Free Speech

'Conservatives Will Cease To Exist Online': CPAC Speakers Fret About the Tech Bogeyman

Some panelists at the conservative conference want to give the government more power over social media.

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There hasn't been much love for social media companies at this week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a massive annual D.C. gathering of the American right.

With its colossal presence, CPAC has the power to drive messaging within the Republican Party, and this year's meeting—replete with anti-tech sentiment—will be no different. A source familiar with the conference's planning process tells Reason that some participants voiced their opposition to the big-tech hostility, yet the organizers apparently ignored those concerns. Plenty of conservatives still hold tightly to free speech absolutism and limited government, but anyone watching CPAC could easily forget that.

The anti-tech fervor took center stage on Friday morning, with Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.), Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.), and Donald Trump, Jr., each of whom presented their case against social media with claims of censorship and bias against conservatives.

"With our base, across the country, this is probably a top 3 issue," Trump Jr. declared. "It's not free market, because they're getting so many benefits and protections from the federal government that they cannot discriminate so flagrantly the way they have against conservatives."

Hawley agreed. "We've got to make sure that we get the fair treatment that everyone else does," he said, noting that Facebook, Twitter, and Google should not be getting "special deals from government."

This was a reference to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which lets companies remove user-generated content without being held liable for the millions of daily third-party posts on their platforms. Anti-230 activists often claim that dead-tree publishers are legally responsible for the posts they put out, so Section 230 draws an unfair distinction between publishers and platforms. But that dichotomy is entirely false and remains one of the biggest misconceptions about the law. Section 230 does not delineate between "publishers" and "platforms"; it applies to anyone who runs a site with user-generated content.

It wasn't the only anti-tech blast at the conference. A Thursday panel on social media began with remarks from Carpe Donktum (faux Latin for "seize the donkey"), a Twitter personality whose main claim to fame is his pro-Trump memes. He lamented an unfair online culture, which he said was epitomized by Reddit "quarantining" its major Donald Trump thread. (The company did so after finding violent threats against public officials.) "Without social media and without all of you and myself and other people on the stage being able to speak out and point out the lies of the media and the Democrat party, it will be very hard for us to win 2020," he said.

Carpe Donktum's Twitter account, which he sometimes uses to lament such censorship, boasts more than 234,000 followers.

Two panelists expressed similar sentiments. "If we don't fix this problem, conservatives will cease to exist online," said Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center. Jon Schweppe, director of government affairs for the American Principles Project, worried that "a few incredibly large multinational corporations" would claim "the ability to declare that it is hate speech to say that there are two genders."

It's not unreasonable to be perturbed when Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms maintain that their content evaluation processes are devoid of any personal influence. No human reviewer is completely unbiased nor any algorithm perfectly tuned. But how Schweppe and Gainor would solve the problem oscillated between impossible policy prescriptions and pure mystery.

"The First Amendment is very basic," said Schweppe. "It's very easy to understand, and we understand that free speech is centered by private actors, who, by the way, don't have the consent of the governed, then that's a real problem."

The First Amendment should be easy to understand, but it is not entirely clear that Schweppe understands it. Its prohibitions apply solely to the government, not to private companies—a drum that conservatives used to beat very loudly, until it no longer suited their ideological interests. The courts have upheld that legal standard repeatedly, with the most recent ruling arriving in response to a conservative content maker's suit against YouTube. When Prager University accused the platform of infringing on its right to free speech by placing a small portion of its videos on Restricted Mode, an optional service that about 1.5 percent of the site's viewers use to filter out mature content, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals fundamentally rejected the argument.

Thursday's panel did include two voices from the other side of the debate. "I can't believe I'm doing this, because I'm here to convince you at a conservative conference that government shouldn't regulate speech," said Ashkhen Kazaryan of TechFreedom. She and Chris Butler of Americans for Tax Reform posed the question: What will conservatives say when a liberal president is in office and the government enjoys such powers?

It wasn't entirely clear just how the panel's anti-tech advocates would like to alter the First Amendment standard. Schweppe did mention the idea of removing Section 230 protections, taking a page from Hawley's book, but such a move could very likely result in far more censorship. Without legal protections, companies like Facebook and Twitter would be incentivized to scrap questionable content at much higher rates for fear of landing in court.

Alternatively, companies could give up on content removal efforts entirely. Republicans might change their minds about the merits of that idea once Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are no longer allowed to remove porn.

The ideal world constructed by Schweppe, Gainor, Trump Jr., and Hawley would still have content moderation—they just want it to be perfect. It never will be.

NEXT: Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

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  1. At least they will still have the Reason comment section.

    1. You think that, given the options of…

      (1) “take down our comment section”
      (2) “be liable for what our users post”
      or (3) “allow child porn in our comment section”

      … Reason would choose the third option?

      1. False choices.

        No regulation, but utilizing FCC style rules. Users who break laws are the ones liable.

      2. I continue to urge that the best path is just to start enforcing Section 230 as written, instead of ignoring the “good faith” language that limits liability for moderation to good faith moderation.

        1. We need to be careful. These companies WANT to be regulated. Then they can maneuver the feds into declaring their specific companies as public utilities. Like MySpace, Facebook could become irrelevant very quickly. But not if they are a protected, regulated utility. Those don’t go away. The regulations are just the cost of protecting them from competition.

  2. But that dichotomy is entirely false and remains one of the biggest misconceptions about the law. The law contains no references to “publishers” and “platforms”; it applies to anyone who runs a site with user-generated comment.

    I have a serious question for the group:

    Why didn’t Section 230 protect youtube from the FTC fines and violations they received over children’s content, which caused them to radically change their disposition on user-generated content?

    1. I’m assuming this is what you are referring to:

      “Google LLC and its subsidiary YouTube, LLC will pay a record $170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General that the YouTube video sharing service illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent. . . .

      YouTube earned millions of dollars by using the identifiers, commonly known as cookies, to deliver targeted ads to viewers of these channels, according to the complaint.”

      That doesn’t seem to be about the content of the videos, but the information scraping they were allegedly doing and what they were doing with that information.

      1. Mmmyeah, I guess. I guess how I see it is, users were posting videos. No one was individually determining if those videos “appealed to children” or not. The poster in theory, determined who their video was aimed at. Youtube’s algorithm simply did what algorithms do and youtube made money on the users clicking on stuff.

        I dunno, the whole thing seems rather vague and ill-defined.

      2. Btw, yes, that was exactly what I was referring to. My message read like I wasn’t sure.

    2. ” The law contains no references to “publishers” and “platforms”;”

      Reason, simply full of shit yet again.

      The crux of the CDA is explicit exemption from being treated as the publisher of the content they allow onto their service.

      https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230
      (c)Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material
      (1)Treatment of publisher or speaker
      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.

    3. Why didn’t Section 230 protect youtube from the FTC fines and violations they received over children’s content, which caused them to radically change their disposition on user-generated content?

      I have a serious question for you Diane Reynolds (Paul.) or any of the others, what makes you think Section 230 was supposed to protect anyone from the FTC (or FCC)?

      It’s been pretty clear to me that, for quite some time, the function (if not purpose) of Section 230 was to either stifle or elevate civil issues such that they went unaddressed or specifically addressed by Congress. The idea that it offers some kind of free speech protection is between flimsy excuse and sales sham.

  3. Coming soon to a comments section near you: “Libertarians” Arguing For Federal Protections for Youtubers!

    1. If by “soon” you mean “the last few years”.

      1. I meant this comments section, specifically. About 2 comments down someone had to make my prediction come true. With some extra conspiracy theories thrown in, too. Bonus!

    2. Coming soon: The Libertarian case for banning Libertarians.

  4. It’s disappointing that the CPAC faithful refuse to see this for what it is– a breach of contract issue. Making this a ‘free speech’ issue is the wrong hill to die on and, as pointed out will lead to unintended consequences.

    1. ^ This.

      1. ^ This.

        1. ^ This

    2. Legally, you are correct. I don’t think 1A covers whether a platform can censor your speech. Culturally, they are correct. We need to also have a culture of free speech, but the left is working with big tech to limit right wing opinions.

    3. Depends on what their goal was. If it was a simple legal remedy, then no.

      If it was to establish that ‘bake the cake’ is a one way street, then it was more successful.

      1. ‘boogeymen’ are apparently a one way street as well

    4. “Making this a ‘free speech’ issue is the wrong hill to die on”

      How about suing about the unequal application of punitive measures to conservative material vs. leftist ditto? Are there grounds there?

      1. Nope.

        1. Why?

      2. It should be a contractual issue. Legally exploiting and ambiguities in their user agreements for breach of contract claims.

    5. It’s disappointing that “libertarians” are standing up for crony capitalist legal exemptions for the tech giants.

      1. This

    6. Making this a ‘free speech’ issue is the wrong hill to die on and, as pointed out will lead to unintended consequences.

      Because Conservatives have been advertising Section 230 as “Free Speech for the internet” since the 90s?

      The problem is, just as with ‘bake the cake’, nobody gives two shits about the rights of bigots to conduct business as they see fit.

      The only hope is the depiction that people who are defending the free speech rights of the internet don’t actually give two shits about free speech. Admittedly, it’s not 100% clear that everyone’s on the same page about this but, again, the issue is Section 230 and Congress’ having passed a law that regulates the right to petition and puts their thumb on the definition of what constitutes ‘good faith moderation’.

  5. it is certainly no “boogie man”. The tech companies have been pretty open about their intentions to weigh in on politics using their platform. Beyond that, their employees have been extremely vocal about forcing these companies to bend to their political will.

    The Chairman of Alphabet (google) even formed a company explicitly for the purpose of helping democrats (and specifically Hillary Clinton) in the 2016 election. It is designed to tie in to the back end of the tech companies and leverage their knowledge of the technology to push their candidates and ideas.

    You can take issue with the Republican/Conservative response to these actions, but don’t pretend that they don’t exist. There certainly have not been any coordinated “deplatformings” of progressive voices by multiple tech companies, so thusfar this has been an entirely one-sided affair, despite the rhetorical flourishes on the right.

    1. I think your comment summarizes the problem in a most excellent way. I agree, I DON’T like the conservative response– and saber rattling about getting the feds involved in policing speech. Anyone who thinks there is no bias in the silicon valley community, and in some cases an aggressive and built-in procedural bias isn’t paying attention.

      1. OF COURSE there’s a bias in Silicon Valley. CPAC’s conservatism doesn’t represent a plurality of American viewpoints, particularly not in Silicon Valley. (Golly, I wonder why that is. Anyway…) So they’re going to get the short shrift one way or another in any typical forum.

    2. Reddit has effectively shutdown r/The_Donald because “orange man bad.”

      If they’re gonna start making editorial decisions, should start treating them as publishers. Or hold them to the rules they setup in the first place.

      If they said, “our site is for leftists only and we’ll remove anything different,” fine. I don’t care.

      What they said is, “come put whatever you want on here (within reason and in compliance with other laws), and we’ll be good.” They’ve pretty much broken that.

      Reddit’s CEO has even said he believes Reddit could sway elections. That site should really be looked into.

      1. “our site is for leftists only and we’ll remove anything different,”

        I wish the tech companies would just be open and honest about this. Stop pretending that they’ll accept sociopolitical views that aren’t high bourgeois and bien pensant and save everyone the time.

      2. If that’s their claim, then perhaps the FEC should investigate them for possible violations of election laws. They appear to be inviting an investigation worth’s statements like that.

  6. The fix is to create your own platform if you can’t convince existing ones it’s in their interest to keep their customer base wide. Just like gun enthusiast videos were disappeared from YouTube after Parkland, whatever the next progressive outrage happens to be will no doubt bring similar censorship drives by social media platforms. The time to start developing alternate options is now.

    1. They did that. The same people that pushed to get them deplatformed on the major social media sites then pressed their hosting companies to stop hosting them, their network providers to stop carrying their data and their banks and payment processors to stop offering their services.

      When you have a disagreement with the guy at your local auto mechanic shop because he won’t do business with people who post on Reason, you can just find another shop. But if AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon all agree to ban people who post on Reason from their networks, you are basically SOL.

      The percentage of people who care about politics as their top issue and agree with these CPAC people is pretty low. So the cost to these companies for shading political coverage is quite low, compared to the level of impact they can have. Cat videos, unboxing videos and “let’s play” game videos is where their bread is buttered. Politics is just along for the ride.

      1. What I think is, in some ways, the most nefarious part, is the full-court blitz the media puts on the alternative forces to try to paint them as shadowy sites for racists and alt-right cultural malcontents.

        1. Which also did not spring up organically. It came pre-tested from think tank crowd. Remember when Trump was elected and some “alt-right” guy you never heard of had his “conference” in DC? The press outnumbered the attendees, but they played it as if he was the reason Trump got elected, and was the head of an army of racist white nationalists spanning the continent. I think he had about 200 followers at the time. The kids in elementary school with my children have more followers on their tiktok accounts.

          The whole thing was a strategy, from the sudden interest in tearing down monuments on. Maybe I’m more attuned to it, having lived in a mixed race household in a politically competitive district. The “racism” drums being played by the left are louder than you can possibly imagine if you don’t live in their target demographic. They run this game every election cycle… but the Trump cycle was the widest version yet.

      2. Well then they need to start their own network provider and their own bank.

        1. Ultimately, yes: They need to create their own entire infrastructure, from farms and mines, on up.

          Only, wait, the farms and mines are on the right, so maybe as soon as the right starts building up it’s infrastructure, Silicon Valley can be deplatformed until they start mining their own silicon?

          I really don’t like where this is going, with two completely separate economies, and a firewall between them. But that seems to be where the deplatforming movement is headed.

      3. The problem was Nazis. Nazis have rights too, but people don’t like that. The second you announce that you’re a free speech platform then you get Nazis and people that masturbate to unconventional things and want everyone to know about it. The people that take the fall are ones that aren’t Nazis.

    2. And some people have started that and the response was to go after the payment processor and in a few isolated cases, the backbone provider. Other cases we saw the mobile apps to access these alternative services removed from Apple or Google stores with vague or non-existent reasons.

      1. Which also is a part of a larger plan. This did not spring into existence out of thin air. Our “grass roots community organizer in chief” pushed Operation Chokepoint to attack perfectly legal businesses that he found distasteful. By threatening to use the regulatory powers of the federal government to attack any bank that did not go along with the mission to prevent gun stores, check cashing stores, strippers and porn actors from being able to do business, they were able to make life very difficult for their disfavored targets.

        This, of course, didn’t end with Operation Chokepoint. The “grass roots” groups associated with our community organizer president followed up on this with coordinated efforts to attack their targets at the payment processing level. First with crowdfunding sites, then with paypal and banks.

        Now these same groups are using these tactics to target political speech they oppose.

        1. +1,000,000!!!!

        2. As a libertarian, can you point out to us where in all that is the coercive hand of the government?

          1. What a moronic comment.

            Trying to be pithy, you’ve actually accidentally pointed out the end game. It isn’t the hand of government I’m pointing out (although there was quite a bit of “the hand of government” involved, as I pointed out above). It is the hand on the tiller of government. They are organizing to control the power of government by controlling the message conduits.

            This has been their strategy for many decades. They had a pretty tight grasp on TV in the 70’s and 80’s – with only 4 outlets to worry about. This is why they went after talk radio in the 90’s, trying to bring back the “fairness doctrine” to shut down voices like Rush Limbaugh. They did the same thing attacking Fox News when it began to rise. Then the people quit watching the network news and quit reading newspapers. Damn! They had switched to Facebook, Youtube and podcasts.

            So they turned their eye to that location.

            It is all about controlling the power of government by controlling the information channels.

            Of course, information doesn’t like being contained…. it keeps squirting out around the sides. (for good and for ill)

            But that doesn’t mean we should just give in and let them have their way.

            Just because those who are fighting against this attempt at control are grasping for the wrong weapon in the fight is no reason to mistake which side is in the wrong. The Republicans are too short sided to realize that their games of Tu Quoque are only going to backfire and they won’t be hoisting any of the democrats on their own petards. Giving government more power is usually the wrong answer. (libertarian enough for you?)

            The right answer is for these information platforms to voluntarily go back to their foundations of being a content-agnostic platform for attracting eyeballs. That way ideas can compete in an unfettered way. Unfortunately, I’m not sure anyone is interested in letting that happen.

            1. The problem is that the information platforms aren’t run by people who WANT to do that. They’re run and owned by people who look at influencing politics as an alternate way of taking profits.

              Zuckerberg could, in theory, take a $200M disbursement from FB in the form of money, and donate it to the Democratic party. But he’d have to pay taxes on it, and campaign finance laws would apply, and it would be a great big hassle.

              Or he can take a $200M hit on the bottom line due to turning FB into a propaganda machine promoting the Democratic party, and it LOWERS his taxes, and campaign finance laws? They don’t apply to that.

              1. And the end result of regulating a platform like Facebook will be to turn it into a utility. Which will protect it from competition. I think this is his goal.

    3. Hush.

      Libertarians have such a belief in their own beliefs, and the “free market”, that this not happening clearly means there’s a conspiracy against them, and no other explanation will be considered.

      1. That you don’t have a belief in your own beliefs says a lot.

        1. I’m curious which of my “own beliefs” you think I’ve mentioned†.

          That said, there’s a difference between thinking your beliefs are right, and concluding that the only explanation for your desired outcome not spontaneously manifesting is “conspiracy theory”.
          ________
          †I’m not a libertarian. Libertarian beliefs are not my own.

      2. Libertarians have such a belief in their own beliefs, and the “free market”, that this not happening clearly means there’s a conspiracy against them, and no other explanation will be considered.

        Interesting move to take your agreement with a libertarian as a context to bash libertarians.

        Nothing will happen to you if you admit a libertarian was right about something, I promise.

        1. Libertarians/libertarians can be right about things.

          This conspiracy theory nonsense? Is not one of them.

    4. Creating a platform won’t really work. Turning what are now platforms back into protocols will I think. On the tech side it means something like ActivityPub. But it will mean creating a new business model that isn’t ad-centric and that makes money via thousands of decentralized ‘communities’ using your protocols rather than a big global eyeball-accumulating thang. That won’t originate in Silicon Valley so got to find a different location (and funding) for the start-up employees. Not easy.

      1. Can’t forget the addiction factor. Millions were spent to make the platforms addictive. That’s how they got the content. People were constantly on them pumping out content. Notifications galore!

        Those thousands of decentralized communities already exist now. If people aren’t using them now why bother?

        I would assume that people are going to stick with whatever FB, twitter, or YT gives them even if it just winds up being like cable TV.

        It’s hard to profit without advertisers. That’s just someone giving you money so they can wave their dick around. The nicest one gets the most dick wavers. Heavy moderation keeps the majority happy, and then that means ad dollars keep rolling in.

      2. Sounds like you’re describing Mastadon. Only, what happened when Gab moved to Mastadon? Mastadon started organizing a blocking campaign.

        1. IIRC Gab went to Mastadon for the mobile app access and thumbed their noses. This means if everyone that Google or Apple removes from the app store goes to Mastadon then Mastadon is probably going to get removed as well. Mastadon then becomes known as the app that allows hate to thrive, Twitter, google, FB, and others with money run with this concept, and their platforms are the ones that are favored.

  7. A someone who leans conservative, this is embarrassing. Yes, they’ve identified a real threat. However, they’ve missed the obvious – and I would have thought conservative – solution. Don’t regulate. Compete.

    Whether you think Fox News is right-biased or truly “we report – you decide”, it’s clear that many consider them a superior option to other news outlets. Their viewership is strong and they’re profitable.

    If conservatives are really worried about anti-conservative bias in social media then why don’t they support alternatives (ThinkSpot, MeWe) or create alternatives?

    1. Thank you, voice of reason.

    2. Because they’re dumb.

      It goes without saying that no libertarian should call on the government to force a private company to host content it doesn’t want to, but here we are.

    3. “Compete” How? When hosting companies and DNS companies all ban right wing thought? Create a whole new internet?

    4. “Don’t regulate. Compete”

      They’ve tried. Thousands of times.
      But it’s hard because the first thing the left does is have their PayPal yanked for trumped-up, phony reasons (lies), then their Patreon, then their Visa, then Cloudflare tosses them. No chance to appeal, nothing, because bourgeois tech mavens don’t give a shit about fairness and free speech.

      Chipper and Tony both know this, but the dishonest fucks that they are…

      1. Also, the real solution to the rise of The Third Reich was to compete, duh.

    5. Well said BikeRider! +1000

  8. Anti-230 activists often claim that dead-tree publishers are legally liable for the posts they put out, so Section 230 draws an unfair legal distinction between publishers and platforms. But that dichotomy is entirely false and remains one of the biggest misconceptions about the law. Section 230 does not delineate between “publishers” and “platforms”; it applies to anyone who runs a site with user-generated content.

    You have to take all comers like Verizon if you want the protection they get if someone libels you over a cell phone. If you want to be as left wing as The Nation, you will be responsible for any liable, just like The Nation.

  9. Every bombastic such gathering really wishes one of my libertopia dreams were reality: that the central government had so little power that people had to contract with associations of their liking to get the social coziness of their dreams. The socialists would all join like-minded associations, sign over their property and income, and deal with association governments. These associations would have no coercive power, but contracts could easily specify that if you refused to accept their internal legislation, their internal court decisions, and etc, you would be kicked out and would not get back your property.

    I’d love to see hundreds of such associations, the Bernie Bros, the Lizzie Liars, the Biden Amnesiacs, all powerless outside their associations, and all faced with the reality of their own hyperinflating currency and declining membership. I could go off in my own direction, scorning all associations, and live without any nannies, just contracts and reputation, and watch all those statist clowns learn about reality. It would make me so damned happy.

    1. I’d love to see hundreds of such associations, the Bernie Bros, the Lizzie Liars, the Biden Amnesiacs, all powerless outside their associations, and all faced with the reality of their own hyperinflating currency and declining membership.

      They’d do what they always do, blame nefarious outside voluntary associations.

      1. And then use the power of the state, as well as the corporations, to try to squash them, like NY and CA are doing to the NRA

    2. It’s always weird when I see someone that read Snowcrash and thinks to themselves “yeah, this is the future I want to live in!”

      1. Early internet business entrepreneurs were reportedly throwing copies of Snowcrash on the conference room table and saying, “That’s our business plan, broheims!”

        fucking gen-x…

      2. Haven’t read that yet, but sounds like a neat book. Will check it out.

        1. “Haven’t read that yet, but sounds like a neat book.”

          How in the hell have you been posting here as long as you have, and not read Snow Crash?! Shame, shame, shame.

          You probably haven’t even read Dune, have you?

          In all seriousness, it’s dated, but it’s a fun ride. You’ll love ‘Reason’ in the book. And if we’re going to live in Snow Crash, I call dibs on the Deliverator.

          1. Escher’s right though, it’s a complete dystopia. I wanted out about as soon as I got sucked in.

            He certainly got government interoffice correspondence correct.

        2. It was neat and all, but it’s one of those adventures where at the end you go “that was interesting to hear about”, not “that would be interesting to live”.

      3. From my brain. Not from Snowcrash. If Snowcrash has it, good for it.

      4. It’s always weird when I see someone that read Snowcrash and thinks to themselves “yeah, this is the future I want to live in!”

        Given the wide array of sci-fi futures, it’s hardly even a real dystopia. Also, between them and the number of people who read Snow White and think “Yeah, this is the world I want to live in.”, Imma go with Snowcrash. I’m specifically thinking of Ready Player One where society’s bleaker, the stakes are lower, the disruption caused by the achievement is less, and the ending is more ‘Happily Ever After’.

  10. “The First Amendment should be easy to understand, but it is not entirely clear that Schweppe understands it. Its prohibitions apply solely to the government, not private to companies—a drum that conservatives used to beat very loudly, until it no longer suited their ideological interests.”

    We’re in an election year, so politically motivated people are trying to muster votes and donations. It’s hard to get people to vote for you or give you money to do nothing–which is exactly what libertarian capitalists should want elected politicians to do about this.

    “Social media is politically biased, and if you vote for me and give money to the candidates I’m promoting, I promise you that we will do absolutely nothing about it!”

    You’re not about to raise any money or get any votes with a speech like that in an election year. The house is on fire and you need me to put it out! That’s what gets people to the voting booth and reaching into their wallets.

    In fact, politicians as libertarian as Justin Amash, Rand Paul, and Ron Paul won’t speak the truth to the American people in an election year. The reason the American people have their rights abused by the left and the government and rent seeking social media companies, etc. is because they bend over and grab their ankles for them. You have options. Free yourself.

    Victim of collision on the open sea
    Nobody ever said life was free
    Sink?
    Swim?
    Go down with the ship?
    Use your freedom of choice!

    If you don’t want to be subject to Facebook and YouTube, stop using the services and go use MeWe, Mastodon, D-Tube, and PeerTube. It’s bad enough for average people to complain–people who are content creators and complain without using other services are the worst. They’re like the welfare queens of the social media world. “Why go out and look for a job when I could just sit here and complain about how no one will hire me” becomes, “Why should I create content for a competing service when I can just sit here and complain about Facebook and YouTube?”

    In fact, maybe they should use CPAC to hype those competing services. President Trump himself might do a lot to help those competing services, too, by only releasing his tweets on Mastodon or something. Yes, reporters all over the country will register for Mastodon just so they can cover his toots, and the news media would continuously refer to Mastodon if Trump were using it, too.

    1. The problem with that strategy is that political speech is along for the ride on social media. Very few people go there for political speech. So making a platform for your preferred political speech might work in terms of giving you a place to post your content… but who is going to see it?

      They aren’t just interested in reaching people who agree with them and are of like mind enough to seek out and download a special app to see their content. And the people “deplatforming” them aren’t doing it because they don’t like hearing their thoughts… they are doing it because they don’t want other people hearing their thoughts.

      1. The most influential, difference making media franchise of the last six years is probably Breitbart.

        True or False?

        1. Is that so? I used to like it when Andrew still ran it, but their content took a nose dive under Bannon. It’s basically been off the radar for me for years

          1. I think I’ve been there a couple of times in six years.

            My point was that Breitbart grew that, I understand, out of Breitbart’s parents’ basement. Yeah, he had some help from Drudge (presumably because he used to work for Drudge), but, still, one of the most influential news media platforms in recent memory was built in somebody’s basement.

            It’s never been easier to get your voice heard or build yourself a platform.

            1. I’d vote for 4 or 8Chan. Maybe Reddit or Veritas.

              Interesting way he went out. And took a coroner’s tech with him.

              Clinton’s wet work contractors are unparalleled.

      2. This gets to a large part of why most efforts to create a “conservative” alternative to perceived “liberal” bias in some industry don’t do so great.

        Fact is, while Hollywood might have a “liberal” bias, it’s still a business, and focuses on “the middle” more then anything. The bias might change things on the fringe, but the core product is still for that middle.

        The “conservative” alternative (in this case, explicitly “Christian” movie studios and the like) don’t just also grab the middle but with conservative bias, they make their conservatism front-and-center. And that turns off a lot of people in “the middle”.

        As a rare successful “conservative” alternative, consider Fox News. Yes, they’re conservative. Yes, they push a lot more conservative stuff then other news sources. But 90% of their stuff (particularly their local coverage) is still for that middle.

        Another problem is that to the degree you want to argue Hollywood, or tech, or whatever is “liberal”, it’s also a fairly organic version. Nobody sat down and said “I want to make a social media company that’s pushing liberal ideaology” and invented Facebook, someone (who happened to be liberal) invented Facebook, and that got reflected in their policies and what they consider offensive in their community guidelines.

        The “conservative” alternatives? Start off with making politics part of their core, rather then making it incidental. Which again, turns off most of the “middle”.

        1. I agree with this sentiment. It’s not a good strategy to create a ‘political alternative’ to something that isn’t explicitly a political platform, even if said platform has institutional biases.

          1. I agree with this sentiment.

            Seconded.

          2. This also explains conservative talk radio. They get that it is an entertainment medium. Rush, Hannity et. al. go for the entertainment first, despite their hard right stance.

            The reason the left-wing alternative failed was because they set out to be a left wing alternative. (Air America) They hired a bunch of people who thought they were the smartest people on the planet and wanted to educate everyone else as to why they were wrong. And they failed miserably. Because they were not entertaining.

  11. Goddamnit, second message went into moderation hell

    Allow me to quote myself:

    What I think is, in some ways, the most nefarious part, is the full-court blitz the media puts on the alternative forces to try to paint them as shadowy sites for racists and alt-right cultural malcontents.

    Good Mastadon, Dtube and alt-right and feast your weary eyes on the media blitz to sideline the alternative sources.

    1. google mastadon, dtube. Shit, I give up. Bottom line, exactly what I said was happening is happening. Set up an alternate venue, it’s immediately castigated by the respectable press as an icky hangout for gross people and therefore should be avoided.

      1. So how do you combat that?

        Just like we do with everything else–ignore the media! They’re a joke. Have you seen the media’s approval ratings lately?

        https://news.gallup.com/poll/1663/media-use-evaluation.aspx

        It was in the toilet in the weeks before Trump was elected in 2016, and it’s headed that way again.

        Elizabeth Warren says that Bernie Sanders thinks a woman can’t be president, and that probably helped him ahead of New Hampshire.

        Remember that episode of South Park when Wendy finally beats the shit out of Cartman? He gets the absolute shit beat out of him and everybody in the school is cheering her on–including the teachers–because they all hate him. Somehow, after he gets the shit beaten out of him, he talks himself into believing that everybody actually likes him. If they’d all lined up and written “I hate Cartman” on his face, one at a time, you still couldn’t have convinced him that everybody didn’t like him. He’s that delusional!

        That’s the media. They’re the most hated institution in our society, and they seem to be the only ones who don’t realize it. Their newspapers are going broke all over the country. The cable audience for their shows is in the tens of thousands. And it’s because so many people hate them.

        1. When you look at the trendline on that, is it any wonder that Trump won in 2016?

          When the American public’s trust in the media was at an all time low of 32%–in an election year–how could that be seen as anything but an appraisal of the media’s coverage of Donald Trump?

          That was all they were covering for the year!

          The people who own news media outlets do so for reasons beyond profit or ratings. Bill Gates put up the money for MSNBC to protect himself from future criticism in the wake of Microsoft’s antitrust problems. Warren Buffet owned CapCities/ABC for similar reasons–in the wake of his problems with organized labor. Bezos didn’t buy himself the Washington Post because he needs their profits added to his bottom line. The benefit side of their investments in those properties are counted in a lot more than dollars and cents. It’s a protection racket!

          That’s why they keep putting out programs that some 70% of the American people hate.

          Don’t get too worried about being criticized by the media. If the media only criticized people who were less popular than them, they wouldn’t have much to talk about.

          1. Bezos didn’t buy himself the Washington Post because he needs their profits added to his bottom line.

            He tried to offload it to his ex-wife and she didn’t want it, even after he offered super-saver shipping.

            1. They think we look up to them. They think we go there because we think they’re cool.

              They talk shit about the Redskins because of their name. The only reason I go there is to read Redskins news.

              I go there to read Redskins news in spite of them.

              They’re a fucking joke. They’re an anachronism.

  12. If Google and accept/reject content based on editorial standards, and keep competitors off Android phones, then they can lose their common carrier status and be legally liable for whatever content they do allow.

    It’s not regulating, it is withdrawing a legal protection that isn’t beneficial to millions of Americans.

    1. That’s not how it works at all. The law says the opposite. It’s only 26 words, but I’ll condense it.

      You no post mean you no liable. Moderate however.

      That’s it.

  13. free speech is centered by private actors, who, by the way, don’t have the consent of the governed, then that’s a real problem

    Who do these private actors govern? Stupid.

    1. The people owning and running Google and YouTube are in bed with Democratic politicians. So, they govern you.

      1. Just check into Google’s relationship with the Obama White House…

        1. ^This is probably where the roots of the problem still lies… The shadowy governing during the Obama administration was down right ‘Hitler’ mode.

  14. Government are not the ONLY entities that can violate rights … or restrict free speech

    1. Any group, property owner, school, church, blah, blah, blah…. can restrict free speech. The Constitution doesn’t “entitle” anyone to willy-nilly free speech wherever they decide to go. It only limits the federal government from making U.S.C.’s that make x,y,z speech a federal crime.

      So Government *IS* the ONLY entity that can violate the “Free Speech” the Constitution >>inherently<< provides.

  15. You create a platform. You can violate copyright law by claiming it just what your users post. Yet you can edit (delete) content you don’t like. And you get PAID for it!
    Sweeeeeeeet!

    1. You can violate copyright law by claiming it just what your users post.

      If it’s in the user agreement, it’s not infringement.

      Yet you can edit (delete) content you don’t like.

      Yes you can.

    2. You’ve just made the argument for identity verification. It’s a giant gaping hole in the law.

  16. The issue really one is competition…the social media companies have a ready source of capital (hedge funds who can get unlimited capital from the Fed). they are so woke because the hedge funds and PE’s who provide the growth capital send their friends and relatives..ivy league statist globalists to run the business and marketing side…pretty soon you get a far left elitist organization that hates American while running a crony monopoly all funded by bankers and the Fed.

    Youtube needs to be taken from google and make it part of the public square and do the same with FB and Instagram. Once competitors launch you can privatize them. I’d end he Fed as well as that alone will cut off trillions sent to woke companies at zero rates…

    1. “Youtube needs to be taken from google and make it part of the public square and do the same with FB and Instagram. Once competitors launch you can privatize them. I’d end he Fed as well as that alone will cut off trillions sent to woke companies at zero rates…”

      I can see forcing Facebook to spin off Instagram or Google to spin off YouTube on antitrust grounds, not that I agree with it, but socialism isn’t the solution to anything. If anything is worse than trust like behavior by social media, it’s putting politicians in charge.

      That’s why the First Amendment begins, “Congress shall make no law”. Neither Congress nor the federal government have any business overseeing social media.

      1. Precisely so.

        And as a libertarian, it is my god-given right to bitch about it ineffectually from the sidelines.

      2. “That’s why the First Amendment begins, “Congress shall make no law”. Neither Congress nor the federal government have any business overseeing social media.”

        It’s interesting that the 1st amendment’s restrictions on government fall far short of the 2nd’s.
        “Congress shall make no law” is much weaker than “the people’s right shall not be infringed”.
        The first is not a blanket prohibition on the government’s prerogative to regulate expression, but a prohibition on legislating it…

        1. What’s the difference between “regulate” and “legislate” again?? I’m afraid I’m completely drawing a blank on that one.

    2. Good point

  17. Conservative Festivus.

    I’ll never understand why constant incessant whining is pretty much the sole activity of the big tough manly party these days, and why you people buy it.

  18. If [name omitted] could sue Reason just because I make a H&R post calling him a [nasty insinuation omitted], we’ve come to a pretty pass. The government would have delegated to Reason the responsibility for censoring me, and might be inclined to do it even if [name omitted] really was a [nasty insinuation omitted].

  19. This was a reference to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which lets companies remove user-generated content without being held liable for the millions of daily third-party posts on their platforms.

    Correct. Let’s get rid of it so that Google, YouTube, and Facebook have to shut down their comment sections for fear of lawsuits. That way, their monopoly is broken, and things will go back to distributed comment and news networks, the way it was before those companies usurped and monetized user generated content on the Internet.

    It’s not just that Section 230 is unjustified in principle, its effects have been bad for the entire Internet.

    1. Bingo.

      The argument is removing CDA 230 will destroy the internet as we know it and those making the argument seem to think that isn’t the entire goal in the first place.

      You host? You’re liable. That’s clean, easy, and makes the most sense.

      1. Your both crazy on this one… It’s the nothing is better than anything at all attitude. Cutting out all comment content makes the article Author the only point of speech and you both should’ve noticed YOUR OWN comments have often clarified questioning readers to the content they were reading.

        1. At what point did either of us infer “nothing”? Anyone is free to make a website. I can comment on Reason articles on my own website, retain all liability, and in the event someone sues me they can obtain my identity from the domain registrar. Reason can screen and approve all comments should they want to take the risk. True, having them here means more see them, but so what? Is anything in this comment thread changing the world? It only serves as a form of entertainment or trying to convince others to share my view.

          1. Why stop at you — sue the domain registrar, sue the isp….. sue, sue, sue over what? Some think the content isn’t Politically Correct enough? If you don’t like the content YOU ARE FREE to block the site or pay someone-else to monitor your content for you.

            Lets not entertain the idea that parenting the world is any different than what Democrats try to do ALL THE TIME.

            If a comment violates law – it’s law enforcement to hunt down the offender not the 3rd party (unless intent is involved).

            1. You’re assuming 230 would be removed and not replaced. 230 was created to replace a flawed court ruling. It could wind up being just interactive computer services are liable. Domain registrars aren’t interactive computer services. “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall…”. They’re more like sales. Hosts don’t provide interactive computer services. Just servers and connectivity.

              If it’s law enforcement ‘s job to track down the offender then what happens when the service is knowingly allowing people to post anonymously without verifying their identity? They’re helping hide them because doing so is more profitable than verifying them. They can’t claim that they know this isn’t happening. Use Tor and VPN and offend away. Free pass for all.

              You’ve helped make the case for identity validation. Phones and ISP’s do and they’re not required by law to. They were just smart to in order to avoid regulation.

              1. We’re rather off-the-topic of political media bias.

                Let me ask this though. Is the paper and pen company responsible for serial threat letters? After all isn’t a written letter an “Interactive Service”? Do we need serial numbers on pens (like guns) so we can validate the I.D. of everyone’s pen marks in order to catch threat letters? What do we do if a pen maker is “knowingly” selling pens to violent criminals? Is a pen maker really going to do a background check and verify their criminal record (that would obviously be less profitable).

                1. Of course not. That would be silly. The second they sell the pens or paper it is entirely out of their control and in the control of the end-user. Social media is always controlled by the owner of the service. There is no end-user when you think about it. The users never own the product. They’re the product. Try to buy your facebook page.

                  That analogy would work if Facebook would let people buy their pages and the company loses all control over it. If youtube would sell people their channel, lose control entirely, then yeah. Youtube shouldn’t be liable.

                  “threat letters to doorsteps knowing”

                  Like how Facebook has done nothing to stop someone from livestreaming a murder? Same with twitch. They know. It can be happening right now. Nothing was changed. Same with secondary producer porn sites. Anyone can upload illegal content and until or if someone reports it it is visible. They know it’s happening. They’re not taking the small steps to prevent it. It’s easy to do, but not great for business. They know and they have the control. So much so that they’ve designed their business around not relinquishing it.

                  1. You win 1/2 the argument — I was wrong on 1/2….

                    Thank you for explaining that to me in the terms of property ownership. For some ignorant reason I had dismissed that premise but that really is the big-picture.

                    I was going to say I was completely won over but then I tried to word it in the terms of a property rental. Yes, the landlord is responsible for contractual agreement and perhaps laws surrounding safety. But the content inside that rental isn’t necessarily the ‘FAULT’ of the landlord and is for the most part the very responsibility of the renter.

                    I guess at the root of the question is — Does a person still “own” their comments or does the Landlord assume ownership?

              2. Now if a 3rd party was delivering a pen/paper threat letters to doorsteps knowing and with INTENT <-Keyword then I could get behind these types of laws but that is a lot of detail being left out of the original claim.

  20. I’m often amazed at how libertarians so often hide behind “but muh contracts” when it comes to this issue. In no industry outside of the tech industry is “You agree to whatever I say and I can change the terms at any time according to my will” a valid contract. This would be thrown out in any other circumstance as ludicrous.

    Imagine a real estate contract that said this. The judge would throw it out as unenforceable if a seller had this in there, and just randomly changed the purchase price unilaterally and tried to force the other party to pay it.

    Imagine going into a grocery and having to sign a contract stating that you agree to the ToS which can be changed while you’re still inside, and you can’t buy groceries unless you agree.

    1. Imagine a warranty on your car that says “we reserve the right to change the terms of this warranty at our discretion at any time, including the decision to not cover the cost of any repairs or recalls, and this clause shall be supercedent to any obligations laid out in the Agreement”

      That is how these ToS are worded. It is not a contract in good faith.

      1. It’s not really a contract in the first place.

  21. “it applies to anyone who runs a site with user-generated content.”

    How is this different from running a newspaper which prints letters from readers? It’s electronic, of course, and the volume of content is potentially much greater, but otherwise I don’t see the difference.

    1. The newspaper previews the letters from readers and decides what goes on before they appear. It’s not an interactive computer service as a result. I can’t post a letter, have it instantly appear, and call another reader a “faggot” using their property.

      1. Editors at newspapers have been previewing user generated content for hundreds of years. What is to stop internet based outfits from doing the same? They could even use computer algorithms to do this, similar to Facebook’s penis photograph filters. Of course doing something like this adds a ‘speed bump’ to an otherwise seamless interaction, but sometimes speed bump are a good thing, often preferable to stop signs. (No more speed bump metaphors, I promise.)

        1. The sheer volume of posts makes it impossible to do by algorithms. Once people see things not get posted they quickly figure out why and adapt to circumvent the removals. That penis filter doesn’t always work. A drunken celebrity once put his in the palm of his hand and instagram missed it.

          Expect 230 to go and sites are treated like media companies. If MSNBC shows a wang they’re fucked. I really don’t see any other way around this. Even smaller sites. This could effect hosting as well. Take almost any controversial site, whois the ip, and it’s almost always hosted in the US.

        2. What is to stop internet based outfits from doing the same?

          Cost, mostly.

          Moderators/editors/whatever-you-want-to-call-them are expensive, especially if your site has any serious amount of traffic.

          And if you make that kind of moderation mandatory for anyone allowing any user-interaction section? Well, you just made most forums/comments/whatever out-of-reach for anyone that’s not a big company.

      2. In my experience, they don’t just review it, and decide what to post. They review it, sometimes alter it, and then run content THEY generated over your name.

        1. That should be illegal under impersonating.

  22. Facebook, twitter, et al; open social media platforms in general should be treated like public utilities for free speech.

    While these may be private companies, their respective platforms are ubiquitous speech channels, and they should be treated with liberal policies that facilitate free speech. They should not be moderated; HOWEVER they should be governed under FCC style rules, and federal laws already on the books.

    1. That means when your grandmother posts a picture of her and a recently deceased friend hundreds of people can post that a good dickin’ will cheer her up. I’m sure the advertisers are going to jump to have their product be represented there.

    2. Geeeeeezzzzz…. Lets just throw in cars, stores, and houses too… Then well crap; we would BE JUST LIKE the Democrats then now wouldn’t we be.

  23. America’s conservatives and Republicans will increasingly be shunned by their betters — in the media, in successful communities, in strong schools, etc. — until the clingers ditch the bigotry and backwardness. Bigots have rights, too, but not the right to escape being labeled and treated as substandard people. This is as it should be.

    May the better ideas win and the bigots continue to be stomped in the culture war.

    1. Conservatives believe in smaller government and maintaining separation of powers. For the Left, bigots are anyone who doesn’t believe in big government. That’s essentially the unsaid dichotomy that separates the Left from Right.

    2. What’s the “culture war” about again? Whether or not lefties can project enough to qualify for a mental disability?

    3. Here! here!

  24. The reason conservatives/RWers face this problem is because they are often vicious, lying bullies online. They want the right to continue being vicious, lying bullies because they hate the opposition with a passion, want to abuse them as much as possible and believe it cows the opposition into silence and makes them look weak. They don’t want sober, rational discourse because they too often lose under those standards.

    And before any RWers whine and cry about this, I call BS. I know RW ethos, they place a high value on being ‘strong,’ and being strong in this instance means doing whatever it takes to win and bullying helps you win. Being strong in the RW sense means one must have the strength to toss aside decency and do whatever it takes to win.

    1. LMAO!! And we know this because there ?wasn’t? any Anti-Trump mobs raising violent h#ll all over the city streets.

  25. “And before any RWers whine and cry about this, I call BS. ”

    Whatever happened to Gabber, the conservative version of Facebook or Twitter or something? Reason used to post articles encouraging users to sign up with them. These days Gabber promoting has gone the way of Reason’s promoting of Tulsi Gabbard, ie disappeared down the memory hole.

    1. What happened to it?

      They stumbled onto their racist underbelly again, then stuck their fingers in their ears and ran away screaming “LALALALALA!”.

    2. They went hardcore on their mission to ban porn. The owner did state the problems with hosting that material, but users are stupid and i think it fell out of favorability.

      There seems to be a “free speech means you need to host what i tell you to host” entitlement mentality. People forgot they can make their own websites.

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  27. The stench of RINO’s on this platform today is embarrassing.

    #1 The details of this remark — Facebook, Twitter, and Google should not be getting “special deals from government.” should be checked for validity and the “deals” should be cut if found.

    #2 Bias in media isn’t “The Problem” it is the consequence of too many Americans supporting Anti-American principles.

    Either blame the immigration rate or blame the communist education system but ..PPPLEASE.. at least acknowledge that Nazism (i.e. National Socialism) didn’t get popular JUST because of liberal rags that would be a dead-end business in a Patriotic Society.

    1. Start by cancelling the BILLIONS the federal government grants to “research” agencies that are nothing but “lobbying” groups for the lies of politicians. (INDOCTRINATION).. Throw out the UN-Constitutional “climate change” hobby-lobby and many other like them. Get politicians out of communist education.

      MORE Communism WILL NOT FIX Communism.

      It is my belief that once all the above is FIXED properly; most humans are logical enough to see reality instead of the lies taxpayer funded lobbying groups advertise; and coincidentally becomes copy-stories of the associated press.

  28. Deplatforming is a serious 1A issue. It’s not just forums that are targeted. Life venues, payment processing, social media…it goes far beyond conservatives (or any counterculture) existing online and ventures into putting food on the table, advancing in your career, not being a pariah/socially ostracized, right to privacy, etc.

    As Reason staff often love to say when they bend their principles to cloak their TDS, don’t think about how this affects “your guy.” Think about the precedent it sets for the future.

    Do you really want America to have an anti-1A culture?

  29. Why does anyone want to hear why Donald Trump Jr. has to say on any subject?

    He’s the biggest dumbass in the Trump clan and he proves it every time he opens his mouth.

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