to provide any internet service because they don't like your views on net neutrality?


In my personal opinion, the size of "all others" matters.

If you have a monopolistic ISP that refuses to provide service to you because they don't like your content, and they're your only option, then that's a problem.

If you have multiple tens of CDN providers and they all don't want to carry your content, then perhaps you should really take a look at your content and have a hard think about why it isn't wanted.

And regardless, a CDN isn't necessary to host a website. A CDN certainly makes it easier to achieve lower-latency global reach, and is useful in helping you weather certain types of attacks on your infrastructure, but they're by no means required. And there are other ways to achieve those goals.


Exactly, with similarity being a second important thing. For example, maybe you’re lucky enough to have three ISPs to choose from, but they’re all big American companies with nearly identical corporate cultures, and odds are good that if one of them kicks you off, the others will too.

Hosting a site, on the other hand, has a multitude of very different providers to choose from. Even if you manage to get banned from every hosting provider in the US, ship a server to a colo in Kyrgyzstan or whatever, and keep right on going.


Cloudflare isn’t an ISP so “all other providers” doesn’t make sense, and Comcast isn’t a competitor.


I guess then you'd have to reflect on the kind of content you're promoting if the entire internet hates you for it.


A few key decision makers in key roles in IT infrastructure do not represent the entire internet.


If you can't get anyone to host your content that's a big enough sample for me.


You obviously haven't seen group-think in action.


Telecom companies like AT&T aren't providing "essential service". Being able to call/text someone is not a "essential service". Yet they are not supposed to ban people because they are merely the carrier.


> Telecom companies like AT&T aren't providing "essential service".

...according to Title II, yes, they absolutely are.

https://newnetworks.com/titleii/


The FCC just ruled that Internet service is not a Title II service.


It's not Internet service that's essential: it's phone service - the ability to make emergency phone calls.


Being able to call people is pretty essential in the modern world. That’s why these laws exist and why governments have put so much effort into making these services available to everyone.

The phone company is required to serve you even if they disagree with you not because of some high-minded ideas about free speech, but because it’s considered really important for people to have phone service.


> They are practically a utility.

LOL. They are not.


They kinda are. DDoS protection is only viable at massive scale, but is table stakes for any website with content that someone out there might find objectionable.


E-mail isn't even a utility.

Please educate yourself on the law here. Most everyone in tech wants the internet to be a utility, but it's not. An individual internet company's product offering is definitely not a utility.


There are plenty of other companies out there that provide DDoS protection. If they can't find even one that will host them, perhaps they might want to consider the possibility that their content is reprehensible and there's a reason no one wants to do business with them.

If Cloudflare was the only game in town (or close to it), I might be more sympathetic to this argument, but... they're not. Not even close.


Many other providers provide DDoS protection. Just not for free. Let them go to OVH, Azure, etc....


lol.

There are lots of providers with massive DDoS protection capacity specializing in hosting illegal or otherwise questionable content, they just charge more than cloudflare.

Botnet C&Cs, cybercrime forums and card shops all need hosting and face massive attacks. Somehow I never hear the operators of those complaining.


They mainly use cloudflare. There have been a lot of discussions over it and also criticism.


but DDoS protection is not speech - it more lets one shout in a loud room - as people keep reminding us you have a right to your speech, but no right to be heard


Then when would they become one?


I dunno, when you need cloud storage to live. In the same way you need water, power, gas, and these days communication (ISP, etc). But hosting your files is not crucial to your survival I don't believe.


You don't need ISP to be able to live. Also CloudFlare is NOT hosting them. They were the CDN, content delivery network. They are the messenger which carries the message. They shouldn't be deciding whose message they want to carry. They are forgetting the "don't shoot the messenger" saying.


> They shouldn't be deciding whose message they want to carry

Being a messenger doesn't require being amoral.


> They shouldn't be deciding whose message they want to carry.

Why? There is no reason they should be forced to host content they find objectionable.


And all that is addressed in the article. Specifically the paragraph that starts with "We do not take this decision lightly"

The point is that what 8chan is doing is egregious enough for them to step in and cease doing business with them. This isn't a slippery slope kind of thing.


They literally said that they would not kick someone off their platform anymore after they did it to The Daily Storm. Then they did to 8chan because enough people threw a hissy fit


Nope, they said "We've taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare's services ever again."


There are two connected but distinct problems this thread touches on, freedom of speech and the actual utility nature of modern internet companies. Both are problems here and of course, the internet companies don't want to face either. Although the Cloudfare case is a bit different since it isn't quite a monopoly, yet.


[flagged]


So because net neutrality lost, we should move on and not continue the fight?


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