However they are a serious party, they're a highly motivated and active movement with significant influence in the Labour Party grass roots. They're sort of our equivalent of Antifa in that they are a significant organising presence in lefty street protests, but much more politically active and spend a lot of time in conferences and action committees wondering what Capitalism ever did for us.
Importantly, they are in no way shape or form a terrorist or criminal organisation. I would not be at all surprised if some ultra-violent or would-be Red Army Faction types joined or associated with them, but that's not at all who the SWP are as an organisation. They're the well meaning, impressionable white middle class girl next door with a class guilt complex and a side shave that's been going to BLM protests.
If they are getting banned by Facebook something has gone horribly wrong. Quite possibly some of them got a bit excited and posted things they shouldn't, so I'm not saying this is for sure Facebook's fault, but they're not about to murder any bobbies in Parliament Square.
They're more like PETA than antifa, they cover up internal sexual assaults, have a bunch of cranks, and other groups have to put up with and try to prevent their continuous entryism, hijacking protests and other actions to self-promote.
Lots of cranks (though probably less so than CPGB-ML who are full on tankies), and a giant pain in the backside.
Nevertheless, whilst I chuckle at this, it is a dangerous thing and yet another reason Facebook should not be trusted as any sort of impartial platform and probably dismantled.
It remains astonishing that a number of these people did a full 180 turn to right-libertarians and from there to Brexiteers, eventually leading to Claire Fox, apologist for the bombing of Manchester, becoming a member of the House of Lords. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claire_Fox
See the “Bernie Bros” who flipped into full Trumpists a few short months later in 2016. I’m sure if you look back at the Spanish Civil War and other divisive historical time periods you’ll find plenty of turncoats that flip from one extreme to another.
This seems like a bit of a myopic, low-dimensional view of the political landscape. Bernie and trump (esp candidate trump) weren't "opposite extremes" when it came to plenty of issues: anti-free trade, anti-corporatist, promises to protect entitlements, complaining about the corruption of the existing political order, even just the populist vs technocrat aesthetic.
For people who prioritize this issue, the notion that Bernie and Trump are "opposite extremes" in every way relative to Hillary is laughable.
(President trump obviously reneged on much of his promises as a candidate and went with many mainstream gop policies, but that's neither here not there when discussing support during the election)
The outcome naturally has a lot to desire.
There really aren't very many of those people.
> It remains astonishing that a number of these people did a full 180 turn to right-libertarians and from there to Brexiteers, eventually leading to Claire Fox, apologist for the bombing of Manchester, becoming a member of the House of Lords.
Claire fox was never CPGB-ML, but the “Revolutionary Communist Party.” From what I can understand, the RCP was always a primarily contrarian entity and always more libertarian than Marxist. To quote their journal, Living Marxism:
> We live in an age of caution and conformism, when critical opinions can be outlawed as 'extremism' and anything new can be rubbished as 'too risky'. Ours is an age of low expectations, when we are always being told what is bad for us, and life seems limited on all sides by restrictions, guidelines and regulations. The spirit of LM is to go against the grain: to oppose all censorship, bans and codes of conduct; to stand up for social and scientific experimentation; to insist that we have the right to live as autonomous adults who take responsibility for our own affairs. These are basic human values that cannot be compromised if we are ever going to create a world fit for people. 
This seems to have more in common with the libertarian right than Marxist, particularly “to insist that we have the right to live as autonomous adults who take responsibility for our own affairs,” which is almost the antithesis of Marxism.
> Fox stayed with her ex-RCP members when the group transformed itself in the early 2000s into a network around the web magazine Spiked Online and the Institute of Ideas, both based in the former RCP offices and promoting libertarianism. 
Given their apparent funding, contrarian headline-generating antics and subsequent banding together, some may question whether they were a model for what would come later: an opaquely funded right-libertarian outlet.
I very much doubt that Claire Fox is an accelerationist.
At the end of the day life quality is a logistical issue above all else. Jeff Bezos is not going around the country buying up all the single family homes and hoarding all the doctors in the country for his knee injury. If you want better medicine you need to invent more efficient technology through the capital markets to serve people. If you want more homes you need to invent better home building techniques to cater to the masses. Thats how increased efficiency works and its why our lives generally get better with services and quality of live each decade. Thats not to say there are not tweaks and governing to be done to the capital markets (the govt is the conductor), but this is the general aspiration and trend.
I can see the point you are trying to make being familiar with both, but for those who are not, this analogy is just wrong and confusing to those who do not know SWP and will think you are saying SWP have no qualms about using violence. That is wrong
Are you trying to give a wrong opinion of SWP. No "ultra violent, red army faction types" are joining the SWP.
Also your use of "ultra violent" / "red army" surely is used to incorrectly ascertain that there are parts of the left that are much more violent than they actually are.
Edit: I think OP meant, it's not unlikely, if there was a real left terrorist organization, they would align with SWP, but the SWP is not the terrorist organisation. Same as with Antifa, for that matter. That's what people mean when they say Antifa is an idea... seriously, it hurts it's necessary to even say this.
They are not the main party to the left of Labour, the greens are. The greens have 50,000 members and received 850,000 votes in the 2019 election, the SWP has a few thousand members and does not even field candidates.
In my experience they have little influence on the Labour grassroots. The SWP's standing among young, idealistic socialists exploded after it emerged that its central committee covered up a series of rape cases in the party. That was in 2013. I have not met anyone who takes them seriously since. After Corbyn was elected many who would have joined the SWP in the past joined Momentum instead.
I am shocked that Facebook have banned the SWP. Their faults are something more like a religion - centralised, deluded, outdated. They have no criminal or terroristic aspirations. What kind of precedent does this set?
There used to be a great group called Space Hijackers who bought an APC and drove it through the G20 but that was 11 years ago, they were kinda Situationist.
There was UK Uncut. I think a lot of groups end up just being overwhelmed with the amount of awful shit the Tories do and how apathetic/ignorant our population is.
London Renters Union is a new and amazing left-wing group, not necessarily anarchist, but not ML or Trot either.
Extinction Rebellion is arguably the most significant in recent times. I expect that movement will pick up again post-pandemic.
There was a very concerted and covert anti-left push during the 80s and 90s. Anti-establishment groups of all kinds - anti-nuclear protesters, greens, animal rights activists, and official far left groups like the SWP - were infiltrated by undercover police and sometimes subverted.
It's an ongoing scandal, although it's been lost in the noise from other events over the last year or two. Undercover police with fake identities had relationships with activists and sometimes fathered children with them.
In some cases they worked internationally and were responsible for criminal acts (i.e. terrorism) which discredited the organisations and movements they infiltrated.
It's hard not to suspect the apologies are disingenuous. The plan was to subvert, marginalise, and discredit left wing views, and to destroy left wing organisations of all kinds.
And it seems to have been very successful.
whilst I suspect this happened in the 80s as well, the actual case that was prosecuted was from the early 2000s
> were responsible for criminal acts (i.e. terrorism) which discredited the organisations and movements they infiltrated.
Our dealings with the unionists in NI are a particular dark stain. Now sadly legalised by this new intelligence bill. (simplification, but its not a good bill.)
> destroy left wing organisations of all kinds.
Much as this is nice to believe, having worked in a number of left wing organisations, they are perfectly capable of imploding by them selves. It appears that they attract a certain kind of idiot, who is exceptionally well adapted at persuading other middle-class idiots that black is blue.
Right-wing organisations also implode, but in a different way. Ironically they tend to have more "real" working class people in them too.
This doesn't speak to his point at all. He's not saying all left-wing groups that have been destroyed were destroyed by infiltrators. He's saying that that was the purpose of the infiltration by law enforcement.
The fact that orgs can be destroyed by other factors is true but totally irrelevant.
Not to take away from your otherwise excellent post, but your use of the word 'exploded' seems ambiguous. I take it you mean that their standing went down, i.e. their standing was reduced to rubble. However, I am much more used to seeing exploded used to describe a large increase, e.g. downloads for our latest app have exploded after reducing the price.
"The SWP Facebook page regularly posts in support of Palestine, Black Lives Matter and against Boris Johnson’s Covid policies"
In particular, the COVID part is where I'd put my money.
Sounds like you were fine with Thatcher taking an axe to organized labor, and weren't all that bothered about those children dying in Africa or what-not. After all, unlike them, you weren't "way too serious".
> If they are getting banned by Facebook something has gone horribly wrong.
Well, many things have gone horribly wrong. Among them, one thing that's wrong is:
> Quite possibly some of them got a bit excited and posted things they shouldn't
this outlook on things.
When people of an in-group (and those who feel a slight relation to them) describe themselves, it one of complexity. In-groups are always a group of individuals with individual graces and faults. Out-groups however is not complex, but perceived as being more alike with their out-group stereotypes being the defining nature of them.
The result of this is that people tend to marginalize extremist views of the in-group, while at the same time defining the out-group by their extremists. This makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to have discussions that relies on the distinction between a group having a small number individual impressionable young people that occasionally happen to do an obvious bad thing, and a other group where every member is evil and its obvious an evil group that need to be stopped at the core.
On a more local note regarding the far left here in Sweden during the 90's and early 00, a major distinction between them and the social left were that they believed in a violent/forceful revolution against capitalism (take from the rich, give to the people). As a party they have since tried to put some distance to that view in order to be more respectable, but 20 years is not that long ago. The far right and far left is often debated as both being parties with extremists in them and with troubling pasts for which they try to distance themselves.
It's worth noting that the harder left Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) can only really talk of imperialism, bourgeois democracy, the labour aristocracy and overproduction — at least in relation to the UK.
No serious leftist group in the UK is even hoping for the conditions in which a revolution might be possible, because in those conditions they believe that the counterrevolutionaries would be the darlings of the UK media, would have near full police backing, and would likely target leftists as an enemy to deal with.
I saw a lot of pro-Corbyn comments on my Facebook feed a few years ago and they were from comfortably middle-class people. Lefty and green tendencies, centre-left (not hard-left) types. Some of them previously Lib Dem supporters.
The gist was "at last an honest politician!" and "for the first time in a long time, we have a chance at real socially progressive policies, this one is worth voting for".
In other words Corbyn seemed different somehow, and in a good way.
Corbyn gave many people a feeling of hope for a few years, especially young people but including all ages, against an establishment regarded as cruel. That hopefulness grew into a mass movement to join Labour specifically tied to Corbyn and his policies. Labour's manifesto policies under Corbyn were generally popular, even though it fell apart in 2019 over Brexit and painting Corbyn as a terrorist sympathiser.
Now that Corbyn is out of the picture, Labour looks like Tory-lite again, and there's not much enthusiasm for current Labour from those who enthusiastically switched to it a few years ago. It's not surprising after the landslide loss in 2019 that the party would change to accommodate what it thinks the electorate will vote for (on balance), and the swell of membership under Corbyn would not like the changed party.
People like far left policies far more than anyone would expect.
The SWP are Trotskyist, in the sense of "March through the institutions". If you're doing anything left wing they will turn up and try to make it about them, take over organization positions, etc. The SWP are mostly your boring old lefty uncle, with a side of institutional rape apologia: https://www.gender-agenda.org.uk/not-my-comrades-on-dealing-... (this is not only their problem, it can happen in any organization that doesn't take active steps to avoid it)
I suppose the canary for partisan moderation should be Sinn Fein; they were banned from television in the 90s.
You have to wonder if the current BBC would have the gumption to circumvent it.
The SWP types I knew back in the 80s probably are your boring old lefty uncle these days. That's how out of date I am, although there were still excited young SWP activists pushing leaflets and selling the paper on Deptford High Street in the early 2000s. That's well before the rape crisis though.
Their elected MP's were also banned from travelling to Britain, effectively preventing them from taking their seats in Parliament. Not that they planned on doing that mind.
Which is always fun, unless its your protest.
I'm not sure how they SWP got banned - I guess some pro palestinian posts may have strayed into the antisemitic territory?
My understanding is that any pro-palestinian posts can be labeled antisemitic under the IHRA/EUMC working definition of antisemitism (as adopted into UK law) if it any way singles out Israel for the oppression in a way not done for other states.
> “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”
This to me seems vague and a point of likely disputed interpretations likely to have at the very least a chilling effect.
Just to inform you. Reagan and Thatcher have literally f* up the world by allowing banks to devaluate currency and forming a situation where my bank will charge me for having money deposited with them (instead of paying interests) while giving credits with money they dont have or in another words - they print the money instead of the state. Yes, you might think that they are bunch of weird people but the history proven fact is that the weird people was everyone else.
Bottom line, they were right. And be very sorry they weren't laud enough as R&T brought the world in neverending crysis cycle that directly impacts you and me. And it has nothing to do with socialism but rather with pure greed, while the only issue is people not having enough of sane thought to figure it out on their own.
> To all down-voting me, please DO CHECK what the R&T reforms are about. And no, it has nothing to do with gold backing up currency. It is just crazy how little are people aware of history that directly impacts them. R&T literally gave "carte blanche" to the banks.
Although Thatcher is hated by swaths of UK society (which turns out to exist after all), there is in Great Britain in general an ignorance or blindness to crimes committed by the State against their own citizenry.
After all, while the majority of the deaths during the Troubles were caused by Republicans, most of those killed by Republicans were members of the British Armed Forces.
Most of the civilians killed by any party were killed by the British Armed Forces or Unionist paramilitaries supported by them.
You, like many in Great Britain, have decided that the nationalist community in Northern Ireland aren't really UK citizens, while simultaneously they were being slaughtered to try to force them to accept being UK citizens.
You are a perfect (possibly non-GB) example of the ignorance or maybe wilful blindness that surrounds Northern Ireland, and the crimes of the British government against its own citizens.
You raised the attitude of the UK public, and that’s all about perception. You may well be right about the numbers, but the UK government don’t see sectarian murders and knee cappings in NI as affecting them because they, in general from a majority point of view, don’t live in NI. They do live in or visit or have relatives who live in and visit Manchester, Birmingham, London, etc. So when they see people being blown to bits in these places they perceive that as an attack on them. The thing is it’s bad enough to register as a direct attack, it’s enough to make them hate the IRA and by extension Republicans, but it’s not enough to make them feel any pressure to negotiate. So it has the effect of making them want blood in return and not care too much how they get it.
I think the IRA leadership finally figured this out, along with the fact that long term demographics are on their side.
Picking on Maggie is a bit of a tell. There was no appreciable difference in policy between any of the major Parties on NI and in the mainland UK it simply wasn’t a partisan issue. There were some in the far left sympathetic to Republicans but they were very much a fringe in Labour. What this has to do with MT particularly is hard to fathom. E.g. Bloody Sunday was under Edward Heath, so if your going to pick anyone I’d have though it would be him, but it’s not as if everything was peace and flowers under Wilson or Callaghan.
They did liberalize a lot of markets but attributing the way banking works specifically to them is a bit of a stretch.
Also during war times a lot of governments printed money. Before the 20th century too. So again, your anger towards Reagan and thatcher, while partly probably justified, is a bit excessive.
The SWP are followers of Leon Trotsky.
Trotsky literally wrote a book advocating terrorism, a rebuke to socialists who deplored terrorism.
Your own reasoning, ie., guilt by ideological association, no doubt implicates everyone -- including you.
The UK media has been preaching to us about dangers of Russian election interference for years at this point, but simultaneously they seem completely unconcerned that a handful of wealthy Americans how the power to censor popular media outlets, entire political movements and political activists at a whim.
The SWP is massive. I don't know for sure, but I suspect they had millions of followers on Facebook. This isn't some fringe, extremist group by any sane interpretation of those terms.
It seems we're now quickly moving on from just censoring those with extremist political views to simply censoring anyone who who dares express a non-establishment political view online.
America doesn't "interfere" in elections, it gently persuades people to follow the true democratic path.
Truthfully, it is nothing more than American exceptionalism. Even as our nation spent years outraged over Russian interference, we continued both private and public interference in elections worldwide.
Only a minority of the country was (supposedly) outraged about the mostly non-existent Russian interference.
Most of the US knew it was bullshit the entire time, the Russians had near zero impact on the prior election (amazing how they didn't somehow swing this latest election, given their apparent god-like powers, despite how close it was). Trump's vast popularity showed up again in this latest election, they couldn't even try to hide it behind fake Russian interference. It was nothing more than a politcal ruse, a frame to hold Trump in, which the media almost universally played along with (and simultaneously they won't tag Biden as being controlled by China despite Biden having far closer ties to China than Trump does to Russia). It's the exact same thing they did to Tulsi Gabbard when she dared to go against their agenda. We're all owned by the all-powerful, magical Russians if we go off the acceptable message.
I’d also rain fire and fury on anyone who interfered with or obstructed those investigations. But that’s me. I suppose caring about free and fair elections in the US is now a partisan issue over there.
For a British conservative that grew up under Reagan/Thatcher it’s all desperately sad and disappointing.
The level of interference to the election was so trivial I doubt you can back that attitude up. At some level of ineffectiveness, having an investigation and stopping the activity is more costly than just ignoring it. Investigations take time, money and it turns out have collateral damage:
Looking at the charges out of the Mueller investigation, for example :
- ~80% of those charged are beyond the reach of the US government and the charges aren't going to be tested. Weak evidence that whatever it was they were doing did anything given the Trump 2020 election counts were pretty similar to/improved on the 2016 counts.
- ~15% of those remaining hadn't done anything wrong until they were hit with process crimes in the investigation itself (counting those with only "false statements" charges + R. Stone).
- ~5% of charges I can't be bothered to read up on, but given that 95% of the charges are scrambling to find a problem I doubt the remainder are all that impressive.
I'm not deeply up to speed on the all 5 of those "false statement" charges - but the one against Flynn were probably politically motivated. They were interviewing him about a call where the investigators already had a transcript of the call. It is unclear why they were charging him for what could be a mismemory of routine diplomacy.
By my reckoning, at least 75% of the charges in the Muller investigation that could actually be prosecuted were crimes that wouldn't have existed except for the Muller investigation! That is a big cost for what turned out to be nothing much. Even if you want to use some sort of irrational strategy as a deterrent the cost is higher than the benefit.
For a reverse example, look at the treatment of Michael Flynn. They weren’t looking into a crime, they were look for one.
This is not true. The Republican-led, bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee found, over the course of their 3.5 year investigation, that there was in fact Russian interference. You can find the actual report (all 5 volumes) here . Alternatively, a TL;DR summary can be found here .
> amazing how they didn't somehow swing this latest election
Let's for a moment, assume that the Russians were indeed behind the interference campaign. Having experienced many Democrat and Republican administrations, they would know that neither side of politics has historically been favourably predisposed to firstly Soviet and later Russian geopolitical ambitions. So, why would you bother getting a particular party in power, if both parties present have always been on a unified ticket against you? Answer - you wouldn't. It was never about getting a particular party in power, rather it was about weakening your enemy's unity. In this case, Vladimir Putin can absolutely pat himself on the back, and more than any other world leader in recent decades, truly declare, mission accomplished (if it was indeed a mission). For all Biden's talk of unifying the nation, there is no way that the all of the millions of Qanonistas left scratching their heads over the absence of "The Storm", are going to go back to quietly accepting a two-sided status-quo. The chaos monkey in chief has successfully taken the raw material of a discontented working class, and using tried and true methods , shaped a potent political weapon, who importantly now realise they have power. There are now millions of chaos monkeys at loose within the Republic. If that's not a win for enemies of the US, I don't know what is. Do we know for sure whether this was part of a Russian long-term psyops play? I doubt we'll ever know. It's my view that the vast majority of those at the top of the power pyramid in place over the last four years, are almost certainly not Russian operatives or plants or had anything to do with Russia. What they were (and are) is hungry for power. Seeing an opportunity to implement their wet dream neo-neo-con agendas by riding the dragon, they went all-in weakening people's trust in institutions, science, evidence, truth. They were, as Putin might smilingly say, useful idiots. This is my view. I don't believe I'm alone in holding this opinion. But at the end of the day, it's speculation - another conspiracy theory. It's entirely possible that this was a coincidental but very happy set of circumstances for Putin. Either way, it's an outcome that reflects the fact a significant number of people close to the levers of power, played themselves into a position that suited them, and also conveniently suited someone else.
[2 Note]: This is not a glib Nazi reference. I believe that many of these quotes represent political axioms, and that those that understand them and are willing to implement them, can, and historically have, achieved great power.
1. It "found", i.e. asserted, that there had been - but no evidence of interference in the elections, nor even covert influence on public opinion, by the Russian government was presented.
2. Of course Russia had some influence the elections: Through RT America, which has significant viewership. This is actually much more influential than the sophomoric Jesus-vs-Satan or Buff-Bernie Facebook memes which much of the investigation focused on.
> You can find the actual report (all 5 volumes) here .
I scoured the Muller report, when it came out, looking for the evidence of ussian interference
> Let's for a moment, assume that the Russians were indeed behind the interference campaign
You're already assuming there had been an interference campaign. But there wasn't one.
Also, the term "The Russians" conflates Russian people with the Russian government. This use of plural nouns is nearly always underhanded: "The Americans", "The Jews", "The blacks" - they all must have done something nefarious, they're up to no good, they're a danger to "us" etc.
> it was about weakening your enemy's unity... tried and true methods... enemies of the US... Russian long-term psyops
Ah, back to the cold war.
This kind of rhetoric also emphasizes how the Russia interference conspiracy theory is at the end of the day an internal political tool, to discredit criticism of the political establishment as it veers farther away from public sentiment.
The brave new world of “post-truth”.
I'm not American or that bothered by Trump but he only won the swing states by less than 1% and I'd guess it's quite likely the Russian email hacking the the like could have swung it.
It's considered eccentric, comically cliched, ineffectual, and frankly irrelevant by virtually everyone on the British left.
It's the very definition of fringe.
Which is why banning the SWP sets a very bad example. Especially when there are far more dangerous organisations on the British far right which Facebook seems happy to host.
There have been numerous stories about FB employees lifting their noses at the platform's contents and users only to be reminded by Zuck that those are their users, and they serve them no matter who they are.
It'd be like if dang decided he'd had enough of me bitching about package management, bad UIs, and software bloat and banned me. I wouldn't like it, but I also don't believe I am entitled to force HN to host my rants.
I believe the right way to handle this, if you are upset about how Facebook does things, is to stop using Facebook and tell other people why you don't use Facebook.
A slippery slope was started and now the genie is out of the bottle and can't be contained anymore.
Looks like they will need to make special "permit-list" for the language of left wing parties.
The bans of non fringe, left leaning libertarian liberals have been getting kicked off Twitter for months labeled alt right for having such scary ideas like they should be allowed to use the words they choose.
(1) They have to obey a whole bunch of laws. Including laws on political interference.
(2) If there is a corporate exception to foreign interference, foreigners will found corporations to interfere. If founding an LLC lets someone interfere without hinderance then the world would soon be contending with the NSA, LLC and GRU Pty. Ltd. and Guoanbu Inc.
(3) Any US billionaire, Zuckerberg included, is a potential presidential candidate. They are all politically connected. Facebook will also cooperate with US intelligence which has a long proud history of overthrowing or suppressing various leftist movements.
Facebook is absolutely a source of foreign political interference.
That's not quite correct - they need to follow the laws of the state they are headquartered in.
20 years ago Facebook didn’t exist. Now we have Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, WordPress (both the service and the software), YouTube, SoundCloud, the Fediverse, Twitch, Slack, Discord, iMessage groups, whatever the 3 Google messengers of the day are, XMPP clients and servers, IRC (which is admittedly more than 20 years old), countless dating sites, Reddit, and countless other “social networks”. When the bars re-open, we’ll have those too, and that is an ancient institution.
And for what it’s worth, there’s also the comments section of NRO and The Dispatch. Oh, and the forum we’re talking on.
Social media isn’t like that at all. Social media proliferates and in different forms and it does so internationally with popular and unpopular opinions easily spreading like wildfire. I have no problem with the Facebooks and the Twitters of the world running their servers with the carte blanche of the private property owners that they are because what you and others perceive as a lack of options and alternatives looks more to me like there’s not a lot of options today compared to how many there will be 20 years from now.
Go look back at the history of the web, here’s an incomplete and not comprehensive list of sites and internet services which have existed, do exist, ceased to exist, got gobbled up by bigger fish and spawned smaller networks of their own and probably in some small way contributed to the political conscience of most Americans alive today and definitely not concerning ourselves with all of the countless web forums, Usenet groups, and mailing lists: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_serv...
Penny Arcade: 1998
Yahoo Messenger: 1998
Something Awful: 1999
Radio UserLand: 2000
Yahoo Groups: 2001
Gaia Online: 2003
Second Life: 2003
RoosterTeeth Forums: 2004
TV Tropes: 2004
World of Warcraft: 2004
Google Talk: 2005
Hacker News: 2007
I Had Cancer: 2011
Google Hangouts: 2013
So let’s break this down.
> Sure, there isn't a shortage of digital communication, but they are responsible for a large proportion of that communication and they hold the power of tilting democracies by choice of those in charge of the company or by seemingly random bearucratic decisions made by their employees.
No. We are responsible for our own communications and when we don’t trust the messenger, we encode our messages or we use a different messenger. We are also the ones responsible for the upkeep of our own democracy and the upkeep of the institutions which maintain it because it’s ours and our responsibility. Corporations, as it turns out, as organizations which represent the aggregate interests of their owners and employees, are also actors in aggregate within the framework of our democracy, much like name a group of three or more people.
How ten thousand people voted in one place or fifty-thousand voted in another isn’t Facebook’s responsibility, or Twitter’s, or Reddit’s, or Slack’s. It’s the responsibility of every single person who cast their own vote, which should be all of the people who cast votes in every election.
> They are a medium of information distribution.
They are a handful out of the millions of ways that exist to distribute information.
> They are a for profit business ruled by one individual that has extraordinary power. As a society, are we really supposed to just let them do whatever they want just because there are less popular alternatives?
They are dust. If our free speech depended on the whims of one Mark Zuckerberg and one Jack Dorsey, then we didn’t have free speech to begin with. Facebook and Twitter are critters of the last 20 years, there have been others, and there will be more like them, but also entirely unlike them.
The way people talk about social media companies today they make it sound like we need some sort of Social Media Public Commission to control the moderation policies and enforce the publication of government speech. We don’t, because we have what we need: competition and the many many technologies that enable it and a free flow of cash and labor and capital.
It’s disgusting to me how freely conspiracy theorists, socialists, PRC apologists and neo-Nazis can easily congregate and talk themselves up into a furor about seizing the means of killing the Jews before Bill Gates takes over the world and prevents Chairman Winnie the Pooh from leading us into glorious revolution, but that’s the mark of a free society that they can find a way and will always find a way. So is being able to tell the President and anyone else to get off your lawn and/or servers.
> They are dust.
How is having 223 million users in the United States in 2020 equate to facebook being dust? They have a strangle hold on the market and a large portion of the United States uses facebook as their primary news source.
> If our free speech depended on the whims of one Mark Zuckerberg and one Jack Dorsey, then we didn’t have free speech to begin with.
I either don't understand what you mean by this or it sounds incorrect to me. People use facebook as a means of communication and as a means of receiving news. Why does that fact have any bearing over whether or not we had free speech before they came along? And are you saying that just because we didn't have free speech before means its ok that free speech is entirely free now?
> Facebook and Twitter are critters of the last 20 years, there have been others, and there will be more like them, but also entirely unlike them.
Does it really matter what the state of social media companies was before or in the future in this conversation? They are infringing on speech now. Their goals are not aligned with the United States, they are aligned with making money.
> The way people talk about social media companies today they make it sound like we need some sort of Social Media Public Commission to control the moderation policies and enforce the publication of government speech. We don’t, because we have what we need: competition and the many many technologies that enable it and a free flow of cash and labor and capital.
Are you seriously saying that fair competition is currently happening in the social media market? Facebook is currently being sued for being a monopoly. They have unfairly crushed numerous companies and will continue to do so.
Is your conclusion that everything is fine and that companies should do whatever they can to make money no matter the impact it has on people or our democracy?
Facebook dominates the social media market right now. They are making decisions on speech of a large proportion of our country. They themselves have attempted to setup commissions to better define how to moderate content fairly, but to this point they have failed. Why would laws detailing how they should moderate content be a bad thing? There are already laws around horrible content that should not be served, could it really hurt to extend it and make free speech content moderation a public policy decision of our democracy?
Facebook and Twitter are a blip in history. Their relevance today pales in comparison to their historic and future relevance. All 233M, scratch that, all billion or two billion or however many of those users have other things to do with their time besides Facebook all day. Facebook in that case is a part of their lives, it is not a replacement for their lives nor what ultimately determines their lives and choices, meaning it does not absolve anyone of personal responsibility for the choices they make.
So yes, they are dust, as dusty as the lot of us together. Reactionary policies and laws would do more to cement their place and continued presence in society than letting new generations grow up and make determinations about which social networks they value and develop antibodies to the shrillness of mass to mass communication. There is value in Facebook, so new users continue to make accounts and make use of the service much as people continue to buy smartphones and PCs and automobiles, but the value looks different to every person.
If Facebook and Twitter were the only two socialization methods available to society, I might be more concerned. They’re simply not, and most people have multiple means of socialization and multiple social networks.
EDIT: Forgot one bit in particular I wanted to address.
> Their goals are not aligned with the United States, they are aligned with making money.
That is correct. We’re not just one big unified hunky dory family all marching towards the same ends and the same future. We’re a bunch of people, with our own interests, and mostly unconcerned with the government and the State until we need to be. Facebook is concerned with making money, I’m concerned with my own affairs, and you are also concerned with your own affairs. That’s life, and if we see each other on the street, let’s get along.
Why does the past or future matter? Their decisions can impact our democracy now. The fact is, they own the market now and they can impact our democracy now.
Are you in favor of a completely "free" market? You really believe that competition alone will ensure consumers have the final say? What about standard oil? Did that go well? Monopolies and oligopolies strangle out competition and harm the consumer. That is why laws were put in place to prevent those types of things from happening. That is why facebook is being sued by the FTC right now. Their business practices are unfair to competition and are not in the best interest of our society.
> That is correct. We’re not just one big unified hunky dory family all marching towards the same ends and the same future. We’re a bunch of people, with our own interests, and mostly unconcerned with the government and the State until we need to be. Facebook is concerned with making money, I’m concerned with my own affairs, and you are also concerned with your own affairs. That’s life, and if we see each other on the street, let’s get along.
So are you saying we just let facebook do whatever they want until they are replaced by competition? What if that impacts our society negatively for a year? A decade? 100 years? At what point do we step in and enact laws to protect our society from negative consequences?
The point of the government is to be a steward of our society and to ensure it is fair, healthy and prosperous. Laws are put in place to do just that. The content moderation practices of facebook can impact our society. It seems logical to me that the government should enact laws to do the same in this case as it would in other activities detrimental to society (e.g. murder, drunk driving, etc).
This is your understanding of government, and it is a paternalistic understanding of government. I do not share this view and that is a source of contention between us.
> Why does the past or future matter? Their decisions can impact our democracy now. The fact is, they own the market now and they can impact our democracy now.
They own some of the servers people spend some of their time and do some of their communication on. Everything from Netflix to POTS is their competition, and Facebook does not have a monopoly on community.
> So are you saying we just let facebook do whatever they want until they are replaced by competition? What if that impacts our society negatively for a year? A decade? 100 years? At what point do we step in and enact laws to protect our society from negative consequences?
At what point do we charge people with the responsibility of managing their own time and making their own choices independent of where they choose to spend it and how they choose to socialize and communicate? Our democracy is the countless choices people make every day, at the ballot box, in the courts, and how we live with our communities. Facebook is an option.
Whatever relative power Facebook holds today, has held in the past and will hold in the future is a consequence of the choices of billions of individuals, but power has its own economy that competes against power for varying outcomes. Power, no matter how concentrated, does not exist in a vacuum.
You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.
Not just you either.
Try again mate.
Either ban them all, or ban none of them.
Facebook bans groups and people all the time, it does not imply that it's political.
It seems FB has no given their reasoning for the ban, which is rather odd given the significance, I suggest we'll either hear from them forthcoming with evidence of 'violence' or they'll walk back their mistake. My hunch was that this was a mistake ...
And the bit about 'no explanation' is a bit outrageous, I mean, how blatantly unfair is that.
If they are causing violence (though I doubt this) then they are going to get banned and that's that.
It's very well within reason.
I hope that demand congeals on support for an open blogging protocol, such that people can very easily post once and direct it to multiple platforms or any listener. If this becomes popular enough, and posts aren't owned by a particular platform, the big platforms lose their power to control the conversation.
It's a positive thing for these ejections to be across the political spectrum, because it de-politicizes censorship, and folks on one side of the spectrum cheering for the other side begin to realize that censorship is always a scope creep issue.
Any debate or discussion of importance I do either either pseudonymously, or in private forums with only people I know are capable of discussing, disagreeing and having an open mind to surprising viewpoints.
Honestly, this stuff drives wealth disparity. I can't even discuss investment strategies in these public forums without risking personal attacks.
On the otherhand, I agree with other people here that maybe feeling like it isn’t “safe” to discuss things will lead to more open and free places to communicate.
In your opinion, how is it going to happen?
What I'm seeing is a lot of "we should regulate things so that facebook isn't allowed to censor things I like but is obligated to censor things I don't like".
If people reacted to censorship in a principled way, we wouldn't be where we are today.
I might entertain an emotional desire for the other side to be censored sometimes. But a good moderator? I want them for me and mine.
I care about 'my side' making strong, principled arguments with actionable policy outcomes, and not advancing weaker ones.
It it if it only applies to one side and in a form that the other side approves of, and that was the point of the example you replied to. If it was your example, "I want them for me and mine" then there wouldn't be a problem (or this problem, there'll always be problems).
You are confusing centrist parties with "middle-of-the-road" parties which by axiomatic definition mean the mainstream parties.
> And the illusion of choice applies to the falsely compressed, single-issue, single-axis left/right extremes, too.
It is not an illusion if the media is massively invested on who wins. Vanilla Republican vs Vanilla Democrat = Illusion of Choice,it does not matter who wins, the media wont care and the status quo will be maintained. Trump vs Vanilla Democrats = Choice matters, media will align with the Democrats to maintain the status-quo. Vanilla Republicans vs Bernie Sanders, Choice matters, media will align with the Republicans to maintain the status-quo.
This feels like the start of a very long road.
The statement was vague and ambiguous and touched a lot of raw nerves, but coming as it did on the heels of major layoffs at Mozilla it felt a bit like Mitchell Baker pulling a "roll hard left and die".
One of the biggest takeaways from the past 25 years of "the internet" is that critical-mass-achieving walled gardens are the ticket to unicorndom, and that's the only kind of solution that VC dollars are chasing. I don't think there's a way for someone to make a self-sustaining alternative open platform in this "market."
The reason is that ultimately no one what's to have extreme polar opinions on these sites, but it's going to be very difficult to determine that in a non partisan manner.
Though also to be fair it might be difficult to truely flag all political groups.
There really is only one obvious response to this: Facebook, Google etc are common carriers, not allowed to censor. They should also be broken up given their massive size which enables them to drive policy which affects them.
At the very least, this should be unacceptable. You shouldn't get banned for something if you aren't told what you did. If it was for use of the word revolutionary, it should say so. Or if they called for some leader's heads, it should say so. Then they could avoid doing the same in the future and we could all agree with or criticize the rationale.
As it is, it's likely similar to "a big neural network said so" which tells the users nothing. Facebook's free to run themselves this way but it's sure dickish. Imagine if the government or your boss made rules that way. "Drivers will be ticketed if our models say so."
If you say "We removed them because of their political views," then you get criticized for being openly partisan.
If you say "We removed them because their comments were inciting violence," you'll get arguments about how their comments didn't actually tell people to do violent things (for example, in the US I'm sure for the near future, a lot of people will be arguing very loudly whether the specific phrases "fight like hell" and "trial by combat" are metaphorical rhetorical devices or literal instructions to take violent actions.)
People will start finding and pointing out situations where you made different decisions in near-identical circumstances, and criticize you for that too.
It's better for users if the platform's transparent.
But the platform has no incentive to do so. Less than 1% of the time will users say "Okay you told us why this person was banned, we now see the ban's fair, and we'll shut up and go home." Instead, 99% of the time they'll turn your explanation into another reason to be enraged at you, or argue you need to reconsider, or even sue you because that line of reasoning makes you liable.
From the platform's point of view, it's usually better to let the reasoning behind a ban be a question mark.
> "a big neural network said so"
This is part of it too. With ML-driven bans or other actions, it's possible that nobody understands what criteria it uses to make decisions.
That's not a problem; it's the point.
> It's better for users if the platform's transparent.
> or even sue you because that line of reasoning makes you liable.
Also the point. Corporations are not people, and their reasoning should be assumed liability-worthy unless shown otherwise.
* Get their government cronies/buddies to skew the system in their favor.
* Use their business relationship with Facebook to skew the system in their favor.
* Own the system from the get-go.
The actors einpoklum refers to are malicious and maliciously motivated. Do you perhaps mean unsubtle in their malice and lacking in significant public credulity? (Eg, white supremacists.) Because while there are plenty of other bad actors, any 'solution' that doesn't address the bad actors einpoklum describes... isn't.
Social networks seem to optimize for serving content that engages, and that typically means news with a negative sentiment. So, giving a ban with a reason would engage people for longer, to serve them more ads, and make the audience more profitable.
Which is 'fine', let them be enraged. Transparency shows it to be fair and removes the ability to reasonably argue otherwise. Then at least one can decide if the platform is right for you, and indeed of the rules are anti-democratic we can move for changing them.
'I'm so enraged, $platform said that inciting violence wasn't allowed, then I incited violence and got censored', whose going to rally around that flag?
Too bad. They must do it anyway. None of those are valid excuses for removing all accountability from the moderation process.
The SWP could instead have their own website (which they do) and the ability to subscribe to their newsletters via email (they may have this already).
Further to this they could setup their own forum on their own website, again they may already have this). This involves far fewer third parties to shut them down.
Why anyone would rely on Facebook when there are so many other options is just a sign of laziness or ignorance.
I don't believe you are really that clueless about online social networks.
Obviously they feel the need to go where the eyeballs are, where they can target ads to the fertile soil of ignorance.
Many claim that FB can do what they want. Not so, they must respond to legislation wherever they operate (and make money). Just like Rupert they have huge influence, but they can be brought to heel if there is public will to do so.
On the other hand we consider it disaster if Amazon quits you as a vendor, or if your only local hospital refuses you. Perhaps any firm handling more than $1M yearly revenue shouldn’t be able to randomly quit customers.
Perhaps, the government should be involved into it (in form of perhaps adjusting anti-trust laws)?
Edit to add: downvotes don't count as argument points.
To be fair to my downvoters, it would be more accurate to say, "Any sufficiently dominant corporation is indistinguishable from a monarchy." With the US government, at least, you have the right to vote, along with some constitutional protections including various avenues of appeal. When Google terminates your account for no good reason, on the other hand, there are fewer options. There's not much you can do but post a cri de coeur on Twitter and hope HN or some other intercessory spirit notices it and calls the King's attention to your plight.
Safe driving is more than just obeying road signs. You might follow all the rules exactly as they're written in the book but still be a reckless driver. As you point out feedback is the key.
I've driven a car in countries where the traffic officers place obscure road signs to trick drivers into speeding so they can make a quick buck on a bribe.
Sometimes you might break laws without being aware of them. A model could suggest you do something differently before you cross the line?
Looks to just be an over-eager moderation engine.
Computing systems are do not act on their own. That the system did this was because it was allowed to, or more accurately, told to.
This is true.
> Computing systems are do not act on their own.
That doesn't mean that computer systems behave the way that we intend them to behave, or even that we really fully understand our own intent!
How much of your own code have you formally verified? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_verification)
How much of your own code even has a precise enough purpose that the spec of what it's supposed to do is shorter than the length of the code? Such that you could even in theory formally verify that the implementation is in some sense "correct"?
For that matter.... how much of your code has a precise enough purpose that the spec of what it's supposed to do can be written down in formal language at all?
And actually... how much of your code has a precise enough purpose that the spec of what it's supposed to do can be written down in ENGLISH at all?
I don't think something like an "extremism filter" can ever be implemented in a bug-free way, because I don't think there's a precise enough definition of what "bug-free" would even mean.
The problem of people blaming bad outcomes on "the algorithm" is real, and organizations should take responsibility for misclassifications generated by code that they own and operate.
It's unhelpful to pretend like engineers and the organizations they work for have zero agency.
However, it's equally unhelpful to pretend like buggy behavior aligns with the intent of the engineer/organization.
(And in the case of automated moderation, the software getting something wrong really should be considered foreseen consequence anyway. Facebook knew, or should have known, that these systems would have false positives.)
But also, "the computer was told to do the buggy thing" is misleading because it suggests mens rea.
We could certainly say a 'corporation intended' to do something if we found an email from the CEO commanding it, that much is trivial. But what if we think of a corporation as a 'slow AI' or 'China brain'? Might the corporation, viewed that way, have intent that transcends the individual thoughts and desires of the constituent employees? The system may be structured in a way that rewards low level employees for doing things the individual executives would never consider acceptable (for instance, 'lying to the executives'), and which the low level employees don't think is a good idea either. With all the humans personally opposed to some business practice, it might still occur due to the structure of the system. If we personify that system, we could perhaps say the system itself has a will of its own, with objectives alien to any of the humans involved.
A harsh example far worse than Facebook: the Functionalism-Intentionalism debate (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functionalism–intentionalism...) At the end of the day, does it really matter? Whether you subscribe to functionalism or intentionalism in that case, the horrible end result is the same and people need to be held accountable for it.
But we do distinguish in regulated engineering disciplines. A contractor that intentionally uses shoddy materials in a bridge or tunnel is treated differently from a contractor who simply fails to implement legally required QC is treated different from a contractor who implemented legally required QC but laid bad concrete due to operator error that wasn't captured by that legal requirement.
> At the end of the day, does it really matter?
Yes, and the reason it matters is immediate when you try to answer the following questions.
> Whether you subscribe to functionalism or intentionalism in that case, the horrible end result is the same and people need to be held accountable for it.
1. Held accountable how?
2. Toward what end?
Facebook has good engineers, but they're not gods. It is not possible to write a perfect -- or perhaps even passably good -- "political extremism" filter.
Shifting blame from "the algorithm" to "the engineers" or "the corporation" completely misses the whole fucking point: there is no spec for "perfectly functional political extremism filter". 0.000% of the people calling for "politically neutral moderation" have any god damn clue how to define the thing that are asking for, even in a natural language, let alone a language precise enough to implement.
Just look at the rhetoric used. People blame in passive voice "corporations" and "engineers", while criticizing others for using passive voice to blame "the algorithm". I'm not saying that we don't need a base level of QC and corporate responsibility. I even think Software people should be folded into Professional Engineering with all of the personal responsibility that entails! But we need to be very realistic about the fact that engineers are not Gods who can Solve Politics.
Hell, even if you erase inherent political tension this is still an impossible task. Can you write down a filter that's perfectly biased toward liberal speech? No.
So, again, Held accountable how? Toward what end? Unless your answer is "purposefully kill all social media including HN", mens rea matters.
In the case of the Nazis, the answers are 1. Executed. 2. Justice. For Facebook, I think executions should be off the table, but the second answer is the same.
Facebook's engineers aren't gods, I get that. Knowing their engineers aren't gods, Facebook proceeded to use them to create imperfect but profitable systems anyway. Systems they knew or should have known would harm society while enriching their shareholders. This is facebook's crime. If they couldn't create moderation systems that operate well at a massive scale, they never should have operated at that scale in the first place. They couldn't, should have known they couldn't, but tried anyway.
The president pro tempore of the US senate was a Segrationist in 2001. Literally, segregationists of the US Senate outlived pets.com
If any component of your blame or solution to the state of western politics includes the words "social media", ... good fucking luck.
You are mistaken. Neither intentionalists nor functionalists excuse the responsibility of anybody, least of all the organization's leadership. To both, the organization and its leaders are to be held responsible for the actions of the organization. The functionalist model does not absolve anybody of guilt.
If you want to see the hazard of demanding proof of intention, look no further than the travesty of justice that occurred in the wake of Enron. Every last Enron executive should have been jailed, but prosecutors had a hell of a time getting any of them convicted of anything because of this misguided obsession with proving intent. And nobody from Arthur Anderson went to prison, for the same reason.
Obsession with intent allows the guilty to trot out the "we didn't mean for this to happen, we're all just idiots." excuse. Without a smoking gun email, that excuse is hard to conclusively disprove. The antidote to that is strict liability; saying that their intentions are irrelevant and punishing them anyway.
Reminder, this is my point: "When software goes wrong, the company that decided to create and operate that software for profit is responsible for whatever negative impact that software might have, regardless of whether these problems were foreseen."
Take medical software as an example: a highly regulated space, that very few SMEs and approximately ZERO open-source projects can afford to enter.
And even in that space, strict liabilities are restricted to the software’s *intended use*. As long as the manufacturer has taken steps to clearly indicate what is appropriate use / misuse of the software, the manufacturer is NOT liable if the software is misused by the user. At that point, the liability shifts to the user of the software instead.
An in-between approach would be GDPR-style regulations that define what is and is not appropriate to do, with proportional penalties for failing to do that: intended vs unintended failure; penalties proportional to company income so it can hurt small and big companies alike without outright killing them on the first few strikes. However there is a cost even to that: such regulations do block valid innovation and they tend to expand and get more complex year over year.
There is no easy way out here that I can see...
Sure. Neither do children, nor pets, nor farm animals, nor automated control systems.
The common thread connecting these examples is: people who are responsible for managing children/animals/PID controllers bear responsibility for the action of these systems, whatever the actions are. Same reasoning should apply to algorithms: don't deploy them unless you're prepared to be held accountable for what they end up doing.
It could easily be a model that takes in features such as "has an admin banned this page" or "has an overwhelming number of users reported this page" and then based on that it identifies problematic keywords that it uses to ban pages.
And then it relies on humans to manually interject when the model fails as it sometimes will.
Correctly moderating Facebook, blocking recalled/bogus/questionable goods on Amazon, or keeping Google's search index pruned of scams and misinformation, are fundamentally problems that requires armies of trained humans, well-thought-out and transparent process, and potentially independent or state oversight to keep it all on the rails.
It's much cheaper for them to buy racks of servers, and occasionally shrug their shoulders and blame algorithms. I'm amazed that legislatures throughout the world have been willing to accept that behaviour for so long. It's not like the problems can be explained away with "it's an insignificant business with no political or commercial influence", or "it's a 6-month-old startup firm that made beginner mistakes because they couldn't afford to do things properly".
Break them all up. Even in a world without Google and Facebook, enterprising nerds will be encoding H.265 via smoke signals to ensure we get our cat videos.
Thinking of Amazon for instance, they pretty much destroyed small local vendors who did much more than just sell goods. They were also access points to local community and culture and raised diversity.
Similar story with Google and Facebook and online news outlets.
It's a question of balance of power. The interplay of society and corporations is not a one way street. Corps offer services to society while they also rely on it for resources and infrastructure and to give it legitimacy and protect its assets.
Among Big Tech firms I believe Microsoft was one of the first to understand and incorporate this and so they self-corrected. Facebook is really late to the party in this regard and I hope in a couple of years we will be able to see the situation with more sober eyes.
Not always. The GDPR has some decent provisions against overuse of machine learning, for example (it is just a shame it is basically unenforceable against global megacorps, and otherwise so shit as a set of law). We should not accept it, and I don;t think this is a fight that is lost. It is fine to use ML, as long as you are prepared to suffer the consequences of the mistakes of your models that you do not check. This is an important principle.
> Even in a world without Google and Facebook, enterprising nerds will be encoding H.265 via smoke signals to ensure we get our cat videos.
Damn right. These are important. I'm concerned this statement isn't entirely serious. While I hope not to have to resort to similar to that, I will if I have to. Cat videos are important damn it.
That were programmed to make decision no one understands and to act on their own.
(Charles Williams' All Hallows' Eve is an extended meditation about just that.)
And in this case, it appears that they aren’t.
Leftist pages with any tact have been somewhat insulated from the purges, but the liberals no longer need them, and the conservatives never liked them. They're getting the same treatment as the right now.
3124 pages affected
We need better alternatives, not better Facebook.
I was talking with my wife that somehow people are OK with a borrowed (rented?) identity for so many things. email@example.com, +00-00 on whatsapp, etc, and there as only a few wanting to be firstname.lastname@example.org, though this is a very different topic.
True, but nothing particularly good seems to exist yet. It has to solve the problem of end-to-end encryption in a way that users can manage to not lose their keys too easily, which is a hard problem. It only has to solve this, when email did not (at least in an easily usable way for most people) because it already exists in messaging, but that doesn't stop it not being well solved holding back the situation.
Anything that uses an open source client is a meaningful step better than WhatsApp, because it is easier to make and maintain a bridge from something better, like Matrix, IMHO. At least recently, I did not think Matrix was easy enough to use and stable enough to recomend to people, but them moving to something with an open source client, is better than nothing IMHO.
I'm not convinced Signal is better than Telegram, as an alternative, since Telegram is so much easier to use if you don't care about end-to-end encryption (most users don't sadly), and basically as easy to use (but much less trustworthy) if you do. I'm not sure which is better TBH, but I expect more people will stay off WhatsApp if they try Telegram than if they only try Signal, which is an advantage of recomending that (though I'm not sure it out-weighs the advantage of there being less end-to-end encryption).
For me, an intermediate step to a lot of worlds I like better than this one, is for a diverse ecosystem of messengers to compete on security, openness, and guarantees of not surveilling/monetizing users.
In the last weeks I've had all my WhatsApp groups of "normal people" start discussing alternative messengers on exactly these terms. They've looked into Viber, Telegram, SMS, Signal, and others. So i'm happy with that.
EDIT the point with these is tricky, because they are not all-in-one solutions. People these days tend to think that an app/program == the service, but this is so not the case. I've tried telling people they could use other programs to access gmail, but it was like talking to a wall, and this is serious issue in this - the instant messenger - case as well. I have no idea how to tell people that it's possible to use _something else_ as an interface. Somehow most of them understand that there are different browsers to access the internet, but they don't apply this thinking to other protocols and services. Hence recommendations for services who provide their "own" apps, conversations being the root, quicksy and blabber being derivatives.
(Relevant context: the SWP is tiny and inconsequential, but very active in coordinating its [unlikely to be violent] messaging and inflating its importance. Nobody would know who its "dozens of leading activists" were to target them. And its local group pages are still up and easily discoverable by searching, so if it was a deliberate action to silence the party it would be a very sloppy one)
It doesn't matters.
You are as much responsible for decisions done by your algorithms as you are for decisions done by people.
If you can not guarantee that algorithms work in the parameters of moral and law you can not use them.
It is that simple.
I assume I can also beat my children as long as I do it inside my private house?
>I assume I can also beat my children as long as I do it inside my private house?
Beating children is illegal for anyone by law already. Removing something spray painted on your walls or deciding what books people get to discuss in your own book club isn't illegal, and neither should it be. I hope you understand the nuance here, and why it makes your analogy flawed.
It's not injurious to them to moderate content, clearly, since they are doing it.
By pulling this crap and especially by doing it algorithmically they are pushing the internet in a difficult direction.
If §230 went away, and Facebook continued moderating, they would be liable if anyone posted defamatory content to Facebook -- something which surely happens on a constant basis.
If that is not currently the case and these companies can effectively moderate the content on their networks without driving themselves out of business with the cost, well, they don't have the justification for 230's exemption anymore.
It provides immunity to publishers who (1) publish user-generated content, and (2) perform moderation on some of that content. They are free to do their moderation without being required to moderate everything posted to their site.
It's still quite obviously true that Facebook is not able to moderate everything posted to its website. What are you trying to say?
It doesn't. It outlines that internet companies ARE NOT PUBLISHERS. As a result, they aren't liable for the things that people or other companies publish on their platforms.
>It does not provide immunity or any other benefit to a publisher that doesn't perform moderation. Such a publisher was already immune under preexisting law.
They weren't immune under preexisting law, they were actually liable as they could be treated as the publisher of any content on their platform. The reason the exception was carved out was because it was considered detrimental to the development of the internet and the free spread of ideas on the internet if websites were forced to moderate content completely.
It's actually a very interesting exception, too, because in effect this means companies like facebook are not held liable for publishing things on their platform, just so long as they didn't create the things they publish. It also provides them immunity to perform any kind of moderation they like.
The problem is that this exception was built for the prior internet. It depended on and was intended to build up the idea of personal control over content, where a person could decide what content they did and did not want to see online. That's why they were required to have a message telling users they can get parental controls and blockers.
>It's still quite obviously true that Facebook is not able to moderate everything posted to its website. What are you trying to say?
That's not obvious. I run ads on Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other platforms; there is moderation before publishing for every ad I post. It's not perfect and often has problems, but it exists and it's expanding.
In difference to the US:
- some countries clearly differentiate between private and cooperate
- have proper free speech laws which are not limited to government inference into free speech but free speech itself
- have laws about discrimination and protection of political organizations which does not allow you to arbitrary "block" people
I don't know about UK law. But I'm pretty sure this would have been unlawful in Germany, and potentially all of EU (due to EU wide regulation, but while I'm pretty sure about Germany I'm less so about EU wide regulations).
Edit: For those unaware, this is the devil's advocate take. HN has been remarkably pro-corporate censorship lately, and only a matter of weeks later its coming back to bite pro-censorship advocates.
First off: you're right. You can't compel a private company to support speech. But the entirety of political discourse happens online now. There's a clear and prevailing interest that free speech can happen online, at scale.
At the end of the day/century, FB is just a random internet site/app. Discourse is online, yes, but the zeitgeist left FB years ago. Zuck's fate will catch up with him fast, now that their network effect has broken, or is close to doing so.
It's already over. FB/IG/WhatsApp are all clearly dead, in the Grahamian sense.
A site is free to ban all left-wing groups, all right-wing groups, all centrist groups, all groups with an 'e' in their names, all hate groups, or all of the above. Others are free to react to those bans accordingly, and choose whether to associate/support/host the site or not.
This isn't their first 'mistake' to shut them down. Unless of course Facebook believes that this group has broken their rules which resulted them on getting shut down.
Regardless, Facebook is a private platform and can shut down whoever they want. Mistake or not.
No.. I mean yes in the US but not necessary in other countries.
Not all countries free speech and anti discreminatory laws which are as weak as in the US (the US free speech law is just about government interference in free speech but not free speech itself).
In Germany this would have been in violation with multiple laws as far as I know.
I can't find any specifics on the position they hold, but the UK is pretty much in line with the US on mask mandates and lockdowns in hotspots.