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.
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 
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.
and once the change is set in motion, no one is able to predict what the next actions would be.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
It is extremely hard to have a 2nd youtube, reddit or facebook... because of the network effects
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.
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.
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"
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.
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.
Tim Berners-Lee might get it right this next time around?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Militarily, invading Switzerland would have been far more work than it was worth.
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.
The rest of your question I consider invalid. Companies do not have civil rights . 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.
 or at least, they didn't until extremely recently https://www.inquirer.com/business/hobby-lobby-citizens-unite...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
: Via White Buffalo v. UT Austin
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
A: I shall now Do The Thing
A: Yeah check it out
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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').
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
> 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.)
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.
In terms of funding of political parties, this is pretty far from the truth.
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.
They are often real humans writing spin.
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?
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.
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?
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!
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.
Although easy to find on Google, does anyone else find it frustrating that the sentence in the article isn't cited?
The power to veto anyone's speech is toxic. Entrusting it to anyone, particularly those in power, is the implicit agreement to forfeit liberty.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
If that's the case then "censorship" is not inherently wrong, since moderation is often times a good thing.
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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
There are both attempts of censorship and surveillance/espionage.
You don't have to support.
The government will take your support at gunpoint. This is the crux of the issue.
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.
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.
The onus is on you to back up that claim.
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.
My parent comment has been downvoted a bunch. Why?
If you're looking for good reasons, you'll be looking for a long time.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Twitter is going to do what the people in the government want it to do.
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.
Their censorship is abhorrent, but shouldn't be illegal.
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:
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.
It's as important to be able to not speak as it is to speak.
This article is specifically about the government asking Twitter to do so.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 don't have an answer. But we can't find a workable answer without recognizing both sides of the problem.
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.
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.
> 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)
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.
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?
> 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 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.
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.
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.
Our government isn't supposed to do this stuff. It's evil even if the initial intentions aren't.
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.
I actually do think it's wrong. Culture and more speech is the solution to those issues.
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.
Good, then by extension leaving the person on Twitter is also a non-event. So it seems there is no need for censorship here!
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.
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?
We just had a president with significant business assets, but he owned hotels. The next one may own media companies.
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.
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.
"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.
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'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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the eyes of the law, Twitter has done nothing wrong by moderating their content.
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.
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.
"No bank account, no ability to travel, no passport no benefits nothing."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
This standard could be applied to privately-owned online "town squares" in future decisions.
You can not reasonably argue that a worldwide forum is a US town square.
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.
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.
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?
The failure to see that is why you're being downvoted.
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.
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.
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:
If you all don’t like it put your agency into dismantling these power structures rather than logging in to the matrix they erect