Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
[flagged] Leaked Draft of Trump Executive Order to 'Censor the Internet' Denounced (commondreams.org)
77 points by noja 68 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments

A lot of outrage on reddit. But it seems that this is not a censorship law at all: instead it makes social media sites liable to be sued if they remove political content they don't agree it.

So it's more a free speech law that avoids censorship.

Copy paste from a reddit comment:

Since no one apparently read the article or paid attention to the actually meaningful quote:

The draft "calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms."

In other words, this isn't about the federal government removing content. It is about the extent to which social media platforms are legally shielded from lawsuits when they choose to remove content.

The "worst case scenario" of this leaked draft isn't the federal government picks and chooses what content is censored—it's that platforms might have to allow almost every kind of content or risk being sued. Which is the opposite of censorship.

(Please note: I am not arguing in favor of this draft. Only pointing out what it is actually saying sans the rampant fear-mongering going on right now.)

Seems like the worst case scenario would be that some sites would be able to remove or prevent everything the administration doesn't agree with, and yet not be targeted by your FCC, while other sites would have to accept every contradictory or unbalanced post countering their content or be sued.

In that case the people could just file a joint lawsuit because their (non-governement) views have been censored.

When literally a quarter of federal judges have been appointed by this administration, do you seriously think that lawsuit is going to get a fair hearing?

If that will be the case then it's: a) a bad law b) institutions are corrupt: which means that no matter who is leading the goverment free speech will always be policed. And if the institutions really are that corrupt...well...then we're f* anyway

This statement implies 75% of federal judges haven't, so the odds are good.

calling this not-censorship and 'a free speech law' is the most opposite-of-reality reading possible. This is an attempt by the government to force private companies to carry the government's desired content ("compelled speech"). This has repeatedly been tried in 1A cases and repeatedly been rebuffed (e.g. Riley vs. National Federation of the Blind).

So basically if you run a forum and someone posts a Nazi manifesto, and you choose to remove it because your forum is about Chia pets, the government can come after you. Do you think this makes sense? I would argue that removing something from my own site is as much me exercising free speech as adding something.

That is a strawman argument. Re-read the article, this does NOT say everything is protected. Rather, it is clarifying what is protected and what is not.

Regardless, why can’t a platform censor anything they want? It’s their platform and they can do what they want. If censoring eventually pushes people away from your platform, then the market corrected itself.

There's nothing factually wrong with your opinion. I understand it and respect it. For me, I believe that platforms as massive and widespread as Facebook or Twitter distort the free-market ruleset, and that some amount of regulation is in fact healthy for the industry they participate in and society as a whole.

Once we get to take a look at the actual text, we'll be able to have rational, reasoned discussions about whether this particular regulation is healthy, or unhealthy.

I respect and understand your opinion as well, but making companies become regulated as far as what content they can or must show is opening Pandora’s box. Especially with a government that gets a lot of bad press, they could use that regulation to drown out any voice.

If the government is really concerned about people’s voices and free speech being impeded, they should make their own forum or social feed where nothing is censored. We’ll see how that turns out.

They can but not when they publicly declare that they are fair to all users when in fact they make their policies after a political agenda. Much has been uncovered by whistleblowers from big tech companies.

Why should speech be protected from those speaking it? This is a great way to literally put words into someone else’s mouth.

Good point.

There should definetly be a requirement for a large mass of users.

Because otherwise FB, Tweeter and Google can push their views.

So a "must be a large social network or forum" must be a requirement in this law.

If Tweeter, Google or FB tried to push their agenda they could do it easily. Obviously fringe/small forums must be exempt.

It is their prerogative to push an agenda. It is not illegal to create an organization or business that pushes a political agenda - in fact, many do.


You don't think this has anything to do with the plethora of suggestions that Twitter and YouTube apparently suppress conservative views?

I think it has to do with it 100%. I don’t believe it’s true, but I do believe it has to do with those rumors.

My understanding is that the opposite is often true. That is: social media companies do not implement algorithms designed to take down racist content because it would take down content posted by many conservative politicians.

Things change. Fox is not the same.

This draft isn't available anywhere. This article cites a CNN article:


In that article, CNN reports on the draft order:

>According to the summary seen by CNN

CNN hasn't even seen the draft apparently. They've only seen a summary of it and they dare make all these extrapolations.

This seems deceitful. I'm not impressed.


What non-propaganda news sources do you trust and rely on for news?

Fox began its remake first.

My brain because all news is propaganda

Where does your brain get news from then? How does it get facts about what is happening in the world, that are more trustworthy than facts provided by any news organization? The facts must come from someplace prior to entering your brain, right?

Please don't flag or remove this. This seems rather important and worthy of rational discourse on a site like this.

P.S. If this Executive order comes to fruition I'm going to file a lawsuit if this post gets removed!

No, the article completely distorts the truth. It makes the order sound as if Trump is implementing a censored internet in the style of China.

A less-biased article would describe the order as an attempt to reduce the political favoritism being done by social media.

Attempting to reduce political favoritism by social media is presumably the stated aim; however, I don't think it is clear that it is the actual aim. Assuming that any politician, and particularly Trump, is altruistic seems like a bad idea to me.

It seems to me that platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have become the de-facto public square and therefore, freedom of speech needs to apply to them in order to have a real democracy. However, I think that a better way to approach this might be to declare the platforms to in some sense be public utilities.

I was just having a similar thought, alright the logistics of making that happen are helacious.

Not least of which: how does one make a platform with global dominance into a national public utility? How does one split it or manage it when it had to comply with so many local laws?

It seems strange to me that something becoming popular is what means it suddenly should be regulated. Pens are very popular yet they are not regulated. And sure there are many to choose from but really Bic has a pretty extensive hold on the market. Should we regulate what people can and can not write with Bic pens? Twitter is Bic here. If Trump and his followers don’t like using Twitter then they are free to go use Mastodon.

I don't think that pens and social media are comparable in this way. Pens are a tool for writing while social media is a platform for having your writing be heard.

In addition, choice of pen has no effect on the ability to communicate your message while choice of social media does. Switching from Twitter to Mastodon isn't a solution because Twitter is the place where the public discussion is taking place.

Finally, writing instruments such as pens are something that anyone can easily make on their own. On the other hand, due to the required technical expertise, infrastructure, and network effects it is difficult to enter the social media market.

I’ll most certainly agree that Twitter has the market cornered. But if tomorrow Trump tweeted that he was switching to TrumpNet and would only be using it from then on, how many people would join. He could create the market if he wanted to.

If the problem with Twitter/Facebook is that they have too much influence (a fair point IMO) and thus need regulation shouldn't we solve that monopoly problem rather than trying to remove the right of forums to choose what content they host?

> Civil liberties groups are warning of a major threat to online freedoms and First Amendment rights if a leaked draft of a Trump administration edict—dubbed by critics as a "Censor the Internet" executive order that would give powerful federal agencies far-reaching powers to pick and choose which kind of Internet material is and is not acceptable—is allowed to go into effect.

Why doesn't this article directly link to the allegedly leaked documents?

The quoted paragraph (the article's first paragraph) contains a link to a Tweet which links to a blog post which links to a CNN article.

AFAICT, none of them link to the actual documents.

To future journalists: link to the documents in your article. Otherwise you run the risk of readers writing the whole thing off as a misinformation campaign. This possibility can't be ruled out at this point.

> AFAICT, none of them link to the actual documents.

Nobody involved has the actual documents.

From the second paragraph of the CNN article:

> The draft order, a summary of which was obtained by CNN,


Even here at hn. Look how many people never read the article and only the comments. I'd imagine the number of people to go down into a link from an article to be quite small unfortunately.

I clicked through several links and can't find that document.

Until there is a draft available, there's no story.

If they claim a draft is available and it isn't, there IS a story, and it's that they are deceitful.

IF CNN and Politico can both claim to have seen it yet neither sees fit to make full and original text available... while telling us there is serious evil afoot...

...then I just shrug it off with an eye-roll and conclude they are "The Enemy Of The People".

And of course I'm using Trump's rhetoric just to annoy them and save a lot of breath trying to explain it further. Oh the time it saves!

We know AG Barr is against the 4th amendment. It's not hard to believe Trump would float an idea regulating the 1st amendment.


None of these points seem relevant to what is being discussed.

Google and Facebook etc are acting like online government and run their censorship at will based on their own ideology, they need to be checked and held liable legally, the top management should go to jail for any wrongdoings.

While we hate censorship from the government, the same should be applied to those de facto online big guns and those who actually are in control inside the companies.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact