Internet

To Fight 'Extremism,' Journalists Are Praising Online Censorship

Social media platforms and governments are "voluntarily" teaming up to ban "violent extremist content." What could go wrong?

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At the same time journalists are warning about the threat posed by the White House's Tech Bias Story Sharing Tool, which collects complaints against social-media platforms that are mean to conservatives, they are also beside themselves because the Trump administration is refusing to sign The Christchurch Call, a non-binding pledge "to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online" that's been signed by online service providers and the governments of New Zealand, France, and 16 other countries.

Let's be unambiguous: Trump's online complaint department is stupid and worthless, especially because, as Elizabeth Nolan Brown has pointed out, it is likely to become a dumping ground for dubious claims of being "shadowbanned." It's not good to have the government collecting political complaints in the name of protecting free speech. At the same time, it's absolutely terrifying to see governments and tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter sign even non-binding agreements to, among other things, "prevent the upload of terrorist and violent extremist content and to prevent its dissemination on social media and similar content-sharing services, including its immediate and permanent removal."

Judging by the recent permanent bans at Facebook leveled against Louis Farrakhan and Alex Jones, the signers of the Christchurch Call effectively conflate the delusional rants of idiots with live streams of mass shootings. Somehow we've ended up with the American government chumming for politically motivated attacks on free speech and foreign governments and tech giants pushing for "voluntary" restrictions on what is considered acceptable expression. What could possibly go wrong here?

Yet some outlets and journalists say even more needs to be done. "Instead of cracking down on violent extremism, the [U.S.] government is collecting email addresses," clucks The Verge. "Other countries are taking much more aggressive action," writes Casey Newton. "Australia and Singapore have proposed onerous new laws against social platforms that require them to remove some content immediately, under penalty of massive fines or even jail time for executives….Social networks have an important role to play in reducing the spread of terrorism. But they need help from the countries in which they operate. It's heartening that 18 governments today committed to working with them on the project—and beyond dispiriting that the United States, for the most craven of reasons, opted out."

But what the New Zealand government did in the wake of the Christchurch, New Zealand, mass shooting, should disturb anyone who believes in free speech. The government went so far as to ban the manifesto of the shooter and video of the shooting.

"Chief Censor" David Shanks banned possession of both the video record [shooter Brenton] Tarrant made of his crimes, as well as the manifesto he produced explaining what he hoped to accomplish by slaughtering people. Shanks declared it "illegal to have a copy of the video or document, or to share these with others." Knowing possession of either the video or the manifesto by unauthorized individuals is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and NZ$50,000, while distribution can get you 14 years behind bars.

That's simply terrifying and positively dystopian. Do people really think that possessing a book or a text or a video means the owner is enslaved by it or even agrees with its messages?

As Jack Shafer pointed out in Politico, the New Zealand media also decided to censor their coverage of the shooting and its aftermath.

Representatives of Radio New Zealand, TVNZ, Mediaworks, Stuff and the owner of the New Zealand Herald signed a pact agreeing to limit their news coverage of Brenton Tarrant, the man charged in the March 15 Christchurch massacre of 50 worshipers at two mosques. Following the guidelines, the news organizations vow to limit coverage of statements "that actively champion white supremacist or terrorist ideology," avoid quoting the accused killer's "manifesto," and suppress any "message, imagery, symbols" or hand signs like a Nazi salute made by the accused or his supporters in support of white supremacy. "Where the inclusion of such signals in any images is unavoidable, the relevant parts of the image shall be pixelated," the guidelines add.

This sort of response makes me think of Stetson Kennedy, who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s and revealed just how banal and childish many of their rituals, titles, and activities were in his 1954 blockbuster I Rode with the Ku Klux Klan. The level of ridicule he brought to bear on the Klan helped destroy its credibility and power. Something similar happened to Scientology when its secret documents were made public via the internet in the early 1990s and I'd argue that exposure and engagement helped to deflate the alt-right bubble of a few years ago. As long as Milo Yiannopoulis or Richard Spencer were prevented from speaking, they could at least seem potentially threatening. Once they actually had to say what they believed, they disappeared in a whiff of smoke. On a pragmatic level, the idea that hiding details and suppressing information about extremists will reduce their power seems wrong.

More fundamentally, though, it should be deeply worrying to anyone who believes in free expression that governments and corporations are openly working together to decide what is and is not acceptable speech. Does anyone really trust the wisdom and sagacity of Twitter's Jack Dorsey or Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg—much less President Donald Trump or the leaders of Singapore (ranked 151st out of 181 countries for press freedom by Reporters Without Borders)—when it comes to defining good speech?

Between threatened crackdowns by Republicans and Democrats and European Union bureaucrats and cave-ins by tech giants trying to preserve market positions, the era of the open internet is almost certainly over. But that's no reason to go gentle into that good night and allow free speech to be snuffed out like a candle, sacrificed in the name of fighting "online extremism." We need to rebuild a consensus and a culture that answers bad speech with more and better speech, not voluntary "bans" and fear that our neighbors are too easily gulled into hatred and violence.

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  1. It’s not good to have the government collecting political complaints in the name of protecting free speech.

    It’s not good to have GOP politicians looking after rank and file Republicans. They should be told to lose with grace and dignity.

    1. Yes , petitioning the government for redress of grievances sounds pretty dangerous to me.

      1. Look, we know the left will defend its own by any means necessary. We know they will cross any line to get power. We can’t have BOTH sides playing by those rules, so just play ‘fair’, submit to the crazies, and give them their way.

        1. Contrary to the position argued in the article above, there is today broad consensus, both on the right and the left—both here at NYU and at other less important institutions like Yale and Columbia—that, regardless of any so-called “First Amendment rights” (always a dubious idea) certain forms of speech are inappropriate and need to be stopped, if necessary by coercive police action, including prosecution and jail. It is important to have the government collect complaints in a list, so that the police can rapidly be summoned in appropriate situations, such as when mockery crosses the line and damages a reputation. In this regard, see the documentation of America’s leading criminal “parody” case at:

          https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

      2. Yea these conservative whiners are just a bunch of snowflakes.

      3. You know what else is stupid and worthless>?

        1. I’ll agree with the “stupid” part, but something that launched an eminently useful meme can hardly be “worthless.”

  2. More fundamentally, though, it should be deeply worrying to anyone who believes in free expression that governments and corporations are openly working together to decide what is and is not acceptable speech.

    THIS STATEMENT HAS BEEN DELETED UNDER THE FREE SPEECH CONTROL ACT OF 2019

  3. One side wants to ban the expression of ideas they disagree with, the other wants to force people to publish ideas they disagree with.

    Do we need a better encapsulation of our contemporary “choices” in politics?

    1. Trump’s position is effectively for more speech, even if you think the government should not have the power to compel platforms to provide space. The other side simply wants to suppress speech it considers radical.

      1. Yet, in counterbalance, Trump wants to bring back the Fairness Doctrine (i.e. use government force to make people air views they don’t agree with), while the people on the left in this country are pushing for ‘voluntary’ self-censorship.

        There are plenty of right-wing trolls in this very comment section who un-ironically assert that people should literally be killed for expressing left-wing views.

        Each side can support their “it’s different when we do it” posturing when they put their minds to it.

        Disclaimer-that-feels-increasingly-necessary-around-here: “both sides” don’t need to be exactly mirror-image equals of each other in order to both suck. I have a homeless guy outside my office who just sits there and drools on himself all day. I’ve got another one who insults everyone who walks by him. They’re not equals, really, and I could probably, if I thought long and hard about it, come up with ways in which one is slightly ‘better’ than the other. But I still don’t want either of them in charge of anything.

        1. The practical problem with the Fairness Doctrine was the scarcity of time. There is only do much time in the day to accommodate opposing views. This is not really the same type of problem for internet platforms.

          1. The practical problem with the Fairness Doctrine was the scarcity of time.

            The bigger problem was the dualistic paradigm it baked into all discourse and the monopoly on that paradigm that it granted the two major parties. You still see this fossilized in USA Today.

            I don’t see any upside to having the government dictate what views have to be expressed any more than government dictating what views can’t be expressed.

            And I don’t doubt for a second that Trump’s tune would be 100% different if it were Michael Moore being banned.

            For both sides when they say “free speech” they mean “our speech.”

            1. Yes, the Fairness Doctrine imposed a dual view of politics. Now the growing “selectivity” of the world’s most powerful communication channels are imposing a single view of politics.

              Yay technological oligopoly!

            2. Its amusing tone that in your original comment you described the platforms as publishers yet seem to advocate for them having legal liability waivers for not being publishers. Try thinking your argument out first before creating strawman arguments.

              1. O=[] Is here to troll.
                All the other socks are getting burnd out, so they need some new blood to increase web traffic.

              2. Its amusing tone that in your original comment you described the platforms as publishers yet seem to advocate for them having legal liability waivers for not being publishers.

                Wow. You saw a lot of words I didn’t say. Please accept my apologies for whatever it was that hurt your feelings so badly.

            3. The bigger problem was the dualistic paradigm it baked into all discourse and the monopoly on that paradigm that it granted the two major parties. You still see this fossilized in USA Today.

              Good point. The Fairness Doctrine canonized political thought.

            4. I’d rather just let Google, Facebook and Twitter decide which views can be expressed and disseminated. The people in coastal southern California are impartial and have our best interests at heart.

              1. I’d rather just let Google, Facebook and Twitter decide which views can be expressed and disseminated.

                On their own platforms that they own and maintain, with you being free to make your own platform and say whatever you choose?

                Me, too.

        2. Its not that they express Left-wing views….

          Its that the Left-wing views express their support to personally or through government steal from and then murder every dissenter and their family.

          Seems like self-defense to want those people gone from the USA.

          1. Its that the Left-wing views express their support to personally or through government steal from and then murder every dissenter and their family.

            Seems like self-defense to want those people gone from the USA.

            The first step in Righteous Slaughter, of course, being to collectivize your opponent. It’s the libertarian way.

            1. Because to YOU self-defense is Righteous Slaughter.

              Amend the Constitution to end all this Socialist shenanigans and let them throw themselves upon Rule of Law that protects freedom from tyrannical assholes like Lefties.

              If that doesn’t work, I would just banish them all.

              1. Otherwise it might just come down to the USA declaring war on Socialism, treat Lefties as traitors, and give them their military tribunals (that Lefties are so fond of giving non-military types).

                1. Otherwise it might just come down to the USA declaring war on Socialism, treat Lefties as traitors, and give them their military tribunals (that Lefties are so fond of giving non-military types).

                  Perfect! Now all you need is some lefties to round up. You should be in charge of deciding who those people are, amirite?

                  1. Yup. Just like illegals. Round up Lefties and deport them.

                    Traitors are not welcome. Use eminent domain to buy their property for public use. Make statues and parks out of their property. Put up statues of historical figures in the yards of their property.

                    See ya Lefties.

                    1. Fuck…you’re stupid.

              2. Because to YOU self-defense is Righteous Slaughter.

                No. I’m pointing out that you invented a collective enemy and are now looking for some actual people to play the part. Just like any murderous socialist, you’ll manufacture some if you can’t find any.

                1. No youre not. You are purposefully ignoring that Lefties are willing to destroy everything America is and patriotic Americans willing to stand up for Liberty.

                  Lefties are losing and they wont matter in national politics anymore. They will get frustrated and commit more violence which we will answer. It will all work out.

                  MAGA

                  1. Bash the Fash!

            2. Also amusing that you seem to claim you are a libertarian yet continue to advocate for legal exemptions for special businesses. Odd how that works.

              1. Also amusing that you seem to claim you are a libertarian yet continue to advocate for legal exemptions for special businesses.

                Huh. Is there a different language where all the syllables in English have a different meaning?

                The form of libertarianism that begs the government to force private platforms to give voice to specific political views is the best kind.

                I bet you feel the same way about messages on wedding cakes.

        3. >>>while the people on the left in this country are pushing for ‘voluntary’ self-censorship.

          voluntary?

          1. voluntary?

            Hence the asshole quotes. I don’t think anyone misses the tone of “wouldn’t you rather comply voluntarily?”

            I just find these debates where you take partisans from one side and partisans from the other and put them into a set of scales and then starting applying the electron microscopes to figuring out which one is ever-so-slightly worse than the other so that we can figure out which one to reflexively support and which one to reflexively demonize to be quite tedious.

            From what I can tell, Trump’s ‘virtues’ on this issue, as on so many, are more in his failures than in his successes. When Trump winds up on the side of liberty, it’s not for lack of trying the other ways.

            1. missed da quotes sorry.

              >>>When Trump winds up on the side of liberty, it’s not for lack of trying the other ways.

              funny.

            2. What attempts has trump actually made at suppressing your speech? Creating a complaint database? How about some reality. Explain what trump has done or attempted to do instead of what you imagine he might do.

              1. “What attempts has trump actually made at suppressing your speech? ”

                FOSTA-SESTA. Although, it seems both sides were against free speech in this case.

              2. Explain what trump has done or attempted to do instead of what you imagine he might do.

                That the Twit-in-Chief has failed to follow through on any of his threats (like stripping ABC and CNN of their broadcast licenses, without even actually understanding how that system works, or threatening to bring back the Fairness Doctrine) doesn’t make him a champion of liberty. What has the SJW Left actually accomplished themselves?

                And yes, I know you’ll dig as hard you can and try to spin some “the Left is EVUL and the Right is GUUD” yarn, but my point, as stated above, is that I don’t particularly care whether or not they’re exactly equal. They both suck.

                Instead of asking me to show where Trump definitively followed through on a threat to curtail speech rights, why don’t you show me where he has ever championed them for anyone other than his allies. Do that and you might change my tune.

        4. “There are plenty of right-wing trolls in this very comment section who un-ironically assert that people should literally be killed for expressing left-wing views.”
          What the fuck are you referencing.
          Is this a drive-by accusation?

          1. Hes gone fill Jeff. you never go full Jeff.

            1. You know how a Leftist admits defeat?

              “Both sides!” They cry

              1. You know how you know a right-winger doesn’t understand what you’re saying?

                He calls you a Leftist.

          2. What the fuck are you referencing.

            Witness my conversation with LC1789, above.

            I learned a long time ago never to say “no one is saying ____.” That’s a reliable cue for some dweeb to show up and say exactly what you’re saying no one is saying.

        5. Disclaimer-that-feels-increasingly-necessary-around-here: “both sides” don’t need to be exactly mirror-image equals of each other in order to both suck. I have a homeless guy outside my office who just sits there and drools on himself all day. I’ve got another one who insults everyone who walks by him. They’re not equals, really, and I could probably, if I thought long and hard about it, come up with ways in which one is slightly ‘better’ than the other. But I still don’t want either of them in charge of anything.

          The vote is 2 to 1. In a democracy, the majority rules. They will move their couch into your office on Tuesday and rename it “Affordable Housing Unit 3928”.

          True story: I knew this barely legal teen who just got his first section 8 housing apartment set up when two homeless people (co-parents in a common law marriage at the time) invited themselves to live in his living room/ kitchenet. I was too kind to tell him, “You’re the pinko Commie in my social circle. You figure out how to get them to stop arguing with each other.”

    2. One side wants to ban the expression of ideas they disagree with, the other wants to force people to publish ideas they contractually and freely, of their own accord, obligated themselves to publish

      FTFY.

      Because it is EXCEEDINGLY important that it be clear that the only thing that being ‘forced’ here is that people are being forced to deliver what they agreed to.

      1. Fairness Doctrine, anyone?

        My apologies for having insulted your favorite authoritarians – I know how it triggers you.

        1. Anyone? What has Trump actually done to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine, you dimwit? Other than appoint staunch anti-FD FCC Chairman Ajit Pai… And 1A hero Neil Gorsuch to SCOTUS

          1. Yes – it was a good thing Trump appointed Ajit Pai to the FCC so that Pai could tell Trump to fuck off when Trump asked him to review ABC’s broadcast license for saying mean things about him.

            If you missed Trump openly calling for this and, yes, having people generally ignore him as usual, then you’re being a willfully blind partisan.

            1. When he actually introduces legislation or asks Congress to act… let us know. Until then, keep tilting at windmills kid.

              1. When he actually introduces legislation or asks Congress to act… let us know.

                So the line for you is introducing legislation to the democratic legislative body and not tying to squash dissent with executive regulatory powers that explicitly are not supposed to be used for that purpose?

                And you complain about me calling myself a libertarian?

        2. You’re the authoritarian here, fuckwit. Go play in traffic.

          1. Um . . . yeah.

            *moves on*

  4. It is a bit worrisome when someone thinks it is the government’s business to deradicalize its citizens, informally or otherwise, whatever that means.

    And this Casey Newton thinks it craven to not make a pledge, binding or not, that is illegal for the government to carry out. What good is that, even if the what is being suggested is not suppression of free thought?

  5. Notice that Macron has his eyes tightly shut so he doesn’t catch a glimpse of Ardern and her visage de cheval.

    1. Those choppers look like something out of Hellraiser.

    2. I’d wince too she’s serving up Le Horse D’ovaries.

  6. WTF is wrong with a “dubious claims of shadowbanning dump”. Is it so aesthetically un-pleasing that Nick wants to mandate it be visually fenced off like Ladybird Johnson* did to the auto salvage yards?

    1. because it is usually fat smelly flyover Republicans complaining about it. Fonzie is too cosmopolitain and aint got time for that

      1. Well them and actually quite a few studies of data metrics by universities and various think tanks. But you stay with your assumptions based on ignorance.

    2. I was puzzled about that line myself. I’ve been shadow banned on occasion on left-wing sites, it isn’t as though shadow banning is some kind of paranoid fiction. It’s a capability that’s been deliberately built into some platforms.

      What the heck is dubious about claims of shadow banning? It’s easily, objectively verified, if you have access to more than one account at a site.

      1. I’m still puzzled how if TRUMP uses TWITTER’s software to block you from tweeting him to directly, it violates your rights. But if TWITTER itself does the same to you…it does not violate anybody’s rights, apparently.

  7. Do people really think that possessing a book or a text or a video means the owner is enslaved by it or even agrees with its messages?

    Nick is, of course, referring to his gay porn collection.

    1. That, and he is unfamilar with Lovecraft, Raimi, and Bruce Campbell

  8. Thanks for taking a dump all over my libertarian moment, Nick.

    1. Reason seems much more concerned with conservatives complaining about being treated illegally and unfairly than with conservatives being treated illegally or unfairly.

      Not to mention the Surveillance State and intelligence and law enforcement being unleashed by the last regime against the party out of power. A libertarian org with a civil liberties bent might at some point take notice of that, one could speculate…

      1. Republicans pounce!

        Yeah so Sargon gets banned from Twitter, Patreon, etc. other heterodox centrists and liberals get banned, and the far left cheers.

        Democrat rep harasses and doxs teens on Twitter, no consequences. An entire media slander and endanger the Covington kids, and nothing happens.

        But yeah… republicans pounce! The fake libertarians here at reason and cheering their own destruction. The one thing profs hate more than conservatives are libertarians

        1. The one thing profs hate more than conservatives are libertarians

          You obviously don’t know any professors. Libertarians are far better represented in academia than they are in the general populace. It’s Republicans who are largely absent from colleges, not libertarians.

          1. Libertarians are far better represented in academia than they are in the general populace.

            This doesn’t actually address his claim.

            1. The one thing profs hate more than conservatives are libertarians

              No? I thought it addressed this particular claim fairly directly, myself. Maybe we have different notions of what words mean.

              1. Maybe we have different notions of what words mean.

                You’re probably just dumb if you think some culturally left libertarians in economics and law schools disproves the claim that professors in general hate libertarians the most.

                1. You’re probably just dumb if you think some culturally left libertarians in economics and law schools disproves the claim that professors in general hate libertarians the most.

                  And you’re probably someone with evidence to back up their wild claims that contradict the clear data.

                  1. What claim have I made that can be contradicted with data?

                    1. Good point – you haven’t really done anything other than express an unsupported opinion with no basis in experience or research. Carry on.

                  2. You have presented no more evidence than he has

                    1. Because, as he himself acknowledges, his claim is un-falsifiable.

                      More technically, the studies I have seen have shown overwhelmingly that libertarians are better represented in academia than they are in the general population, while Republicans and self-described “conservatives” are very under-represented relative to their presence in the population.

                      Which, in fairness, is not the same as libertarians being better represented than Republicans, although I believe they are (I don’t have time to look back into the research right now, and that’s not actually what I said, anyway).

                      I can also attest, from my own personal experience with Marxist cultural studies people, that they do not hate libertarians as much as they hate conservatives. They don’t understand libertarians and think they’re naive and insane, but they don’t hate them with the white hot fury that they hate conservatives.

                  3. Look in the mirror at your own wild claims, jackass.

                    1. Um. . . yeah.

                      *moves on*

          2. “Libertarians are far better represented in academia than they are in the general populace.”
            No they’re not (unless you’re conflating libertine with libertarian). You just totally fucking made that up.

            1. Um . . . .

              *smdh*

  9. it is likely to become a dumping ground for dubious claims of being “shadowbanned.

    Dubious? At any rate, the problem is that user agreements and terms of service are contracts that should be adhered to. A legitimate function of government is enforcing contracts.

    1. Again, fat smelly flyover Republicans. Everything they do is dubious. They don’t even look like a Ramones album cover from 1979

    2. Hasn’t it been demonstrably shown that shadow banning occurs?

  10. It’s important to note that the Trump administration has refused to sign the Christchurch agreement on principled grounds.

    “We maintain that the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech, and thus we emphasize the importance of promoting credible, alternative narratives as the primary means by which we can defeat terrorist messaging.”

    —-White House

    “The White House Won’t Join a Global Pledge to Combat Online Extremism”

    https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/5/15/18625059/christchurch-call-white-house-jacinda-ardern-shooting

    That principled defense of free speech by the Trump administration is so libertarian it could have been written by Nick Gillespie.

    The Trump administration should be congratulated for refusing to join Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom as well as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter in signing off on this accord.

    Seeing progressives go after free speech highlights yet another reason why a principled libertarian might vote for Trump come 2020. Not only is the Trump administration sure to veto the socialist Green New Deal and defend the Second Amendment, the Trump administration may well be our best hope to defend the First Amendment from “common sense” speech control for the foreseeable future.

    1. Yet, Orange Man Bad, so expect an article shortly coming out in favor of Christchurch. Most likely from Shikha

    2. ^This. And I seem to recall a certain country that recently did exactly what a terrorist wanted them to do (i.e. Moar peoplegun-control).

    3. I may hate Trump’s trade policy and a few other policies of his but if I lived in a battle ground state I’d probably vote for him. Way better then Hilary which admittedly is a rather low bar. But I live in the People’s Republic of Maryland, so I’ll give my vote to the libertarian.

      1. That doesn’t make sense. I voted L because I live in Williamson Co TN, the reddest of all red areas in a red state.

        If you want to send a message in MD, vote Trump

        1. The reasoning is: If your vote might make a difference between the greater evil and the lesser evil, vote for the lesser evil. If you live where one of the evils is going to win by about 60-40, don’t vote for either evil.

          So living in Michigan, where Hillary and Trump were neck and neck*, I voted for Trump. If I’d lived in a deep blue or deep red state, I would have voted libertarian.

          * Michigan’s final vote margins were well within the margin of error for mis-counted votes by gross incompetence in the Detroit area – and that’s assuming they weren’t trying to steal votes (also incompetently). The Greens demanded a recount – I assumed as a stalking horse for the Dems – this was dropped eventually, but not before finding out that the ballot boxes with 26% of Detroit’s ballots had been mislabeled and could not be re-counted.

    4. “The White House Won’t Join a Global Pledge to Combat Online Extremism”

      https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/5/15/18625059/christchurch-call-white-house-jacinda-ardern-shooting

      This alone should get Trump on Mt. Rushmore.

      1. You know what would really make left wing heads explode? Buying a mountain someplace and carving Trump’s head into it.

        It would be worth it just for the cranial fireworks.

        But not Rushmore, please, at least not until he’s been dead a few decades. That place should be reserved for great dead Presidents.

    5. As usual, the real value can be found in the comments.

    6. The Trump administration should be congratulated for refusing to join Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom as well as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter in signing off on this accord.”

      One other observation about Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. All of our legal systems evolved from the same sources. The difference is that the United States has the First Amendment as an integral part of our Constitution but the others don’t.

      The First Amendment isn’t only what protects our right to free speech, etc. in law. It’s also a big part of what makes us distinctively American. This is one reason why I don’t see any conflicts between my libertarianism and my patriotism. Take the First Amendment away, and, no, we’re not so special.

      1. The First Amendment isn’t only what protects our right to free speech, etc. in law. It’s also a big part of what makes us distinctively American.

        The guy that runs the website Kiwi Farms (no connection with NZ) said that while NZ authorities were trying to make him stop hosting the Christchurch video, American PD’s were trying to get copies themselves for training.

      2. “The difference is that the United States has the First Amendment as an integral part of our Constitution but the others don’t.”
        Not true. Here’s the first Part of the Canadian Constitution, The Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

        Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:
        Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms
        Rights and freedoms in Canada
        1.
        The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
        Fundamental Freedoms
        2.
        Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
        (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
        (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
        (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
        (d) freedom of association.

        1. ” subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

          Those are the weasel words that render everything that follows hollow.

          1. Yeah, their Human Rights councils alone belie the concept of free speech there.

            Outside of us — and, honestly, the Right here only — NOBODY on Earth believes in free speech. They ALL buy into the leftist notion that speech is violence.

  11. Yeah I’m not going to get mad at the government trying to determine whether or not large publishers like Twitter or Facebook are adhering to their Terms of Service. Enforcement and arbitration of contracts is a legitimate function of government.

    1. That’s why these people who are getting deplatformed should be suing these guys in court.

      I see two problems with platforms.

      1) A clause that says you can change the ToS at any time is generally ignored by the courts.

      If one party can change the terms of a contract at any time, then there are no enforceable terms. They put those clauses in the terms of service, but in court, that clause is meaningless. If people put money, effort, and time into investing in your platform–and you profited from that–then you can’t just pull the plug on their investment without compensation.

      2) Potential collusion

      On some of these content creators, Twitter, Facebook, PayPal, YouTube, and others have deplatformed these guys on the same day. It may be that the social media companies, et. al. are discussing deplatforming, say, gun enthusiast content creators among themselves. It’s one thing to cut somebody off, quite another if the major social media players, et. al. are colluding to cut a content provider off from all competitors at the same time.

      Monopolistic behavior is when you’re acting like a monopoly.

      1. That’s why these people who are getting deplatformed should be suing these guys in court.

        They are.

        How Reason hasn’t covered any of this, or this youtube channel is beyond me. This guy as at the epicenter of the silicon valley legal shenanigans and Reason hasn’t touched it.

        One doesn’t have to agree on every point– or any of them, but not whistle past this cultural phenomenon and not make a peep out of it tells me someone isn’t paying attention.

        1. Haven’t you heard? Reason dubbed Devin Nunes’ suit laughably misguided and dangerous. So they definitely came down on a side

        2. How Reason hasn’t covered any of this, or this youtube channel is beyond me.

          Is it, though? Reason is committed to memory-holing this stuff and gas-lighting us. The people that write for reason are the same type of people that right for Salon or Mother Jones. They encourage this kind of behavior. Reason has been decidedly anti-free speech in virtually all of its content since 2016.

        3. Thanks for mentioning this guy.

      2. And that the media — CNN BRAGGED about it — is supporting this makes me loathe the media more than words.

        Our First Amendment deserves far better defenders than fucking Brian Stelter and Oliver Fucking D’Arcy.

  12. Globalism sure is fantastic and will certainly lead to no curbs on civil liberties whatsoever!

    Glad Trump told these globalist technocrats and Silicon Valley spergs to fuck off with their Orwellian thought-control horseshit. We’ve already curbed too many of our own civil liberties for the sake of GWOT nonsense, there’s no reason to go full exceptional and join these snowflakes in their paranoid suicide pact.

    1. There are people saying that using the term globalist in a negative context is racism. I wonder if discussing the bilderburger meetings on Facebook will result in punishment.

  13. >>>Journalists are praising online censorship

    those asshole-censorers aren’t journalists. try to not use facebook and nobody will have to worry about what facebook does.

    government deciding what’s extreme is extreme.

  14. Learn to code assholes.

    And fuck off too progTard losers, move to China, you’d fit fight in asshats.

  15. Extremism as defined by whom?

  16. We have a First Amendment, which last I checked should prevent government from deciding who can and cannot speak. If Facebook decides to disproportionately censor conservatives, I suspect it would create a market opportunity for other social media to cater to conservatives.

    BTW, I’ve been quite critical of the Statists on both Facebook and Twitter, they haven’t shut me down yet.

    1. If Facebook decides to disproportionately censor conservatives, I suspect it would create a market opportunity for other social media to cater to conservatives.

      ^ This. Something, something . . . free markets.

      1. You still dont understand the contract law behind the platforms and their terms of service. Let me find a picture book for you.

        1. You still dont understand the contract law behind the platforms and their terms of service.

          Yeah. You’re an idiot.

          We handle violations of contract terms in civil court. Which is actually happening right now.

          Does Alex Jones have a right to sue Facebook? Absolutely. Does he have a case? I think he may.

          It’s exactly none of Commodore Presidente’s business.

          I’d still like to see the picture book, though – will you link it when you’re done?

    2. Problem is that democracy gives everyone an equal vote and expects that everyone will have access to the truth.

      Our democracy isn’t a free market where knowledge and power are disproportionately available only to the wealthy.

      That’s why free speech is a right.

    3. While my comment with supporting links is “awaiting moderation” I’ll respond without the links.

      They are starting to pop up and payment processors and backbone providers are shutting them down.

      I’m categorically against any government action here, beyond the possibility of an FTC complaint (see Youtuber law) or a civil breach of contract lawsuit– in the realm of collusion.

      When backbone providers shut you down, all acting within 24 hours of each other, what are your options when your livelihood has been cut off at the ankles?

      1. That Bowers was posting on Gab is not a coincidence. Gab may nominally market itself as a free-speech focused platform, but in reality its business plan is focused on finding users who have been banned for abusive or hateful behavior on Twitter and Facebook . Given the high, and often seemingly arbitrary, bar for being banned from those platforms, it doesn’t take much to imagine the tenor of the conversations on Gab.

        So site pops up to cater to people who have been banned and *wham* it’s problematic, therefore the backbone providers (in this case I’m defining them as banks, payment processors and certificate authorities) shut them down.

        We don’t have a free market, we have a free-ish market that increasingly looks to be run by an oligarchy of like-minded silicon valley raw-water ideologues.

        It’s disturbing, and gain, while I don’t support any legislative action here, I do think there might be an argument for some civil lawsuits.

        1. When I was a kid, there was no internet. The music I was into wasn’t played on the radio. You couldn’t find it on MTV. You couldn’t even buy it in most record stores. If you heard it at all, it was usually because you went to see the band play. There were also tape traders–a lot of them fan girls–who would circulate stuff on cassette. There were ‘zines, many of them started by fan girls, who would write about the bands that were doing a show in town. There were fans, many of them fan girls, who would put up flyers and pass them out at schools and such when a band was about to play. That music circulated, percolated up through the mainstream, and nowadays, not only are there bands making music in that tradition, but everybody’s heard of the original bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, etc.

          Radio, television, and the music press weren’t much of an influence on us when they were the only mass media around, and I’m not sure the internet is as important or can exclude what people are into as much as people think. The books I read and the ideas I seriously considered weren’t part of the mass media either. Before people starting using words like “nerd”, there were still people who thought non-mainstream stuff was cool, and that stuff would eventually percolate up into the mainstream through word of mouth. People came to think Devo and Dungeons and Dragons and Star Trek were cool. I don’t think we’re so far removed from that now. The internet makes it easier to find things people are looking for, but I’m not sure that what they’re looking for isn’t still driven by word of mouth type stuff.

          If the mass media and the internet can really exclude our ideas, how could support for Donald Trump be so mainstream that he was actually elected despite all the coverage in 2016? There are really authoritarian countries where the internet and the media are tightly controlled by the government and protests erupt spontaneously anyway. I doubt the internet will remain as open as it is over the course of my lifetime, but I also doubt that closing it off will make minority opinions disappear or become irrelevant.

  17. Somehow we’ve ended up with the American government chumming for politically motivated attacks on free speech and foreign governments and tech giants pushing for “voluntary” restrictions on what is considered acceptable expression.

    After Charlottesville, Reason’s EIC said companies are “morally obligated” to deplatform “Nazis.” Maybe Reason should take some of the blame, or at least not act like it’s a huge mystery how we ended up here.

    1. “Somehow” indeed.

      The authors here should be ashamed when you call them out like that. But, let’s face it, they are not about any sort of morally or ethically consistent position. This is pure rope-a-dope strategy at work.

      How else to explain Nick characterizing the White House site as one “which collects complaints against social-media platforms that are mean to conservatives” when a simple click to the linked site shows that it plainly states “No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you..”

      Amazing that Nick can impute ulterior motives to Trump, but wouldn’t dare do so against any of those platforms.

  18. Don’t let them do it.

    When people exercise free speech you may hear upsetting things that you may disregard or fact check like when you found out that Santa Claus was fake, but imagine a democracy where truth is censored and illegal.

    It exists here today, which is emboldening those who would have power over you through knowledge. Journalists trade in propaganda.

    Community communication websites are by definition public, not private, places. They profit from providing public speaking opportunities.

    Here are two definitions of public.

    1. Of, concerning, or affecting the community or the people:
    2. Maintained for or used by the people or community:

    As public places, they cannot be allowed to violate our right to free speech.

    Suck it up princess, if they want to operate here where we have free speech they need to conform to the rules of the land. If we let them violate our rights, we deserve the shithole we create.

    1. When you have a large percentage of the population who still believe Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election despite the fact that 4 separate reports have concluded there was no collusion then you know that there is brain washing involved. Has Rachel Maddow or MSNBC or CNN ever had a single video of news article take down when they continue to push the lie. The answer is NO. For over 2 years these scum have been pushing a conspiracy theory which has been soundly debunked, and they are still pushing this crap.
      If anyone posted a video calling Maddow a liar, I will bet it would be taken down instantly.
      Make no mistake. There is a definite and openly blatant political bias in which videos are being removed.
      Facebook and Youtube absolutely do not apply their terms and conditions equally. There is a massive amount of hate speech coming from the left but because it is aimed at whites or conservatives no action is taken.
      When the constitution is considered ‘hate speech’ you know the country is in trouble.

      1. People don’t understand the terrible power of propaganda and the greatness of free speech on the internet to defeat it.

        Propaganda is reverse engineered psychosis to manipulate people to do terrible things they never would if they actually knew the truth.

        Government, the elite and the media trade in propaganda to maintain their power by inducing psychosis in the masses.

        If we let them censor truth, they win, we lose.

  19. the era of the open internet is almost certainly over.

    Oh, get over yourself.

  20. What now, both in the same day?

    Big tech censors mainstream conservatives and even some moderate liberals
    Reason: “quit your complaining, dumb Republican snowflakes!”

    Big tech censors actual terrorists
    Reason: “This is an outrage!”

  21. ‘Social media platforms and governments are “voluntarily” teaming up to ban “violent extremist content.” ‘

    They’re banning people because they want to ban them. The Left believes in nothing but Power. Never mistake the Left’s rationalization for power for their reasons for it.

    “Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”

  22. Nothing in a free society could be more “Extreme” than the “New Green Deal”

  23. At the same time journalists are warning about the threat posed by the White House’s Tech Bias Story Sharing Tool, which collects complaints against social-media platforms that are mean to conservatives, they are also beside themselves because the Trump administration is refusing to sign The Christchurch Call, a non-binding pledge “to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online” that’s been signed by online service providers and the governments of New Zealand, France, and 16 other countries.

    This is why I try to not immigrate to countries where I don’t already know the language. Learning a new language is a huge transition cost, and at the end of the day, you have a new set of reasons to complain about your new government.

  24. Yet some outlets and journalists say even more needs to be done. “Instead of cracking down on violent extremism, the [U.S.] government is collecting email addresses,” clucks The Verge. “Other countries are taking much more aggressive action,” writes Casey Newton. “Australia and Singapore have proposed onerous new laws against social platforms that require them to remove some content immediately, under penalty of massive fines or even jail time for executives …

    I remember when Bill Clinton was president and the media complained about Singapore being too strict with an artist. The situation involved some ass whopping.

  25. To the “speech is violence” folks — you cut somebody off from any means of actually supporting themselves. You don’t just ban them on social media — you have payment things like PayPal ban them.

    What do you think they will do?

    Words aren’t violence. But suppressing people like this will certainly lead to violence.

  26. Why is Reason so fixated on shadowban complaints? The fact that they’re nebulous isn’t criticism; they’re mysterious by nature. If you knew you were shadowbanned, it literally would not be a shadowban. If companies admitted to shadowbanning, it also literally would not be a shadowban. It’s like saying we shouldn’t investigate voter fraud because we haven’t found anything yet. Of course we haven’t found something that people try their hardest to hide if we haven’t even looked seriously.

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  28. […] opinions about illegal immigration, transgender pseudoscience, etc., the left (including the media) seem to cheer on the grounds that “hate speech” should not be […]

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  30. If you Milo Yiannopoulis, Richard Spencer or Alex Jones can get banned with the blessing of the editors of Reason, they really don’t have any moral authority left to complain about censorship on the internet.

  31. Why is Milo grouped with Spencer? Anyone know?

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