L. Neil Smith: Stop Censorship Now

L. Neil Smith, a Libertarian Science Fiction author and activist, posted the following statement on his Facebook page yesterday.  Smith was actively involved in the early Libertarian Party and unsuccessfully sought the party’s 2000 presidential nomination, though the Arizona Libertarian Party placed his name on the ballot that year as the party’s nominee. 

It says here that I have 4,553 Facebook ”friends”. The system is so buggered up that I have no idea how many of those people this message will reach. But it’s an important message, and it’s important that you pass it on to as many individuals as you can reach.

There is a cure for Big Tech social network censorship, and it is simpler, cleaner, and much more more ethical than any other I’ve heard proposed.

What’s needed — now — is legislation (yeah, that’s what I the libertarian said) that recognizes the fact that corporations are, effectively, arms of the government. As such, they are obliged to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, in particular, the Bill of Rights, as surely as any agency of the State is _supposed_ to be. That means, no censorship of any kind for any reason.

Failure to abide by the highest law of the land must be punishable under U.S.C. Title 18, Sections 241 and 242 — one count for each individual whose rights have been violated — which will correct the error made by the Founding Fathers to give our liberties some teeth.

If you agree, it is important that you pass this on, not only to your friends, but to every Senator and Congresscreature across the land. Things can’t change unless you change them.

78 thoughts on “L. Neil Smith: Stop Censorship Now

  1. Thomas Knapp

    On the one hand, yes, corporations are creatures of the state. They are chartered by the state and the sole purpose of that chartering is to give their owners the state privilege of “limited liability” as an artificial economic advantage.

    On the other hand, noticing that Donald Trump is a lying sack of shit and saying so isn’t “censorship.”

  2. Thomas Knapp

    Yes, he’s a Trump supporter. And yes, it is very sad.

    It also seems to me that it may be a matter of organic brain damage — he suffered a stroke a few years ago.

  3. Steven Berson

    This is an absurd and authoritarian position, and clearly ignorant of the fact that so many small businesses are run as corporations as well. Private business, even those organized as corporations, and even those successful ones that have turned into massive corporations, should have the right to their own freedom of speech as they see fit, and not be forced by government to repeat or amplify the speech of others that they do not wish to. A way more libertarian approach would be to address whether the government enabled corporate form that provides as many limited liabilities, and preferential treatments for the largest of them, should be continued in the manner that it is – but totally distorting what 1st Amendment rights are supposed to be – that is, solely limitations on the powers of government, and not limitations on individuals and businesses.

    Best regards,
    Steve Berson

  4. paulie

    True. Also, how would this even work? Do all media corporations have to allow hardcore porn, death threats, doxxing, snuff films, rape footage, and anything else they don’t want to allow? What about corporations which are not in the media or social media business at all – do they have any right to regulate speech on their own property? What if I want to run around naked screaming obscenities in Walmart? What if the nazis want to parade around corporate parking lots or through their office buildings? What if pornographers want to film sex scenes in a corporate warehouse they don’t own and have not rented? It sounds pretty bizarre if you consider the implications.

  5. Kevin

    Calling a Trump supporter a “Trumptard” is lowbrow and ad hominem. Use of such language, in the absence of substantive discussion, is an indication of low intelligence and maybe an early indicator of brain decline.

    Jorgenson will never come within a million miles of becoming POTUS. If she were thoughtful about policies, or had any policies or other indications of serious thought, voting for her might send a good message. But unfortunately, it sends the wrong message, as Jorgenson endorses every plank of the LP Platform, which could be considered a parody except that it is mind-numbingly dull due to committee-driven micro-managing and failure to understand the NIFP at the most basic level.

  6. Kevin

    Want specifics? OK, I have a strong stomach and will now dive into analysis of the platform.

    1.4 Personal Relationships
    “Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration, or military service laws.”

    Rape is not only a sexual practice, it is a sexual orientation or preference. This plank would allow self-avowed rapists to openly adopt victims, serve in the military, and immigrate to the US. I understand that another sentence talks about rights of adults to exercise freedom of choice in sex with other adults, but the two positions are not mutually exclusive. Affirming the rights of adults, does not deny any rights of minors (and if it did, that would violate some rights of minors). Even if the two statements did contradict each other, that simply adds to confusion.

    1.5 Abortion
    “Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.”

    Keeping government out of the matter, would in effect allow the abortion of near-term fetuses, even up to the day before they would be born. How would that be different in principle from infanticide? In any event, this matter should be up to each state to decide, since the issue cannot be resolved without philosophical assumptions (which the NIFP does not and cannot provide).

    1.7 Crime and Justice
    … “The constitutional rights of the criminally accused, including due process, a speedy trial, legal counsel, trial by jury, and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty, must be preserved.”…

    This contradicts another sentence in the same plank:
    “Government force must be limited to the protection of the rights of individuals to life, liberty, and property, and governments must never be permitted to violate these rights. ”

    How can there be “due process” unless witnesses can be compelled to testify, and defendants compelled to stand trial? Both would inevitably initiate force and thus violate rights to liberty and property.

    1.8 Death Penalty
    “We oppose the administration of the death penalty by the state.”

    I dislike criticizing the few short planks that appear, but this one is so incredibly unthoughtful…
    “by the state” is a qualifier, and leaves open the possibility that private persons could administer a death penalty. Further, governments routinely administer death penalties when they engage in war.

    3.1 National Defense
    “We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.”

    The two sentences taken together implicitly assume that a military could be maintained that would be sufficient to defend the US, without alliances. The qualifying “entangling” is meaningless, as all alliances “entangle”. Without the possibility of alliances, small weak nations would each become self-defense islands, and easy prey for aggressive alliances that would swiftly overpower them. Even a strong nation like the US, would have great difficulty without radar stations in Canada and Greenland, access to foreign seaports and air runways. For example, how would Hitler have been defeated, if his opponents didn’t coordinate their actions and help each other?

    Once the principle of non-interventionism (no alliances) is adopted, why apply only to nations? Should each of the 50 US states rely only on their own defense? Should each city be self-reliant in defense? Why not stop? The logical end-point of the no-alliance principle would be, each man a self-defense island, unable to defend others or to call upon others for help in defense. The end result would be, a war of all against all. Life would tend to be nasty, brutish, and short.

    And so on.

  7. William Saturn Post author

    If an entity is editorializing rather than simply providing a platform for communication then they should be open to liability. No one has a problem with removing/hiding obscene materials, but removing/hiding for editorial purposes crosses a line. If Twitter wants to editorialize, let them, but they must also face the consequences for that choice.

  8. paulie

    It’s their private property. The only consequence they should face is that users, viewers/readers/listeners and adverisers take their content, participation, time and money elsewhere.

  9. paulie

    Can editorialists, comedians and other provide snippets of other people’s opinions and then comment on it? Or would they face “liability”? FOX, Limbaugh, or just about any commentator does this. So do MSNBC, Colbert, Oliver, Maher, and many others of all sorts of perspectives. The Trump campaign, which is probably incorporated, has their own TV-channel like app. Are they obligated to allow Democrats, Libertarians and others to use it “equally”? Should they be “liable” for giving their opinion on other people’s opinions?

  10. William Saturn Post author

    If they are editorializing then they are liable if someone uses their publication to post defamatory material. If it’s just a platform and I use it to defame someone then that person can only sue me personally. If it’s an editorial publication then they can sue me and the publication. Twitter does not want that but if they’re going to censor people’s posts it’s the price they must pay.

  11. Jill Pyeatt

    I agree with William, that If Twitter and Facebook choose to censor, including marking articles as false just because they don’t follow the progressive agenda, it’s appropriate that they lose protections against lawsuits. To me, that’s a very libertarian solution. This bias has been a few issue for me for years, and I simply don’t understand why so many Libertarians are silent about it.

    It isn’t just conservatives who are censored, it’s anyone who dares to challenge what news outlets have been told in their 4 AM directives.

  12. paulie

    Twitter does not want that but if they’re going to censor people’s posts it’s the price they must pay.

    IPR and most public fora have some level of comment moderation. If they notice their platform being used to spread malicious rumors, calls for violence, etc., they have the right to dissociate from that or warn people of factual falsehoods being spread. The same is true of twitter.

    marking articles as false just because they don’t follow the progressive agenda

    That’s not what they do.

    Anyone who repeats defamatory material can be sued for doing so.

    Criticizing Trump isn’t defamation. Trump uses his platform to defame people and even accuse them of crimes all the time, but I doubt you think he should be sued for that.

  13. William Saturn Post author

    I’m not talking about Trump. I’m talking about defamation in general.

    IPR can be sued for defamation. Twitter cannot. If Twitter wants to censor posts for editorial reasons then they should not be immune to liability.

  14. paulie

    Suing twitter for defamation would be the equivalent of suing IPR over user comments, or suing IPR because IPR editors or owner moderate comments or respond to them.

  15. Jill Pyeatt

    Yes, after yesterday’s Executive Order, Twitter can be sued. Prior to that, they could not because they were protected from lawsuits.

  16. dL

    If they are editorializing then they are liable if someone uses their publication to post defamatory material.

    Saturn is regurgitating GOP talking points. It takes someone 2 seconds to look it for themselves, a trivial skill that nonetheless apparently eludes most conservatives. There is no editorial delineation/distinction regarding “provider.” Indeed the text of section 230—remembering that section 230 was originally a part of the Communication Decency Act–in part was to indemnify providers from any civil liability for private moderation of any content at provider discretion, even if such content was constitutionally protected speech. After all, the damn title of section 230 was .Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material.

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230
    “47 U.S. Code §?230.Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material”

    Pertinent section (c)

    “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

    “Civil liability. No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—”

    (A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or

    (B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).[1]

    The first bolded part above is what most think of when section 30 is mentioned.

    “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”

    The second part is oft forgotten, probably because most have not taken the time to actually look it up. Providers can privately moderate user content at their own discretion, regardless whether said user content pass constitutional muster. In other words, users cannot sue providers for being banned on the grounds that their right to free speech has been violated.

  17. William Saturn Post author

    Nobody is talking about suing because of being banned. That’s not what this is about.

    As I said, the problem is not with removing objectionable material but altering political material and “fact checking.” That is what has been done here.

    It’s not surprising to see dL coming out on the side of censorship. He loves to censor material he disagrees with. The modern left would rather silence their opponents than engage with them. That doesn’t win anyone to your argument. It does the opposite.

  18. dL

    Yes, after yesterday’s Executive Order, Twitter can be sued. Prior to that, they could not because they were protected from lawsuits.

    I can think you just forfeited your libertarian credentials. That EO probably won’t hold up. But if for some reason it does, conservatives will likely end up on the short end of the stick. There’s a reason the Clintonistas and Bidens of the world want to get rid of it, too.

  19. paulie

    altering political material and “fact checking.”

    It’s fact checking, not “fact checking.” Trump is spreading obvious bullshit about mail voting. He’s inciting violence with tweets about “looting leads to shooting.” That’s just the tip of the iceberg with his harmful lies. No one owes him a platform or lack of fact check.

    It’s not surprising to see dL coming out on the side of censorship.

    Trump is the one on the side of censorship. He wants to use government force to take away twitter’s right of free speech and free association. In effect, to nationalize them. That’s what Smith calls for as well, using specious overextrapolation of corporate charters from government.

  20. William Saturn Post author

    It would be like AT&T cutting off phone access to certain people for political reason or inserting their own “fact check” before a call with a certain individual they disagree with politically.

  21. dL

    It’s not surprising to see dL coming out on the side of censorship. He loves to censor material he disagrees with. The modern left would rather silence their opponents than engage with them. That doesn’t win anyone to your argument. It does the opposite.

    Damn, that sounds painful…But, hey, Amazon Prime’s got a creme for that.

  22. paulie

    AT & T isn’t a monopoly anymore. People are free to do business with other companies. The same goes true for social media. Also, twitter is not one on one private communication. Tweets can spread like wildire, including malicious lies, calls to violence and so on. It’s inherently a public platform. So there’s a significant difference there.

  23. William Saturn Post author

    AT&T is a common carrier. Twitter and Facebook should be classified in that way as well to prevent censorship of political discourse.

  24. paulie

    In other words you want to nationalize or quasinationalize them. It would be better if AT & T were no longer classified as a “common carrier.”

  25. William Saturn Post author

    I care more about the free speech rights of users than big corporations. If they are common carriers any discrimination based on viewpoint would not be allowed.

  26. dL

    AT & T isn’t a monopoly anymore. People are free to do business with other companies. The same goes true for social media. Also, twitter is not one on one private communication. Tweets can spread like wildire, including malicious lies, calls to violence and so on. It’s inherently a public platform. So there’s a significant difference there.

    My preference is for Twitter to be anything goes. But twitter, like all social media, is not an anarchist free speech platform. It’s a capitalist DMP platform whose business objective is to sell algorithmic audience to advertisers and DSPs. It’s not objectionable content that thwarts the business objective, its the bullying. That’s what prompted the algo moderation in the first place. But once they stepped down that rabbit hole, it’s hard to step out.

    I think the “fact checking” of Trump is inane. Pretty much all politicians are pathological liars. Trump’s a bully. But twitter is not going to ban POTUS, so it resorts to parental guidance fact checking BS.
    However, the push to repeal/modify section 230 started with the Dems b/c they believe social media was responsible for Russian interference to get Trump elected. Trump is all about Trump. He’s always hated the strong presumption against libel in American jurisprudence. He would love nothing more than to weaken it because he has a narcissistic aversion to criticism. But if section 230 were abolished(or further modified), the effect on political speech would be similar to the effect the SESTA/FOSTA 230 modification had on online sex & drug speech. Severe restrictions. Overnight. Twitter, facebook, reddit, wordpress, medium….Outside of a narrow band of acceptable political speech, most political speech would likewise be severely moderated, if not TOS banned outright on online platforms. I think the proggies would be fine with that because they feel a a narrow band of acceptable political speech favors them, and they’re probably right.

    Be careful what you wish for…

  27. William Saturn Post author

    “My preference is for Twitter to be anything goes.”

    I agree with you there though I would oppose its use for violations of intellectual property or criminal uses like child pornography.

    “But if section 230 were abolished(or further modified)”

    The ideal would be for social media to be classified as common carriers required to comply with the First Amendment as public fora. Any TOS would be subject to the First Amendment as well. Censorship, “fact checking”, or shadow banning would not occur.

  28. dL

    The ideal would be for social media to be classified as common carriers

    Social media are DMP platforms to deliver audience to DSPs and advertisers. That’s what they do. Hell. that’s what AT&T does, too. They’re in that space, too. Big time. And getting bigger in that space. AT&T wants to be their own Facebook. Now, not at the outer layer of a social media provider, but at the inner core of a DMP platform. And they have the communication and entertainment subscriber base to do it. If you operate at the DSP layer like I do, they are converging to being the same thing. “Common carrier” is anachronism from the 70s and 80s.

  29. Jared

    WS: “Twitter and Facebook should be classified [as common carriers] as well to prevent censorship of political discourse.”

    They should be able to set whatever speech standards they like.

    Social media platforms are nowhere approaching natural monopolies. Facebook and Twitter aren’t monopolies of any kind, Web 2.0 self-expression is not a human necessity, and network effects don’t magically transform products into commons.

  30. dL

    Social media platforms are nowhere approaching natural monopolies.

    If you are in the digital advertising business, they sort of are, although its more like a duopoly: Google and Facebook. But there is definitely planned competition coming from the likes of AT&T, Amazon and big publishers like the NY Times.

  31. Thomas Knapp

    “If they are editorializing then they are liable if someone uses their publication to post defamatory material.”

    Perhaps that’s the way you think it should be (if you’re a fascist or a retard, anyway).

    Under Section 230, however, that’s not the way it is.

    All that Section 230 says is that an online platform is not the “publisher” of content posted by its users.

    Period.

    Not “as long as it’s an open forum for debate.”

    Not “as long as it has no editorial guidelines.”

    Not “unless it notices that one of its users is a lying sack of shit.”

    Period.

  32. Thomas Knapp

    “Yes, after yesterday’s Executive Order, Twitter can be sued. Prior to that, they could not because they were protected from lawsuits.”

    Even if the executive order withstands court challenge, and it won’t, that won’t be its effect.

  33. LibertyDave

    Can all you people crying about Free Speech please explain to me how a group of people exercising their free speech after President Trump exercised his free speech is called censorship?

    Twitter didn’t remove Trumps tweets, and they didn’t restrict anybody from reading Trumps tweets. All Twitter did was call Trump a liar, which is called telling the truth and is protected free speech.

    All you ‘libertarians’ that want to be able to sue twitter are the people who are advocating for censorship and you need to get you heads out of your asses.

  34. William Saturn Post author

    From the text of the EO:

    “When an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A), it is engaged in editorial conduct. It is the policy of the United States that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher that is not an online provider.”

    And:

    “(ii) the conditions under which an action restricting access to or availability of material is not “taken in good faith” within the meaning of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) of section 230, particularly whether actions can be “taken in good faith” if they are:

    (A) deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider’s terms of service; or

    (B) taken after failing to provide adequate notice, reasoned explanation, or a meaningful opportunity to be heard; and

    (iii) any other proposed regulations that the NTIA concludes may be appropriate to advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section.”

  35. LibertyDave

    William Saturn, quoting the EO doesn’t change the fact that Twitter didn’t remove or restrict access to Trumps tweets. All Twitter did was state their opinion that Trump is a liar.

    Trump on the other hand threatening to shut down Twitter because they said what they thought is called censorship.

  36. paulie

    Yep, so Trump is the one actually calling for censorship, while calling other people’s freedom of speech and association censorship.

  37. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Paulie: Do all media corporations have to allow hardcore porn, death threats, doxxing, snuff films, rape footage, and anything else they don’t want to allow?

    Well, no. Smith said the 1st Amendment would apply. The 1st Amendment does not protect death threats, etc. Anything illegal would still be prohibited by law.

    What about corporations which are not in the media or social media business at all – do they have any right to regulate speech on their own property? What if I want to run around naked screaming obscenities in Walmart? What if the nazis want to parade around corporate parking lots or through their office buildings? What if pornographers want to film sex scenes in a corporate warehouse they don’t own and have not rented? It sounds pretty bizarre if you consider the implications.

    I assume Smith is talking about social media, likening it to the public square because of its wide reach. Obviously, it would not apply to invading corporate offices.

    However, the California Constitution does require privately owned malls to permit free speech (such as distributing pamphlets) on their premises: https://educateforlife.org/free-speech-shopping-mall/

    Smith’s legal theory is similar. The modern mall acts as a public square, as does social media. (And as an office building does not.)

  38. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    paulie: It’s their private property.

    Well, the internet was financed by the Defense Dept. It travels over phone lines, optic fiber cables, cell towers, etc., often built by public utilities on land that was largely granted by the state or condemned through eminent domain proceedings.

    So, from a libertarian purist perspective, you could argue that Facebook, Twitter, etc., are only entitled to claim private property rights, if each company builds its own internet. Can you imagine if Zuckerberg had to ask every private landowner’s permission to run a cable through his property?

    The internet was heavily subsidized by American taxpayers, so imposing the 1st Amendment on companies that attain a certain audience size seems fair and reasonable. It would also expand free speech.

  39. paulie

    Social media isn’t a public square. In the aggregate it is, but it’s easy enough to set up a new service. Myspace, Microsoft, AOL, IBM and others were accused of monopoly at one time or another. It wasn’t true then and is no more true now. Any ISP, computer manufacturer, browser provider, email provider, social network, search engine, or any of the other services provided by these companies will simply lose market share to other competitors if there are segments of the market they fail to serve well, and there inevitably will be sooner or later. Likewise, K-Mart, Walmart, Costco and Amazon are not monopolies, and never were. AT & T was at one time but only because of government; it no longer is.

    Smith may have been talking about social media, but his logic is that it’s because of corporate charters, hence my theoretical scenarios.

    Incidentally, most states don’t require malls to allow free speech on their property, and the states that do have constant issues with local governments not adhering to those requirements. I’m somewhat familiar with this from a couple of decades of petitioning all over the country, including all over California.

    The 1st Amendment does not protect death threats, etc. Anything illegal would still be prohibited by law.

    Hardcore porn is free speech protected by the first amendment. Doxxing is arguable. Calls for violence and bullying can toe the line. Threats can be phrased in ways that are understood but deniable. Depictions of rape and murder might arguably be news or commentary and there can be argument over whether they are staged or real. It’s not always clear cut, and IMO it is important to let property owners make their own rules above and beyond what is or isn’t allowed by law.

  40. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Paulie: Can editorialists, comedians and other provide snippets of other people’s opinions and then comment on it? Or would they face “liability”?

    It’s ALREADY commonplace for Big Media and Big Tech to threaten lawsuits, citing intellectual property or libel, to pressure small players to take down posts containing “snippets.” These takedown demands aren’t consistent, and they ARE unjustified. But small players, individual bloggers, etc., aren’t going to stand up to deep pocket corporations. So they relinquish their rights.

    I don’t see how applying the 1st Amendment to social media would hinder people using snippets.

    What we SHOULD do, in addition to Smith’s idea, is weaken intellectual property and libel laws, to make it harder for Big Media and Big Tech to bully people in taking down snippets.

  41. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    William Saturn: AT&T is a common carrier. Twitter and Facebook should be classified in that way as well to prevent censorship of political discourse.

    Yes.

    I care more about the free speech rights of users than big corporations.

    YES.

  42. paulie

    companies that attain a certain audience size

    Which is what? Is there an objective standard? What if they move offshore – will the U S government regulate foreign companies and tell them how to run their business?

    So, from a libertarian purist perspective, you could argue that Facebook, Twitter, etc., are only entitled to claim private property rights, if each company builds its own internet.

    Right, and you could also similarly claim that all stores and manufacturers are only allowed to claim property rights if they build all their own highways and streets. So this “libertarian purist” perspective appears to be that past and present intrusion by government into some aspects of the economy justifies more, perpetual intrusion to the point where private property does not effectively exist since everyone uses some various types of infrastructure that is or was monopolized, subsidized, built and/or maintained by government.

  43. paulie

    Twitter and Facebook should be classified in that way as well to prevent censorship of political discourse.

    Yes.

    No.

  44. paulie

    I care more about the free speech rights of users than big corporations.

    YES.

    I care more about free speech and free association rights of private property than “free speech” of government actors to trample on property rights, free speech and free association.

  45. paulie

    I don’t see how applying the 1st Amendment to social media would hinder people using snippets.

    Trump is whining because Twitter commented on his tweets (which actually routinely violate their terms of service and would justify taking him off their platform completely if he were actually being treated by the same rules as other people).

  46. paulie

    What we SHOULD do, in addition to Smith’s idea, is weaken intellectual property and libel laws, to make it harder for Big Media and Big Tech to bully people in taking down snippets.

    Yes, but not in addition to Smith’s idea.

  47. paulie

    Trump’s a bully. But twitter is not going to ban POTUS, so it resorts to parental guidance fact checking BS.

    They would if they enforced their TOS equally.

  48. paulie

    He’s always hated the strong presumption against libel in American jurisprudence.

    He’d prefer nuisance lawsuits to shut up opposing speech. And since coming to power, he really likes how the dictators he admires do that in other countries.

  49. paulie

    He would love nothing more than to weaken it because he has a narcissistic aversion to criticism.

    There’s also that.

    But if section 230 were abolished(or further modified), the effect on political speech would be similar to the effect the SESTA/FOSTA 230 modification had on online sex & drug speech. Severe restrictions. Overnight. Twitter, facebook, reddit, wordpress, medium….Outside of a narrow band of acceptable political speech, most political speech would likewise be severely moderated, if not TOS banned outright on online platforms.

    True.

  50. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    paulie:

    companies that attain a certain audience size

    Which is what? Is there an objective standard?

    Of course not. The standard would be arbitrary. But the law sets arbitrary standards all the time. Arbritary standards are often useful and necessary.

    Speed limits. Voting age. Age of consent. Expiration terms for copyrights and patents. Statues of limitations.

    What if they move offshore – will the U S government regulate foreign companies and tell them how to run their business?

    The European Union regulates media companies located in the U.S., at least to the extent that their reach extends into EU territory. So does China.

    So, if a social media company moves offshore, the US could still require that 1st Amendment standards be applied to American users. Any technical problems would be for the companies to solve.

    Google/YouTube, Facebook, Amazon have no problem censoring content within the EU or China to meet the demand of their governments. I’m sure they could manage not to censor content within the US.

  51. paulie

    Social media are DMP platforms to deliver audience to DSPs and advertisers.

    Not familiar with this terminology, or I forgot it.

    “Common carrier” is anachronism from the 70s and 80s.

    Agreed. There is absolutely nothing to keep anyone from setting up their own social networks. Trump campaign already has its own TV channel like app. What would keep them from creating their own social network? It may well already exist.

  52. paulie

    They should be able to set whatever speech standards they like.

    Social media platforms are nowhere approaching natural monopolies. Facebook and Twitter aren’t monopolies of any kind, Web 2.0 self-expression is not a human necessity, and network effects don’t magically transform products into commons.

    Agreed.

  53. paulie

    If you are in the digital advertising business, they sort of are, although its more like a duopoly: Google and Facebook.

    It’s not winner take all. Dominant market players come and go.

  54. paulie

    But there is definitely planned competition coming from the likes of AT&T, Amazon and big publishers like the NY Times.

    Of course. And tik tok and telegram and how many other things you may not have even heard of yet?

  55. paulie

    All that Section 230 says is that an online platform is not the “publisher” of content posted by its users.

    Period.

    Not “as long as it’s an open forum for debate.”

    Not “as long as it has no editorial guidelines.”

    Not “unless it notices that one of its users is a lying sack of shit.”

    Period.

    Exactly.

  56. paulie

    “Yes, after yesterday’s Executive Order, Twitter can be sued. Prior to that, they could not because they were protected from lawsuits.”

    Even if the executive order withstands court challenge, and it won’t, that won’t be its effect.

    Agreed.

  57. paulie

    Can all you people crying about Free Speech please explain to me how a group of people exercising their free speech after President Trump exercised his free speech is called censorship?

    Twitter didn’t remove Trumps tweets, and they didn’t restrict anybody from reading Trumps tweets. All Twitter did was call Trump a liar, which is called telling the truth and is protected free speech.

    All you ‘libertarians’ that want to be able to sue twitter are the people who are advocating for censorship and you need to get you heads out of your asses.

    Exactly!

  58. paulie

    I’m sure they could manage not to censor content within the US.

    Or, more accurately, to censor it to appeal to the new US dictatorship.

  59. William Saturn Post author

    Twitter obscured Trump’s tweet and placed a “warning label” over it that had to be clicked through. They also prevented anyone from liking or commenting on it.

  60. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    paulie:

    I’m sure they could manage not to censor content within the US.

    Or, more accurately, to censor it to appeal to the new US dictatorship.

    Big Tech is already censoring to appeal to the Deep State. Trump might prefer a different kind of censorship. But applying the 1st Amendment to Big Tech would prohibit them from censoring any political faction. A good thing.

  61. paulie

    “deep state” is Trump propaganda. Yes, Trump would prefer a different kind of censorship in denying social media platforms free speech and free association rights. Unlike “censorship” by private entities controlling their own property, government censorship actually has the force of law – fines, jail, property seizure, shuttering, etc. In fact Trump already threatened to shut down twitter.

    Running a content platform necessarily involves judgment calls. When does something cross the line from risque erotica to porn? Will full or partial nudity be allowed? Will there be NSFW warnings, and if so when? When does something cross the line of violating privacy, and is that even something they are allowed to police at all? When does bullying or inciting violence cross the line into something actionable? Is there some responsibility by content platforms to limit bad advice and false information that could lead to death or injury, or the greater spread of infectious disease?

    Government bureaucracy is the most hamhanded possible way of making these judgment calls. It only makes sense for content platforms to make those decisions for themselves, along with who or what they do or do not want to be associated with.

  62. dL

    Thanks, that makes sense. And DSP?

    Demand Side Platform…the automated/algorithmic buy side of digital advertising. It’s the demand side. DMP is like the audience supply-side.

  63. dL

    “deep state” is Trump propaganda.

    Deep state is a quaint term, of a relic of an earlier time when the NSA stood for “No Such Agency.” The spooks all came out of the shadows after 9-11. There is nothing hidden about it anymore. It’s all out in the open. If trump was actually an adversary to the so-called deep state, he would pardon Edward Snowden. That would really piss them off. But he will do no such thing b/c “deep state” has become nothing more than a fictitious enemy, an Emmanuel Goldstein device.

  64. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Paulie: Unlike “censorship” by private entities controlling their own property, government censorship actually has the force of law

    I’m not sure what Trump’s plan is, but Smith is calling for applying the 1st Amendment to Big Tech. That would forbid anyone from censoring social media.

    Ironically, sometimes state institutions guarantee greater freedom of speech than do private institutions. For instance, some conservative speakers have been banned from speaking at private colleges. But state colleges are forbidden from censoring anyone, because they come under the 1st Amendment.

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