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Google Drive bans distribution of “misleading content” (support.google.com)
1330 points by temp8964 16 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 1520 comments



I see a lot of comments misinterpreting this.

First, it's not about private files, it's about distributing content.

Google isn't spying on your private files, but does scan them when you share them publicly. E.g. keep all the pirated movies you want on your Drive, and even give private access to friends, but the moment you make them publicly viewable Google scans them and limits access accordingly. So no, this isn't applying to your private diary or privately shared documents.

And second, to those who claim absolute free speech with no limits -- notice that the two main categories here are related to democracy and health. All our legal protections ultimately depend on a democratic foundation -- undo that with misinformation and you don't have anything anymore. Similarly, your rights don't matter much if you're dead. Companies aren't allowed to advertise rat poison as medicine and neither are you.


There's something fundamentally flawed about the idea that censorship in the name of preventing misinformation is protecting the foundation of democracy.

You cannot have true democracy if people cannot disagree with their governments, they must be able to disagree with any truth or opinion such a government might consider self-evident, just on the off chance they're right.

I should at this point note that Google doesn't directly claim to go quite that far in preventing misinformation, they mostly claim to disallow things that could harm the democractic process (e.g. telling people to vote at the wrong place, their candidate has died, etc.). At least that kind of information is usually agreed upon (if not there are bigger problems than mere misinformation), though they seem to try to include claims of voter-fraud, which is a bit dangerous.


Imagine if Britain had this same technology when the USA was founded... It of course would have quickly cracked down on communications and it would have done so in the name of "peace" and "what's right"...

This idea that thinking critically of a government and even believing that perhaps the government as it stands today is not the government "of and for the people" (sure could be interpreted as anti-democracy by that same corrupt government)... And maybe that's not correct, but who is the government to say that we can or cannot challenge them in public discourse as it is supposedly protected under the first amendment?

This is indeed an insanely slippery slope and people willing to trade their freedoms because they think it's for the ultimate good, I think are really making a mistake... it's not difficult to understand that this is one of the first steps of an actual fundamentally corrupt government... This is easily open to abuse and vast interpretation.


If the American revolution had happened 100 years later it would have looked like the Boer war. That's the war where the British used barbed wire and the machine gun to invent the concentration camp.


> If the American revolution had happened 100 years later it would have looked like the Boer war.

Smart. It would have. That is indeed how you fight an insurgency.

Not sure how new it really is though. Compare and contrast to the Harrying of the North.

> to invent the concentration camp

I hear they borrowed the idea from the Spanish in Cuba.

Compared to alternatives, it was supposed to be more humane: "Get the civilians out of harm's way (and keep them from aiding the guerillas without killing them)".

It wasn't until the Nazi extermination camps of WW2 that the phrase "concentration camp" took on such negative valences.

Granted people did die in concentration camps, but the deaths were of things like cholera -- the same diseases that would run through army camps. Arguably we still have them today, under the new name "refugee camp".

> the Boer war

It shouldn't be left out that the British had a decent case for moral high ground in that war. The Boers were religious hyper-conservatives who believed God had given them a right to Black slaves, whereas the British had banned slavery throughout the Empire and were going to some expense to enforce this.


This was explored before in an excellent blog post.

https://kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2013/06/09/using-metad...


Welcome to Iran, UK of 17xx technology of 20xx regarding online monitoring and censorship


`Magna Carta originated as an unsuccessful attempt to achieve peace between royalist and rebel factions in 1215`


The bigger problem that I have with the idea that misinformation kills democracy is that it seems to suggest that misinformation is some new phenomenon or that the average person has been well informed throughout the history of western democracy.

Democracy thrived before the printing press. Democracy survived the invention of the printing press, which was mostly in the hands of magnates who could afford it. Democracy survived the invention of television and radio, which was (and still is) in the hands of a select few magnates. We build up terms like "journalistic integrity" and look at the past with rose colored glasses as if these mediums delivered pure objective truth.

If anything, what we're seeing with the internet is a more true democracy with a wider range of opinions, less controlled by small groups of plutocrats. If you don't like to see the death of that plutocracy, or you're happy to see a new group of benevolent plutocrats come in to retake control the narrative, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you don't really like democracy.


> suggest that misinformation is some new phenomenon

Misinformation in this shape and form is a new phenomenon. And it is not just the scale;

- the number of agents that push their version of misinformation is at least an order of magnitude higher than ever, depending on the particular topic. So-called culture wars have so many different sides.

- technology not only scales misinformation, but it also accelerates it. The objective function of "increased engagement" meshes very well. Hard to grok, full fidelity facts don't get shared or recommended as much as rage-baiting or bias-confirming material.

- technology can on-the-fly piece together material to conform to whatever bullshit you want to hear, I want to hear or the other guy wants to hear. As it is optimized to increase engagement, it can efficiently generate personalized micro-narratives, which is ultimately a reflection of our personal biases.

The problems is it gets harder and harder for these narratives to converge. More on that below.

> If anything, what we're seeing with the internet is a more true democracy with a wider range of opinions, less controlled by small groups of plutocrats

As mentioned, original thoughts don't have the same propagation speed or reach as junk-infotainment, and you're just as subject to the narrative-shaping powers of those "plutocrats" as ever. They just blend in better.

But the larger issue is that you can't equivocate mere plurality with a functioning democracy. Ultimately there is a single reality, and even though we are in divergent positions due to having different entry points and framings, we should be - however little - converging in our narratives and understanding of that reality as time progresses.

But the opposite seems to be happening, we are getting dumber at scale, stuff makes less sense, institutional mistrust is at all-time-high. I am not putting this all on tech, but it certainly pours fuel on the fire of meaning-making crisis.

I wouldn't take it for granted that we could survive this without it creating a larger crisis first.


> institutional mistrust is at all-time-high

I want to point out that the biggest reason for this is that those institutions are worthy of mistrust, people just weren't aware of the need to mistrust them. The news media for instance has been gradually getting worse due to having to compete with internet sources and it was plenty shit back in the 60s and before...

Then there's things like the replication crisis damaging our trust in science-as-an-institution and the mask flip flopping damaging trust in science-as-communicated-by-prestigious-bodies.

And of course there's always departments attempting o justify their existence even when it makes everyone's lives harder for little gain (yes, I work for a mega Corp, how did you guess?).


Perhaps, then, we should aim our sights on the institutions and systems that incentivize and profit from the spread of misinformation rather than trying to treat the symptoms and censor misinformation outright. I’m always baffled in these free speech debates of the last 15-10 years why the end up reducing the landscape to a false dichotomy.

What I’m seeing is a disintegration of the narrative, with a relatively small group of disinformation plutocrats bombarding minds at scale with conflicting positions.

A compassionate view of humanity would say that humans are basically accepting. This openness can then be abused by viral misinformation. We could take the view that humans should just be self protecting and if they got duped that’s on them. But IMO that’s a depressing view of the world, and tends toward something like mutually assured social destruction in the limit. We need to protect our shared narrative.

Also personally I find the view that “democracy prevailed before, it’ll continue to prevail somehow” deeply unsatisfying. Democracy is not built into nature. It has to be proactively maintained and refreshed.


Democracy is struggling with misinformation because Governments are losing credibility with citizens, this is not my problem as a regular person.

I'm sick of hearing that it's up to "people" to be fed the right information so they behave the way that works for the Government and large corporations.

Why should I trust the WHO? Why should I trust the FDA? Why would I trust Johnson and Johnson? Why should I trust Pfizer? Why doesn't the Government fund an emergency trial on Ivermectin?

Do you know that these pharmaceutical companies cannot be sued if there is a problem with my health related to the COVID-19 vaccines? Why would I trust a system like that? Why wouldn't I be skeptical and why wouldn't fringe theories appear?

I don't want information to be hidden from me to influence my beliefs, I want all the information made possible to me so I can make up my own mind.

As Edward Snowden says, the worse conspiracies are in plain sight. I'm starting to think he might be right.


> Why doesn't the Government fund an emergency trial on Ivermectin?

Because there's no evidence that it would work? Nobody has explained how it's supposed to act on COVID-19, when it's a nerve poison for invertebrates.

There's not infinite time and effort available for patiently trying every theory with no sound basis, and the worst thing is that there have been small trials with poor or inconclusive results which people ignore. https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/ivermectin-is-the-new-hydro...


> there's no evidence that it would work

That's quite a silly view. In silico evidence shows that ivermectin can bind to spike protein, main viral protease, and replication proteins:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7996102/

Calling ivermectin the same as HCQ is a strawman approach.


>Calling ivermectin the same as HCQ is a strawman approach.

Actually, this is the perfect example, as the main compound in HCQ has been proven in several studies unrelated to COVID19, to specifically prevent the 'jelly-lungs' that people with severe critical-case COVID19 died from in high numbers.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8209939/

Preliminary Evidence demonstrates Ivermectin does improve outcomes with those infected with COVID-19.


4 theorized mechanisms of action for ivermectin against SarsCov2. https://youtu.be/9bgcgiutrw8


No Youtube "doctors", proper sources only please.


I can understand why you may think science is only on "paper", but discussions are happening on YT and I think it is only going to increase over time.


> discussions are happening on YT and I think it is only going to increase over time.

Which is a very fitting observation in this thread on the continuing stupidification of societal debate.

Only perhaps not in the way you intended.




It'd be worth it just to kill off the conspiracy theory.


You can be skeptical about the vaccine, and fringe theories are normal and some are legitimate. It’s fully normal to be skeptical because you don’t have all the facts. But look at what Tucker Carlson is doing, as one example. He asserts outright falsehoods cynically. Take the wind turbine debacle in Texas for example. He asserted lies that frozen turbines caused the blackouts with implications that wind tech/greener tech is evil. Governor Abbot came on and added his authority to the disinformation. People believed it and got outraged. I watch political Twitter a lot and I can literally see how a cynical lie begins, produces outrage, and goes viral. What’s your opinion on that phenomenon? It seems that has something to do with governments losing credibility.


There's the saying: "don't throw out the baby with the bathwater". What you are saying is true, but we need to hear the voices that would otherwise be unfairly silenced as well.


Tucker Carlson may have a baby face, but he's no baby. He's the very reason you throw out used bathwater: He's the scum that floats on top of it.

I mean, if you don’t trust institutions why trust democracy ?


While it's the best we could create, but that does not mean that it's anywhere close to being perfect and deserves to be trusted automatically.

Skepticism is exactly what makes democracy working. Blind trust is what allows bad actors to transform a democracy into a dictatorship.

You speak as if past dictators were not democratically elected or journalists never uncovered corruption in government and institutions.


There's a difference between "skepticism" and raving fucking loonery, and 99.99% of what's proliferating online nowadays is the latter. Shit like that also transforms democracies into dictatorships, at least as much as "blind trust" does.

i hope your getting paid to do so cause thats a full time job. we have to trust some. the gate keepers can be rife with corruption and other influences. most do not have time to validate most things is mostly what i am saying.

there needs to be a middle of control and freedom without the bullshit.


> Also personally I find the view that “democracy prevailed before, it’ll continue to prevail somehow” deeply unsatisfying.

As somebody from a Western country that has gone from democracy -> dictatorship -> democracy within the last 100 years, I couldn't agree more (I'm German). Democracy is fragile and has been under increasing threat for the last 15 years or so, unfortunately partly accelerated by social media.

If we can't agree that democracy is the foundation for freedom of speech, and that there are actors (foreign and domestic) using misinformation to erode trust in democracy, I'm bearish for the future of democracy (at least in the US).


> If we can't agree that democracy is the foundation for freedom of speech

We won't because freedom of speech is the foundation for a healthy democracy, not the other way round. Socrates was executed at the behest of a tyrannical democracy - the original democracy - for his speech.


How do you propose to achieve freedom of speech, in order to have a democracy on top? What prior-to-democracy system would lead toward that free speech? Or do you believe free speech exists by itself in nature, prior to any system?


Correct me if I'm wrong, you seem to be saying that free speech can't exist without democracy.

Firstly, free speech is not a synonym for democracy, we can clearly see there are democracies with differing levels of free speech, some with very low levels.

Secondly, most of the other systems of political organisation are antithetical to free speech. That does not mean, however, that democracy is a necessary pre-requisite for free speech. I can imagine other systems - as have others - but that they do not exist is either because they cannot or because the conditions for them to hold are not there yet.

Finally

> Or do you believe free speech exists by itself in nature, prior to any system?

I'm not a student and this is not a student debating society, please make your points in a way that an adult and professional would expect and can respect. I don't know you, it's far too early for you to take the piss. Try and get into a conversation first, at the very least.


> Correct me if I'm wrong, you seem to be saying that free speech can't exist without democracy.

No, parent is saying freedom of speech is a consequence of democracy, not that one wouldn't exist without the other or that they are synonymous.

One can, as you have, construct and imagine all kinds of political systems where one exists without the other (e.g. Greece 400 BC, benevolent dictator etc). This leads to rather contrived arguments that miss the point at hand: Freedom of speech has almost always been a consequence of modern democracy.

Your flippant response in the last paragraph makes me believe you aren't convinced in your argumentation either.


> No, parent is saying freedom of speech is a consequence of democracy

Then you'll need to explain these questions:

> What prior-to-democracy system would lead toward that free speech? Or do you believe free speech exists by itself in nature, prior to any system?

Without them I might agree. With them, the inference is impossible to ignore.

> Freedom of speech has almost always been a consequence of modern democracy.

No one was saying anything else. It's starting to look like you aren't going to shine a light on what I've missed but what you've missed.

> Your flippant response in the last paragraph makes me believe you aren't convinced in your argumentation either.

Flippancy is a manifestation of doubt, now there's a claim I've not heard before. The world is indeed full of wonder and mystery!


> Democracy thrived before the printing press

No it didn't.

Do you have examples of democracies before the printing press besides Athens and arguably the late Roman Republic? Those happened nearly two millenniums before the press and didn't last that long. "Thriving"?


When and where did democracy thrive before the printing press?


Ancient Greece perhaps? Though not in medieval Europe, at least not that I'm aware off.


Europe had them in the middle ages too: Italy's seafaring republics (Venice, Genoa, Amalfi, Pisa et al) where (nominal) democracies, practically owned the Mediterranean sea and lasted a thousand years.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maritime_republics


The Norse also had many democratic customs.


Evidenced in the Icelandic sagas, c.f. https://www.sagadb.org/


The Iroquois confederation, known to its members as the Haudenosaunee.


The vast majority of Slavic tribes 0-1100AD were effective democracies...even the majority of Polish kings post-Christian-indoctrination (1000-1800AD) featured an elected monarchy.


Indeed. One wonders how much of this threat of misinformation is being pushed by the mainstream media who at one time was the authority on truth.

Nothing is more dangerous than someone being striped of power they considered rightfully theirs.


> There's something fundamentally flawed

There isn't really. You're adopting, I assume, J.S. Mill's view, that the cure for bad speech is more speech, which he famously published in 1859.

However, since then it's been widely accepted that when speech reaches a certain level of harm then the greater good is to prevent/punish it. You can't incite violence under the guise of free speech. You can't advertise that something is safe when it's not. This is because more speech can't undo violence and death after it occurs.

And when it comes to misinformation with regards to provable and intentional lies about voting procedures, election results, etc. that falsely harm the country's institutions and legitimacy, it's entirely consistent for that to fall under the widely-accepted prohibition of speech that rises to a certain threshold of harm. It directly leads to mobs, riots, and revolution based on lies, not based on actual injustices.

This doesn't mean any harmful speech is prohibited -- that's ridiculous. You're generally allowed to insult people, tell lies, etc. But there's a threshold of harm that gets established.


Annoying that you are getting down voted for what seems to be a very reasonable comment.

I have very few friends “in tech” and this is the view that basically all of them hold, this is the view that most of my family hold. Across the 100-150 people that spans the full (European) political spectrum and many different backgrounds and life experiences from growing up extremely wealthy, finding wealth through hard work (and luck) and success and borderline surviving - do not “SV tech circles”.

Basically it’s a view point that is able to accept nuance and grey. People who work in absolutes dominate headlines so it’s all we hear, in reality the majourity of people live in the middle.


>However, since then it's been widely accepted

It's not widely accepted at all, except maybe in the small circle of Silicon Valley elites whose ideas align with yours politically.


I don’t know about you, but any social group I’ve been part of has had its boundaries beyond which some speech and behavior becomes unacceptable and has consequences. What kind of social groups are you part of where all speech, including lies, insults, smearing, is accepted?


>What kind of social groups are you part of where all speech, including lies, insults, smearing, is accepted?

What kind of horrible friend group are you part of that believes people should be thrown in jail for telling lies or insulting people?


There’s a huge chunk of forum managera, BBS admins, moderator who have long since seen this tested empirically.

The Silicon Valley elite are dinosaurs who came to this realization too damn late.

They, argued about free speech too long.

The elite are out of touch.

The greatest hold they have on speech isn’t shutting or removing misinformation.

The hold they have on society is that the data needed to make these decisions intelligently is behind an NDA.

Every scientist who worked on this with data, is employed by These forms.

That is where the silence is deafening. And the success of it is that people are still arguing yesterday’s battles while the front has moved away.


Well, and all of Europe and Asia.

The united states is basically unique in the strength of it's speech protection, and even that is only the government. I'd challenge you to name a social group, any social group, that wouldn't ostracize you for saying certain things.


Freedom of speech is not violated by ostracism, because freedom of speech (as a right) is the right to say what one wants, to whom one wants, at a time of one's choosing and the implied listener's freedom - to listen to whom one wants (or not) at a time of one's choosing (and hence to what one wants).

If someone is ostracised that is an example of the listener exercising their free speech rights, not a violation of them.

Some use this as an example of why companies like Twitter and Facebook may remove someone from their platform, but I would argue firstly that they are a monopoly exercising monopoly power, hence violating one's rights to free speech, and that they are not platforms any more because of their interventionism in the speech of others (and currently have too much protection under law to do this). The monopoly power is the most important thing to challenge, in my view.


I'm a bit surprised, it's enshrined in both US written and case law?

See e.g. [1] for an overview or [2] specifically for hate speech.

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

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


To the contrary, many Silicon Valley elites trend far more libertarian than the average population, so it's actually the opposite (depending on which elites you're talking about, they're not monolithic).

And it absolutely is widely accepted if you look at democratically produced law across the world. Restrictions on harmful speech exist literally everywhere in democracies. It's what people vote for. It's absolutely widely accepted.


> And it absolutely is widely accepted if you look at democratically produced law across the world.

Widely believed would be a better phrasing, as you may compare anywhere with low to no support for free speech and they will be more oppressive and violent than anywhere in say Europe or North America that has greater support for free speech, the correlation will be huge.

Then you could compare somewhere like the US with somewhere like France or Germany and ask if there is a greater amount of violence in either and see what could be attributed to speech. I doubt you'll be able to produce strong enough evidence for your position to then claim it as widely accepted over widely believed or just advocated for by parties that benefit from less freedom of speech.

Maybe you can, but I'd need to see it first.


> Widely believed would be a better phrasing, as you may compare anywhere with low to no support for free speech and they will be more oppressive and violent than anywhere in say Europe or North America that has greater support for free speech, the correlation will be huge.

Europe is one place with more limitations on "free" speech, and pretty much no parties or political grass-roots movements here are campaigning for any radical changes towards an American-style legislation. (Right-wing populist parties and movements in several countries are complaining about hate-speech legislation going too far -- and may even have a point -- but AIUI not even that means they're against the main idea that it's right to ban harmful speech; they just disagree on the definition and limits of what's "harmful" with regards to the kind of speech they want to indulge in.)

> Then you could compare somewhere like the US with somewhere like France or Germany and ask if there is a greater amount of violence in either and see what could be attributed to speech.

Crazy American lies freely spread under the guise of "Free speech!" gave you January 6.


>It directly leads to mobs, riots, and revolution based on lies, not based on actual injustices.

Would love to see an example. The vast majority of revolutions in human history were results of hunger.


...did you not see the Capitol riot/mob on Jan 6?

Haha! Good one. Definitely not a revolution.

>>> mobs, riots, and revolution

Two out of three.


> the greater good is to prevent/punish it.

It's clear that a handful of genocides were caused in large part by hate speech, such as the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust.

What's not clear to me (although I'm open either way) is whether strict hate speech laws would've reduced the odds of these happening. Do we have reason to think that to be true?

The first order effect is to chill that kind of speech. But is there a second order effect of making these people into martyrs and fostering resentment towards the protected group that does more harm than good?

My understanding is that pre-Nazi Germany had hate speech laws, and it didn't seem to work there?

https://www.bjpa.org/content/upload/bjpa/4_an/4_Anti-Semitis...


Giving anyone the ability to arbitrate what is "good" speech vs "bad" speech is way too much power. In any era of history there have always been "truths" that were massively popular and eventually overturned. I don't think we are the first era to be an exception. So when you're talking about punishing "bad" speech you are talking about creating super powerful entities just because they agree with you. That intent scares me far more than whatever nonsense you get from q anon or antivaxxers.


> Giving anyone the ability to arbitrate what is "good" speech vs "bad" speech is way too much power.

But that isn't at all what is happening here. Google has decided that they don't want to enable people to distribute certain data using their platform. They're not being crowned the omnipotent oracle of good and bad.

> you are talking about creating super powerful entities just because they agree with you.

This position is bizarre to me -- what do you think an elected government is? I vote to create "super powerful entities that agree with me" every 4 years. Those entities possess the power to destroy all life on earth. Google is not anywhere near as powerful as those entities, and while it is not (directly) democratically accountable, it does derive its power from its users.

No information will be permanently erased just because Google does not spend money and time making it available on Drive.


The amount of power google has, they can crown the winner. We can't pretend that "oh thats just google's opinion" when they control access to humanities collective knowledge.

My argument is very humble. Everyone gets to talk, whoever is most convincing gets listened to most. I don't need a paternalistic company protecting me from bad thoughts.

> This position is bizarre to me -- what do you think an elected government is?

A system with an intentional freedom to allow dissent?


> My argument is very humble. Everyone gets to talk, whoever is most convincing gets listened to most. I don't need a paternalistic company protecting me from bad thoughts.

You're talking now, and this isn't (AFAIK) on Google Drive.

You want Drive to be a democratically guaranteed national resource, nationalize Google.


They are not protecting you from bad thoughts. They are protecting themselves from lawsuits. Moderating all this content is not free. If google was not under risk of losing money by not doing this, they would have done nothing.

It's easy to think that the most powerful entity is the one with the biggest stick. Consider this though: imagine a VIP and their bodyguard. The bodyguard is much stronger and carries a gun, but he is not the one with power. The VIP can replace the bodyguard at will.

An entity that gets to tell millions exactly how to vote and which nuke-wielding bodyguard to hire is surely more powerful than said bodyguard.


> The bodyguard is much stronger and carries a gun, but he is not the one with power. The VIP can replace the bodyguard at will.

Tell that to the Gandhis. And several Cæsars.


>Giving anyone the ability to arbitrate what is "good" speech vs "bad" speech is way too much power

The government already has that power. See that bit about saying rat poison is medicine or incitement laws.

Are you scared that we support such behaviour from the government?


The government has an explicit limitation on excersizing that power. The first amendment is, well, first, its not exactly forgettable. The primary law of our land is "government can't fuck around with free speech". I see no ambiguity here. There's a huge difference between shouting fire in a theater vs saying, are the vaccines safe. We can have our disagreements but its in nobody's interest to outlaw them.


> The first amendment is, well, first,

Well, no, the first article of amendment (usually abbreviated “first amendment”) is the eighth article of the Constitution, following the seven original articles. “Amendment” is revision/change.


Well thank you for your lawyering, but what's your point? The people that invented this country thought it was very important that people can speak freely (including you!), and you're like "nah"?


Oh please. Those are incredibly narrowly defined. Our republic won’t fall because some drug company can’t lie about a product they are selling.

This is a false equivalency - “telling Pfizer they can’t claim their drug cures AIDS is no different than suppressing the Covid lab leak theory”.

Yeah, it’s massively different.


Wat. I'm not arguing for a specific instance of 'has great effects' for judging good/bad speech.

Just that the government already has the power to judge good/bad speech - and people are not revolting against that.

Why doesn't the government's ability to judge good/bad speech give you the heebie-jeebies, but that specific instance does?


What I said, scope.


> u can't incite violence under the guise of free speech.

No, you can’t incite violence with speech. Everyone is responsible for the actions they take, even if misinformed.


That’s not a reasonable position. In the limit that implies that you treat everyone as the enemy. Isolate in your own protected world, because you might get duped or harmed any minute now. That to me is a shitty world I don’t want to live in. I’d rather reasonably trust people and have a common baseline and shared narrative.


Reasonable or not, this is reality.


No, it's bullshit.

>You cannot have true democracy if people cannot disagree with their governments, they must be able to disagree with any truth or opinion such a government might consider self-evident, just on the off chance they're right.

Google is not the government. It's a private company owned by private citizens who also have the same constitutional rights. You're not being 'censored'. It's not a violation of your free speech. You're free to petition the government and you're free to just host your files someplace other than Google Drive. Access to Google Drive is not a 'right'. Quit trying to conflate the two. It's a disingenuous argument meant to confuse the issue and push a personal narrative.


> You're not being 'censored' .. It's not a violation of your free speech... You're free to petition

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.

> It's a private company owned by private citizens who also have the same constitutional rights.

The scale at which Google operates today, anything short of defining some of its popular products as public utilities would be disingenuous.

> Access to Google Drive is not a 'right'

Except this is not a Google drive (the product) access issue. It is an access to information issue, if you look at it fundamentally.


> The scale at which Google operates today, anything short of defining some of its popular products as public utilities would be disingenuous.

Look at that from the perspective of a startup founder. You've made a thing. Spent decades working on it. It became popular because many people found it useful. So useful in fact, that they've decided that it would be nice if you didn't own it anymore, and they owned it instead.

Laws should be the same for everyone. If you're not okay with other people deciding that they own your stuff, don't tell others what to do with the things they've created.


By this argument China's censorship of online messaging platforms doesn't exist either, because Weixin and Weibo are operated by private companies, so what they're doing when they block messages with undesirable content isn't censorship.


I'm not even close to convinced by your response. Relying on the public-private divide as the sole basis for your retort is weak. You also assert that the person is pushing a personal narrative, but I suggest you're doing the same.

There's an argument that private corporations that are involved in dissemination of information (search engines and social media) should respect principles of freedom of speech as a democratic principle, regardless of constitutional mandate.

Suppose the government outsources welfare eligibility decision-making to a private company. Does this mean traditional notions of fairness we would expect from such an decision-maker do not apply, because they are a private company?


That analogy wobbly at best, if not downright dishonest.

Google is not hosting your public content on behalf of any government.


The public/private divide is a well-known conundrum. And the analogy I gave is a practical example of that, one that has actually faced several nations. I note you've offered no basis for it being 'dishonest', either, which is unfair. Be careful before making statements like that.

The point is, you look at the substance of what is being done or controlled, not the status of the actor as a private or public entity. That is what the analogy is used to explain.

The substance of what is being done, here, is regulation of communication between individuals over a communication platform. Downplaying it as 'not hosting public content' is inaccurate or at least of no moment. What's public content mean anyway?

If a significant amount of private communication goes through privately owned channels, it is reasonable that the private companies operating those channels respect democratic norms. It's unreasonable to dismiss any criticism as 'they are a private company', as that's beside the point.


> Google is not hosting your public content on behalf of any government.

I think that line becomes a bit more blurry if you're a student using your school-issued Google account.


I’m definitely on the side of the argument that says power is power, and private companies can do just as much harm as governments can. However, there’s a difference between gov’t censorship and censorship by private companies like we’re talking about here.

It’s the difference between not allowing the government to say what you can publish and requiring a company to publish whatever you want.


So then, I should be able to paint your house and car with whatever messages "I" want and you should not be allowed to erase them. Is that the argument you're making?


If "my" house is actually a meeting place for half the country, or even just half the city, and I've decided almost anyone can paint on the walls, I should not be able to say that one specific person cannot paint on the walls because, for instance, I don't like what party they vote for. Any restriction on wallpainting in that space must be independent of the content of the message. If I wanted to limit that message, I should have to go through the proper democratic circles, ie. pass a city ordnance.

This is the same logic that prevents me from saying that in this meeting hall, gay people are not allowed entry.


I don't think I need to respond - you've encapsulated what I would have said perfectly.


I disagree wholeheartedly. If your front yard happens to become a popular meeting space for the town, it doesn't change your rights to your yard. You can still ask anyone to leave for any reason. Google literally built all their infrastructure from the ground-up. It's theirs in the most direct sense of the word, and we should take an attitude of humble gratitude for their ongoing contributions to our wellbeing, rather then continue our attempts to punish them for their success.


If you permit your front yard to become a popular meeting space for the town, I think it does change your rights to your yard.

Ownership implies responsibility.


No, ownership is a fixed contract specifying property rights. It's tyrannical to change this contract without the consent of the rights holder.

You've conflated a few things here. Are we banning people or messages? You've said that bans need to be content neutral, but also that they can't be based on the individual doing the painting. This would mean that, for example porn would need to be acceptable. Or advertisements, but it seems reasonable for the owner to ban both of those things in pursuit of their desired aesthetic.

The actual case seems to be that anyone can paint anything except certain banned things. But any person can still paint other unbanned things.

That's different than banning particular people. In other words, if the republicans are allowed to discuss everything except vaccine conspiracies, you aren't discriminating against republicans, so this analogy about banning individuals doesn't work. And of course you might ban a particular individual from the premises for repeatedly breaking those rules.

All of this seems perfectly reasonable, and indeed I know real-world spaces that operate more or less like this.


> This would mean that, for example porn would need to be acceptable. Or advertisements, but it seems reasonable for the owner to ban both of those things in pursuit of their desired aesthetic.

Yes, I stand by this. If it's legal to have porn on your house wall, it should be legal for people to paint porn on your communal wall.

Again, the solution to this should be a city ordnance. The problem to me is not restrictions but accountability.

> The actual case seems to be that anyone can paint anything except certain banned things. But any person can still paint other unbanned things.

This seems akin to saying that the theocracy does not discriminate against gay men, because they can marry women just like hetero men can.


> Yes, I stand by this. If it's legal to have porn on your house wall, it should be legal for people to paint porn on your communal wall

Why? Why is it that if I allow people to paint things, I lose the right to moderate those things? Like it's still my property, right? What causes me to forfeit my property rights?

Or to ask a perhaps different question, could I close the venue entirely?

What if I later reopened it with a list of allowed people and you could only enter if you were on the list? Do I still forfeit those rights? How big does the list have to be for it to be suitably public again?

> This seems akin to saying that the theocracy does not discriminate against gay men, because they can marry women just like hetero men can.

You're going to have to explain this better. Because in practice banning gay men from marrying men prevents them from getting married at all. Preventing anyone from painting porn doesn't prevent an artist from painting not-porn. I might be more willing to agree if, for example, it was the government blanket banning porn. But we're not talking about that, were talking about one dude with one popular artists venue banning pornographic art being painted. It's not different than if I disallowed the sale of pornography in my art gallery.

Keep in mind, today, in the united states no priest is compelled to officiate a same sex wedding. The state recognizes them, but you or I don't have to.


> Why? Why is it that if I allow people to paint things, I lose the right to moderate those things? Like it's still my property, right? What causes me to forfeit my property rights?

Good question! In my view, the deciding factor is "universality". I think there is a fundamental difference in nature between a friendgroup and a customer base. When you offer a service to your friends, you may pick and choose how you like on any basis. When you offer a service to the general public, you are in a sense attempting to provide a "plug-in" service to society as a whole, and so the terms of that service should be negotiated with society as a whole, including such things as civil rights. This is exactly where you cross the boundary between being "a private citizen" and " part of the state".

> Or to ask a perhaps different question, could I close the venue entirely?

Yes. Nobody can be compelled to offer a service.

> What if I later reopened it with a list of allowed people and you could only enter if you were on the list? Do I still forfeit those rights? How big does the list have to be for it to be suitably public again?

I think this is a sliding scale. The specific cutoff would always be kind of arbitrary.

> > This seems akin to saying that the theocracy does not discriminate against gay men, because they can marry women just like hetero men can.

> You're going to have to explain this better. Because in practice banning gay men from marrying men prevents them from getting married at all.

No it does not; it merely prevents them from getting married in the way that they like, which is a different way than the societal norm. The right to hetero marriage, as practiced in theocratic societies, inherently normalizes hetero relations and excludes gay relations. However, there is nothing inherently wrong - in the erroneous sense, not the moral sense! - about such a choice. This demonstrates that the constraints you apply to a service, even if they only pertain to the nature of the service and not the persons the service is extended to, can still be discriminatory.

> Keep in mind, today, in the united states no priest is compelled to officiate a same sex wedding.

Likewise, inasmuch as weddings have societal relevance, I think they should be compelled to - or else not officiate any weddings at all.


> When you offer a service to the general public, you are in a sense attempting to provide a "plug-in" service to society as a whole, and so the terms of that service should be negotiated with society as a whole, including such things as civil rights.

Does this apply to all businesses that offer services? Keep in mind here that the first amendment, in addition to protecting our right to speech, protects our right to association. That is, our right to associate with the people, and only the people, we want to is a civil right that our constitution protects just as much as speech.

If I open a store and let people purchase things, I'm offering a service to the general public. But I'm certainly not "part of the state". One of the primary concerns about the state is that it (usually) has a monopoly on the things that it does, so that if it provides a service, it's the only provider of that service.

But "speech" isn't a service that one can monopolize. Preventing speech can be done via force, but "facilitating speech" isn't monopolizable. If someone won't let you do it, you can do it yourself or find it somewhere else.

> Yes. Nobody can be compelled to offer a service.

But you are compelling me to offer a service! I want to offer the service to paint anything except X. And you say no no! You are additionally compelled to offer the service to paint X. This by the way, gets far more complicated if, for example, my service is...baking cakes. If I offer a universal cake baking service, when can I refuse to bake a cake? Can I refuse all wedding cakes? Can I refuse all cakes above a certain size? Can I refuse all cakes in red? Can I only bake chocolate cakes? Can I refuse to bake cakes for people who have previously given me bad reviews?

> No it does not; it merely prevents them from getting married in the way that they like, which is a different way than the societal norm.

So let's make this concrete. Let's say I ban painting my name. I don't want people to paint it in my house. People can paint anything else, but not my name.

With the marriage example, we generally assume that people are attracted to a particular gender, and aren't really able to change that. Are you suggesting that, similarly, there are people who cannot find happiness without painting my name on my wall?

I mean if that's the case, why is it moral for me to ban them as long as I ban everyone else too? These particular people can't be happy either way.

With marriage, the issue is that you're essentially preventing some group from being able to openly mutually associate in the way that they want to. We can quibble on exactly how much of a freedom to associate or a human right that is, but it sure sounds like a lot more of one than your ability to write my name on my wall.

There's another argument by the way, which is that marriage is a service provided to two individuals, and that providing only heterosexual marriages discriminates based on attributes of those individuals, in exactly the same way as only marrying white people would be discriminatory. This same argument doesn't work for the example of banning speech.


Yes, I don't believe in an unrestricted right of business association.

(Neither does the US, when it comes to discrimination on protected categories.)

> If I open a store and let people purchase things, I'm offering a service to the general public. But I'm certainly not "part of the state". One of the primary concerns about the state is that it (usually) has a monopoly on the things that it does, so that if it provides a service, it's the only provider of that service.

> But "speech" isn't a service that one can monopolize. Preventing speech can be done via force, but "facilitating speech" isn't monopolizable.

Sure it is, by controlling the platform. In any case, I have a much more expansive view of monopoly as a spectrum. Network effects, for instance, can also contribute to a monopolizing service. In any case, I believe the primary reason why monopoly is a moral risk is because a monopoly prevents you from switching providers to escape a restrictive corporate environment. My approach is instead to outlaw restrictive corporate environments.

> > Yes. Nobody can be compelled to offer a service.

> But you are compelling me to offer a service!

No, you always have the choice to not offer the service at all. I am not compelling you to offer any specific service, I am preventing you from offering a service with certain restrictive parameters.

> And you say no no! You are additionally compelled to offer the service to paint X.

No, you are compelled to offer the service to paint X, contingent on your decision to offer the service at all. You always have the option to cease offering the service entirely. And you could, I guess, close your company whenever someone requests a service you don't like. However considering fees, that may be impractical.

> I mean if that's the case, why is it moral for me to ban them as long as I ban everyone else too? These particular people can't be happy either way.

I don't have an opinion on the morality of the matter. Or rather, I don't think my morality should affect the decision. That's why I have focused this conversation specifically on the mechanism by which the morality is arbitrated, which should be the same mechanism by which state decisions are arbitrated, ie. civil rights, representative democracy etc, inasmuch as the service is of the class of "service offering to the general public" shared with some state services.


The idea that companies shouldn't be given the right to business association because their civil rights are less important that the civil rights of others is a moral one.

Civil rights are always in conflict, and which ones you prioritize and how is a moral decision. You can't abdicate that responsibility.

Put another way, why does it violate civil rights to offer a service conditionally, but not to refuse to offer the service at all?

Or in the reverse, why is the government able to regulate my offering of a service conditionally, even though you seem to believe that them compelling me to offer the service in general is a violation of my rights?

Or yet another way: why do you believe that the right of association is less important than the right of speech?

Those are all ultimately moral or ethical questions.


Yes, sorry, I agree. These are all moral questions. My position can be generally summed up as "the less individual an organization is, the less weight its rights have." This is because I consider the individual as the ultimate purpose of society.

That is, the more individuals your organization serves, the more it becomes a "thing whose arbitration between individuals is of societal import". I believe that issues of societal import should be decided by democratic means, whereas issues of individual import are decided by personal choice. Between the two is a sliding scale.


If something is bad when a government does it, surely it's also bad if a really large company does it.

Come to think of it, why would it be bad if a government censors speech?


I’ve come to the conclusion that there is probably no universally compelling answer to that. I think you either hold individual liberty sacred as a sort of deontological pillar, or you try to get clever about minmaxing this nebulous “society” thing I’m always hearing about, moving toward a shared utopia one “we should ban…” proposal at a time.


> why would it be bad if a government censors speech?

Because government has a monopoly on violence.


I don't see how that relates at all.


> why would it be bad if a government censors speech?

Its a step in the wrong direction. The next step is to forbid asking that question. Step 3 is war to get our rights back. 2 and 3 may take time. Say 6 years for 2 and 1000 years for 3.

1000 years of blaming the witches, the socialists, the unionists, the jew, the Muslim, the Chinese, the Russians and of course you!

If you were defending the governments right to censor speech you were useful in installing it. When the censorship is accepted by the masses you become someone known to publicly share an opinion about a forbidden topic. Presenting the question for others to answer the way you just did is much worse than having your own opinion.

If we allow people like that, before we know it, we have people questioning everything!


The distinction between government and big business (what an archaic expression!) is artificial, and doesn't exist in practice.


It does, governments can pass laws, big businesses can't. They may buy politicians to pass the laws for them but in the end they can't pass the laws themselves.


Big businesses can pass terms of service, which are functionally identical.


This is ridiculous. I'm not worried about businesses telling me who I can marry, where I can live, or what jobs I can have.


You really should be. Quite a few of the larger companies have been caught conspiring to manipulate wages and workplace mobility for their own gain, in ways that not only hurt every work seeking person in the affected area, but where also flat out illegal.

Then lets not ignore the fact that most countries had to make laws specifically to protect working parents. There are most likely entire warehouses filled with court cases over a business owner realizing that statistically hiring a non married replacement for the recently married employee will be better.

They wont do it out of racism, they wont do it out of religious fervor. However they will do whatever they can to make more money.


You should rwad more science fiction. From the 1960s to 80s-90s, maybe not so much nowadays. Probably because it isn't all that "far out there" any more.

They absolutely would if it made them money.


Which doesn't happen without what large organized body of people to approve or condone it?


All they have to do is convince everyone to do what their phone says, they've already done that with video.


> big business (what an archaic expression!)

Huh?!? It's perfectly ordinary and contemporary English.


>and you're free to just host your files someplace other than Google Drive

And that other place won't censor me?


If Gab, 4chan and millions of porn sites can find hosting I'm positive you could too.


> It's not a violation of your free speech.

captain pedantic, you meant to say it's not a violation of the first amendment.

censorship is a violation of free speech


Jen Psaki said herself that the government will flag posts for Facebook. So, yes, it's effectively the government.


[flagged]


Your comment was correctly downvoted and flagged because of the name-calling. You shouldn't do that, not only because it breaks the site guidelines (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html), but because it discredits the view you're arguing for.

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


Name calling implies I applied a label to a person, I didn't apply any label to a person.


If you read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html, you'll see that we use the term for more than just persons. That's because it degrades discussion either way.

What would you do to combat the deliberate misinformation campaign that is weakening the US and many other countries? While propaganda and polarization are not new, the speed, reach, and aggregation are only possible with modern communication.

An early tidbit that may have been lost with deplatforming was that Euro leaders also disagreed, citing that only the state could be trusted with that power. However, the US Constitution mostly prohibits that route and it's left to private companies to make up their own minds about what content they want to host.


It's a hard problem for democracy, the best countermeasures I know of are transparency and education, but those are mitigations at best, you can't really do much if a majority of people believe an untruth.

You could also elect me as your benevolent dictator, I'll be happy to bring the misinformation to an end, but the lie I'd tackle first would be that this has anything to do with democracy.


> you can't really do much if a majority of people believe an untruth

Treat the propaganda campaign like the war it is - and arrest those who are serving as foreign actors for treason.

The earlier people are finally willing to admit Russia and China are waging a war against the whole Western world, the better.

The big multipliers - #45, Alex Jones, Fox News, Newsmax, OANN - are publicly known, as are most of the people spreading the stuff on FB, and can be taken down. No need to resolve to a surveillance state, just public information is enough.


> admit Russia and China are waging a war against the whole Western world

To what end? What is their motivation? They’re evil cartoon villains and hate our freedom? What’s their gain?


Their motivation is self preservation. Western democracies make it pretty clear that they do not support the existence of brutal dictatorships. Thus brutal dictatorships are motivated to act in ways that can weaken the western democracies.


> What’s their gain?

For Russia? Being able to rebuild the Soviet Union. Just look at Crimea, or read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundations_of_Geopolitics which is essentially a playbook of what Putin has done.

For China? World domination for Han Chinese, nothing less. They are taking over entire countries by "debt relief" aka loan sharking, and leaders who don't want their "investments" simply have their assets taken away by force like the Philippines.

Both can only follow through with their plans if there is no united opposition against them. Europe is falling apart on a national level with nationalist, often Russia-backed anti-democrats spreading discontent and hate, and the US is collapsing in ethnic and class war.


But if you're going down that route then why should other western governments not treat the US as a threat too? There's extensive spying going on by the US against them and there's plenty of American propaganda too. Should Europe ban Hollywood movies? Arrest American businessmen for spying? Where does it end?


> The earlier people are finally willing to admit Russia and China are waging a war against the whole Western world, the better.

Hasn't the USA been aggressively exporting its values and memes (ie. Engaging in cultural warfare) for almost a century now?


I'd abolish the worst purveyors of misinformation: Namely, all of the people who are trying to censor "misinformation" so that they cannot have their propaganda challenged by an empowered public that no longer needs gatekeepers.


How do you handle content designed to flood the public and manufacture a narrative ?

I mean you want the “public” to be able to “challenge” the misinformation.

But fundamentally the public has N number of compute units per day and the attackers have N^N compute units.

This is throwing unarmed citizens directly into an army trained to crush unarmed citizens.

The attackers are DESIGNED with the awareness that people will be having this argument on hackernews.


> What would you do to combat the deliberate misinformation campaign that is weakening the US and many other countries?

Which one? Plenty of candidates depending on which part of the political space your views lie in.

Is it the misinformation campaign that Trump won the last election? The one that says third world immigration is good? The one that says Democracy is good? The one that says COVID is harmless?

If there were some Oracle that could tell us what is true or false then this wouldn't be an issue in the first place.


This is absolutely true.

If I can't explore new ideas, evaluate information and make up my own mind, no matter how much bullshit exists, I'm not living in a democratic free society anymore. I'm living in a technological dystopia, and authoritarian state.

I'm afraid, skepticism is part of a healthy democracy...no matter how much the government want me to get a jab.

When did Google feel the need to be the world police?


Your brain is mapped.

Dear god people - we know how to create malformed content.

To assume you are immune is like assuming you are immortal or that your computer is unhackable.

Modern Misinformation is malformed code, being done at scale.

It’s cluster bombing civilians who can never muster the resources to defend against it.

It’s not about you. It’s about the attacker.


Are you arguing that the people who decide what's misinformation and what isn't are somehow immune to that kind of hack on their reasoning faculties?


That’s a better question and moves the discussion forward.

Yes - and No.

To fairly answer your question, there’s different levels of sophistication to misinformation.

It ranges from vaccines will grow you another arm, to the Gates foundation is using this to impoverish nations. (I’m loosely using current examples)

So yes - experts can and will be able to avoid many of the misinformation attempts out there. The ones which they fall victim to - in their own area of expertise, are likely unavoidable.

For google to remove healthcare misinformation, they will be targeting the obvious content that has been flagged and likely supported by govts orgs.

I feel that many people are arguing about the case where the gatekeepers are wrong - which was an issue in a world where traffic through the gates was more orderly and the gatekeepers had historically been mistaken in stopping traffic.

Right now, even if I don’t like gatekeepers, I have no choice.

Someone has figured out to how to mass produce obviously and subtly malicious traffic.

The issue at this juncture in time is the lack of effective filtering.

Since we don’t have a better solution, we get forced to use gatekeeping.


And what happens when the gatekeepers get captured?

You keep mentioning in this thread “malformed code” as if nonsense Facebook posts are executables my brain is loading.

What do you mean by “your brain is mapped?”


I’m using malformed content because I’m on a coder forum. It’s the easiest analogy to apply.

We know how brains operate and process information. We know that it’s not going to treat information in an unbiased manner.

It processes identity information, threats, statistics and out group information differently - among a whole world of idiosyncrasies.

Attackers sadly also know enough how to create content that subverts that processing in precise manners.

It’s content designed simply to propagate and defeat logical or rational scrutiny.

Its filled with the kinds of logical fallacies that maybe YOU would defeat, but are so broadly spread that it will always find victims.

Those victims are then set up for the next round of content and then the next round.

Eventually this content dominates the discourse. It’s like suddenly everyone knows that the yeti was an astronaut.

Google misses more misinformation than it finds - and this is even if we discuss only America or the English speaking world.

Smaller nations aren’t even coveted, and rare languages or regions don’t even have automated analysis


Your conjecture is that there are “attackers” out there disseminating this information and it is the majority of content?

Why is it so hard to believe that people will simply be foolish and create garbage on their own?


Because that’s yet another category of junk that does exist. And yes that’s easily going to be an order of magnitude larger.

But that doesn’t mean attackers don’t exist, or that they happily co opt those communities to seed and propagate their content as well.

And most of that content stays up. It takes a lot for any of the tech cos to act right now.


This seems like a “throw the baby out with the bath water” situation in both directions: Censorship, like you note, can be used for evil to suppress anything you disagree with and drive your narrative. But unbridled amplified speech opens the possibility for destructive mass influence of minds, to be evil and destroy the good things those minds agree on.

So to me this is at least nuanced. Insisting on completely unchecked speech, however unscientific and destructive, is not a reasonable position.


If Google didn’t hide the URL people might know what voting location info is official and what’s not


But there's a difference between 'disagree' and 'state objectively false things'. The US media especially is poisoned with stuff like that - see all the lies around covid and mask wearing.


Soapbox, Zine, Flyer, Specialty Forum, Usenet, Civilian Radio

You aren't censored if you can't generate a link to Bits on a google server.


Do you feel the same way about free speech zones? Don't like what someone says, just force them to move out of the way so they end up protesting to an empty audience. Naturally if it's a big enough protest you may have to use violence (tear gas, riot police ect...) to do this but hey, they still get their right to free speech, so i guess it's all good and democratic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_speech_zone


Call me a deontologist but if it's good then all of them should do it and if it's bad then none of them should.


There's something fundamentally flawed about trusting people to determine truths themselves as well. Doubly so when those spreading misinformation are well funded propagandists that have been attacking education for years. China, Russia, Germany, Italy, Cuba... these and other nations became communist/authoritarian with the ardent support of the people of those nations (enough people anyway). Tens of millions died as a result. People die today as a result. People are oppressed as a result.


> Companies aren't allowed to advertise rat poison as medicine and neither are you.

You may want a different example :).

> Warfarin first came into large-scale commercial use in 1948 as a rat poison. Warfarin was formally approved for human use by the US FDA to treat blood clots in 1954.

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warfarin


> when you share them publicly

from the wording in the link[1], it seems even if you share the document with just one single person, and that person flags it, Google is then allowed to investigate. So, the pre-condition is not sharing publicly, just sharing.

> So no, this isn't applying to your private diary or privately shared documents.

Well this seems to be inaccurate based on the text cited below[1], do you have sources that back your claim? There is nothing saying that privately shared documents can't be reviewed. The only necessary condition seems to be just that someone flagged your content, which could be the one person you shared that content with.

[1] "After we are notified of a potential policy violation, we may review the content and take action, including restricting access to the content, removing the content, and limiting or terminating a user’s access to Google products".


It is funny how people blindly trust Google on this..


> All our legal protections ultimately depend on a democratic foundation -- undo that with misinformation and you don't have anything anymore. Similarly, your rights don't matter much if you're dead.

This is an insane conclusion to draw, because it blithely ignores that it positions Google as an oracle of what's threatening to democracy and what isn't.

The examples in the current policy are fairly narrow, but this is a categorical line being crossed (for better or worse). Those who are concerned by the increasing encroachment of effective utilities on what can be communicated need to speak up when clear lines are crossed, because it's the only way to avoid frog-boiling.


It's funny to see people freak out about this when entire foundation of Google is built on the proposition that it can make effective judgments about the relative value of various content out there on the web.

Like, if Google has a hidden agenda here that makes it any more fundamentally compromised as a judge of disinformation than anything else, then whether or not it will be a free CDN for arbitrary content isn't remotely our biggest problem.

And if they're just that bad at sorting information from disinformation in spite of their considerable resources and ostensible value proposition, same thing goes, although that's an opportunity for someone else to the extent that there's a market for understanding reality.

So, yeah. Google by its nature is going to play a role regarding what's a threat to accurate understanding and democracy. It's not alone in this; journalism does it. The academy does it. The courts do it. Businesses do it.

The way you get a well-functioning society where robust discourse turns into better perception and refined ideas isn't that everybody takes a hands off approach, it's that everybody -- all institutions and individuals -- take responsibility.

Not to mention that requiring Google (or anyone) to carry and disseminate information that they consider irresponsible... well, compelled speech isn't exactly freedom of speech.


> Like, if Google has a hidden agenda here that makes it any more fundamentally compromised as a judge of disinformation than anything else, then whether or not it will be a free CDN for arbitrary content isn't remotely our biggest problem.

Indeed, the bias in Google Search is actually a very serious problem.


> It's funny to see people freak out about this when entire foundation of Google is built on the proposition that it can make effective judgments about the relative value of various content out there on the web.

You're thinking of Google Search, their web search product. The thread is talking about Google Drive, their file-storage and - sharing product. If you don't get the difference between these two products and the expectations around them, I don't know what to tell you.


The relevant differences between those two products are:

(a) Google is actually less uniquely powerful or threatening when it comes to the hosting segment

(b) Google has an even greater claim to moral and legal rights to say "yeah, we're gonna decide not to carry/disseminate certain content,", except to the extent that your position here involves the idea that compelled speech is the way forward.


This positions google as an intermediary.

Someone else has figured out what is misinformation and is telling google.


The idea that _anyone_ can reliably enough decree what's misinformation is ludicrous. I acknowledge that there are vast masses of incredibly stupid people that need to pretend that Truth is handed down on clay tablets by God in order to function. We're much better off with the scientific establishment wearing this mantle than, say, religious institutions. And its pointless to try to convince these people that science is an iterative, incremental process that's based in skepticism, not certainty.

But the minority of society that understands and participates in the process of truth-formation (including scientists!) produces a widely disproportionate amount of epistemic value, and society depends on this process for basic functioning.

It's amazing to me that this isn't clear to everyone after the pandemic, of all things. The amount of claims that were banned from social media as "misinformation" that became expert consensus a couple of months later is mind-boggling. Following smart and quantitative people on Twitter was wayyyy more likely to provide you a healthy and safe pandemic experience than following the incoherent and self-contradictory public health recommendations (let alone policy). More important than this "direct-to-consumer" ability to discuss the pandemic is that experts themselves form their opinions through this type of discussion. The notion that there's a "someone else" who has reliably figured out which dissent is out of bounds is laughable.

I'll note again that Google's current policy is limited to fairly simple things, but it's an important Schelling fence being torn down and worthy of commenting on (and pushing back against, if yiu believe the trend is harmful).


> Google isn't spying on your private files

This is false. All of the major services that host images scan them for child porn, regardless if they're private or shared.

I don't know how they're going to apply these rules and, unless you work there and are involved in this, neither do you.


A few years back people were getting messages from Google if their docs contained hate speech.

Google's response was that it was a corporate feature that was accidentally turned on for all accounts.

So they certainly have infrastructure to do deep content scans of all users docs. Realistically they probably do still scan all accounts for internal metrics, it's just notification that has been disabled.


Do you have a source for that?

I can't find anything with searching that Google ever algorithmically identified hate speech in Docs & Drive, there's no such corporate feature that can be enabled in G Suite control panel, reliably identifying hate speech is a hard problem that there's no indication of Google having solved, and honestly the entire thing sounds like an urban legend.

But if you have a reputable source I'd love to know.


> A Google spokesperson reached out via email with the following statement saying that the bug has been fixed: "This morning, we made a code push that incorrectly flagged a small percentage of Google Docs as abusive, which caused those documents to be automatically blocked. A fix is in place and all users should have full access to their docs. Protecting users from viruses, malware, and other abusive content is central to user safety. We apologize for the disruption and will put processes in place to prevent this from happening again."

https://www.vice.com/en/article/zmz3yw/why-is-my-google-doc-...

https://mashable.com/article/google-docs-locking-people-out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBgug0Fuwxgf


I work at Google. I’m not involved with this change specifically, but suffice it to say there is far more advanced processing than simple hash checks for CSAM being run on every file uploaded to Drive. I would be surprised if all files weren’t subject to these checks, but whether or not Google will take action on them is another matter.


I hope you are wrong as that would be economically and environmentally wasteful.


This is a point most miss. I’m curious how they know if something is/isn’t CP.

Anyone have any experience in this realm? Do they have to use CP to compare against? Wouldn’t that be illegal?


Look up photodna. Basically they compare hashes of uploaded images to a database of known child porn.


> undo that with misinformation and you don't have anything anymore.

That presumes that we have come from a period that was somehow free of misinformation. This is obviously false, and all we're doing is trading one corrupt system of control for another.

Democracy also demands that the burden of proof is on the accuser, don't you feel this same standard should apply to those, who of their own volition, take on the task of fighting this "misinformation?" Shouldn't those deprived have recourse?

> Companies aren't allowed to advertise rat poison as medicine and neither are you.

Advertising is always a commercial activity. If I'm merely sharing my opinion that rat poison, in some dose, might possibly serve as a cure for some particular ailment, how am I advertising? Isn't there a responsibility of the other end user to not accept medical advice from anonymous information published from a free document sharing service?

I'm not sure the trade offs you suggest are gaining us anything important.


>All our legal protections ultimately depend on a democratic foundation -- undo that with misinformation and you don't have anything anymore.

No, they don't. They have never depended on an entity deciding what information should be disseminated and what information should not be.

This move isn't any different than AT&T or the one guy with a Gutenberg Press in your region deciding what you can and cannot read.

Our legal protections depend on the citizens and the government adhering to them.


>First, it's not about private files, it's about distributing content.

Sort of. People use "anybody with the link can view" for lots of purposes that are far short of broad public publishing.

I use it for sharing with single digit numbers of people I already know, or sometimes just for myself for things that don't need to be private.


You are assuming a professional is reading whatever the content is you are distributing and will make a rational, fair decision.

No.

It's going to be a minimum wage indentured Google servant that doesn't quite understand what they are reading but they have 17.5 seconds per case to make a decision. They will shoot first and ask questions later. What if the document is satire but they couldn't understand it? Oh well there goes one strike against your account, or maybe that's your third strike and now ALL your Google accounts are banned.

We already know what the appeals process is like. Unless you get it publicized on Hacker News et al, you won't get any chance to appeal.


So, last year when the Wuhan lab leak was a conspiracy theory, it would have been (and was) censored.

But what happens when Google/their allies change their mind and determine that something is no longer a conspiracy theory?


Actually, this is not even about distribution exactly, but about the "Report Abuse" button: what this page lists are categories of things that, if someone with access to the file clicks on "Report Abuse", whoever is acting on those flags may decide is a violation. Note that the page says:

> After we are notified of a potential policy violation, we may review the content and take action…

So (1) it's not about Google proactively scanning all your files (even public ones: though I guess with sufficiently public files, sooner or later someone will click on "Report Abuse", perhaps even by accident), and (2) I imagine it could happen with files you shared with just your friend, if your "friend" decides to "Report Abuse".

(Disclaimer: I work at Google but not on Google Drive or anything related to these policies.)


“Democracy” and “health” are high level man-made abstractions, so they can hardly be placed at the root of anything, that's not just because of “free speech”. See how you didn't even try to use, say, “personal rights” and “personal life”; the panegyric for those who “know what's better for you” needs vague impersonal “democracy” and “health”.

Google has been doing anything it wants with people's data, news like these just mean they are lazily formalizing their power.


Who at Google do you trust to decide what information you and I are allowed to know? What is this person's qualifications?

How can they be held to account when they inevitably get it wrong?

Where will the highly-transparent write-ups detailing moderation decisions be published?

Seems like if Google actually gave a damn about the morality of censorship as some sort of 'neccessary evil' you'd be able to answer these questions easily^. Until then, it's a non-starter in my book.


This is the key problem with all censorship, however well-intentioned. A person is needed to censor. People make mistakes. Sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose. There is a strong dis-incentive to having any transparency or accountability. If there were, you might be held liable for your mistakes and nobody wants that.


To add: Who at Google listens to dissent!? No one is allowed to say anything - there is sort of a chilling effect internally at Google.

It’s debateless policies that are spreading on the world stage. People need to rise up against a small group of individuals located in Menlo Park, CA who are demonstrably and utterly out of the touch with the rest of the world, but deciding how and what information flows. These people have no idea how agriculture works or how people live in Indonesia or what conflicts are going on in Namibia.


I don't trust Google to fully filter information for it's credibility ... so I don't automatically trust things shared on Google drive.

But I don't have to trust that Google won't suppress valid positions drive since there are many alternatives for sharing information beyond Google drive, which isn't meant to primarily host public content in any case.


>many alternatives for sharing information beyond Google drive

You'll be disturbed to learn then that every major social network heavily censors information in an opaque manner.

What about the elderly or others who might only know how to use Facebook or YouTube? Fuck em?


First, since you've been derailing thing from one question another, I have to mention that a thing shared publicly from a Google drive account is no more accessible than a thing shared from a website that a person sets themselves, so Google drive accessibly is not particular answer to social network news filtering.

But on the topic of social network news filtering, anyone who uses a social network is implicitly consenting to that network's filtering of information.

Once upon a time, most people got their news from a single newspaper - well informed people might read several papers as well as newsmagazines but even this implied a lot of filtering. Those newspapers filtered the news more heavily than any present network.


>anyone who uses a social network is implicitly consenting to that network's filtering of information.

In what way does this make censorship the morally right thing to do? Think of all the evil large corporations have tried to justify with statements like that^ over the years.

"Our billions of users should have known we were gonna pull the wool over their eyes!"


I think the point here is that these are private businesses, and their platforms are private property. The liberty to choose what you do with your property overrides any responsibility to do the "morally right" thing, whatever that actually is.


I don’t want a cloud storage provider with only private storage. If I have a library of book files I want to share it with my spouse and if Google is trying to filter out misinform and not let me distribute it to my spouse, that’s bad.

I think we’ll have augmented intelligence through computing soon and imagine how horrific it will be if Google says “you can think misinfo, we just won’t let you think it?”

That’s bad. Storing, creating, and distributing don’t need limits like this.

Asimov’s three laws were possible and they still had issues. Imagine having a law for robots that they couldn’t speak what Google thought is misinfo.


Your message implies that you trust that Google will use this message in a clean way. They won't; they have a history of using algorithms to detect TOS abuses in a very Gung-ho way without any sort of functional appeal process.


I don't think there's much distinction between "you're not allowed an opinion" and "you're allowed an opinion as long as you don't tell anyone".


what about if you share a file with select people? Is that still "private" or does it become public the moment you give someone else access?


>> it's not about private files, it's about distributing content

The distinction between private files and distributed content is blurred-2-nonexistent, and Google Drive is not a neutral player in that process. The whole premise is that these are just sharing settings.

The premise of this service is that controlling your own files is passe, because content distribution, creation, consumption and need to work seamlessly.

Also, this isn't outside of the greater Alphabet complex. Even in social media, where they are a secondary player, they own Youtube... also premised on the sharing and distributing model.


I take rat poison as medicine--warfarin, just in much smaller doses than the rats get. For that matter, the most toxic substance known to man, botulism toxin, is being promoted for various medical and cosmetic uses.


> Google isn't spying on your private files

Yes, it is.


I don't even use google, except I have a youtube login, and many friends I correspond with use gmail. In the present surveillance regime we can experience, through the medium of digital communications, the myth of the Evil Eye and the fear of being watched with bad intention.


I agree with your first paragraph but this:

> All our legal protections ultimately depend on a democratic foundation

is the wrong way round. I suspect you're speaking from a US perspective. The US constitution limits the rights of goverment for the benefit of the people, it does not limit the rights of the people for the benefit of government.


Why are you acting like it stops here?


> notice that the two main categories here are related to democracy and health

Funny you should mention health... Imagine if Google banned speaking out against Cryonics or life extension technologies on this basis.


>Google isn't spying on your private files, but does scan them when you share them publicly.

What's more likely:

A) That they make a single-pass scan over a file for various purposes

B) They make multiple, separate scans over a file at different times depending on sharing status and other factors

I'd contend that it's more likely to be A, and that it almost certainly happens as soon as the data becomes visible to Google. I'd be very surprised if they didn't scan immediately to de-dupe and detect illegal pornography, for example. Once that's a given, it doesn't make much sense to do a separate kind of scanning later based on a different set of criteria; You scan once and flag for the respective detections immediately.


Mao in 1956: let a hundred flowers bloom ... Mao a year later: but watch out for the weeds. In those days the CPC apparently also has had a change in their 'terms and conditions'.


> undo that with misinformation and you don't have anything anymore.

And how is this defined? At one time everyone agreed the earth was flat.


People deciding what to share and who to vote for are equivalent. You effectively don't get one without the other.


> Google isn't spying on your private files

actually, it does... at least on the ones hosted by Google.


Why do they scan it when made public? Why does it have to be pro-active and not reactive?


Come on man, this is classic boiling frog.


This argument is exactly what the Inquisition argued. Now try to explain to me why the Inquisition is bad.


I just cancelled my drive subscription.

I don't know how anyone could continue using it after this.

I probably have dozens of docs and hundreds of research papers contradicting government health advice on diabetes and heart disease. These would fall under "Misleading content related to harmful health practices" since they promote a health theory which the government considers harmful.

However I would have cancelled regardless since the idea of automatic bans and/or content deletion based on ML models is crazy. They are obviously going to find a lot a false positives and I can't deal with the idea of trying to speak to google to explain that their algorithm mistakenly flagged my innocent content. In other words even if you are the perfect citizen, there is a chance you will get flagged anyway.


Yes, this is really bizarre. I get this kind of policy for some kinds of platforms, but not Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms. Those are my documents, and I should be free to put whatever I want in them.

What if I just like to collect and share old conspiracy theory stuff that I know is wrong? For whimsy, historical, whatever purposes...


This policy does not apply to private files. I just want to point out based on your comment that none of what you mentioned matters unless you share the document publicly.


> unless you share the document publicly

Based on Google's wording[1], it seems you just need to share that document with one single person; if that person flags it, at that point Google is allowed to investigate even if the document is not public.

[1] "After we are notified of a potential policy violation, we may review the content and take action, including restricting access to the content, removing the content, and limiting or terminating a user’s access to Google products."


"What if I just like to collect and share old conspiracy theory stuff"

The key word there is "share". Lots of people use the "share with anyone that has the link" for limited sharing.


Looks like Google wants you to enter someone's email explicitly to share something with if you don't want this policy to kick in. I suppose even in theory there isn't a way to know the intent behind whether something is meant to be shared with just a few people or publicly if "share with anyone that has the link" option is used.


> This policy does not apply to private files.

Yet. Once people get used to it, it will be extended to private files. Likely they will even build it into Android and create an API to report citizens storing questionable documents.


I have saved my comment and will come back to it in few years.


Some commenter replied it will change nothing. I disagree (but didn't downvote) - it will change the number of people in the market for a competitor. There are competitors out there and the people who are cancelling their Drive subscriptions here are going to support them financially, building a viable rival to Drive with their dollars. More competition is one of the best possible outcomes and I fully support it. Please cancel your Google subscriptions, folks!


If this comes from government, then every competitor will eventually have this. Google was probably asked to test idea and the impact.


This policy does not apply to private files. I just want to point out based on your comment that none of what you mentioned matters unless you share the document publicly.


Yep. I just signed up for a paid email service too.

Time to migrate everything off of google services.


going to follow suit


Please switch to Firefox as well. I beg everyone.


"Misinformation" is just another word for "falsehood" or "untruth."

Those of you claiming that "democracy" depends on authorities preventing the spread of misinformation are ipso facto saying that democracy requires the government, or megacorporate cartels with a monopoly on public speech most likely acting as proxies for the government (as Psaki made clear is happening), to define what counts as "truth" (a Ministry Of Truth if you will) and to stamp out what they've defined as "false."

It's insane, and it's amazing to me how many of you have your heads so far up your assessment with partisanship that you can't see that the recent media hysteria over "misinformation" is a blatant example of the contrived "emergencies" that all totalitarian regimes in history have used to seize control over free societies.


> "Misinformation" is just another word for "falsehood" or "untruth."

That’s not sufficiently true. In fact, asserting untrue propositions is one of the easiest-to-counter ways of misinformation.

Real pros use humbuggery; of a set of n true propositions, pick a subset m to lead the audience to your conclusions and you haven’t even “lied”.

That’s why “fact checking” is such a popular way of narrative laundering, because truthiness of individual propositions alone never reveal if someone was bullshitting you.

That’s also why the courtroom maxim is “truth, nothing but the truth, and the whole truth”. Only those 3 properties in combination would exclude misinformation. (Not saying courtrooms necessarily live up to this maxim.)

I agree with the spirit of the rest of your argument.


> Real pros use humbuggery; of a set of n true propositions, pick a subset m to lead the audience to your conclusions and you haven’t even “lied”.

I've never heard the word humbuggery before, but I completely agree with the rest. Before social media we used to call that "choosing what to cover". It's also called a "lie of omission", so any censor who suppresses true information can reasonably be accused of lying (or misinformation) themselves.

As others have said, it's not new, but now, for the first time in US history, the media moguls are censoring not only their own broadcasts, but everyone's communications. Could America have ever developed as it has if the postal service or phone company had done that?


Though that's what happens, I don't think people call that misinformation but rather bias. Isn't misinformation factually wrong in the common meaning?


People rarely go and read the actual article so the headline must be accurate on its own or you misinform the public. Reversing or strongly altering the statement made in the headline in the actual article doesn't mean it is no longer misinformation, the damage is already done as the masses read the headline and now thinks it actually happened that way. Yet this seems to be completely acceptable even in most reputable news-sources.


The problem is not the existence or propagation of misinformation, disinformation or lies or truth. The problem is the attempt to control any of it by decree. You cannot trust anyone with the power to be the sole arbiter of truth. Everyone is human and everyone is fallible no matter how educated or credentialed. Democracy is the best of all the imperfect forms of government because it allows a plurality of opinions and convictions to exist and for everyone to freely choose among them. Governance can swing from one set of ideas to another peacefully and with the legitimacy that a majority have decided that things should be done a certain way for a limited amount of time after which we all re-evaluate the decision and can make changes if needed.


I think it's less about being factually wrong, and more about leading people to factually wrong conclusions with truthful statements.

Even just saying "X sells stock Y before event Z" imples that X knew about event Z and that it would affect the stock price of Y. People will read headlines like this and walk away assuming there was insider trading, but that may not be the case. Nothing in that example headline has to be false in order for it to spread falsehoods.


Sure, that's a common technique, but would you really call it misinformation? I would call it misleading. Otherwise most of the financial press is misinformation and the word becomes kind of meaningless.

A lot of this type of misleading rhetoric often boils down to simply exploiting that many humans mistake correlation for causation and our education system really hasn’t don’t enough to hammer in not confusing those two.


> That’s not sufficiently true. In fact, asserting untrue propositions is one of the easiest-to-counter ways of misinformation.

Tell that to the children ICE detained separately from their parents.


(I confess I replied in a knee-jerk reaction to your set-up, rather than your main point. Sorry for that. Your main point has meat on its bones and seems worthy of further discussion.)


What about American citizens who are separated from their children when arrested?


Wouldn’t you just need “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”?


It's actually worse - the "truth" necessarily implies that there is but one, and that everything else in false.

Does this sound familiar ? This is exactly what religious loonies say in order to take control.

Science necessarily involves keeping your own ignorance, epistemic and otherwise, in mind while dealing with things, but it's quite worrying that the West is going back on what was won with blood and sweat.


The lab leak theory was discarded as false and conspiracy thinking, now many experts believe this to be the case... What is a conspiracy one day can eventually be the truth, e.g. the Tonkin Incident.


I am not aure about the US but here in Germany most experts didn't say it was a conspiracy theory, but that those who claim this is the truth lack the data to back it up.

I could also argue that there is a invisible unicorn orbiting the solar aystem. As long as there is no real proof for it we have to accept that it is just a theory. And the more facts align with my theory the more motivation there should be to check my theory by trying to disproove it.

SARS-1/MERS was prooven to stem from bats in the same region, so assuming that instead of a lab leak theory was more in line with known/knowable facts than a lab leak theory. When the facts changes theories change, that is science.


That's just the point: How could you ever assemble the data to turn a theory into truth if you are not allowed to discuss it?


Who wasn't allowed to discuss it and by whom? Again I am not from the US, but afaik it wasn't helpful that the "CHINA-VIRUS"-fraction of your political spectrum (which is quite frankly not known for their truth seeking behavior) were the first one who really wished this to be true.

Serious scientist have to remain open for all possibilities no matter who wants them to be true, but it really doesn't help if there is a irrational coloration to it including people being assaulted in the street because of how they look.

Societies with a calmer political climate can react calmer to things. Which is why the German Fauci equivalent explained when this theory first came up "sure that would be possible — it just doesn't seem plausible by our current information".

And the idea that "you are not allowed to say that" seems just a bit... weird to me given that this was a hot topic many people discussed. Scientists explained on public television why they don't deem it likely, that is pretty much opposite of "not being allowed to discuss it". It just happened that the side which believed it had no real evidence that could have been discussed, so at one point the discussion found its natural end without any new data. I remember the situation back then: People back then wanted this theory to be true really hard without any supporting facts. Sure it being true was an option, but people weren't calm about it, they were nearly desperate, as if the only way they can make sense of the pandemic was to blame it on someone act of mallice by some (evil) actor.

Maybe it is because I live in Germany but I am quite frankly allergic to this kind of behaviour. It has caused Genocides before (and probably will do so in the future). When you want some comforting truth or some story to be true so much, you stop caring whether it is actually true or likely you are lying to yourself. And when you lie to yourself just hard enough everybody is able to become a monster.


it waste allowed to be discussed publicly. it was labeled a racist fringe debunked conspiracy theory, and that sent all the signals you needed to chill scientists from using their platforms and expertise to gain attention to this idea. for example, when the head of the CDC mentioned it during a hearing he was ridiculed. based on largely opinions published in the cause social media companies to limit and censor information, which Twitter and Facebook did, for example the whistleblower that appeared on tucker Carlson's show.

of course there were a few brave scientists that spoke the truth of the viability and likelihood of the lab leak hypothesis, but that only proves how severe the suppression of discussion was.

people let your political opinions dictate what discourse is acceptable and which is not. if one imagines that your political opponents "wished it to be true" and seem to think of even labelling the virus from china as some sort of wrong think then one can be happy to pick and choose whichever truth you want to accept. scientists both hear and abroad where able to dismiss that lab leak is not plausible, based on lack of evidence. but the same thing could be said for the wilderness human contact. fauci said based on history lab leak is unlikely, in spite of the fact that lab leaks had occurred in the past.

I personally have no doubt that China s messaging was to suppress support for the lab leak, and they have succeeding in avoid any pressure to come forward with the truth about the actives of that lab in Wuhan . I also think that there is an entire field on scientific study that needs much more regulation and discipline, and they have also avoided any significant scrutiny.

I will await the discussion from mainstream virologists on tv and in medical and scientific journals demanding transparency and reform. but I will not hold my breath.


>I will await the discussion from mainstream virologists on tv and in medical and scientific journals demanding transparency and reform.

That exists. It's exactly what people mis-read as scientists supporting the lab leak hypothesis. Instead they support a more open attitude by China regarding investigations, which is neither evidence nor proof of either an artificial origin for the virus, nor for the lab leak theory.


https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/16/politics/biden-intel-review-c...

First result after I google lab leak...

Senior Biden officials finding that Covid lab leak theory as credible as natural origins explanation


Dude, come on. FOX and Trump were running with this theory as fact, using it as a pejorative against the Chinese government, and kicking the shit out of Asians across the country while we were in the grips of a pandemic. Instead of focusing on things like "What can I as a citizen/political leader do to help the situation", it was just more hate-mongering.

Yes, the truth is important, and if the virus came from a lab leak, it should be known and dealt with. FOX and company weren't journalists looking for answers. They were hatemongers giving their viewers an "other" to blame for something out of their control, while telling them at the same time that the virus was fake and masks are tyrannical.

No one said you couldn't discuss it. No one was jailing you for talking about it. Stop the fake oppression.


Who’s the hate monger here? Maybe some of the people you are referring to understood the simple relationship between location of the lab and the outbreak as being valid evidence as well. And you call them “hate-mongers” for thinking so.


To answer your question, not me. To clear my point up, I am refering to the people putting the "Wuhan Flu" as the headline for months, Trump and Fox and the alt-right. No matter how valid the possibility, the discussion wasn't being had in good faith. Like, who gives a shit while we're dealing with the problem? It's like arguing if your stove had a gas leak as your house is burning down, except not only are you having the conversation at the wrong time, you're encouraging your friends to go kill the stove-maker's friends.

Let's just be clear on this: The "opinion" section of Fox "news" is one of the most dangerous organs of communication in society today.


What if it turns out the COVID did come from a lab. Will it still be “hate mongering” the “others” then? Or do we start embargo if the PRC?

The left likes to call anything they don’t want to talk about “hate” or “racist” these days.

This usually happens when upper middle class liberals get offended on minorities or “others” behalf.

The Orwellian newspeak is also not helping.


I don't know if you're intentionally misreading my post, or if I didn't make it clear enough - although I did clarify in a reply.

The hate-mongering is from the opinion shows that made themselves the heroic, oppressed "real-fact" people by constantly talking about it, by making it a conspiracy when it wasn't really, it just didn't matter at the time. Read my other reply, I'm not going to type it all out.

No, it isn't hate-mongering to wonder if the virus came from a lab. It's hate-mongering to play the victim, to scream "conspiracy!" as a strawman to millions of people, and have people going batshit crazy about it when it doesn't really matter. In other words, it's not the question that is the problem, it's the framing that Fox and Co. put around their narrative.

Don't even talk about "the left". It's not a monolith. I didn't talk about "conservatives" writ-large, my point is against the Fox op-ed cult - a very specific subset of the right. Please limit your assumptions as much as possible.

And really, it's makes zero sense to make the sweeping accusations against everyone on a side of a political spectrum. "The left" etc. is something to avoid. Much as I think the federal GOP is actively working against American values for the sake of its own power, I don't blame every conservative voter for their lack of options, nor do I think every Republican voter is literally Mitch McConnell.


On the contrary, no expert believes the coronavirus lab leak hypothesis is correct; a few do however say it should be investigated.

This is exactly this kind of misunderstanding that this whole thread is about.


What you are describing is just another manipulation of words by media that has caught you and others. Most scientists believe the virus had a lab in origin, and couldn’t have been natural, but whether that is due to a lab leak is completely speculation based on the fact it likely has a lab origin.


You need a cite for that, and some definition of 'scientist' that actually lends credibility.

"Couldn't have been natural" is especially a stretch, given that SARS and Bird Flu manifested naturally in the same part of the world a few years prior.


No they do not. Most believe it jumped from a wild animal to humans a short while before the outbreak in Wuhan.


Oh it most likely did jump from animals to humans. Lab outbreak theory does not refer to the virus being artificial, but on that the jump occurred inside the lab due to bad measures and then leaked outside.


GP referred to the virus being unnatural, whereas there is very strong evidence that it is natural.

As to a natural virus being accidentally leaked from a lab, there's no evidence for that scenario, except for the fact that the first major SARS-CoV2 outbreak happened in the same city. For what it's worth, this is not as implausible a co-incidence as might be claimed, since it is not uncommon for a virology lab to study viruses endemic to the region it is located in.


"For what it's worth, this is not as implausible a co-incidence as might be claimed, since it is not uncommon for a virology lab to study viruses endemic to the region it is located in. "

The bat virus that seems to be the progenitor of SARS-Cov-2 was isolated in caves in a different part of China, quite far from Wuhan. Plus, bats hibernate during the time that the spread began.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-chinas-bat-wo...


It's estimated that ~50 years passed since the time bat virus (RaTG13) and SARS-CoV2 diverged.

So it's certainly not a recent transmission, which is why an intermediate host is proposed, which could also be bat, or some other host species. Coronaviruses are endemic in that region of China.


I believe there is only one truth, and everything else is false.

But I also believe humans do not have access to it.


I call this thermodynamic truth.

And while it is the sole arbiter of truth, the moment something occurs that truth starts decaying via entropy. Photons fly away at light speed never to be seen by us again. The energy that remains starts mixing in ways that cannot be reversed. You quickly lead to scenarios where more than one initial state could lead to the current state we can measure.

And worse we can never exist in a system where we capture and keep this information. You either alter the 'experiment' by measuring it, aka chaos theory. Or, you bring about the premature heat death of the universe.


There are facts and there is the context of the facts and the impact those facts have on people.

One can argue the news should just report the facts, but they add additional context and information to explain why the facts matter.

Verifying the facts / truth is objective and clear (e.g. it rained 2 inches today). Determining whether the impact is properly reported (e.g. “devastating” flooding occurred) is murky. And the flooding could have been devastating - to one family, to a village, to a school. So it’s not untrue, it’s just more subjective as you move from numbers to impact. And the news cares more about reporting impact than facts and will tailor the narrative to explain the impact to their audience.

Look at the news service all sides. You can figure out the facts (e.g. a law was passed) then see what each side is saying about the impact. The impact may be true for both sides, just presented in a vastly different way.


I agree with this position.

The idea that there may be 'truths' sounds utterly bonkers to me. a ^ -a is considered a contradiction for a reason.


There is a lot of subtlety hidden in "a ^ ~a is a contradiction", because physical reality is more complex than it appears.

For example, one of the stunning consequences of Special Relativity is that there exist situations in which an observer says that event A happens before event B, and another observer says that event A happens after event B, and both are correct. Nature does not appear to be at all bothered by this "contradiction", however, and the world works just fine. Even more puzzling "contradictions" arise in quantum mechanics.

For all we know, it appears that reality is indeed dependent on the observer at a deep level. Maybe there is an even deeper level at which statements such as "a ^ ~a is false" hold, but so far nobody has been able to discover any.


I think the real difficulty is in human language. "a ^ ~a is a contradiction" is still perfectly applicable but apparently requires a "for observer A" clause. To supply all of the clauses necessary to make a completely unambiguous statement would be way too long to be humanly comprehensible. It makes me think of the Carl Sagan quote about needing to invent the universe before you can make anything "from scratch".


I'd argue that "event A happens before event B" is objectively true if and only if event A happens in event B's past light cone, and so there's no actual contradiction. The only weirdness you get is that if events A and B are space-like separated, none of the statements "event A happens before event B", "event A happens after event B", or "event A happens at the same time as event B" are objectively true. But you wouldn't say it's contradictory or paradoxical, just that it's a partial order rather than a total order.


You're simply misrepresenting what the actual statement with a truth value is in these cases. The fact that events happening close to each other temporally from fast-moving inertial frames can't be given a canonical temporal ordering doesn't undermine the existence of truth. A happens before B in the inertial reference frame of one observer and B happens before A in the inertial reference frame of a different observer are both true statements, and the converse of each is a false statement. The insight of special relativity is that there exists no God's eye reference frame independent of inertial reference frames. Nothing moves against some eternal static backdrop serving as a coordinate anchor. Things only move with respect to other moving things. That is in and of itself also a true statement, and the converse is false. Non-contradiction still holds everywhere. That you need further details and context to determine the truth of a statement doesn't mean it has no defined truth value.


The Special Relativity example you brought up is not a good example because it's about observation, not the truth of the order of the events.

Reality is not dependent on the observer, but we are observers, so that's why everyone thinks they have their own version of the truth. We are the weak link.


>Nature does not appear to be at all bothered by this "contradiction"

There is no contradiction. Our intuition for what 'A happens before B' means and implies is just bad/incomplete, as special relativity models.

>Even more puzzling "contradictions" arise in quantum mechanics.

I would bet a couple years of wage that what seems like contradictions will eventually be cleared up with some non-intuitive models, just like with special relativity.

I imagine the 'changes based on observer' problems of quantum mechanics will be more understandable once we decide what an observer is ( goddamnit people from physics, you don't add such a highly abstract variable to your model without giving it some good definition x( ), with some better experimental apparatus or with some deeper models of reality.


Please then tell me what is the one true religion? :)

Humans are not logical systems.


>Please then tell me what is the one true religion? :)

I dunno. I'm inclined towards none of the ones I know a little about being true since they really like to ask you to 'trust me bro, feel it in your heart' instead of just giving you good reasons to believe them.

Newton gave us far better arguments for universal gravitation than most people do for their religions, and he was ultimately wrong/incomplete.

>Humans are not logical systems.

Yes, that is a bug in the humanity system. Generally we try to diminish its effects when truth-judging (or maybe probable-truth-approximation-judging if you care about your epistemology). Recognizing this bug is useful to try and diminish its effect.


>Yes, that is a bug in the humanity system.

So the urge for flying to the moon is a bug? Climb a Mountain?


It depends on your utility function, of course. Will flying to the moon or climbing a mountain bring you closer to the things you value?

The urge is a bug if it doesn't match the things you value. The urge is not a bug if it matches the things you value.

With some fat margin for uncertainty around 'matching the things you value' because that's hard to quantify.

Utility functions can have 'axiomatic values' in them. Not everything you value is deduced from underlying principles.


Try cocaine (saying this could be deleted by Google if it hosted this message)

And see for yourself whether we humans have bugs.


Belief is independent of reality. There is only explanation of our origination that is true.


The one true "religion" is science. Once a religion is discovered to be true then science will include that religion.


Science is NOT religion, believes have no weight in science just proof.

Religion is the exact opposite.


>I believe there is only one truth, and everything else is false.

That is maybe true with science, but not with living breathing things.

Just one example:

What is the best system to live in? Capitalism, Socialism or a mix of Capitalism AND Socialism?

Often it is just not a question of truth when it comes to humans.


It just appears that there's multiple truthful answers to that question since you haven't fully defined what the word "best" means.

If you rigorously define what you mean by that word in this question, then there will be one and only one answer.

Of course, whether we're capable of finding that answer is a separate question.


>It just appears that there's multiple truthful answers to that question since you haven't fully defined what the word "best" means.

That's exactly what i mean...humans and everything that comes with them are not systems....let alone logical ones.

Hell even science makes a difference (hard science and soft science)


>That is maybe true with science, but not with living breathing things.

Are you saying living things have some irreducible complexity that's unexplainable or undetectable by scientific methods?

>Just one example: What is the best system to live in?

It's a pretty bad example. There's necessarily an answer which, if nothing else, is the best for the largest number of people. People aren't infinitely variable.


>Are you saying living things have some irreducible complexity that's unexplainable or undetectable by scientific methods?

No i said Humans are not logically describable systems.

>There's necessarily an answer which, if nothing else, is the best for the largest number of people.

Having Slaves because it's an easier life for the larger population for example?

>People aren't infinitely variable.

Try to mathematically proof that ;)


>No i said Humans are not logically describable systems.

Arguably they're equivalent statements.

>Having Slaves because it's an easier life for the larger population for example?

Yes. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it couldn't be the "best". By the way, historically, slave-based economies needed the majority of the population to be slaves. It makes sense, since the slaves are consuming their own production and are expending more energy than the non-slaves.

>Try to mathematically proof that ;)

Humans don't grow arbitrarily large or small, nor do they grow arbitrary numbers of limbs, nor have arbitrary numbers of bones. A person chosen at random from anywhere in the world isn't equally likely to hold any opinion from the infinity of opinions they could conceive of. For example, I could confidently say no person has ever simultaneously believed that Google should be subject to more regulation and that the current pharaoh is a living deity.


[flagged]


If you post like this again we will ban you, regardless of how wrong another commenter is or you feel they are. We've had to warn you about this before. Please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the rules when posting here.


Nog sure about the intent of Google (and as they say, the road to hell is paved with good ones) but you’re reframing. It’s not a matter of censoring deviations from orthodoxy, rather one of removing disinformation and demonstrable falsehoods, often used for propaganda and to setup victim scenarios.


Those engaging in widespread censorship create disinformation and falsehood, by omission.

In history, it has always been those engaging in widespread censorship who turn out to be disastrously and/or maliciously wrong.

The science now being censored has become so well-established, that at this point, Google/YT et al, has and will delete and suppress the sharing of peer-reviewed science published in mainstream journals and indexed in PubMed.

That 100% ends their credibility. I deplore anyone expecting an explanation as to why.

Anyone yet standing by such incredulous, irresponsible and/or actively-malicious action, reveals themselves as same, for all to see.


Uh, I’ve read plenty about CIA techniques to overthrow undesired governments and a favorite trick is propping astroturfing campaigns claiming the wildest tripe and alt-truth against the soon-to-be “liberated”.

So please, come up with proof or yours is just another case of trumped up claims


I honestly can't make head nor tails of what you've said here, and am left wondering if you're a bot?

I made a statement, on-topic, about the nature and history of censorship, Google's credibility as arbiter of truth, and how naked they appear now as a result of how extreme they've become in that self-appointed role.

If you're not a bot, maybe try reading it again with that understanding?


Bot? Please step down that high horse of yours.

This thread ends here


> Companies aren't allowed to advertise rat poison as medicine and neither are you. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warfarin

In fact, they are and they do. (Ok, not you unless you run a pharm company). The best known rat poison is warfarin, an anticogulant used world wide as a medicine under various names.

As to your main point, how do you or others on SM, define misinformation? Do you believe the shadowy folk (qualifications unstated) who pontificate at FB, Twitter, Google and Wikipedia? That has to be absurd and shocking. Anyone who wants to (and wants to seems to be the issue), can see the fatuity of this after searching for overturned consensus views as supported by the SM platforms mentioned. The search should include the peer-reviewed literature.

A most recent volte-face relates to Covid origin, In April it was undoubtedly of natural origin as we were authoritatively informed by the Lancet. Now in July, the previously regarded conspiracy theory is taken seriously by people able to make a judgment. Who does one believe, the unknowns at SM or someone like Peter Palese, https://labs.icahn.mssm.edu/paleselab/) who was among 27 scientists who had earlier signed the Lancet letter denouncing as “conspiracy theories” the notion that the coronavirus could have escaped from a lab — or even be man-made. He now disavows that claim as do many others of similar status.


Except the term "misinformation" appears nowhere on the page https://support.google.com/docs/answer/148505

Instead it refers to "misleading information".

Absent a specific definition of "misinformation" from Google's lawyers -- who likely authored or at least reviewed this page -- we are left to consult the dictionary.

The dictionary defines "misinformation" as "information that is incorrect". There is no requirement of intent. The information may or may not be misleading.

That is, the term "misinformation" may apply to any incorrect information regardless of intent.

Is it possible to have incorrect information ("misinformation") that is not intended to or does mislead (~ "misleading information"). Your answer: ___

Is it possible to have correct information (~ "misinformation") that is intended to or does mislead ("misleading information"). Your answer: ___


Is it possible to have correct information (~ "misinformation") that is intended to or does mislead ("misleading information"). Your answer: ___

No need to answer this question. The technodemocratic complex has already answered it. It's tawdry, but the hunter biden laptop was "misinformation", because it was intended to mislead people away from Biden.

Doesn't matter that it was correct, the evidence was good, and it was published by major newspapers. The technical elite agreed with the political elite, and it was struck from the internet.

Amazingly, when it was raised at the presidential debate, real-time polling suggested that the majority of the populace had no idea what was being talked about. The suppression was effective.

We live in dangerous times.


>It's insane, and it's amazing to me how many of you have your heads so far up your ass that you can't see what is obvious and how are you so dumb bla bla bla

Clearly, since this is the most upvoted comment in the entire thread, you're not the only freethinker in an ocean of sheep.

I don't know, this lecturing tone is quite aggravating.


Youre absolutely right and the Ministry of Truth reference couldn’t be more chilling


"Ministry of Truth" references are the opposite of illuminating; they're reflexive association of any attempt to arbitrate truth with totalitarian oppression.

The fact is there is no such thing as rule of law without lots of institutions and individuals (private and public) taking responsibility for arbitrating truth. And there's no freedom of speech without allowing them to do it.


This is not true at all. The rule of law, within the confines of the judicial system, does NOT define truth. The system weighs evidence and determines whether the preponderance of evidence indicates guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Someone could murder someone, but due to lack of evidence they are found “not guilty”. But that’s not the same as “the truth is this person did not commit murder”. It’s simply a finding that the state didn’t prove its case.


> The system weighs evidence and determines whether the preponderance of evidence

A formal process of examining evidence marshaled in the service of arguments supporting/refuting a claim sounds practically equivalent to most forms of determining truth. Because it is.

Not only that, but there are segments of the law where truth is explicitly invoked, ie "truth is an absolute defense against defamation."


But truth isn’t always black and white or falsifiable, so that’s why reasonable doubt comes into play.


If you believe so strongly in the ability of institutions to ferret out untruth then surely you’d be ok with the application of such knowledge. We have the ability to do real time analysis in communications such as email, text and cell phone calls so why not just delete any offending words from those communications in real time so that lies never spread? That way you have perfect freedom of speech, it’s just that your phone calls will be edited in real time so the other person never hears the banned words. Better yet, instead of just deleting then it could reword it ina simulation of your voice so that they only ever hear the accepted truth.


Sometimes I wonder if Google is in the business of giving out all these free services because of the awesome political power it gives them.


That depends how you draw the lines around the selfhood of Google. Did 2004 Google have the same intentions as 2021 Google?

Organizing information and making it useful sounds altruistically anti-misinformation. And maybe the search engine of the past was a net good against misinformation. And then maybe the ship attracted folks with less than ideal intentions over time, making your premise more and more true. Maybe 2031 Google will be much worse.


Having a government backed monopoly is the best business to be in.


Well, yes. "GovTech" is the ultimate startup pivot.


So much of the populace has a digital IV drip of constant connection to algorithmic political slogan propaganda machines. If people consume propaganda all day everyday you can't blame them for being highly propagandized.

What else can we possibly expect than this to happen?

I honestly see no evidence that open society is compatible with modern digital communication networks. An authoritarian contagion almost seems an emergent natural property of the network.

The cyberpunk religion I use to believe in couldn't have been more wrong.

I just take solace that I will have been born and lived at the perfect time and place in history. I will have got to be part of this very short lived religion that the internet is the greatest thing for liberalism and freedom ever created when it is really the complete opposite.

I can even zoom out enough to see the historical beauty in such a historic mistake.

Hard to live in more interesting times than right now.


There's plenty of room for the cyberpunk heroes, but I can't name a single such story where the hero was a megacorp.

Google is a mega corporation. If the world is trending cyberpunk, they're going to be the Arasaka of the story, not the Hiro.


I think we should be wary of enforcing a particular truth or narrative. I think society should be vigilant against government punishing people for what they think or say - that is anathema to the freedom guaranteed to us in the 1st Amendment.

However, your analysis doesn't acknowledge the very real war on truth being fought daily on a multitude of fronts. There are many actors, and many reasons they are doing it.

Some people just want to watch the world burn (troll armies, 4chan-like people, alt-right, etc). Some people want to keep ignorant people in their place, and pit people against each other (cable 'news", especially Fox).

People are being exposed to misinformation (deliberate lies about the state of current affairs) more and more easily than ever before.

It's like saying we have a freedom to hold whatever rocks we find on the ground, then someone finding a block of uranium. Sure, we have that freedom, but there is a very real danger and we need to figure how to deal with the more dangerous aspects of it. Censorship/government enforcement is a heavy hammer and I don't think it's the answer - but that doesn't mean there isn't a problem.


Indeed. When the founding father created the system the US has today, it was entirely intentional that powers be separated and check each other, that the house, senate and President were required to pass legislation, etc. The founding father recognized that the default is a slide towards authoritarianism, that’s just human nature. The system works when no one person can gather enough power to take over.


That answers the question of many about historical examples: "how they couldn't see they are being manipulated by totalitarians? why didn't they do something?" The same reason our current society thinks it's ok for the government to ban people for "misinformation" (the latest directive from White House demands internet-wide bans of whoever was accused of "misinformation" - without any due process of course, just on the word of White House, confirmed and implemented by the faceless army of Facebook underpaid overworked "moderators" team). Yes, there are people who are shocked and appalled by it - and they are speaking up. But the society largely either ignores them, or dismisses them as paranoid naysayers or partisan operators. That is going to cost us. And our descendants would wonder "how couldn't they see they are being obviously manipulated to cede control over their speech to the government-big tech oligarchy?!" How indeed.


thank you sir. you have my keyboard. i was expecting the top comment to be the exact opposite of what you said.


From the top of the post: "We need to curb abuses that threaten our ability to provide these services."

Google has lawyers to minimize its legal liability. Turning some vapid terms of service clause into a slippery slope argument for the onrush of totalitarianism is taking things too far.


Google's lawyers #1 task should be fighting for their employer's own rights.


> democracy requires the government, or megacorporate cartels with a monopoly on public speech most likely acting as proxies for the government

Who says that individuals or business institutions making judgments and using their resources to arbitrate truth -- especially institutions like Google whose business is about information -- are acting "as proxies for the government" instead of taking responsibility for honestly arbitrating truth as they understand it?

And the idea that any attempt to arbitrate truth is equal to totalitarian oppression is exactly wrong. Every institution and individual has to do it. Certainly any society based on rule of law does; you can't apply law without a consensus about what the facts to apply it to are.


Some will be giving their honest assessment and some won't. The latter may be a less serious problem, but it's still pretty damn serious.

Imagine a society that censors the disinformation/propaganda that trans women are women out of a sincerely held belief that this is indeed disinformation. Oh wait, Russia already does that.

Why would American attempts at suppression be any better? Or any better than what happened during the McCarthy era?


LOL "McCarthy era?" -- like, what are you actually referring to here? Is this just bad thing word salad? The primary problem with the McCarthy era wasn't censorship, it was actually that McCarthy's BS accusations about communism got such wide play and buy-in when they should have been squashed by responsible people.

"American" attempts would be better... because in most cases this appears to be voluntary and where the state is involved it appears to be officials actually persuading some private actors on the merits of the idea rather than compelling people by force.


The government is actively telling social media companies which posts need to be taken down. That makes them state actors.

https://taibbi.substack.com/p/meet-the-censored-matt-orfalea

https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/biden-administration...


If I flag something on Twitter or Facebook as violating site rules, or an FHEO official tells Craigslist they're aware of posts violating housing discrimination rules, that doesn't make any of these sites my actor or state actors. It makes them people who care about either keeping that stuff off their site or keeping the law.


You clearly didn't read the links I posted. Please read the links I posted.

Also your logic falls apart considering the courts ruled last year that Trump wasn't allowed to block people on Twitter. You "flagging" or "blocking" something is very different from the government doing it or pressuring companies to do it. That makes them state actors as has been ruled multiple times in the past.

Nor are we talking about stuff which "breaks the law" here. By social media's own proven standards, they kept the lab leak theory off their platform for 1.5 years. They are censoring women who oppose men competing in their sports or entering their private areas like spas and bathrooms. Palestinians get censored under the guise of "anti-semitism" and Israelis/Christians get censored under the guise of "islamaphobia" depending upon which political side has power. If we had such big social media back in 2000s, they would be censoring anyone who spoke out against the war or there not being any WMDs. If you spoke out against the Syrian gas attack hoax, you would'd get censored too.

From Supreme Court of the United States opinion couple months ago:

> "But whatever may be said of other industries, there is clear historical precedent for regulating transportation and communications networks in a similar manner as traditional common carriers. Candeub 398–405. Telegraphs, for example, because they “resemble[d] railroad companies and other common carriers,” were “bound to serve all customers alike, without discrimination." ... "Internet platforms of course have their own First Amendment interests, but regulations that might affect speech are valid if they would have been permissible at the time of the founding. See United States v. Stevens, 559 U. S. 460, 468 (2010). The long history in this country and in England of restricting the exclusion right of common carriers and places of public accommodation may save similar regulations today from triggering heightened scrutiny—especially where a restriction would not prohibit the company from speaking or force the company to endorse the speech." ... "The similarities between some digital platforms and common carriers or places of public accommodation may give legislators strong arguments for similarly regulating digital platforms. [I]t stands to reason that if Congress may demand that telephone companies operate as common carriers, it can ask the same of ”digital platforms." ... "For example, although a “private entity is not ordinarily constrained by the First Amendment,” Halleck, 587 U. S., at ___, ___ (slip op., at 6, 9), it is if the government coerces or induces it to take action the government itself would not be permitted to do, such as censor expression of a lawful viewpoint. Ibid. Consider government threats. “People do not lightly disregard public officers’ thinly veiled threats to institute criminal proceedings against them if they do not come around.” Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan, 372 U. S. 58, 68 (1963). The government cannot accomplish through threats of adverse government action what the Constitution prohibits it from doing directly. See ibid.; Blum v. Yaretsky, 457 U. S. 991, 1004–1005 (1982). Under this doctrine, plaintiffs might have colorable claims against a digital platform if it took adverse action against them in response to government threats. The Second Circuit feared that then-President Trump cut off speech by using the features that Twitter made available to him. But if the aim is to ensure that speech is not smoth- ered, then the more glaring concern must perforce be the dominant digital platforms themselves."

> "As Twitter made clear, the right to cut off speech lies most powerfully in the hands of private digital platforms. The extent to which that power matters for purposes of the First Amendment and the extent to which that power could lawfully be modified raise interesting and important questions. This petition, unfortunately, affords us no opportunity to confront them."

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/20-197_5ie6.pdf


A good democracy depends on its citizens being able to discuss issues with one another. If we disagree on basic incontrovertible facts, such as where someone was born, or what the measured efficacy of a treatment for a disease is, conversations with each other do not have value and we cannot have a democracy.

This is just the free market doing its job.


that's not accurate at all. look at the misleading medical information definition from Google

"Misleading content related to harmful health practices: Misleading health or medical content that promotes or encourages others to engage in practices that may lead to serious physical or emotional harm to individuals, or serious public health harm."

not only do they use the term misleading to define the term misleading, they clearly state any information that could cause serious public health harm is misleading. when people are screaming about vaccine misinformation they are often talking about discussing side effects of the vaccine, which causes hesitancy and therefore harm. if pressed for an example, they will pick up an absurd claim like 5g caused covid, but not the typical claims that the covid vaccine has reportedly killed thousands and injuries many more than that.

the labels disinformation, misinformation, misleading, potentially harmful are very orwellian, as many can take them to mean false information, but in fact these labels can be placed on perfectly true statements that are simply dissenting.


Ok I'm not pro censorship, but I'll bite your bait.

Firstly, this is a content policy, this is separate from actual enforcement. I would doubt that google enforces this proactively, rather they want a possibility to shut down what has now been dubbed 'fake news'.

Secondly, reading this with an open mind their focus seems to be on dangerous falsehoods, think things that can get people in prison (double voting?), health issues ('bleach anema for 3 year olds cures autism', 'vitamin D prevents covid', 'covid is an invention of the deep state', ...), or manipulated information that claims to represent another's view ('manipulated media ... that may pose a risk of egregious harm', e.g. I'd imagine a fake NYT article saying that masks are harmful).

Third, this is a private platform, not a government body enforcing its views.

Last, there are some dangerous lies. In Germany its illegal to state the holocaust never happened. You can discuss details and question parts of the narrative but not doubt that it ever happened. You can't have neo-nazis claiming that its all a big conspiracy and that others were at fault - which, if you know your history, is one of the very ways the nazis justified WW2. This law was an essential tool to counter similar tendencies after Germany lost WW2. In contrast, in Poland its illegal to state that Poles contributed to the holocaust, which is however a true fact that is just politically unwelcome. So the issue here is not whether there is a truth, and also not whether lies can be dangerous (bleach anema to get rid of your kids' autism!), but rather who does and how truth is arbited. A government/company shouldnt be able to shut down every dissenting opinion but I can't believe anyone honestly believes that there should be no way to challenge and limit the spread of dangerous lies. You can think and discuss what you want, but if you broadcast your views to a wide audience you should also be held to a higher standard. The real issue is who does the accounting.


I wish there were a way to indicate disagreement without hiding comments. Having "dislike" and "disagree" be the same arrow causes problem like hiding this.

I'm doing to take issue with your "dangerous lies" classification as not being a useful one. Every bit of censorship can be argued to be censoring dangerous lies. From Russian LGBT censorship to China's censorship of things undermining the narrative of Chinese greatness to older censorship of criticism of the king (in all his chosen by God glory).


"Every bit of censorship can be argued to be censoring dangerous lies."

This. Former Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and its secret police (StB) did not say "we are evil and we want to suppress information that contradicts whatever we need you to believe". It was a necessary struggle against Western ideodiversional centrals that were sowing lies among naive young population for nefarious purposes, of course.

Every censorship system will cloak itself in righteousness and necessity. Has been tried for hundreds of times. If anybody still accepts this argument at face value, they are likely ignorant of history.


> You can think and discuss what you want, but if you broadcast your views to a wide audience you should also be held to a higher standard. The real issue is who does the accounting.

It is exactly because you, nor anyone else, can come up with an acceptable solution to your last point, it is surely a lesser evil to have free speech, however "dangerous" it may turn, rather than have a benevolent accountant with the speech monopoly turn on us.


> Firstly, this is a content policy, this is separate from actual enforcement. I would doubt that google enforces this proactively, rather they want a possibility to shut down what has now been dubbed 'fake news'.

Discretionary enforcement power is part of the problem, not a mitigating factor. The policy itself simply gives them carte blanche to remove content with which they disagree:

> When applying these policies, we may make exceptions based on artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific considerations, or where there are other substantial benefits to the public from not taking action on the content.

Even if we give Google the benefit of the doubt and grant that initial enforcement could be judicious, wise, and a net positive for society (pretending like "a net positive for who?" is an easy question to settle), "substantial benefits to the public" is not a limiting principle.

History has taught us that without real, adversarial constraints, this power will always be mishandled and abused. Eventually, Google will make mistakes. In their zeal to prevent misinformation and harm, they will bury a promising drug therapy and it will cost lives. They will disallow evidence of a crime, and they will make exceptions that happen to benefit their biggest markets.

They have the right to do this, but it is surely wrong for us to delegate our judgement to them.


I'm sorry to see one of the more nuanced comments downvoted. Looks like the hacker news free speech anarchist task force is busy today.

Funny how they demand radical free speech, but downvote/flag anyone who disagrees, while using a forum where comments with too many downvotes are hidden automatically.


downvotes are free speech


Indeed, free speech includes freedom for anyone to make himself look like an idiot. We're not usually stopping people hell-bent on doing just that.


> I would doubt that google enforces this proactively

Google is absolutely already blanket banning stuff on Youtube. There is no reason to give them the benefit of the doubt.

> there are some dangerous lies

Yes, and the WHO has committed to dangerous lies as well.

Hell, in your own example, you're saying the Nazis justified WW2 with lies.

Government officials provably cannot be trusted to disseminate "the truth".

>private companies

These are not normal private companies. Citing GP, these are

>> megacorporate cartels with a monopoly on public speech most likely acting as proxies for the government


The government is actively telling social media companies which posts need to be taken down. That makes them state actors.

https://taibbi.substack.com/p/meet-the-censored-matt-orfalea

https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/biden-administration...

Here is a partial list of scientific consensus "deniers" proven right which this sort of censorship will either silence by big tech or due to self-censorship:

1. Ignaz Semmelweis, who suggested that doctors should wash their hands, and who eliminated puerpal fever as a result, was fired, harassed, forced to move, had his career destroyed, and died in a mental institution at age 47. All this because he went against consensus science.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis#Conflict_with...

2. Alfred Wegener, the geophysicist who first proposed continental drift, the basis of plate tectonics, was berated for over 40 years by mainstream geologists who organized to oppose him in favour of a trans-oceanic land bridge. All this because he went against consensus science.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Wegener#Reaction

3. Aristarchus of Samos, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, brilliant minds and leaders in their field all supported the heliocentric model. They were at some point either ignored, derided, vilified, or jailed for their beliefs. All this because they went against consensus science.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei#Controversy_ov...

4. J Harlen Bretz, the geologist who documented the catastrophic Missoula floods, was ridiculed and humiliated by uniformitarian "elders" for 30 years before his ideas were accepted. He first proposed that a giant flood raked Eastern Washington in prehistoric times, and who suffered ridicule and skepticism until decades of further research proved his thesis. All this because he went against consensus science. He was eventually awarded the Penrose Medal.

https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/books/bretzs-floo...

5. Carl F. Gauss, discoverer of non-Euclidean geometry, self-censored his own work for 30 years for fear of ridicule, reprisal, and relegation. It did not become known until after his death. Similar published work was ridiculed. His personal diaries indicate that he had made several important mathematical discoveries years or decades before his contemporaries published them. Scottish-American mathematician and writer Eric Temple Bell said that if Gauss had published all of his discoveries in a timely manner, he would have advanced mathematics by fifty years All this because he went against consensus science.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Friedrich_Gauss#Personali...

6. Hans Alfven, a Nobel plasma physicist, showed that electric currents operate at large scales in the cosmos. His work was considered unorthodox and is still rejected despite providing answers to many of cosmology's problems. All this because he went against consensus science.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannes_Alfvén

7. Georg Cantor, creator of set theory in mathematics, was so fiercely attacked that he suffered long bouts of depression. He was called a charlatan and a corrupter of youth and his work was referred to as utter nonsense. All this because he went against consensus science.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Cantor

8. Kristian Birkeland, the man who explained the polar aurorae, had his views disputed and ridiculed as a fringe theory by mainstream scientists until fifty years after his death. He is thought by some to have committed suicide. All this because he went against consensus science.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristian_Birkeland#Legacy

9. Gregor Mendel, founder of genetics, whose seminal paper was criticized by the scientific community, was ignored for over 35 years. Most of the leading scientists simply failed to understand his obscure and innovative work. All this because he went against consensus science.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregor_Mendel#Initial_receptio...

10. Michael Servetus discovered pulmonary circulation. As his work was deemed to be heretical, the inquisitors confiscated his property, arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and burned him at the stake atop a pyre of his own books. All this because he went against consensus science.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Servetus#Imprisonment_...

11. Amedeo Avogadro's atomic-molecular theory was ignored by the scientific community, as was future similar work. It was confirmed four years after his death, yet it took fully one hundred years for his theory to be accepted. All this because he went against consensus science.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amedeo_Avogadro#Response_to_th...


Most humans are inherently closed to disruptive ideas that challenge their basic world view.

It may be a survival trait, in fact. Not all of us are brilliant mavericks, so we have to rely on group think and past practices. Some disruptions are indeed harmful and must be suppressed firmly for the good of the species, for example inbreeding with siblings and parents.

What's happening right now with the attempted suppression of "hate speech" and "dangerous misinformation" is a classic imposition of majority consensus on a restless, information-empowered population.

It is an attempt to regain control. Never before have humanity had so much decentralized power to disseminate information; anyone can quickly and easily put their ideas out to a vast audience.

Probably a certain amount of control is necessary to maintain order, but obviously, how much is still up for debate.

The suppression of innovation that you have outlined is likely a small fraction of the total. How much might we have advanced, had these people's ideas not been suppressed? How much human suffering might have been averted?

Or would we have merely developed the tools to destroy ourselves and our world that much sooner?


Idk where you live, but here in Florida that "dystopia" sounds like a bit of an improvement.


Exactly. What is misinformation? What you define as misinformation right now could be information in a few months.

Entire discussions on things like ivermectin to treat covid were banned from YouTube as “misinformation”. Now some studies are coming out that might show that it’s not. At least it deserves a discussion but it has been censored as misinformation. So we lost an entire year of treating people around the world because SOMEONE deemed ivermectin misinformation??

What about the Wuhan lab origination? Last year that was derided as conspiracy theories and misinformation, but now it’s basically accepted as fact.

Who determines what is misinformation? What if Trump wins again or someone worse like Tom Cotton? And they set up a government panel that they decide is misinformation and companies like Google need to follow it? Who determines who is spreading misinformation now?

10 years ago a low fat diet was deemed “heart healthy”. Now that is classified as misinformation. Should low fat diets be censored by Google?

This is the problem. What you thought was misinformation is only really a few studies away from being flipped around.


> What you thought was misinformation is only really a few studies away from being flipped around.

To be clear, that matters because by censoring "misinformation" you are killing these studies, therefore we are by definition stuck wherever we are right now.

New science and "misinformation" as defined by our digital overlords intersect.


> This is the problem. What you thought was misinformation is only really a few studies away from being flipped around.

The big tech companies are destroying the value and credibility of our information ecosystems, by treating the first draft of history and science like it's the last. The day after an event [0], elite opinion becomes "information" and anything that contradicts that is "misinformation."

[0] I meant this as a slightly comical overstatement, but in many cases it's quite literal.


[flagged]


"People in the U.S. seem able to recognize that China’s censorship of the internet is bad. They say: “It’s so authoritarian, tyrannical, terrible, a human rights violation.” Everyone sees that, but then when it happens to us, here, we say, “Oh, but it’s a private company doing it. Google is entitled to do what it wants.” What people don’t realize is the majority of censorship in China is being carried out by private companies.

Rebecca MacKinnon, former CNN Bureau chief for Beijing and Tokyo, wrote a book called Consent of the Network that lays all this out. She says, “This is one of the features of Chinese internet censorship and surveillance—that it's actually carried out primarily by private sector companies, by the tech platforms and services, not by the police. And that the companies that run China's internet services and platforms are acting as an extension of state power.”

The people who make that argument don’t realize how close we are to the same model. There are two layers. Everyone’s familiar with “The Great Firewall of China,” where they’re blocking out foreign websites. Well, the US does that too. We just shut down Press TV, which is Iran’s PBS, for instance. We mimic that first layer as well, and now there’s also the second layer, internally, that involves private companies doing most of the censorship."

https://taibbi.substack.com/p/meet-the-censored-matt-orfalea


We aren’t talking about something as basic as truth and untruth.

This is Integer and float vs malformed code.

Misinformation is code. It’s designed to specifically take advantage of gaps in our society and spread in such a way that makes it harder to challenge it.


In a free society, people must be allowed the ability to discern for themselves which information is useful, true, or otherwise. We do not need a state or its proxies to tell us which information is correct.


> people must be allowed the ability to discern for themselves which information is useful

Including people who run institutions like Google.

If they can be compelled to disseminate content they think of as irresponsible, so can you.


Google has a monopoly on searching for information, which makes it as different to me as a nuclear bomb is to a butterknife. They need to play by different rules


Not only does Google not hold a true monopoly on search (they hold top mindshare, but there are several other easily available search engines one of which I use frequently), this particular brouhaha is about hosting, not search, on which they don't hold anything that could even be reasonably confused with a monopoly.


It's even more alarming that the host of my data is actively scanning those 1s and 0s for signs of deviation from truth and sending those 1s and 0s it views as untruths down a memory hole. I mean, why stop there, why not just correct the untruths? Flip a few 1s here that should be 0s. This strikes at the core value proposition of tech and who is who is boss of what data.


One can agree they should not be compelled while ALSO thinking it would be much better for society that they stop censoring. Just because setting up an institution to compel would be worse than the censorship we're trying to fix doesn't mean the censorship is good.


That's a nice fantasy. People don't get enlightened by banging rocks to start fires for 18 years then becoming a philosopher.

The art of thinking critically and using logic takes training, and far too many people don't seem to have those skills, due to an inadequate education system in the United States.

Free people should be "allowed" to listen to, and say, what they want. I don't even think Tucker Carlson should be silenced by the government, no matter how much better I think society would be without him on the air.

I think there is a space for content to be labelled as "bullshit" by the people hosting it. Youtube labeling anti-vax lies as "misinformation", the FCC disallowing Fox from using the term "News" on its marquee during their "Four Hours of Hate" from 5-9pm.

Just as fast food is allowed to be sold to people, but they're required to disclose nutrition data - people should be allowed to listen to and spout bullshit, but it should be labeled.


That's so naïve.. If only sufficient amounts of people were capable of discerning for themselves which information is useful, true, etc.

The rise of batshit crazy and easily demonstrably false conspiracy theories like Qanon, flat earthers, 5G, Covid is fake/a Chinese bioweapon/etc. Pizzagate, what have you, and clearly empty populist politicians and political movements across the world show that way too much people struggle with that. And the choices they make impact all of us.

I honestly don't think there's a solution for this. Any authority on "truth" will be abused, but what we have now doesn't work either.


Yes we do. It is only more important that the state is first correct, and doesn't persecute when either it or you are not.


Well yes, if we had a perfect Oracle of Truth we wouldn't need the freedom to discuss and find out the truth. We don't and governments not only do not have such an Oracle, they cannot have such an Oracle due to the pressures on governments and the people that make them up preventing them from being unbiased (e.g. the tendencies for institutions such as government components to grow larger, defend their power and push to continue to exist).


Wielding the baton of "misinformation", or in general, fear of falsehood/insecurity etc, to whack those who the ruling class disagrees with is also code designed to specifically take advantage of the gaps in a healthy bureaucracy and seize control over it in such a way that makes it hard to challenge it.


"Misinformation is code. It’s designed to specifically take advantage of gaps in our society and spread in such a way that makes it harder to challenge it."

Are you aware that ideas like abolition of slavery, civil rights or acceptance of gays had to spread precisely in the same way, through gaps in the contemporary societies that made harder to challenge them, often because open declaration of such ideas would mean major trouble for the speakers?

Do you think that our current society is perfect in this regard and thus can suppress further functionality of such mechanisms without adverse consequences down the line?

If not, better not touch the gaps.


No, this is bafflegab. You're creating what is at best a contrived, vague, and inaccurate metaphor to make a distinction without a difference between misinformation and falsehood, so that you will have a fig leaf to pretend that you are acting in an objective manner with clear delineations when banning information you don't like as "misinformation."

Except you won't be doing the banning, and it's not going to end well for any of us after you help to give the people who will be doing it the power they want with rationalizations like this.


Only for pretty creative definitions of misinformation. It could also be just, you know, wrong information.


Or indeed, correct information that contradicts an officially recognised position.


People can figure out the truth, and if they can't, we have bigger problems. I'd like to live in a world of common sense vs "elite" judgements

The amazing thing about these super political fights is like 90% of people are on the sidelines going "what's wrong with both of you?" The people that always end up looking like idiots are the idealogues


You're proving ibbibby's point here


Who would ever oppose scientific socialism? It is scientific. Thus, rejection of science is unscientific and should be prohibited.

I call my organization the good people group. Who would oppose the good people group except the bad people group?


Agreed, its important to note that these modern day, illiberals couch a lot of their phraseology in sophomoric nuance.

"XXXX statement is misinformation, because it lacks context" "XXXX statement is misinformation, because it is still up for debate" "XXXX statement is misinformation, because it is offensive to class YYYY" "XXXX statement is misinformation, because it is unfair to person ZZZZ"

These are logical fallacies presented as civility. Applying them uniformly would me desperately wrong. Having double standards, and applying them based on partisan bias is nothing short of evil.

Glenn Greenwald said it best. If you are okay with these practices, you are a political authoritarian. No other information is needed to determine this about you.


It's amazing the way the political left has savegely gone against greenwald. We need more journalists like him not less. He has all the proper credentials (gay, liberal), he just happens to speak the truth so, apparently, fuck him. If we had more greenwalds the world would be a much better place


Your argument lacks any nuance, to the degree that it makes it flat out wrong.

No one is suggesting regulating truth generally, but rather specific cases that are deemed dangerous [0].

Now, you could make a slippery slope argument starting from there and that would be a valid, but different discussion.

The slippery slope argument sometimes applies and sometimes it doesn't. It depends on the specific situation. There are examples around the world of governments that very selectively suppress narrowly defined types of speech, in order to protect other values believed to be equally fundamental, but defend the freedom of all others.

[0] Within the bounds of the freedoms that a private company has to operate as it sees fit, or by means of democratic decisions.


It's true that the US government has always compelled private platforms to remove speech if it is illegal as determined by the legislative branch or common law (e.g., hosting child porn). What's unique about the current situation is that what's being censored has direct influence from non-legislative bodies such as the executive branch and the CDC, and what is out of bounds lacks specification and is subject to change according to the whims of a small handful of people.

This is a big change because the legislative body is significantly constrained in what it can censor through multiple mechanisms. The slippery slope concern falls flat in that old context, but not in this new context where 1 or 2 people (who we don't see and who may not have even been directly elected) can label something as misinformation and have it scrubbed.


"generally do this in specific cases."


I think I see what you're trying to say even if you're doing so very obliquely - the point is that this never was and never will be an issue that it makes sense to think of in absolutes.

Speech has never been free in this absolute sense anywhere, because, at the very least (!), there are cases where speech has obvious, immediate, terrible consequences.

That means that the difficulty lies in figuring out where exactly to draw a line along a blurry boundary. Hence the slippery slope issue.


This isn't a government entity.

Government: can imprison, fine, and enslave you. Corporation: can ban you from online platform.

Companies absolutely and always have enforced their own version of "truth". While Google says this thousands of other companies of similar size are regulating their version of "truth" internally. As we speak lobbyists are paid to make sure senators will vote along their version of "truth". There is no such thing as neutrality, and never has been, only the illusion of inaction.


American society has been slowly convinced, and then the rest of the world by extension, that this was absolutely necessary to combat the next big threat.

First it was to "combat hate", that speech was limited according to what partisan big tech companies decided was fair. It was said it had real-life consequences. Harm. So it should be banned.

Then anything from certain parties or ideologies became hate if labeled so by the tech giants. So out they went.

Now, anything questioning the authoritarian narrative of the pandemic is labeled as such.

The slippery slope that people tried to deny with claims of "private companies" has gotten higher and keeps going deeper.

Talking about freedom, freedom of speech or human rights gets you mocked in certain spaces. It's mind-boggling.


U.S. barely has "hate speech" laws, so I don't know what you're talking about there.

"Big tech" decided to ban people for being hateful to others on their platforms. Those platforms don't exist for your protection against government actors. Nor should it.


What you're saying is "a company banning certain forms of speech on its platforms does not constitute censorship", which is true at least in the strict definition of "censorship", but does not contradict what the GP is saying. What the GP is talking about is a shift in American attitudes that leads to the acceptance of such policies, whereas in earlier times they might have been rejected or the companies in question might not have even thought to implement them.


I don't at all believe people would reject it. People have been censoring content for a long time in far worse manners. Early 90's had plenty of "obscenity law" enforced, Ronald Reagan and regulation of content in games and music was a thing. People cheered it on, and that was actual government censorship, not corporate.

People agree with censorship if it's in in agreement with their belief.


To be clear, I don't necessarily agree with isaacremuant.

Obscenity laws are kind of different, since it's perfectly possible to add or remove obscenities from an utterance without substantially affecting the message. I'm not saying I agree with such laws, just stating the facts. What are examples where specific types of messages were banned? E.g. hate speech laws, blasphemy laws, lese majeste laws, etc. In Western democracies, the only examples that come to mind are recent.

>People agree with censorship if it's in in agreement with their belief.

Agreed, generally speaking.

Geez, what did I say that was so disagreeable? This is why I don't have a permanent account here. Whatever.


I think you're arguing a strawman and didn't really address anything I said.

Of course, my point is seemingly unpopular in very partisan websites where it's seen as a rep/dem or left/right issue (US centric) but the fact that we see more and more of these types of articles (today an EFF one) shows there's more of us, concerned by this arbitrating of truth by a certain group of ideologes and the people who agree with them where they leverage their power to prescribe what speech is worth transmitting and which is worth censoring.


It’s also important to understand that the only reason anyone is talking about misinformation right now is because the entire world watched in horror at the events of January 6th, a direct attempt to “seize control over free societies”. (Admittedly a poor attempt at it though) which was sparked by wild accusations, unsubstantiated assertions, and a mountain of failed litigation by “the previous guy”.

No amount of whitewashing or misdirection of what happened that day or the factors that lead up to it will change that certain “free speech” said by the right mouth, believed by an angry undereducated group can lead to actual loss of our free society. Just look at the insane amount of legislation being passed in certain red states, all based and cheered on by the exact same lie..

We can all argue the merits of google, but that’s just a method to control the conversation by those who seek our society for there own dystopian Handmaids Tale version, and deflection from what put us in this sitaution. A lie, perpetrated by the president, enabled by his supporters, and a Ministry of Truth style belief in what that government said, that’s leading to voter disenfranchisement and loss of faith in the very foundation of democracy. Period.

As for the medical information that I disagree with. If people want to believe in lies, I have enough “don’t tread on me” to let them. Personally that’s very much a game of “play stupid games win stupid prices”. None of my business have at it


You are saying that this is a lie as if that's math or physics instead of a debatable political point and then circling all the wagons around that determination.

The idea that the coronavirus came from a lab used to be one of those circle the wagons points that anyone could get cancelled for. The evidence is so overwhelming that you're now allowed to post that to social media without getting cancelled. How would that information have gotten out there if the cancel network had been perfect?


Where is all this overwhelming evidence that the virus came from a lab?


They can’t share it because they don’t have it. One scientist said it looked like it came from a lab and all the reactionaries latched onto this one statement as if it was the real truth being hidden from them. They promptly ignored when that same scientist admitted he overstated his position because that conflicts with their world view and censorship and persecution complex.

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


My original post said absolutely nothing about the rona though yes it a physics or math problem. I’ve since amended it

Trump lied, period. And it lead to and is leading to a lot of negatives.

As for the virus personally I don’t care where it came from but people can believe whatever they want. We have a vaccine now, don’t want it then don’t, doesn’t affect those that chose to. “The big lie” however affects us all, and that’s a problem.

In the case of covid the math changes. Generally speaking if it affects only you, have at it. If it spills out and affects others, problem. Though I’m not gonna argue the pedantry of that, that can devolve quickly


I have never heard any "truth" so sacred in American politics that the other side had to simply refer to the people opposing this "truth" as believing in "the big lie." It's Poe's law level absurdity.


Trumpers I know tell me liberals are all in on a big conspiracy lie to prop up Biden, so, I certainly have seen it on the other side.

It's not unsurprising, this is a two sided political party war on information. One side is misinformed, one side is less misinformed. Which is it? Nobody can agree.


Just because someone shouted an idea without proof that later might turn out to be partially right doesn't make it OK if shouting that idea was dangerous.

If I shout fire in the cinema and 1 minute later a fire starts it was still a bad thing to do.

Note too that for this specific conspirancy, it was maybe 30% about the lab and 70% about the Chinese government spreading it on purpose as a bioweapon or for some other nefarious purpose, the latter of which is still not widely accepted even as a possibility (as opposed to a containment failure)


This is in itself misinformation.


> the only reason anyone is talking about misinformation right now is because the entire world watched in horror at the events of January 6th

Just as a point of fact, that's false. Usage spiked in late 2019. Nothing special happens on this graph in Jan 2021, and the term is surprisingly in decline right now:

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=US&q=m...

Same with "disinformation":

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=US&q=d...


I saw a low-level riot with a few broken windows that was endlessly hyped over and over again ad-nauseam. So, no, the rest of the world wasn't horrified - we were wondering what was the fuss.

I was far more worried about the BLM riots which burned entire districts - since I had family affected.

Using Jan 6th as an excuse for government censorship is utter nonsense. What is misleading today can become fact tomorrow very, very quickly.


why are you lying about entire districts being burned down by BLM? Surely you can provide some actual evidence as to this happening. Right now is just looks like more completely unsupported right wing hysteria.


This is laughable. There were hundreds of buildings burnt down and you ask for evidence ? Please do your own research. I strongly suggest listening to some-thing other than cnn/nbc. I don't listen to either right-wing or left-wing media.

"In their wake, vandals left a trail of smashed doors and windows, covered hundreds of boarded-up businesses with graffiti and set fire to nearly 150 buildings, with dozens burned to the ground. Pharmacies, groceries, liquor stores, tobacco shops and cell phone stores were ransacked, losing thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise. Many were looted repeatedly over consecutive nights"

"Three hundred seventy-some miles south-east of Minneapolis and about sixty miles north of Chicago on Lake Michigan in Kenosha, the family-run car dealership of an Indian immigrant was burned down by the rioters. The owner, trying to hold back his tear, told reporters that BLM rioters burned his lot two nights in a row destroying all the cars"

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/indic-positive/may... https://www.startribune.com/minneapolis-st-paul-buildings-ar...


> the entire world watched in horror at the events of January 6th

Umm, no. I’d rather say it was a mildly interesting event for the entire world outside of the US. For instance, I don’t remember myself experiencing horror really.


If anything it was funny to me and my friends and colleagues.


I was pretty horrified by it and the way Pence and Romney have been treated is just foolish by conservatives.

I think a better example though is Flat Earth ideas.

Suppressing people from communicating that the Earth is flat is far more dangerous than the idea that the Earth is flat.

All the West really has going for it is that we are able to entertain ridiculous ideas. This is what lets our creativity percolate on the network.

Once that is gone we have nothing. Just a small % of the global population, kind of lazy, kind of entitled.


This implies that being misled due to being under-educated on a topic is a choice. Otherwise, the "don't tread on me" argument kind of falls apart here.


No, the world watched in horror as American cities burned for an entire year while politicians and media whores, thoroughly protected by police and private security, did nothing.

Police were ordered to take a knee to the mob.

We were told that this was justice.

But the second those powerful people were even slightly threatened, the gloves came off.

Only one person was murdered on the 6th. A veteran and Trump voter named Ashli Babbitt, killed by the police. And Democrats celebrated her death.


She was trying to force her way into a chamber where she and the rest of the mob intended to do harm to elected politicians, and disrupt US democratic process.

That’s not really murder. And no, the rest of the world did not look on in horror at the BLM protests. They looked in horror at what caused them.


> And no, the rest of the world did not look on in horror at the BLM protests. They looked in horror at what caused them.

Speak for yourself - I am part of the world that looked on in horror at the media's sanction of open violence against the people by a violent minority.


Speak for yourself. The rest of the world mostly did not look, because the American media refused to objectively cover those protests.

I only know about it but following local independent outlets in Portland.


Speak for yourself. You didn't have family threatened by the BLM riots, nor property damage - all egged on by both the media and the left.


Why are you spreading more lies? You are explicitly part of the problem. What cities were burnt down? Can you name one city that was burnt? Can you name even one neighborhood?


> the only reason anyone is talking about misinformation right now is because the entire world watched in horror at the events of January 6th, a direct attempt to “seize control over free societies”

Regardless of if the riot on Jan 6 was an attempt to seize the government (it wasn’t), this line of reasoning doesn’t track at all since the concept of “misinformation” as a public enemy has been brought up ad naseum since at least 2016.


There’s a bit of nuance there though to isn’t there?

Let’s be honest, “misinformation” between 2016-2020 just meant “things written about me I don’t like”, it only came from one person/group.


> it only came from one person/group

I disagree. While dubbing things “misinformation” was extremely prevalent coming from democrats and those on the left, things like Trump and his supporters dubbing certain reports “fake news” show everyone has concerns.


The term “fake news“ itself came from the left.


That was about actual fake news, not news with a spin I don't like.

https://www.wired.com/2017/02/veles-macedonia-fake-news/


Right, misinformation. Reasonable people can disagree about where the line between “actual fake news” and “news with a spin I don’t like” is.


Where have you been? Hall monitors at CNN and other outletd like Oliver Darcy have been shrieking about "misinformation," and successfully lobbying to get people censored on that basis, constantly for the last four years.

Recall that the "fake news" scare (and "post-truth era" etc) was actually started by the media before Trump appropriated it against them. And in most cases it was used against people for expressing skeptic towards favored conspiracy theories about the 2016 election.


" the entire world watched in horror at the events of January 6th, a direct attempt to “seize control over free societies”. (Admittedly a poor attempt at it though)"

Ask the rest of the world before you speak in their name. From the other side of the puddle, Jan 6th was a poorly executed riot that was mildly interesting mainly because of the obvious kooks (such as the Shaman) and their outlandish clothing. Don't try to repaint it as a surrogate coup just because polarized American society yearns for Big Defining Events. There is nothing to yearn for. And historical coups, even the unsuccessful-but-plausible ones look very, very different. Usually a lot more bloody, too.

But as far as Ministry of Truth goes, I am with you. Whatever institutions people build, they should imagine them in hands of their worst enemies.


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