Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Draft of Executive Order on Online Censorship [pdf] (kateklonick.com)
173 points by longdefeat 42 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 200 comments

If I am to believe the poster, this is a draft of an Executive Order anonymously sent to her. As per:


The implications are fairly dramatic if this is legitimate and were to be adopted / executed.

Specifically it would declare that sites like Twitter and Facebook are subject to the Communications Decency Act by virtue of their editorializing the content vs acting in more of a common carrier capacity. This is a really big deal for them (much more significant than losing federal ad dollars).

"None of [the CDA's architects] said that there was this intent for platforms to be neutral. In fact, that was the opposite. They wanted platforms to feel free to make these judgments without risking liability..." https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/21/18700605/section-230-inte...

Can an executive order overturn this? Isn't there already precedent about this topic?

From the same article;

> Basically, a distributor under the First Amendment would be liable for content it distributes only if it knows or should have known about illegal content. So that would be a bookstore or newsstand. But a publisher, which would be like a newspaper, can be sued and face the same liability as the author....

Would Section 230 just mean that all online services and websites should be treated as distributors, meaning they’re liable if they knew or should have known about material? But what the Fourth Circuit said is that distributor liability is basically a subset of publisher liability. So by saying you can’t be treated as the publisher or speaker, that means that you’re not going to be liable at all.

That could have been very different. If the Florida court had been the first to rule, there’s a really good chance that you would have had a narrower interpretation of Section 230 that basically said, “Once you know about potentially illegal content, you have to take it down or face liability.” But that’s not what happened. So Section 230 has been this really broad shield.

IANAL, but reading that it sounds like 230 arguably was trying to ensure platforms would remain liable like distributors even in the face of good faith moderation efforts for content that they did not write themselves. But somehow the courts interpreted the statute to remove even distributor-level liability (i.e. for content they know or should have known is illegal) meaning they end up not liable even for illegal content that they know about.

The EO is doing two big things. One it is highlighting the limits within the statute placed on “good faith” moderation efforts — that is to allow platforms to perform “Good Samaritan” blocking of lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable indecent content, without being considered publishers.

Two, it is directing the FTC to consider whether platforms are performing unfair and deceptive trade practices by moderating non-illegal/indecent content which does not violate their ToS.

One of the criteria a publisher can remove speech for and still be protected is "otherwise objectionable."

The executive order has no teeth as long as somebody finds the removed speech objectionable. And in this case, his speech wasnt removed, it was editorialized. It's a much more dangerous precedent to attempt to say "a private company is not allowed to speak in rebuttal to my speech," which is a downright nonsense claim. Of course a publisher can chime in with its own thoughts.

The other part about inconsistent with terms of service and inadequate explanation are also easily circumvented by having tos that say "we can remove whatever we want" and replying with "objectionable" and a clarification of why to every removable.

That all said, the idea of the Executive Order isn't completely nuts. If Twitter/Facebook have become the de facto public square, and they wish to remain it, can the government choose to extend first amendment protections to speakers on their platforms? In the same vein, should they be allowed to force non-anonymous use? Combined, Twitter/Facebook/Google can basically prevent ideas from spreading.

An executive order can neither overturn statutory immunity from liability nor overturn Constitutional freedom of speech.

OTOH, if Trump thinks that the Courts have changed (either in genuine opinion on the legal question, or if he thinks that the courts—or, ultimately, just the Supreme Court—has become partisan enough to simply favor his preferences independent of any genuine legal interpretation) then issuing an executive order conflicting with the present precedent on either of those points is an excellent way to get into position to force a test of them.

And, in any case, it's an excellent way to fan conservative victimhood into an election-year rallying cry to the base.

In politics it often doesn't matter if policy doesn't actually work, it's frequently about sending a message. Especially when elections are around. It's not like they are ever tied to measurable outcomes.

Plus even if the courts decline it will then further fuel the victimization, which conspiracies and radical groups historically feed off of.

I've always believed creating martyrs over online speech is a minefield for radicalizing people. No longer venting into the void people become increasingly angry and isolated. The long term implications of this worries me a great deal.

I also don't believe our only alternative means allowing (legitimate) hate speech, as a more limited approach has worked in countless other scenarios without the endless scope creep we're witnessing. But today this debate seems to be long lost, Twitter et al are full steam ahead, and now we can only witness the implications and hopefully adapt...

Wouldn’t this be a great outcome for twitter? I don’t think they particularly want to be in the role of playing fact checker / censor, but have been forced to do so due to pressure. This seems like it would, practically, tie their hands from continuing, due to the negative consequences, at which point they can legitimately say their hands are tied.

I agree, it could save platforms a lot of effort, and possibly put the onus on advertisers (who I suspect pressure the platforms anyways to engage in this sort of behavior) to adapt.

Actually you have a point. Twitter can "temporarily" shelve this fact checker thing and get back to status quo ante. Dorsey and Trump can both declare victory and move on.

There doesn't seem to be anything there directed against Twitter's editorializing. If anything, this puts online services in the position of having to censor more to avoid nuisance lawsuits.

probably not, wouldn't that just alienate the other half of their users that would view that as backing down?

it's a good question i hadn't considered though.

Most users only follow and are followed-by people in their own bubble, so I doubt they would notice.

Backing down to who? It becomes US law.

Literally no way this holds up in court. If it does, we have bigger problems than this EO.

Honestly whether it ultimately holds up in court or not is hardly the point - the disruptive theater of the EO and the subsequent muddying discourse unfortunately ends up being victory enough.

That's 100% true.

If not then all it takes is a temporary majority to rectify the situation. Plus they still have potential antitrust laws to contend with if they really want to tango. I just think that on Twitter's part, they have far more to lose by doubling down on their Ministry of Truth than disbanding it as a concept.

I'm actually very much looking forward to seeing this make it's way to SCOTUS (assuming this is legit).

It would take years to reach SCOTUS and during that time more and more damage can be done.

I'm not so sure. In recent issues as contentious as this we've had District Courts make Nation-wide injunctions against these EOs, and they've been fast-tracked to SCOTUS. It might take a year or so, but I think "years" is overstating how fast something that's this emotional can get to the High Court.

There's other problems with the "Nation-wide injunction" but if this EO gets issued that'll for sure be the next thing that happens, and I'm sure Twitter et al are counting on it.

Don't forget that Trump has now appointed many of the judges who could decide it's "legality."

> The implications are fairly dramatic if this is legitimate and were to be adopted / executed.

Can anyone give a tl;dr of what the implications actually are? Maybe I'm just tired, but I'm having a hard time parsing what this would actually do (beyond soothe Trump's feelings after getting called out by Twitter).

It would make them legally liable for the content posted on their sites. Today they can claim that they aren’t responsible for it, the posters are. If they are operating in an editorial capacity, that shield is removed.


sorry to see you downvoted. People can disagree with your opinion but it is encouraging a debate. there is no god-given right for these companies to become monopolies. If this were to pass, it could break the monopolies: Decision 1: they choose to stop all moderation Out come 1: Advertisers ditch them because of all the objectionable content that will surely come. Decision 2: They choose to moderate, and take on the liability Outcome 2: Growing bigger becomes more costly and companies fall to some optimal 'Chandra Limit'

Hacker News has active moderation and would be effectively illegal to operate if you made websites that practice moderation legally responsible for any illegal content posted by their users.

If you really believe this is the right path to go down you should stop being a hypocrite and delete your HN account since you clearly believe HN has no right to exist in its current form.

I support figuring out how to make Hacker News work without active moderation. It's simplistic to assume it can't be done.

Moderation by the users themselves could work, but that might not toe the line that HN wants to showcase (but may have to accept if they don't want to get sued and keep it running). On other platforms, advertiser may have to incentivize (monetarily or otherwise) users to post the kind of USG they want their ads nearby (assuming they still want to advertise on the platform).

HN does not editorialise and haphazardly censor.

To hear the laments of moderated users, you wouldn't think that. It all depends on whether its your opinion being subjected to any scrutiny.

That's what its intended to do, but i think what it would actually do is kind of debatable. America isn't a dictatorship (yet)

No but we are certainly a very litigious society and I'm sure there's an army of lawyers out there salivating over potential lawsuits against Twitter.

I dont really understand US law, but isnt this just a statement of executive branch policy. Wouldn't this not affect the ability of private parties to sue? They were always able to use any argument they felt made sense.

I think on reading it again, you're correct. If 230c is challenged again and reinterpreted by the Supreme Court then maybe. On reading some of the recent cases and circuit court decisions on things like "failure to warn" maybe this entire legislation will be reworked in the next Congress. It probably needs some clarification.

The twitter link above does a good job. Two most important things that stuck out to me is:

1. Platform vs Publisher. Alleges Twitter's fact checks to be editorial content, and thus does not benefit from platform protections. Ditto for other large tech companies.

2. Agencies need to review sites they advertise on and report on items including "viewpoint-based speech restrictions", and restrict funding if it is not "appropriate" for that agency's speech. Presumably a way to force companies to be friendlier to the sort of politics of the person who is making the report.


- Unless they stop calling out Trump, they lose Section 230 protections. Section 230 is what allows a platform like Twitter or Hacker News to do limited good-faith moderation and not be deemed editorially responsible for every piece of nonsense someone tweets/posts that they don't get around to moderating. Without it, you either have to moderate heavily and get everything right, or not moderate at all. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230_of_the_Communicati... - pre-Section 230, CompuServe did no moderation and was ruled not responsible for libelous user comments, and Prodigy did and was ruled responsible for something they failed to moderate, and people went "Wait a second, this seems like the opposite of what we want.") The executive order says, roughly, that the behavior Trump doesn't like isn't permissible under Section 230 and makes you editorially responsible for everything, so if you enjoy your Section 230 protections, you can't do that.

- The executive branch is discouraged from spending funds (i.e., buying ads) on platform that Trump doesn't like.

- The FTC will go after these platforms for unfair trade practices.

- The US attorney general will team up with state attorney generals to see if there's any state laws they can wield against these platforms too.

I think bringing back the CompuServe model would be a good thing. I remember the discussions being unusually free at the time, but was not aware that there was legal reasoning that enforced that freedom.

There's nothing prohibiting you from running a forum on the CompuServe model today - Section 230 permits a forum operator to moderate but does not require them to do so.

There are less-moderated forums out there, but they see less popular in the free market. I think the main argument for Section 230 is it made no sense to legally require the CompuServe model - both CompuServe and Prodigy should have been free to operate as they were doing.

It may be a harm to society to allow things to happen as they have been, though -- platforms started out as reasonably free, with only the most egregious content removed, used this freedom to develop a moat, and then are gradually restricting more and more content, while retaining their moat.

primarily, just seems like the government's pulling the 230 protections offered online platforms "safe harbor" for their user's actions. presumably this opens up twitter to all sorts of liability, such as when a user uploads copyrighted or illegal materials. not an internet lawyer or anything but that's my take.

> Can anyone give a tl;dr of what the implications actually are?

Were it allowed to be executed, the biggest implication is that the US has become an executive dictatorship where the laws adopted by Congress can be rewritten at whim by the executive (under the pretext of “clarification” that is 180° opposed to both the text and the actual intent of the law demonstrated by the legislative history), and the Constitutional order and structure of government is a dead letter, which absolutely dwarfs any policy implications.

You care about that now?? I don’t remember the left up in arms about President Obama’s EOs.

> You care about that now??

Not just now, but yes.

> I don’t remember the left up in arms about President Obama’s EOs

I don't remember Obama issuing an EO directing agencies to issue “clarifying” regulations directly opposed to the text and clearly documented intent of the underlying statute (much less doing so for the express purpose of obstructing private actors exercise of free speech rights in direct retaliation for them not remaining silent about the falsity of Administration claims while actively relaying Administration propaganda containing false claims.) But that's neither here nor there, as I also do remember the left opposing a number of Obama’s executive actions on Constitutional and policy grounds.

(Obama was no great friend of the left, being from the center-right—like all Democratic presidential nominees since at least Clinton, during whose tenure the center-right wing took dominant control of the party).


I mean if you think "left" means outright communism, I guess President Obama wasn't quite that far over, but he was certainly not "center" or "center-right" either.


DACA wasn't an executive order by the President but a memo from the Director of Homeland Security, and didn't involve issuing “clarifying” regulation in an attempt to reinterpret the law, only a decision about how to apply the widely recognized executive prerogative of prosecutorial discretion.

> I mean if you think "left" means outright communism

You are badly mistaken if you think there is nothing to the left of pro-corporate neoliberalism besides “outright communism”. Every Democratic Presidential nominee since Clinton has been a center-right corporate neoliberal that, policy wise, would have fit reasonably well into the moderate wing of the Republican Party (which, to be fair, overlapped in the center-right with the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, which wasn't dominant prior to that point) up until the rightward shift the Republican Party took to differentiate itself after Clinton was elected on a basically Republican economic platform.

Ok, it was an "executive branch memorandum", which has exactly the same effect as an EO. It directed the executive branch to ignore federal law and refuse to prosecute everyone in a specific category of illegal immigrant. You can argue that it was just an exercise of "prosecutorial discretion", but the courts don't agree with you as they've refused to allow the current administration to rescind it. In fact, one might argue the courts have actually taken that "memorandum" and turned it into irrevocable law.

The Republican Party has shifted hard left in the last twenty years, the Democrat party most certainly has not shifted right. Many Republicans in the Senate (and probably most of the house) could credibly just change to Democrats and nobody would even know the difference, and that's because the Republican Party has totally abandoned its roots. There are a few outspoken outliers, of course, but there has been essentially no actual conservative anything in the US since Reagan. JFK would never win the nomination as a Democrat today (for that matter neither would Bill Clinton), he'd have to run as a Republican as he would be considered far too conservative.

I remember Reagan, I'm guessing you don't beyond whatever caricatures your college professors sold you on, and you're looking at this solely through the lens of "oh my god the country isn't liberal enough", as most people on the left do. Reading your comment history tells me that's where this discussion is going and I won't bother to participate further.

JFK wouldn't even recognize the Democratic party.

Without even digging up a list, just the most offensive couple actions I can remember:

1. 2015 "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule, which grabbed federal control over private property which happened to sometimes drain into a US coastal water or into a navigable US river

2. 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter issued by the Department of Education, that denied due process to students who were accused

sections 2b and 4c are the action items; new fcc and ftc regulations that prevent this kind (or broadly whatever kind they deem relevant) of behavior.

Akin to banning cigarette advertising, this will free up many millions in the war against misinformation. Would absolve Twitter from any future calls for debunking/censorship. Can't wait to see it enacted.


"Please don't post insinuations about astroturfing, shilling, brigading, foreign agents and the like. It degrades discussion and is usually mistaken. If you're worried about abuse, email us and we'll look at the data."


Let's not ruin the HN comments by introducing this type of language.

Argue the argument, not the arguer.

> Therefore, this EO places such platforms outside scope of Sec. 230 protection

So Trump is trying to tell the courts, via executive order, how to interpret the law?

I'm no expert, but I don't think that's how the different branches of government work.

He's not "telling" the courts anything, he's telling the FTC, FCC, etc to interpret 230 as intended, where a social media site can now be interpreted as a publisher and not as a neutral platform if they engage in active editorial decision making (i.e. feed manipulation, shadow banning, editorial injections, etc). If Twitter wants to challenge the Federal Government on this, they'll have to do battle in court. In the meantime, the Federal government will withdraw all paid advertising from the platform if they choose that route. He's also holding the FTC out, which deals with antitrust law. So Twitter could hit 3 different ways. In my opinion, they have far more to lose by fighting this than simply letting users choose who to follow and who to engage with and what speech to listen to.

> telling the FTC, FCC, etc to interpret 230 as intended, where a social media site

1) CDA section 230 was written before the phrase "social media" was invented, when the Internet barely existed, and many people were still on AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy.

2) Section 230 was, in fact, intended for exactly the opposite purpose. It was written because previous court rulings indicated that moderating could make you more liable, and legislators realized that was precisely the opposite of what they wanted to encourage ("nobody would have any incentive to keep the internet civil"), so they wrote section 230 to make sure that sites weren't liable if they moderate but don't catch everything.

Read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230_of_the_Communicati... for details.

I'm surprised the FEC isn't involved as well. It would seem like a donation in kind to block candidates and elected officials from twitter.

> He's not "telling" the courts anything

Yes, he is. He is telling the FCC, etc., to issue regulations “clarifying” section 230; regulations clarifying law exist specifically to guide the courts in application, and courts grant such regulations (where properly authorized under statute) great deference, which Trump clearly hopes to benefit from.

The FCC is an executive branch department. So telling the FCC is not telling the courts. The FCC and FTC can make certain moves and it's up to Twitter to sue the Federal Government to contend with them. And then, the courts get to decide on the matter. But until then, let's not pretend 230c is the most well-defined precedent in legal history.

> So telling the FCC is not telling the courts.

“Clarifying” regulation specifically is a message to the courts on interpretation; directing executive agencies to craft clarifying regulation is directing subordinate executive officers to tell the courts.

Courts aren’t part of the executive branch. Independent judiciary is supposed to mean something...

> Courts aren’t part of the executive branch.

Correct but irrelevant.

I can tell people things over whom I don't have directive authority. “Clarifying” regulations are exactly the executive telling the courts how the law should be interpreted.

Courts can disregard them (and, in principle, will if they don't find them the issuing agency to have been empowered to enforce the law and thereby entrusted with that interpretive role, and even if they are authorized, they deference granted to them is not unlimited) but the fact that someone might not follow your direction to them doesn't mean you haven't given them direction.


EOs tell the EXECUTIVE BRANCH how to enforce laws.

They do not tell the courts how to interpret them.

> EOs tell the EXECUTIVE BRANCH how to enforce laws.

Yes, EOs tell executive branch officers what to do.

One of the things this EO tells certain executive branch officers to do is to tell the courts how to interpret Section 230 by way of adopting “clarifying” regulations.

Believe whatever you want.

Courts ignore executive orders - especially ones from republican presidents, essentially always.

Or they could stop editorializing their content.

But the children!

That's a different piece of legislation

Fair, but the adult children that cant be trusted to come to the same conclusions/opinions/perceptions that the platform holds without some contextual messaging? :P

It's one thing to believe the poster but why does the poster believe an anonymously sent "Executive order draft" and publish it ?

I particularly like the bit about how a provider is found in violation of "good faith" if they act in violation of their own terms of service, OR, if they restrict access to material after insufficient notice, unreasoned explanation, or acting against a user who has not had a "meaningful opportunity to be heard."

Not being facetious, I really like it.

Everyone should start by mass-complaining to the White House's reporting tool the recent Twitter change allowing people to censor replies.

You mean like disabling comments on a blog? Please explain what thought process could possibly lead you to this conclusion.

You can scream whatever stupid shit you want in public but why in the world should you have the right to use someone else’s megaphone to do it?

Why would you report the ability to hide replies? If someone replies to my tweet with something I don’t like, what’s wrong with me hiding the reply? It’s a lesser end result than blocking someone. I’m not obligated to platform your opinion on my post.

See that's the thing, it's not your post. It's all public.

Twitter does not have private posts like Facebook does, nor does this change purport to make such a thing. Its design is specifically to allow people to amplify their own personal echo chamber, and pre-silence disagreement.

The UI designer (hired from Facebook) who created the tool defended it with the notion that people should "want to watch people they admire have conversations" (his words).

That's not social interaction, that's television. A one way communication medium in which the screen tells the observer what to think.

I only skimmed the second part, but this doesn't even seem to prevent the actions it complains about.

It's also interesting to think about reddit and subreddits. When a moderator of a subreddit engages in the behavior described here, deleting comments and posts and banning users arbitrarily, stickying editorial commentary in threads, are they acting as publishers? Are the mods now legally liable in the section 230 sense? If not, is reddit a publisher and liable even though they aren't doing the editing? If reddit can enable mods to do it without reddit or the mods being liable, why can't reddit just do it without being liable?

I wonder if this would have implications for IRC or Discord as well.

Isn’t a company closing to to promote content for someone else their own right to free speech?

If a company has an obligation to promote something against their will, violating their own right to free speech, how could a company like Hobby Lobby get away with an exemption on the same grounds?

I don’t see this getting past federal courts, even with a heavily conservative judiciary. The fallout would be far too great.

There was a supreme court case a while ago that enshrined freedom of speech rights for companies, I get the sense that many of the same people that complained about that then, are now advocating for the rights of companies.


It actually is, since they are both about the company's right to spend it's resources at its own discretion for what is clearly core political speech at the heart of what is protected by the First Amendment.

Both the left and the right are unhappy with different aspects of that, but neither wants to face up publicly to the fact that they can't have what they want without cutting the heart out of the First Amendment.

There is actually an equivalence here. Maybe it isn't "money as speech" but it's certainly "dominant market position as speech."

In the former case, one is worried that a company's right to spend their own money and control their own communications (or hire others to communicate on their behalf, which is standard practice), will lead to outsized political influence.

In the latter case, one is concerned that a company's right to control others' use of their product, because they happen to operate a platform that hosts a substantial fraction of the entire public discourse, will lead to outsized political influence.

The private property defense being deployed here is so facile that only a Libertarian could actually believe it. In practice you will not be allowed, for example, to simply buy real estate at a choke point and exercise your private property rights to determine who is allowed to come and go. Public rights of way will eventually be established if you inconvenience the public enough.

As an aside, in canada, the first case overturning a law for being unconstitutional for violating free speech was kind of that situation, where the alberta government wanted newspapers to have to publish official "rebuttals" to previous articles, against their will. This was before canada had free speech in the constitution, but violating free speech was considered insufficiently "british", and laws had to be in the spirit of britian.

Obviously none of that is relavent to the USA, but kind of seems similar

>Isn’t a company closing to to promote content for someone else their own right to free speech?

Yes, take it from the conservative folks at CATO

"Patreon is and should remain free to disassociate itself from whomever it wants. Like all companies that have guidelines and content‐ moderation policies, Patreon is open to accusations of hypocrisy and inconsistently applying its speech standards. Anyone looking for a company that has been entirely consistent with its own content guidelines will be persistently disappointed.[...]

Classical liberals and other supporters of free association and free speech should indeed be concerned when the government undertakes initiatives such as the Department of Justice’s Operation Choke Point, which investigated banks doing business with firearms dealers (among others). But there is a world of difference between a government cracking down on peaceful citizens’ legal behaviour and a private company choosing to sever a business relationship.[...]

But it’s a mistake to portray the ongoing debate about content moderation as one in which supporters of a ‘closed’ and a ‘free’ internet fight it out for supremacy. You’re not less free if a private company won’t host your speech, and an internet where those companies discriminate is not ‘closed’. Those who want a maximally tolerant venue for speech on the internet are welcome to build one. "


> Yes, take it from the conservative folks at CATO

CATO is right-libertarian, but more libertarian than right. Describing them simply as simply “conservative” in this context is a bit misleading.

This is a publisher vs platform issue.

Platforms were given a free pass, provided they act in "good faith".

Publishers weren't given a free pass.

Hobby Lobby's case was not related to platform vs publisher issue.

>The draft order would push the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules clarifying the issue, potentially allowing users to sue over takedowns if they were inconsistent with companies’ terms of service, did not provide enough notice or meet other suggested criteria.

I find this interesting and I'm not sure where I stand here.

On the one hand I'm not happy about an executive order that limits liability for online platforms. The onus for posts being on the user, protecting the platform, is a core part of running any service. On the other hand, this doesn't seem like it would make platforms liable for content that users post, instead it's liability for the content that the platforms choose to _remove_. I've never considered that angle before.

Would it be akin to compelled speech on the part of the platform, or does it make them more like common carriers that can't pick and choose who gets access?

I suppose the biggest risk here would something along the lines of having bad actors post content that follows the rules for a site, but is also obviously against the spirit of the site, causing the posts to be removed and opening the site to a lawsuit?

> Would it be akin to compelled speech on the part of the platform

Here's an obvious test: this would also make the operator of a personally hosted blog liable if they moderate/remove comments (or for that matter, spam), if it were construed as "the result of inadequate notice, the product of unreasoned explanation, or having been undertaking without a meaningful opportunity to be heard".

You have no obligation to provide notice, reasoned explanation, or "an opportunity to be heard" to spammers, trolls, or anyone else you feel like moderating on your private blog. You can just nuke their comments from orbit. Anything suggesting otherwise is broken, and would either mean sites can't afford the liability of user-generated content at all, or provide a perverse incentive to stop moderating at all, which was exactly what CDA section 230 was intended to avoid. (The whole point of CDA section 230 was to avoid discouraging sites from providing moderation, because otherwise "nobody would have any incentive to keep the internet civil". Quoting Wikipedia: 'Section 230 has frequently been referred as a key law that has allowed the Internet to flourish, often referred to as "The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet".')

That's leaving aside the "compelled speech" argument, which is an entirely separate reason to consider this unreasonable.

If I'm reading this right, platforms must act in "good faith" to restrict access to content that is "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable".

That seems quite broad and doesn't seem to do anything to stop the current deluge of censorship.

That text is quoted from Section 230. The reason Section 230 was introduced is that, long ago, if platforms did literally any moderation on their site, they were considered to be taking an editorial role and liable for all the things they failed to moderate (e.g., if someone posted libel, the platform would have liability for it), so there was an incentive not to moderate at all, because you wouldn't get it 100% right. For pre-online platforms this was fairly reasonable (e.g., you could hold a newspaper responsible for its columnists publishing libel) but it put a serious damper in real-time user-contributed online forum.

Section 230 said that if a platform acts in good faith for those moderation reasons you list, that doesn't cause them to gain liability - they're still in the same place as if they didn't moderate. If they exercised active editorial control, then they'd be responsible (e.g., you can't just host a pro-harassment forum and solicit other people to post harassing comments and expect Section 230 to protect you), but as long as you only do normal moderation of obviously bad stuff, you're fine.

This draft executive order says, we're interpreting that part of Section 230 to specifically not count "deceptive or pretextual actions restricting online content" as normal moderation, presumably including things like flagging Trump's tweets for misinformation.

That leaves Twitter with two choices: 1) forfeit Section 230 protection and be responsible for all the content on their site (i.e., they'd have to heavily and reliably moderate every single tweet) or 2) stop flagging Trump's tweets for misinformation and do even less moderation so they maintain Section 230 protections.

I appreciate you trying to explain because I'm genuinely trying to get to the bottom of this.

Would you not agree that "deceptive or pretextual actions restricting online content" is broad and would be difficult to prove in court?

Yes - but the order directs the Secretary of Commerce, the NTIA, and the FCC to make some regulations to clarify what exactly that means. I don't think the text in this order, by itself, purports to change how any court is interpreting Section 230, yet - just how executive-branch departments interpret it.

Currently they can amount to the same thing. Courts defer to agency interpretation when the law is ambiguous or open ended.

However there is a scotus case now which might change that.

Choice 3) kick Trump off Twitter. They don't even have to give a reason like "excessive posting of misinformation". Just kick him off. No law saying they can't.

Heck, the entertainment value alone would be worth it.

He is possibly going to try to strip valuable protections from the entire internet because Twitter is fact-checking him. Imagine what kicking him off would entail.

Maybe not illegal, but is it good business to eliminate a user with tens of millions of followers?

Hm, would that be permitted by the order? (At the very least, they'd have to preserve all the content he's already generated, but I could see Trump arguing that a platform that kicks him off "removes or restricts access to content" that he'd like to post but can't.)

So they should just ban him and anyone else? That seems like the obvious solution to avoid any claim of them editorializing content. There's multiple cases where he violated long standing rules on Twitter.

I fail to see how this is any different than that bakery years ago that refused to make a cake for that gay couple. Or a business refusing service because you're saying things against them. Or many of the other reasons a company might decide you cant shop or be a customer.

The constitution is just a piece of paper if no one follows or enforces it.

Here is my attempt at summarizing the order:

1. Twitter and Facebook (and other entities that try to fact check content) will be labeled as publishers and thus can be sued in court for libel.

2. The Federal Government will be banned from buying ads from internet companies that "restrict" speech.

3. The FTC and the Attorney General will investigate Twitter, Facebook, and related platforms for any potential violations of law or regulation.

I seem to recall we had a court ruling (non-SC) earlier that said officials that use social media can't block other users on there... something about it being a public forum or such. But if we treat it that way, then does that have implications on what people can expect in terms of limits on speech?

No, you've misinterpreted the ruling. It is not because twitter is a "public forum" that a public official cannot block a follower, it is because the public official is a public official that they cannot block a follower.

I was thinking more along the lines of, would being a public official in a public forum imply that the forum administrators can't interject and add their own editorials to his speech either? At least, I can't think of situations where this happens in real life, so it's not clear to me what the implications are.

Exactly. Since twitter is de facto a public forum where anyone can say what they think, it’s important for free speech they also follow the 1st amendment and have a legal like process to restrict what people can say.

Tech and policy are kind of like two different roads running in parallel. Drivers who can drive on one of those roads only, but not both, cannot effectively solve problems on that other road. The policy people get activated because of issues they perceive on the tech road, and their answer is: Write policy!

For that reason I fully expect the tech experts in question to solve this new policy problem with some technology. Maybe a new categorization and preference-indication system, giving users yet another way to ignore their in-laws' award political voice, or whatever it is that routes around this latest missive.

Parts of this purported draft look a bit off. That is to say the bits being directed are things private citizens would do rather than what the executive branch itself has the authority to do. As bad as the whole idea sounds this doesn't come off as authentic to me based upon presentation or textual structure. Why is he suddenly giving direct orders to the Federal Trade Commission but separately directing a sub-cabinet agency at Commerce to file a Petition for Rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission? That's where this starts to get inconsistent.

This order was hastily drafted by White House staff to soothe a temper tantrum the President had after a day of being extremely online. Why would you expect it to be anything but sloppy and inconsistent?

Generally I’d expect the staff to understand how the machinery of government works by this point in an administration. First hundred days is one thing. This looks more like a forgery especially after the discussions that have cropped up recently on the TeX StackExchange in terms of forging outputs.

I think based on the events of the past three years (or really, the past three months) the most parsimonious explanation by far is that the President and his staff and advisors are simply lazy and incompetent.

That sounds interesting, do you have some discussions to link, I’d like to read them.

How did a professor of Internet law get a hold of a draft EO? Are these things widely circulated before signing?

There appear to be other recipients of this draft doc besides Klonick. Same document, from all appearances. Probably same source sending it out.


> How did a professor of Internet law get a hold of a draft EO?

A leak.

> Are these things widely circulated before signing?

Something with this content would probably need to be coordinated between at least White House counsel, DoJ, and counsel for all or most of the agencies being given tasks under it to get the language right and make sure it was as workable as possible given the intent, so it would be in a large number of hands. Even if they were all fairly reliable partisan political appointees (and it’d be unlikely that there wouldn't be a lot of permanent staff involved), those are in some ways the most dangerous since, well, reliable Republican partisan attorneys and people who support a hands-off approach to regulating speech of business entities have a pretty big overlap.

Trumpian corporatists who think that all of society (whether government, business, or otherwise) should be united in reflecting the will of the head of state, at least as long as the current incumbent holds that position, or pay the price for disloyalty, aren't the norm even among Republican partisans. As much as Trump would like to fill the whole administration with them, there aren't enough of them remotely qualified to fill the needed roles.

If I know anything about Trump, then his team leaked it on purpose to get an initial feedback. If it turns out to have a bad reaction then they would repudiate this copy and release some other watered down version.

... or a more extreme one.

My sense is that they use leaks as a way to ferret out who is disloyal, not get feedback from the Press, which they hate.

So after actually reading it, it seems to want two things:

* prevent astro-turfing, especially by foreign governments

* require that sites engaging in moderation basically follow some sort of rule of law-eaque process (there are rules posted, and you cant be arbitraily blocked unless you break them)

Honestly in many ways those are things i agree with, but it seems inappropriate to do it with an executive order, and much of this seems vauge and could be used as a justification to put pressure on social media sites arbitrarily.

There's nothing in the order to prevent astroturfing by foreign governments, is there? (If anything, it limits the ability of sites to censor foreign governments with unpopular opinions.)

It's in the section about vague policies and opinions, but I don't think it actually does anything beyond saying "China bad."

There is an implication of they are going to crack down on sites banning americans to help the astro-turfers, but nobody does that, so sounds like bs. And i dont know, maybe the section on not allowing gov to advertise on such platforms is aimed at that (if you give very strong benefit of doubt).

But yeah, i think you are right.

I'm not American and not familiar with Section 230 in any detail, but I do run a forum where I consider moderation, legality and responsibility of content. Could Twitter apply some level of automatic editorial response on particular topics rather than flag particular posts or users?

e.g., if it suspects the tweet is about COVID-19 (whether mundane or outrageous), it links off to a broader information and fact-checking page about the topic. Likewise for voting fraud or any other hot topic.

What if it were independent of the tweet itself and just one of a small selection of header links like Reddit and others are currently doing with COVID-19?

Edit: Also, could they differentiate the levels of editorial based on tier of account? e.g., claim platform-status for the bulk, but accept legal responsibility for anything by the largest accounts which saw immediate moderator review.

My base level here is "Speakers Corner". This is a part of London's Hyde Park where free speech is (culturally if it legally) extra protected - the idea is anyone can stand and speak there, say anything, and culturally that is acceptable - one should not be moved on or prevented.

I think that right of speaking freely in a public space is deeply important (no surprises there).

But if someone spews vile speech while standing on my front lawn, frankly I want them to stop.

So what is public space on the internet? What is the minimum level - the sidewalk vs the front lawn?

It's not twitter. Hardly anyone has access to it? It's specialised and not open in its protocols.

I suspect it's not even facebook - is it just plain HTML on a plain server, perhaps plainly hosted in your own home?

This is going to be an interesting debate.

There is no point in me saying this, because people are literally living in parallel universes at this point, but I feel that hatred for Trump and anything associated with the right is blinding people.

What most young people or people on the left seem to want very badly is for tech companies to remove viewpoints they disagree with. Unfortunately the reality is that this is in fact political censorship. And it will lead directly to the type of censorship that China has.

Go ahead and click the downvote button until my viewpoint disappears. It doesn't matter anymore. I actually think that the possibility of real free speech online, if it ever existed, is dead anyway. Because, bizarrely, people are begging for more censorship.

"Viewpoints" is a very broad word.

I do not want tech companies to remove political opinions I disagree with (e.g. "We should go to war against Iraq," "Brexit is our only hope," "If you reduce taxes, society will be better off," etc.).

I want tech companies to remove lies that do harm (e.g., "Someone should really investigate whether so-and-so killed so-and-so," "You should drink fish tank cleaner," "If you vote by mail, your vote won't be valid and you risk committing a felony"). Our society/culture has ample precedent that lies that do harm are not worth protecting and are worth penalizing.

I do not want tech companies to give special protection to lies that do harm simply because the liar has a particular political affiliation or a particular political office. I want everyone to be treated equally regardless of their political affiliation and office.

(If there happens to be a nonzero correlation between political affiliation and the telling of lies that do harm, well, that seems like a problem worth sorting out for the good of society, but tech companies should not put their fingers on the scale. They should remove lies that do harm without regard to political affiliation of the liars.)

Ironically, back in the 1980s techies were fiercely pro-free speech and anti-censorship. The older companies like Apple and Microsoft still have some remnants of this culture, whereas newer ones like Google etc. are curiously ambivalent about freedom of speech.

Indeed in a parallel universe but in the end they'll lose those battles one after the other because they are on the wrong side of history.

People on the right need to be more vocal here and elsewhere, we can't let the children and their feelings, run the ship or it'll end badly.

I’m doubtful that it does any good to provide opposing viewpoints in these threads unless you have something surprising to say, either facts or insight.

The effect on reality of a HN thread isn’t much and it’s not really a place for nuanced discussion.

The twitter thing doesn’t matter because the solution is obvious - we need decentralized platforms where such behavior isn’t possible.

Condescension is not a good look when you're conflating conservativism with paranoid conspiracies and equating really basic fact-checking to censorship.

> What most young people or people on the left seem to want very badly is for tech companies to remove viewpoints they disagree with. Unfortunately the reality is that this is in fact political censorship. And it will lead directly to the type of censorship that China has.

Trump is in power and he has repeatedly requested that cable news be censored by the FCC.

2017: https://www.wired.com/story/fcc-chair-finally-says-agency-wo... “FCC Chair Finally Says Agency Won't Censor Trump's Enemies: Six days after President Trump suggested revoking broadcast licenses, FCC Chair Ajit Pai says agency won't act based on content.”

2018: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politic... “Trump suggests revoking NBC's broadcast license amid attacks on 'fake news'”

2020: https://assets.donaldjtrump.com/2017/web/hero_images/Redacte... his campaign threatens to sue TV stations who allow an ad against him to be aired

So just saying, let’s not just blame young people or people on the left. There are very loud right wing voices demanding that the media be censored in their favor as well right now by government force.

Personally I’d be more concerned at this point about government censorship than twitter adding a link to a post. There are many different websites on the internet, but only 1 US government.

I wonder how this platforms that use community moderation might be held liable under this.

Would someone more knowledgeable about Section 230 be able to comment on whether this EO would be solidifying the protections afforded by Section 230? I’m thinking that by making a deeper, clear cut line in what platforms can/cannot do to maintain protections, there is now less legal wiggle room for entities like the MPAA to push for moderation of content. For example, if Google completely scrapped the Content ID system for YouTube, would the wording in this EO put them firmly on the side of being a platform, not a publisher?

I feel like this is fake or some internal draft that was never going to see the light of day.

But if its real, i wonder what will happen to silcon valley. Part of the reason why internet companies like the united states is the legal environment is conducive to making online services. If that goes away, will companies move to other countries

Regression to 4chan? Assuming this continues as-is they can still moderate the site to remove obscene material, but otherwise have to act like platforms.

I don't think this draft will survive for long.

Wonder if with this we’ll all enjoy equal representation on twitter’s search engine, timeline & promoted tweets, or will they continue to discriminate based on rank

Twitter’s algorithm determines who sees my tweets. Based on internal criteria my content is ignored while other’s is promoted, limiting my exposure and damaging my brand


The large tech platforms are defacto digital public squares. The recent trend they’ve taken on to censor content they disagree with is unacceptable and bad for society. And yes, it is evidence of them behaving as a publisher. This censorship trend was bad enough previously, but it has become a lot worse and more egregious during COVID-19, where only the word of certain public agencies are allowed, even though they’ve been wrong several times. Various platforms have deleted many reasonable COVID blog posts that go against the grain, even if they’re logical and worthy of consideration.

I’m glad this move from the President will shine a light on the issue. In the least it may result in viable alternatives to Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, and Google springing up.

> In the least it may result in viable alternatives to Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, and Google springing up.

I'm looking forward to this. If smaller social networks (or even federated networks) gain more traction due to this governmental shakeup, it will be harder to get censored as people can switch to the server that has the moderation style, or features (such as no ads but fees) they like.

There could be a silver lining in all this.

You would need a growing network effect to follow on to that alternative platform for it to be a true challenger to the mainstream social networks. Otherwise it will stay in the fringes of the internet.

Although it is more difficult to censor a decentralised social network, attracting and migrating existing users from other social networks with a growing network effect on to a new platform is even harder.

Really seems far less harmful than EARNIT, not that it replaces it - in fact it could be a gambit to get the big web companies to play along with passing EARNIT

"Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution, [...]"

Does not this sound like sci-fi, straight from the beginning?

If nothing else this is going to provoke a crucial test for social media "platforms" and has the potential to alter them permanently going forward, whether they win or lose.

As someone who's quite anti social-media, and the effect it appears to have had on our societies, I'm interested in how this plays out either way. It feels like a test that has been a long time coming.

Regardless, it seems the next rational step is for Trump to quit Twitter and encourage his base to do the same, or for Twitter to ban Trump and provoke his base to leave. Trump staying active on Twitter after this, or Twitter allowing him to, would be something beyond bizarre.

This will actually backfire on him spectacularly, as the social media platforms will go all-in in every way they can think of to defeat the leagues of bots promoting his message and therefore hinder his opportunity to get re-elected.

It’s as if a President in the late 1800s-early 1900s declared war on the printed press.

They’re going to reject his targeted ads, they’re going to aid Democrats in swing states to persuade the undecided swing-voters... it’s going to be mayhem.

If you're Twitter, don't you seriously consider deplatforming POTUS at this point?

I understand that no small amount of their traffic has to do with him using Twitter as his primary megaphone to the world, but they are under no obligation whatsoever to continue to provide him said megaphone.

One only has to hope that if that were to happen, no one would show him the Presidential Alerts functionality on all of our phones...

So what about this purported order establishes new censorship ? Surely censorship has not become synonymous with interfering with the right of online services to the moderate their content as they see fit ?

He’s literally going to attack twitter via presidential powers because they dared calling him out on lies?

I’d say that’s insane and childish but I think we’re a little past that already

They didn't even "call him out". They added a link to more information on voting to two tweets. That's how fragile and insecure this guy is.

He should sign an executive order to stop the Corona virus.

How did this end up on the third page so quickly?

Nobody thinks there is a big problem with online censoring that needs to be dealt with?

Not really - there is certainly a "problem" of major social media platforms banning abusive/hurtful behavior, and for whatever reason, such behavior seems to not be evenly distributed across the political spectrum, but there is not a big problem of them banning ideas or good-faith or even mostly-good-faith debate. You can find tradcaths on Twitter, threepers on Facebook, tankies on YouTube, and literally /r/politicalcompassmemes on Reddit.

Certainly no platform is anywhere close to banning the ideas or platform of the Trump campaign or the Republican Party - they get debate and discussion but they certainly are not censored. They are firmly within the mainstream.

(I also think, in a broader sense, that people need to not rely on big for-profit tech companies for unpopular ideas. I think it's good for society that everyone from the boogaloo folks to the Unabomber get to be able to publish their ideas, even - and perhaps especially - when those ideas involve violent revolution to the social order. But I also think it's foolish to expect platforms that are profiting handsomely from the stability of the social order to fairly convey those discussions, especially if any of those ideologies gets close to making a difference. So, even if I thought that we had a problem with the big tech companies censoring discussions, it doesn't seem like a problem worth solving.)

Ummm... Reddit permanently banned theDonald using dubious reasoning. By “coincidence”, in the election year.

But /r/conservative and plenty of other pro-Trump subreddits are doing just fine. Is there an ideology that has been censored from Reddit, or just behavior?

No platform should be obligated to keep disruptive users around simply because those users happen to have a certain political belief.


I don’t think he understands free speech. If you tell lies, I’m allowed to call it out.

The issue isn't you or me calling him out, it's whether Twitter is acting as a platform or publisher by annotating the tweet. The document here alleges that they are like a publisher, and will lose vital protection. This has serious implications.

Which would also apply to any news outlet with a moderated comment section, including Fox News, no?

I would think so, yes. In that case I wouldn't be surprised if the comment section is removed, or the moderation team of Fox News more carefully sticks to platform principles. Honestly not sure.

Fox News will be wholly empowered by this. This EO is a reaction to attempts to fact-check the White House, and Fox News is in a different line of business.

No doubt the President would want his friends to benefit. Infotainment is cancer.

Do you think publishers aren’t allowed to comment on the validity of what they are publishing?

I am not a lawyer. I just read the draft.

Publishers are absolutely allowed to comment on the validity of the content they've published - why are you asking?

Twitter is benefiting from the fact they're classed as a _platform_. Platform != Publisher.

It's up to the courts to decide whether annotating content in the way Twitter has is editorial. Twitter opened a can of worms here.

Ok so to clarify the same question:

If/When Twitter is classified as a publisher do you believe they will be able to comment on the validity of things they publish? Like, for instance, a newspaper would?

Of course: they'd be a publisher in that case. However, I don't think they would last long as a company without platform protections.

I'm trying Jennifer!

> These actions feel vaguely like fascism.

I begin to suspect that you don't know what the last word in that sentence means in regards to this particular action.

George Orwell, from various essays he wrote in 1944:

> The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable"...In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.

> It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.

> But Fascism is also a political and economic system. Why, then, cannot we have a clear and generally accepted definition of it? Alas! we shall not get one—not yet, anyway. To say why would take too long, but basically it is because it is impossible to define Fascism satisfactorily without making admissions which neither the Fascists themselves, nor the Conservatives, nor Socialists of any colour, are willing to make. All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.

It's not clear what you are implying? Because from where I'm standing, it sure looks like authoritarianism to me.

Language matters. Fascism is certainly authoritarian but way, way worse than current matters. It waters down the horrors suffered by those who lived under the yoke of it.

Can you define fascism? Only Italian were ruled by fascism per se, but we use the term to described other authoritarian regimes. Should we wait 50 years and the collapse of democracy to find a new name for this phenomena? Or could this debate be just a diversion?

I'm not excited for such sophistry.

You can read an essay by Mussolini on the topic here [0], but consider practice vs theory. Fascism is usually cited in reference to Nazi Germany / Fascist Italy, both of aspired towards totalitarianism, featured callous disregard for human life, and possessed collectivist tendencies. Is the US you live in?

The use of fascism here isn't correct as it misses magnitude. Trump's authoritarian tendencies and nationalism is certainly aligned, but falls far short. It's the same way that 'socialism' isn't an appropriate way to describe the policies of Bernie Sanders.

But please continue to abuse language, knowing full well the power of connotation. You'll water them down to meaninglessness.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doctrine_of_Fascism


> I’m genuinely curious, what’s the last straw?

Well, there is no last straw for his hardcore supporters. They will support him no matter what he does.

There are many, many of us here who have been doing our best to get rid of him for the last 3.5 years, and to prevent him from having a second term. The majority of the country disapproves of him, but that's unfortunately not enough to get him to lose the election.

Same here. I am so disappointed by all the crazy things this so called president did in the last few years.The word "President" use to carry a lot of respect.

There was nothing that respectable about Bush or Obama (or Clinton, or Older Bush) either if you really looked at their records.

Foreigners do not get to see the bad state democracy is in here in the US, between the corruption, the heavy corporate funding of candidates and the lobbyists, the corporate control of media, and the suppression of voters.

A lot of choice, especially the president is decided for people, and what people see and hear is heavily controlled by the media which themselves are beholden to the same large corporate interests that finance the elections. We just had what would pass as a very centrist candidate in any European country compared to a communist and a nazi and suggested that he would hang people in Central Park by the media that was supposed to be informing people. All because he wanted to do a few things like spend 1/7th of our military budget to give people free college education. The corporate and establishment interests had a freak out at the prospect and wound up spending over $1 billion during the primary against him. All to ensure that voters are once again left with a choice between a guy who will do more of the same things that have been a problem, and another guy who will also do more of the same things. That’s what you are up against. That’s why it’s not just as simple as “vote him out”.

The idea that Bernie would be centrist in Europe is an American political meme. Europeans who are familiar with him do not consider him centrist, and there are some issues on which he's actually further from the mainstream in most European countries.

Oh come on man. Any president is far better than Trump, who just lie and act like there's nothing wrong with it. Trump's twitter feed is full of compeltely false claims and racist comments to anyone he believe is a politcal threat.

The decision to invade Iraq in 2003 still seems worse to me than anything this administration's done.

That war was based on a lie and resulted in the death of more than 100,000 civilians and cost $1 trillion.

I share this viewpoint personally. My view of America, and indeed Americans, changed radically and permanently after the Iraq invasion.

It revolts me to see GWB on the talk show circuit, being buddys with Ellen and the media portraying him as some cutesy old geezer on to show off his amateur paintings.


>and he will loose next election badly

lol don't bet on it (i haven't!). you're greatly underestimating his base and greatly overestimating voter turnout.

> Trump is probably done, and he will loose next election badly.

Is there a prediction market for this? I'm willing to bet 20:1 he wins and I'm prepared to put down $100 right now.

PredictIt. He's 1:1.

https://electionbettingodds.com/ has him at 48.2% currently (against Biden at 43.4%).

>I’m genuinely curious, what’s the last straw?

i don't think it will be a final straw - i think it could be a confluence of things though

>As anti-government protesters demonstrated in Timișoara in December 1989, he perceived the demonstrations as a political threat and ordered military forces to open fire on 17 December, causing many deaths and injuries. The revelation that Ceaușescu was responsible resulted in a massive spread of rioting and civil unrest across the country.[4] The demonstrations, which reached Bucharest, became known as the Romanian Revolution—the only violent overthrow of a communist government in the turn of the Revolutions of 1989.[


> My view of America has forever changed, no matter who comes next.

Seriously? What do you think of Russia, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, etc? So dramatic people are these days.

> America, when are you going to give up on this idiot?

Let me put it this way: he's a terrific final act. A great summation of what has been a story with its ups-and-downs, but is primarily a lesson in what not to do.

> I’m genuinely curious, what’s the last straw?

Is there evidence for the idea that large changes to political structures are made on the basis of last straws? I surmise that this is not a terribly useful lens.

> He takes a dump on the Whitehouse lawn in order to show how powerful he is?

My experience is that very few Americans have any pride for the whitehouse lawn (and for the things I presume for which you are using it as a metaphor). The grandeur of the American state is not a source of inspiration for us.

> My view of America has forever changed, no matter who comes next.

Then I suspect your view has become more acute and more accurate. Our government has failed us for generations, but done so with a slick veneer of statesmanship and sobriety. This idiot, as you rightly say, is giving what we've endured a face.


1. I would think every conservative would look to the free market to make better, less biased social networks and websites?

2. You think you will be downvoted here, is it due to humans with differing views or this website’s management’s bias, and what does that mean for your point?

3. Do you not know that conservative talking heads and influencers go wildly viral every hour of every day on all 3 of these networks, reaching audiences far outside their conservative following?

1. Sure, the market will take care of it at some point in the future, but at this point in time those entities are monopolistic.

2. It's simple, liberals are more prone to downvote and censor than conservatives.

3. They reach their followers, Twitter, FB and Google reach everybody.

1. Most Americans don’t use Twitter at all, could Twitter in particular possibly be a monopoly? What is being monopolized by Twitter specifically?

2. No I am asking do you think people are downvoting you or do you think this website is penalizing you for saying conservative leaning things?

3. Where do you think conservative influencers get their new followers? If they play the game right (posting engaging content that people would want to share) their content goes viral and they get huge algorithmic discovery from new audiences.

It’s why you upload a video you want to get lots of views to YouTube instead of Vimeo, the discovery engine helps you get a bigger audience.

But it doesn’t mean you are silenced if you upload to Vimeo or even your own website, it just means that you aren’t playing YouTube’s game and as a result won’t get YouTube’s completely free search, related and social traffic boosts.

1. Most Americans use at least one of the "big 3" and since they all suffer from the same bias, I call it monopolistic.

2. Yes, I think this website (the users who react to the more political posts at least) penalize conservative views. It's not unique to HN of course, if anything it's better than the rest, but it's pretty obvious yes.

3. You compare some personalities that only reach those who are interested in what they have to say with big corps that are unavoidable on the internet and that editorialize every piece of information we're getting, from our news, the video we watch etc.

This won’t hold up in court. It will be challenged by a judge immediately, and then the only chance it will have is a long process up to the Supreme Court.

Judges can’t really challenge this law; they don’t have standing. A judge can’t just decide to issue a ruling on something; there has to be a case for them to rule on.

The way this will go is: Twitter sues, judge almost certainly issues an injunction, Trump administration appeals, and we go from there.

Or he could denounce the entire law system as an adversary to the populous and round his supporters around that. That's what Benjamin netanyahu is doing in Israel at this moment when he's facing criminal charges. He is rallying his supporters telling them they are on trial by the corrupt judicial branch. He has his henchmen flooding the media with this sentiment, his own private propaganda machine is pumping this message through direct link to his supporters via WhatsApp and telegram bypassing all editorial discussion. While the media outlets controlled by him are repeating this message. He is also digging dirt on judges and prosecution and leaking controversial tapes in order to erode the support for the judicial system even in people who are not his supporters.

And it's working, perhaps a third of the population believe this, and another third is losing it's trust in the entire system.

He doesn't need total support, just enough steadfast support while keeping the opposition dazed and confused.

"Everyone living in California gets a ballot" is an outright lie. We can address bias once the lying stops.

The lies from both sides?

I feel like I can see Trump's editorial influence in this. "Put in that stuff about China yeah China and lyin' Google, don't tell me it's ranty and doesn't make sense, put it in"

It makes sense. If Trump demonstrates that some (most?) of these companies act on behalf of or at the request of a government to suppress embarrassing facts/comments, it challenges the assertion this is "only" about flagging misinformation. It also raises the question of "What else are they suppressing?"

Neither point will be fun to respond to.

If you are a conservative cheering this on, ask yourself what you think would have happened when Trump was using Twitter as a platform to raise questions about Obama’s birth certificate? Do you really want the government to be effectively regulating the treatment of every social media post as they see fit?

I think requiring viewpoint neutrality via regulation from platforms that behave like utilities is perfectly reasonable.

In what ways is Twitter like a utility?

I wouldn’t say utility but the courts ruled recently it’s a public forum; the same logic applies.

What courts? What does “public forum” mean legally? I don’t think what you are saying has actually happened and would appreciate a link but I think there is none.

So again, in what way is Twitter even slightly possibly like a utility?

Jesus Christ, we're really doing this aren't we?

It would seem to me that this order tramples on the First Amendment. No matter how much the executive wants to trample on twitter, they are still a private company and can publish or not publish what they wish.

Could you expand further on that?

I don't see anything in the order that prohibits speech, instead focusing on questioning if Twitter et al. qualify for platform protections. Plus some other ad-money ammunition.

An argument could be made that this EO itself violates the first amendment as it's clearly in response to the tweet fact checks, thereby silencing twitter?

In the First Amendment, the government is not allowed to either promote or attack speech. The courts have ruled that some speech, such as hate speech, does not have this protection. Just by deciding whether or not the government will spend ad-money on a platform or not, based solely on what is said on the platform, is one form of the government either rewarding or punishing that platform. I can't comment on the platform protections at the moment.

I'm going to say I believe the courts will block this, but it will look good to Trump's base in an election year.

Right now they are considered a platform, not a publisher. Platforms can't be sued for libel. They are acting as a publisher. Remember the Covington Boys, CNN (A publisher) etc. got the pants sued off of them for Libel. That is one rich kid. Anyway if it is determined they are a publisher they can be sued. So if you were to post that I'm an Orange NAZI on twitter. I could essentially sue you and twitter, if I prove that I am not an Orange Nazi I could win millions. Both you and twitter would pay. No one knows if you have enough money to pay out 8 figures but everyone and his lawyer knows twitter does.

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