Free Speech

"Trump to Sign Executive Order on Social Media Amid Twitter Furor"

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

So reports Politico (Cristiano Lima), among other outlets:

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order aimed at social media companies on Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Wednesday evening, a move that comes as the president and his allies have escalated their allegations that companies like Twitter and Facebook stifle GOP voices.

McEnany told reporters aboard Air Force One that the order is "pertaining to social media" but shared no additional details on what it will do. But the announcement revived fears within the online industry that the Trump administration will target a 24-year-old statute that protects the companies from lawsuits—an avenue that a growing number of Republican lawmakers have advocated in their bias allegations about Silicon Valley.

But the President of course has no power to revise statutes such as 47 U.S.C. § 230 by executive order. He can order his subordinates in the federal Executive Branch to apply laws in various ways, but § 230 is enforced in judicial proceedings (state and federal), not by federal prosecutors or other Executive Branch employees. Whether § 230 should be revised is an interesting question (I'm inclined to say that it's on balance better than the alternatives), but it takes Congress to revise the work of a past Congress.

Now of course the President can talk about § 230, and can urge Congress to revise it; perhaps that's all the "executive order" will say. But one doesn't need an executive order for that.

Finally, the President could, I suppose, control how Executive Branch agencies use social media platforms, and an executive order would be a suitable too for that. But that would seem an odd things for him to do. I suppose we'll learn tomorrow just what he has planned, but I am mystified.

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  1. I hope no one is getting used to (or “normalizing”) this behavior. We have a President who is ignorant about the basics of his job description and is not a mature adult. It follows that Republicans, who support him almost unanimously, are ignorant of the basics of how our government works and are not mature adults.

    1. We have a President who is ignorant about the basics of his job description and is not a mature adult.
      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      Which President would that be?

      1. Donald Trump. You do know he’s president, right?

      2. It would not be the last two Democratic Presidents, who taught Constitutional Law at the most prestigious law schools in their home states.

        1. Democratic Presidents study Constitutional law the way pest exterminators study entomology. You’d think Obama would have taught you that, first clearly explaining that he didn’t have the power to do DACA, and then doing it anyway.

          1. He said it would eventually need Congressional approval.

            1. That seems backwards, isn’t congress supposed to act first?

              1. Yes. Obama basically admitted that it was unconstitutional, and then went ahead and did it anyway on the rationale that “well Congress refuses to act so I just have to violate the Constitution because flooding the country with illegal immigrants to displace American voters is the only hope for our agenda.”

                Later, leftist federal judges said, actually, we wont’ even let Trump rescind an executive order that wasn’t constitutional to begin with.

              2. Some things can be done temporarily by executive order. If he’s out of line it can be challenged in court. That didn’t happen.

            2. A sort of quantum constitutionality, where you can violate the Constitution, but only until somebody notices Congress never gave that approval?

              1. These days, common constitutional process is for the President, acting as the head of his party, to propose and advocate for legislation that his party members in Congress then push to get passed.

                This is not sinister, Brett.

                1. No, that’s not sinister. He was perfectly free to lobby for DACA.

                  The sinister part is putting the legislation into effect even though it didn’t get passed. In fact, because it didn’t get passed: He was using Congress’ failure to act on his proposal as empowering him to do it himself.

                  1. The legislation was much wider in ambit than the program Obama put into place. As I’ve told you many, many times.

          2. Sick burn, Potsie.

        2. Drumpf and Obumbles have the same basic philosophy on executive power. Which is basically push up it as far as you can. I don’t see much difference between the two in terms of the too powerful Presidency Eugene is supposedly so afraid of here.

    2. When the Right spent 8 years making this point about Obama we never heard the end about how “UnAmerican” it was to question the duly elected President of the United States.

      1. That is because the right kept calling Obama a sekret Kenyan Muslim.

        Hard to argue Obama is less normal than Trump. Except for, you know, skin color.

        1. Drumpf for all his faults is called out and balanced and balances out his enemies. Obama gets a pass except of course in the relatively smaller rightwingosphere. If the so called libertarians fear one side having so much power they’d prefer trumpie and the leftist establishment locking down each other rather then the left running things without any serious opposition. For example with Drumpf…since the media hates him so much and they’re actually willing to do their job for the first time in years theres far more awareness and popular concern of stuff like unchecked Presidential power and the power of the internet to influence toward political ends whereas if Obama 2.0 had gotten in most ppl wouldn’t give a s^&t and just swoon at him/her/it pulling faces on Jimmy Kimmel while their rights eroded away under their nose just as or more quickly.

    3. What, exactly, do you think B. Hussain would be doing were *he* being “Fact Checked.”?

      After hearing about him screaming obscenities at reporters (which, of course, they never mentioned), I somehow doubt he’d be “mature” about this.

      And wasn’t Obama tapping reporter’s telephones? Seems people have sorta forgotten about that one….

      1. It’s easy for people to forget things the media are deliberately memory holing.

      2. Who the hell is “B. Hussain”?

        So you “heard about” something that was “never mentioned”? Isn’t there a term for that?

        No, he wasn’t.

        1. Who the hell is “B. Hussain”?

          The 44th President of the United States.

          1. Uh, no. The 44th president was Barack Hussein Obama. You “forgot” his last name in a way that coincidentally only racists do, and you also misspelled his middle name. So congratulations. Do you want to burn a cross for the trifecta?

            1. Oh, the Kenyan.[sarcasm/off]

              @David ?Nieporent: Thank you for cutting to the chase and calling a spade a spade, a racist a racist.

              (Did you ever imagine that a character like Trump could become president? Or like me, did you never imagine a loathsome character anything like him, let alone one whose ugliness would appeal to so many around us here in the US?)

              1. The thing is, anybody who has paid attention to me here for the last 15 years — well, I pity them — but they know that I’m typically one of the people rolling his eyes at cries of racism. No, microaggressions aren’t racist; opposing Obamacare isn’t racist; calling it Obamacare isn’t racist; etc. But sometimes people make it impossible to overlook. I might even give a pass to — though look askance at — calling him Barack Hussein Obama. But to just drop the Obama gratuitously and entirely can’t be ignored.

                And to answer your question: no, I really thought the appeal of someone like Trump was limited. Pat Buchanan, George Wallace (the ’68 incarnation)… they were resoundingly rejected. But someone like them only dumber…?

      3. “What, exactly, do you think B. Hussain . . . ”

        You are a bigot, Dr. Ed.

        That is why you are a loser in the culture war.

        That is why I celebrate the stomping of your preferences by better Americans. And your stark illustration of what the Volokh Conspiracy is about.

        (Get an education. Start with standard English, focusing on spelling. Or remain ignorant until the day you are replaced. By your betters.)

  2. The first response Twitter should use is precisely what they would do if it was any other account:

    Ban the fucker. He’s violated their TOS hundreds of times in the last 3 years. If it had been anyone else, they’d have been banned a long time ago.

    It’s the ultimate power play and ‘fuck you’ to someone who thinks Article II means he ‘can do whatever I (he) wants.”

    1. That would be interesting. The lawsuits by Trumpistas would be fascinating. I don’t know if Trumpwould try to push the government into suing or into direct government action; that too would be fascinating. Then there’d be all the Congresscritters from both sides bellowing and introducing legislation.

      Possibly most interesting would be if Trump would jump ship to Gag or Gap or whatever that wannabe Twitter competitor is. I don’t have any reason to think the company itself is full of fascists, but it seems to have collected the dregs who Twitter banned. Then there’s Twitter, full of socialists and progressives who think they are neutral and unbiased.

      Personally, I’d love to have real competition for Twitter, Facebook, etc. Google does have competition,not always as good, but almost always good enough.

    2. Is it safe to assume the reason they don’t sanction his TOS violations is because they risk losing tons of money if he leaves (voluntarily or otherwise)?

      1. That strikes me as a plausible explanation. He might jump to Gab, and they don’t want to give any competitor that kind of publicity.

        1. He might order all governmental entities to jump to Gab, and that would be devastating to Twitter because a lot of people have come to rely on twitter for things like park hours and such.

      2. They do what they do for the same reason as always. Self interest. TOSes and CoCs are a means to that end, not altruistic outpourings of morality.

    3. Twitter can’t ban Trump. His Twitter feed is a government controlled public forum.

      1. Sure they can. They determine whether that ‘public forum’ account exists or otherwise.

        Trump is using it as a public forum, but his use of the service itself is only permitted by his adherence to the rules of the service. If he violates those rules, Twitter is entirely within their rights to close down his account, and he can take his speech as “President” elsewhere, just like everyone else who gets banned.

        As long as Trump uses it as a “Government” account, he is obligated to follow the rules of Twitter, as well as those of the Constitution. It does not transfer ownership of the service – or the account, to the US Government.

        It’s depressing how incredibly stupid you people are.

        1. Paul Getty: “If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.”

          Trump is Twitter’s problem, that’s why they don’t ban him. They’ve got the legal capacity to, and it would ruin them to actually do it.

        2. Everything you have just stated is sensible and demonstrates precisely why Kinghts First Amendment v. Trump was wrong.

        3. If Trump doesn’t actually have control over his Twitter feed, it is not, and never was, a public forum. But, in twisting logic to absurd lengths, the Second Circuit has given the government plenty of ammunition to control Twitter. You should read some of Professor Feldman’s analysis on this area, instead of being so smug.

        4. //he is obligated to follow the rules of Twitter, as well as those of the Constitution//

          Which necessarily means Twitter has to follow the Constitution as well. Do you see the problem?

          1. It really doesn’t.

          2. I do see the problem:

            Your argument is a non-sequitur fallacy.

      2. That judicial decision that his Twitter feed is a government controlled public forum would make things quite interesting if Twitter did ban him — I could see someone (not necessarily Trump) going back to the same judge and asking for an injunction.

        1. One of several possibilities made plausible by the absurd logic of Knights First Amendment v. Trump.

          Public forums, by definition, walk hand-in-hand with government control. Opening that door to Donald Trump (and, really, any government official) has opened the door for complete government control of social media. If ever there was a rationale for government actors to latch onto to restrict private media platforms, Knights First is a prime example.

          1. Yeah, but that’s only if you take the rationale advanced for the ruling seriously. It doesn’t have that implication if you go with the actual rationale, which was “It’s Trump, so he loses.”

    4. Thousands or hundreds of thousands violate Twitters tos regularly which is so broadly worded it can apply to practically anyone. For example theres a Disney exec who wanted to feed the boy from Covington into a woodchipper and he is still around along with plenty of people who continue to flaunt the TOS on a constant basis. Twitter simply picks and chooses who they will ban, usually on the right, so I have no idea why you think Twitter is a complete paradise of obedience except for Trump.

      1. Considering that I never said Twitter was a complete paradise of obedience, I’m curious to determine why you felt it necessary to pretend that I did.

        Might it be that your position is too weak to stand on its own without lying about the position of others?

        1. Then why are you in a huff against Drumpf about this? Twatter bans based upon what it wants not on its TOS which is a fig leaf. If Twitter wants to ban or sanction you, especially if you’re rightwing and popular and they have nothing to lose from it they will find a way. If they don’t want to ban you they won’t. This is their true policy that they apply to everybody. Why should Drumpf be any different?

        2. He’s not saying that Twitter is paradise. He’s saying that if Twitter fails to enforce their TOS evenly, they risk a court finding the enforcement to be a pretext for discrimination and making those clauses invalid.

          Consider this analogy. A store had a “no shoes, no service” policy. It’s private property so they can enforce whatever policy they like, right? But it’s right on the boardwalk at the beach and the store in fact allows lots of people to shop shoeless. Unless the customer is black. The policy is enforced against those folks. How long do you think the store would be allowed to continue that practice?

          Or if you want to take race out of it, against bald people. (Because of course everyone knows that most bald people are really skinheads which means they’re closet Nazis and we can discriminate against bad people, right?)

          1. He’s not saying, he’s making an EO changing the current enforcement policy.

            Your analogy requires public accommodation *laws* to be enforced. This ain’t a law.

            1. No, but the “good faith” language of section 230 actually IS law. It’s just ignored law.

              1. And AG Barr can remind people of said law. Perhaps with some paperwork…

                1. Like an Op-ed? Or an amicus brief? That’s about as much power as he has over the interpretation of Section 230, which is well established and consistent over the last 24 years.

                  1. Is it news to you that the DOJ actually files civil lawsuits, as well as engaging in criminal litigation?

                    1. It would be news to me if they tried to sue an internet company using a statute that doesn’t create a cause of action and is in fact a defense from liability for private parties for things they have no standing to sue over.

                    2. Not, Section 230 doesn’t create a cause of action, it immunizes. If Twitter does something that loses themselves that immunity, you’d need some other statute to provide a cause of action. All the EO would do is remove an obstacle, it wouldn’t magically get you to the finish line.

              2. It’s not ignored, it’s read in the context of every single word that comes after “good faith.”

      2. Let’s take a more explicit one: Kathy Griffin recently tweeted that she wished to see someone murder the POTUS (i.e. Trump) and advocating the *murder* of the POTUS is an explicit Federal offense and there is a list of everyone who has ever done it (at least according to cops I know).

        Threats to the life of the POTUS — *any* POTUS — are serious because there is no shortage of nuts wishing to kill him, lots of stuff that we never hear about, and it wasn’t just JFK but some quite close calls with both Ford & Reagan.

        I’m pretty sure that the USSS reported this to Twitter — and Twitter did???? Right….

        1. Let’s see your citations.

          I’m guessing the first problem will be that she did not advocate that someone murder Trump.

          Wishing that Trump would die is not a criminal offense. You’re a fucking idiot to think otherwise.

    5. Yes Jason, and then he bans Twitter.

      It’s very easy to ban Twitter — you require that the relevant IP addresses be blocked from (a) all government computers, (b) all computers owned by recipients of Federal funding, and (c) require them from preventing their employees from using it on their property.

      You could go one step further and outlaw all of the Twitter accounts that police departments, park services and colleges have set up, although that would be a moot point if no one cpuld access it.

      Twitter would die overnight. Reporters would be given a choice — “Twitter or press pass” — access Twitter once and you’ve lost your press pass. (There are a lot of small-town journalists who’d LOVE to cover a White House press conference, and likely could think of a half dozen good questions on the trip down to DC….)

      1. As someone who hopes Trump is a one-term president: “Please, please, please, Mr. President, follow Dr. Ed’s advice.”

      2. Your understanding of the issue is, as usual, completely wrong.

      3. “Twitter would die overnight. Reporters would be given a choice — “Twitter or press pass” — access Twitter once and you’ve lost your press pass. (There are a lot of small-town journalists who’d LOVE to cover a White House press conference, and likely could think of a half dozen good questions on the trip down to DC….)”

        The Trump WH tried what you suggest and failed. But keep trying with your arguments on his behalf, because its exceedingly hard to be too far from reasonable to appeal to the Dotard.

  3. I’ve run into people claiming to be constitutionalists who also claim that Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc were created by government programs (DARPA, CIA, etc) and therefore the first amendment does indeed apply to them.

    There are a lot of loons in the world.

    1. If the government can step into every single cake shop in the entire country to force people to bake SSM cakes and nobody bats an eyelash I think its not all that horrific for the government to step into a worldwide monopoly/oligopoly of a vital basic communication service and make sure they aren’t censoring people based on their political views.

      1. The cure for what you see as authoritarianism is more authoritarianism?

        Man, principles are getting few and far between on the right these days.

        1. Right. These are the same people who routinely rise up in outrage against college administrators.

          Here they rationalize Trump’s madness.

        2. Yes, I think regulating a global monopoly on a set of vital services that will collude together with activists and the financial system to destroy any attempt at competition is a little bit different than some Christian cakeshop in Topeka. If this makes me a hypocrite what are you doing alternating between the ‘probusiness’ and ‘proregulatory’ side at a whim? At least I have a logical explanation for my distinction in addition to ideological interest.

      2. Private people should have the right to censor political views without prior governmental approval. The act of prohibiting that private censorship is a violation of free speech.

        1. How do you reconcile this with Knight First Amendment v. Trump?

          Say Twitter bans a user, and now that user has no access and cannot participate in Trump’s Twitter feed, a public forum.

          First Amendment violation?

          1. United States District Court for the SDNY ain’t the Supreme Court.

            1. So? The Second Circuit affirmed the District Court’s ruling in Knight First Amendment v. Trump, and that makes it binding law in New York, Vermont, and Connecticut.

          2. First Amendment violation?

            No, because as every court has made clear, Twitter isn’t a state actor. But Trump is a state actor. So the fact that Trump can’t do something with his twitter feed does not mean that Twitter can’t do that same thing. I don’t know why you’re pretending to be confused on that point, other than motivated reasoning.

            (Note: I am not sure that the court decision you’re referring to is correct. But that doesn’t change the fact that the notions you’re drawing from it are wrong.)

            1. You could advance an argument that platforms like Twitter and Youtube and FB, by virtue of their responsiveness to censorship demands originating from other countries, (Youtube autodeleting criticism of China, for instance.) have made themselves state actors.

              It’s just that they’ve made themselves state actors for foreign totalitarian states, rather than our own. Wouldn’t it be rich to see Twitter hit with a foreign agents prosecution?

              1. You could advance an argument that platforms like Twitter and Youtube and FB, by virtue of their responsiveness to censorship demands originating from other countries, (Youtube autodeleting criticism of China, for instance.) have made themselves state actors.

                Well, in the literal sense, this is true. You could advance that argument. You could also advance an argument that the Stonecutters made Steve Guttenberg a star. Anyone can advance any crazy-ass argument.

                But it would be a frivolous one.

                1. Frivolous arguments win all the time, or constitutional jurisprudence would be very different.

                  1. Frivolous arguments win all the time

                    They don’t.

        2. Many (most?) US Post Offices are in privately-owned buildings.

          Yet the owner can’t ban random people from the Post Office.

          1. That would depend on the owner’s contract with the USPS.

    2. How quickly we forget “You didn’t create that!”, the looney-tunes leftist idea that, because people demanded roads, the government has a moral authority to control the holy hell out of business to the nth degree, because individual initiative is a chimeral nullity that can be swiped away as a concept.

      Their idea, spouted then partially rolled back by Obama.

      No, the government should not control these platforms, but not because of any undergirding ideas floating around the left. See also “it needs to be a common carrier so we can control it more!” And Kamala “I want laws to punish Internet giants for allowing hate speech!” Harris.

      It’s sickening both sides are threatening 230 changes because the companies are not censoring the way politicians want — the left for not censoring hate speech and silencing certain politicians under that guise, and the right because the companies are.

      1. That’s not what that means, and your turning to the left is a telling deflection.

        What do you think of what Trump is doing here? You know, the thing the OP talks about? Do you think it’s justified by the strawman liberals in your head?

        1. And yet here you are, pretending Obama didn’t say what he said, or mean what he meant.

          1. Not even going to take a position.
            I don’t care what Obama said back in the day, when Trump here is acting like an authoritarian.

            Your focus is ever backwards, wallowing in resentment for past nonsense. Look up for a sec.

          2. There’s a big difference between a line in a speech (which, btw, you’ve misquoted) and an executive order.

          3. I don’t think that’s what Obama meant. I think he meant that almost no one makes it without a lot of help, so it’s not unreasonable to ask people to give back and play it forward.

            I am where I am because of a lot of hard work on my part, and also because I got a lot of help along the way. There’s no conflict in acknowledging both.

            1. And the problem with that argument, that nobody builds Amazon.com without using the public roads, is that almost everybody who uses the public roads does NOT build Amazon.com.

              Which means that, while the public roads were a factor in building Amazon.com, they were a negligible factor.

              1. Using the bully pulpit to speak for corporate citizenship is not quite the same as yearning to nationalize an internet app to force them to maintain a platform for you.

              2. Brett, you are aware that affirming the consequent is a logical fallacy? Just because all dogs have four legs does not mean that everything with four legs is a dog.

                I doubt that Amazon could have been built without public roads, so your conclusion doesn’t even follow. And even if it could have been, it’s nice they could find employees who got a public education, government courts to enforce their contracts, government air traffic controllers to guide their planes, and the US Department of Commerce to grease the skids on them doing business worldwide. The government had more to do with Amazon than you might think.

                1. I’m pointing out that, just because violinists need to breath does not mean that the atmosphere gets the lion’s share of credit for a violin solo.

                  The point of “you didn’t build that” isn’t that the government was a bit player, it’s that the person who DID build that doesn’t get much of the credit.

                  1. But the government isn’t a bit player. The government provides an awful lot of infrastructure without which a lot of good things wouldn’t happen.

                    You remind me of a Sunday school class I was in as a high school student years ago. The teacher was talking about the importance of gratitude toward others who have helped us, and encouraged us to thank people who’ve helped us. One of the other students said, “But I can’t think of anyone who’s ever helped me,” to which the teacher responded, “That just shows how truly ungrateful you are.” And he was right.

                    1. And the atmosphere provides oxygen without which we’d all die of suffocation, but we don’t give the atmosphere credit for everything people do.

                      I read this SF novel, once, about a dentist’s adventures touring the galaxy. Nobody was more respected than dentists, they were the king of creation, because if your teeth hurt, you got nothing done.

                      It was a comedy, of course, but some people look at government that way. They think that because government is sometimes doing things that are necessary, it deserves the credit for everything.

      2. the looney-tunes leftist idea that, because people demanded roads, the government has a moral authority to control the holy hell out of business to the nth degree, because individual initiative is a chimeral nullity

        This is an insane distortion – worthy of Limbaugh maybe, but not of a rational, honest, literate individual. Here’s what Obama said:

        If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

        The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

        Of course one standard Trumpist approach is to refute all criticism of Trump, no matter how well deserved, and find something Obama did or said that can be distorted to sound similar, and then cite that whole ignoring Trump.

        It’s dishonest and sleazy.

  4. I suspect the President will focus on the enforcement of “section 223 or 231 of this title, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, or any other Federal criminal statute.” See 47 U.S.C. sec. 230. Also, I think that many on the left who opposed Citizens United are going to have a “come to Jesus” moment and realize that Corporations should have constitutional rights.

    1. The real test of a theory is not its explanatory power but it’s predictive power, and the stranger the prediction that comes true, the better.

      Given recently the left is about states’ rights and “50 states experimenting”, and the right is all about the need for enforced orthodoxy by the feds, your prediction is not so strange.

    2. He might — but simply requiring all Federal agencies and fund recipients to instead go to Gab would be priceless….

      1. Or he could issue an EO on “vendor criteria” and force Twitter to either give up all it’s governmental accounts *or* adopt a free speech policy.

        It’s like with Hillsdale and Grove City Colleges — you don’t have to do business with the government, but if you chose to….

        1. That is literally fascism, Ed.

          1. You really are trying to prove I was wrong about you not being able to top your 1+1 != 2 idiocy, aren’t you?

  5. Trump should just sign an “Executive order to kiss my ass” and be done with it.

  6. “… I am mystified”.

    The Register has a possible explanation: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2020/05/28/trump_twitter_threats/

    1. I think you will find that Trump sent the Feds in quicker than Obama did in Ferguson — Trump did it *immediately*.

      And that’s not good enough. Nothing ever will be…

  7. Definitely in favor of repeal of Section 230. Definitely oppose Trump for trying to do anything about it with an executive order.

    More generally, it ought to be clear what Trump is doing. He lunges almost daily for fresh new outrage, to keep everyone talking about anything except his deadly, economy-destroying policy failures managing the pandemic.

    Red states which featured lax or non-existent distancing policies have begun climbing the curve. Time after time politicians and business leaders get caught trying to hide the evidence. Hot spots bloom and spread outward from meat packing plants, churches, recreational sites, and big-box retailers, all semi-concealed behind no-information policies, fiddled graphics, and outright lies.

    Trump cheers it all on. Crazy people back him for doing it.

    Expect a steady diet of outrage and uproar, while Trump tries to crowd facts out of the news.

    1. Wow, this is one of the first times I’ve heard someone accuse Drumpf of trying to destroy the economy usually its the other way around where he’s sacrificing lives for the sake of it.

      1. You have a chronic problem of strawman arguments.

        He didn’t say Trump is trying to destroy the economy. He said Trump is trying to distract people from his economy-destroying failure as President to manage this pandemic properly.

        Learn to fucking read.

        1. His economy destroying failure to have the military arrest any governor who tried to lock down their state, you mean?

          The economy has been destroyed by the states hilariously over the top reaction to this virus. Neat analogy to the cytokine storm that kills the virus’ victims, actually.

          And Trump didn’t have the power or authority to stop them from destroying it.

          1. Surprising nobody, you’ve managed to once again be wrong Brett.

            1. It’s a bit surprising; you’d think he’d manage to be right once just by accident.

              1. A clock must be stopped dead to guarantee that it will ever reflect the right local time. So long as he keeps posting, don’t hold your breath waiting for him to get it right.

                [Question for [B]Brett[/B]: You have at various times made clear that you see major civil rights legislation at different times as unconstitutional or otherwise objectionable in your eyes. When do you think we were closest to the right balance of legal guarantees of the rights and freedoms of individuals against countervailing public and private interests of various sorts. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or later? Brown v Board of Education? The 13th and 14th Amendments?

                If I misunderstand your thinking, or you believe I have mischaracterized your thinking with my question, please say so and explain how. This goes to most of your posts to these threads, doesn’t it? If you can’t identify a single inflection point in our civil rights history when on account of legislation or other developments these matters were made notably worse, how about about what you think were the most negative.]

                1. ” When do you think we were closest to the right balance of legal guarantees of the rights and freedoms of individuals against countervailing public and private interests of various sorts. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or later? Brown v Board of Education? The 13th and 14th Amendments?”

                  I think things were looking promising after the 14th amendment was ratified, but before the Slaughterhouse cases gutted its enforcement. And really went to Hell with the “corrupt bargain” of 1877 that terminated Reconstruction.

                  Then it was the better part of a century before things started to look up, with the civil rights movement. But, sadly, we went straight from mandating discrimination, (Jim Crow) to mandating non-discrimination, without pausing to try just letting people be free. And then not long after started mandating discrimination again with affirmative action racial quotas.

                  Look, liberty is multi-dimensional. Some parts of it have been improving over time, some parts going down hill (Economic liberties, mainly.) and some parts have been through a roller coaster ride. You ask me to sum up all that complexity in a single metric? Can’t do it.

                  I can say that I don’t see why we needed to lose the liberties we lost, to gain the liberties we gained, and wanting the lost liberties back doesn’t imply wanting to get rid of the gained liberties.

                  1. So no problem for you with the CRA of 1964?

                    What are the “lost liberties” you most want back?

                  2. Imagine being against mandating non-discrimination

    2. Seriously, he does not have to repeal Section 230. All he has to do is direct the DOJ to actually enforce it as written, including that “in good faith” language.

      1. The DOJ doesn’t enforce Section 230.

        1. It also wrecks our republican form of government to rewrite laws by directing the DoJ how to enforce them.

          1. That would be a great argument were it not for Section 230 already having been rewritten in that manner by enforcing it as though the “in good faith” language didn’t exist.

            1. For the third time. You are ignoring every word that comes after that phrase.

              1. No, you’re ignoring every word that comes right before, and provides context for, “or otherwise objectionable”: “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing”

                Things that are permitted to be removed for being “or otherwise objectionable” have to be “objectionable” in the same way as the listed items.

                That clause didn’t mean, “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or advances a political viewpoint Mark Zuckerberg disagrees with”.

                1. What if Mark finds your political views excessively violent or obscene? Maybe he thinks any advocacy of war is excessively violent. Would you want a court to substitute your judgment that it is not?

                  1. I don’t agree with Volokh that pretextual moderation is good faith moderation, and the law specifies that it is only good faith moderation that does not lose you the safe harbor.

                    The law actually has those words, “good faith”, in it. So whether or not it’s a good idea for the courts to be deciding if somebody is showing good faith, that’s what the law demands they do.

      2. Setting aside your continued IANAL attempt to misread § 230, the DOJ does not “actually enforce” the statute at all, so your pretend analysis is mistaken.

        Stick to claiming that you weren’t in Obama’s mother’s hospital room and so you don’t know where he was born, okay?

      3. DOJ doesn’t enforce 230. It’s about civil liability. And you’re cutting off the rest of that sentence.

        “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of— any action voluntarily taken to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

        This is a completely subjective test that in no way limits what the provider or user can do. If I am in charge of Twitter, I can consider a lot of stuff “harassing” or “otherwise objectionable.”

        Let’s look at some Trump tweets: Why can’t I consider his comments on Joe Scarborough harassment? Why can’t I consider his posting of videos killing CNN or Democrats or saying the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat excessively violent? Why do YOU get to determine whether MY subjective belief about the content on MY service is in good faith?

        1. You’re deliberately interpreting that clause in such a way as to render the “in good faith” meaningless. It’s perfectly ordinary statutory construction to say that, when there’s a list of items, and then a catchall phrase like, “or otherwise objectionable”, the items swept in under the catchall phrase have to be of the same nature as the listed items.

          You’re reading “or otherwise objectionable” as though it actually said, “or anything they want”, and that’s not a good faith reading of the clause.

          1. Brett, honestly, How is a court supposed to figure out whether what I say I consider “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable” is done in good faith? You just want your judgment of what those things mean substituted for what the user considers to fall into those categories. Note, there is no “reasonably” language here. It’s purely subjective.

            For instance, I think racism is obscene so I delete what I consider racist comments. You’re telling me a court should second guess what I should consider racist and obscene? They’re going to come up with some objective standard for both of those? And override the statute’s clear command that I get to consider those things, not anyone else? Or what I consider harassment? Or lewd? Maybe I think any mention of sex should be removed? Or maybe I decide some sex acts are and some aren’t?

            This is the same as courts staying out of the question of whether someone’s religious beliefs are “sincere.”

    3. Stephen, the abuse of statistics in this Wuhan Flu Paranoiademic has been astonishing.

  8. It is hard to take Trump seriously on policy when so much of what he does seems to be driven by “getting back” at those he perceives as having slighted him. Ironically, it does tend to be easier to cut deals with Trump than the average politician, since he is not easily driven into a corner by ideological commitments.

    So Twitter has fact-checked him. Now it is urgent to act?

    There is a a similar pattern with COVID-19. The main point isn’t saving lives. The main point is whether people are being fair to Trump.

    The interesting thing is how this personality trait ended up being an asset for Trump rather than a liability when it came to winning the GOP primary and the Presidency.

    We may or may not like Trump, but his rise is a reflection of our own culture. Trump’s occupancy in the White House reveals our own short-comings as much as his.

    A few of them:

    1:
    The way our news media is often a vehicle for the superficial (what happened today, what did Trump say this time) rather than the deep. This in turn reflects the sort of news that many people want. The short-attention span of the media was something that Trump was able to exploit. Trump had so many scandals, it seemed like a scandal a day. The trivial was juxtaposed with the more serious. The question was never, what did Trump do yesterday, it always was, what did he do today. Contrast with Hillary. She tried to play it safe. So, the media talked about emails, not policy. In contrast with Trump, for Hillary, it never was what did she do today or what is she proposing for tomorrow, it was always, who did she email and what did she know when she emailed. This really is her fault, because instead of having the courage to put out policy ideas that might engender both discussion and criticism, she decided to play it safe, hoping that Trump would sabotage himself if his apparent narcissism was allowed to dominate the airwaves.

    2:
    Related to point 1, the decline in trust that people have in the media, but often without the skills to independently assess information. People want the truth handed to them on a platter. Which is understandable, but unrealistic. Truth: The media is biased today. Fiction: The media was ever unbiased. When the media was dominated by the views of the big three networks and local newspapers often distributed syndicated columns, consensus over basic facts seemed easier, but the reliability of the information in terms of it being unbiased was nothing more than an illusion created by the lack of amplification of dissenting voices. However, it was a comforting illusion. Having been exposed to so many more different points of view in the information age, it is obvious to many that the mainstream news (and all the rest of it too) is biased. But, having correctly identified this key fact, many still do not know how to or do not have the time to process information. Many instead retreat to their silos of safe information, not quite understanding that just because the news is biased, that doesn’t mean it isn’t also useful. Bias is best countered by gathering information from multiple sources, but many do not have the experience or time. An information short-cut that has been failing them is to identify people who tend to agree with them, and trust information from those sources while discounting information from other sources. This is the power of cries of “fake news.” Knowingly or not, the true use of this phrase is often to indicate that some information, including opinion but also information about basic facts, is to be disregarded if it comes from the “other.” As a society, many have become tribal regarding where they get their information, but this increases bias rather than decreases it. Instead of gathering and synthesizing information from multiple perspectives, many seek fewer sources of information that they deem trusted based on tribal affiliations.

    This is also related to information overload. There is more news and information easily accessible than any human can consume. News and information from perceived “allies” is so much more enjoyable to consume than other sources of information. And, whatever source of information one taps, one will hardly ever run out. This disincentivizes seeking information from multiple perspectives.

    3:
    Many of the so-called elites of both political parties think they are better than ordinary people, especially ordinary people from the other political party. Many politicians have a superiority-complex. This superiority-complex is illustrated on the Democratic side by Obama, who famously referred to people who thought differently as “bitter” people who “cling to guns or religion” while Hillary famously used the phrase “basket of deplorables” to describe Trump supporters. Such comments are typically directed at and most felt by people with different belief systems that are struggling economically. The attitude communicated by such comments is that the speaker is not only more affluent and economically successful, but also more intelligent and morally superior. This sort of blatant elitism, which is found in both parties, but perhaps more in the Democratic Party than the Republican Party, goes against basic commitments to equality we have as a society and the promise in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” When one dismisses people who think differently than yourself as “bitter” clingers or as “deplorables” one is implicitly putting oneself above them, rather than acknowledging their basic equality.

    Enter Trump. Although Trump grew up in unusually affluent circumstances, on a social level he has often struggled for acceptance as some sort of looked-down upon outsider. His pettiness and grievances and even apparent narcissism have been driven by social rejection and a desire to prove his critics wrong. After all, what drives a person to think more about themselves than the assertion that they aren’t good enough?

    In Trump, many of his supporters see themselves. They have been (usually falsely but sometimes accurately) accused of racism. Their concerns have been dismissed as “bitter.” Their deepest spiritual commitments have been dismissed as “clinging to religion.” Their sense of safety and control over their lives and cherished ability to defend themselves from physical threats has been dismissed as “clinging to guns.” They are referred to as morally inferior degenerates, and as “baskets of deplorables.”

    It is not hard to see why such people are easily able to see attacks on Trump as attacks on themselves. They see Trump struggling for status and acceptance, and in that, they see their own struggle. To win the GOP nomination, Trump took on an arrogant GOP elite, including such elite figures such as Ted Cruz who attempted to engage in delegate theft, disregarding outcomes determined by voters (whose votes apparently are not to be respected). In the general election, he took on Hillary Clinton, who positioned herself as morally superior to such “deplorables,” but who herself was plausibly accused of violating the law and was at the very least was guilty of arrogance and incompetence with her handling of her email server. (The crime and/or incompetence not only indicates a lack of superiority, but is also demonstrative of a belief that the rules that applied to “little people” like “ordinary State Department employees” did not apply to her).

    Trump may fight dirty, but in his struggles for acceptance and really struggle for social equality which he wears on his sleeve for all to see, many of his supporters see themselves. This is why they can’t easily be shaken. Many of his antics may seem ridiculous and be difficult to defend, but when the question is your basic social equality and your entitlement to respect and dignity, fighting dirty feels justified.

    The irony is, of course, that Trump himself is very similar to Hillary. He also feels that the rules do not apply to himself (as illustrated by his refusal to wear a mask). But his social insecurity is so obvious and his fight for acceptance so clear, that it is easy to see such rule-breaking as defiance of arrogance, rather than itself a form of arrogance.

    The rise of Trump is not mainly about Trump, but our society. It would have been better if the Democratic Party had tried to give Trump (and in doing so, his supporters) the social respect that he (and they) obviously crave. Progress on such agenda items as infrastructure or education or even a more generous social safety net would likely have been possible if such a psychological concession had been made. Because Trump, whatever other flaws he has, is not a committed ideologue with a deep aversion to Democratic economic goals like most of the establishment figures in the rest of the Republican Party, but he nonetheless is very difficult for them to resist when he deviates from party orthodoxy. Furthermore, such respect would have been flattering to not only Trump, but also to his supporters. Many of whom also seek social acceptance and an acknowledgement of their fundamental equality. In other words, such an approach would have paid dividends not only during the Trump presidency, but helped build stronger foundations in the future as it helped heal the emotional and psychological wounds of many of Trump’s supporters and thus built the bonds of social trust that are critical to the more cooperative social measures that Democrats wish to see become reality.

    Ironically, that Trump’s need for acceptance is so acute is a big part of the turnoff. That, and the genuine belief that many Democrats elites have that he actually isn’t very intelligent. Seeing someone who so deeply craves social acceptance makes Democrat elites wish to withhold it. This is partially rationalized as leverage, but probably as much their genuine view of Trump as actually being intellectually and morally inferior and degenerate as well as disgust at the narcissism that Trump’s prioritization of his need for acceptance over policy matters entails.

    In such arrogance, Democrats have lost and continue to lose a huge opportunity. If given the respect and acceptance that he craves, it would have been possible (and it is still likely possible) to use Trump to break GOP unity, and advance many more cooperative social measures such areas as infrastructure, education, and a stronger social safety net that Democrats desire to achieve. It would also be likely to get Trump to moderate his position on COVID-19 with respect to re-opening the economy. The primary reason that Trump wants to re-open the economy is his fear that the damage that COVID-19 will do to his re-election prospects. But, if Democrats make it clear that Trump is not responsible for any economic damage caused by COVID-19, he can be brought around. Such a psychological concession by Democrats would have the immediate concrete benefit of saving lives today. (Democrats might object, truthfully, that Trump could have and should have acted sooner in response to COVID-19. But the strength of this criticism is not very strong, because Democrats including Cuomo, De Blasio, and Newsom, also did not respond as fast as they should have either. It is very psychologically difficult to do something expensive like impose lockdowns before disaster strikes in response to an unseen virus.)

    As it is, Democrats are more focused on November, and so refuse to hold their fire with respect to criticisms. But a few thoughts on that.

    First, the premise that Democrats need to harshly criticize Trump to win is likely false. Trump is already naturally disliked by many. One need not worry about driving up his negatives further, as he has already done that himself and views on him are largely settled. If Biden makes an affirmative case for himself (which Hillary failed to do), then Trump fatigue is likely to do the rest.

    Second, if harsh criticism is necessary for Democrats to win, what is won? Unless they win is so big as to flip the Senate AND Democrats are also willing to break the filibuster (something they haven’t been willing to do in the past) the GOP will be as united as ever against Democratic initiatives and a Biden presidency will be characterized more by gridlock than progress. Focusing on winning through negativity will tend to continue to divide the country and undermine the social unity that Democrats, whose projects depend on cooperation, have more need to foster relative to the GOP. Many of Trump’s supporters, rightly or wrongly, psychologically see attacks on Trump as attacks on themselves. It is very useful to soften the opposition of such people, even if it may not be possible to get them to switch sides in the short-term. By showing respect to Trump, one shows respect to his supporters. Their opposition to Democratic priorities, like his opposition, will likewise soften. This is both a shorter term and a longer term investment. We may be able to get rid of Trump, but we will never get rid of Trump supporters.

    Third, Democrats ought to prioritize handling the COVID-19 pandemic over political considerations. If not attacking Trump on the economy is the price to be paid for more reasonable leadership that saves lives, that is precisely the Democrats should pay. Lives lost cannot be replaced. This isn’t about Trump, or the GOP, or the Democrats. This is about the good of the country.

    Fourth, if Trump were somehow to win a second term, there is a silver-lining if Democrats play their cards right. A Biden presidency means a united GOP opposition and likely gridlock. But a Trump presidency, where Trump is finally given the respect he craves (whether or not you think he deserves it) provides a unique opportunity to divide the GOP and advance Democratic economic priorities.

    Basic conclusion. Giving Trump the respect he craves is a psychologically revolting idea to many people. But, in reality, it is something that can be given freely and the gains from doing so are likely large. Anyone who thinks the rise of Trump is all about Trump is confused. Despite what he thinks (and many of his critics implicitly think by prioritizing stubbornly withholding signs of respect to making policy gains), it is not all about Trump. The lack of social cohesion that Trump was able to exploit is as real as the coronavirus and it long preceded him. That problem will not go away with the election of Biden, but must be addressed in a serious manner.

  9. Finally, the President could, I suppose, control how Executive Branch agencies use social media platforms, and an executive order would be a suitable too for that. But that would seem an odd things for him to do.

    Odd how ? If the President thinks that, for what seem to him to be good reasons of state, the federal government should stop using UPS and should only use Fedex or the US Post Office, we could certainly wonder whether that’s good policy but why would it be odd ?

    1. Odd how ? If the President thinks that, for what seem to him to be good reasons of state, the federal government should stop using UPS and should only use Fedex or the US Post Office, we could certainly wonder whether that’s good policy but why would it be odd ?

      What’s odd is that there was no RFP nor bidding process for which social media will be used. No criteria as to who is eligible to be a vendor of this service. No requirements as to anything…

      1. A bidding process requires competitors.

  10. “But the President of course has no power to revise statutes such as 47 U.S.C. § 230 by executive order.”

    But doesn’t he have a phone and a pen? That’s settled law.

  11. The content of the (hypothetical so far) EO will be interesting. Fora, such as this one, are as close to Social Justice Networking as I engage. Social Justice Networks are Geeks’ Gifts not adequately examined.

    In re crude politicking; TRUMP 2020 vision for the future. PENCE 2024. Make America Wholesome Again.

    1. It’s going to be DeSantis as the Republican nominee in 2024.
      His handling of the coronavirus here in Florida has been exemplary.

      1. Are you sure? Maybe Florida just isn’t bothering to count coronavirus deaths. Check out their excess “pneumonia” deaths.

      2. No, it will be Pence.

        He is the silent hero of this administration.

  12. This is actually important, and not just for Trump. Alternative, non-tech sanctioned viewpoints are increasingly being shut down, minimized, and suppressed by the corporations that control the large tech speech distribution platforms. Having a large range of viewpoints discussed is important for a free society. But when a small selection of like minded corporations have the power to shut down any viewpoints they don’t like, it’s dangerous for the country and world as a whole.

    Youtube and Medium and Twitter have been taking down dissenting or alternative views on the pandemic and lockdown from medical and epidemiological professionals. This has had a noted effect on the response and views of the pandemic

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/05/28/how_media_sensationalism_big_tech_bias_extended_lockdowns_143302.html

    1. The government doesn’t get to declare a private company ‘essential for speech’ and then dictate what they can do.

      1. Regulation by raised eyebrow. “Your company doesn’t censor hate speech, including (wink wink especially of our opponents)? Be a shame is your company got broken up as too large, or 230 went away…”

        So please. This is already happening. It shouldn’t have even gotten this far with the governmental threats.

        Which is it? Censor Trump to ingratiate themselves with the Democrats, so as not to be kicked hard by the politicians? Or not do so, for the exact same reason but by other politicians?

        Quit pretending it’s the Republicans only doing this. They’re playing catch up.

        1. Indeed. “Net Neutrality” for example.

          1. Net neutrality has zero to do with this.

            1. It’s regulation of the internet, and impinges on the corporation’s ability to speak how it wants, isn’t it?

              1. Internet != platforms.

                One could argue association, but certainly not speech.

                1. Yes, there’s always the dark web, once the DNS servers refuse to resolve your url.

                  1. Net neutrality has nothing to do with that, Brett.

                    1. Internet DNE platforms does, though.

                    2. …So are you for or against that requirement?

                      I presume you see the fundamental difference between content platforms and servers.

                    3. A standard point in libertarian thinking is that something can be objectionable, but still be of a nature that should be legal.

                      So, in principle, I’m fine with the idea that FB should be able to censor comments that don’t praise Joe Biden, or which attack the Chinese government. AND with the idea that people should be able to create alternatives to FB.

                      But the flip side of that is that something can be of a nature that should be legal, and still be highly objectionable. I don’t have to pretend I don’t disapprove of Youtube automatically deleting criticism of China, or Google putting in sorting rules to push conservative content off the first page of results.

                      People should be “able” to do all sorts of things that they shouldn’t actually do.

                      But libertarian theory aside, my point here is that Trump actually does have a basis in perfectly ordinary statutory interpretation for taking at least some actions against Twitter or FB, because they’re NOT complying with the terms of Section 230, and so have no legal right to its shelter.

                      So, he could, for instance, direct the DOJ to file civil lawsuits over Twitter’s discriminatory treatment of political speech. I’m sure finding a reasonably plausible basis for such a lawsuit wouldn’t be hard.

                      Or, anti-trust. Maybe in a libertarian world you wouldn’t have anti-trust laws, but in this one we do. And, what happened to GAB certainly could become the basis for an antitrust action, if the DOJ were so inclined. How DID all those different companies happen to act against GAB in such tight coordination, anyway? Sure looks like they got together to kill off a competing platform.

                      If you had even the least imagination you’d have no trouble at all coming up with plausible avenues for legal action here. You just don’t want to, so you assert they don’t exist.

        2. You want to argue antitrust is being used to censor? Bring some facts.

          Seems the obvious answer is that companies have been performatively hard on hate speech not because of any government imprimatur but because the consumers like it that way.

          You want to ignore Trump doing this authoritarian trash by ever looking to some unsupported theories about the left? That’s a great way to ignore any principles.

      2. The government declares private companies essential all the time, and can declare what they can and can’t do.

        And they done it in the past. Infamously with the FCC’s fairness doctrine, but also in many other fields and areas.

        1. National security is already a pretty big loophole.

          This? This is a whole ‘nother front.

          Yeah, the fairness doctrine was a bad idea. You’re using the same arguments.
          Way to go.

          1. You argued it couldn’t be done, and here I show clear examples of how it can be done.

            1. The Fairness Doctrine was based on a limited resources theory. That’s not the case here.

              So no, it cannot be done constitutionally. Certainly not by EO.

              And don’t pretend you’re not defending this as good policy as well.

        2. AL — if GM can be required to make respirators, why can’t Twatter and Farcebook be required to carry all voices?

          1. Cute nicknames. Just when I thought you couldn’t get any more clownish.

            National defense != whatever social media does.

      3. You are familiar with the concept of a public utility, right Sarcastro? Now, to be clear I am not saying Twitter ought to be treated as one, but the left spends lots of time talking about evil corporations, monopolies, and how the people should have control over private industry that function as a utility. So please make the case on why we shouldn’t treat Twitter as one?

        1. Twitter !- water.

          1. I would say the free flow of information is probably more important then water.

            1. Twitter != the free flow of information.

              It’s a single river, and you’re calling it the source of all water.

              1. So let me get this right, Big Tech controls basically 3-4 of the largest online social media platforms which are huge forums to exchange information and you are fine with purely private industry, veritable billion dollar monopolies, operating those without any oversight or regulation? Gotcha.

                1. So you know the solution to that right? Its really simple a government run media platform that is subject to the rules developed by congress, implemented by the executive branch with judicial review of that implementation. Resulting in a system that is constitutionally constrained/free. Opps–can’t do that!

                2. Big Tech controls

                  “Big Tech” is not a company.

                  1. No, it’s a collusion…

                    1. I’m pretty down on corporations, but even I think that’s BS.

                      You need to prove that, and you cant, because it’s false.

              2. Sarcastro, what is your solution for someone that wants to participate in a public digital discussion? How does one make his voice heard in a digital world?

                The traditional cornerstone of free speech is the ability to shout out your views from the street corner or town square. The problem now is that we have a whole digital world, and while the digital streets and sidewalks are public, the gateways to those streets and sidewalks are owned by private entities.

                Facebook and Twitter built their whole business model on being those gateways. Now they want to limit speech to what they approve. Since there is no digital equivalent to walking to the corner or town square they should be limited to only restricting speech as far as what would be limited in the town square.

                1. You shout it into the ether like the rest of us. You only have a right to speech. There is no right to be listened to.

                  1. Just how do you “shout it into the ether” when you have no gateway to the ether? The gateways are all privately owned, and censor viewpoints that they disapprove.
                    The domain servers (keepers of the gateways) will also shut down gateways they disapprove.

                    1. Oh, are all the gateways closed? Then how tf am I responding to you and you are responding to me?

                2. Aren’t you participating in a “public” digital discussion here? Did you have any trouble getting in? Did you need any government permission or assistance in doing so?

      4. The government doesn’t get to declare a private company ‘essential for speech’ and then dictate what they can do.

        Why not? Can you say “defense production act”?

        1. I can. I can also say, “I’ve read it and you haven’t.”

    2. Liar

      social media including twitter is the main means tha tright wing fascist BS is spread

      If trumpski was really pissed, and wanted to hurt Twitter, he would close his account

      right wing wants corporate freedom until it sees corporate freedom affect them negatively

      freedom from harmful environmental regulation, check!
      freedom to simply tell people the president is a lying sack of crap, no way!

      1. Funny same things could be said by the left. They want to control corporations via regulation and oversight until that is the corporation does exactly what they want it to do. Then they scream “private industry!!!!”

        1. Regulation and oversight != control. That’s basically in their definition.

          1. That has to be possibly the single stupidest thing you have ever written, you know that, right?

            1. The single stupidest? Lots and lots of competition for that honor.

              1. It still snagged the gold metal, even with the tough competition. Being so succinctly stupid, and all. “(synonym for control) and (synonym for control) don’t equal control”

                How’s he going to top it? 1+1 != 2?

                1. Be careful next thing you know he will equate you calling him stupid with that being a death threat. He loves to misrepresent and conflate what others say to suit his own means.

                  1. Griffin threatened an air embolism. That *is* fatal.

                    1. Speaking as somebody who’s seen plenty of air bubbles injected, I assure you it takes a LOT of air to cause that.

  13. Do other people remember when the left seemed to care about free speech?

    1. I remember that, even back then you could tell they just seemed to.

      It was a bit of a surprise when the ACLU came out of the closet, though; I thought they’d do that more gradually.

      1. The ACLU really showed its true colors after Heller. I used to have some respect for their work until the mid 2000’s when it was clear that the national board was walking back its commitment to free speech. Its complete failure to back any kind of civil liberty involving the Second Amendment though especially after the Supreme Court explicitly ruled it protected an individual right was the true tell.

        1. Heller and especially CU broke the ACLU.

          Heller because it demolished their excuse for not defending gun rights, and they had to finally decide between principle or openly rejecting the Constitution in favor of left wing dogma. And they chose the dogma. “Openly” being the key word here, of course; Principle never had anything to do with the ACLU’s position on guns, but until Heller they could at least pretend it did.

          But CU especially, because the ACLU was an amicus on Citizens United’s side of that case. And that drove the ACLU’s left-wing backers to conduct a purge.

          The last leaders who actually cared about the principles got kicked out, and now the ACLU is totally controlled by the hacks, who don’t even care if they’re ruining the organization’s carefully curated reputation for principle. They’re just going to use the ACLU up fighting left wing fights, and then throw it away.

          1. You used to occasionally get a peep about gun rights. Usually had something to do with due process and occasionally speech (such as restrictions imposed because of pure speech), but really after The Purge in the 2000’s it just evaporated. When Romero took over though that is when it went from the semblance of any organization with philosophical roots to just another left wing political hack job org.

    2. Did you guys read Prof. Volokh’s post yesterday? Freedom of speech ain’t on your side, here.

      Or do you think he’s just another anti-speech liberal now?

      1. Depends on if you believe in real freedom of speech. I would love it just for the record Sarcastro for you to state that you are fine with billion dollar Big Tech monopoly corporations controlling public forums without any governmental oversight or regulation.

        1. LOL ‘real freedom of speech.’

          I don’t believe ‘billion dollar Big Tech monopoly corporations’ are controlling ‘public forums’.

          Not a monopoly. Not a public forum. Not controlled.

          I’m all for more regulation of corporations, but dictating what they get to say is actually literally what fascism is.

          1. Actually the definition of fascism is (according to the Webster Dictionary….some of which I think is debatable but still…): a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

            Hmmm….a centralized autocratic authority that forcibly suppresses opposition….sound like anything here? Like Big Tech corporations who seek to censor ideas and impose their idea of social regimentation through speech codes?

            1. There’s social fascism, and economic fascism, and the left hammers hard on the social end of it, and hand waves away the economic end of it, because the economic end of it looks too much like their own agenda.

              As well it should, because the Nazis WERE a socialist party.

              1. Oh lord. We went from bad legal takes to bad history/political theory takes.

                Nazi and other fascist economic policy is completely intertwined with their social and cultural beliefs. They’re not really separable.

              2. There’s social fascism, and economic fascism

                Brett, your distinction is tailored to let you call the ACA fascist. You need to paper over your outcome-oriented thinking much more if you’re going to have anyone take such understandings seriously.

                1. The funny thing is, a fascist regime could easily have something like he structure of ACA, a single payer system, a directly controlled NHS, whatever mess we had before ACA, or no health care system at all. There likely would never be a true “universal” system in any way given fascism’s obsession with defining the “people” in exclusionary terms. But you could probably justify any of these general policy approaches using fascist rhetoric.

            2. Historically, fascism is about government channeling it’s power through corporations.

              1. Fascism is about control period. It can be the government or Big Tech corporations. Doesn’t matter who metes out the control.

                1. Who metes out control is the core concern of fascism. Really, it is the core concern of every ideology in existence. Big Tech running everything could potentially be described in totalitarian terms, but that doesn’t make it fascist.

                  1. Well, no, for it to be fascist the government would have to be dictating to Big Tech what they’d do. Or, I suppose, potentially the other way around, but it tends to be government because of all those guns.

                    Business and government joined at the hip is the economic aspect of fascism, it’s just socialism which doesn’t care whose name is on the ownership papers for the means of production so long as they’re centrally controlled.

                    1. It’s economic policy designed to reinforce existing and traditional social hierarchies, is designed to promote whomever the fascist party determines is part of the “nation” while excluding disfavored groups. Fascist economics can vary widely depending on what the party thinks will raise “The People” to their rightful place as members of a heroic society that has never existed.

                      If fascism comes to America, you probably won’t recognize it by it‘s economics. It will probably take a relatively hands off approach to business with the exception of Big tech and other information services. So long as businesses are generally controlled by “The People” and operate to their exclusive benefit, the fascist American state will let them do their own thing.

                      They’ll step in once they begin to undercut traditionalist values and social hierarchies. Indeed, the first steps towards American fascism will probably involve a step back from regulation: it’ll be when the Civil Rights Act and ADA are repealed and disfavored groups are cut off from government benefits. That moment won’t come because honest libertarians come into power. It’ll come because we’ve reached the point where enough of “The People” are tired of being prevented from discriminating against disfavored groups.

                2. Parents control their children. Is that fascism?

  14. Let’s add on another element here for you all to think about

    Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Medium, YouTube, etc) act as a major transmission method for free speech. Increasingly however the corporations that control this social media are seeking to selectively edit, suppress, ban, block, or more based on their social views. Whether this be political affiliation, or alternative views on the lockdown and coronavirus.

    Sure, you say. Whatever, they’re corporations, they can control speech however they want. But then think about this. These corporations also have significant levels of deference to the Chinese Government. Increasingly, they are taking items down, or suppressing items that don’t agree with how the Chinese government wants them to portray things. You may say, so what?

    Now combine these two items. The Chinese government had a very public stance on the transmission of the corona virus during the early days. Can we seriously believe it wouldn’t exert its influence to remove posts on social media that countered the state-mandated position? Can we believe, given social media’s deference to Chinese views that the large social media corporations wouldn’t necessarily have agreed here, and removed posts that were “fear mongering” about the “person to person transmission” of the corona virus in the early days?

    This is how censorship works. It inhibits the transmission of information. And that information can be critical. In order to ensure the free transmission of information, we may need protections put into place that severely limit the ability to remove/ban/suppress views that the corporate owners of these social media organizations don’t agree with. Freedom of information here is a libertarian ideal.

    1. I am loving the fact that on the morning liberal media stations all the talking heads are making the case for the autonomy of private industry. That is going to be some good material the next time they come out with a tax and regulate agenda.

  15. To me, the absolutely funniest thing about all of this conservative hand-wringing about bias and “de-platforming” in regards to certain figures on Twitter is that for the most part I only know about these people and their views because of Twitter. Either from Twitter itself or some news outlet showing a bunch of their tweets.

    The second funniest thing, in a darker and sadder way, is when the target of the supposed anti-conservative bias turns out to be an out and proud racist, anti-Semite, and Holocaust denier.

    Remember the second thing when Michelle Malkin inevitably gets banned.

    1. Viva la gillotina….

      1. Yep. Twitter deciding that some Holocaust denier shouldn’t spread Holocaust denial on its service is exactly the same as executing someone for vague political crimes. Except in all of the ways it is not.

    2. In reminiscing when the left used to be for free speech, I also remember when calling someone a racist meant something that was definable. Now the left just bandies about the term to label anyone who does not follow them in lockstep. By doing so they have rendered it meaningless.

      For instance this happened on a news show today.

      TALKING HEAD 1 – “The Black Lives Matter protests should focus on the issue through non-violence protests instead of trashing police cars and looting.”

      TALKING HEAD 2 – “You are obviously a racist for critiquing Black Lives Matters and have no idea what it means to be a black man in society!”

      Question left wing orthodoxy? Racist.

      1. “I also remember when calling someone a racist meant something that was definable.”

        I assume your definition is incredibly narrow and does not take into account history, the structure of society as a whole, or how people who are the targets of racism actually experience it. I also assume that you believe that saying “I’m not a racist, but…”; “I’m just asking questions…” is a full proof defense of racism.

        1. And I also assume that anyone who says anything like “I don’t think that your account of history is correct” or “that is not an accurate portrayal of society” equates them as being a racist.

          1. “I don’t think that your account of history is correct” or “that is not an accurate portrayal of society” equates them as being a racist

            They often turn out to be. For instance, lets look at people like Dinesh D’Souza, who deny the historical accuracy of the 1960s party realignment on civil rights. He says this is a myth, that the Democrats are still the party of the Klan, and says stuff like its a “Dem Plantation.” This idea telegraphs that he thinks Black people, especially all the civil rights leaders who decided in the aftermath of the 1960s to become Democratic politicians are apparently stupid and do not understand how the two parties align to their interests. This is racist.

            Also, people like Dinesh D’Souza who have these views often say things like “You can take the boy out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the boy” in reference to Obama. Who as far as I know was not raised in the ghetto.

            So usually the people who say these things slowly expose themselves as racist on their own, even if they are not dropping hard Rs.

    3. Has Malkin done antisemitism, Holocaust denial, or both?

      (Do you have any one[s] in particular in mind with all three of those expressions of bigotry?)

      1. She is associated with and supports the “groyper” movement led by Nick Fuentes. Fuentes is recognized to traffic in Holocaust denial tropes. The movement itself is filled with open antisemites. While Fuentes disclaimed that his use of the “baking cookies”* meme was an exercise in Holocaust denial, the tweets responding to that are filled with his supporters engaging in it. Her support for Fuentes and the movement has led to her being disavowed by mainstream right-wing groups.

        *”baking cookies” is a particularly gross metaphor antisemites have started using in an attempt to cast doubt on the cremation that occurred in the concentration camps.

        Also, the archetypal example of all this would be Paul Neheln (also strongly supported by Malkin) who in 2016 was being cast as a conservative challenger to Paul Ryan and by 2019 was praising Robert Bowers for shooting up a synagogue. This latter view did not prevent Laura Ingraham from using him as an example of a prominent conservative voice who was silenced on social media last year.

  16. I got booted off Twitter for “hate speech”. My comment was a response to a tweet from SE Cupp that said Trump was a (insert several expletives here) trying to destroy the nation for his own ends. My response called Cupp a phony bimbo with a boob job. Seemed pretty mild compared what I see on Twitter every day.

    1. Apparently truth is not a defense to Twitter’s speech code either.

  17. I predict the “order” will be nothing more than requiring the administration to review 47 U.S. Code § 230 with a few nasty words thrown in. In short, to no one’s surprise, it will be another Trump temper tantrum.

    1. Also known as “rallying the base” but you can call it whatever you want to. The left does this all the time too BTW.

      1. Although it will likely rally his base, I disagree that the primary motive for this stunt is political. Instead, it is being driven by Trump’s childish behavior.

        Any Normal Functioning Adult, 2020.

        1. Maybe you can find one of those normal functioning adults at an Anti-Fa rally or one of those Black Lives Matters riots.

        2. Actually, I think his primary motive is to scare social media platforms out of any thought of pulling out the stops on throwing the election to Biden.

  18. Bunch of actual real-life Italian-style fascists on here, wanting the government to dictate to corporations and then use those corporations to dictate to the populous.

    This is, like, the opposite of libertarian. It’s definitely not small government.

    And the only arguments they have are resentment over mean things liberals have said, or which they imagine them to say. That and unproven paranoia about high-tech collusion they are too angry to bother to prove.

    I know y’all are a shrinking population, but this is shameful.

    1. So ensuring Big Tech corporations can’t control public dialogue and the flow of information through oppressive speech codes is now fascist? Got it.

    2. Sarcastro

      Are you a small government libertarian or an actual fascist? Since you are proposing it’s one or the other.

      I tend to agree with you in that I don’t see much the government should do here as far as concrete action (yet), but at the same time I believe this is an important topic and that the government should use its bully pulpit to hammer social media platforms on their bias.

      But are you principled or just a hack? Do you disagree with the common carrier regulations that were enacted over the last century or do you distinguish them? I suspect if your side was being censored, you’d do 180.

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