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Twitter’s mass layoffs have begun (techcrunch.com)
1039 points by matthieu_bl on Nov 4, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 2117 comments

A lot of the tweets that are quoted in the article have been removed. For example, Twitter employee Cristina Angeli is mentioned in the story for having tweeted an image of "staff members... flooding an internal Slack channel with blue heart emojis as they wait to learn their fate tomorrow", but that tweet is deleted on twitter itself because "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules."

This is ironic if you consider all the complaining that Musk does in the public sphere about "freedom of speech" (I know that the first amendment only applies to government censorship, but Musk likes to pretend not to), but it's also significant because -

Smart journalists are going to stop relying on Twitter's API now. News and blog sites love to render Twitter URLs as a preview of the tweet; but if Twitter under Musk is going to start removing tweets that go against its corporate interests of the hour (is it against Twitter policy to post screenshots of any corporate Slack channel, or only Twitter's own?), then people had better take screenshots of the tweets they want to quote, just in case.

I think there's a much simpler and less juicy angle here: someone posted a screenshot of an internal communication, and it got removed. It's not surprising or controversial that Twitter would try to contain a leak of its own internal comms (a screenshot of their slack). This isn't "Twitter took down a disparaging post about Twitter", it's that they tried to stop the sharing of internal data.

That being said, I don't disagree with the sentiment here in the sibling comments, this just isn't the steelman you're looking for.

Best of luck to all remaining and recently parted Twitter folk.

> It's not surprising or controversial that Twitter would try to contain a leak of its own internal comms (a screenshot of their slack).

It's not surprising or controversial, but it's in direct opposition to the idea that Twitter should allow all legal speech.

> should allow all legal speech.

It is usually illegal or in breach of contract to share internal company communications. This isn't the "gotcha" you're looking for.

The speech is legal, it just might break a contract between two parities in the US. It's a far cry from a discussion around what kind of speech is acceptable in a public square.

Twitter is using a privileged position to protect it's own IP. It's fine for a company to do, but just doesn't really sit with "we're just running a public square for the good of the world"

But by this logic we'd have to argue that Wikileaks is a public square. Real public squares have police, and those police have a mandate by the people to enforce contract law and private property law.

This is why hate speech I think is a much more controversial topic than copyright.

Continuing that, i think that normally the ball would get rolling with some kind of civil suit. The police aren't judge and jury on contract law just doing blanket enforcement of that on their own. The police might have to enforce a court order sometime later.

This is, to me, more like your neighbor ripping down your derogatory sign about them because he doesn't like what it says, and the neighbor happens to also be your boss and landlord.

Why do you think police enforce "contact law" I.e. civil law?

> It's not surprising or controversial, but it's in direct opposition to the idea that Twitter should allow all legal speech.

The employees probably sign NDAs. It's only a civil suit, but I think that would still fall outside the realm of what he's been preaching. Note, I'm not taking his side or anyone else's.

> It's not surprising or controversial, but it's in direct opposition to the idea that Twitter should allow all legal speech.

The world is full of hypocrisy and Elon has his share. But I don't really care if the guy is a hypocrite; I'd be more interested in discussing if the move is right. If it violated internal company policy, or revealed internal identities or anything of that sort, then maybe it was the right move?

I'm just glad I don't have to make these decisions.

I think it violates private information policy. The last thing I want is my work name in a screenshot from an internal conversation posted on Twitter, reported by the news like I am a dissenter after getting terminated. I would want to be left completely alone.

Extreme cases i.e. leaked passwords are under hacked materials policy.

https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/personal-info... https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/hacked-materi...

Also possible the user(s) deleted some themselves in order to not violate terms and thus retain their severance ---which typically hinge on such things.

I don't think the message that the tweet in question violates Twitter's rules would appear in this case.

That's a conflation of two different things. Twitter Inc. the Company and Twitter the App.

But they did take down content from Twitter the App...?

Would NYT publish scathing remarks about itself, or publish leaked internal data on itself? If not, I don't think such a thing should be expected of twitter either.

The NYTimes has investigated itself from time to time and publishes remarks that reflect poorly on themselves. Last example I can remember is the Caliphate podcast scandal


Yea doesn't the NYTimes have a section pretty much devoted to retractions? I'll see them in their morning news letter and I think it's pretty common at most news organizations with integrity to understand that sometimes they'll get things wrong like we all do, and just be candid about it and post retractions where necessary.

The BBC certainly broadcasts criticism of the BBC from time to time. Here’s one of the more trivial examples (easier to bring to mind because it’s amusing): https://youtu.be/MBWfCV4PjyU

Crude, and hilarious to watch those two keep straight faces. Have I Got New For You has very regular criticism of the BBC too, slightly higher brow but entertaining.

Do you mean Twitter in it’s entirety is like a respectable newspaper that should edit all their content for correctness and propriety?

But is it what you're calling "legal" speech to disclose confidential info? If so, is it not just like they issued themselves a takedown notice and immediately executed on it?

IANAL but restrictions on confidential information only apply to government classification of information. Private classification isn’t a “real” thing, it’s just a breach of a private contract.

If you’re a “free speech platform”, who are you to adjudicate whether a leak of corporate information is malicious vs a brave whistleblower?

This is why we have a court system. Twitter needs to decide what they are actually trying to accomplish with their direction, because right now it appears that this was all about changing the censors, not removing them.

I am also not a lawyer, but it seems like there is a large gray area when it comes to theft of trade secrets.

For example, Anthony Levandowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison for copying a confidential spreadsheet containing Waymo status updates (out of the charges against him, that's the only one he pleaded guilty to - the rest were dropped).

Calling layoffs "trade secrets" is some real double-speak and overreach.

Sociologically it is interesting that we've hit the point where that can even be considered a point of debate.

Nobody is calling the layoffs trade secrets. The thread is about pictures of an internal slack channel, and other private information.

Is your point that it doesn't matter if those "pictures of an internal slack channel" actually contain trade secrets of if they show some people posting blue hearts to cheer up their coworkers? IANAL but I think it does matter what those pictures contain.

I was responding to the parent's statement that "restrictions on confidential information only apply to government classification of information. Private classification isn’t a 'real' thing, it’s just a breach of a private contract."

This is not the case - you can be convicted of a felony and go to jail for taking a private company's confidential information. Nowhere did I call layoffs a trade secret.

Until it is publicly released, it is exactly that. You may be surprised to learn that competitors track this information.

All those employees signed NDAs that said they would not disclose private company communications… this is way different than censoring a user who is under no such agreement.

The difference is that Twitter does not enforce those agreements as quickly for any company that's not Twitter.

Hence what people are complaining about: one set of rules for Twitter (the company) making requests of Twitter (the platform) and another set of rules for everyone else.

And really, it's the own-goalness of this that's likely irking everyone. Musk wants to get the high ground of a public space... and then he/someone at Twitter immediately burns that narrative on something trivial that doesn't even matter.

The sheer stupidity of taking it down makes me think it's probably internal HR.

But that's because Twitter has no capabilities to enforce them at the same speed for other companies. If processing speed depends on proximity to their legal department, of course Twitter will be able to verify their own agreements faster. That's just physics, not necessarily double standards.

It's like complaining that Amazon ships faster to areas that are close to Amazon warehouses. Well duh.

That's the HFT/exchange problem in a nutshell -- if you want to claim an equitable platform, then you have to artificially slow some requests to what you can guarantee for all.

But they never claimed to be an equitable platform with regards to that issue, did they? Musk might idealistic, but not that idealistic.

To be fair, some of his early comments indicated that all legal speech was to be allowed.

That was obviously wrong, as lots of legal speech makes the platform worse (eg, spam or spam-like behavior), but it was one of the claims made.

To be fair, Musk also pledged that Twitter would not become a "free for all" in terms of speech.

> Twitter (the company) making requests of Twitter (the platform)

Is this an actual distinction or just being thorough for specificity? I know some companies are like Mozilla having the browser and the foundation, but just not familiar with Twitter.

Was illustrating conceptual. I don't think they have an actual like Mozilla or Wikipedia. Though maybe they should?

Uhh, not from Twitter the product's vantage it's not.

So Twitter will now take down leaked internal comms from Facebook? What about from NYT? What about from CIA?

Obviously they have the right to do this, but yes it's also obviously hypocritical given Musk's approach.

But does Twitter have a signed copy of all those agreements? No. How could they?

Either they comply without hesitation to all takedown requests, or they don't take anything down unless ordered by a court. Doing something in the middle injects a level of moderation that goes against their "free speech" principles.

But Elon Musk didn’t own the company when they signed those NDAs. He’s a “free speech absolutist”. Why would he allow such abominations to be enforced?

It's not about censorship per se. There will always been censorship. Removing spam is censorship, removing copyrighted material is censorship.

There's a difference between removing a politically neutral piece content which violates some arbitrary rules and censoring political news which benefit a certain party.

Yes, it's legal. Twitter can always sue the person that tweeted it to have them remove it, let a judge decide.

This isn't how it works. If a website is hosting content that infringes on some NDA, then you are supposed to sue the website (and not the person who posted it to the website -- who are often anonymous and can't be directly sued).

So Twitter would need to sue itself to demand that it take down the content. And the judge would reject the suit and scold Twitter for wasting the courts time, and tell Twitter that if it wants something removed from its own website then it should just remove it.

I don't believe that's true. For copyrighted work, you can issue a takedown notice to the website - but copyright is federal law. NDAs are just private contracts. If you could sue someone for hosting/posting NDA content, then any leaks or whistleblower content could be hidden from the public just by suing the all the news websites.

Generally I think you can only sue the person who violated the NDA, not anyone further down the chain who posted the material. The same is even true for classified info in most cases - the NY Times won a famous Supreme Court cases about that over publishing the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam era. Same principle that protected publishing the Snowden leaks, etc.

> If a website is hosting content that infringes on some NDA, then you are supposed to sue the website

> So Twitter would need to sue itself to demand that it take down the content.

is this how it actually works, or is it make a request to the website and sue if request is deemed unduly denied? if the latter, then some Twitter HR/lawyer person can make a request to a Twitter moderation person and the request would be immediately approved. At that point, there's no "difference" in the procedures for internal/external moderation requests.

> This isn't how it works. If a website is hosting content that infringes on some NDA, then you are supposed to sue the website (and not the person who posted it to the website -- who are often anonymous and can't be directly sued).

That's nonsense, because under that interpretation of the law no news agency could ever report anything with anonymous sources, or people "familiar with the situation", because under your definition they are now violating an agreement about which they know nothing.

You could sue the website, but it wouldn't go very far, because website operators are not liable for user uploaded content because of Section 230 of the CDA.

> But is it what you're calling "legal" speech to disclose confidential info? If so, is it not just like they issued themselves a takedown notice and immediately executed on it?

I think there are a lot of things that are legal that may cause civil penalties. E.g. there's no law banning the dissemination of screenshots of Twitter's internal Slack (so the screenshot is legal speech), but Twitter may have grounds to sue the leaker for breach of a private contract.

You are conflating "illegal" with "criminal". Civil law is still law.

Assuming this all goes back to Elon's tweet: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1519036983137509376, which reads:


By “free speech”, I simply mean that which matches the law.

I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.

If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect.

Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.


I don't think it's reasonable to interpret this as referring to any speech which constitutes a civil wrong. There is simply no way for a third party to have the slightest clue based on the content of a tweet whether that tweet causes someone to suffer a loss, or constitutes a breach of contract,

Is a bunch of heart emojis confidential information? If so, lol.

Internal slack communication is confidential.

Did the screenshot actually expose any confidential information though? Musk seemed fine with leaking confidential information when Mudge was doing it, but now he is suddenly concerned about it?

It's a potential antitrust violation to serve themselves better than other users of the platform. This is what Google and Apple get in trouble for all the time.

> someone posted a screenshot of an internal communication, and it got removed

Yeah, except Musk himself already did that:


I mean it’s his company he can do as he likes, but that was one of the first things he did after the buyout.

So did Elon look up every private message in company chat that had the word Elon in it? Then he's sharing some of the juicy ones on twitter?

You know he's deep into all his Ex's twitter DMS. If I were withing a few hops of elon and I used twitter DMs I'd be nervous.

Now I'm genuinely curious if that constitutes a violation of GDPR (if Twitter was European) or CA's regulations (but Twitter is in CA, so maybe?)

Corporate communication is corporate property and fully accessible as it pertains to investigations of corporate wrong-doing. You can be certain Twitter's new legal team is looking at everything. The issue is whether the persons in question were communicating in the capacity of working for Twitter. It's very clear that they were, and it wouldn't be at all surprising if the clown show at Twitter did all manner of unethical things in conflicting with Musk.

> Corporate communication is corporate property and fully accessible as it pertains to investigations of corporate wrong-doing.

I guess it depends on your definition of corporate wrong-doing. If Elon just looked for all posts that include his name and he's firing everyone who was critical of him, that might stretch the definition for most people. That could even cross over into creepy big-brother like oversight and might dissuade people from working at Elon led companies (or maybe attracts people who want him searching their private messages for references to him).

Elon bought the company. That includes internal DMs between managers who violated their training and admitted breaking the law.

Everyone who works for Elon, and half the people who don't, how heanages his companies.

Agree re: the less sinister explanation. I think only this particular tweet has been removed and the other tweets referred in the article are still up.

Is that Elon publicly accusing one of his own execs, who still works at Twiqtter, of fraud?

I can only imagine how much collateral the banks demanded to fund Musk's boondoggle.

Hanlon's razor except s/stupidity/corporate policy/g.

I think the question is - did the twitter employee delete their own tweet, regardless of their reasoning, or was the tweet deleted in the backend by a different twitter employee?

Is Twitter going to remove all screenshots/leaks of any company's internal comms? If not, this is not a good look.

Any company can request that Twitter take down screenshots of their own internal communications. Both before and after Elon, I imagine Twitter would comply if the request went through the legal channels (i.e. lawyers sending letters).

I can't remember the details now, but I remember a couple years back the New York Times published a big exposé on a screwup in the Middle East perpetuated by... The New York Times. My understanding is that this type of thing isn't even so uncommon.

Oh, please. This "internal communication" was a bunch of blue hearts if the source is to be believed. What vital business information did that leak?

It's much easier to have a rule that says "no public posting of internal communications" than "make a judgement call about whether an internal communication is vital or not". And with an upheaval going on at Twitter at the moment, nobody has the time to do the latter.

It seems far more likely removing this tweet was a response to the publicity it was getting, and was an effort to keep such dissent from being aired publicly (and thus a contradiction with Musk's stated principles and goals for this takeover), than that it was an ordinary moderation process that just happened to produce this outcome. The disruption you cite makes it far less likely that this is by the book, not more.

What makes that explanation more likely than the other? Imagine there was no optics problem here, and it was just a highly publicized tweet of some internal comms with no PR consequences, it would still obviously need to be removed, right?

That's not obvious to me, no. What I'd imagine is something like this being escalated, and that there would be reasonable cases to be made either way; that all internal information should be removed on principle, and that removing this tweet would harm the company without improving it's security posture. Twitter has historically been pretty reluctant to remove tweets, so I wouldn't be surprised if, under normal circumstances, they ended up keeping it up. But I wouldn't be surprised the other way either.

But closing our eyes to the optics of the situation would be a mistake. These are not normal circumstances by a long shot. Given the turmoil Twitter is going through and the heavy handed approach the new management is employing, it seems likely to me that very little work is being done through the normal channels (who's to say there's even someone on the other side of that channel?), while much is being done by direct instruction from the new management.

Isn't it more likely that organizational inertia is the culprit? Elon doesn't have the capability to change the day-to-day activities of 7,500 people following established policies and procedures in the amount of time that he's had the authority to do so.

There are some coarse-grained things that he can do, like fire the the top execs. The idea that he can strategize and effect change at the fine-grained level of emergent phenomena like a picture of an internal comms channel is bonkers, conspiracy theory stuff. He's got to lay off half the company to begin to even get some kind of handle on all of the machinations going on outside of his team's review.

I'm not suggesting he orchestrated a conspiracy, or even personally ordered that this tweet be removed, who knows, it's more likely someone else on his team, but the new management sure does seem to be able to change the day to day activities, given that they've laid many people off and eliminated the entire data science team. Why wouldn't they be able to say, remove this specific tweet, or perhaps, investigate this tweet for violations of our policy? That's not a conspiracy, that's what a company is; management is able to give instructions to the people who carry out the work.

> eliminated the entire data science team.

That was completely fake news indspired by a comedian calling himself "Rahul Ligma [Balls]"

On cursory inspection I'm not finding the articles I saw on HN about this, so I'm assuming you're right. My bad; thank you for calling it out. I'm barely over the time to edit my post, or I would remove that part.

> The idea that he can strategize and effect change at the fine-grained level of emergent phenomena like a picture of an internal comms channel is bonkers, conspiracy theory stuff.

You're right, but Elon himself is pushing this narrative. Remember when he pretended he was going to personally review the code of a bunch of Twitter engineers? There's also the Twitter blue pricing exchange and a number of other topics he's trying to appear deeply involved in the details for.

Draining the swamp is another way to put it.

But it's one thing to have that rule and punish people that leak and another to delete the leaks from your platform. Particularly if you profess to be pro-freedom of speech.

Leaking confidential information that you agreed to not leak is actionable as a contract violation.

It's not a free speech issue.

Are you suggesting that Twitter will similarly remove leaks of other companies' confidential information? Or is this just a special case where they will be free speech absolutists for everyone else but carefully curate what people are allowed to say about Twitter?

Does Twitter have an NDA with other companies that says Twitter will remove other companies' confidential information?

If they don't, they have no obligation to remove it.

They already do that with video game leaks

Twitter has a responsibility to its shareholders to protect its information. Why on earth are people jumping to the conclusion they would take on any similar responsibility for another company??

Because not doing so would fly completely in the face of everything Elon claimed he wanted Twitter to stand for. They would be putting their finger on the scale to censor speech critical of Twitter, and Twitter only. (Or maybe other favored groups and politicians too, who knows? Starting off like this on day 1 kills any trust in neutral moderation immediately).

Edit: that said, I'm not sure it's been confirmed yet whether the employee just deleted the tweet themself - which would be a very different story.

> They would be putting their finger on the scale to censor speech critical of Twitter

That's an entirely different issue. The issue at hand here is Twitter removing Twitter internal confidential material that Twitter employees agreed to not publish as a condition of employment.

This is contract law, not free speech law.

Twitter is a beast. I think it would be a mistake to evaluate what it "stands for" based on some edge case of who/what/why behind a single tweet. Consider the fact that most execs at the top of this thing we call capitalism, are routinely caught in ethical dilemmas. Even the individuals you have decided are on your "side" morally, are forced to occasionally compromise their ethics in the short term, to achieve a longer term goal that is far more complex than people are giving credit here when they use terms like free speech so casually.

Wow. Who besides Trump and Musk gets this treatment of "no reasonable person would believe what he says, yet what he says should be taken seriously"

uhm, paul pelosi?

It makes sense to punish or reprimand someone internally for leaking confidential information. Something like a firing could be appropriate.

But banning someone or their Tweets on Twitter for posting an internal corporate communication is wrong (at least, it's not the Twitter I want to see). That's using one's privileged position as steward of a public platform to enforce internal rules in an extraordinary way. If how Twitter moderates users on its platform is a free speech issue (I believe it is), this is just as much of one.

Of course it is. The contract is merely an agreement that you won't exercise your right. It's actionable in a civil court obviously. That however says nothing about your right to publish or that the content must be removed just that changing your mind might have repercussions.

It isn't.

Are the Twitter terms of use different for employees than they are for other users?

Cause if they use the service under a personal agreement with Twitter that is separate from their employment, then removing the Tweet isn't really so actionable under their employment agreement.

I mean, I guess it probably isn't separate, but I'm also not sure why people are so eager to pat Twitter on the back for using their position to control the public communications of employees/former employees.

I don't believe this is always true. For instance, whistleblower cases, or NDAs that can be broken by supeona.

Considering there is already some legal questions being raised about the firings - and I'm not arguing in favor of the merits of those cases - there is some possible scenario where an internal leak may be justified.

Being banned from Twitter for breaking their TOS agreement is just a contract violation too.

Will Twitter apply that standard to other leaks of data?

They do that with video game leaks, and I'm sure they do it for movie leaks, music leaks, etc.

Again, what information was leaked?

> "no public posting of internal communications"

If you're really a free speech absolutist then this is a violation of that principle (not of a law, but of a principle).

Workers should be able to freely talk about their condition with other workers, both internally and externally to the company. And as an absolutist, then the ability of individuals to freely speak without any chilling effects must take precedence over the companies concerns. The employees are effectively being "cancelled" and much more effectively than the people who most complain about that actually have their ability to speak being impaired.

Contracts are not laws. Contracts are an exchange of value. The civil court system enforces those contracts.

For example, failing to pay your mortgage is not theft. It is a contract dispute.

If you freely accept payment in exchange for not revealing certain secrets, that does not violate your free speech rights in any way.

> If you're really a free speech absolutist then this is a violation of that principle (not of a law, but of a principle).

I literally wasn't talking about free speech rights.

This! Sometimes it’s not bad behavior, it’s “we just don’t have time for this sh!t.”

Their HR and PR people are busy enough today.

This isn’t a broad defense of Musk or Twitter. Just a comment that there doesn’t have to be a conspiracy around any corner.

Whether it is malicious or lazy, it shows where "free speech" ranks among their values.

You have time for the things you really care about.

There is no expedience exception for free speech. If they want to claim to value free speech, they need to actually do so, and that includes making that kind of judgement call.

Why does it matter how vital the info it is? You "oh, please" people love to split hairs until you miss the overarching point.

the fact there's an internal communication system and what stack it's built on, for starters. I'd imagine employees were required to agree not to disclose that sort of info but I could be mistaken.

If it had anything that's PI under GDPR for example like names

> This is ironic if you consider all the complaining that Musk does in the public sphere about "freedom of speech" (I know that the first amendment only applies to government censorship, but Musk likes to pretend not to)

It’s not ironic or remotely unexpected if you’ve taken notice of any of his actual actions involving freedom of speech.

It's starting to feel like Musk is playing this political game to me.

Pretending he is championing the little guy, that he/twitter/everyone is somehow being repressed and they/he is fighting against it. His recent tweet on how 'activists' are the cause of twitters recent revenue drop for example.

Even with the blue check marks, he is framing it as it being open to all and the little guy taking the power back, all you have to do is pay him $8 a month for it. Viva la revolution indeed!

It feels like social engineering to me and the same game that has been played very successfully in division politics.

Or maybe he is just a dumb guy who believes his own bullshit but ultimately doesn't know what he is doing. How much do we have to hear about the chaos behind the scenes at his companies before people start to realize this whole thing possibly isn't a well orchestrated plan?

Distinction without a difference in this case. When you are as rich and powerful as Elon Musk, you usually get away with your own stupidity and it will ultimately turn to your benefits no matter what. The law of the accumulation of wealth also applies to social capital.

I think it's healthy to calibrate one's own beliefs to reality. So maybe you're right and there is no difference in outcome.

But strictly for my own mental model, I think it is far more accurate to model this as "super rich guy makes shit up on the spot and has no master plan" rather than "this is part of a massively complex plot that relies on second- and third-order psychological effects planned years in advance."

It is really human to over value intentions at the cost of the outcome. Even our legal system does this to a pretty large extent. However when looking and trying to grasp the amazing amount of share stupidity the rich folks do, we have to ask: „how does this much stupidity yield so high rewards?“

IMO it is way more damning to us as a society that people can be this stupid and still become so insanely rich, then if someone had an evil masterplan to manipulate others into making them more and more.

But at the end of the day, this concern is dwarfed by the fact that in either case we let them get away with it and ultimately reward them with insane wealth. This is the true damning of our society that these people are given all this wealth and power in the first place, and after the fact, honestly they can do whatever they like. And what they do isn’t pretty at all.

It is because you should separate the style of execution from the target effect: Musk sounds like a bumbling idiot but... he s halving payroll... it's gonna reduce the load tremendously for a while and if he stops innovating, swallow a loss compensated by paying customers for a while, it might end up surviving enough to provide him some returns.

The difference between me, clever socially but idiot as an entrepreneur, and Musk, the definition of asshole but with good instincts, is enough I suppose ?

> But strictly for my own mental model, I think it is far more accurate to model this as "super rich guy makes shit up on the spot and has no master plan" rather than "this is part of a massively complex plot that relies on second- and third-order psychological effects planned years in advance."

B.b.but a bunch of his PR guys convinced a lot of Redditors that he's the real-life Tony Stark who's saving humanity as we speak. What have you done? How could the PR not by true, if so many people repeat it?

> When you are as rich and powerful as Elon Musk, you usually get away with your own stupidity and it will ultimately turn to your benefits no matter what.

I'm yet to see how that idiotic "pedo guy" episode turns out to benefit Elon Musk.

How the accumulation of wealth works statistically is that when transacting with less wealthy players, you have a lot more to win and a lot less to loose, while the other player has everything to loose and—relative to you—hardly anything to win. Over time this results in gradual accumulation of wealth.

I see the accumulation of social capital no differently. This particular transaction might not have benefited him, he might even had lost some from it. But over time, other transactions more then made up for that mistake, and this one became irrelevant, which really is to his benefit.

All publicity is good publicity when you're in the game of monopolizing the world's attention market, c.f. the constant publicity stunts of figures like Trump and Kanye.

He's the poster child for Dunning Kruger...

I have never in my life thought that Musk would champion the little guy. If anything, Musk will run the little guy over 5 times in the quest for interplanetary domination.

To champion the little guy has nothing to do with rhetoric, right? In my exprerience it's the uneducated masses that pretend to champion the little guy but don't understand that their actions have unintended consequences that often produce the opposite result. I would think people are starting to understand the inverse correlation between words and actions, at least where power politics are at play (not to mention specifically in corporate entities that make their dough by brainwashing)

It is quite common for some kinds of politics (you can deduce which ones) to create an enemy of the common people from thin air, and use it to justify your actions.

This happens on both sides of the spectrum.

For the left the common enemy is often greedy exploitative capitalists. For the right it's often socialists and/or communists.

For right, it is libs and anyone who treats transsexuals well. Or people who want abortion.

Or people who believe in democracy and voting lately.

Yes, it's orthogonal. Lately, it's "the people" vs "the elites"

> Pretending he is championing the little guy

Are you just noticing this?

Step two is whining endlessly and loudly. Step three he figures out a way to game government subsidies while whining about government.

SolarCity and Tesla did step 3 years ago.

Elon is heavily dependent on politicians keeping taxes low for billionaires, and policy that pushes NASA and other government agencies to hire private companies.

Crony capitalism it’s called colloquially.

Marc Andreesen was tweeting a few months about the pressure from DC to curtail behavior that the politicians felt was undermining them.

Around the time Powell began raising rates, memes in finance changed to “save”, banks raised rates on savings accounts to get people to park cash they can leverage rather than get free cash from Powell they can leverage.

Pulling cash out of the economy means fewer lattes and avocado toasts; being a bit glib, but those are the workers most likely to be hurt long term.

So yeah it’s basically division politics. The only reason it works like this is because of memory this is how it works.

NPR reporter literally just said employers offering higher and higher wages is what’s creating inflation, and they want unemployment to go up to bring inflation down. Manufacturing consent by repeating “truth”.

Behavioral economics runs the country. Politicians prefer behaviors like fealty to politically correct traditions. They are protecting the net worth class based system that keeps them from growing potatoes and determines which families thrive or die.

Elon is the type of person where action and words tell a very different story. In that way, it's expected. It's still ironic as hell, given his words.

I would say he (and other billionaires like Thiel) is immature in a very classical sense: he goes through the world like a child without appreciation for how difficult it was to create a society in which everybody could (say) engage in discourse safely; he sees some flaws in the system and thinks that because he is a special person and he saw what he thinks is a flaw he is entitled to pull it apart. But there is no methodical improvement being proposed. People like this are simply destroying the work of their forebears (of creating a stable pluralistic society) for personal benefit. It is not the behavior of responsible humans, much less leaders.

What does it mean to engage in discourse safely?

As just one example, not intended to be partisan: the elderly husband of the Speaker of the House was violently attacked and a sizable portion of the country either tacitly or openly endorses it. That is not a safe society. And it's very, very well-documented by now that social media in which violent / hate speech are not moderated are a key factor driving the increase in political violence and extremism. For people in positions of great power to ignore the complexity of what's happening to society, and to lean on populist (and reductive/misleading) arguments about censorship and freedom of speech for personal gain, comes across as either unintelligent or profoundly irresponsible.

Nancy, or Paul, Pelosi weren’t even engaged in any discourse on twitter with his attacker. It sounds like you’re saying in order for discourse to be safe, people with power over communication needs to regulate other people on our behalf? The big question is how do they decide? We do have some laws about direct threats, spam, fraud and negligence, but I’m not sure where your definition fits in. It seems like it is extremely difficult to get right and very easy to get wrong.

You don’t get tortured for criticizing the current administration for one.

Is that something you see as a danger because of Elon taking over Twitter?

For Twitter users in other countries? Yes. Twitter had been the best of the social media companies (though still not perfect) at resisting subpoenas and other measures from the US government as well as authoritarian countries, but all the personnel involved in that have been fired.

Twitter's legal and human rights teams were more valuable than is commonly understood.

I don't know if this is necessarily true. There are plenty of people sitting in federal prison for criticizing Biden's legitimacy and his policies. I'd consider that torturous if I was in that situation.

They're in prison for actions they took, not voicing criticism.

And calling that “torture” is abusing language. The US did it in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay and it was a massive scandal because it’s against our values. Torture and executions happen routinely in some countries with no consequences or reporting.

What actions were those? Protesting? Isn't that criticism?

A vast majority of protestors aren’t in jail. Entering the Capitol building and attacking police officers are two actions that caused many of the hundreds to be put in jail.

Bullshit. I highly doubt that 69-year-old Pamela Hemphill was attacking police officers. According to her court case, she was accused of “ demonstrating, parading or picketing in the U.S. Capitol building.” Or, in other words, criticizing the government.

Many of these people have been sitting in prison for two years without being charged with anything, and many of them who have been charged have only been charged with minor misdemeanors. Feel free to go look at ALL the cases, not just the handful cherry-picked by the Ministers of Propaganda.

Sorry, I meant and to be inclusive as a couple distinct examples, not that they needed to be both. She was in the Capitol building illegally.

It's not particularly ironic if you just set as your prior that he is being dishonest, unless there is clear third-party proof otherwise.

Everything Musk does in the public sphere is a performance. He's putting on a show, and the show is always crafted according to whatever he thinks will sway the public in the direction he wants them to go.

This is a really tired take since it's not something that could possibly ever be known by you or anyone else not immediately close to Elon, and it's impossible for anyone else to refute it because they have the exact same lack of insight into whether Elon is putting on a performance every time he leaves the house.

The dude ran around saying he is a founder of Tesla which is provably false. He is no stranger to making things up to craft the image he needs.

Tesla was worth, at most, a few million dollars when Elon became their largest investor. They had no products. They had no sales. He turned a $2 million company into a $700 billion company, but he's not the founder because he wasn't in the paperwork for the first year of its existence in which very little happened? Ok.

Additionally, a settlement was reached to literally call himself a founder. At this point it's boring semantics of what "founder" means.

But go ahead and keep trying and failing to poke holes to push your unfounded narrative.

"He paid someone to not dispute his lie" is not the defense you seem to think it is.

You are completely incapable of having an honest conversation about this

The same could be said of Ray Kroc and McDonald's, but it typically isn't because the McDonald brothers aren't the ones who made McDonald's ubiquitous on a global scale. Most of the time, Ray Kroc is considered the founder of McDonald's because he was the one to lead its global success.

Except in the case of Ray Kroc, he actually was the founder of the company that became McDonald’s. He didn’t pay the McDonald’s brothers for the rights to pretend he was the founder.

He bought the franchise for $2.7 million and paid the McDonald brothers a percentage of profits. I don't see a difference between Musk and Kroc in this regard. Without Musk, Tesla wouldn't be what it is today just like without Kroc the McDonald brothers' business would have remained regional and small.

The difference is precisely that Kroc is the founder of the company that is McDonalds while Musk is not the founder of Tesla.

It’s a fact that Musk turned Tesla into what it is today. It’s possible to get that point across without falsely claiming you’re the founder of the company. Words have meanings.

I disagree with your criticisms as you’ve stated them.

I’m confused. The parent shows one company was founded by the person. While in the other case, it wasn’t.

It's entirely valid to be allowed to judge other's behavior, and guess at their motives, especially the (former?) richest man in the world. Mental models of other people are a core part of being conscious.

There's a difference between an intelligent and meaningful observation of behavior to guess at motives and just outright calling someone a liar and manipulator without any real basis or evidence because you don't like them as a person.

Dogecoin is plenty of evidence. There is more.

What illegal actions did Elon take that classify as "manipulation" for Dogecoin?

Who brought up illegal? Why would that matter? This is about morality.

> You are completely incapable of having an honest conversation about this

Yeah only other people have that issue!

These comments were discussing whether Musk has been manipulative, not whether he broke the law. You just made that part up.

I think Occam's razor applies here. In other words, it seems the more likely explanation is just that Musk is an egomaniacal rich guy. Imagining that Musk is playing 3D chess with the public psyche is overcomplicating things.

> "freedom of speech" (I know that the first amendment only applies to government censorship, but Musk likes to pretend not to)

Freedom of speech is not the first amendment and vice versa. Freedom of speech is an ideal that applies to all people and all spaces, public and private, while the First Amendment only applies in America and to the government.

People think they sound smart when they say freedom of speech only applies to government censorship, but they actually sound ignorant of the concept's millennia-long history pre-dating the discovery of America entirely.

The first amendment isn't even particularly strong protection - it only forbids Congress from restricting freedom of speech, but doesn't set out any specific rights, or preclude states from setting their own laws restricting rights.

E.g. the Portuguese constitution has much stronger guarantees. It explicitly recognises freedom of exprssion as a right, but it also explicitly recognises freedom of access to information as a right: you have a right to inform yourself, and the exercise of that right cannot be limited by any form of censorship.

It also specifically recognises a bunch more rights associated with media. Some rights protect journalists, such as the right to source confidentiality (which isn't even law in the US, let alone a constitutional right), and the right to elect representatives to their employers'editorial team. On the flipside, there's also rights protecting the public from media interference: regulators have the power (and responsibility) to prevent the consolidation of media ownership, and the media's ownership and sources of income must be made public.

> The first amendment isn't even particularly strong protection - it only forbids Congress from restricting freedom of speech, but doesn't set out any specific rights, or preclude states from setting their own laws restricting rights.

This has been true when 1st Amendment has been passed, but has not been true since SCOTUS ruled that 14th Amendment incorporates 1st Amendment for states. Today, states are just as bound by 1st Amendments as the federal government is.

> but it also explicitly recognises freedom of access to information as a right: you have a right to inform yourself, and the exercise of that right cannot be limited by any form of censorship.

That’s interesting, but what does it mean in practice? Can you give me an example of a situation where this right applied in Portugal? I want to know if this would actually protect us Americans from something that the government is currently not prohibited from doing.

> or preclude states from setting their own laws restricting rights.

1A on its own does not do this, but AIUI a subsequent amendment (I think one of the reconstruction amendments?) has been interpreted to apply the restrictions in the constitution to state governments as well.

A good explanation of the incorporation doctrine, with citations: https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/incorporation_doctrine

Conversely, people often reference "First Amendment" in situations that have nothing to do with government censorship.

The principle that the first amendment is based on goes beyond government censorship. If large numbers of people are afraid to express their opinions because they fear being cut off from essential services, that's troublesome to anyone who believes in the principle of free speech, regardless of whether the source of the censorship is the government, private entities, or some murky conjunction of both.

It's quite akin to opposing systematic racism from private businesses. You could argue that a private business should have the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason, and it shouldn't concern any outside parties. But when these actions begin to interfere with the ability of large segments of the population to go grocery shopping, use the toilet, get a job, or get an education, it becomes a larger social issue that is deeply concerning to anyone who believes in the principles that underly a free society.

> You could argue that a private business should have the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason, and it shouldn't concern any outside parties. But when these actions begin to interfere with the ability of large segments of the population to go grocery shopping, use the toilet, get a job, or get an education, it becomes a larger social issue that is deeply concerning to anyone who believes in the principles that underly a free society.

I disagree. Historically, the only time people were refusing service to anyone, the people being refused service were black. Hippies were sometimes discriminated against. We've come a long way since the 1960s, but there are more than a few politicians/people who want to drag us back into the 1950s.

In Colorado, such an act would be illegal. Which makes many people in today's polarized society extremely angry as they want to discriminate as much as possible.

Rule 20.4 (page 18 of the PDF):

> No person shall post or permit to be posted in any place of public accommodation any sign that states or implies the following:


> Such signage implies that management may rely upon unlawful discriminatory factors in determining access to a place of public accommodation and thus is prohibited


These are regulations issued to support the administration of the state government.

> people often reference "First Amendment" in situations that have nothing to do with government censorship

At least on HN, I’ve never seen this, except as a totem.

Every time this debate comes up, someone suggests that companies like Twitter are in violation of the first amendment when they remove a user's post. To me they often sound like the ignorant ones.

> in violation of the first amendment

I've never seen this. I have seen people point out that Twitter isn't promoting freedom of speech and the somebody else conflating that with the first amendment of the U.S. constitution though.

I see people refuting this a lot. I don't see many people asserting it. Reeks of strawman.

The real debate is if society should value free speech.

This[0] is probably a first amendment violation.


The general sentiment is that if tech companies can censor arbitrarily their special section 230 liability protection should be removed. They are no longer acting as an internet service, but as a publisher that curates publications.

Section 230 grants them immunity without regard to some nonexistent "publisher vs. platform" criteria.

Maybe, we can see about that if it ever reaches the Supreme Court. Either way, it should be amended to fit that criteria, because the whole impetus behind the passing of section 230 in the first place was to protect freedom of speech. I'm sure little did they anticipate in 1996 that 2 or 3 companies would wind up completely dominating all of the content on the web. We don't allow AT&T to disconnect phone service just because they don't like someone's politics. We don't allow landlords to kick people out because they shared some disinformation with their second cousin in a phone call or because they supported the wrong candidate in a political campaign.

And they should focus on busting up these trillion dollar monopolies because the amount of propaganda power they wield is unbelievable and should be reeled in for that reason alone. But as long as they're in cahoots with the very regulators that are supposed to care about this, that will never happen.

More from The Intercept, here's a document from DHS on disinfo discussing using 3rd party non profits as a "clearing house for information to avoid the appearance of government propaganda." https://twitter.com/lhfang/status/1587257992449208320 in the same thread there's a Draft DHS quad review, which plans agency policy, leaked that shows growing focus on MDM (misinfo, disinfo, malinfo) to protect homeland against spread of "toxic narratives." How the agency defines false info and what narratives are prioritized isn’t clear.

Ironically, "free speech" as a broader principle can also be interpreted to mean a private company should not be compelled to carry or broadcast anyone else's speech if they don't want to. Any private company can choose what kind of community norms and tone they want to set, and moderate accordingly. Some platforms may allow hate speech, others not. Some may allow porn, others not. Taking editorial control away robs that forum of its own free speech agency.

Pretty much. There are also limitations to freedom of speech the principle if not first amendment or freedom of association.

John Stuart Mill specifically calls this out in the harm principle. From what I've observed, people who invoke "it's freedom of speech philosophy" rarely understand that even as a philosophy, free speech not a blank check to be able to say whatever you want w/o consequence. Or they equate it to freedom of reach.

The concept outside the context of legal sanctions is an odd one though. It's much like the anti-cancel culture argument. It seems some want freedom of speech with absolutely no chance of any consequence whatsoever. I think there's a reason why the more broad sense of freedom of speech has never been codified.

The broader concept of "free speech" is not a legal one, and so is a lot "mushier" and more nuanced. "There should be no negative consequences of any kind for anything anyone ever says" is obviously way too strong. I think "free speech" is more like: "there's value in hearing ideas that are new, different, or that we actively disagree with, and we shouldn't discourage people from expressing ideas like that".

If you want a free society then that's the only way. If published in today's age, Samuel L. Clemens would have been cancelled by mercurial cry bullies.

I disagree. My ability to apply consequences is a necessary part of freedom. The consequences on their own shouldn't be illegal (e.g., murder), but applying those actions shouldn't in themselves be illegal when applied as a consequence of speech.

For example, if I'm in line at McDonalds and the cashier tells me that I'm ugly and he hates my family, I should be able to say, "I've changed my mind, I'm not going to eat here". But not being able to apply consequence to speech prohibits me from doing even this simple act.

> But not being able to apply consequence to speech prohibits me from doing even this simple act.

Going a bit further: not being able to apply consequences to speech is itself curtailing your speech, so you literally can't have one without the other!

> (...) not being able to apply consequences to speech is itself curtailing your speech,(...)

No, not really.

Your right to speech isn't infringed if someone does not share your personal opinion. You're always able to express your mind about how profoundly you disagree or how wrong you feel everyone around you is.

What you cannot do is go around strong-arming people to shut up or stop expressing ideas you don't share. That is not a way to protect your right to free speech. That's just fascism 101.

No one is suggesting anyone get strong-armed. Unless doing things like writing letters or boycotting is strong-arming. Physical violence, or threats, or denial of service, etc... are all out-of-bounds. But saying that me and my group of colleagues is no longer frequenting your establishment because you said you support our extermination is fair play, IMO.

Denial of service is in bounds - I'm not required to do business with you.

I can't stop others from doing business with you, though I could convince them

I meant someone overloading your email or phone so you couldn’t use the service. I agree with what you’re saying is in bounds.

There's a difference between "strong arming" and showing someone the door.


As an honest question. By what authority do you have the right to "show someone the door"?

"Showing someone the door" is just indicating that you would like them to leave. How much authority do you need to do this? If you believe the person being shown the door should have the right to say whatever they want, do you believe the other participants in the conversation don't have the right to say they would like to stop hearing from him?

> Showing someone the door" is just indicating that you would like them to leave. How much authority do you need to do this?

Not really.

I have no right to show you the door at the local library or cinema or car wash or local cafe, or at your own home. At most, that lies in the right to property,which only applies to things I personally own. Consequently, in a free and open society "showing someone the door" is a right that's only at the reach of private property owners or people mandated by said owners to manage some aspect of it.

Even then, that right to "show someone the door" because you don't like their opinions is not all powerful and is limited in some jurisdictions which also recognize the right to equality and non-discrimination. Think about it for a second: how can you have a free and open society if you do not have tolerance?

Freedom of association and private property.

This argument comes up over and over in this debate, and it seems like the result of some misunderstanding. You’re certainly allowed to react in a way that’s punitive as long as it’s a legal action, you won’t be violating the law, and I don’t think anyone claims otherwise, but you’ll be violating the cultural norms of free speech by engaging in repression. If you generally believe in the freedom of speech as a principle, you believe that people who you disagree with should be able to say their piece, without your feeling the need to retaliate, because you know that that’s what’s necessary to maintain a culture of free speech and open, honest discourse. But when you try to punish or retaliate for someone airing a view you disagree with, you’re going past civil discourse into actions intended to harm them financially, emotionally, or otherwise. And that’s frankly harmful to democracy.

If they say they hate your family directly to you, sure, don’t eat there. But most speech that people disagree with and try to retaliate against the speaker isn’t on that level - it’s bits of speech taken out of context, indirect expressions of opinion like donations to candidates, etc. People are being manipulated by professional propagandists, and they’re following along enthusiastically. It’s polarizing the country, and it’s actively harmful to the stability of the democracy.

I don't understand this argument though. For example, "People are being manipulated by professional propagandists, and they’re following along enthusiastically."

Are you saying that pro propagandists don't have the right to their speech? Is the ability to persuade the problem? It seems like half of the reason why we speak is to persuade.

We both stated in our posts that the reactions must be legal on their own. So lets take illegal actions out of the picture. But if it is legal for me to start a boycott about your product, I think it is problematic to say it is now illegal to do so as a reaction to something you said. If boycotting is so problematic, just make it illegal all up.

The problem with our country isn't the speech. Its the fact that people are easily manipulated with bad data. But I don't see how prohibiting legal actions resulting from free speech is going to be helpful. All you've done is infringed on another "freedom". We should instead just be actively working on better educating people. Critical thinking and logic skills should be fundamental in our education system.

Totally agree with your last few sentences.

I don't think anyone is proposing making it illegal to boycott, it's just counter to a culture of free speech to try to punish people because you disagree with their opinions. That culture isn't legally protected, except the part where the government can't infringe on it.

If companies do something I don't like I'm not gonna buy their shit. I am not violating free speech by choosing not to buy their shit. There is no right for a business to have my dollars.

And... that's really what it comes down to. Billionaires wanting to keep their profits.

As far as going after a person personally, I don't agree with that, but that's usually not how this plays out. Some idiot says something stupid, then advertisers stop advertising, because they know people like me actually give a shit about this stuff and I can make do without random piece of shit #726 cluttering my house.

This isn't actually sufficient to uphold free speech. Rather, you need to fund your opponents -- buy them a new house, give them your car, retell their opinion to everyone you know, saying that you agree with it and that they should too, so that it can be seen in the most favourable light and have the most possible reach, and that they can put their full effort into it without having to prioritize their views against eating or housing etc.

Just not adding punishments to one side while granting money, privilege, and respect to another is the current state of propaganda for folks like Bill Gates.

If you make something that agrees, you'll be showered in funding, attention, and branding, but if you make something that disagrees, you're on your own. It's a retaliation for disagreeing

Just like Joe Rogan (most popular podcast in the world, btw), Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, John Stewart were all cancelled, as opposed to being wildly popular, but divisive media creators..?

"divisive media creators"

AKA "they make content I don't like."

No, the definition of divisive is 'large groups of people like them, and large groups of people really hate them'.

by canceled you mean, people would have used their own free speech to say stuff he didn’t want to hear. and then he would have published his books.

Obvious example is that Jews don't have to stay at the party where someone is yelling nazi slogans. And their friends can leave too. Neither have to wait till first physical attack starts.

I intentionally picked obvious example instead of anything nuanced.

> Freedom of speech is an ideal that applies to all people and all spaces, public and private

Private spaces? Nonsense. You can't go in to a restaurant and start ranting about the Jews or whatever, and then say that they're violating the "ideal of free speech" when they kick you out. Free speech means you get to espouse an idea, not force people to hear it.

The disagreement is about whether Twitter is a public or private space. It seems to me to be pretty obviously private, and AFAICT the people who argue that it's public don't have much justification beyond "I want it to be, because I or someone I like got kicked out."

Freedom of speech isn't a law, it is a concept. If you are in a private space and insult someone, they may choose to not 'turn the other cheek'. Does that mean 'turning the other cheek' can't be applied in private spaces? They are both concepts, not laws.

This is so abstract as to be meaningless, I have no idea what you're arguing or what you think "applied" means in this context. Does the concept of "free speech" mean you ought to be able to scream the n word in a Wendy's without being asked to leave? If not, my point is that Twitter is no different; if yes, then you and I mean very different things by "free speech".

It is abstract, and the argument is semantic. Freedom of speech is an concept, turning the cheek is a concept. Most people agree neither should be applied absolutely, but they both can be applied or ignored in any space, private or public.

There are laws that try to codify the concepts. The 1st amendment is one of such laws, but it only applies to the US government. It doesn't mean that the concept it is based on is held to the same restrictions.

"Private space" is also a concept. There's such a thing as being too abstract, and specific trumps general.

> Freedom of speech is an ideal that applies to all people and all spaces

Is it though?

Those outside of the US who subscribe to this ideal seem heavily influenced by US culture in my experience. I'm not aware of non-US sources of the idea.

Add to that I've never really seen anyone espouse this ideal that actually understood (or could articulate) what "free speech" even means...

Certainly in the context of Musk's campaign, neither he nor most of his followers are genuine in their support for "free speech". Musk in particular has been a staunch supporter of censorship in practice, and has only paid lip service to free speech for clicks.

> Those outside of the US who subscribe to this ideal seem heavily influenced by US culture in my experience. I'm not aware of non-US sources of the idea.

I think it unlikely that Ancient Athens was heavily influenced by US culture on the topic of free speech as an ideal: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Socrates/The-Athenian-i...

In ancient Athens they spoke (ancient) Greek, so no they didn't have an ideal of "free speech", as in the modern US, they had ideals of isegoria and parrhesia - separate concepts that Athenians at least recognised were often irreconcilably in conflict with another. Any such nuance is completely lost in most modern applications.

> Those outside of the US who subscribe to this ideal seem heavily influenced by US culture in my experience. I'm not aware of non-US sources of the idea.

The idea predates the existence of the US.


An article on a wholly US topic, that has one small line saying the following:

> It is thought that the ancient [Athenian democratic principle](hyperlink) of free speech may have emerged in the late 6th or early 5th century BC.

The hyperlinked page on democratic principle notably has no mention of free speech.

I've replied to a sibling commenter on Athenian "free speech" parallels - much of their association with modern concepts is appropriation.

Freedom of speech isn't a "wholly US topic". It's understood and accepted in most democratic countries.

> The right to freedom of expression has been recognised as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law by the United Nations. Many countries have constitutional law that protects free speech.

> The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, adopted during the French Revolution in 1789, specifically affirmed freedom of speech as an inalienable right.[7] Adopted in 1791, freedom of speech is a feature of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution

> Those outside of the US who subscribe to this ideal seem heavily influenced by US culture in my experience. I'm not aware of non-US sources of the idea.

No, not at all. There are plenty of countries who go to greater lengths to protect their individual rights without the US even registering as a suggested influence. Most countries which managed to transition away from authoritarian oppressive regimes did grew political antibodies to ensure the right to freely express your ideas without being subjected to persecution as it happened in the not so distant past.

I don't think that the Bill of Rights, for example, was influenced by US culture.

"the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament;"


That's a Safe Space for specific people, not Freedom of Speech as a general principle.

I don't think that slaves in the US enjoyed free speech.

For sure. People many other places dont really care about free speech. They are totally OK with government censorship in favor of social harmony.

Those tend to be places where saying "I believe in free speech" lands you in jail, so there is reporting bias.

>Is it though? >Those outside of the US who subscribe to this ideal seem heavily influenced by US culture in my experience. I'm not aware of non-US sources of the idea.

Individual rights of expression predate the US and are part of a collection of ideals in a long tradition that finally exploded in the Enlightenment in Western Europe. Don't forget how much of a grip the Church had on suppressing books and ideas, including meting out punishment.

The erasing of the history of freedom of speech including, within the US, forgetting the facts within the 20th century where it was primarily conservatives who advocated for suppression and censorship, is a very awful misreading of a general principle, especially by, today, people who identify as left.

Freedom of speech is an ideal intended to protect unpopular opinions. It's an individual right in the sense that the individual may be at odds with others, and just because it is a minority view it should not be suppressed.

Today the Zeitgeist is saying: freedom of speech is a silly American concept, and it's just to defend people on the hard right who should be deplatormed.

False, and false.

The first amendment has very little to do with the "freedom of speech" most people are constantly arguing about. But they are conflated so the first amendment gets dragged into the same old tired conversations.

To me the first amendment is much more interesting. Its roots in ancient Greece. Its importance in sustaining a democratic government. The paradoxical nature of trying to extend its reach to private entities...

The Town Square metaphor is equally strained. If you act like an objectionable fool you'll soon be chased out of it.

And freedom of speech also includes to the rights of private individuals and companies to determine what they share on their own platforms, and what they can or cannot be compelled to host or say.

Twitter is not a product designed to reflect the beliefs and opinions of the company. If it was some sort of editorial platform that argument would hold a lot more weight.

But when someone buys out this company and changes guidelines what can be shared and what not -> ppl get instantly mad and baby rage.

Why? Its a private company..

They don't, they call out the hypocrisy of habitual liar making claims about first amendment rights.


It's a huge stretch to apply the same rights to companies. Companies are not people and do not automatically get the same rights individuals do.

It's impossible to deny freedom of speech (or freedom of association) to a company without denying those same freedoms to the people forming the company, or its customers or users of its service. That's one of the reasons companies do have freedom of speech, and exist as quasilegal "entities" in and of themselves. Rights don't cease to exist in aggregate.

Any legal pretense one could use to deny freedom of speech and expression to a company could also be used to deny any group - political parties, religions, specific races or genders, the press, etc.

Companies are groups of people. It's right there in the word "company".

Can't we just all agree that freedom of speech should be some narrow technicality that can legally be ignored in most circumstances?

First Amendment:

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

That's 'First Amendment Freedom of Speech', not 'freedom of speech'.

When people say 'freedom of speech should be protected', they're being more broad than 'First Amendment Freedom of Speech should be protected'.

Right. We're probably all aware of the text -- this is a US-centric site, after all. But I think you make the GP's point all the more necessary: The first amendment to the US constitution restrains one party from introducing rules abridging freedom of speech. There are plenty of other parties who may or may not seek to introduce and/or enforce rules allowing or prohibiting various forms of speech which are not the US government. My own government, for example. And Twitter.

That an action doesn't breach the first amendment to the US constitution doesn't say all that much when it comes to whether it's consistent with the stated ideals of proponents of freedom of speech.

"Freedom of speech is an ideal that applies to all people and all spaces, public and private"

Since we can't agree on a definition of "freedom of speech" this doesn't mean much.

In practice it seems to mean something is a "freedom of speech issue" when a speaker wants someone to not face social consequences for some action (For example an Elon Musk fan saying he shouldn't be charged with investor fraud because "freedom of speech"), and when a speaker wants someone to face social consequences they stay conveniently silent. (Say, an Elon Musk fan not complaining when he fires an employee for something they said).

Your freedom of speech does not oblige me to provide you with a microphone.

You are free to post on your website and Twitter is free to manage their website.

>Smart journalists are going to stop relying on Twitter's API now.

Yay! Journalists that do nothing but build a story around Tweets is not journalism. That's BuzzFeed. The fact that legit news sources decided to follow BuzzFeed is just a very sad comment on the state of affairs we live in now.

Actually, BuzzFeed aside garbage reporting have also decent investigations journalism as well https://www.buzzfeed.com/investigations

I know BuzzFeedNews is different than BuzzFeed.

I know I used the formal capitalization of the specific site BuzzFeed, but it is a pretty good phrase if used as buzz feed. "Journalists" that try to make a story out of "what's the buzz" is more of the underlying point. That's just an aggregator. There's not complexity to the story that a journalist has pulled together. There's no getting a feel for the person being interviewed to feel if they might have more info to be pulled out to expand the story.

Having said that, there is a time and a place to a feel for the buzz, and places like BuzzFeed are perfectly adequate at doing that. But to confuse a buzz feed as a piece of news/journalism is just insulting to journalism.

Many of the child posts assume that Twitter deleted these tweets. That isn't clear to me. It's possible the original authors did (happy to see proof either way).

When one is laid off, there are often clauses in the severance agreement that forbid disparaging the company or leaking secrets, or similar things.

If I wanted that severance check and someone pointed out to me that the tweet may be in violation of the severance agreement, I would delete it too.


It's the same thing you see with millions of people, especially in some political demographics: Freedom for me, not for thee.

> This is ironic if you consider all the complaining that Musk does in the public sphere about "freedom of speech"

Another ironic thing is the number of people who lectured anyone disagreeing with twitter's content moderation decisions that twitter is a commercial enterprise that can do whatever it pleases (usually this means yielding to activist pressure) and who are now acting indignant when Musk acts like he owns the place (which he does).

Is that fair? The criticism about these deleted posts seems to be pointing out the contradiction between the claim of widening the speech available and the way that it is being limited here, not that Twitter has no right to do it.

> Is that fair?

I don't know! Probably not. It is all a political struggle and Musk for sure pursues his own goals in it. But if all this results in a twitter that is more interesting, open and less prudish than before, I think it is worth it. You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

Yeah, have you ever noticed that most people only complain about free speech when the voices they agree with our silenced, and never complain when voices they don't agree with our silenced?

Consistency is not Musk's strong suit.

I think that Christina Angeli tweet was voluntarily deleted, according to https://twitter.com/CA_CrissyAngel/status/158834782975154995....

It may not be violating "twitter rules", but it's likely violating company policy not to expose internal dealings (even as trivial as screenshots of slack emojis).

So Twitter's corporate interests can trump the free speech ideology. What a surprise.

Leaking a private slack can be political activism for worker's rights. I'm not saying these particular heart emojis are, but here Twitter is still in position of judging whether particular tweet was acceptable or not.

> Leaking a private slack can be political activism for worker's rights.

Unless she's acting as a "whistleblower", then that argument carries zero weight.

But who's judging whether she is or not? Twitter is, still.

The whole point of free speech ideology is that corporations aren't supposed to be unaccountable judges and executioners, and this should stay up until she is actually convicted of breaking some law.

Wait a minute, corporations can't police their own platform? Sure they can. "Freedom of speech" is a political freedom -> free from persecution from the government.

If Twitter (or Elon as owner of his private company) wants to take down a post that exposes internal dealings then they're completely within their right to do that. But that doesn't relate at all to the other, more important conversation of Twitter limiting certain voices (Trump, et al). Stop mixing the two.

I remember some years back when Microsoft fired an employee for taking pictures of some boxes of brand new Macintosh computers on their campus and publishing it on the internet as a way to lightly smear the company (for using non-MS products apparently). MS was fully within their right to do that and nobody screamed "freedom of speech" back then.

The irony is that Musk was proclaiming that Twitter is now going to focus on free speech (as in, everything non-illegal goes), and just now they removed an instance of non-illegal speech.

Violating an NDA seems clearly illegal.

Maybe a court would decide that heart emojis aren't a company secret covered by an NDA, but are expression of solidarity with workers which is legally protected speech regardless of what the employer thinks about it. Or maybe not. By the free speech ideology you can't know, and are supposed to assume innocent until proven guilty, and keep it until a court orders taking it down.

But here a private company is executing its own unilateral judgement by their own clearly biased moderators.

The definition, applicability, scope, etc., of tech industry standard NDAs is very clear cut. Presumably Twitter didn't insert some uniquely odd clauses.

Trying to create vagueness where there is none seems like motivated reasoning

If a non-Twitter employee posts a tweet with an image of their corporate internal communications, does Twitter take those tweets down automatically or at the other corp's request or does the person that made the tweet have to remove it when their corp overlords demand? I honestly don't know the mechanisms for getting a tweet removed that is deemed to violate some policy some where.

It's a truly strange conspiracy theory to extrapolate that Musk will simply delete Tweets he doesn't like. About a billion of those get posted each day. It's extremely unlikely he called for it on this one, sounds more like a HR policy.

Smart journalists destroy their own relevancy? Barely anybody reads their articles, that's why they post and link to it from Twitter. And thereby grow a personal audience they can take to any other newspaper.

>Smart journalists are going to stop relying on Twitter's API now.

I somehow have a feeling that this is not the first time in history that an embedded Tweet in a news story has been removed, either by Twitter or the author.

Yes, but it is probably (one of) the first times it was done so blatantly in Twitter's own interest.

How many other company internal communications tweets have there been that stay up?

Are you claiming it is Twitter SOP to delete all tweets referencing internal communications from companies? Can you substantiate that?

From their company, yes, I am saying that.

As the old joke goes, we have freedom of speech in the USSR. We too can go to the middle of the Red Square, and denounce the American president there, with no negative consequences.

It's not very interesting to see an alleged champion of free speech allow speech he likes. It's far more telling to see what he does about speech he dislikes.

I'll take the lack of any evidence as you _can't_ substantiate that?

Perhaps, but unless this becomes a substantial portion of removals the hand-wringing about Twitter's APIs becoming "unreliable" seems overblown.

Smart journalists screen capture the tweet and post it as a photo.

Sure, but a screenshot of a tweet is trivial to fake.

People who post to drama sites routinely take screenshots of tweets and posts from other sites because it's an easy way to have permanence even in the face of hostile moderation. This will just extend to normal journalists now.

At risk of finding out, what is a "drama site"? Do people actually have websites devoted to… drama?

Right now there are 1200 comments here. The drama you are looking for may be closer than you expect.

What do you think TMZ is?

There are tons of subreddits that are devoted to catching some person or another with questionable tastes or interests in saying something they shouldn't. In these instances, rather than linking to the post (which may result in a moderator taking it down or the poster realizing how badly they're being dragged), they instead take a screenshot since it's a bulletproof way to retain the content.

You missed the KiwiFarms debacle?

Sure did. Searched it, and am not disappointed to have missed it.

Musk is pro free speech, when it is speech he likes and finds funny. Not at all with speech he dislikes.

It is stupid, but free speech became codeword for "my opponents should shut up while my friends can arbitrary harrass them". And that is me being euphemistic about it.

Didnt you just explain how current social media work ?

Who decides what is „news” and what is „fake-news” ? (Few PC ppl in big corpos?).

Why sayin that „sure you can say what you want, but you have to defend your words” is so controversial ?

Are ppl afraid of being proven wrong or look stupid ?

> "freedom of speech" (I know that the first amendment

Freedom of speech is different than the first amendment. The first amendment prohibits the government from limiting freedom of speech, but the concept itself is more general than the law.

> consider all the complaining that Musk does in the public sphere about "freedom of speech"

It is a bit frustrating how people refuse to understand the difference between "you can't speak this because we don't like what you said" and "you can't post internal company privileged information while being employee at the same company". Supporting freedom of speech doesn't mean Musk would endorse anybody doing anything, including divulging company's internal communications publicly (and without permission from people whose communications are getting revealed, probably).

> then people had better take screenshots of the tweets they want to quote, just in case.

That has long been the case, Twitter was removing and blocking messages (and people) for much less reasonable causes than leaking private communications of Twitter employees.

Just looking at her account, her tweet about being fired/laid off is still there. I don't know what it originally was, but it seems like a picture was posted and depending on what it was might have been the issue. Like if it was a bunch of her coworkers in the office maybe that was against the rules for whatever reason.

AFAIK they haven't changed content management policy yet. This is application of the current rules/process.


If there’s a current publicly-stated Twitter rule that prohibits screenshots of an internal Slack channel full of blue heart emojis, I’m not aware of it; it’s not abusive, it’s not hateful conduct, it’s not illegal, and presuming there wasn’t personally identifying information in the screenshot, it’s not private information by Twitter’s own definition as linked above.

If this was a screenshot from a Slack channel of any other tech company, do you really think Twitter would have quickly taken it down? I honestly don’t.

Twitter employee on October 21: "Slowly making the migration to Mastodon"

Same Twitter employee today (November 4): furiously posting on Twitter about having gotten fired from Twitter.



- https://twitter.com/ruchowdh/status/1583518479210393600

- https://twitter.com/ruchowdh

What's with the take off of "IYKYK"(in her bio)?

Is it because people feel special advertising that they're part of some elite/secret ring of true knowledge sharers? Literally if the phrase was excluded, it's factualness would still be true.

Basically, I find people who say "IYKYK" to commonly be completely insufferable performance artists.

Can you imagine complaining about being fired from a company after publicly declaring that you were abandoning its product and that you preferred their competitor's product?


>This is ironic if you consider all the complaining that Musk does in the public sphere about "freedom of speech" (I know that the first amendment only applies to government censorship, but Musk likes to pretend not to), but it's also significant because -

He hasn't made any major changes to algorithms / policies yet. They're tripping over their own pre-Musk rules.

When you layoff 75%, that is a change of policy. Lots of people are needed to operate the system as it was.

IMHO freedom in US is usually in fact 1) free for people who have $$ or 2) poor people who advocates for 1) for whatever the reason.

Basically freedom means less regulation from governments, which is only good for super riches and large enterprises. If you are not you should welcome more government regulation to counter the other elephant in the room. Two evils is always better than one.

Amazing how the US is in knee-deep sh*t and Americans are still downwoting people when they say what you said...

Freedom is for everyone given that you stay out of the limelight and don't have something someone else more rich and powerful wants to take.

Yes, regulation is often pushed to protect the peasants from the aristocrats, to protect workers from the capitalists but by far not always: Regulation is also pushed to manifest the power of the powerful ... which means there are also freedoms for the weak to protect.

It is a centuries long battle to find the balance in always changing times.

I want to buy a book that shows every single Tweet from Donald J. Trump, ever since he descended that elevator to announce his candidacy, through Biden's inauguration, and a little beyond...

...annotated with fact-checking, and historical context.

Probably with a few lines from speeches thrown in as well. To really document the heck out of how insane those years were.

>descended that elevator


My favorite was the Twitter account to see if it would get banned by only retweeting Trump's account(s). They wanted to show how the rules were applied differently between accounts.

Oh yeah, that's what I meant, thanks.

Obligatory Mitch Hedberg: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHopAo_Ohy0

I quite enjoyed the creativity that went into setting up this physical world bot to respond to Trump tweets. https://twitter.com/burnedyourtweet

My favorite is when like PBS tweets out the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, and right-wing nutjobs accuse it of being un-American.

I had to look that up.

Here is what happened, the documents gets split into 5000 tweets. Twitter will randomly include one tweet in a feed and someone will respond. For example one person said what npr is calling to overthrow the government because the specific text has a reference to that.

Didn't see any unAmerican comments. Saw comments like tweeting 5000 tweets is a stupid thing to do.

Not sure if nutjob should be used in 2022 to label someone you disagree with as having mental issues. Mental illness is a serious issue and using it a weapon is not something to be casually used

Yeah, you're right I shouldn't say "nutjob," I should say "ignorant and unreasonable."


Why do people only to evidence that disproves their claims? Do you think no one will click?

I think you a few words there, but if you read that link and think the people who responded to NPR sound informed and reasonable, then you and I have very different definitions of those words.

Do we know that the company did it? Or did the tweeter do it after it was suggested to them by someone knowledgeable that posting internal company communications might violate the NDAs and corporate policies on company owned communication platforms? And why are only some of the tweets being removed?

Always a lot of assumptions in the comments of every Twitter story I have read over the last week or so… and so far most of the assumptions tend to be pretty wrong when the dust settles.

> Smart journalists are going to stop relying on Twitter's API now.

This seems unlikely. Journalists are pragmatists and won't abandon Twitter unless there is an alternative.

The alternative is screenshots or direct quoting, both of which are actually easier than using the api.

But they have zero proof about being real. Using the API was proof. I can make any tweet from any user, take screenshot and you can’t prove it was not real.

You're reading news sources where you think it's a serious threat that the journalists might fake a tweet? Why would you care about what any site with that low of a reputation has to say?

It may not be an issue with established, reputable news sources you're already familiar with, but it certainly could be with every other website out there.

That's only an issue if you distrust a particular news source more than you distrust Twitter itself.

Now that Twitter is owned by a known bully (I don't use that word lightly), only the crappiest newspapers would fit that standard.

News site could fetch the tweet markup using the API at publication time, save it locally, and publish a static version along with the article.

It does not provide any additional value, since that can be faked as easily as the screenshot. Any validation requires something from Twitter end-point, that they check and verify publicly that it actually existed at that time… but that does not work since we are going against removals made by Twitter in the first hand.

Thats a lot of effort going into something that 99% of the people couldn't care less.

Exactly, so using a screenshot is in fact a good solution

Apart from the inefficiency and inaccessibility.

It'd be pretty easy to automatically implement in their publishing system, I think.

Only on Internet message boards is this a live issue.

Using the API proves nothing. You can easily fake an embedded tweet - would take the average frontend dev very little time to do from scratch.

Did the general public start caring about news being real at some point?

> Smart journalists

This seems unlikely.

> "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules."

Censorship at its best. Not optimistic about Twitter and where it's heading to.

This is literally no different than before.

Does Twitter have any way to prevent/punish using screenshots instead of the Twitter embed thing when you put Tweets on your website?

Twitter can probably not use copyright to fight this, a Tweet probably does not fall under copyright because it is too short, right?

I'm sure the BBC did exactly that for ages, iirc because somebody who got their tweet embedded by them changed their display name to "big dogs cock" or something.

That sounds like a flaw in the embedding technology — surely the display name should be whatever it was when the tweet was created?

How do think embeds actually work? There is not snapshotting of data - it's simply a URL that renders at request - an HTML iframe.

Sure, but there's no reason Twitter/whoever couldn't decide to offer a parameter like `at=<timestamp>` - which is really not that different to, say, a link to a file on github at a particular commit.

Sure. I don't think Twitter has such an "look up as of effective date" enterprise feature though. Have you been able to access that data that way either through the UI or API?

I didn't mean to suggest that it would necessarily be possible today - I doubt twitter keeps a full history of username changes, for example, and they'd probably need to introduce more restrictions around changing them if they were to do so. That can all be part of the 'flaws' in the embedding technology I referred to.

No, I don't use the API (or twitter at all, for that matter). I was just reacting to your statement:

> There is not snapshotting of data - it's simply a URL that renders at request - an HTML iframe.

"Simply a URL", the resource to which it refers being rendered in an iframe, could easily be a snapshot - as it is on other sites. Hence to me this read like a non sequitur.

Would the copyright even belong to Twitter, as opposed to the author of the tweet?

Short works can fall into copyright in the U.S.

Heck, even taking a photo of the Mona Lisa is subject to copyright in the U.S under the theory there is creativity in the composition of the photo.

I will send a request to archive a copy of a tweet in the Wayback Machine just in case, especially if the tweet is critical of Twitter from now on.

Wayback Machine will remove archived tweets. For example, Taylor Lorenz’s tweets were erased after she requested it.[1] Other archives get removed if the people running the Internet Archive dislike the content. Similar to how Paypal isn’t a bank and eBay isn’t an auction site, The Internet Archive isn’t an archive.

1. https://web.archive.org/web/20220000000000*/https://twitter....

Tweets are subject to copyright so I doubt the Wayback machine has any legal leg to stand on for continuing to host someone's tweets after a takedown request.

When copyright expires in 125 years or whatever if the archive still exists they can publish them again.

archive.is works nicely too. Esp, since it strips any archived page of javascript and ads.

Usually your employer has confidentiality and non-disparage clauses in your employment contract and separation agreements. So "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules." probably would be more like "This Tweet violated your contractual agreement to your employer".

Non disparage clauses are usually non-enforceable in normal employment contracts once fired, hence why they have those separation agreements.

But separation agreements need to be signed by both parties, they can't fire you and immediately say "btw no talking bad about us".

This is exactly right and it's ridiculous people don't see this. Free speech isn't equal to breaking confidentiality agreements on a platform owned and operated by the company you work for.

Free speech and breaking confidentiality agreements are orthogonal to one another. The latter might result in legal action or firing but it has nothing to do with the right to publish.

But so does this mean on Twitter, leaks and whistleblowing about Twitter will be censored but leaks and whistleblowing about any other company will not? Because that sure doesn't sound like the neutral "free speech" moderation style Elon has been talking about so loudly nonstop for the past months.

I don't see any mention of that tweet?

Twitter employees created this censorship machine now descending upon themselves is hellishly funny.

Enforcers: "Those are the rules"

Everyone: what about our freedom of speech?

Enforcers: those are our rules

New Boss: You're playing by my rules now

Ex-enforcers: what bout our freedom of speech?

New Boss: Welcome to your machine

Where do our free speech rights say that you are entitled to publish an opinion / statement on a particular channel or someone's private media outlet?

Somehow the notion of rights is being expanded as a catch-all of various hopes and desires, misunderstood or expected to put obligations on people or entities that those rights do not apply to. This makes rights soft and hard to disagree with, and actually less clear and less valuable.

You have the right to say something. You can go say it at politicians making a speech, you can write a letter, publish an article in some newspaper that will publish it. Not the right to say it on Twitter. Or the New York Times, or whatever outlet. You don't have the right / specific private entities are not required to enable your opinion.

so the new boss doesn’t actually believe in the ideology he loudly preaches?

"richest man in the world" and "free speech advocate" are two ideologies in direct conflict with one another

substitute "richest" for "most powerful" and it gets worse

I don't think either of these are ideologies, and if they were, I'm pretty sure they do not necessarily conflict.

I guess it is just a numbers game, but this whole page is one of the more unintelligent threads on HN I have ever seen.

And the censors don't like being censored. Everyone is a hypocrite

my suspicion is “the censors” are highlighting how elons actions are proving in real time that they’ve been correct all along: that the “free speech absolutist” position has always been detached from reality.

he is, as we speak—and will continue to prove in the future—that “the censors” have been correct all along, social spaces of a certain number of people, if you don’t want the visitors to flee en masse, will need moderation to keep things from breaking down.

Lets first speak about the present and present shows that all the comments about censorship were correct.

The outcry is real. Many many bot networks create massive amounts of cry content.

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