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Twitter hides Donald Trump tweet for “glorifying violence” (twitter.com)
1061 points by danso 39 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 1467 comments



Twitter policy:

"We start from a position of assuming that people do not intend to violate our Rules. Unless a violation is so egregious that we must immediately suspend an account, we first try to educate people about our Rules and give them a chance to correct their behavior. We show the violator the offending Tweet(s), explain which Rule was broken, and require them to remove the content before they can Tweet again. If someone repeatedly violates our Rules then our enforcement actions become stronger. This includes requiring violators to remove the Tweet(s) and taking additional actions like verifying account ownership and/or temporarily limiting their ability to Tweet for a set period of time. If someone continues to violate Rules beyond that point then their account may be permanently suspended."

Somewhere a counter was just incremented. It's going to be amusing if Twitter management simply lets the automated system do its thing. At some point, after warnings, the standard 48-hour suspension will trigger. Twitter management can simply simply say "it is our policy not to comment on enforcement actions".

They've suspended the accounts of prominent people many times before.[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter_suspensions


I would imagine that accounts of "important" people are handled personally rather than by automated algorithm. As Jack Dorsey points out in this[0] Joe Rogan podcast, the reported tweets by public or algorithm are manually checked at some point.

Approx. 4000 employees of Twitter all around the world. Every day 100k (edit: 100M) tweets are sent. The reports of tweets that violate the platform policy are (reported by public) enter a queue. These are then inspected by personnel hired by Twitter (number varies proportionally to the scale reports in the queue).

The personnel then go through a series of steps to take an action such as making you verify again, delete those tweets, suspending the account, or in the last resort ban the user permanently.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZCBRHOg3PQ


> Every day 100k tweets are sent

When I worked there we handled about ~6k tweets/sec all day every day. (~500,000,000 tweets/day)


There are 145M daily active users on Tweeter. So that’s approx 3 tweets per user. Sounds reasonable.


What database did you use?


It was just* MySQL for a lot longer than you might imagine. They were switching over to Manhattan (in-house DB, similar to FB's Cassandra) when I left, dunno the current state of affairs.

* highly customized and sharded, required team of senior MySQL DBAs to maintain, but still just MySQL.


Only 100k/day? That sounds quite low.


Maybe 100k tweets by people who are checked manually? I'm sure there are millions of tweets send every day.


It is low. Estimates [0] put the number closer to 500M/day.

[0] https://www.internetlivestats.com/twitter-statistics/#source...


You are right, the volume is in millions, as I heard in the podcast from the Twitter executive. Corrected.


Twitter is mostly retweets, though.


Better leveraging Twitter's reporting feature is probably the most neutral way to solve this.

When a tweet is deemed response-worthy, they should post the report numbers. Value in numbers shields them in many ways and could legitimize their actions as a neutral party. Then, if they miss something, they can simply say there weren't enough reports. This will then empower the feature in the future.

I suggest this as active Reddit moderator with a community of 40,000+ subscribers who regularly has to enforce rules and uses auto-mod to help manage reports and shares that with the community.

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

You can report tweets for:

(1) Being not interested in it (you just get redirected to a mute or block button)

(2)It's suspicious or spam

---> The account is fake

---> Includes a link to a potentially harmful or phishing site

---> Hashtags are unrelated

---> Uses the reply function to spam

---> Something else

(3) It's abusive or harmful

---> It's disrespectful

---> Includes private information

---> Includes targeted harassment

---> It directs hate against a protected category (eg race, religions, gender, orientation, disability)

---> Threatening violence

---> They're encouraging self-harm or suicide

(4) It's misleading about politics or civic events

---> It has false information about how to vote

---> It intends to suppress or intimidate someone from voting

---> It misrepresents it's affiliation or impersonates an official

(5) It expresses intentions of self-harm or suicide.

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

It's pretty good but I would suggest the very simple following updates:

- Updating the main issue (It's abusive or harmful) to (It's abusive or encourages violence or destruction of property)

- Adding a sub-issue to (It's misleading about politics or civic events) with (A political official is supporting false or unsubstantiated information as definitive truth.)

- Adding a sub-issue to (It's suspicious, spam, or false) with (It's supporting false or unsubstantiated information as definitive truth.)

- Adding chevron icons (>) as a visual cue that each main reporting issue has many sub-issues


This doesn’t work for political tweets. Look at replies to even Trumps benign tweets and you will see 50% of the population would hate other guy no matter what they tweet. Every single tweet of Joe Biden and Trump will get flagged no matter what they were tweeting.


It depends on who and what. And it's the inconsistency that will fuel the critics.

They didn't suspend Spike Lee who caused direct harm to a private individual who happened to share a name with an infamous individual: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/spike-lee-settles-twi...


The article you linked to was over 8 years ago at this point - it was years closer to the founding of Twitter than it is to the present day. I don't think that can be considered relevant to their current enforcement regime.


[flagged]


Plenty of left-leaning people get banned as well.


But not for tweets of violence, and they're not getting fact-checked like Trump.


Speaking of fact checking. Please cite your source on this. Thanks.



Your single example is from eight years ago and long before the current fact checking policy?


I can show you cases where right-leaning folks are left on the platform as well.

You are missing the forest for the trees.


So, your source is a singular example? From nearly a decade ago? Right.


Only accounts with a large reach get fact checked. Unfortunately, leftist lunatics don't have the same reach as him, so they aren't ever going to get fact checked. (Just banned for violating the TOS.)

Edit: Don't understand the sentiment. Are there any radical left accounts with as much reach as the POTUS, that engage in similar behaviour that I am not aware of? If they exist, they should be trivial to link to. Looking at the top Twitter accounts, they consist of Barack Obama, YouTube, Modi, Bill Gates and a bunch of celebrities. Are any of those folks radical left? Will Lady Gaga or Katy Perry be opening the 2021 Superbowl halftime with "Internationale?"


I think you're being downvoting because your first sentence appears to be calling all leftists lunatics when (correct me if I'm wrong) you're actually saying "there are no leftists who are quite as loony and prominent as Trump so there is no easy comparison".


> I think you're being downvoting because your first sentence appears to be calling all leftists lunatics when (correct me if I'm wrong) you're actually saying "there are no leftists who are quite as loony and prominent as Trump so there is no easy comparison".

I think so. The GP's use of the term "leftist lunatics" reads as a right-wing shibboleth to me.


Outside the US, I hear "looney left" and related terms used all the time by political moderates to describe any leftist groups outside the political mainstream, with a similar connotation to "alt-right", though it's a meaner phrase. It's derogatory towards them, but not towards the left in general.


Inside the US, "looney left", "communists", and "traitors" are all used by the political center-right and right-wards to describe any leftist group. Any reference to the left is intended to be derogatory.


If they were going to "leap at the chance" to suspend Trump, then why haven't they already? He's been treading in the grey area of their ToS for years.


Conflicting interests between how much they disagree with him politically and how much money they directly make off of his traffic (and less directly via traffic from everyone complaining about the controversy).

Twitter's business model is totally reliant on controversy. They want to treat/control, but not cure/extinguish.

Which is a separate reason that twitter's ethically conflicted in making almost any judgment calls on what's "allowable" speech.

Additionally, the nature of mud-slinging politics requires that ones opponents "follow" his online presence in able to attack. So if Trump leaves Twitter, not only do his followers go to whatever new platform he does, but so must his adversaries.

Twitter doesn't want that.


Yes, double standard to protect Trump. Who has for years twitted violent stuff, racist stuff, and Twitter had let it slide. I don't get this weird victim mentality of Trump folks. Trump has been treated with kid gloves by Twitter. Meanwhile, the largest broadcast network is literally Trump's state media.


> Somewhere a counter was just incremented. It's going to be amusing if Twitter management simply lets the automated system do its thing. At some point, after warnings, the standard 48-hour suspension will trigger. Twitter management can simply simply say "it is our policy not to comment on enforcement actions".

I wouldn't be surprised if Twitter has exempted Trump's accounts from all automated moderation. However, I'm half expecting them to ban him about twelve seconds after he leaves office.


I would never let a machine automate any decision regarding Trump's account, considering that any action would be scrutinized by the entire world and could have massive repercussions...

So definitely not "a counter incremented somewhere". This is a political decision.


Yes, a political decision to manually increment a counter.

zapita 38 days ago [flagged]

> However, I'm half expecting them to ban him about twelve seconds after he leaves office.

At the top management level, they are probably weighing the possibility that he never leaves office (a plausible scenario at this point), and how that scenario affects their bottom line.

They probably don’t want US institutions to dissolve into full-blown autocracy... But on the other hand, if that were to happen, then it would be better for the stock price if they hadn’t burned all bridges with the new leader for life.

You can bet that Zuckerberg is making the same calculus - except that he seems to have chosen a side. Facebook is no longer pretending to care about preventing autocracy. They are betting on the GOP coup succeeding, and are building bridges accordingly.

Note: no amount of downvoting by the alt-right fringe lurking here will make the facts go away. Downvote away since you don’t have the courage to write down and justify your true beliefs. You are an embarrassment to the technology community. You are the spineless, petty, cowardly foundation upon which all autocracies are built.


You've been breaking the site guidelines repeatedly lately. That's not cool. Emotions are inflamed right now, and that makes it more important, not less, to follow these rules: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Yes, it appears that I have.


"they are probably weighing the possibility that he never leaves office"

I think you are very far from reality


I'd love to live in this world, but it is not one I think anyone can afford to live in. This man is a true narcissist who has very little respect for the office, the institutions he's responsible for, or more than half the country. All sorts of things that were very far from reality are no longer.

But I would love to be able to agree with you. That would be a better world. But the world we live in is where the President says "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," a racist dog whistle to the 1960s, who "jokes" about staying past any term limits, where enablers in Congress and in the media allow him to toe the line of criminal behavior with no accountability as long as it benefits them. That's reality. I wish it were different, but I cannot take your position and reconcile it with what's in front of us today.


It's not about what Trump does. It's about what everyone else does. He's very good at getting attention with stunts that have no practical or legal effect. This includes signing executive orders, which sounds like doing something but it's not necessarily so.

So you need to look at scenarios where other people do stuff, and why it happens. Are there orders he can give and will people follow them? If not directly due to an order, how does it happen?


Trump barely has support now, nothing close to the widespread popularity he’d need to refuse to leave office. There’s about a 0% chance the Supreme Court goes along with it, and without an election the Presidency automatically transfers.

He’d also have to be astoundingly popular among the Secret Service for them to betray their oaths. His military support would tank, and him, his family, and administration would be in constant fear for their lives. IMO, he’s just not that insane, stupid, or popular enough to even try.


I think you're basically making an "it can't happen here" argument, and I wholly disagree. I worry this kind of thinking effectively guarantees it will happen here eventually, because it relies on dynamics that govern legitimacy remaining the same as they have been in the past. The way it would happen is specifically if the dynamics of loyalty and who has legitimate authority change, and we've seen over the last four years that that's 100% happening. The only question is how deep the distrust of institution goes and how far the people in key positions will go to defend a President they are loyal to. If you can convince enough people to distrust the process of picking the President, you can create enough chaos to break apart the forces that would normally counter that kind of thing.

Look at any nation that underwent major coups; factions form, and it tears the organizations you've listed apart at the seams. Because a conflict of legitimacy exposes those seams, and those seams are absolutely present today. A Secret Service agent, an army colonel, armed militia, border patrol agents—if they can be made to believe the results of the election are illegitimate, they may consider the best way to fulfill their oaths to be stopping the "illegitimate" president from taking office. They will think of themselves as the ones stopping the coup.

I'd love to believe that all of those dynamics you're describing are the same as they were 20 years ago. I'd also make your argument then. But they aren't anymore. It can happen here.


I won’t claim it could never happen here, societies change and we could certainly drift to a place it could. The Dem candidates that advocated packing the Supreme Court scared me for this reason, that’s part of how Maduro seized complete power.

Trump now though? Nobody fears him, the majority disrespect him, government bureaucracy openly defies him. He doesn’t even have the House, nor enough Republican support to pass laws to enable a power grab, nor a Supreme Court loyal to him before the constitution.


Trump and Mcconnell have already packed the supreme court and the federal circuits.

It's no-longer a question of if the Democrats respond, it's a question of how.


They didn’t pack the Supreme Court, it’s still the same number. They did appoint a bunch of textualists and originalists, not just die hard conservatives. That makes it harder to drive progressive change through the judiciary, but the legislative branch was always the better option.

Actual court packing is a terrible idea, last attempted by FDR, at great political cost. Hearing candidates actively propose plans for doing so boggled my mind.


> That makes it harder to drive progressive change through the judiciary, but the legislative branch was always the better option.

Maybe not so much. Didn't this court gut important parts of the the Voting Rights Act?


We also have Roberts to thank for Citizens United, which flooded the political landscape with dark money and made the current GOP strategy viable.


Not going to weigh in more generally - but he seems to be doing pretty fine according to recent polls

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/


Well enough to pass some policy, but not enough to seize power through popularity. He’d undoubtedly lose significant (I’d wager most) Republican voters, and all semblance of a mandate.

The idea drives a lot of clicks and ad views though, so I’m sure we’ll see many more speculative articles before the election.


I wonder if anyone in history has managed to seize authoritarian power with only 40% support. I vaguely remember an example in the 1930s in central europe somewhere.


I appreciate your point but do you see an actual path for him to do so here? It’s a different form of government, in a different era, with a much more informed populace aware of those consequences.

Maduro did it in Venezuela recently, that’s actually a more apt comparison as he packed their Supreme Court to do so.


My concern is that we may see the same dynamics as the reconstruction era. White liberals may lack the stomach for the kind of serious reform that would preserve democracy in the face of a white supremacist bloc gradually eroding voting rights and the rule of law. I wouldn't expect a Hitler-style dictatorship but we could see one-party rule.


He has already started.

- Informed populace. Really? It seems to me that propaganda and disinformation are rampant. The rise of radio broadcasts parallels the rise of National Socialism in Germany. Hitler understood the power of this new form of media, and used it to build a superior propaganda apparatus. The same thing is happening now with the combo of cable news and social media.

- Supreme court is now 5-4. The last two nominations do meet the bar of independence and due process. Neither do dozens of federal judge appointments that the Senate is railroading in unprecedented numbers.

- The entire GOP is compromised. Those who are not aligned with Trump have resigned. Remember Paul Ryan? Everyone who is left is fully aware of the new marching orders: absolute loyalty to Trump and his family. Breaking the law is ok - you will be protected. And if the law gets in the way, change it.

- The DoJ is compromised. For example, Federal charges were dropped against Michael Flynn, a federally indicted accomplice of Trump. That has never happened before.

- The election system is compromised. See the revelations by whistleblower Reality Winner. Note that no action has been taken - except exceptionally harsh prison sentence against Winner in retaliation for leaking the fact that the elect infrastructure is under attack.

- The FBI is compromised. Trump and his family have been under surveillance since the 1980s as known associates of the Russian mafia. It’s the only plausible explanation to the FBI leaving him, a known criminal, entirely alone, while choosing to sabotage Clinton with Comey’s eleventh hour announcement.

- ICE is now effectively a para-military operation loyal to Trump personally.

- The Treasury has been compromised by Russian agents since 2015. With Trump appointees now in charge, things have only gotten worse.

- Multiple state legislatures are compromising beyond repair. For example Missouri is deeply corrupt, and effectively controlled by the GOP in perpetuity regardless of popular vote. There is a vicious circle of electoral impunity leading to more dismantling of anti-corruption regulation, which allows more shady practices to tip the electoral scales even further. In Georgia, the secretary of state used his authority to “disappear” thousands of ballots and get himself fraudulently elected as Governor.

- Let’s not even get into the countless state and city police agencies that are infiltrated by white supremacists.

The coup is already underway.


Would you be interested in a bet on this? I’m fascinated by people who have strong convictions on things that I think the mainstream populace would put an incredibly low weight on, like, how’d you get here?

I’d love to hear what constitutes your majority of news sources. And also where you live broadly. I almost can’t imagine someone outside of SF who ready HuffPost daily to believe this.

I’d give you 20:1 odds and happily take the bet. I’m very curious how seriously convinced you are about this, as it’s about as far outside what even my extreme leftists friends believe. Not to try and be macho or anything, but I’m very curious how strongly you believe this, or if you are mostly acting as a bellweather, trying to sound an alarm very early on a trend you think others miss.


> without an election the Presidency automatically transfers.

Says who? You've never had a President try to suspend or tamper with an election.


Primarily the Constitution and the Presidential Succession Act. While there are some ambiguities that need to be resolved there is definitely no scenario in which the sitting President continues.


In order for trump to make a military coup and disband elections, he need more than the title of office. Even for something like sending in the military in order to push demonstrators, you need the direct support of the military. Is there any evidence that he as that kind of support?

Without such support, all the can do is push peoples buttons. He can ask the national guard to go to the location, which the national guard will likely accept in order to look helpful and useful. He might be able to impose a curfew, through the courts will fight him there. He might even be able to impose rules against large gatherings, which again the courts would fight him over. But I don't see how officers and generals would accept an order to start shooting civilians. Even if we disregard the moral question, just the liability risk from "just following orders" makes me question how much control a president have over the military to do acts which the law and common understanding of the law says are illegal. Intentionally killing your own civilians is a pretty major step for any nations military.

Sending in the national guard is naturally still a terrible idea as someone is likely to get shot accidentally. There was a good reason why the 9/11 military posted at airports wielded guns with empty magazines. Trump has likely the ability to cause accidentally shooting when the looting starts by placing the wrong people at the wrong location with the wrong training and wrong gear. He has a much harder time to accidentally cause a military coup and disband elections.


very very far from reality. i heard the same thing from liberal friends about GWB and i heard the same thing from conservative friends about Obama.


During his 'The president has total power' gaffe he at one point said something along "I am president, the president isn't a person, but the office. I have the office now. Then the next guy will have the office..." You know, the kind of thing a dictator would say. Sometimes I feel like defending him due to people's over reactions when I wouldn't otherwise.


The context for this is also that although Democrats wanted Obama to use executive orders to advance their agenda, Obama understood that future presidents would use his use of executive orders as precedent for their own--regardless of to what party they belong.


[flagged]


That’s awfully ungenerous to your fellow HNer. Maybe it would be better to wait for his response to your question (“Why is that?”) rather than answering it yourself.


If I had to guess you're the kind of person who always thinks you're the smartest guy around. You know absolutely nothing about this person, just went on this rant against a strawman to feel intelligent.


Yes, that’s always a possibility. I try to check myself for this kind of behavior, and I don’t think that your description is accurate, but of course you never know for certain.


Vladimir Putin talks about his office in a similar way. Yet he's managed to hold it for 20 years even though the Russian constitution was supposed to limit him to two four-year terms.

At least since Augustus, dictators have been diligent in paying lip service to law and established tradition while trampling over both.


Out of interest, what public statements from Obama did your conservative friends use to justify those beliefs?


Did you read the end of the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"?


[flagged]


> What is relevant is the opinion of actual experts on the topic of autocracy.

What happens to the “experts” when they are wrong?


They become pundits making mid 6-figures on TV and go on the lecture circuit making 5-figures per speech. Not a bad life for someone who doesn't need to be right.. ever.


In this case, I think they would all love to be wrong. If they are right, many of them will end up in jail, or dead.


You mention unnamed "experts" and "consensus" without citation.

Post your sources.


I don't know who qualifies as an expert, but Masha Gessen comes to mind.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/one-year-after...


There are as many sources as there are experts on the topic... If you had bothered to even google "autocracy expert trump" you would have dozens of sources already.

1. Sarah Kendzior. PhD on the topic of autocracy (specifically Uzbekistan). Investigative journalist on the topic of corruption in the Trump administration. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Kendzior

2. Tim Snyder. Professor of History at Yale university. https://www.timothysnyder.org/

3. Laurence Tribe. Professor of Constitutional law at Harvard. https://www.rawstory.com/2017/02/laurence-tribe-mitch-mcconn...

Now, your turn. Can you cite credible experts who disagree with this consensus?


Comparing GWB to Trump is a bit disingenuous, don't you think? Trump is an actual wannabe autocrat, as opposed to GWB and Obama.


And yet Obama jailed journalists and worked towards instituting Socialist ideas - which include a ruling class.

Meanwhile, Trumps only "autocrat" proof is words? He talks snit... What has he done to become a King? Nothing he's done so far isn't powers used by previous Presidents - including Obama.

What actual has Trump taken to expand Presidential powers? And what steps has Trump taken to become a King?

Because until actual actions are taken... words are just Trump talking shit. Which he's allowed to do...


He's neutered the justice department[0] and he's packing the federal judiciary with ideologues to the exclusion of sober-minded jurists. He's firing inspectors general tasked with oversight of the executive.[1]

[0] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/attack-fun...

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/16/us/politics/trump-state-d...


Obama jailed a journalist? Who?

What do you mean by socialism? What socialist ideas did Obama institute? What is the "ruling class" within socialism?

Regarding Trump: what do you make of him removing the inspector general who had opened an investigation against Pompeo? What do you make of him pushing out Jeff Sessions because Sessions recused himself from the Muller investigation?

Put another way: what would count as stepping toward autocracy, other than an explicit suspension of Congress or the like? Barring outright coups, these things happen incrementally. See Hungary, Brazil, etc.


> Obama jailed a journalist? Who?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/shocked-by-th...

I don't see anything about jailing them - and I remember reading a story awhile back about but can't find it. So if I'm wrong on that point, I stand corrected.

With that said - Obama definitely attacked journalists from DC. Spying on them, following them, etc.

> Trump removing various people

Those people work at the Presidents discretion. All previous Presidents have fired staff at various stages for various reasons.

Trump is a businessman who is known for firing people... You may have seen his Reality TV Show. His catch line? YOURE FIRED!

https://www.rollcall.com/2017/05/10/a-list-of-notable-presid...

He has the ability to fire people at will.

https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/165983

> The final vote was ten in favor and ten opposed, so Adams, exercising for the first time his Constitutional authority to break a tie, settled the matter in favor of the president’s exclusive removal power.

> The president’s authority to dismiss an appointee is now settled law, but with the text unclear, it had to be settled by the First Federal Congress.

> autocracy

Trump doesn't have the "unlimited powers" of a King or a Dictator though... you can claim it but he's got the same power as those before.

You could argue about "incremental" movements... but Trump hasn't moved the needle any further that I know of. Previous Presidents? Definitely... but Trump has been using everything previous Presidents have used - from Obama on back.


I did too, but the funny thing about "this time is different", is that sometimes it is true. Consider the fact that Trump is the only president that said he would not respect the results of an election if he lost. Also consider the dramatic backsliding in democracy we've seen in other countries throughout the world in the last decade. Vladimir Putin never explicitly called himself Emperor for Life, but for all practical purposes, he is just that.

At the end of the day there is no such thing as "the law". They are just words written on paper.


I heard those things too. This is the first time I've considered it even slightly plausible. I'd give it a 20% chance that he calls on his most fanatical base to march armed on DC if he loses the election.

Go check into the Qanon cult and similar circles. There are conservatively probably a few hundred thousand people in this country that would take up arms against the (literal) baby eating pedophile illuminati. All he has to do is say "the storm is upon us" and provide instructions. "Where we go one we go all."

Can any constitutional scholars comment on what happens then? What if he as commander in chief orders the military to stand down? Would they obey him or protect the constitution? What about the national guard? Local police? What would any of these agencies do if removing Trump required opening fire on tens of thousands of Americans?

Reagan, Clinton, and Obama were much more broadly popular than Trump, but the thought of them attempting this and having any chance of success is laughable. I don't even think Bush II could have pulled it off right after 9/11 at the peak of his popularity and with his powerful religious right base.

Trump on the other hand has a fan base unlike any I've ever seen. If you don't believe me research Qanon. There's a shockingly large group of people who worship him as something almost akin to a prophet. I'm sure there's some percentage who would die for him. It's a bit disturbing.

I agree that it's unlikely, but it is plausible.

Personally I think he will leave office, but what he has accomplished is to pave the way for an actual future dictator.

If the COVID recession plus unlimited QE results in further divergence between the real economy and the financial economy I could definitely see real fascism or totalitarian socialism winning some day. As I've been saying for a while, which one we get probably depends on which side is able to field the most compelling demagogue. I don't think people will care about left or right as long as there are pitchforks being handed out.


I think it's impossible to predict whether he makes such a call, it's the realm of psychology. What's the trigger? Let's say he loses the election. Does his decompensation happen so fast and so hard that he turns into Jell-O? Or does he rage tweet (or go on Facebook or TV or all of the above) that the election is rigged, illegal, invalid, and must be challenged with violence, before it's too late?

shrug

At that moment it is less about law than it is about character of other leaders. Does the Vice President, who is still the VP following his own election loss, contradict the POTUS' election fraud claims and call for violence? Necessarily on the table is 25th amendment and/or impeachment. A call for violent revolution to achieve the dissolution of constitutional order is unquestionably a violation of oath of office for any elected official.

People are conditioned to think that an impeachment would take a week or more. If Congresscritters actually get scared? They can follow strict rules of order and still get it done very quickly. Hours. The real impediments to speed are physical presence in the chamber. Not opposition. They will not wait for TV cameras, spectator chairs or tickets to get printed. If they really believe the POTUS is trying to incite an overthrow of the government, which is what autocracy means, they know full well they are inside the blast radius of imploding power.


The POTUS can bar senators from entering the room. Then what?


POTUS is a legal term, and no law gives them power to prevent senators from entering either capitol chamber. Each house has their own rules who can enter. They each keep their own Sergeant at Arms.

IF a POTUS can use force to stop them, it is extra-constitutional, and at that point this person is not POTUS but something else.


I dont.


https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/02/trump-jokes-rigg...

> Since assuming office in January 2017, Trump has made at least 27 references to staying in office beyond the constitutional limit of two terms. He often follows up with a remark indicating he is “joking,” “kidding,” or saying it to drive the “fake” news media “crazy.” Even if Trump thinks that he’s only “joking,” the comments fit a broader pattern that raises the prospect that Trump may not leave office quietly in the event he’s on the losing end of a very close election.


"What if I...didn't leave office, as a joke...aha ha, just kidding... unless?"


OTOH people who hated Bush Jr. thought there was a good chance, and some evidence, that he'd find a way to stay in office past his term. Same with Obama.


This is how he uses the Overton window to change the conversation. He's very good at this sort of thing.


When Trump leaves office he will be open to an enormous amount of investigation, litigation and prosecution. I don't know how probable it is that he tries to stay in office, but I don't think it is zero. Twitter planning around that possibility seems be less likely.


How far do you think he would go in order to try?


My personal estimate is zero. He can't really cash in until he leaves office.


I'm not certain that is true. Wouldn't the most effective way to profit from the presidency be to cultivate your persona as a twitter troll, and tip someone off when you are about to make a market moving tweet so they can place a leveraged bet?

I don't think insider trading law would apply, but in any case we seem to have established that he's above the law and can't be impeached. He, or friends beholden to him, could be trillionaires by the time they leave office.

It would certainly explain why he continually makes inflammatory statements about China and everything else, without seeming to consistently pursue anything.


1) Reading Matt Levine's "Money Stuff" has made me expect that the SEC is pretty good at detecting such things.

2) Also, that seems like something which would make more money for someone else, which does not fit with my model of Trump's behavior.


Matt Levine regularly says that US insider trading law is a mishmash of precedent and that it does not require an "equal playing field" but rather that's a misconception. He's also more than once mentioned that you can trade on your own intentions legally, and that illegal trading is generally based on misusing information that belongs to someone else. Finally, I essentially got the idea of people front-running the tweets from one of his columns, so I know it's occurred to him, but he wasn't quite so blunt about it.

The SEC is irrelevant if there's no specific law against it, never mind that there's no evidence anyone can prosecute for anything even if it was a crime.

As far as making money for someone else, doing a "friend" a favor is not the same thing as charity, nor is laundering money through a proxy. If you hypothetically give away a trillion dollars without receiving anything in return formally that doesn't mean you haven't bought something. Ownership is only the convention that other people think you own something, backed up by some sort of written records somewhere.


Yes, but recall we are talking about my expectation that he will prefer cashing in to trying to be President for life (which in my estimation would be thwarted by every other part of government anyway). He may well be doing such things now, but he can't really cash in on favors owed until he leaves office.


> My personal estimate is zero. He can't really cash in until he leaves office.

This seems true for a normal president, but Trump has never been shy about self enrichment even while in office, so it's not clear what incentive there is for him to leave.


What makes you think that? What do you think "cashing in" entails, and what do you think prevents the Trump family from doing it now?

Also, how would he and his family stay out of jail if they can no longer control the judiciary and FBI?


they are already cashing in. look at jr's book deal. look at ivanka's trademarks in china. look at funneling money into their properties. there's myriad graft in that family.


Cashing in entails:

-Large book deal, with title "Winning: How I Made America Great Again Despite All The Dummy Losers In Washington"

-Some sort of talk show or network

-But mostly, going back to licensing the use of his name all over the place

As for staying out of jail, he might not, but I suspect a combination of fuzzily enforced regulations and big money lawyers will keep him out.


I don't think you appreciate the magnitude of what is happening in the US at the moment.

The federal government is being stripped for parts, as we speak. Entire agencies have been gutted. Industrial conglomerates can literally regulate their own industries - for a price. Foreign leaders can influence foreign policy - for a price. Federally endicted criminals can get out of jail as if nothing had happened - for a price.

The level of grift and corruption is unlike anything the US has ever known. If Trump remains in power - which he is absolutely planning to do at all cost - it will only get worse. The end game for him is to create a new dynasty of oligarchs - at the same level of the Saudi royal family or Putin. Compared to that, the book deals and talk shows are nothing - crumbs. He wants to join the club. And that requires staying in power so that he can 1) continue stealing billions from the US public, and 2) continue corrupting the federal government to stay out of jail.


> At the top management level, they are probably weighing the possibility that he never leaves office

Statements like this won't get you taken seriously.


I'm not any of those things. I'm just down voting you on the basis you're complaining about down votes with personal attacks.


I agree that this system is more fragile than most people think; somehow almost preferring automatic government than the tediousness that functioning democracy requires. And sometimes people get a rude reminder of this.

I do not agree that the scenario you're talking about is probable (which is indicated by plausible). Perhaps you mean possible? Sure, but in that case it's also possible money instantly has no meaning, there is no Congress, there are no states, there are no judges or generals, there are no prison sentences, there are no laws at all whatsoever. Nothing matters, everything is possible.

That is a sense of unpredictability a society does not trend toward no matter how ill it is.

But try to understand that completely ending all constitutional order is not how revolutions tend to progress. Even in the U.S. civil war, there were two (federal) constitutions in place for two sets of states. There was order, even in that chaos.

I agree Trump has autocratic tendencies. But he is a weak minded fool. He will not make for a strong autocrat, he even contradicts himself and dithers too much for this. He is Side Show Bob. He's a distraction. To succeed he would need a very high percentage of authority, trust, and compliance - and there's just no way he's going to get that.

I question whether he even does something to sabotage the election. On January 20th his term of office expires. At noon he is not the POTUS if there's been no election. Further, there's no House of Representatives, because their term expires on January 3rd. And 1/3 of Senators are not Senators. But at 12:01pm on January 20th, there is a person who will become POTUS without an election. And that's the President pro tempore of the Senate. Following that, the states will surely already be figuring out how to reinstitute the House through either appointments or new elections. It's not up to the federal government. But to pass new laws, including a new election to make up for the delayed one, we'll need a Congress.

That has never happened. I can tell you many examples from history, things that are way more likely than any of this. Including from American history. Some of those things are violent, even in fact violent for just one person, that are way more likely than autocracy.

Trump's best chance is for the election to proceed.

So, while you can't for sure predict what's going to happen next, just try to have some imagination for rare events that have happened rather than events that have never happened. Trump is a chickenshit asshole but that's like, the least remarkable or interesting thing going on here, because he's been a chickenshit asshole his whole life - not news! And that doesn't really highly qualify (or disqualify) him as an autocrat. He's not going to be one because he's just too incompetent and steps on his own dick every chance he gets. Just try to calm down, let him have enough rope to hang himself, and he will.


During the Colfax Massacre during Andrew Johnson's presidency, there were two factions that claimed they had won the gubernatorial election for Louisiana. They both tried to set up governments. White Democrats murdered freed black men and Republicans in the streets. The President at the time was sympathetic to the south's cause and only reluctantly sent in the army to take charge of the situation.

This is already part of American history. You're describing some amazing world where people follow the rules even during chaotic situations, and I guarantee that will not happen if there's a contested Presidential election with Donald Trump on the losing side. It will be a lot more like the racist South trying to claw back its power, because his most ardent followers are exactly the same kinds of people. He doesn't need to be good at being an autocrat, he just needs to encourage enough people to support him no matter what, and eventually he'll encourage someone who IS good at it. So you're right that he is not the risk, alone, but he's not alone. He's surrounded by enablers, criminals, and domestic terrorists who have a vested interest in his success.


> I question whether he even does something to sabotage the election. On January 20th his term of office expires. At noon he is not the POTUS if there's been no election. Further, there's no House of Representatives, because their term expires on January 3rd. And 1/3 of Senators are not Senators. But at 12:01pm on January 20th, there is a person who will become POTUS without an election. And that's the President pro tempore of the Senate. Following that, the states will surely already be figuring out how to reinstitute the House through either appointments or new elections. It's not up to the federal government. But to pass new laws, including a new election to make up for the delayed on, we'll need a Congress.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but how would there be "no election" to that degree? Rather than a single, centrally-coordinated federal election, doesn't the US have 50 state-coordinated elections (emphasis on the plural)? So to truly cancel the elections in November, you'd have to have buy in from all 50 state governments. In a slightly more realistic (yet still unrealistic) scenario you'd still have a POTUS, but one elected by electors from the states that held elections, and there'd still be a House of Representatives, but only with members from states that didn't participate in the cancellation.

I suppose the situation would be similar to what must have happened during the Civil War.


You are correct. It's federally mandated as to the date, but it's up to the states to administer the elections. And if POTUS were to "cancel" it - well it would get a good deal messier than I've suggested, and really wanted to avoid.

Let's say a few states agree to the cancellation? For POTUS and VPOTUS, they need 270 Electoral College votes to win. If states drop out, it's decently likely no one gets to 270. That means the House chooses the president, the Senate chooses the VP. In the House, each state gets one vote. I repeat, one. In the Senate each senator gets a vote. This has happened before and it can take a while. It could possibly take weeks. Also, the Congress that decides this is the new one, not the old one. So some election needs to happen because House terms, every single seat, expires on January 3. Do they have quorum? Did enough states elect House members to have a sitting Congress? shrug

Most states are likely to still be red states in the 2020 Congress, so if the decision goes to the House, Trump will probably get another term. Again, each state just gets one vote.


> If states drop out, it's decently likely no one gets to 270. That means the House chooses the president, the Senate chooses the VP. In the House, each state gets one vote. I repeat, one.... Also, the Congress that decides this is the new one, not the old one. So some election needs to happen because House terms, every single seat, expires on January 3.

But I'd imagine that the states that dropped out of the election would actually get zero votes, and and those would be the states most closely aligned with the president.

> Most states are likely to still be red states in the 2020 Congress, so if the decision goes to the House, Trump will probably get another term. Again, each state just gets one vote.

But like I noted above, the red states would be the ones that would be more likely to follow Trump's lead an drop out of an election. I only count 24 red-tinted states on Wikipedia's map, so a few drop outs would actually hurt the Republicans.

But if it got to the red states picking that, would they be obligated to pick an official presidential candidate? I'd hope the Republicans would at least pick a president that isn't as deranged as Trump. On the other hand, Trump's derangement isn't a completely bad thing, because it leads him to pursue his objectives incompetently.


>But I'd imagine that the states that dropped out of the election would actually get zero votes, and and those would be the states most closely aligned with the president.

Right. So you can't assume that outcome. You have to figure out some edge case that would cause toss up states to either drop out, or have their Electors challenged. I think it's less likely a state cancels elections, than having their Electors challenged, even though neither has happened.

>But if it got to the red states picking that, would they be obligated to pick an official presidential candidate?

Yes 11th amendment. House must choose from the top three receiving EC votes.


"Plausible" does not "indicate" "probable". It's actually a lot closer to "possible". What you've done there is textbook strawman.


I agree with you. But what Trump is doing is, he's paving the way for a real autocrat, by breaking down the norms and systems that keep an autocrat from being able to function.


> no amount of downvoting by the alt-right fringe lurking here will make the facts go away.

What facts? What alt-right fringe?

Trump was voted in by tens of millions of Americans and still has tens of millions of supporters.

> At the top management level, they are probably weighing the possibility that he never leaves office (a plausible scenario at this point)

Trump is in his 70s...

> since you don’t have the courage to write down and justify your true beliefs

What true beliefs are you hinting at here and why would they take courage to write down?

zzzeek 38 days ago [flagged]

> about twelve seconds after he leaves office.

which will be in 18 years


He isn't competent enough to pull that off. He can't even get his own staff to do what he wants most of the time.


very naive to think that was a counter flagging POTUS tweet.


following the wikipedia article I found

https://www.avclub.com/twitter-releases-statement-confirming...

"Twitter releases statement confirming it'll never ban Donald Trump"


The headline is misleading. The "statement" is a Twitter thread, and it doesn't say anything about banning or not banning everybody. The body of the article concedes that it only "heavily implies" they'll never ban him. And that was three years ago. Some stuff has happened since then.


Even Jack Dorsey's account was suspended in 2016 mistakenly.



Maybe. But there's probably a business model out there this is simply a Twitter clone that waits for the Trump account to move there, and bang, instant success.


There is and they (Gab) get an okay number of likes on every one of his posts promoting it. [0] Also Facebook is now well positioned to be his next platform if he moves off twitter.

0. https://twitter.com/getongab/status/1266347307391488002


Trump isn't moving to Facebook, regardless of Zuck's attempt to pandering to his childish outbursts. Twitter is precisely suited to Trump's micro-tantrum thoughts, where Facebook is orthogonal. I would argue that the brevity of Twitter, and the adversarial nature of it, made Trump and the imbecile-right (e.g. not conservative -- it's a bunch of flag wavers who have close to zero political lean of knowledge...they just want to hate).

P.S. I know this comment is auto-dead, and that's okay.


Out of all the social networks, isn't Facebook the one that has the most Trump supporters? Twitter is notorious for being full of the woke left. Most people only find out about Trump's tweets because they get reported somewhere. Facebook is nowadays the preserve of older moms and pops.


Or mastadon! Whitehouse could have its own server, and would not need to worry about sensorship


Since Twitter and Trump seem intent on getting into a pissing match (Trump a bit more so), what's the worst each side could do?


Twitter could block him and Trump could continue to sell out America to foreign interests.


Useful to know that this specific selective application of editorial bias by Twitter, was after Trump's executive order [1] on preventing online censorship of free speech.

>"... Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet. .."

When a car manufacture represents their 18-wheeler fleet as a 'passenger cars' -- we understand that this is a lie and demand corrective action.

When twitter manufactures opinions and hides them as 'public forum discourse' -- we are supposed to be ok with that?

I would be ok if their manufactured opinions are displayed to paid subscribers only, who want to care what Jack Dorsey thinks about President Trump, obamagate or Brexit.

[1] https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-or...


How is this "political bias"?

Is everything that disagrees with Trump now "political bias"?

I'm not even from the US and I know what "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" means and what outcome it envisions.

> When twitter manufactures opinions and hides them as 'public forum discourse' -- we are supposed to be ok with that?

What are these opinions? Can you speak them out loud? Which opinions are being hidden? Can you write down the message of these opinions in plain words?

Could you write down these opinions as if they were your own, without violating HN's house rules?


The outcome was clear the moment a president mentioned the use of the national guard in dealing with demonstrations.

Using the military to quell civil unrest means people getting shot. Last time in 1992 on the order of George HW Bush, the resulted was 50 dead and 2000 injured.

Unless a person is talking about using the military to assist with natural disasters, the person is envisioning the violence of "when the looting starts, the shooting starts".


You cannot not have bias when you are talking politics. For Tweeter’s case, one would need to look at statistics for how many tweets from each sides are getting flagged. If one side is getting all the flake then it means that side is evil and other side is holy. In politics, this is not possible over long term if democracy is in full effect.


WRT "... Is everything that disagrees with Trump now "political bias"?.."

I think much of the media (bbc, reuters, vox, cnbc, msnbc, abc, cnn, buzzfeed, huffingtonpost, twitter's leadership) basically are the propaganda arm of the anti-Trump Coup.

The use a multi-level approach to execute and to protect it:

- to keep legitimacy of their disinformation efforts, keep 10-15% of the reporting as 'neutral', and then flood the 90% of the time with anti-president message.

This tactic allows for what I call: Plausible Deniability.

When you confront these propagandists about the majority of their disinformation compaign, they point to the '10%' and then claim plausible deniability ('eg we do not do everything wrong)

- Use War propaganda tactics [2]. With emphasis on 4 (We are defending a noble cause, not our particular interests!) and 5 (The enemy is purposefully committing atrocities; if we are making mistakes this happens without intention)

- instigate unrest (and there are a number of tactics to do this, as we are seeing being unrolled)

When you use the above decomposition, it is, at least for me, easy to see what is going on and why.

With regards to:

>".. Could you write down these opinions as if they were your own, without violating HN's house rules?.."

Sure. So let me re-iterate the context

Trump's tweet: >"... ....These THUGS are dishonering the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any Difficult and we will assume control, but when looting starts, the the shooting starts.

Thank you. ..."

The twitter suggests that the above is glorifying violence.

I think that an opinion, it is a wrong opinion. And leads to more violence.

I would interpret Trump's message as:

- Laws will be enforced. Help to local police is on the way (in the form of National Guard that Tim Woltz mobilized [1]).

- Physical harm to Innocent people and their property will lead to shootings.

I would interpret Twitter's handling of this as: we do not want law enforcement to enforce laws. Loot all you want, it is your right under the circumstances.

[1] https://www.newsmax.com/politics/tim-walz-george-floyd-riots...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Basic_Principles_of_War_Pr...


@dang do you think the above comment and opinions I shared should have -1 and -4 downvotes.

Is that in line with your expectations, given the topic and the manner in which my comments were written?


This is amazing news, and I hope Twitter adopts this policy for all rules violations. Much better than deleting tweet or banning accounts, this lets people decide what they want to see. (Except for obvious spammers etc. which should probably be banned.)

Even better would be if there were user-configurable "lists", whereby you could decide upfront what you want / don't want to see (like many sites do right now with NSFW content) - the default filter would be very "protective" (no porn, no violence, no gore, no hate speech) but users could turn off any or all of these "filters". The next step is the addition of user-curated "lists" / "filters" (e.g. "no democrats", "no republicans", "no vegans", "no dog lovers", ...).


If we're being honest, Twitter is basically a machine that glorifies violence. It rewards it at the platform and algorithmic level.

An endless volume of tweets under every charged trending topic violates these rules, which are being surfaced and promoted by the platform. And it enables mob mentality like nothing we've seen before.

Moderation is mostly just theater, especially as long as the platform itself is quite literally encouraging the core behavior.


Twitter's design is fundamentally broken beyond repair.

Your Twitter feed is yours. It's like your home territory. People feel like they're entitled to defend this territory. Twitter assists inflammatory media as it attempts to invade this territory, originally with retweets, but more recently with algorithmically selected tweets coming from people who you didn't follow, selected for "engagement". But it does more than that. When you defend your territory, your defense ends up on someone else's feed as a provocation.

The original model worked, with tweets from your followers only, and no retweet support except copy and paste and the letters RT. The current model is cursed.


What Twitter needs is algorithmically enforced moderation. So when a twitter reply calls for extremism, the user will then be prone to see more calls for peace in reply to that comment. Or when somebody asks for dox on a subject, the user then sees tweets mentioning all the previous times doxxing went wrong and innocent people were hurt. The user would not know this was taking place, but they would avoid radicalization and echo chambers currently happening on Twitter. Also instead of showing the opposition to break their thought bubble, which probably wouldn’t be helpful, the user sees their own side, just more moderate and centrist. If no tweets showing moderation exist, twitter could use a bot that appears to be a real human to make these moderating tweets. Most of these twitter conversations are bots anyways.


I think the best solution is not algorithmic enforcement, but algorithmic augmentation of group ban-lists.

So like having hashtags in your profile, you could include ban-lists there, and your preferences would be calculated (and people could see what your filters were).

Yes, this wouldn't solve the issue of filter bubbles but the Twitter's algorithms could augment how to weight people's ban-lists with actual mentions/RTs - so I would see someone on only one of my ban-lists but got a lot of RTs/mentions I'd see it. If I find I'm not seeing stuff I should, I could alter my lists


I'd be curious to know a little bit more about what exactly you're referencing here. This does not in any way describe my experience with Twitter, though I understand that's a single anecdote.


I'd recommend the book Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag, read it a while ago, but still relevant, perhaps even more now...


It is not so much the platform as the general internet medium. It lends itself to narcissism. Humans are more gratuitous when speaking to another in person. More attentive to inflections, reactions, emotions, etc.


They made clear when they introduced this that the “view tweet anyways” approach applies only when the public interest for an account of a public official outweighs the significant harm they consider to be done by allowing what you describe for all users in general. I don’t expect they intend to change their mind on that.


Most websites hide NSFW content behind a click. That's good manners. Why shouldn't Twitter?


Twitter already does hide NSFW ("objectionable") content behind a click, removing it only when it violates the platform rules of conduct.

They evaluated and rejected hiding "violates Twitter policies" content except in the rare cases where they deem it necessary for the public interest to retain that violating content behind a click barrier.

https://help.twitter.com/en/safety-and-security/offensive-tw... has more details about the current policy, and you can read their blog posts from the past couple years about these policies to gain more context and background.


I'm not actually against the idea, but arbitrary blocklists would accelerate bubbling people away from anyone who could possibly think differently from them, which has its own issues.


Radicalism and inciting to violence should be bubbled not amplified.


Unfortunately, you're bubbling away people who believe in free speech and free thought as well, and there are probably a lot more of those.

edit: Adding a bit more, the people being bubbled away will likely tend to just isolate. You might think you like that idea, but having spent some time in isolation, I will attest that it kind of messes with your head. You lose your "phase lock" with society on a lot of different norms, small and large. The stereotype of the "dangerous loner", though not always fair, attests to this reality.

If you want to keep someone as a useful member of society and not a tragedy-of-the-day, you have to keep talking to them.


Technically this is not even bubbling, at least not how google implemented it, as I understand. Im not on Twitter but if anyone knows, does this action by twitter actually bubble Trump away form people who otherwise would have seen his feed?

And by freedom of speech and thought, how about for twitter? Arent’t they a private company?


It seems that this freedom of speech and thought is such a vague concept that gets twisted and turned according to whoever wants to make a point. Let’s have a definition to what exactly it is to cover and then we’ll talk. And no goalpost moving after the definition please:)


Anyone who feels like they're in a filter bubble can easily make another Twitter account to explore different perspectives.


What if they are but just don’t feel like it?


That's their right.


But then the people who are open to such things stay exposed, while detaching from anyone else, thus ensuring that they spiral ever further into their own viewpoint. That's how you create radicals.


Yeah, bubbling is not a magic solution. But why amplify these voices? And why on your “private” platform? A lot of unchecked toxicity can lead to Twitters demise. They set some rules to mitigate for that. Seems ok to me for that to be done for Trumps opponents too.

Remember trolls wreaking havoc on forums? Didn’t they have the right for free speech too and nobody complained when rules were added to try to contain them?


Can't challenge ideas if you are so afraid that you hide them.

The only way to actually change someone is conversation.

Only those who don't want honest change fight to prevent actual conversation from happening.


bubbling is radicalism


You can globally mute individual words: https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/19/21144097/twitter-mute-twe...

All tweets containing muted words will be omitted from your timeline, or if they show up in a thread you're viewing, hidden in-place with a button to reveal. I use this feature liberally. Twitter would be unbearable without it.


Youre right. Before twitter took this step I was unable to decide whether to read the president's tweets. Every morning I am forced by twitter to read trumps tweets. Thank goodness this is no longer the case. /s


This is the bit I don't get. I regularly ignore the utterances of all sorts of people I'm not interested in hearing from. Is it really that hard?


Given that the president is invested with enormous power and has proved both able and willing to upend others' lives for political ends, pretending that he's just another random e-celeb seems kind of disingenuous.


Well the problem then is the overgrowth of executive power in the past two decades. Unfortunately, literally everyone was silent on that during both the Bush and Obama administration as well, and now are complaining that their chickens have come home to roost.


I don't know about you but I voted for Obama and regretted it when this happened [1]:

> National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Pub.L. 112–81. This NDAA contains several controversial sections (see article), the chief being §§ 1021–1022, which affirm provisions authorizing the indefinite military detention of civilians, including U.S. citizens, without habeas corpus or due process, contained in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub.L. 107–40.

Not to mention his failures to uphold the principles that he ran on: gitmo, whistleblower protections (vis a vis Manning, Asange and Snowden), massacres of civilians ("drone strikes"), etc.

Just because you haven't been watching, doesn't mean that this hasn't outraged the people who do. All of that stuff was covered by NPR at the time, so it's not like any of it was a secret.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Defense_Authorizati...


I have been fairly outraged for the past twenty years. Most people have not.

And to my credit, I haven't actually voted or supported the candidate who went on to be president since 2000.


"literally everyone"

I don't know what world you were living in.


The world where -- when I call out presidents for abuse of executive power -- I'm met with various justifications for why 'my guy' is doing the right thing. It's ridiculous. Whether it's Bush's response to 9/11 and his wars or Obama's record executive orders, every time I bring these up, I'm met with justifications for why it's okay this one time.

This is what you get when most people do that.


Exactly this.

Never give "your guy" powers that you don't want the "other guy" to have.

Because the powers you give to Obama... will end up with Trump - and vice versa.


This assumes a basic ability to identify double standards and refuse them on principle. And this country really can't do that right now. Republicans are at a whole new level of hypocrisy than the ordinary variety in American politics. Mitch McConnell said it is obvious that we cannot have a supreme court candidate seriously considered during a presidential election year - when it's the black man in the office. And then this year when asked about what happens if there's vacancy he says unquestionably they will ram the candidate through.

This sort of double standard, smirked at, and then dismissed with "both sides are bad" type whataboutism, is uncivil. It's a betrayal. It's a violation of the social contract. And it's only made worse because the Obama candidate who was refused even a hearing? Orrin Hatch, a multiple decades Congressional Republican, had previously told Obama that he should pick Merrick Garland. It was expressly not principled, and then they boast about this.

Were this truly an actual rule, it means no judges can be confirmed if the political party of president and senate differ. It is cynical and hyper-partisan, and there is no person from either party who has been more vile in this regard than Mitch McConnell. In all ways that matter he's worse than Trump, not least of which is, he's actually competent. The country has consistently become more partisan while he has been majority leader. It doesn't correlate with presidents, it correlates with him.


"literally everyone was silent"

This is such a cliche, and yet simultaneously someone in this thread is saying we don't have to worry about the current President becoming a dictator because of the zillion times previous Presidents were accused of wanting to seize power.

How do you think these contradictory cliches thrive alongside each other?


I'm not quite sure I understand? Isn't what you're citing a case of people continuing to be quiet in the face of executive overreach?


Dorsey has explicitly stated that because user-defined filters will lead people to remain blissfully unaware of ideas that challenge their own, he does not want Twitter to follow that path.

It's a tough call. In some sense, for any global website that doesn't want to impose its own moral code upon the world, it makes the most sense to be hands-off and let users judge for themselves what to see and what not to. On the other hand, doing so would amplify the echochamber effect that's already strongly present on Twitter.


We can hope Twitter adopts and enforces policies equally across the board, but they won't and I don't think they can either.

As an example of how they won't do so, consider that there are people literally organizing violent riots and destruction of property on Twitter right now, and they have not been banned or had their tweets/accounts hidden. Ilhan Omar's daughter was caught doing so herself, amplifying rioting supported by Antifa and DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), as documented in https://thepostmillennial.com/ilhan-omars-daughter-shows-sup.... While hundreds of people are inciting violence and using Twitter to organize violence in Minneapolis, the company has done nothing to stop it, and yet they're willing to block Trump's tweet on the theoretical enforcement of laws against criminal rioting? Clearly this is a discriminatory bias in action.

As for how they can't do so: Twitter is a Silicon Valley company. It mostly employs young, far left liberals. Its internal culture is heavily influenced by where it is located and the people it employs. Their Hateful Conduct Policy (https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/hateful-condu...) is also subject to that cultural/political influence. For instance, this policy notes that "misgendering" is not allowed. But if you're on the other side of the transgender debate, and feel that pronouns should be based on biology-derived gender, and don't think trans women and biological women should be lumped into a group, then you might be banned. Put another way, Twitter has encoded political stances into their operating procedures, and there's no escaping that even if they expressed a wish to treat their customers equally across the board.

There are only two ways out. One option is that Twitter admits it is biased, that they do discriminate against certain viewpoints, and that they do exert editorial control over their platform. The other option is that they return to viewpoint neutrality, avoid censorship/blocking, and only do so to the minimal extent explicitly required by law.


>people literally organizing violent riots and destruction of property on Twitter right now

>Ilhan Omar's daughter was caught doing so herself

Apparently, retweeting a list of supplies to help protect yourself from bodily harm from violent police is "literally organizing violent riots and destruction of property"


I get what you're saying, but the flip side of it is that such actions are aiding, enabling, and abetting a crime (in this case, a large number of crimes). The "protect yourself from bodily harm" bit is what enables these rioters to avoid dispersing and ceasing violent destruction of property. And it is obvious from numerous tweets from various DSA and antifa handles that these two groups are very much amplifying and glorifying destructive rioting. This is real material violence, not theoretical violence, and therefore Twitter needs to shut it down if they have a problem with theoretical violence that they think Trump's tweet glorifies.

Calling police "violent" for wanting to stop blatant opportunistic theft and terrorist behavior (e.g. deliberately cutting gas lines to create big explosions) is a stretch. I would call the initial policing incident that tipped off the protests violent, and I would call the destructive rioting violent (as opposed to the initial peaceful protesting). Both acts deserve condemnation and consequences in my view.


Rioting, looting, and even torching buildings is not the close to the same level of violence as police killings, driving down protestors, or threatening people with guns. Tweets endorsing or even glorifying the former don’t come close to be as dangerous as tweets excusing the latter. Don’t pretend like these two are equivalent.


It’s possible to have bias without editorialising, as far as I know Twitter only hides, deletes or bans. It doesn’t edit, the fact checking is appending.


How is appending not editing. If I append a statement to the end of your comment that contradicts your earlier point without your permission, how is that not editorial?


> How is appending not editing. If I append a statement to the end of your comment that contradicts your earlier point without your permission, how is that not editorial?

Hi, I think you're wrong. Here's the proof: I haven't edited your comment, but by replying I have just appended a statement to it without your permission.


Replying is different than officially annotating though. You can already reply on Twitter.


A reply is a reply, regardless of mechanism. Twitter didn't change a single character of Trump's wording, so they didn't "edit" his tweet.


But it can change the meaning. For instance, if I write a tweet that says "I like the joker character" and twitter appends my tweet saying "People that like joker might shoot up a movie theater", you've changed the intent and meaning completely from what was intended... The media tends to do this kind of thing a lot when they take a speech and add their own commentary to change what was said. Appending/elaborating on what someone says makes them your words, not the original authors.


> But it can change the meaning. For instance, if I write a tweet that says "I like the joker character" and twitter appends my tweet saying "People that like joker might shoot up a movie theater", you've changed the intent and meaning completely from what was intended...

So? No one has a "right to the last word," so that when they speak, everyone else has to shut up so their words will be the exclusive influence on their audience.

It's important for free speech that people be able to point out when someone has lied or spread misinformation.


> A reply is a reply, regardless of mechanism

That's certainly wrong. A reply by an ordinary user using the ordinary mechanism is a very different thing than an official editorial note which carries the imprimatur of the platform. And of course they added code to hide it by default, which is an additional level of control which beyond any sort of replying.

They don't have to change the original wording to exercise editorial judgment and power. This seems kind of obvious?


> That's certainly wrong. A reply by an ordinary user using the ordinary mechanism is a very different thing than an official editorial note which carries the imprimatur of the platform.

Sorry, no, It's not wrong. Twitter's reply using a new mechanism it created may be different than one made by an ordinary user, but that difference doesn't turn their reply into an edit.

> And of course they added code to hide it by default, which is an additional level of control which beyond any sort of replying.

Yes, and it's their right to do that.

> They don't have to change the original wording to exercise editorial judgment and power. This seems kind of obvious?

I never said they weren't moderating their platform (which they have every right to do in any way they see fit). I was merely disputing the weird conflation of "reply" with "edit."


Lets take an other example.

There is an original painting of a pipe. Under it I append the comment: "This is not a pipe".

Have I edited the painting and created a new painting? Is it a single art, or a separate painting and a comment? Do I need additional copyright permissions to create a derivative work, or can I use a painting licensed under Creative Common no derivative in order to create my own version of the Treachery of Images? When I publish it, who is the information content provider as defined by section 230?


> There is an original painting of a pipe. Under it I append the comment: "This is not a pipe".

You're wondering off and getting lost in the weeds with your example.

Twitter replied on its platform using a new mechanism that it created. Trying to twist that reply into an "edit" (with the implication that it's some kind of illegitimate corruption of the work replied to) is drifting towards a denial of free speech and other nonsensical implications.

> When I publish it, who is the information content provider as defined by section 230?

On Section 230 more generally:

Correcting a Persistent Myth About the Law that Created the Internet (https://www.theregreview.org/2019/07/15/kosseff-correcting-p...):

> Understanding section 230’s history is essential to informing the current debate about the law. And that history tells us that one of the main reasons for enacting section 230 was to encourage online services to moderate content....

> Section 230’s “findings” states that the internet offers “a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.” Nothing in section 230’s history, however, suggests that this goal requires platforms to be “neutral.” Indeed, section 230 allows platforms to develop different content standards, and customers ultimately can determine whether those standards meet their expectations. [Emphasis mine.]


According to section 230, it is only relevant if it changes the meaning of the original content. If it's clearly different content, then it's clearly different content.


> But if you're on the other side of the transgender debate

Then you follow twitter's rules on its platform. You're free to misgender people elsewhere.

Moderation, even moderation and policies you personally disagree with does not rise to the level of "editorial control" under the law.

> While hundreds of people are inciting violence and using Twitter to organize violence in Minneapolis, the company has done nothing to stop it, and yet they're willing to block Trump's tweet on the theoretical enforcement of laws against criminal rioting?

Are you certain that no tweets from protestors glorifying violence have been removed? Notably, none of the tweets you mention are condoning violence, so you're actually insisting that twitter hold $random_internet_people_on_the_whole to a higher standard than the president.

You want twitter to take "Bring milk to a protest" more seriously than "when the looting starts, the shooting starts". That's not Twitter's bias showing, that's yours. Under this interpretation, I believe twitter would also have needed to remove tweets organizing the recent Hong Kong protests. Is that what you want?


Twitter don't ban for mere misgendering; anti trans Twitter has been left alone to harass for years, although I believe Glinner finally got banned.


Earlier this year, the rapper Zuby was suspended for tweeting "Ok dude" to a trans person:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/ok-dude-twitter-susp...


I believe twitter already does this through shared block lists


Still waiting for them to tackle the Ayatollah: https://twitter.com/Khamenei_tv/status/1264541220006739968.


Mythic Quest showed us a solution :)


The neutral companies, such as utilities, online hosting or financial providers serve nearly everyone with little objections - they defer to the law rather than any internal policies. The more selective companies such as newspapers and TV channels are expected to restrict who can get published.

By representing itself both as an open platform and as a company with progressive values, Twitter has put itself into an awkward in-between spot and is bound to create such controversies.


Online hosting or financial providers have never been "neutral."


Twitter has never been a "Utility" in the way that you may be imagining it to be.


Yes, of course - but - it is becoming so.

Twitter and Facebook are starting to approach the threshold of 'public good' wherein at least, there would need to be rules or regulations.

If TW and FB did not actually regulate their content - we would see this exposed much more quickly. Foreign/Russian interference in elections would immediately force Congress to act, there's just too much power.

Aside from the ambiguities of 'how and what to police' we do have the added complexity of the nature of 'large, ostensibly public platforms' managed by private companies.


The argument is that it's getting there. It's the leading platform for public debate in the US right now. Journalists spend their days refreshing their Twitter feed, so the effect isn't just in the size of Twitter's platform but its influence.


Twitter is a plague on public discourse. We'd be better off as a society if it were never invented. If I knew how to put the genie back in the bottle, I would advocate for it.


It’s absolutely not. I don’t follow anything political, neither Obama nor Trump. Among 1200+ people I follow are all from AI/ML/biotech/space research. Most of them are academics. I throughly enjoy my feed and it’s my go to place to stay up to date as well as some fun nerdy conversations. Tweeter is a hammer, use wisely.


I didn't say it ruined your discourse in your niche. I'm not saying Twitter can't be good to any people.

I'm saying that as a tool for public discussion, it is vile.


it's easy enough - make it a paid-for service and regulate - read ban - free versions.

not going to happen because apparently people paying with their attention instead of dollars in manipulative ways is just fine. the argument goes that they can always not read it, but that's a false dichotomy in social networks and why i'd like to see twitter, google and facebook get labeled as utilities.


I'd love to see ISPs become utilities, which would be the first step.

Disclaimer: I work for Google, this represents my personal opinion, not that of my employer, etc.

Google, the search engine, I could see being a utility. The rest is iffy. Now, how you disentangle that from the rest of the business... I can either see it being impossible or essentially already done (depends whether you think their existing ads system is biased in some way that regulations/utilit-ification would change - I'm not in ads, I wouldn't know).

Twitter and Facebook as utilities... I mean, I'm not sure I buy it. What kind of utility is it? A utility is something I imagine to be somewhat required by society. A search engine is kind of required in modern society. Facebook and Twitter are incredibly easy to do without.


POTUS is on Twitter. If you want access to his tweets, you absolutely must use Twitter.

Maybe it's a policy problem of the US in particular and politicians in general instead of Twitter/Facebook being an utility. As is, status quo is for me that they're utilities for that single reason.


This POTUS is a huge abnormality that I hope can be forgotten to the annals of time and a jail cell. I would hope not to use him as an example of anything that represents normalcy, like accessibility of his tweets.


abnormality or no, unfortunately that's status quo that we're dealing with here. situation changes, we can rethink going back to status quo ante.


I'd love to be a fly on the wall when a legal team responsible for supporting this narrative has to tackle the issue of regulating the platforms as a public utility, but not the Internet providers that carry them.


There have been people making these arguments both for and against for a very long time. Even as an example, on this very site:

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...

I think you'll quickly lean in the opposing view after reviewing those viewpoints, because if Twitter was a utility it would have been declared one at some point in the previous 11 years.


how long did it take to break up standard oil? ma bell?


What would it even mean to break up twitter? How would that work?


i'm just pointing out 11 years is a very short time for regulators to do anything.


My point is that websites are fundamentally different from resources you extract from the environment and the eagerness by some to treat them as such is specious.


A number of countries are directly demanding they remove content that is considered "terrorist" or in some way an incitement to violence. Realistically, they have no choice but to have policies that forbid any such content on the platform.

France, for example, recently passed a law demanding that various illegal content be removed in 1 hour or 24 hours, or face enormous fines: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52664609


Where did Twitter represent itself as a company with progressive values?


They fucked this up so badly.

They could have just banned him and said "It's a free country and they felt like it."

Instead they're trying to high-road, and it's.. such a mistake.


The high-road leads to where we actually want to be.

I was thinking about what you said in the other thread about trolls, and I think you're off-base. Trolls aren't zen master ego busters, they're the self-hating jerks they seem to be. The "zen master ego buster" story is just another layer of the ego trip.


The high-road leads to Trump agreeing with you that we need to prevent the spread of fake news to protect society. Then, as the duly elected leader sworn to protect society, he takes on that solemn duty and tasks the agency he controls, the FCC (the entity usually tasked with controlling media content), to make sure that all fake news and entities peddling fake news are permanently squashed so that they will not interfere in the upcoming election.


It's a risk. It's not a mistake. I appreciate they are trying to thread a very difficult needle. I'd argue democracy's continued survival is predicated on being able to both have a flattened playing field where every voice is accessible and like-minded people can find each other easily (what the Internet has enabled so far), and a way of inoculating people against lies intended for malicious manipulation (which the Internet has also enabled). Getting there, if we can, will be messy and ugly. Failing will be fatal to the idea that people can effectively self-govern.


We'll, they're certainly escalating. I don't think that Trump actually wants to shut Twitter down, nor does he want to get banned there. The banning would rile up his base, but it would do so at the expense of his primary channel of communication. This action puts the ball back in Trump's court and asks him how far he wants to actually go.


let the white house spin up its own activitypub instance, then.

shouldn't public communications occur on public infrastructure?


Well that's the ridiculous part of all this. Anyone with $20 and a half hour to spare can whip up their own blog on their own domain and post anything they want. As far as accessibility goes, that website will be 100% equal to Twitter.

These private platforms are only being conflated with public infrastructure because people have such a narrow view of what constitutes "the internet." It's ridiculous for a politician's primary means of communication to be over a private platform to begin with. Could you imagine if Clinton only talked to the press via AOL chatroom? The fact that we're debating it as though Trump is being censored by CSPAN just shows how much the abnormal has become normal.


Fact-checking obvious lies is a "progressive value"? Wow, that really shows how bad things have gotten.


It has as least as much to do with not fact-checking the claims of people you agree with. Politics is replete with lies. Remember "all 17 intelligence agencies"?

The idea of neutral just-calling-balls-and-strikes fact-checking in politics is a fantasy. The only thing that actually works is debate.


By choosing what to fact-check you can make any agenda. In practical terms there really isn't an "objective truth discoverable by journalism".

I'm pro slander tho, twitter should be able to pin a tweet in every account saying trump has small hands. Americans in general don't see how great chicanery is for a country.


If the lies are obvious, why do they need "fact checking"?


Because, for better or worse, the sources of truth that normal people historically relied on for their barometer of what is true or not have been democratized by the internet.

We live in a world where a substantial number of people believe the earth is flat, that 5G cellular is a mind control scheme, that vaccines cause autism, that COVID-19 was created by a political party, that the concept of climate change is manufactured, or that major national crises are actually just actors being paid to further a political narrative.

Most of these ideas aren't new, but in decades past you might have heard about them from a conspiracy-therorist neighbor, a low profile website, or an alternative magazine with little reputation of its own.

Now, these ideas are spread on the exact same platforms as objectively truthful / scientifically sound media. Your Youtube conspiracy theory channel is right next to the BBC's videos. Your viral Facebook post could be from the New York Times, or it might be from a propaganda organization - or worse, an account that looks like a normal person but which was specifically created to spread misinformation that seems plausibly truthful.

Credibility is distributed and anyone can publish to a huge audience, which is wonderful sometimes, and othertimes deeply problematic, because the viewer often doesn't know enough to distinguish fact from fiction and can't trust the publisher at face value anymore.

Its uncharted territory. The cost to distribute is zero, and ideas spread far and wide - but that means that there are equally as many incredible sources on any given topic as credible ones, and telling the difference is hard, and sometimes not knowing the difference is dangerous. Dunning-Kruger writ large.


I agree.

The question is, if it's hard to figure out who you can trust, then who can you trust to decide what's fact and what's fiction?

I think trusting any one person or organization to decide is dangerous. Everyone has biases, including the people making decisions at Twitter.

I'd prefer to see the arguments for both sides clearly laid out - "Here are the arguments for and against". Ideally anyone would be able to contribute to either side. Maybe giving each argument its own HN-style discussion.


Everyone has biases, including the people making decisions at Twitter.

Sure, but many things being discussed are beyond biases at this point. POTUS tweets and says completely false things every single day. This isn't downplaying things he disagrees with or spinning, it's flat out lying and/or denying they even exist.

There was a long thread here on HN about HCQ, and some were asking for proof that HCQ does not work. No, that is completely the opposite of how science, and drug research in particularly, works. Drugs are considered non-working until proven otherwise and never the other way around.

I'd prefer to see the arguments for both sides clearly laid out - "Here are the arguments for and against". Ideally anyone would be able to contribute to either side. Maybe giving each argument its own HN-style discussion.

I understand what you're saying, but I shouldn't have to prove 1+1=2 every time I want to have a discussion. Let's take vaccines for example. They have been proven safe and effective many times over. They do not cause autism. In this case, what is the other side of the argument? On my side it's tons of peer reviewed research and on the other it's a few quacks with falsified/misinterpreted/unreplicable/bad science. What is there to actually argue? This is where I normally get frustrated because there are so many topics that can be vigorously argued in good faith, but if we can't agree to some basic 'this is how the scientific method works' then what's the point.


I support vaccination because on aggregate they're best bang for buck in medicine that we have.

The most compelling argument I heard from detractors is that a) Vaccines have been tested/developed on people in Africa who were not told of the dangers of experimental treatments

b)Some vaccines contain trace amounts of metals like mercury.

Both a and b are True. In what way is the person that holds such views unscientific.

When I was child, I was literally vaccinated with a re-used needle. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

I don't understand why you can act like vaccines have never hurt anyone ever, and claim it as the scientific view. To me this seems equally as absurd.


> a) Vaccines have been tested/developed on people in Africa who were not told of the dangers of experimental treatments

Running medical trials on unsuspecting people is wrong whether it's a new drug or vaccine. It also has little to do with the well proven safety vaccines.

> b)Some vaccines contain trace amounts of metals like mercury.

Ah, the classic anti-vax 'toxins' argument. I said that vaccines have been proven safe time and again (which they have). I never said they don't have trace amounts of stuff often found in much larger amounts all around us in the environment [1].

> When I was child, I was literally vaccinated with a re-used needle. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

There was a time in not so long ago medical history that things like needles were reused. It wasn't specific to vaccines.

> I don't understand why you can act like vaccines have never hurt anyone ever, and claim it as the scientific view

Talk about moving/making up goal posts. Nowhere did I claim that no one was ever hurt in the history of figuring out how vaccines work. What I claimed is that vaccines today have been proven safe over and over again. They also do not cause autism.

[1] https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/toxic-myths-about-vaccines/


> I think trusting any one person or organization to decide is dangerous. Everyone has biases, including the people making decisions at Twitter.

Then don't do that. People shouldn't treat Twitter as the highest source if truth, but I don't think anyone does.


Just commenting to say that this was a well written reply


I appreciate it. I'm honestly surprised its initial reception has been so unpopular, but I suspect people think I'm somehow advocating for censorship... I'm not at all, and think that's obvious, but c'est la vie.


I think this part is interesting:

> Most of these ideas aren't new, but in decades past you might have heard about them from a conspiracy-therorist neighbor, a low profile website, or an alternative magazine with little reputation of its own.

> Now, these ideas are spread on the exact same platforms as objectively truthful / scientifically sound media. Your Youtube conspiracy theory channel is right next to the BBC's videos. Your viral Facebook post could be from the New York Times, or it might be from a propaganda organization - or worse, an account that looks like a normal person but which was specifically created to spread misinformation that seems plausibly truthful.

My intuition tells me that knowledge of conspiracy theories is now mostly (in terms of awareness) spread through mainstream media articles asserting that "conspiracy theorists believe <x>". Now I don't spend all that much time in that corner of the internet, but I spend enough time in /r/conspiracy that I have a half decent feel for what the general consensus is on the topics covered in the media, and the way the media describes the "beliefs" of "conspiracy theorists" is incredibly untrue, at least as far as /r/conspiracy goes.

Think about it: do you think all the reporters that write on such topics, and in turn all the people in forums like Reddit and HN, actually know what they're talking about? Or might it be more likely that heuristics in their subconscious mind are feeding information up to the subconscious, that was not once fact-checked?

Pay attention when reading the news or forum comments, observe for yourself how many people speak as if they know things that are literally unknowable, such as events in the future, or the contents of another person's mind. Go through each comment in this very thread and see how many you can count.

There is something very interesting going on, at scale.


Conspiracy theory-type ideas are a threat, but I just want to add on that many partial truths or inaccuracies or falsehoods appealing to biases spread even more easily too. Depending on your side of the debate, you can make well-cited cases for or against minimum wage increasing unemployment, or immigration lowering wages. I haven't researched, but I bet mail-voting fraud too. To the point where the real truth isn't even clear, but people don't recognize the uncertainty.

I'm not sure if this ever hasn't been an issue, but it kinda comes to the heart of fact-checking. I think treating the kinds of falsehoods that get spread online as just obvious conspiracy-theories by nutjobs puts your guard down for things that sound and feel right, but are wrong.


Great post.

I also think that poor general education has also been exposed. People lack general science education and critical thinking skills. Just look at all the 'gotcha' posts of people giving scientists a hard time for changing their positions as new information is learned, when that is exactly what a scientist is supposed to do.

The other part drives these conspiracy theories is not just that they share a platform with legitimate sources, but also the algorithms. Someone clicks on a single story that is borderline conspiracy out of curiosity, and now they are served them at every turn. It's easy for a person to get lost and think that what they are being pushed is the entire world.

By the way, I think you're being downvoted because of this statement:

We live in a world where a substantial number of people believe the earth is flat, that 5G cellular is a mind control scheme, that vaccines cause autism, that COVID-19 was created by a political party, that the concept of climate change is manufactured, or that major national crises are actually just actors being paid to further a political narrative.

I've noticed there is a contingent on HN that do believe in some or all of these things.


I take issue with the "substantial number" claim.

Where are the studies that actually show it is a substantial number? Where's the peer-reviewed replication of those studies? How do those studies account for the "Lizardman constant" (https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/04/12/noisy-poll-results-and...)?

Maybe I'm unique, but I'd guess many of the downvoters have similar complaints.


Only about half of Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if the scientists working furiously to create one succeed, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-vaccine-half-americ...

How many people does it take to become 'substantial'?


Okay, that's some information, and certainly half is a lot.

If you didn't read my link, I suggest you do. Plenty of polls are designed in a way that almost encourage terribly inaccurate results.

Perhaps these aren't, but I'm not going to be convinced they're accurate by just a cursory glance at results.

I'm not saying they're necessarily wrong, either - just being skeptical until I see a really strong case.


"Half of Fox News viewers think Bill Gates is using pandemic to microchip them, survey suggests"

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/fox-news-b...


If accurate, half of people thinking that is a ton, and a huge issue.

As I suggested in my first post, though, not all studies are created equal.

This one could be accurate, but I'm not jumping straight to 98% certainty based on two articles. Survey design matters, and high confidence must be earned.

I shouldn't have said I take issue with the claim. It would have been more accurate to say I don't know that I trust the claim implicitly.


What a lot of people are realizing now is that these democratized news sources are both sometimes a lot less credible than the corporate media, and sometimes a lot more credible than the corporate media.

When you can have people gather clips of text/video to show a corporate media entity contradicting itself, or hiding relevant facts when reporting on a situation, etc. in real-time, it becomes it becomes clear that it is not merely a bias, but in many cases an agenda which drives them (an agenda which may be political, or may merely be the pursuit of ratings and scarce advertising dollars).


> can't trust the publisher at face value anymore

So you don't think mainstream media lies too, all the time, like politicians? RussiaGate is still unproven and by all definitions, a conspiracy. What makes them any more allowed to shill but individuals cannot?


I'm not claiming mainstream media is perfect, by any means, but mainstream media is often beholden to broadcast standards, or at minimum they can't be so nonsensical as to turn away advertisers. There's plenty of room for influence in mainstream media, but at the very least the number of players is limited and the implicit biases widely known. We can all make a short list of who the left/center/right media brands in our respective countries are.

Doing that with the many thousands of Youtube channels or many millions of Facebook/Twitter accounts broadcasting alleged facts is difficult, if not impossible, especially when the cost of obtaining a new account is essentially zero.


Because some people can't think for themselves, unfortunately.


Not false but this is not a justification for the ministry of truth. If anything it is an argument against it.


^ Exhibit #1, typical progressive elitism, moderated with a carefully thought last word as to signal the rest of the group he is not actually a bad person.


Because people don't engage in critical thinking and many are predisposed to consider statements made by people in positions of high authority as fact.


Very few statements are entirely true or entirely false. So let's not pretend like "fact-checking" is an ideal.

Whoever is doing the "fact-checking" wields great power that can very easily be abused or subverted, similar to the ministry of truth in 1984. This is what people are concerned about.

And while that is clearly an extreme, even a small bias in the fact-check is greatly amplified given the number of users on Twitter/Facebook/etc.


Mail-in ballots have been linked to voting fraud in the past. See the 2017 Dallas City Council and the 2018 North Carolina congressional race for example.

Maybe if twitter wants to start fact-checking Trump, don't start with him tweeting that water is wet.


> utilities

It's natural monopoly and highly regulated.

> online hosting

There was several hoster that ban pornography and white supremacist hosting content.

> financial providers

Templeton fired the lady that was choking her dog while calling the police because an African American man was bird watching. He also asked her to leash her dog.

It's a private company. I don't believe Trump is under a protected class to get special perks.


One can also check easily-discoverable recent US military policy https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23347453 to discover that those who think these things through don't condone "looting ⊃ shooting".

Bonaparte was a fan of the "whiff of grape" https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insurrection_royaliste_du_13_v... but we all know how that ended.


Isn't it a long standing thing that the US Military use of force rules in warzones are generally more restrictive than the policies for use on their fellow citizens by police back home?


Yes

One obvious example of this is simply ammo. Military bullets don't expand as much as bullets available to cops or civilians. A military bullet is explicitly not allowed to be an expanding hollow point which really messes you up.

There are all sorts of international agreements on not using certain types of things in war - types of bullets are no exception.


This comment is all sorts of wrong.

Military "bullets" (they're called rounds, actually) are designed to be optimized for performance in a warfare environment. That means accuracy, and range. A hollow point round is design to expand and be a stopping shot - with one round - and not continue to travel large distances, which puts other people at risk. Cops can carry those because if they're in a crowded environment firing a hollow point round at a threat means less risk to anyone else who isn't a threat.

>There are all sorts of international agreements on not using certain types of things in war - types of bullets are no exception.

Yeah no one will care about this once an actual near-peer war kicks off.


A bullet is a bullet, a round refers to the whole package - bullet, powder, case, etc. I'm referring to just the bullet part.

You're probably right on overpenetration though.

> accuracy

For accuracy up to a few hundred rounds you likely want boat tail hollow point, not a steel penetrator. Just look at the loads for prs, cmp, etc. Military bullets are not made to be the most accurate.

> Yeah no one will care about this once an actual near-peer war kicks off.

Probably right, though restrictions on bullet types have been around for like over a hundred years, and most modern US bullets adhere to the spirit of that.

It's also worth pointing out that there are a whole bunch of those international agreements that the US hasn't signed. Cluster bombs, for example.


few hundred yards, not rounds... also more like several hundred


There's an argument for using hollow point bullets on sidearms in civilian environments. There's a lower probability of "over penetration". For a high power rifle in a military environment, such a thing is less of a concern.


But for the sorts of conflicts the US is involved in they are often working in situations with a lot of civilians present. There are also frangible rounds other than those also more destructive to humans. And above all the best way not to accidentally shoot civilians isn’t to have ammunition that makes it less likely to penetrate something else if you miss (this is after all a failure of training) but sane rules of engagement about when you can shoot.


None of what you said was about what he said, which was about high powered rifles.


Do the police not use high powered rifles? I’ve seen a lot of pictures of them with short barrelled carbines which I assume are firing 5.56?

Do the military not use pistol calibre weapons? There are frangible pistol rounds as well.


Correct, hollow-point ammunition is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. This has always baffled me since large caliber and high explosive munitions (120mm HEAT rounds from an Abrams) are regularly used against soft targets in combat, not to mention things like hellfire missles or JDAMs. That's the rules of war for you.


It's mostly because this isn't true, though lots of people love to wax on about what they think is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. I've heard all kinds of stuff like this over the years, such as "you can't fire a 50 cal at a human" etc.

The Geneva Convention says nothing in particular about hollowpoints, so the verbiage has an "interpretation" by DoD about the Rules of Land Warfare that skirts around the issue . See https://www.justsecurity.org/25200/dod-law-war-manual-return...

I know this because I carried hollowpoints while deployed in an anti-terrorism capacity.


hollowpoint restrictions date back to the 19th century (hague convention), not the geneva convention. And yes that is addressing international war.

It explicitly prohibits frangible/flattening/expanding ammo in war. The US hasn't signed that, but in practice they adhere to that part of it (but yes exactly as you point out, only for "war" not "anti-terrorism")


Hollowpoints are banned under Geneva because the injuries they inflict are less treatable by medics. Same reason buckshot and such is restricted.

In a civilian environment, the hollowpoints don't penetrate through walls and bodies as easily, meaning less risk of bystanders being harmed - and the local hospital has a lot more kit than your field medic.


My understanding was that hollow point bullets allow the shooter to hurt someone without risking the lives of the people behind them. Not hurting “people just behind [your enemy]” is presumably less a concern in a war zone (than in a civilian setting) because they are presumed brothers in arms.

Did I understand that right?


This is a very confusing post if you have followed American wars over the last 50 years.

Do you have any idea of the level of misery inflected abroad? How can that even be compared?


Doesn't that mostly have to do with the amount of training, responsibility, leadership etc. that comes with military hierarchy? It can still get pretty bad (coverup and/or violence wise), but it seems that at least they have some sense of the relationship between violent actions and their consequences.


>sense of the relationship between violent actions and their consequences

exactly. Whatever you use in warzone you're risking that the same can be used against you, thus all the conventions on warzone weapons usage and prisoner treatment. Thus all the training, so that your soldiers wouldn't cross [too frequently] the redline to trigger the response.

I remember reading for example that in WWI new young soldiers, i think in Russia, were sometimes issued old style non-flat 3-edged rifle attached combat knives. Whether the knife is flat or 3-edged wouldn't make any difference during the actual stabbing and the immediate time after that. Where it makes all the difference is outside of the immediate combat situation - those non-flat knives would make for unnecessary horrible very hard to heal wounds, and thus if you were found with such a knife on a battlefield you'd be killed right there instead of taken POW. So the older soldiers would make sure that the newbies would promptly lose the knives.

The situation is similar to hollow-point bullets - they create those horrible wounds without any tactical benefit on actual battlefield.


I'm struggling to picture what a "non-flat 3-edged" knife (bayonet?) looks like. Do you have a link to a picture?


thanks, i forgot the word "bayonet". It is triangular or higher edged bayonet. Like this one (that seems to be 4 edged)

https://www.icollector.com/Austrian-Model-1849-Agustin-Jager...


So the police should be able to inflict horrible wounds without tactical benefit?


Coming to US from USSR/Russia where history is full of wars, i was initially stunned to learn that the barbaric hollow-points are ok in US. After some time here, i think one reason for that is that police here aren't really subject to the "relationship between violent actions and their consequences", plus the "dominant force" doctrine which has fear as a significant component, and the possibility of hollow-point dovetails to that like icing on the cake. In some sense that fear is the main tactical benefit.


I’m pretty sure the US has been involved in a fair number of wars in it’s short existence but it’s by far not alone in using hollow point ammunition domestically. The UK has notably been involved in wars near continuously and uses it domestically. What about the Russian police?

Basically if the argument is that it’s too dangerous to shoot at your enemies in war you probably shouldn’t be shooting it at your own citizens. Which I think is our point of agreement?


>What about the Russian police?

it definitely wasn't using it back then in USSR and nor in the 199x. I don't know about the last decade - quick googling shows that the hollow point have been introduced for police use during the last 10-20 years in several European countries.

In this context it makes sense to mention the USSR AK-74 5N7 "tumbling" bullet which was called "poison" bullet by Afganistan mujahideen for its bad quickly infection developing wounds. It is a jacketed lead with steel core inside bullet with few millimeters of air pocket in front. That air pocket made it kind of "a bit" of hollow point without fully triggering that classification. Due to that air pocket it would also easily tumble upon entry into the body thus creating disproportionally massive damage to the surrounding tissues which resulted in very hard to treat and easily gangrene developing wounds and thus it was called the "poison" bullet.


Not really. See FM-3-19.15, "Civil Disturbance Operations"[1]

[1] https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-19-15.pdf


This isn’t very helpful which part would you like me to look at and how does that compare to actual rules of engagement in modern conflicts versus those used by the police?


I don't think anyone was arguing that Trump was someone that "thinks these things through"


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