Internet

How Should Facebook (and Twitter, and YouTube, and…) Decide What Speech To Allow?

Social media platforms have every right to do whatever the hell they want, but they shouldn't really do much speech policing at all.

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YouTube

Everywhere you turned in 2018, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms were in the news for policing speech in ways that either delighted or infuriated users. YouTube refused to host certain sorts of videos altogether and "demonetized" others (meaning the channels couldn't run ads and earn revenue). Patreon, a service that allows people to pay creators directly, recently deplatformed Sargon of Akkad, a controversial anti-feminist, which sparked a public exodus by a number of "Intellectual Dark Web" folks, such as Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, and Dave Rubin.

As a legal and practical matter, there seems to be no question that such services are free to disallow pretty much whatever content they choose. Earlier in the year, YouTube (owned by Google, which is in turn part of Alphabet) won a lawsuit brought by Prager U that charged the site was minimizing the reach of conservative points of view, if not outright censoring them. The crux of that case turned on whether YouTube should be treated as the equivalent of a government-licensed broadcast radio or television network and thus have to provide equal distribution to all participants. The ruling was unequivocal that YouTube (and, by extension, other social media services) are private businesses. From The Hollywood Reporter's writeup of the ruling:

Since the First Amendment free speech guarantee guards against abridgment by a government, the big question for U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh is whether YouTube has become the functional equivalent of a "public forum" run by a "state actor" requiring legal intervention over a constitutional violation.

Koh agrees with Google that it hasn't been sufficiently alleged that YouTube is a state actor as opposed to a private party.

"Plaintiff does not point to any persuasive authority to support the notion that Defendants, by creating a 'video-sharing website' and subsequently restricting access to certain videos that are uploaded on that website, have somehow engaged in one of the 'very few' functions that were traditionally 'exclusively reserved to the State,'" she writes. "Instead, Plaintiff emphasizes that Defendants hold YouTube out 'as a public forum dedicated to freedom of expression to all' and argues that 'a private property owner who operates its property as a public forum for speech is subject to judicial scrutiny under the First Amendment.'"

That settles the large legal issue: The platforms can decide what stays and goes. But most peeks into how they actually make those decisions are troubling. In August, The New York Times sat in with Twitter's "safety team" as it wrestled with banning Alex Jones and Infowars. (They eventually got bounced, albeit later than from Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify.) All agreed that "dehumanizing language" should not be tolerated, but the devil is in the details; accounts often get suspended or banned in ways that seem arbitrary or simply wrong. A few days ago, the Times reported on "Facebook's secret rule book for global political speech." The platform has about 7,500 moderators that make decisions, often about situations about which they are mostly ignorant and often using autotranslate services because they don't speak the languages being used.

The Times was provided with more than 1,400 pages from the rulebooks by an employee who said he feared that the company was exercising too much power, with too little oversight—and making too many mistakes.

An examination of the files revealed numerous gaps, biases and outright errors. As Facebook employees grope for the right answers, they have allowed extremist language to flourish in some countries while censoring mainstream speech in others….

The Facebook employees who meet to set the guidelines, mostly young engineers and lawyers, try to distill highly complex issues into simple yes-or-no rules. Then the company outsources much of the actual post-by-post moderation to companies that enlist largely unskilled workers, many hired out of call centers.

Those moderators, at times relying on Google Translate, have mere seconds to recall countless rules and apply them to the hundreds of posts that dash across their screens each day. When is a reference to "jihad," for example, forbidden? When is a "crying laughter" emoji a warning sign?

It's easy to sympathize with the in-house censors since the work they are tasked with is both unending and overwhelming. And there seem to be more and more calls to police speech, both from social justice warriors on the left and conservative trolls on the right (who are quick to say they'll report speech they find offensive even as they deride progressives as snowflakes who need to toughen up).

This is a disturbing development, and I think it should bother all libertarians. Yes, these services have the right to ban people or treat them unequally, and yes, in many cases, Facebook, Twitter, et al are responding to consumer demand by shutting down this or that person, page, or account. But I think basically any speech short of true threats should be tolerated. Even discerning what counts as a legitimate call for violence will create more than enough work for all the censors in the world. But the public sphere of debate, discussion, and disagreement works better in a setting that is more open rather than more closed. That holds true for the internet as a whole, but also on specific social-media platforms.

There's a doctrinaire market-friendly case to be made that if the platforms become too constrained and stultified, disgruntled users will create compelling alternatives. (The late, not-great, right-wing site Gab is one attempt limping along after being refused service by web-hosting company GoDaddy and online payment service PayPal.) I buy that argument to a large degree, but we're losing a larger culture of free speech, pluralism, and tolerance with every purge of accounts on every platform. This month it's Sargon of Akkad or Alex Jones, but in 2019, who knows who it will be? The initial beauty of most of these services was precisely that they allow users to tailor their experience so you don't need to bump up against the Alex Joneses of the world unless you want to. Individuals can mute, block, and ignore people that bother them. We now seem to be at a place culturally where people think that just isn't enough anymore. A decade-plus ago, one of the big fears about user-controlled newsfeeds was precisely that individuals would create what MIT's Nicholas Negroponte called "The Daily Me," a completely personalized newspaper full of content that you actually wanted. Critics such as Cass Sunstein fretted that such a turn of events would undermine the "neglected requirements of a system of free expression: unanticipated, unchosen encounters and a range of shared experiences."

It was only a few years ago that such services were rightly celebrated for the roles they played in facilitating and enabling the Arab Spring: "We use Facebook to schedule the protests" an activist was quoted by Mic, "and [we use] Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world." That seems like a different planet, doesn't it? As we slide into 2019, Sunstein's fears are more likely to be true at the platform level rather than the individual one.

Related: Prior to celebrating Reason's 50th anniversary in November, we hosted a debate that asked, "Should Facebook and Twitter Censor Themselves?" The participants were Renegade University founder Thaddeus Russell and lawyer and blogger Ken White of Popehat. Take a look or a listen:

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Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So in that other other other thread I made the judgementless observation that sparky seems to constantly be scolding people, and the not very bright Fagamammon proved he doesn’t know the difference between scolding someone and observing thwir behavior.

    It was deeply embarassing for both the scold, sparky, and the idiot, fagamammon.

    1. I suppose triple+ posting the same thing is not embarrassing to some who have no self-awareness.

      1. I’m not your confessor bro.

  2. Information warfare. Our democracy is under assault. By hostile foreign powers. The war has already started. Who’s side are you on?

    1. Do you not believe in universal suffrage democracy, then? The idea that the people can see all sorts of information and make up their own mind? Or do you simply want your own platforms that publish information you agree with to be the monopoly disseminator of information so you and yours can control the entire farce of universal suffrage democracy.

      By the way, who do you think is a bigger propaganda vector here–a ragtag group of non-government aligned Russians spending ~$10,000 to spread terrible memes on Facebook, or an omnipresent multibillion dollar monopoly mass media in the hands of a small internet clique of dual citizens with no loyalty to the country?

  3. we’re losing a larger culture of free speech, pluralism, and tolerance with every purge of accounts on every platform

    This is a problem with Internet junkies. Just because it isn’t on the Internet doesn’t mean it isn’t anywhere.

    1. Even when there’s no one to respond to you still find a way to complain abput someone!

      That kind of dedication is impressive.

  4. The initial beauty of most of these services was

    that they’re free.

    1. I’m not surprised I was roght about you being destitute.

    2. And if you aren’t paying for it, you’re probably the product.

  5. Yes, these services have the right to ban people or treat them unequally, and yes, in many cases, Facebook, Twitter, et al are responding to consumer demand by shutting down this or that person, page, or account. But I think basically any speech short of true threats should be tolerated.

    That’s a bannin’.

  6. Of course the problem is knowing where to draw the line. As soon as you make it subjective, it wanders all over the place; too strict here, too loose there.

    Whereas if they simply said “we will remove posts subject to court order only”, it would then be a pretty simple line, and all you’d really have to be wary of is forged court orders.

  7. They shouldn’t be censoring legal speech at all…Amazing people find that acceptable…

    https://aladyofreason.wordpress.com/

    1. They can censor any speech they want to. What is more remarkable is the ludicrous expectation we have that we should be able to use these services for free, and be able to say anything we want to without consequence.

  8. I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we need to regulate communications, media and social media companies to ensure free speech. The founders did not envision that private companies might one day control a significant amount of social interaction and communication and, in fact, be in the same position as governments of their day to stifle free speech. The regulation needs to be simple and direct preventing them from denying service in any way to anyone on the basis of their speech. company documents outlining speech codes ought to be sufficient evidence of noncompliance. And it needs to come with significant fines and jail time for the C suite. I would also put an automatic sunset provision in this legislation of say 10 or 15 years. I had long hoped a competitive platform would arise that would solve this problem but they have mostly fizzled. Now we have a very serious problem with the tyranny of a particular majority being able to affect people’s everyday lives in a pervasive way.

    1. Um they had newspapers in the founders day. And they controlled the information available pretty effectively. Most people had access to a single paper and a few tracts if they bothered to find them. Google may may control most of the commonly used services but they don’t own the internet.

    2. You could probably make a stronger argument if there were any serious barriers to entry for competing platforms (payment processors aside. That’s venturing really close to trust category). In many respects, you have democratization of the web. Most anyone can start their own BBS or simply withhold their grand proclamations of wisdom from Facebook, rendering them enervate.

      The failure of social media companies to adhere to their own user polices is probably better addressed through the courts than the legislature. At best, multitudes of contracts/user agreements could be made more clear (including law), without the de jure annulment of rights by simply using a service.

      That being said, I wish social media would be far more discriminating in what they allow. Idiocy and posturing is rampant, and it is becoming harder to find good conversations amid the noise.

      1. I would love to see Facebook fail.

  9. They should allow whatever speech they want to allow and disallow whatever speech they don’t want to allow.

    As opposed to allowing what the government wants and banning what the government wants to ban.

    1. Of course, if they control what’s communicated on the Internet, they’ll soon enough have a government that’s fully in agreement with their decisions.

  10. I agree completely.

    Editor’s Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    Fascist assholes.

  11. But the public sphere of debate, discussion, and disagreement works better in a setting that is more open rather than more closed.

    Gillespie would make a terrible leftist.

  12. I am so reassured they are going to follow the Nick Gillespie Wishful Thinking Standard: “But I think basically any speech short of true threats should be tolerated.”

    Also very informative that isolated instances of complaints and deplatforming from the “alt-right” is equivalent to massive, organizaed and ongoing efforts from the SJWs. A few instances, a few thousand…bout the same, I guess.

    Oh and also, that Sargon and Alex Jones are equivalent bad actors. Nice homework, there, Nick.

    This may be even weaker than the “I Defend PostModernism Against Things Jordan Peterson Never Said” article, the previous low point.

    Left out: The ongoing truthfluid meaning of “hate speech”. Which definition you seem to happily assign to the tech giants you purport to be (very slightly) concerned about.

    Someday you’re going to look around and say “Well, I didn’t mean THIS!”

    1. Has Jordan Petersen been banned from YouTube or Facebook? I missed that.

      1. He was for about a day.

      2. So impatient.

  13. They are providing areas for “the public” to speak and as such they are not “private places” and they have no right to censor free speech any more than is legal in any other public place.

    This is how we publicly communicate now. Get with the program. Recognize that these websites are public areas.

    1. Keep dreaming. Your planet sounds like a wonderful place.

      1. I’m only recognizing the facts, reality, the truth.

        How does the public communicate on your planet?

        1. But social media platforms are are not, in essence nor by definition, “public” spaces. They are privately-owned and controlled platforms that allow people to use their free service to share information in exchange for surrendering information and being exposed to advertising. You can CHOOSE to share you information publicly or keep it private or define who exactly to share it with (to a degree). They are NOT providing people with a public soapbox that you have some sort of guaranteed “right” to, any more than you are allowed to stand up on a table at a restaurant and start proselytizing about the “End Times” if you want to.

          Just like in the restaurant example, you are CHOOSING to use their platform, not obligated to by any means, and as such have no “right” to be able to say anything you want.

          Do I like it? No. And that’s why I don’t use social media. But if you choose to, then you agree to play by their rules, and if you think that shouldn’t be the case, then you’re being incredibly naive.

        2. If we consider them public areas, then the government will just turn around and regulate them like public utilities, thus guaranteeing Facebook’s eternal existence.

          This is what Zuckerberg wants. Facebook can’t go under, and it has a huge advantage if any new co petitions come on the market.

          Do not fall unto this trap.

  14. Liberals sure didn’t care about the choice of private companies when it came to baking a cake, but they suddenly did when conservatives started getting purged from social media.

    Which is fine, but it also means they are to never whine again about anything Russia did on social media. If we can’t regulate these places to be fair and consistent we sure as hell aren’t gonna regulate them cuz Russia.

    I agree the platforms can ban anyone they want. My wish is that they’d either be fair and treat conservatives without bias or admit to their bias.

    1. Liberals sure didn’t care about the choice of private companies when it came to baking a cake, but they suddenly did when conservatives started getting purged from social media.

      That’s because public accommodation laws in numerous jurisdictions protect sexual orientation, but not political viewpoints. If you don’t like it, amend those laws to either remove sexual orientation from the scope of protection or add political viewpoints to the scope of protection.

      1. If you don’t like it, amend [public accommodation] laws to either remove sexual orientation from the scope of protection or add political viewpoints to the scope of protection.

        I have a vastly superior idea: destroy the grossly unconstitutional concept of public accommodation.

      2. The very spirit of free speech exists primarily to protect political viewpoints, not sexual degenerates and their obscenity.

  15. Wait why did the author act like Sargon is similar to Alex Jones? That’s pure ignorance. How is this journalism? It’s like a bad blog post from a high school student.

    1. They are similar in that they are saying things the left doesn’t want them to say and are being silenced for it. It’s no more legitimate to silence Jones than Sargon, just because you find him offensive.

  16. Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. should have the right to censor any speech they want.
    After all, its their sites.
    On the other hand, we all have a right to say they’re a bunch of hypocritical fascists pigs who love to censor speech they don’t like.

  17. Nothing is settled. The Communications Act protects these sites from libel claims only as long as they remain a neutral platform. If they are choosing what to publish their protections should be stripped and they should be open to being sued.

  18. Boy, look at all these libertarians who want to regulate the activity of a private business interest. You guys sure you’re in the right place?

    1. Look at the libertarian advocating the coercion of free speech.

      Public communication places are wherever the public is welcome to communicate.

      Are libertarians opposed to the concept of public places?

      1. you are free to yell to the rafters about whatever you like. Is google compelled to accept your rantings and maintain those rants on YouTube?

        1. Google is operating ina public place, for the purpose of public communication.

          They are compelled to abide by the laws of the land, which include free speech.

          The profit motive doesn’t supersede the constitution.

          1. YouTube is a public space? Since when?

            1. It isn’t recognized as the public place it is. That is the failure of our lawmakers who are corrupted by the power of censorship and propaganda.

              You are either a fool or corrupt for denying that wherever the public gather is a public place.

              1. Let’s follow that logic: …

                Seems there’s nothing there.

        2. Is google compelled to accept your rantings and maintain those rants on YouTube?

          Yes.

          Based on the agreement THEY made with the government.

          They are relieved from various liabilities IF they act as open platforms. The minute that they coordinate content they become publishers and face the same levels of liability AS publishers.

    2. Did you not see my comment that they are protected from libel by the government? Is that libertarian?

      1. So you’d be ok if a judge acting as an agent of the government had google pay Sargon of Akkad a billion dollar settlement for refusing to maintain his videos on YouTube?

        1. YouTube can put time limits on all videos, but as a form of public communication it shouldn’t censor any that don’t violate the laws of the land.

  19. There’s not enough anarchy-communist voices on AM radio these days and these voices of free expression are being squelched by right-wing interests on the radio. In order to remedy this situation I am calling for the Ttump Administration to increase free expression by mandating that Tuesdays at Noon are reserved for the Noam Chomsky Hour to increase public expression and promote free speech.

    1. The problem is that there isn’t a market for it. No one wants to listen to it. That’s why NPR has to suckle at the government teat. People like you “think” in prepackaged sloganeering since you’re not very intelligent.

    2. All the discussion programs and commentary on NPR are between various factions of socialism.

      I guess they could add a primal scream every now and then to reflect the views of Antifa.

  20. So how do the election / lobbying laws fit into the scenario where a company is advocating for (mostly) one side of the spectrum?
    What is Russia accused of doing that Facebook is not doing?

    1. “What is Russia accused of doing that Facebook is not doing?”

      The ironic duplicity of that question is almost too much to unpack.

  21. “I think basically any speech short of true threats should be tolerated.”

    I disagree and think any speech should be tolerated. It’s just speech. If that speech breaks a law or contract (e.g., reveals trade secrets, makes a threat that appears real, falsely disparages, engages in libel/slander, violates someone’s privacy, etc.), then the legal system or law enforcement can get involved.

    Otherwise, a social media business will be spending a lot of money dealing with all the posts, try to decide what’s acceptable, and decide what the business impact is for every rule (will they lose customers because they censor, or gain them?).

    What happened to the kindergarten lesson that sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me?

    1. I think we should apply the same rules used in court and contracts that enable justice. Tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

      Make lying illegal. It coerces people to make decisions they wouldn’t choose to.

      If someone makes a threat or incites violence they have a choice. Be charged with the violence, or lying.

      1. Yeah, that’ll never backfire. Lying to the feds is already the fallback indictment when they can’t make anything else stick.

        1. I don’t understand why honest people would oppose the criminalization of lying outside of courts and contracts, where it is already a crime.

          Do they think courts and contracts would function better in an environment of lying? Backfire how?

          It’s obvious why corrupt people want to stay out of court.

          1. Try thinking about it like a problem to be solved.

            The problem is corruption, of all types, that have always plagued humanity. People choose corruption as the best alternative to achieve their survival and comfort. Their peers and children often make the same choice. It is insidious.

            Solve it.

            There are already laws that prohibit much corruption but the corrupt think they can get away with it by lying. This is learned behaviour. Lies don’t occur in nature.

            The solution, stop lying from being a successful learned behaviour.

            We criminalized lying in courts and contracts because these places are controlled by focussed scrutiny making lying easier to detect. It works to criminalize lying there.

            Now we have easy to use Micro recording devices and an offsite cloud to store the data. Everywhere we go can be subject to focussed scrutiny. Criminalizing lying can work everywhere as well as it does in court and contract.

            This will prevent lying from being a learned successful behaviour from children to adults. This is the solution to all corruption that plagues humanity.

            Does this explanation make my suggestion easier to understand?

            1. “Now we have easy to use Micro recording devices and an offsite cloud to store the data. Everywhere we go can be subject to focussed scrutiny.”

              Do you understand that this would require repealing the 4th amendment?

        2. That’s why when the feds question you, just rock back and forth sobbing incoherently. Start screaming if they ask questions. Maybe vomit on them.

          1. As we have seen with that one poor sucker from the Trump administration, that all depends on what the definition of “lie” is. A sufficiently motivated investigative agency can administer a vast enough number of questions that a mis-remembered detail or an inconsistency is guaranteed, and then BLAM! perjury, or lying to a federal agent or whatever trumped-up bullshit they then want to hit you with.

            At which point, depending on their ultimate goal, they’ll make it pretty clear what you’ll need to say to “get off easy”.

            Not always the simple ‘truth vs lie’ binary that we would like.

  22. Why not just use their super AI to pre-read every comment and every post and watch every video, and cover it with an appropriate trigger warning so you know what you might be about to read, and can avoid it if you don’t want to see whatever?

    1. We all know how this will be setup, since we already have this type of thing on a more primitive basis. “Kill All White People” and the like would not be flagged, but anything discussing real but politically inconvenient facts for the people who control the platform will be flagged and hidden behind all sorts of annoying “warnings” you have to click past in order to see the content. It’s a form of curation and censorship.

  23. Go look up ‘Jacqueline Hart’ and her communication with Matt Christensen.

    That’s all you need to know about the mindset that grips these companies.

    Let me go a step further. If it’s a step too far I’m sure the more thoughtful among you will let me know.

    We’re giving these companies too much credit. Punks who succeeded beyond their wildest dreams run these companies. Their reactionary authoritarian bent is not surprising because they’re not literate enough to understand and accept the simple concept of free speech.

    1. I know many highly educated people that have little understanding how the bill of,rights works. Let alone the entire constitution. And all of,them vote…….

  24. Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t services like YouTube given substantial legal protection on the presumption that they are bulletin boards, not edited media, and therefore not responsible for the content they carry? It seems patent to me that, if this is the case, the very first step in addressing the issue of censorship would be to withdraw those protections, saying “If you edit, then you are responsible for the content you carry.”

    1. This.

      The social media companies want it both ways. They want the lack of liability inherent in being public forums that are not responsible for the content they carry, while simultaneously exercising arbitrary editorial control over content like a newspaper does (and which is legally responsible for its content).

  25. Existing social media platforms are threatened with being banned in Europe if they don’t censor their contributors. Since those companies want to maximize profit, they feel they must comply.

    More open social media platforms can’t get traction because the PC crowd will pressure their advertisers to quit, as happened to Breitbart. They will also likely pressure GoDaddy and Patreon too, further crimping them.

    It’s interesting that no demonic right-wing billionaires are funding development of US-centric, uncensored social media sites. Maybe they’re mostly imaginary bogeyman.

    There are a couple of sites / blogs where a higher-than-average level of conversation goes on: “The Well” ($20/year) and Medium ($5/month).

    1. Or maybe those “right-wing” billionaires form a uniparty with their communist censor friends, and the people who claim to be fighting “the man” are infact just minions of the system.

    2. Medium? I get a daily email from them and I call it my “Daily leftist insanity newsletter.” Radical leftists vastly outnumber conservatives there, at least in the content that Medium highlights.

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  27. Libertarianism on this subject in the current year is basically “lol just build your own internets my dude — what’s that, you don’t have tens of billions of dollars to start banks, payment processors and every step along the way to get it going? ”

    It’s a total ivory tower meme ideology. Monopolies exist that are exerting all sorts of force to freeze out competitors.

    1. Damn straight. The mild hand-wringing I’m hearing from the Reason staff seems a pathetically inadequate reaction to what looks, from where I sit, like a fucking game-changing, Ministry of Truth-level threat to liberty.

      And if freedom of speech goes…well, at least you won’t be complaining about it. Not so’s anyone can hear you, anyway.

  28. I am reminded or a time two or three decades ago when the first indoor shopping malls were developing. People at that time were arguing that these malls were now the new public square and they should be allowed speak in the malls and pass out leaflets. Mall owners stopped this, in some cases using court orders. In the end private businesses get to set there rules on their property. I think this applies to internet platforms. It is interesting to note that many shopping malls have closed and been replaced by the big box stores. Something similar will likely happen to the internet platforms.

    1. The public go to malls to shop.

      The public go to websites to communicate.

      Look at the libertarians advocating the coercion of free speech.

      1. Rob, you really don’t get it.

  29. The Antitrust Case Against Facebook, Google and Amazon – WSJ

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/ the-antitrust-case-against -facebook-google-amazon-and-apple-1516121561

  30. Facebook suspended me for 30 days by posting Robert Spencer: New York Muslim cleric: “Trying to take Jihad from the Quran and the Sunnah is trying to take sweetness out of honey”

    1. New York Muslim cleric: “Trying to take Jihad from the Quran and the Sunnah is trying to take sweetness out of honey”
      It is clear in the video that he is referring to violent jihad. And he rebukes those whose sensibilities are jarred by the violence and inhumanity of Islamic law: “Your feelings have no value, no worth, in light of the Quran and Sunnah. If you don’t believe and understand that, then maybe Islam is not the religion for you.” Allowing Muslim parasites into the West destroys cultural cohesion, taxes the economy, and creates civil unrest. All of these stressors give the governments the excuse to exercise more totalitarian control on the natives while the animals run amok.

      1. Jihad is the islamic license to kill. The Quran and the Sunnah recognize the inherent islamic lust for disposing of infidels, if they disapprove of conversion to islam. For homicidal maniacs a license to kill is like sweetness in honey.
        https://www.jihadwatch.org/2018/12/ new-york-muslim-cleric -trying-to-take-jihad-from-the -quran-and-the-sunnah-is-trying-to-take -sweetness-out-of-honey

        1. Islam is at least in part, a violent death cult. In a way that no other major religion is or has been.

  31. That settles the large legal issue

    Sure, just like Dred Scott settled the slavery issue.

  32. Trump won 46% of the popular vote while Hillary won 48%. Trump’s approval ratings are roughly the same as Obama’s at the same point in his Presidency. Most of the censorship is directed towards the Conservatives. Nobody is that bad. The Social Media platforms are alienating half of their customer base. Anyone wit a rudimentary understanding of business would advise against this policy. Most educated people would prefer an environment with debate from both sides. This so-called censorship is a journey of vengeance. Confucius stated that when embarking on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. Napoleon stated to never interrupt the enemy while they are making a mistake. Nothing left to do but sit back and watch the Social Media platforms self destruct.

  33. I agree with all your remarks about free speech and rich discussion, but your argument settles on cultural factors that lead the big platforms to police speech, not political ones. The critical precedent here is the speed with which the feds shut down Wikileaks after the site published Chelsea Manning’s trove of classified documents. The nature of the content is not at issue in this example. The issue is how fast government used its leverage with financial institutions to force WikiLeaks out of business, and how fast it forced Julian Assange, the site’s owner, into virtual imprisonment in London. Though government would not use these tools against Facebook or Twitter, they are still platforms, just like WikiLeaks. For everyone who values free speech, and for everyone who runs online publication platforms, government’s swift action against Assange makes you say, “Holy cow, they can do that?” (Continued.)

  34. (Continued.)

    Mark Zuckerberg should never have testified before Congress in April 2018. When summoned, he should have declined the invitation, with a clear explanation why. His polite response might say, “We regulate our company as we like, in accordance with our industry’s best practices. We do not accept interference from Congress, or any governmental entity. I am not accountable to you, and unless I break the law, you have nothing to say to me. If you would like to know more about how Facebook regulates speech at its site, I’m happy to send you a link.” As soon as Zuckerberg appeared in the committee room, he placed himself and his company at a disadvantage, he acknowledged that the legislators do have something to say to him. The committee chair may as well have opened with, “Look, Mr. Zuckerberg, just as you can deplatform one of your users, we can shut you down. Just try us.”

    The whole industry has been on the back foot since then.

    1. Zuckerberg is maneuvering congress to regulate social media platforms like his. The goal is to transform them into a public utility. Which will almost guarantee Facebook never goes the way of MySpace.

  35. The ethics call is easy. As Facebook nor Google nor Patreon do not advertise themselves as promoting particular viewpoints, they may not ethically engage in such, unlike the Democratic Underground or Free Republic or even Reason.

    The devil is in how would one draft a law to ban these providers from engaging in censorship, while not effectively requiring, for example,a web site about Judaism, which has a bulletin board, from censoring users who post messages denying the Holocaust. Do we require a disclaimer? Do we prohibit any bulletin board service from censoring at all, which would deter many advocacy dites from having bulletin boards or comments sections?

    1. If you provide a service that encourages public communication, censoring that communication, beyon what is already illegal, violates free speech.

      Stop blaming private companies for your shithole laws.

      1. Your grasp of the law is tenuous.

  36. “Social media platforms have every right to do whatever the hell they want, but they shouldn’t really do much speech policing at all.”

    Typically, Nick neglects the crony capitalism that makes internet social media censorship viable. Corporate Power First!

    Congress gave internet companies a special exemption from publishing liability laws in the Communications Decency Act. They get to behave as publishers, but with only the legal liability of common carriers.

    Remove that exemption, let general liability law apply, and they would behave as common carriers tomorrow.

    1. Exactly. And we’ve already seen collusion amongst payment processors, credit card companies and Google/Facebook/Patreon to ensure, under the guise of regulating “unacceptable speech”, that no smaller competitor CAN or ever fucking WILL become viable.

      The pretense that, at this stage in the evolution* of the Internet, “anybody’s free to make their own hosting service or message board” is irresponsibly fucking lame. Almost makes you wonder who’s really comfortable with such centralized control of online speech. Reason editors sound like its just something to shrug off.

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