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Twitter sees jump in govt demands to remove content of reporters, news outlets (reuters.com)
304 points by hassanahmad 65 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 337 comments




When one government/party (implicitly or explicitly) gets twitter to put content favorable to it to the detriment of its opponents, right there, twitter lost the script, and the moral standing.

the talk of legality is nonsense, because there are jurisdictions where anything can be made legal.

The vast majority of the world will be better off with a twitter/fb etc cut down to size, and the current massive power of social media networks being reduced.


> The vast majority of the world will be better off with a twitter/fb etc cut down to size, and the current massive power of social media networks being reduced.

That's exactly what state sponsored media, dictatorships and big media conglomerates want to promote. Having layman question if social media is really good or not is great for these people.

People forget so fast [0]

[0] https://www.npr.org/2021/05/04/993605477/as-arab-spring-unfo...


People keep bringing up the Arab spring as an argument for Twitter being socially beneficial.

However, I am not sure the Arab Spring was a net positive. Tunisia turned out ok, but Libya is still a disaster. Egypt went from Dictator to Islamist Party to Military Dictatorship. Syria has seen massive death and destruction and Assad is still clinging to power. Yemen is involved in a nasty civil war.

I think many in the West take a too rosy view of the Arab Spring. For the average Middle Easterner in those countries, the Arab Spring has been a disaster.


It takes courage for a nation to take matters into it's own hands and march toward democracy. And it's not an easy road either.


That doesn't mean it was a good thing. Democracy isn't the only "right" way to maximize outcomes for a society, as much as western moralism might want it to be.


And yet what are the alternatives?


Those outcomes are often referred to as Arab Winter that followed the Arab Spring.


yes, people want change, but sometimes the rate of change is too overwhelming...

and once the change is set in motion, no one is able to predict what the next actions would be.


The line you’re promoting is exactly what the state sponsored media that the U.S. employs wants you to believe. Remember that the U.S. set up a fake Twitter clone to sow division and misinformation in Cuba? 2014: https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/03/us-cuban-twitt...


Apparently they didn't need it: Cubans spreading real information is enough to cause massive riots and for the regime to shut down internet access. [0]

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27812670


> The vast majority of the world will be better off with a twitter/fb etc cut down to size, and the current massive power of social media networks being reduced.

There is no "cutting down to size", these sites are popular as the function of individual choices, short of authoritarianism you can't dictate which sites people decide to use.


Parler users would like to disagree. So do users of other platforms who can not use mainstream payment systems to pay for their services, and can not install the apps using Google or Apple app stores.

I think by now one has to be extremely naive and uninformed to claim that only individual user choices are the factor in whether or not a social network can prosper.


> Parler users would like to disagree. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/parler/id1402727988

People bring up Parler as if the political context of the very recent (at the time) attack on the U.S. capitol had no bearing on how things transpired.

> I think by now one has to be extremely naive and uninformed to claim that only individual user choices are the factor in whether or not a social network can prosper.

I'll have to replay that "naive and uninformed" label back at you if you seriously believe that sites like Parler are unpopular because of big tech collusion rather than the type of content cultivated by such sites.


Yes, I seriously believe that Parler was shut down because of of big tech collusion and not because the users voluntarily abandoned it, disgusted by the content cultivated there. I can tell you why I believe it - because Parler was shut down by the collusion of big tech companies, while many many users (millions) were willing to go there and tolerate the type of content that you obviously don't like. It's something that is called "fact". After Parler was able to overcome the hostile actions of the big tech, they still have millions of users. You may not be one of them, and that's ok - you are free to use whatever networks you like, and if the content on Parler disgusts you, you're free to avoid it and join the network you like. What you're not entitled to do is to invent your own facts.

BTW, another fact - most of the planning for US Capitol protest that is known about actually happened on Facebook, and livestreaming the even also happened on Facebook and Youtube. Of course, nobody shut them down for that.


> I seriously believe that Parler was shut down because of of big tech collusion and not because the users voluntarily abandoned it.

Try reading my post again because I never made any such claim.

> most of the planning for US Capitol protest that is known about actually happened on Facebook

I never stated otherwise (besides calling it an attack, not a "protest"). It seems to me you have fixated on a certain perspective and are projecting that on to my comment.


You said:

These sites are popular as the function of individual choices, short of authoritarianism you can't dictate which sites people decide to use.

In fact, however, Big Tech oligopolists very much can dictate that people won't be able to use sites they want to use (despite the fact you personally don't like the content there). If I decide to use Parler but Parler is shut down by Amazon, then it's very much not a product of my individual choice.

> I never stated otherwise

And again, you said:

People bring up Parler as if the political context of the very recent (at the time) attack on the U.S. capitol had no bearing on how things transpired.

What transpired is that some people involved in Capitol protest on Jan 6 were using Parler, and many more were using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. Parler was shut down - very much not a product of individual choice of anyone but Jeff Bezos maybe - and neither of other platforms, who played bigger role in the same event, didn't even bat an eye. So your mentioning the events at the US Capitol only goes to illustrate my point, not yours - the idea that we somehow have a free market here where people are free to choose whatever platform they like according to their individual choice is very much delusional. Some platforms have more freedoms than others, and some are subjected to strictest scrutiny - and sometimes shut down - despite the preferences of their users. That's my perspective, which aligns with known facts.


You have next to no understanding of the opposite side of the political spectrum if you think Parler shut down because of people running away from their content. Who created that content in the first place?


> if you think Parler shut down because of people running away from their content.

Try reading my post again because I never made any such claim.


> you can't dictate which sites people decide to use

You can invest in education and empower people to make informed choices about the source or value of the information. This is an investment governments go out of their way to avoid because it just so happens the same lack of education that gets people hooked up on low quality content is what makes them easily manipulated by the political class.


I don't see a problem with educational outreach, but what kind of education do you think the public needs?


From an early age more public investment in STEM, financial literacy, empathic education.


Pre-school STEM is your plan to get people off twitter?


*Are* these sites popular as functions of individual choices? It’s been pretty well established that governments and regulators in the U.S. overlooked the actions of or actively supported these companies from the start.


Sure they are. The popularity of one website does not diminish the availability of another website. The popularity of YouTube didn't prevent tiktok from also becoming popular. Using one website does not make it more difficult to use another website which is why literally everybody on the internet uses multiple websites. Not everyone uses FB, twitter, or reddit, others use some combination of them, some use all of them, others none of them, this is entirely the result of free choices made by individuals.


Right. Plenty of people are free to use MySpace these days, what with its thriving community full of friends and family, everyone using the shared platform to communicate with each other.


Right... MySpace was once the most popular social network on the internet and that fact meant absolutely nothing with respect to its longevity because individuals made their own choices about which sites they wanted to use and MySpace wasn't one of them.


tiktok and youtube are not synonymous in functionality...

It is extremely hard to have a 2nd youtube, reddit or facebook... because of the network effects


> tiktok and youtube are not synonymous in functionality

This is a subjective distinction, but setting aside subjectivity for the sake of argument, it's a user-driven video sharing website, it's pretty similar to YouTube in many ways, but the fact that it is not synonymous is exactly my point - TikTok created something that differentiated itself from YouTube and so people flocked to it, and the fact that YouTube was already popular didn't diminish TikTok's accessibility nor did TikTok's explosion in popularity come at the cost of YouTube's popularity. TikTok created something attractive and people made individual choices to use it.


I agree on the distinction, but the main point is that tiktok and youtube cannot be compared for the core functionality.

a better comparison is the conservative leaning 'rumble' - without google's massive support, it stands no chance of winning against youtube.

--

parler was the alternative to twitter and fb, and see how it was cut down for no real reason, though at the time, the entire media made it seem as if it was the most logical thing to do.

later one finds that there is more extremist stuff in fb and twitter..

also, it was interesting how all the biggies - Amazon, Google, Apple, Visa all joined hands to squelch Parler an opponent of their enemy (for ad dollars) Twitter...

speaking loosely, this is quite an example of a cartel.


> but the main point is that tiktok and youtube cannot be compared for the core functionality.

tiktok and youtube have essentially the same core functionality: sharing user generated video content. YouTube even has a "Shorts" section that is entirely composed of tiktok style videos wherein most of the videos are actually ripped from tiktok.

> parler was the alternative to twitter and fb, and see how it was cut down for no real reason

Parler is an alternative to twitter and fb, it exists today, it was not "cut down" https://apps.apple.com/us/app/parler/id1402727988.

The furor over Parler was manufactured outrage, Parler was suspended from the app stores because they didn't do what the app stores asked, a very common occurrence, we could all be so lucky as to have that much publicity surrounding the suspension of our apps from the notoriously capricious app stores.

> also, it was interesting how all the biggies - Amazon, Google, Apple, Visa all joined hands to squelch Parler an opponent of their enemy (for ad dollars) Twitter...

It's not that interesting, it was an obvious reaction to Parler openly courting extremism after there had just been an attack on the U.S. capitol. Parler made themselves toxic and nobody wanted to do business with them because they were extremely unpopular. Anyway, I suspect we probably won't agree on the details of Parler, but there's no disputing that Parler's temporary shutdown was under extremely unusual circumstances.


Eh, governments could probably take a supply-side approach and throw money at new ARPAnet protocols for developing federated content publishing networks to grow competing networked application ecosystems without resorting to heavy handed authoritarianism.


Another layer of federated content publishing doesn't solve any problems. The web is already federated, websites are the "nodes", these big websites are just very popular nodes, if fediverse style apps take off the problem would just move to the most popular nodes on that network.


> Another layer of federated content publishing doesn't solve any problems.

HTTP is a request-response rather than content broadcast or publish-subscribe protocol. Presumably you could develop a publish-subscribe protocol with low-latency encryption support embedded in protocol layer similar to QUIC.

> if fediverse style apps take off the problem would just move to the most popular nodes on that network.

So suppose the Department of Energy provides a public cloud which people can get a network address to hold files for them similar to how they can get a Post Office box number at the post office. Except when you put a file in your own PO box the PO will make free copies of the file for others on your behalf which are subscribed to your PO box without destroying the original copy.

This would really just create a lower-level protocol or new number system for publish-subscribe content. It would compete with the other ARPAnet protocols such as TCP.


https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/an-introduction-to-solid-t...

Tim Berners-Lee might get it right this next time around?


The idea that Twitter — or any other company or person — should not be able to choose or express it’s own side in any matter of political contention because one side or the other wouldn’t like it is insane to me.

How does that even work? Who gets to decide which topics or points of view are off-the-table for normal social-media moderation? I guess you’re saying government figures and major political parties could decide unilaterally. We’ll have to repeal the first amendment, anyway.


> company or person

Billion dollar companies are not persons, they should not have the same rights at all. At that size they start to mingle heavily with politicians. They want politicians to enact the right policies, and in return those politicians wants the company to censor the right people or fund their campaigns. Just because there is no formal agreement here doesn't mean that the companies aren't just the extended arm of the government and vice versa.


Billion dollar companies are composed of people individually acting within their rights and although they should be provided no special privileges neither should they lose their individual rights. Having companies have too close a relationship with donors is a defect not a reasonable basis for regulating businesses as if they were in fact part of the government.


Newspapers and persons obviously should choose to express their own opinions.

Twitter is different: It is close to a common carrier, and you can't just shut down one side of the political discussion. If you do, you'll have the appearance of free discussion, when in reality you are exercising totalitarian control.

That is more harmful for democracy than occasional idiots dressing up in Viking costumes and entering the capitol (of course, riots of the opposing spectrum can be safely promoted on Twitter anyway).


> It is close to a common carrier…

It isn’t at all. Twitter’s business model is getting people to join and engage with the network, and to that end they broadcast, moderate, curate, promote, remove, suggest messages based on the content of the messages. If we pass some law that forces it to be a simple message or feed delivery platform, twitter as a business is done.

> totalitarian control

Twitter running its business the way it wants is normal western freedom. Forcing twitter to broadcast the messages of the leader of the government would be totalitarian control.


> should not be able to choose or express it’s own side in any matter of political contention

It goes back to the conversations expressed elsewhere in this post about twitter being an utility, de-facto.

If it is given that status, then there are some expectations that come with it.

Once a company takes a political position, then it cannot appeal on 'moral' or other subjective grounds.

> How does that even work?

I don't know... maybe an entity like the Swiss? Not sure if it is a good example, being a country itself? The reason people seem to be ok with the presence of the country is that it is strictly neutral, and both sides protected it.

> Who gets to decide which topics or points of view are off-the-table for normal social-media moderation?

How about no one?

> I guess you’re saying government figures and major political parties could decide unilaterally. We’ll have to repeal the first amendment, anyway.

The 1st amendment is for the US exclusively. This version of the Freedom of speech is a distinctively American concept, and for that reason, twitter actually finds some tepid support from conservatives.

Each country is sovereign in the laws that govern their land, unless they breach some major crimes, and thats when the UN steps in. Nothing new here.


The way nations relate to one another is fundamentally different from the way parties relate to one another within a nation. The UN is a debating society that serves to provide a venue for potentially belligerent actors subject to different laws who ultimately can only truly enforce their will with bombs and bullets if debate fails.

Parties within a nation are all subject to the same laws with established responsibilities and rights with established procedures for settling differences.

The fact that some platforms choose to exclude a minority of players from using said platforms to spread ideas that the majority finds evil and harmful is a feature not a bug. There are established laws that protect actual rights and privileges. Just none that would privilege you to stand on others property and shout hateful offensive things.

Get your own bullhorn and stop trying to make laws demanding your neighbor lend you his.


The UN also theoretically can step in if a nation does bad things to its own citizens ( like genocide etc).

What is being discussed here is Twitter, an American company in relation to countries like India, etc.

> to spread ideas that the majority finds evil and harmful

Who is the majority? And how did twitter find it? If twitter lets a ranking system similar to HN/reddit, and content below a particular ratio is hidden, that might be fine I guess. it would be a mob, I would'nt like it, but atleast, its uniform.

> Get your own bullhorn and stop trying to make laws demanding your neighbor lend you his.

What does that even mean? Is twitter my neighbour? Do I, a ordinary citizen have similar clout?

In a way, I see twitter as a bully (a loud bullhorn) who was terrorizing the neighborhood one after the other. He walks into this one, where there is a stronger bully (with laws that have teeth) and slaps him silly.

This bully now cries, and yeah, not getting much sympathy from the folks he bullied.


Problem here is "favorable" and "political position" are pretty subjective. Who's to decide what is favorable to whom and what constitutes political position? Is saying wear a mask a political position? These days it seems to be. So someone still has to decide what is political and what is not right? So seems like we're back to square 1.


the deeper point about the mask is that AFAICT, the people are not really opposing the mask, but the government that is directing those mandates, and the real root cause is the lack of trust in the government.

it is also coinciding with a period of extreme distrust of the media, wherein, if some thing is spreading outside of the media, the position being taken is that it must be true, whereas one would expect the opposite to happen.

The media and the government must introspect their roles in leading to this situation.

Many lump twitter as being part of the media itself, because of its proactive actions.


People distrust the media because one half of our political spectrum is busy as a beaver spreading lies so blatant that they can't be credibly presented as another side of the issue or an alternative perspective.

Because the media is presenting reality in a fashion vastly closer to objective truth the liars are obliged to explain why their positions and the medias differ and the most trivial response is to continue lying and call the media liars. The liars audience has chosen their own alternative facts over objective reality and there is absolutely nothing the media could have done to prevent it.


> because one half of our political spectrum

and the other half comes out smelling like roses?

Let me ask you this, as atleast you know there are 2 universes (which many do not ):

- Do you sample both of the universes and make up your mind?

- Do you know which direction the media thats most accessible (otherwise called as mainstream) leans politically?

- Do you lean that same direction yourself?

- if so, it is that side that needs to seek out the alternate universe and figure if there is any truth to it. ( theoretically, there can be right?)

--

The people on the right are generally exposed to the mainstream media, and therefore, and also consume alternate media from the right, and at least, get to hear both sides.

The people on the left, on average, simply do not do this


There aren't 2 universes there are n universes where n is the number of people. In most respects my politics are more progressive than the medias but I take a nuanced view and I think for myself.

I HAVE sampled both sides mostly because I had an interest in watching the crazy. The far side of the fence from the "liberal media" is sadly stunted men swimming in a cloud of misinformation so thick that escape appears difficult. Explaining one wrong thing nearly always involves dealing with not only present issues but prior preconceptions.

Although these men may possess in some areas of their life judgement, character, values but they are guided by not only fake information, but fake resources who will not only at need feed them more misinformation but has poisoned them against sources apt to contradict their line of bullshit.


Swiss neutrality was noticeable more in the breach than the observance: https://www.warhistoryonline.com/instant-articles/switzerlan...

Militarily, invading Switzerland would have been far more work than it was worth.


> How does that even work?

Well, it could work similar to the existing and uncontroversial laws, that are already widespread on certain communication companies.

Specifically, we could take common carrier laws, which already apply to certain communication companies, and extend them.

Those laws are uncontroversial, and established. So it is silly to claim that such a thing is unconventional.

> We’ll have to repeal the first amendment

No we won't. Common carrier laws already exist, and we didn't have to repeal the 1st amendment to have them.


Please cite the exact laws that we ought to apply to social media companies and do touch on how the application of said laws will avoid infringing on these companies civil rights.


Exact laws: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/chapter-5/subchap...

The rest of your question I consider invalid. Companies do not have civil rights [1]. Hell, it's in the definition of the word:

"relating to ordinary citizens and their concerns, as distinct from military or ecclesiastical matters"

But clearly the existing common carrier regulations don't infringe on the "civil rights" of the companies they apply to, so even accepting your false premise, this is very straightforward.

[1] or at least, they didn't until extremely recently https://www.inquirer.com/business/hobby-lobby-citizens-unite...


[flagged]


You just said this "Please cite the exact laws that we ought to apply "

Emphasis on the word "ought".

And you responded to someone bringing up other laws by saying this "to suppose that existing laws already cover the situation ".

Which nobody said.

Instead, the other person was directly answering your question, of which specific laws "ought" be applied to social media companies. The implication being, that they do not currently apply now, but should, by changing the law such that they do.

> at least one contrary law would need to be repealed

You used the word ought. That was your premise. And someone answered your question of what ought happen. So, the implication, is that other contrary law, also ought be changed.

I am not sure why this always happens in these types of conversations. People say X is bad, and then someone else comes in and says "Well actually, X is totally legal!".

Nobody here said anything about it being illegal. Instead we said that X is bad. And the implication being that we want something to change, such that the bad thing stops.

Saying X is legal, is just an end run around, to ignore the original point that was brought up, by talking about the legality, when nobody brought up was is legal in the first place.

Yeah, we knows the bad thing is legal. Thats why it is happening. Thats why we are complaining about it. Because it is legal, and happening, and we don't want it to happen, and we want to figure out a way to make it not happen.

That why, in my original comment I said that we should "extend" common carrier laws. "Extend" means change. It means that I already know that common carriers laws don't apply, and I want them to apply. By changing those laws.

Like, my god. This always happens, and the conversations are so stupid.


Rest of the world doesn't care about your laws or rights, when youtube is doing business in a country they have every legal right/opportunity to write laws to demand whatever they want from the company.


In some cases it would make sense to comply in others it would make more sense to refuse especially if compliance with one nations laws would interfere with the companies core product. For example if smallistan decided that material critical of its monarch must be expunged from all of youtube not just the content served inside smallistan then it would be in everyone else's interest if Google ignored them.


Making them smaller will make them more likely to resist government censorship how exactly?


They don't want them smaller they want their autonomy not their sized reduced. Specifically they cling to the idea that social media ought to be a common carrier as obliged to carry their views as that of their detractors. If you look at the actual speech that is being disincentivized this looks objectively terrible in our present context.


i dont know who you are speaking for, but agreed that the need for reduced autonomy for any agency of that size.

In general, conservatives believe in markets, and if they happen to grow to a particular size with these constraints, so be it.

--

> If you look at the actual speech that is being disincentivized this looks objectively terrible in our present context.

I'll give one example to see what the reaction ought to be.

A private citizen makes an otherwise legal speech at a political meeting - and youtube and all media wipe it out of the internet last week.

Regardless of the private citizen being Trump and the party being Republicans, a liberal ( as the word used to mean before) should have been up against such censorship.

'Moderation' does not come into play in this example, but there is nothing specific to moderate really in what is essentially a semi-private meeting of free people.


A semi private meeting would be held on hardware that you control which is entirely feasible.


Being large just makes you a large target, smaller things like HN wont get targeted since governments lack the capacity to handle that many things. And being large doesn't offer much protection to resist once targeted either, no matter how large they are they wont sacrifice significant revenue for moral reasons.


twitter is attacked exactly because they are the only voice out there.

As an example, There are several newspapers in India, which still continue to post opinions critical of the government. There is a system of courts still, sort of working, and would step in if things got too bad.


A single shut down of a platform can be written off as "for the children" or some other character assassination BS. When you start repeatedly attacking platforms that's when you get the moderates of your country to start taking umbridge.

I think a good parallel might be TikTok in the US, Trump was exploring banning the platform toward the end of his term without a particularly large pushback from the general populace (though a whole bunch of pushback from tech literate folks). You can use excuses like that a time or two without raising too many eyebrows, but once it becomes a pattern people get angry.

Having more smaller platforms makes it harder to effectively accomplish any censorship since your few shutdown freebies won't significantly impact the ability for political opponents to communicate with the public.


Can you point to some specific examples, instead of leaving it vague? I ask because I'm curious whether there are more pertinent framings than of a disagreement purely between political parties.


Funny how a surge in requests of this nature coincided with proliferation of tools for managing, "misinformation". Who gets to decide what or what constitutes misinformation, anyway. Is it the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party or African Democratic Congress? I guess for the time being rich white Californian tech executives and product managers decide what information or news stories are or are not real.


Boris Johnson’s recent comments after England’s Euro 2020 loss highlight this challenge the best.

Government officials are pressuring social media corporations to define and continually refine their content policies.

Simultaneously governments are requesting content removal from the corporations.

It’s a back and forth where the users and general population are ignored. Our elected officials should be structuring new frameworks for social media companies to operate within. We’re entering a new era with outdated laws.


Really what we need is to stop part one period. That is abuse of power and should be seen just as unacceptable as a governor demanding favorable election coverage from reporters.


Agreed. That’s the low hanging fruit. Question is where we go from there:

Allowing for content moderation opens the door to selective bias. On the other hand, a “hands off” approach can lead to its own form of content extremism.

The ability to post anonymously (at least anonymously to other users) will come into the conversation as well.


Thought experiment: a US government-hosted social network.

Because the government is the host, they can't censor anything on the platform, unlike private social networks. The moderation policy would effectively be the content of the first amendment, barring actual illegal content.

Call it publicsquare.gov


They are probably utterly incapable of doing so effectively. In truth they would probably have to contract out to another player to effectively provide a government sponsored Facebook at a cost of billions of dollars per year.

Anything you posted on facebook.gov would be instantly available to advertisers AND the government so a huge segment of the population would refuse to use it especially young people. It would probably end up with a mixture of a minority of socially minded people and people so odious they would be censored anywhere else. See the kind of folks you have on the conservative reddit clone. As soon as people conspiring on facebook.gov are guilty of something really terrible like say a mass shooting there will be calls to implement some sort of additional content controls and we now have 2 facebooks one paid for by ads another by our tax money.


Imagine how many billions they'd waste on building that for it to get hacked 15 seconds after its launched


Well this already happened and we're still using it, but it's called ARPAnet.

Instead of building a hypertext website they could finance an ARPA-E program to develop new federated content publishing protocols. Then have the Department of Energy build out and maintain the initial cloud infrastructure as a public utility.

Any user files stored on network slices have the same legal and privacy protections as mail held at the United States Post Office, and people are free to store encrypted files using whatever encryption scheme they want in the same way that they are free to send pages of gibberish through the mail.

If DoE builds out a cloud network then DoD could also lease a portion of the infrastructure for JEDI.


That'll just be a social network full of spam and trolls.


So, a lot like our existing national conversation?


Honest question: what keeps the present private-for-profit social media platforms from falling in the same pit?


It's not clear that the government is legally able to censor all types of spam. If the spam is commercial, the Central Hudson four-pronged test on commercial speech restrictions applies,[1] which requires, among other things, that the restrictions be "no more extensive than necessary to serve [the government's] interest". Non-commercial forms of spam would probably be protected from removal by the First Amendment, unless, perhaps, they overloaded the government's servers.

Trolling categorised as "obscene" would be removable, but otherwise may be protected by the First Amendment. Also, the fact that every content moderation decision may be subject to litigation would make it extremely difficult for the government to meaningfully moderate content.

Private platforms, not bound by the First Amendment, and allowed to moderate without assuming liability by Section 230, wouldn't suffer these problems

[1]: Via White Buffalo v. UT Austin


The difference is they could require proof of identity and American citizenship to be able to access the site, and the site itself could have rules that are enforceable to limit human generated spam without violating the first amendment. They would not be helpless to moderate the site just because of the first amendment, they would just need to pass moderation clauses for the site before going live with it.

In a similar vein with the fact that it's illegal to yell out "FIRE!" in a crowded theater unless there is actually a fire, they could make it illegal to advertise private businesses and make posters directly legally responsible for what they post.

If this does come about though, I hope they prohibit businesses and "Media Groups" or whatever from creating accounts or at least lock them into a walled garden that you have to voluntarily enter, segregating them from the general populace.


Those profits incentivize them to keep spam off their networks. The only incentive US Gov entities have is keeping their contracts alive and the money flowing in without ever needing to turn a profit.


Don't they? FB is full of anti-vaxxer and foreign propoganda as it is and trolling is legion. The only reason spam is partially dealt with (commercial spam at least) is because FB (and similar networks) don't want spammers to shoulder in on their profit center.


That seems fine, as long as I can just not subscribe to them.


People arguing about Twitter being a private company with the freedom to censor content are missing the point. Yes – that's true, but the disturbing thing here is the fact that governments are increasingly pressuring them to do it (and that carries a lot of weight, with or without legal force).

The real problem is that governments think this kind of behavior is okay, and continue to do it. I don't care if a company decides to censor content on its platform, but if my government is telling them (and other platforms) what can and can't be said, I consider that a clear violation of free speech. This is a failure of government, not Twitter (or not only Twitter).

Twitter needs to publish a list of exactly who in the government is doing this, and we should hold those people responsible and replace them. The government works for us, remember?


There is one reason Twitter is not doing this, and one reason the governments can do this in the first place, and that is money. Twitter makes money off of users in other countries (its stock performance is tied to % increase of DAU). Twitter knows its service is pretty easy to replicate and is thus willing to play by these government's rules. If Twitter doesn't play by the rules, there are plenty of local players who would be very happy about that.


It sounds like you're conflating market incentives with government misconduct.

Governments "can do this" because we're letting them get away with it. Plain and simple. The money is mostly irrelevant in the matter.

The fact that Twitter has an incentive to follow the law and preserve its own existence is beside the point.


I like Github's policy where they publish all of the takedown requests to a public repository to be viewed by anyone. I hope this can be a standard for other tech companies as well.


DMCA takedowns don't legally compel GH to be quiet about them, my guess is many of the ones above might.


They have government takedown requests from China, Russia, and Spain.

https://github.com/github/gov-takedowns


Is this the one you are referring to? https://github.com/github/dmca


Probably not, DMCA takedowns are not from the government, but from non-governmental entities that claim copyright is being infringed.

Governments have the ability to require a request not be made public, so a repo of their requests would not be complete, and I suspect some large offenders would be absent entirely because of that.


Yes that is the one, thanks


I agree but Australia was trying to pass a law that said they could request encrypted data but the platform was legally not allowed to disclose that such a request/action happened. Even if we had this transparency today, it would quickly become illegal.


I am sure Australian restrictions on freedom of speech would not override the US constitution for a US company.


do they really do that? or do you just mean DMCA?



There's a report in there for "xi-winnie-rainbow-fart" ... that's kind of amusing.


I was just referring to the DMCA notices here https://github.com/github/dmca , but I think it is a great idea for transparency.


Time for more service decentralization.


ok. done. I've written you a decentralized social media platform. why haven't you come and started using it?


For all you know, windex may already be using Mastodon or some other service that's part of the Fediverse.

Your question should instead be aimed at the millions of people who still use Twitter, but of course you know the answer already: They use Twitter because millions of other people also use it, i.e. network effects.


That’s his point, I believe. The problem isn’t decentralization, the problem is how do you undermine network effects.


One way is to compel (via legislation) all social media networks to speak a decentralized protocol. Another is to make Mastodon, etc a lot better because every one I've tried has been pretty abysmal. In other words, make a product that is compelling enough to get people to move over to it.


One way is to compel (via legislation) all social media networks to speak a decentralized protocol.

This seems both feasible and practical. Sure, it will have problems - from the point of view of ___ platform regulars, it would be like an 'eternal September' of how everything got worse once those awful people from Other Platform were able to cross-post but that would probably spur innovation in client-side filtering.

I like Mastodon (apart from the me-too-ism of calling Mastodon posts 'toots') but agree that Fediverse offerings are mostly like desktop Linux or cheap fusion - they'll be really great when one of them takes off. The sad fact is that there are lots of designs that are as good as or somewhat better than the big platforms, but none of them are categorically different.

Consider the evolution of social media:

Newspapers: Anyone can write to editor

Telephones: Anyone can talk to anyone

Usenet: Anyone can post in a hierarchy of topics

Web: Anyone can have a webpage

Google: Anyone can navigate the web

Blog: Anyone can have an opinion column

Youtube: Anyone can be on TV

Twitter: Anyone can amplify their random thoughts

Facebook: Anyone can publish a yearbook

GitHub: Anyone can be a tech star

Instagram: Anyone can publish a magazine cover

Snapchat: Anyone can look like a celebrity

LinkedIn: Anyone can be a professional

Tinder: Anyone can be a porn star

Bitcoin: Anyone can be rich

Crypto: Anyone can be a central banker

Periscope: Anyone can be be a TV reporter

Tiktok: Anyone can be iconic

Fediverse: Anyone can run a social network

Obviously I'm being very tongue-in-cheek here but what makes a platform stand out is providing the ability to do something different that was not previously available, and either socializing that or making it stupid easy to do so - ie 'Love XYZing? Do it here and get noticed.'

If your offering is 'YYYYY for ZZZZZ' (where Z might be anything from 'hermits' to 'everybody') then you'll get some rapid adoption because it's easy to understand but it will plateau pretty fast. The secret of success is making people say 'No way, how does that work' and being able to say 'easy just Do The Thing and press this magic button.' The Thing has to be something whose benefit is immediately comprehensible but whose availability is extremely limited or outright fictional.

>90% of social proposals offer new and improved buttons, but experience suggests people are quite tolerant of inferior buttons (network quality, uptime, etc) as long as Doing The Thing is still novel; you work on the button in between getting your first and second competitors. If many people hate or don't get The Thing You Do that's actually a plus because all the misfits will flock to your platform and give you their cult-like loyalty.

I think the mistake with Fediverse stuff is the pitch that 'you can have total control/do it all' - if I wanted that I would have become a sysadmin, but the reality is that everyone wants to use email but hardly anyone wants to run their own SMTP server, much as most people want to drive fast cars and look good doing it, but relatively few choose to be mechanics or take up the risks of competitive driving.

You need to have a benevolent dictator/Santa Claus/Mommy/Team figure(s) that people can coalesce around, who gives you both a way to Do The Thing and permission to use it - it's 50% technical innovation but also 50% validation. People like having a person they can connect with both for technical requests/gripes and to serve as surrogate parents/friends. A socially oriented product/platform with no personalities attached is a contradiction in terms; it might be fun to play with but you probably won't tell your friends about it.

  A: I have feelings about this
  B: Me also
  A: The world should know of my feeling
  B: Indeed
  A: I shall now Do The Thing
  B: WHAT
  A: Yeah check it out
  B: WANT
  A: Sign up like so
  B: I am momentarily fascinated, who made this
  A: Bro and Sis, they are super cool
  B: How I do a thing...
  A: Like this, it is the Bro and Sis way
  B: I feel my life changing around me
  A: Now you are family
  B: Best friend would love this
If your pitch (to anyone) is 'Look at This Thing' or 'That Thing but different' or 'Have you tried The Other Thing' you are ultimately soliciting someone else's attention and the results will be proportionate to how people allocate their limited time. What you want instead is to improve an existing moment in some unexpected way, and then convey a sense of permanence or continuity in relation to the improvement. The witness to/beneficiary of the improvement will then be motivated to trace The Thing back to its source, to whom they will offer publicity/ suggestions/ technical help/ money or whatever.

To conclude, the breakout path for the Fediverse is not to solve this or that problem of social with a nicer button; when you offer solutions to a problem some may appreciate or even love it, but the appreciation often comes with a 'but...'. Rather, it is to build Fediverse technology into some novel object, and use federation to solve the (inevitable) issues that arise as the novelty gains in popularity.


With great time, and care. Discord managed to do this in only 4 years, so it is possible. The cynical side of me says that a distributed social network, by definition, doesn't have the ability to run large marketing campaigns like Discord.


It's a little different. Discord launched amidst a power vacuum, at least with respect to a chat/community platform for video games. Xfire was the only real one, but it had been on the decline for years. A better analogy would be a decentralized Discord competitor trying to start right now and with the odds it has going up against Discord.


Discord got traction because it was substantially better than Teamspeak, and Skype leaks IPs letting jerks DDoS you. It turning into something of a social network was very unexpected.


Yeah, a better question might be: "How can I convince a VC that there's a buck to be made when the user can just take all their data and leave?"


"Look, many countries are enforcing privacy rights; the ad model isn't sustainable. You should start a social media network with a different model so that you can be the first mover who benefits from network effects when the privacy shoe finally drops".

Something like that, although I don't delude myself into thinking that's coming in the near future unless perhaps Apple makes it part of its new privacy-centric campaign. Even then I'm not sure Apple would do better with respect to free speech and moderation.


Been there, helped build an open source decentralized product. Rhetorical demand higher than actual demand.

Of course it's a ridiculously difficult nut to crack. But people like the idea more than the reality, and it's hard to blame them when the product typically has some serious (and likely unavoidable) tradeoffs.


Nowadays people target multiple platforms in parallel, streaming to YT/rumble/odysse at the same time for example.


People go to these social medias because there is a large audience, how is decentralization going to help?

The only people who are using decentralized tools are the ones that have been kicked out of these big social medias at first place.


> "The only people who are using decentralized tools are the ones that have been kicked out of these big social medias at first place."

Do you honestly believe that? Some of us use decentralized tools because we remember the Internet before centralization and corporate/government control over it started turning it into a cesspool of advertising and propaganda and see the huge corporate properties (Facebook especially) for the societal poison that they are.


Thank you. I too miss the days when I could find niche opinions and in depth knowledge via a simple search.


Key points:

Timeline for the report was the back half of 2020.

India and the US were the top requestors for take downs. There are new laws in India and some other countries regarding control of speech online.

I wonder if the US based takedown trends will continue into 2021 with the new administration.


The article says Twitter ``declined to elaborate on which countries submitted the [journalist takedown] demands'' but that India and the US were the top sources of ``all information requests'', which is a more general category that also includes things like requesting a user's IP address, etc. I don't think it's necessarily true that the `information request' rankings match the journalist takedown request rankings.

The takedowns aimed at journalists were only 2% of all the `information requests' they received, according to the numbers in the article (361 journalist requests, 14,500 total `information requests').


Those information requests also likely include law enforcement investigations for a wide range of activities. Plenty of crooks get caught just because they blabbed about it on social media.


So these "information requests" could be, say, checking a user's IP to track fake news?


I'm glad to see this topic so hotly debated here.

After having read most of the comments here, most of the discussion is turning on the point of what the first amendment does or does not require. That's great - the law should be the low bar for behaviour of the government, corporations and populance.

The first amendment is an excellent part of the constitution, putting the U.S. far ahead of many other regimes when it comes to free speech. However, it's not the be-all end-all. The corporate and political landscape, the balance of power between the people and government, and the U.S.'s geopolitical situation have changed since 1791.

Too many people treat the American constitution like the U.S.A. Law-Bible - ever correct, never flawed, never to be updated. That is absurd. The last amendment was ratified in 1992, and I'd say we are overdue for a few more.

In your arguments, please distinguish what is legal from what you think is the right thing to do.


We can’t have no moderation. There are a million reasons from spam to hostile government bots etc.

At least the US legally allows companies (ie prevents government censorship) to choose what they moderate, rather than almost any other country where governments can easily censor.

But I believe we can’t really have winner takes all markets any more, for political reasons. The current winners in these social network markets have basically aligned with one political side. This isn’t even a question any more.

So what will happen? The market will correct. At a minimum these markets will split in two with duopolies, one for each political side, but it could be more fragmented.

Just like in old media. We have fox and cnn, we will have Facebook Twitter and whatever the right will build.

It’s inevitable. Network effects won’t save the day when you are censoring mainstream right views. You can’t be seen to be against half your market. The customers will leave. It might take time, but they’ll leave.


> We can’t have no moderation. There are a million reasons from spam to hostile government bots etc.

Why not though? Why can't I choose how I moderate spam? If platforms like Twitter and Facebook want to protect users from spam content, why can't there be law requiring any moderation operate as a opt-in / opt-out system so long as the content is otherwise legal? If a platform doesn't want to do this that's fine and we can just treat them as a publisher.

I'm sure some people will complain that Twitter is biased in how they operate their spam filters, but for me this is fine so long as whatever they're doing to curate the content is entirely optional.


First there's the legal set of things: doxxing, child porn, copyright violations, revenge porn, etc.

Then there are softer aspects: disinformation, threats, abusive language that are often easier to block than for the company or for society to 'climb back out of' or address post-facto.

Twitter and other platforms are built for viral marketing -- not all content should have the privilege of viral marketing. Then as a product, Twitter and others might want to think about the minimum experience level. What kind of demographics are going to be present over time, if every woman-identifying account, if they peek at the default-moderated content, see 1000s of abusive and hostile tweets directed at them?


Platform/publisher isn't a thing, that's a made up talking point.

Even if it were a "publisher" they can still refuse to publish your content, they can remove the content, and can edit the content. Publishers are not forced to do business with you.

"Curating content" is their business. That's how social media operates. You and I don't get to tell them that they can't run their business simply because we don't agree with their politics. You have to prove a significant public harm that's not protected. They're not a monopoly, nor do they control the infrastructure for social media. Nor do they have power over preventing you from creating your own.


> Platform/publisher isn't a thing, that's a made up talking point.

It mirrors an offline legal distinction that has a huge impact on liability. A printer is not liable for what they print because they don't exert editorial control while a publisher is because they do.

There are specific legal protections for online platforms that allow they to exert some moderation without qualifying as a publisher for liability purposes.

Thus the platform/publisher distinction is extremely relecant when discussing exactly how much moderation (and especially curration) can happen before a platform should assume the legal liabilities of a publisher.


Publishers aren't special, they have 1st amendment rights that protect them as well. Publishers are not automatically liable for their published works. You have to prove a causal link between the publisher and something in the book itself. And then you have to prove a harm that goes beyond the limits of 1st amendment protections. There's conflicting precedence on it, courts disagree on the limits of 1st amendment and how it applies to publishers. More commonly, it's the author that is targeted, because they wrote the work, not the publisher.


True, but if I'm a publisher my liability would arise from publishing false stories like 'shkkmo distributes ransomware' or incitement like 'push shkkmo into traffic.' On the other hand, if I am the editor/publisher of Dweeb Aficionado I am under no obligation to give you editorial space or sell you advertising, except (in US law) if you can show that I am systematically excluding advertising from a class of people like you which enjoys some sort of legal protection.


I fail to see the relevance of this. As a publisher exerting editorial control, you also assume some liability for your content as that editorial control is a form of speech.

Printers who exert no editorial control are not engaging in speech and are thus not liable for the content they print (same with the ink, paper and printing press manufacturers.)


The first sentence in my comment above defines the scope and limits of my liability.


Why can't I choose how I moderate spam?

Well, you can run your own mailserver and likewise some sort of social stream. But it's not so much about what you can or can't do, as the much larger number of people who can't or don't want to run their own communications infrastructure but also don't want to be inundated with spam.

Consider the parallel of robocalls, ie phone spam. People regularly complain to their phone provider and/or the FTC about being deluged with unwanted calls, many of which are scams.


Moderation still exists in your system, presumably as a default-on.


Disks aren't free. You'd need to come up with something preventing a bad actor from using Twitter as a personal multi-exabyte storage service. Simple rate-limiting won't work due to Sybil attacks.


>Why can't I choose how I moderate spam?

The scale of work there would make that more than a full time job. I can't imagine very many if any people want to do that...


I agree that we can't have zero moderation, but we should also recognize that large social media platforms have become the de facto public square and while it is lawful for them to moderate content, it's detrimental to our society. If I had to choose between trusting Twitter to moderate such a large volume of our society's speech and flat-footedly regulating them like a public utility to the extent that their quality drops and they vanish into the ether whence they came, I'd certainly choose the latter. That said, I think we can find middlegrounds that provide for high quality digital content while also allowing people to have robust speech freedoms in practice.

One such incarnation which is particularly interesting to me is the idea of regulating compliance with an open protocol such that Twitter doesn't own your social network, but rather they are simply one option through which you can access that social network. If you like Twitter's monetization model and moderation, great. If you don't, you can trivially go elsewhere (i.e., you don't have to leave your connections and conversations behind--you can continue to participate in the same conversations from your new social media portal) or even build your own.


> but we should also recognize that large social media platforms have become the de facto public square and while it is lawful for them to moderate content, it's detrimental to our society.

Strong disagree. Social media platforms are no different from any other media platform. Should a newspaper or tv station be required to host official communications from a government administration? It is absolutely vital to democracy that they should be free to avoid publishing anything that they don't want to publish for any reason whatsoever including reasons we disagree with. Otherwise, every public sphere would devolve into state-controlled media.

The same restrictions must also hold true for communications from private citizens, especially given the global trend towards oligarchy.


> Strong disagree. Social media platforms are no different from any other media platform. Should a newspaper or tv station be required to host official communications from a government administration? It is absolutely vital to democracy that they should be free to avoid publishing anything that they don't want to publish for any reason whatsoever including reasons we disagree with. Otherwise, every public sphere would devolve into state-controlled media.

My specific proposal doesn’t require compelling social media companies to publish anything. My proposal only turns social media companies into portals into an open platform, so you can leave Twitter or whomever without leaving your network (conversations, connections, etc).

But even if we can’t muster that, then we should regulate them as utilities—that’s really all they are anyway: plumbing for communication (hence the “network” in “social network”). We will still have the same free press that we’ve always had—nothing is lost, but we don’t have the threat of a tiny cabal of companies with outsized influence over our democracies.

But again, that’s a last resort. Before that extreme, we could even do some good ole fashioned antitrust action to bust these social media giants up into smaller actors, or simply enact stronger privacy legislation and let the leeches atrophy on their own.


> My specific proposal doesn’t require compelling social media companies to publish anything. My proposal only turns social media companies into portals into an open platform, so you can leave Twitter or whomever without leaving your network (conversations, connections, etc).

Take a good, hard look at WeChat. You just proposed that we force the plethora of existing social media platforms to transform themselves into WeChat.gov portals.

> we should regulate them as utilities

We tried that with the only elements of the internet that actually are utilities: the networks themselves. It was called Network Neutrality, and the Trump administration killed it as soon as they took office on the grounds that it was government overreach.


> Take a good, hard look at WeChat. You just proposed that we force the plethora of existing social media platforms to transform themselves into WeChat.gov portals.

No, that's obviously only true if we picked a protocol that was designed to support mass surveillance (a la WeChat), but there's no reason said protocol needs to be anti-privacy. This is baseless FUD.

> We tried that with the only elements of the internet that actually are utilities: the networks themselves. It was called Network Neutrality, and the Trump administration killed it as soon as they took office on the grounds that it was government overreach.

I don't think the Trump administration killed it because it wasn't working out very well in practice; they killed it because of an ideological disagreement (or more cynically, corruption). Which is to say, this is a political problem and indeed my proposal, like any proposal that pits the people against wealthy special interests, is subject to the same problem--we need to fix our national corruption problem, but that's an entirely different conversation so I'm ignoring it to focus on the practical aspects.


> we should also recognize that large social media platforms have become the de facto public square and while it is lawful for them to moderate content, it's detrimental to our society.

I don't think you appreciate how controversial this assertion is.

In certain circles, progress is seen as unattainable without a collectivist commitment to defining and suppressing harmful speech, and a de facto public square controlled by private entities as a welcome opportunity to do an end run around an onerous, entrenched legal obstacle in the first amendment.


I appreciate this but I also suspect that many of the people who advocate for this kind of private public square aren’t thinking through the implications from the perspective of their own professed ideals. In general, many anti-free-speech, pro Twitter Inc folks are left wing and left wing ideals don’t align well with privatizing the regulation of civil liberties. I think this is more of an emotional reaction on their part than a principled stance.


> At least the US legally allows companies (ie prevents government censorship) to choose what they moderate...

This directly conflicts with the following statement from the article itself.

> Twitter said in the report India was now the single largest source of all information requests from governments during the second half of 2020, overtaking the United States, which was second in the volume of requests.

This discussion _is_ about the US (but also other governments) censoring Twitter posts.

As far as the distinction between what is legal and what I think should be the case... I think this is illegal as the government is coercing censorship. It's certainly legal if Twitter censors itself.

As far as what I think should be the case... I don't think government should be anywhere near the public square, and I personally don't use these platforms. I'm doing what I can to move to more distributed platforms with better speech.

HN is pretty great, but I left reddit a while ago. If a private co censors too much for me, then I have the choice to leave.

If the government enforces censorship, then I'm toast.


> This discussion _is_ about the US (but also other governments) censoring Twitter posts.

Presumably the US is genuinely asking Twitter to take down posts, not invoking any hard power to coerce Twitter. That runs counter to free speech ideals, but it's not a strict violation of Twitter's rights. If there is a victim, it's the folks whose Tweets are being taken down, insofar as the de facto public square is privately owned and thus not subject to first amendment protections (Twitter can legally, unilaterally censor the de facto public square).


> Presumably the US is genuinely asking

This is probably the first honest argument I've seen in this thread about whether this is legal or not.

Personally I believe this is not the case. I believe there is a lot more coercion behind these asks then we're seeing, but that aside I also agree that.

> That runs counter to free speech ideals

and

> Twitter can legally, unilaterally censor the de facto public square

but, shouldn't we be wary of even a non-coercive relationship like this where government and corporations enter into mutually beneficial monopoly supporting relationships?

All that said, I will be firing up a Mastadon server shortly. (It's been on my bucket list for a bit now.)


Twitter is not the public square. It's not even a public utility. It's a private company. It's more akin to a newspaper's "letters to the editor" section. Users send X to Twitter, and Twitter chooses to distribute X to its other users. A real public square does not have an intermediary with moderation power.

We don't have an Internet equivalent to the public square. Maybe 4chan, but even they moderate (child porn, etc.), and technically, your messages still get posted through an intermediary. Maybe there are darknet sites that are true "unfiltered, unhosted, broadcast to everyone" social media, I don't know. Maybe SMS is the public square, but there's (thankfully) no way to broadcast an SMS to the world.


Whether or not Twitter the platform has some technical feature in common with the public squares of olde is missing the point. The concern is that a significant volume of our national dialogue (and indeed the dialogues of many nations) is hosted on Twitter, to the extent that many people (including the very same people who think Twitter's "censorship" is a Very Good Thing) are concerned that Twitter is a vector through which foreign state actors can and have indirectly influence democratic elections (if state actors can do it indirectly then that implies that Twitter the company can do it directly). Even if you aren't convinced that Russia used Twitter to game the 2016 POTUS election, there's a larger umbrella of concerns about the outsized influence of social media companies (for example, the various arguments levied in The Social Dilemma).


> The current winners in these social network markets have basically aligned with one political side. This isn’t even a question any more.

In terms of funding of political parties, this is pretty far from the truth.


> The current winners in these social network markets have basically aligned with one political side. This isn’t even a question any more.

Sure it is. Corporations are not hive mind beings, they make arbitrary rules then enforce them arbitrarily based on who's looking at the data feed when they see borderline TOS-breaking content.


Instead of calling them "bots", call them propagandists.

They are often real humans writing spin.


>Just like in old media. We have fox and cnn, we will have Facebook Twitter and whatever the right will build.

I don't think it's destined or even likely to end up this way. The reason there's no major conservatively aligned social media is because the vast majority of users don't care much about politics. They may vote Republican, but they don't follow Republicans on Twitter, and they ignore politically heated debates on Facebook. The number of conservatives who want to talk politics with other conservatives is not enough to sustain anything on the same scale as Twitter or Facebook.

Don't compare these services to CNN or Fox News. News inherently involves politics, so it's easy for news services to differentiate themselves with politics. Instead, think of it like Disney+ and Hulu. Which is the one for conservatives?


We've had a few very prominent conservatively aligned social media outlet - Parler in particular comes to mind as a semi-successful one, but there are a bunch of conservative oriented message boards and news feeds that have existed for quite some time.

I'd strongly disagree that news necessarily involves politics as well, political topics can be mentioned and reference without turning things into a partisan sh*show and it is only recently (probably since about '95) that we've had rabid debate shows like Hardball that really rewarded news outlets for being extremely partisan.


There were laws that Reagan did away with about the so-called fairness of political television broadcasting, which might explain how those shows got more popular. However, I think politics and news generally have been of a rabid tenor since forever.


As an aside, I think there is a growing concern among politically active moderates in the US that the first amendment is the best we can do, and that more stringent protections couldn't be safely passed in today's hyper partisan environment. There is a sense, true or not, that 1791 had most lawmakers pulling for the same ultimate goal, of a healthy democracy, and that today that spirit has given way to red vs blue zero sum manuvering. So for practical purposes they treat it as the "law bible" - better than anything we could hope for today.


> Too many people treat the American constitution like the U.S.A. Law-Bible - ever correct, never flawed, never to be updated. That is absurd. The last amendment was ratified in 1992, and I'd say we are overdue for a few more.

This is reductive. The arguments I see and participate in are generally those who view the Constitution as an arbitrary document that can change meaning over time without amendment, and those that demand you respect the words on the pages and actually amend the Constitution through the proper channels instead looking for new ways to reinterpret it.

This is before getting into the quality of the proposed amendments: most laws can be passed statutorily by either the the States or Congress. Most disputes can be settled in Courts with no changes to the law.

So when whether or not something would be a Constitutional, which is to say, a legal violation is not the subject of debate, the quality of the proposals is.

Are you proposing any actual amendments you think Congress should take up? Or simply suggesting we pass amendments to pass amendments?


Well said. Something being 'the law' isn't an argument for or against anything in itself. In fact in extreme cases the official law can be extremely immoral and - after a regime change - itself criminal.

Regarding the US example, free speech laws were certainly not written with the intention of giving powerful companies the ability to censor public debates, since they moved from the town squares onto their digital platforms. Also corporations are not people!


It’s about governments around the world which can only also include the US and municipalities bound by the US Constitution

The US Constitution’s first patch having almost no relevance on Twitter complying with foreign government

So despite the audience here having a US centric perspective, I dont think your post about asking people to clarify legal vs feelings really helps move this discussion forward. Maybe slightly disambiguifies a US persons kneejerk response, but not really the topic.


> In its transparency report published on Wednesday

Although easy to find on Google[0], does anyone else find it frustrating that the sentence in the article isn't cited?

[0] https://transparency.twitter.com/


Twitter has no power in this censorship. The power passes through them, but it is not their power because they have no choice. And it's not coming from the government either.

https://graymirror.substack.com/p/big-tech-has-no-power-at-a...


This should be seen also in the context of the recent relevations by the Guardian and Sophie Zhang. Social media has created the machine for mass manipulation that authoritarians have been waiting for


The slippery slope is real.

The power to veto anyone's speech is toxic. Entrusting it to anyone, particularly those in power, is the implicit agreement to forfeit liberty.


And it's absolutely maddening to watch people defend this behavior under the guise of "they are a private company" and "you agreed to the ToS".


They are a private company, etc.

But here it's not what they choose to remove, not "moderation.. It's what those in power press them to remove, aka "censorship".


> But here it's not what they choose to remove, not "moderation.. It's what those in power press them to remove, aka "censorship"

Moderators are literally censors, by definition. Look up the definition of "censor" if you don't believe me.

People need to stop playing word games to avoid the label of "censorship". Just accept that you're ok with some types of censorship and try to justify the types you support rigourously. That's the only way to avoid a slippery slope. Trying to tap dance around calling it censorship serves no one.


There's a meaningful and important distinction between restrictions on speech that are enacted and enforced by private companies, and restrictions that are enacted by the government with enforcement outsourced to companies (that may be reluctant to comply).

Using the word "censorship" for the latter but a milder word like "moderation" for the former seems like a perfectly reasonable way to convey this distinction in this context, even if a dictionary might provide a broader definition of "censor".


I don't think the distinction is as clear as you imply. Facebook is a multinational corporation that is arguably more powerful than many governments, and it can and has swayed elections.

At what point are Facebook's "moderation" decisions "censorship"? You're effectively saying that it's only when moderation is driven by some kind of government policy, which completely erases the factors that actually matter in evaluating the danger of any given suppression decision, ie. understanding of harm, considerations of power and oppression, etc.


It's moderation when it's content I don't like. It's censorship when it's content I do like. Period. That's how it's treated in the public discourse. Accept this, and let's build upon it.


While there are people who misuse the s to score political points, that doesn't erase the real differences in sense and meaning behind them.

Strictly speaking, moderation is a subset of censorship. The key aspect of moderation is that it is generally done by community members (usually volunteers) and done to enforce standards agreed with by the community. Other forms of censorship generally come from outside a community to enforce some rules the community does not support.

Thus perspective and community identity are integral to the distinction but there is still a basis by which you can objectively view the powwr dynamics and distinguish moderation from other forms of censorship (such as corporate censorship or government censorship.)

I do think the term "moderation" is a misnomer when applied to Facebook and Google as their moderators are generally not part of the communities they censor.


Moderation a conversation implies somebody is getting threatened with their comment being deleted or account suspended. That is censorship. Moderation is just the brand friendly term for it.


When corporate and government power are tied at the hip the distinction is meaningless. Its been meaningless for a long time. Look up Banana Republic as a term.

Think of it this way. If AliBaba does something you know China the government is connected. Same goes true for Zoom.

America is no better. (as the Banana Republic example shows) The head of Apple can call the Speaker of the House directly on the phone whenever he wants and that person will answer. I can guarantee you that the same is true of Google. I am also sure if Jack Dorsey wanted to talk to someone with decision making power in the Whitehouse it could happen within the day. (probably slower than Google or Apple though)


Corporate powers in the US have a relatively quite strong ability to push back on government requests compared to most other jurisdictions.


But with moderators on a forum, it is private censorship all the way.

The issue is when at gunpoint people take my money from me, then use that money to fund more guns to point at the Twitters et al. of the world.

If I don't like moderation on a forum, I just leave the forum. I don't _have_ to give my support to it.

I can't just not support the US government.


This distinction is meaningful, but not as persuasive as you might think. If you're, say, a journalist with unpopular opinions that are typically censored on social media, you arguably do need to support those venues. Consider the fact that corporate power now extends beyond national borders, so in some very real senses, some corporations are more powerful than many governments.


I'm trying to make a distinction between removing literal hooliganism and obstruction, like repetitive posts consisting of "aaaaa", goatse links, etc (the "moderation"), and removing meaningful but politically unpalatable content (the "censorship").

BTW I like how HN allows for moderation that makes certain low-quality comments invisible, but there is a mode when you still can inspect them if you want to. It's like the "spam" folder that allows you to have a clean inbox, but also allows you not to miss something that was deemed spam by mistake.


it’s not simply wordplay when they defined their understanding of these terms explicitly.

with that said, neither moderation nor censorship should be tolerated for (political) speech by any (large) organization or bureaucracy, because they are using outsized power to influence opinions unduly, and thereby stripping us of our independence (literally coercing conformation). we can otherwise quibble about drawing a small line at the very far end of the slope where child porn lives.


> Moderators are literally censors, by definition

If that's the case then "censorship" is not inherently wrong, since moderation is often times a good thing.


So .. are we back to demanding that twitter delete nothing, ever, no matter how pornographic, libellous, or threatening? Or even just spam?


I don't care what Twitter does. I just don't want the government mandating what it does. If a private company wants to censor, then sure.

But as soon as the government requests takedowns and shadowbans, that's majorly crossing the line into infringement of free speech.

The whole reason we constitutionally limit the governmental repression of free speech is because we're all made to support it. If I could chose to pay my taxes to an alternative, then fine, but we're made to pay taxes to a government that now can take down speech critical of it.


Counter-argument:

Government is (in theory) elected by people, counter balanced by court.

Facebook is accountable to nobody, it don't even have any competitor in social network business.


> (in theory)

Yes, exactly.

> Facebook is accountable to nobody

Except when I hop off their platform.

> it don't even have any competitor in social network business.

True-ish I like https://peakd.com/ and https://flote.app/.

They're not as popular just yet, but they're excellent distributed alternatives.

Further, and most importantly, I can withdraw my support from Facebook. I cannot withdraw my support from the US government.


Even if that were "Government is (in practice) elected by people, counter balanced by court", it wouldn't be enough. The people electing the government do not have the right to use force to coerce other people (the owners & operators of Facebook in this case) into censoring content. A government or other representative elected by the people has no rights beyond those possessed by the people who voted for it—one cannot delegate rights one does not possess. And the courts are themselves part of the government. It's good to have some form of internal controls (self-regulation) to keep the other branches of government in check, but one arm of the government cannot be the sole and final arbiter of whether another arm of the same government is acting justly.

Facebook is accountable to its users. It may not have much serious competition now, but there are myriad potential alternatives which could fulfill the same function, just as Facebook replaced its predecessors (most notably MySpace). Network effects are strong while they last, but notoriously fickle.


Twitter has many friends in the government and vice versa. So politicians enacts policies keeping twitter in power, and twitter enacts censorship keeping those politicians in power. This is completely fine and not "real censorship" since there was no formal agreement to do this, just some friends helping each other.

Either we can keep that corrupt view, or we can agree that huge corporations are inseparable from governments and reign in their freedoms in a similar manner.


Not only that, they have been requesting to reveal the identity of anonymous users.

There are both attempts of censorship and surveillance/espionage.


Excellent point, but it's important to note that currently the systems private companies use are little better than censorship. We need a non-affiliated govt agency to handle censorship/moderation requests.


As someone who leans right wing.... I have 0 trust in these types of institutions. They overwhelmingly have views that are aligned directly with the far left and they seem to exercise their authority when given it to further their own political objectives. Take the SPLC which is used by some tech platforms to decide who to censor. They wield their power to label people as white supremacist to get them banned not because they are in any reasonable persons view based on evidence have said or done things that are clearly racist.... but its just the labeling of an enemy to fit narrative. We don't need censorship with extra steps... we need free speech.


See also the SPLC labeling people like Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali "anti-Muslim extremists."


Years back a Colorado bakery refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding, the resulting lawsuit ended up going all the way up to the supreme court. The law firm that represented the baker is now officially labeled as a anti gay hate group by the splc.


What's the alternative? Anything private and you risk for-profit suppression just like we have now. Removing moderation is not an option imo.


> Anything private

You don't have to support.

The government will take your support at gunpoint. This is the crux of the issue.


What does it matter what you support though? Case in point: twitter, fb, reddit, so on


I don't have to be there, and my dollars don't go to these corps. I don't understand your point.

I'm not on either of those platforms, so they're not shipping me ads. I do what I can to be private, so that their data mining doesn't get me.

I have that choice. Unfortunately if I don't agree with what my government is doing, they'll still take my tax dollars and fight forever wars with them.


Basically it doesn't matter if you support them because most speech happens on those platforms and you are suppressed from there. Sure you can go elsewhere, but that doesn't work when you need to reach out to others.


[flagged]


When did this happen?

Genuinely curious


Repeatedly, at the 2020 rallies.

After the applause died down, he would follow up his very sincere trial balloon with a much less sincere "just kidding." Find a clip, decide for yourself if it's a trial balloon or a genuine funny joke, but either way it's pretty damning from a freedom of speech angle.

He has also repeatedly expressed a similar sentiment in other forms, like open admiration for oppressive regimes' control over the media.


> Find a clip, decide for yourself

The onus is on you to back up that claim.


The onus is on me to the extent that it's in doubt. I was hoping it wouldn't be, since it made the rounds thoroughly enough at the time to shift the counter-discourse from "that never happened!" to "it happened, but it wasn't a problem, because it was just a joke."

I guess I'll have to spend more time wading through the cesspool of political youtube. I spent 15 minutes trying to track it down and couldn't find it. It is buried under at least three incidents with similar search terms since last year, but two of them could have had attenuating circumstances and one of them is second hand, so none of them are as singularly indefensible as the statements he made on the campaign trail about having journalists shot.

If I get some more time I'll go digging again.


I couldn't find any clips.

My parent comment has been downvoted a bunch. Why?


For the same reason as my comment, but from the opposite team :)

If you're looking for good reasons, you'll be looking for a long time.


All we need is rules about what content can be removed for what reasons, and Twitter can just follow those rules itself, with the potential for audits. That's how we handle every regulatory requirement for companies. Even taxes basically work that way.

Censorship is the moderation of content that may be disturbing or cause painful thoughts or feelings. So a person leaking state secrets on Twitter, and the government asking Twitter to take the tweet down, is not censorship: it's protecting national security, or law enforcement. They're drastically different things being taken down for very different reasons.

You don't need an independent body to handle either type of request because we already have mechanisms for a company to handle both. What people are getting worked up over now is the potential for governments to abuse their legal right to remove illegal content, in order to censor. Since it's the govt doing it, the govt is not going to create an agency just to wave a big flag when it is doing something bad. That would be like creating a "National Agency Of We Don't Trust The Government".


They are a private company but they chose to position themselves as a public square, open to anyone, with no barriers to entry.


I find that scary actually. Many of the same people were ostensibly for unions and breaking up big tech to minimize their power, but are now embracing the full exercise of their power? Worse, endorsing an effective merger of media and state, which is an expansion of centralized power into the ultimate monopoly. The big tech giants are increasingly setting the boundaries of conversation based on government agencies.

Is this not an incredibly powerful tool of censorship and propaganda? Imagine this in the hands of a dictator. We are sowing the seeds of our own oppression.


Yes, thank you for saying this.


Is it a bad defense though?

I think that the problem is about concentration of power more than speech rights and the real takeaway is that allowing 3 or 4 companies to control such an overwhelming share of communications infrastructure is a mistake regardless of what rules there are.

The argument that we should lean on Twitter to maintain such nebulous concepts as "freedom" at the expense of their own profits is never going to convince me.


I think the fact that they’re a monopoly is the big thing (or effectively one).

Monopolies have always had different rules. My electric utility is a private company but in my state they have to ask permission before raising prices.


And they can't decide to not serve me because they don't like my political views. They can't choose to not give me power because they don't like what I put on my neon sign.


I don't want to lean on Twitter to maintain freedom. I just want the government not to do the opposite.


By "the government" do you mean every government in the world?

I don't agree with censorship in other countries but I also think it's weird to expect transnational companies to push western laws and values in places where the ruling government doesn't want them.


> do you mean every government in the world?

I do not want any government to attempt to coerce a private company to censor private speech. That said, it's particularly egregious if a nation with a constitution limiting it participates in said coercion.

That said, regarding...

> I also think it's weird to expect transnational companies to push western laws and values in places where the ruling government doesn't want them.

I too find that weird. I don't expect Twitter to act in any particular way. My expectation is that my government doesn't act irresponsibly.


And to think that Twitter is an arms length away from the government when it - along with every other Big Tech - helped the NSA illegally spy on literally hundreds of millions of Americans.

Twitter is going to do what the people in the government want it to do.


In thinking on it a bit, you could call Twitter a “printing press” of sorts. They have no stake in the content game, per se, but are the means of transmission.

The precedent here is that printing presses also held a lot of power in their time to print, which is why the newspapers themselves owned their own printing presses: so they couldn’t silenced by a third party.

I don’t think you can expect to use someone else’s means of transmission freely and expect free reign of usage.

That just means we ought to explore ways to decentralize distribution systems like Twitter.


As a private company, Twitter's goal is to maximize shareholder revenue. Without external forces, Twitter wouldn't moderate anything because it costs money and reduces ad revenue. Twitter is just following what the governments and cancellers want.


Editorial control over twitter.com is Twitter's freedom of expression as well.

Their censorship is abhorrent, but shouldn't be illegal.


> Editorial control over twitter.com is Twitter's freedom of expression as well.

That's debatable. What twitter decides to promote, in feeds and other things via algorithms, certainly falls under their freedom of expression. But their "editorial control" currently also extends over hosting comments by others as well (which they can choose not to promote), and that is questionable and arguably could be made illegal. We had a recent discussion on an article by a legal scholar that argues for this distinction:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27762145


> Editorial control over twitter.com is Twitter's freedom of expression as well.

Indeed. I don't know why more people don't see this; also note that recommendations are the speech of the person, algorithm, or company doing the recommending.


Indeed the freedom of speech requires the freedom from speech too.

It's as important to be able to not speak as it is to speak.


I would agree, except in the case of a monopoly, or a consortium of companies acting together as a monopoly. And in this case I would say that the social media companies enforcing the same censorship policies counts. Remember when AWS terminated Parler's account, and then no other cloud providers would work with them? It's nothing new that we require private entities that become too big and powerful to give rights to customers that they normally wouldn't. e.g. a utility company can't set whatever price they want like any other company could.


I agree Twitter should be able to censor, but the government shouldn't be able to ask Twitter to do so.

This article is specifically about the government asking Twitter to do so.


If I'm hosting some content... I have rights too.


I think it's hilarious. I grew up with Republicans and neoliberals using this argument as the basis for anti-LGBT discrimination, but now it's problematic? I have some genuine concerns about what people are calling censorship and cancel culture, but I'm not saying anything for at least a few more years.


> now it's problematic?

I know this is hard to believe, but there are people who actually hold principles instead of just performing them. It's not especially surprising that you don't have exposure to them, but the vast majority of people I personally know who complain about speech restrictions from the left also complained about restrictions from the right when they held more cultural power.

Obviously your counterparts also exist, who cheered rightwing restrictions and complain about leftwing ones. But both of you are the proglem: gleefully proclaiming that you have no actual beliefs is practically a non sequitur in a conversation among people with actual moral centers complaining about the underlying principle violation.

We get it, we know you (and your rightwing counterparts) exist, as much as we wish you didn't. You're exactly what we're complaining about.


That's maddening for sure, but not as maddening as the argument that it's okay to censor something that is wrong or fake news or misinformation. History is littered with wrong takes that turned out to be correct, fake news that turned out to be real, and misinformation that turned out to be informative.

And the worst of all is the censorship of hate speech, because hate speech has become a malleable term used simply to eventually become an opinion I don't like.

Remember the whole "punch a Nazi", meme? Who doesn't think a Nazi deserves punching? But eventually, everyone becomes a Nazi, so any violence against them is justified.

This artificially constructed right not to be offended needs to die in a fire.


I feel like "they are a private company" is a NO U argument - after Comcast spent the better half of a decade arguing against common-carrier/Net Neutrality rules on the same basis. Right-wingers were very supportive of this argument when it protected ISPs, even though the result was more social media consolidation that ultimately harmed right-wingers.

That being said, we do need to be cautious of extending the (legal) definition of censorship out this far. You run the risk of defining censorship to include any sort of counter-speech, or making it impossible to legally moderate Internet platforms for any purpose. "Anyone who provides an Internet platform must be willing to host any and all speech whatsoever" just means nobody will want to host such forums.

Something like common-carriage for large social media platforms could work - though it won't give the right wing what they want. Most of them absolutely were violating those platforms rules, and common-carriage won't let them back on those platforms. The reason why I say common-carrier rules would be a good thing for large Internet platforms is because in practice companies like Twitter and Facebook adopted a policy of "let world leaders do what they want on our platform", up until January 2021. This is not at all a defensible policy. If you have a rule against doing something on your platform, why let people in power do it anyway?


It seems like there ought to be something gated around the size and market dominance of a platform. If you want to spin up a PHPBB forum for like 1,000 people around some hobby or something, feel free to ban and censor anyone you don't like for any reason. If you're effectively a monopoly like Facebook or Twitter, congratulations on getting so big, but now any moderation decisions you make effectively controls the ability of people to express themselves in our new public square. This doesn't seem like a good practice - nobody voted for the Facebook moderation team, why do they get to decide what is and isn't okay to say?

I'm not sure exactly where the line should be drawn or exactly what the rule should be, but it seems clear that we need to do something here.


The problem is that bad actors can abuse these platforms from multiple sides. In this case the issue is censorship, but there’s also the spreading of misinformation and propaganda that can also pose serious threats to democracy. I don’t know why the anti-censorship crowd doesn’t acknowledge this.

In the US, Trump used social media to spread lies about the results of the elections. He tried to pull all the stops to stay in power. This is the same President who attacked journalism, rescinded access to White House press events for news sources that were critical of Jim, and used the Justice department to seize records of journalists. Trump was a bigger threat to journalism while he was in office than any content moderation rules Twitter could ever enforce.


>Trump was a bigger threat to journalism while he was in office than any content moderation rules Twitter could ever enforce.

Besides idle threats to "open up the libel laws" and temporarily blocking random journos from white house events, I don't see how this could possibly be true.

Two things can be bad at once. In measurable terms I'd say opaque, coordinated social media bans are the greater and more permanent of the evils here. We can't deflect to Trump forever.


I think I agree with you. But I also agree with enumjorge when he says that we need to acknowledge that the unchecked spread of disinformation is a real problem. Worse, it can be driven by malice in a coordinated campaign. And it's a real problem that, when someone gets to define and censor disinformation, then they define disinformation, and they may be biased (or worse, part of a coordinated campaign).

I don't have an answer. But we can't find a workable answer without recognizing both sides of the problem.


Secretly subpoenaing journalists’ phone records is not an idle threat. Trump tried to change the results of a democratic election. Because of his lies armed protestors broke into the Capitol building while congress people were in it in order to disrupt ratifying Biden as president. Neither one of those were idle threats. They were direct attacks on our form of government. They happen to fail but those attacks were real.

I’m not saying social media censorship isn’t bad. Of course having a few tech companies control the information that most people see is problematic. What I’m saying is that allowing those platforms to act as a megaphone for misinformation is also a huge issue. Censorship and propaganda are both tools of abusive governments.


> The problem is that bad actors can abuse these platforms from multiple sides. In this case the issue is censorship, but there’s also the spreading of misinformation and propaganda that can also pose serious threats to democracy. I don’t know why the anti-censorship crowd doesn’t acknowledge this.

Because nobody trusts you or anyone else to classify "misinformation".

> In the US, Trump used social media to spread lies about the results of the elections.

> He tried to pull all the stops to stay in power.

He gave a lot of speeches and told his supporters to make their voices heard. Peacefully.

If you assume that he genuinely believes the election was marred with fraud, then none of what he said are lies.

> This is the same President who attacked journalism,

The same "journalists" that spent years spreading fake news that he was a Russian spy?

The same "journalists" that spent years falsely claiming he was referring to neo-Nazis as "fine people" when in fact he was saying the complete opposite? https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/04/26/joe-biden-...

The same "journalists" that claimed that Trump instructed Georgia Secretary of State to "find the fraud" but then completely retracted that he ever said that: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/03/16/washingto...

> rescinded access to White House press events for news sources that were critical of Jim,

The only one I'm aware of that was revoked was Jim Acosta who refused to follow the rules of the press room and hand over the mic to the moderator: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/07/cnn-jim-acos...

That's not being a "brave reporter". It's just being a showboating dick to everyone else that's following the rules of the press room.

> and used the Justice department to seize records of journalists.

The only instance of this I could find was this: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/02/us/trump-administration-p...

Though that does not go into too much specifics as to what or why.

> Trump was a bigger threat to journalism while he was in office than any content moderation rules Twitter could ever enforce.

Trump was the most open and accessible President that we've ever had. He would literally spend hours standing in front of hostile reporters answering any questions that they have.

If you want to see the reverse of that, check out how Biden only calls on a preselected list of reporters that ask prescreened questions. They even include a wallet sized photo in case he can't read the reporters name: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/photos-biden-cheat-sheets-f...

Or how about snapping at reporters that ask questions about current events like the pull out from Afghanistan instead of "happy things" on July 4th? https://nypost.com/2021/07/02/joe-biden-cuts-off-questions-a...

That's what content moderation looks like.


> I don’t know why the anti-censorship crowd doesn’t acknowledge this.

> In the US, Trump used social media to spread lies about the results of the elections. He tried to pull all the stops to stay in power. This is the same President who attacked journalism, rescinded access to White House press events for news sources that were critical of Jim, and used the Justice department to seize records of journalists

A very significant fraction of the anti-censorship crowd are pro-Trump, or at least right-wing, and of course a characteristic of that is ignoring all these things that he actually did.

(edit: the irony of being downvoted into the grey by the angry "anti-censorship" faction)


I'm anti-censorship. I didn't downvote you, but you are conflating two arguments.

Anti-government-censorship and anti-private-censorship. Myself and I'm guessing many don't actually care what Twitter does so long as the government isn't coercing it to do so.


Question to people from U.S. or familiar with U.S. law:

Isn't the government pressuring a private company to remove/censor a content violation of "Freedom of speech"? As a private company, Twitter can do whatever they want, but if Twitter is forced to remove and censor, wouldn't that be a violation?


The US Constitution doesn't apply to Twitter operations in India.


The government of India probably doesn't give a shit about Twitter's First Amendment rights.


If US govt does that. Sure other countries govt just write the laws so it's legal to do taht


US First Amendment:

> Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It prohibits Congress from restricting the press or individuals to speak freely via laws that Congress writes. The 1st amendment has nothing to do with Corporations restricting things in their purview. The 1st amendment doesn't apply to any social media or online commentary by people. It might apply to the "press" since online news is more pervasive than physical newspapers. What would be interesting is a clearer definition of press as it relates to social media accounts.


The title is: Twitter sees jump in govt demands to remove content of journalists

> The 1st amendment has nothing to do with Corporations restricting things

Sure, but it has everything to do with a corporation taking instruction from the government to restrict free speech.


"Freedom of speech" is a political and philosophical principle. It doesn't mean the exact literal text of the First Amendment to the US Constitution and absolutely nothing else. It's going to ring rather hollow to everyone to gleefully censor your political opponents and then say that it's not technically censorship since it doesn't violate the First Amendment.


The parent to my comment was asking about law and specifically about violation of the law. Laws are about specific text and wordings in documents, who can create the laws and how they are interpreted by others (US courts).

I never said the philosophical idea about freedom of speech was only limited to 1st amendment, just my interpretation of the law as the commenter was asking (IANAL).

I believe there should be an independent (as in outside the company) review process for bans/reinstatement - something standardized across various social media platforms, maybe per country jurisdiction if necessary. That is an ideal whose implementation would be extremely hard.


>> The power to veto anyone's speech is toxic.

This isn't a veto on speech. It is a veto on a particular means of speech, a particular avenue of expression. The fact that we now equate that with actual censorship shows how disconnected we are from true oppression. Being blocked from twitter is an inconvenience, a non-event. Real censorship comes from government, covers ideas rather than means, and normally ends with people in jail/dead. A loss of one's tweet privileges pales in comparison.


And if a person was prevented from printing an article in a newspaper, wouldn't that just be a veto on a particular means of speech?

Our government isn't supposed to do this stuff. It's evil even if the initial intentions aren't.


>> Our government isn't supposed to do this stuff.

Except that "our government" regularly does this. There are all sorts of speech that we censor (copyright violations, violence, porn, hate etc). We don't think of it as wrong that our laws restrict such speech. Other countries have different laws restricting different speech. Certainly some countries have greater restrictions than others, but absolute freedom of speech is not a practical reality anywhere. Real anger should pointed not at twitter but at the countries who implement restrictions with which we disagree.


> We don't think of it as wrong that our laws restrict such speech.

I actually do think it's wrong. Culture and more speech is the solution to those issues.


Michael Knowle's book: Speechless, controlling words, controlling minds, covers this topic extremely well. Unbridled free speech has never existed and never will. There will always be standards of speech. The question is always: what are those standards and who is in control of them?

For this particular comment thread, the issue people are discussing is a relatively recent and very dramatic shift in power over speech. Today, a handful of high-tech oligarchs are controlling and enforcing standards of speech with far more efficacy than governments. It gets even scarier when you realize that governments know this and are now pressuring these tech companies to do their bidding.


OK, but we censor calls for violence whether they come from the right or from the left. We censor child porn whether it comes from a Democrat or a Republican. There's no bias there (at least, there's not supposed to be). Censoring based on viewpoint is far different from censoring copyright violations.


Huh? This is exactly about government telling Twitter to silence journalists.


Governments have done all those things to people because of what they've said on Twitter.


> Being blocked from twitter is ... a non-event.

Good, then by extension leaving the person on Twitter is also a non-event. So it seems there is no need for censorship here!


Twitter literally censored presidents and ex-presidents. We're already way down the slope. Twitter can't act like they are victim of government pressure when they act like an extension of a certain political party in power and literally does their bidding...


Can we stop pretending that the right didn't do this to themselves? It's fine for politicians and elected officials to have their own opinions, it's not OK for them to misrepresent them as outright facts. That's literally the definition of "fake news" which they love to tout anytime someone says something uncomfortable about them. As these politicians continue to live in an alternate reality, they bring with them an inordinate number of voters. As we go from stretching the truth to lying, the lies become more extreme, as do the political views. We are no longer Americans with different views, we are opponents unable to have a discussion about the issues. And of course now the left is also free to use similar tactics going forward. It's a slippery slope. Both parties must be held accountable for their b.s.

I'm an unaffiliated/independent voter and I've voted for both parties in the past (with varying levels of regret for both parties.)

It's not OK for Fox News & CNN to be political party propaganda machines. It's not OK for Twitter/Facebook/etc to censor only the right for their opinions. Having said that I think it's completely fair for them to kick them off their platform for perpetuating outright, destabilizing lies.


That was their decision, and it's absolutely different than the government demanding that content is removed. The First Amendment applies to the government demands and not Twitter operating as a private entity.


It seems to me that if you really want to be a despot, you should own the companies that control the flow of information. The beauty of it is that the Bill of Rights don't apply to you and you're not obligated to respect the rights it gives citizens because you aren't the government.


1. The government demanding that messages of private citizens be removed is a violation of their First Amendment Rights.

2. Twitter deleting content, banning users, etc, is entirely within their rights and is in no way a violation of anyone's First Amendment Rights.

Twitter is not a government entity. Full stop.

I'm currently sitting on some downvotes, which I find kind of unusual for a topic like this. Here's the text of the first amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Which part, specifically, has Twitter violated?


OK, but imagine some rich guy becoming president. Imagine that he owns some companies. Imagine that one of those is a media company. Imagine, for instance, Zuckerberg as president. He ran as part of party X. Now imagine that Facebook (not government, but a private company) suddenly starts deleting content that supports party Y. Is that a problem?

We just had a president with significant business assets, but he owned hotels. The next one may own media companies.


There's some misunderstanding here. I'm not suggesting that there is no problem. I am saying that it is not violating anyone's first amendment rights and I am absolutely correct on that matter.


I concede that you are correct based on the letter of the law but I think the spirit of the law is being violated in a significant way.


... but it's not. The entire purpose of that amendment was to prevent congress from passing laws which infringe on your rights, and Twitter is definitely not the congress or the government.

The USA is a capitalist society. If there is a market for an "uncensored" social media platform, the invisible hand of the market will take care of it, right? Even so, you yourself are likely pro-censorship in some way. Surely you are against child porn being on Twitter, likely along with discussion about planning mass shootings, bombings, and things of that nature. We all have a line that is drawn between what is acceptable and what is not.


>"the invisible hand of the market will take care of it, right?"

I don't see this happening and I think the premise is flawed. In fact it looks like the dominant players in the market ganged up on nascent competitors like Parler and shut them out of the ecosystems they created. In practical terms, when payment processors, server hosting companies, domain registrars, and app stores ban you, how are you even supposed to compete? Sure, you can theoretically bootstrap your own payment processor, cloud service provider, even your own smartphone ecosystem with gobs of cash, but we all know that's not going to happen.


Would you agree that, perhaps, your concern lies more with monopolies and not with censorship? Dominant players shutting out competitors is one of the most capitalist things that I can think of.


I am more concerned with censorship than I am with these monopolies (or near monopolies) in question. Censorship is not reliant on having a monopolistic position and even disparate companies that don't compete can effectively come together and deplatform people. I know "begging the question" is a logical fallacy, but I can't help but ask the following: What happens when 'the market' decides your personal liberties are problematic?

"I'd also argue that a lot of people care about this "technicality". Businesses are not the government, end of story. The 1st amendment is quite succinct, and there's little room for misinterpreting it."

What is gained from focusing so intensely on this fact?

I feel frustrated because I believe that tyranny and infringements on the rights of man can come from both the public and private sector. I fully accept the 1st Amendment says "Congress shall pass no law...". But to me, the actual preservation of civil liberties depends on both domains. You can't have one without the other.


> What happens when 'the market' decides your personal liberties are problematic?

That's capitalism. Sorry?

> What is gained from focusing so intensely on this fact?

Because people (US citizens) complain that their free speech rights are being violated.

They're not, unless the US Government itself is restricting what they can say.

As it is right now, Twitter can do whatever the hell it wants with its platform and you're free to start your own if you feel so compelled.

>I feel frustrated because I believe that tyranny and infringements on the rights of man can come from both the public and private sector.

I think that there's some misunderstanding of what the "rights of man" are, and where they are set. Do you really want the government involved in your private interactions with a private company?

Who or what gives you these rights? As far as I can tell, it's only granted by the constitution and amendments.

The 9th amendment is somewhat of a grey area, I suppose. Even so, I don't think that "I deserve to tweet whatever I want without being banned" is an enumerable right. If you want to go further, an amendment would be needed.


>"I think that there's some misunderstanding of what the "rights of man" are, and where they are set." and "Who or what gives you these rights? As far as I can tell, it's only granted by the constitution and amendments."

I'm talking about the concept of Human Rights. You can say that we are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights", if you'd like. There's also the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" passed by the UN.

>"Do you really want the government involved in your private interactions with a private company?"

Yes. The government already does this and it's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, this sort of thing is ubiquitous and quite tolerable.

>"What happens when 'the market' decides your personal liberties are problematic?" >"That's capitalism. Sorry?"

I know we aren't going to agree on this, but I dread the idea of my human and civil rights being dependent on Capitalism. And I'm a supporter of Capitalism! The exercise of civil liberties should not be dependent on their profitability.

Edit: We've been going back and forth for a while now and I think it's been a good and respectful discourse. I understand if you want to drop the subject and move on.


> Yes. The government already does this and it's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, this sort of thing is ubiquitous and quite tolerable.

I'm glad to see this, a lot of the anti-censorship people are, surprisingly, anti-regulation. I'm not quite sure how they balance the two.

> I know we aren't going to agree on this, but I dread the idea of my human and civil rights being dependent on Capitalism. And I'm a supporter of Capitalism! The exercise of civil liberties should not be dependent on their profitability.

We actually agree here, and it sounds like you may be a bit less capitalist than you think you are. I'm definitely capitalist, but abhor things like price gouging, scalping, and predatory loans. They exist because there is a market for them, gained through what I would consider a lack of morals.

The free market is great, until it isn't.

As for censorship, it needs to exist in some form or fashion. The reason why platforms such as Parler failed was because they were unable to moderate their platform. If you have a bunch of people posting child porn, planning attacks, etc (edit: and you, as a platform, do nothing about it), you will become toxic and nobody's going to want to work with you. I think that the disagreement that you and I have is where that line should be drawn.


>"I think that the disagreement that you and I have is where that line should be drawn."

Agreed. And, I think another source of us not quite seeing eye-to-eye is the fact that I as an individual tend to lean a lot more on "I know it when I see it" kind of thinking when it comes to applying rules to the real world. Plenty of other people are a lot more "by the book" than I am.

Along those lines, I'm not an absolutist and there are plenty of cases where Twitter removed content and it was perfectly reasonable for them to do so. But I'm increasingly worried about them removing content that is merely controversial, or unorthodox, rather than truly wrong. You could say I'm more worried about "innocent men going to jail" than I am about "guilty men going free".


Ok... Now what if what people actually care about is not being censored?

To give an example, if there are two situations, situation 1 is that the government comes to my house, and threatens me for speech that I made, and situation 2, is that the mob comes to my house, and threatens me for my speech, the thing that is on my mind is not "Well, situation 1 is a violation of my speech rights, and situation 2 isnt!".

Like, literally that does not matter. Nobody cares about that technically that you keep talking about. What matters is that I don't want someone coming to my house and threatening me, regardless if it is the government, or the mob.


It's not a technicality. One is limits that we have carefully placed on our government to prevent such abuse. The other is a matter for the police and the legal system.

This is akin to a private company only allowing men to vote in board meetings, and people saying that it's violating the 19th amendment. Is it wrong? Absolutely! But it's not violating the 19th amendment.

I'd also argue that a lot of people care about this "technicality". Businesses are not the government, end of story. The 1st amendment is quite succinct, and there's little room for misinterpreting it.


> It's not a technicality.

In the context of this discuss it is.

It doesn't matter because what people want is to not be censored. Thats the point of all of this.

And you are bringing something up that just isn't relevant at all, that nobody brought up, but yourself.

> But it's not violating the 19th amendment.

Its not violating the 3rd amendment either. But nobody brought that up. Nobody cares if the 3rd amendment was violated, in this context.

What people care about is the bad thing happening. And you are distracting from the conversation, by not focusing on the fact that it is bad, and instead focusing on something that nobody cares about, in the context of this discussion.

The original context of all of this, is that someone said "It seems to me that if you really want to be a despot, you should own the companies that control the flow of information".

They didn't bring up the 1st amendment. You did. And that distracts from the important conversation, which is, that if someone wants to censor a bunch of other people, then they can get around all these laws, by just having a private company do it instead.

Thats why you got downvotes. It is because your point about the 1st amendment comes off as a bad faith way, of ignoring what everyone was actually talking about, which is about how a despot can censor a bunch of people, and cause a lot of harm, and that they can do that without running into 1st amendment issues, by just getting a private company to do it.


It is absolutely not a technicality for the purpose of this discussion, and I'd argue that it's actually imperative.

The US Government can not demand Twitter remove content (of US citizens) without violating their rights, which was implied by the actual article given that a large percentage of these requests came from the US Government. Conversely, Twitter can remove whatever it feels like without violating the rights granted to every US citizen. If Twitter is succumbing to US government pressure then we have the legal means to push back. If it is Twitter moderating content on their own volition, there is currently no legal means to do anything about it.

> And you are bringing something up that just isn't relevant at all, that nobody brought up, but yourself.

It's all over this discussion, not just this thread.


Do you understand at all, that the original thing that someone brought up, was how a despot could censor a bunch of stuff, without doing it through the government?

You are ignoring the point that is being brought up.

You bringing up this other thing, makes it seem like you are trying to dismiss this other concern, by bringing up a fact that does not actually address their point.

Are you actually going to address the original point here, or are you going to keep ignoring it?

The fact that you refuse to actually talk about the issue, which is that a despot can get away with censoring things, by doing it through private companies, makes it seem like you don't actually have a response to that, and are trying to misdirect.


No. I'm saying that there's no legal means to stop a despot from doing this, no amendment to help you, and you have no rights. If you want to do that we're going to need another amendment or monopolies will need to be broken up.

In the eyes of the law, Twitter has done nothing wrong by moderating their content.


> I'm saying that there's no legal means to stop a despot from doing this

So then you agree completely with what the other person was originally saying, got it. You have no disagreement with them.

So you should not have said "No". Instead, you should have said "Yes I agree with you".

> If you want to do that we're going to need another amendment

Actually, we could simply make a law. Such as by changing our existing, and uncontroversial, common carrier laws.

> In the eyes of the law

Literally you are agreeing with the other person. You are agreeing that a despot could cause huge amounts of harm to society, by just doing everything through private companies.

Yes. Thats the problem. You have correctly identified that someone could engage in mass censorship, that is as bad as other forms of censorship, by just doing it through private companies, although this can be fixed by changing the law.

> you have no rights.

Got it. So you agree completely with the other person, that mass censorship, and lots of very bad things could be done to society, and currently it is difficult to stop all of these extremely bad things from happening. (Which could be fixed by changing the law)

I am not sure why you keep stating things, in the way that you do, when in reality, you are agreeing completely with everyone else as to what the problem is, and you are agreeing that all of these very bad things could be done to lots of people, right now.


>"Twitter is not a government entity. Full stop."

That's exactly my point. You can violate the principles of liberty freely as long as you aren't "the government". And the beauty of it is that people will defend you while you do it.


Why would you think that censorship of Trump was purely voluntary decision by the big tech?


UK seems especially ignorant about this. This just came out, Mike Graham wants those considered "racist" to be stripped of their human rights.

"No bank account, no ability to travel, no passport no benefits nothing."

https://twitter.com/talkRADIO/status/1414888566941958144


I saw they just arrested a man for saying racist things online after the Italy v England game. That's totally bonkers to me. We all agree racism is wrong but should speech backed by no actions be criminalized? I personally don't think so. Just ban the person from the platform and have private individuals handle it. The government has no place policing speech, it's a slippery slope to saying anything falls under x. I remember people complaining the governments were sweeping everything into the category of "terrorism" in order to stifle speech...that has disappeared. People seemed less inclined to support free speech now. Something I don't understand.


So verbal assault, harassment, and threats shouldn't be an issue?


No, verbal assault, harassment, and threats are issues. They should be dealt with as those issues, whether or not there is a racist component.

I'm not condoning racism here. Racism is morally and ethically bankrupt. But I think that your objection to partiallypro's comment doesn't hold water.


Of course its an issue, but arresting someone for saying it and not acting it out seems ridiculous. Words are not actions, even if they are hurtful. Shun the person, ban them from games and platforms, educate them, etc...but arresting them?


> Something I don't understand.

We're going through a fascinating phase right now. If one is at all interested in philosophy, politics, religion & history there is a lot of discourse happening on Twitter and Substack, by extremely smart people. Look around, see for yourself who has the best arguments.


Update: they arrested a 12yo boy over „racist messages“.

https://twitter.com/wmpolice/status/1282341956199350272?s=21


And yet entrusting it to the platforms themselves seems equally bad given the Trump v Platforms saga.

Either let the government make the rules on what speech is okay in their countries or let the platforms decide what's okay. You can't have both.


Let companies decide what is ok on their own platforms, but don't let them get so big, and break them up now that they have become so big.


[flagged]


I’ll be the first outside of Twitter to defend Twitter’s free speech and private property interests, but that doesn’t mean free speech isn’t under attack by governments and the politically ambitious.

Twitter wants to kick you off because Twitter wants to kick you off? Fine.

But Twitter does kick you off because the Government, any government because screw authoritarianism wherever it lives, asked them to? Then there’s a problem.


Free speech is very much under attack.

If the platforms we use to communicate -- and which generally allow any communication, no matter how poignant or inane -- allow some speech, but not others, we have a problem.

Twitter is compelled to take down some messages. Facebook temporarily hellbans users for crossing over lines. I saw an article yesterday saying the US wants to filter SMS messages. E-mail seems safe at present, but that could change suddenly. Governments seem to be enacting hate-speech laws disallowing saying certain things, and that's double-plus good only if you agree with the power of the day.

How, pray tell, do we have speech of any consequence, if the methods we regularly use to speak are denied to us?


You’re right I forgot communication didn’t exist before Twitter and iPhones. How silly of me.

God said let their be Steve Jobs and suddenly human communication…

Privately owned infrastructure was never for you. It’s for the elites to corral you all along.

Believing Twitter was ever on your side was your first mistake. They were Walmart; moved in with low prices now they’re raising them.

It’s an emotional con to keep you focused on a political narrative (American dream of free enterprise; for some, toil for depreciated wages for the majority) and not exploring alternative communication pipelines.

How free is our speech if it’s constrained to Wall Street, tech companies, SV, and DC? You walked right into constrained speech in order to fit in.


Certainly it is true that speech existed before the Twitter and the iPhone, and continues to today.

I (theoretically) could start my own newspaper and spread my opinion around, or go house to house and tell people there will be a meeting on a specific topic. With enough work and funds, I may be able to air my own television or radio station. I could do a letter writing campaign and spam everyone in a specific area code. I could scrawl graffiti on buildings to try to spread word for my cause.

All of these are good things, but it seems silly to me to be allowed to speak, but not be allowed to speak where people are listening.

And, I fear, all of these could be negated, too.

Imagine, for example:

- you are free to speak, but your newspaper is bad for the environment and must not be allowed (while others newspapers serve the public interest and are fine)

- you are allowed to transmit your TV or Radio program, but your license will be revoked if you talk about certain subjects.

- you can paint messages all you like, so long as they are inside your house

- you standing in the public square on your soapbox violates my safe space and must be disallowed

- you can speak freely, but only inside your own head (or far away from civilization), for your every word is being tracked and you'll be cut off from the economy if you don't say the right things

Fortunately, I don't think we're very far towards any of those dystopian ideas.

Truly, Twitter is not required to let me tweet, nor is YouTube mandated to let me post a video, but given the monopoly on attention they have within their spheres, if I can't speak there, my ability to speak freely has definitely been curtailed.


These SV companies amassed a level of power over the public square that nobody saw coming. Especially during a time of lockdowns the only speech that American citizens had with their other citizens was via 3 platforms, all of which were stiffling free speech, even to the point of banning some CSPAN coverage of a politician that represents them.


That’s a blatant lie, or more generously, harmfully ignorant perspective.

Academics, thinkers, have been warning about private power eroding public for decades.

Oh sure SV specifically is new NOW, but they haven’t done anything Walmart didn’t do to little communities decades before, or ATT hasn’t done; co-opt control of public government for private gain.

I’m done with this community. It’s a bunch of ostriches who are equivocating their failures as political agents; don’t login. They lose their power.

Stop living in the bespoke simulation in your head.


And newspapers also, long before Walmart was choosing which books or magazines or music to stock. But Walmart has never had direct control over the public square at the incredibly grand scale that Twitter, Facebook and Youtube do, that's the point.


Here's the SMS thing for the curious

> Biden allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee, are also planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages.

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/12/biden-covid-vaccina...


That seems to be about stopping spamming over SMS. AFAIK censoring SMS between unknown individuals isn't even technically possible.


SMS is unencrypted and routes through the carrier's hardware. I can't see that much difficulty in, say, implementing a list of phrases or URLs which result in the message being dropped, given carrier cooperation. (The carrier cooperates or else they end up called into Congress over and over to testify about such-and-such)


Standards don't provide such filtering functionality and telcos operate their equipment as a black box, so they don't have ability to implement additional features, especially when there is no business case for that and it could open them to new liability (undermining safe harbor arrangement).


Take a look at Robins v. Pruneyard Shopping Center for an interesting case that set precedent in California. The CA courts have determined that certain areas of shopping malls are designed and used for public congregation – the modern equivalent of the town square – and should thus be treated as public for a for purposes of First Amendment analysis, which means that a much higher standard applies to speech restrictions in these areas.

This standard could be applied to privately-owned online "town squares" in future decisions.


This would only apply to local town squares.

You can not reasonably argue that a worldwide forum is a US town square.


>"No one has ever had a “freedom to demand others broadcast my personal speech at great technical and financial cost”."

Twitter's business model is to get as many users as they can and to have them tweet prolifically. The financial impact is minimal. Scale matters. We aren't talking about coercing a cakeshop. Twitter is a de-facto public square and looks a lot more like infrastructure than a publisher.

>"It’s authoritarian af to believe everyone else is your tape recorder."

Why are we so concerned about being 'authoritarian' against a massive corporation when said corporation is making editorial decisions and silencing journalists and citizens? We should not be putting the 'rights' of a corporation above the liberties of human beings.

People are down voting you, I suspect, because you appear to be vigorously defending the ability of corporations to infringe on personal liberties while appearing to champion liberty itself.


Twitter is a private organization that owns the physical infrastructure it’s managing.

When did we switch from capitalism to socialism? You own their infra and agency now?

The slippery slope is every pleb thinking they’re David going against Goliath. Really you’re all just berating and competing with your neighbors. Turning them into ephemeral ideas all living behind a blue bird logo.

The masses cheered this all on ignoring the political reality they exist in. The chemical bath washing through your brain isn’t the same as others.


>"When did we switch from capitalism to socialism? You own their infra and agency now?"

This is a non-sequitur. Organizations censoring speech can happen under any kind of economic system.

As a thought experiment, how would you react if Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, collectively decided that Libertarians were a problematic and dangerous threat? And, these companies decided to de-platform every libertarian account they detected in the name of public safety. Would you champion such behavior? Would principles dictate that you defend their right to suppress you? I know this seems like a bizarre thought experiment, but I genuinely think the Libertarian crowd gladly defends their own censorship.

Ultimately, which do you value more, Capitalism or Liberty?


It's one thing when it's removed for violating TOS or when masses report it. It's entirely another when a government in power uses their clout to demand that journalists and advocates are silenced. That is the very definition of attacking free speech.

The failure to see that is why you're being downvoted.


Or you’re existing under a chemical delusion that two different things are occurring.

It’s humans who don’t want to perpetuate other humans speech.

I’m not going to live in your unscientific epistemology about nation states being worse than corporations; both enabled by humans. It’s all just humans.

I don’t have to important other flimsy humans who aren’t of godly abilities. Tailoring my speech to keep my neighbors happy, seeing the nuance their way, is a direct attack on my speech.


> I’m not going to live in your unscientific epistemology about nation states being worse than corporations; both enabled by humans. It’s all just humans.

There is an honest distinction you’re missing with your reductive view of States and corporations: States have the power to detain, arrest, try, judge, imprison and kill you.


Tell me when Twitter throws a flashbang into anybody's home in a no knock raid at 3AM. The monopoly of legitimate violence is a huge difference.


> No one has ever had a “freedom to demand others broadcast my personal speech at great technical and financial cost”.

Common carriers cannot moderate message contents or discriminate based on senders/receivers. Social media now does both, but they could arguably be regulated under common carrier laws. They are of course not obligated to do this for free, but that's their business model.

We had a recent discussion on this from a paper written by a legal scholar, so I suggest you check it out:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27762145


Uh, have you heard of the phone company?


social media playbook 1) create company based on free exchange of ideas 2) get lots of users, crush all competitors with network effects 3) oh no some ideas are icky! they do harm to my Black body or are transmysoginist or whatever. We must shut these ideas down! 5) restrict controversial opinions to just the left wing ones 6) make asinine point about private platforms


Human playbook: put social agency into enabling invasive private and public power, complain about lack of free agency, reboot social contract.

If you all don’t like it put your agency into dismantling these power structures rather than logging in to the matrix they erect


Journalists are crossing the lines more and more these days, so the number of such requests will continue to increase.


Which lines are those? Specifics would help.


Questioning the establishment is now completely off limits.


Yes and Twitter, FB, YT etc. pushed us on it by firing the first shots. When they decided to impose censorship and de platform as per their whim, they should have understood the consequences.


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