Censorship

Australian Court Rules Media Outlets Are Responsible for Facebook Users' Comments

Online censorship is coming, and it’s going to be bad news for everybody.

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What happens when media outlets are held legally liable for defamatory comments visitors post to their Facebook pages? Australians (and the rest of us) may soon find out. The Court of Appeal for New South Wales has just dismissed an attempt by several Australian media outlets to overturn a 2019 ruling that they could be held liable for Facebook comments about Dylan Voller.

In 2016, a television program aired footage of Voller shackled in a restraining chair. The coverage led to a national outrage about the mistreatment of youth in Australian detention systems. Voller then sued some of the media outlets that covered him—not because the news reports defamed him, but because other people writing on the outlets' Facebook pages were accusing him of having committed various crimes.

Australian courts have not yet ruled on whether these comments defamed Voller. This fight is about whether media outlets could even be sued for Facebook comments.

The outlets argue that they're not the "publishers" of what people say on Facebook and, in fact, that Facebook does not let them preemptively stop individual readers from posting comments on their page. They do have the option to delete, hide, or report individual comments, but only after they've been posted. Facebook comments are not like letters to the editor that they can choose whether or not to run.

But the fact that these outlets have the ability to delete comments after the fact was enough for Judge John Basten to declare them publishers: "They facilitated the posting of comments on articles published in their newspapers and had sufficient control over the platform to be able to delete postings when they became aware that they were defamatory." Based on that logic, the media outlets "facilitated" the posting of comments simply by sharing the articles on Facebook.

Another judge suggested that a potential solution would be to use filtering tools that recognize certain trigger words and hide those comments automatically. This "solution" means the media would have to censor content on the basis of certain words appearing in the comment and not because the comment itself was defamatory.

If this ruling stands, it's going to force Australian media outlets to monitor all comments and beef up their social media teams at a time when they're having to lay off staff and even shut down newspapers.

"It's a big challenge to the business model of publishers, because it means there is a greater risk any time you create content which is in any way controversial," the Australian defamation lawyer Michael Douglas told The Wall Street Journal. "There is a risk that users will write something objectionable, which will open up the entity behind the account to being sued for defamation." The Guardian reports that the media outlets are thinking of asking Australia's Supreme Court to consider the case.

Even if media outlets are able to bolster their social media monitoring presence, they'll be asked to make snap decisions on what's defamatory and respond immediately. When media outlets act as publishers and are concerned with possible libel or defamation within news stories, these pieces typically go through several editors (and sometimes even lawyers) before they are published. Sometimes the outlets get sued anyway, and sometimes their internal analysis turns out to be wrong. The most logical result of this ruling is that outlets will delete any comment that says anything critical about anybody in a story or report they've shared on Facebook, regardless of whether or not it's actually defamatory, because they can't prereview them. Who can afford that level of risk?

This is precisely why the attacks on Section 230 of America's Communications Decency Act are so extremely misguided. If you hold social media platforms and/or media outlets legally liable for commenters, it's not going to lead to some sort of politically neutral or "unbiased" moderation that protects unpopular opinions from getting deleted. It will lead to much more censorship. It will probably kill off some comment forums altogether.

Even if these reckless attacks on Section 230 fail, what's happening in Australia can still affect Americans. Countries across the world have been aggressively trying to force websites, search engines, and social media platforms to censor content in a way that crosses virtual borders and affects what people in other nations can see. Last year the European Court of Justice ordered that Facebook must censor any comments posted from anywhere in the world that spoke critically of an Austrian Green Party politician. Canada's Supreme Court has ruled that when Google is forced to remove a link from search results (in this case because the page's content violates copyright laws), Canada has the authority to make this order global.

The European Court of Justice has applied Austria's defamation laws to speech that would be protected by the First Amendment here in the United States. Many Western countries have strong free speech protections, but they often don't go as far as America's. The threat to the First Amendment here isn't coming from private platforms censoring speech because of political bias, but by governments attempting to force their censorship rules worldwide.

This ruling in Australia is bad for the media, but it's even worse for members of the public. They're the ones who'll get censored.

NEXT: John Roberts Does Not Think California's Special Restrictions on Religious Services Discriminate Against Churches

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

  1. Gonna get what they wanted. Good and hard.

    1. Australian shitposters tormented the 4chan admin, moot, until he sold to Hiroshima Nagasaki.

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    2. Yep, when you exercise ever more control over what is posted, what is promoted, or what can be viewed it is inevitable that people will begin to think you responsible for what is posted, promoted, or viewed.

      Strange, huh?

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      2. No reason to think otherwise. It seems far from plausible that a publisher has the ability to censor those they don’t like but censoring other folks is damn near impossible.

        While I do think there is a very unfortunate free-speech shit-storm in full swing, it’s hard to feel sympathy for publishers who attempt to hide behind US Constitutional rights to defend their selective censorship in the US while they harvest profits in other countries and think that US law should protect them there too. It’s just another version of the “ugly American” concept that rejects the “my house… my rules” that every country demands.

  2. Thank goodness we here Up Over have a healthy respect for free speech.

    1. As long as you don’t say anything racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic. Hate has no home in America!

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      2. Or just even slightly Right of whatever Leftist nut hears you say it.

  3. Note that this ruling derives from the ability of Facebook users to delete comments. That’s the same rationale used by the 230-haters.

    The obvious solution is to give them what they want, good and hard — take away the ability to delete comments.

    Slashdot is the only site I am familiar with which allows users to moderate other users’ comments, with upvotes and downvotes, and throws in the meta moderation of moderators by other moderators. I don’t know if reddit or other sites have anything similar.

    Would this user moderation suffice for this court?

    Moderation is easy to abuse, but meta moderation slows that down. Even if some sites try moderation and meta moderation, the simplest solution in the meantime is to prevent comment deletion. I doubt very many anti-230ers really want that cesspool, but they may get it.

    1. No it is not the same logic at all. The logic here is that if Facebook is going to censor its users rather than just take down content after someone requests them to because it is illegal or a copyright violation, Facebook has become a publisher. The ability of people to delete comments have nothing to do with it. It is about Facebook exercising the freedom to control the content of its platform without being responsible for what is on there. If Facebook would stop censoring people and kicking people off its platform because it doesn’t like their politics, no one would have a problem with 230 or want it repealed.

      You either don’t understand the argument being made or are just creating a strawman here.

      1. “If Facebook would stop censoring people and kicking people off its platform because it doesn’t like their politics, no one would have a problem with 230 or want it repealed.”

        Yeah, man, and if that Government-Almighty-Damned local hardcopy rag would STOP refusing to publish MY letters to the editors, me and my gang and Government Almighty could STOP threatening to take over their (ooops, I mean OUR collectivist) property, Government Almighty dammit!

        1. That hard copy rag can do that all it wants. And it is also responsible if a letter it does publish slanders someone.

          This is a simple concept. Even though you are fucking dumb as a post, I refuse to believe you can’t grasp it. You are just so irrational and stupid, you can’t allow yourself to do or say anything beyond “I want” and this is what you want logic and reason be damned.

          1. No, you’re the one who is dumb as a post. The hard copy rag is liable for slander because it actively edits publishes letters to the editor. Every LttE has to go through the editor.

            But that is not the case with online forums such as Facebook. Posts get automatically posted without editorial review. Section 230 basically says the site is not liable for what users post unless the site controls every post. So a site that moderates and approves EVERY post is liable, but none of the others.

            Certainly you are not liable for posts I make to your Facebook page. Imagine the carnage if you were? I could throw up dozens of woodchipper posts and you would be sued by all the judges I called out to be woodchipped.

            The purpose of Section 230 is not to make Trump sad, it’s to protect your rights! YOUR rights.

            1. “Editing isn’t really editing because they don’t call the person who does it an editor”

              So dumb

            2. If facebook is censoring posts not because they are illegal or copyright violations but because they think they are “untrue” or just don’t like them, they are editing. Do you not know what the word “edit” and the term “editorial control” mean?

              Why are you people so dense?

              1. Facebook owns Facebook software and servers… John does NOT! So “conservative” John wants Government Almighty to take over Facebook’s property, at least in part, and use the Collective, Collectivist Might of Government Almighty to tell Facebook, what it can, and cannot do! The minute John gets his collectivist ways put into place… Reason.com will go away, or it will cost us $0.15 per letter or $1.00 per word, or some such, to post here, so that Reason can pay bunches of lawyers and regulators to parse everything we post! All because John here, is on the rag, and morally self-righteous, and wants to tell us all what to do! With property that does NOT belong to him! And then we are the selfish and dense ones!

                1. Yes, they own their platform. They can do with it what they like. But if they want to exercise that kind of control, they assume responsibility for their user’s content and 230 immunity must go.

                  You keep repeating the same non responsive retarded point. It is not convincing anyone. It isn’t winning the argument. It is just showing how fucking stupid you are.

                  1. “But if they want to exercise that kind of control, they assume responsibility for their user’s content and 230 immunity must go.”

                    In John’s ideal world. In John’s world, it is fair and just to punish the newspaper editor for something THAT SOMEONE ELSE WROTE in the first place! Just because the courts have done stupid things, does NOT make it right! Go ye and convince 51% of the voters to support your STUPID idea, John! I’ll be rooting AGAINST your collectivist ideas!

                    If you get your way, prepare for the end of Reason.com free-form comments… That, or $0.15 per letter or $1.00 per word, to support John’s endless armies of lawyers and regulators, who John IMAGINES will give special favors to HIS brand of “Truth, Justice, and the American Way”, when deciding which of our posts will be allowed! You own stock in lawyers and regulators, John?

                    1. So, I get a free pass for what’s on my website as long as someone else wrote it? Even if, say, I delete tons of posts and articles? If I delete lots of posts and articles, would you say that what I choose not to delete might have some bearing on what is considered an editorial slant?

                      Facebook is a collection of curated content produced by other people, and what they choose to leave online IS the editorial slant and absolutely qualifies as moderated content. The reason for that, you see, is that they moderate their content. All of it, algorithmically. If they couldn’t moderate content, at least somewhat well, you wouldn’t see the Chinese government letting them do business in their country.

                      This is what happens when you let children eat paint chips.

                    2. Liars lie all day long, deal with it!

                      “Government Almighty loves me”! Someone posts that on Reason.com, and there is a legal fight over whether that is true, or false? Libel against Government Almighty, or libel against those of us who would like to see Government Almighty SHRINK?

                      Do YOU want to serve on that jury? I don’t!

                      In the real world, I like free-wheeling exchanges! Even if we DO have to deal with lies from the likes of Tulpa, and of BYODB, who wants Government Almighty to put its big fat ugly smelly fingers on the scales of justice, on the side of… You guessed it! On the side of BYODB!!! And then LIE about BYODB’s true motives!

                      BYODB got unfriended on Facebook for endless vapid gasbag blowharding, and now wants REVENGE on Facebook!

                      “Editorial slant” = free speech! If that makes you cry, go get some therapy, instead of agitating to take freedoms away from the rest of us!


                    3. “Editorial slant” = free speech! If that makes you cry, go get some therapy, instead of agitating to take freedoms away from the rest of us!

                      Uhh…so you actually do admit that Facebook is a publisher that edits content so what exactly is your point? That publishers should never be held liable for anything they publish? A curious position, unless you’re an anarchist or something.

                      Spoiler Alert: Anarchy doesn’t lead to more freedom. It doesn’t lead anywhere. It’s just a word we use to describe a period of time between functional governments.

                      The only ‘freedom’ being ‘curtailed’ here is the freedom of Facebook to take down posts they disagree with while leaving up defamatory information that don’t mind being disseminated. That’s a freedom no one should have, sort of like the freedom to murder whomever you want.

                      This is literally what (intelligent) people were talking about when they mentioned ‘fake news’. It’s provably false, and any other publication would have been hit for it. Facebook wants it both ways, but that’s not how any of that should work.

                      If you believe Facebook should be able to do this, it’s a wonder why you don’t make the same arguments for the New York Times. They both publish content, but only one gets regulated for it. It’s a legal fig leaf that protects them from being considered the same way as other news sources.

                      And make no mistake, Facebook literally produces news articles themselves. They are not ‘just an aggregator or social media site’. They even directly produce web shows like Returning the Favor with Mike Rowe, you moron.

                    4. “That publishers should never be held liable for anything they publish?”

                      Strawman alert! We who believe in individual freedom, believe in individual freedom! From the top of this comments section:
                      “We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.”

                      THIS is as things should be! Gasbag Blowhards who lust after enslaving media to say what THEY want to say, and PUNISH the rest? They are slavers, and need to FUCK OFF!

                      YOU want YOUR gasbag blowhard opinions elevated above the rest? And think that your TrumpfenFuhrer will “do it” for you? Has it EVER occurred to you… You give YOUR TrumpfenFuhrer these powers? WHAT happens next? DUH! Well, maybe TrumpfenFuhrer won’t live forever… And the NEXT POTUS will be YOUR political enemy… And use YOUR favored new powers… Against YOUR favored collectivist stupid ideas? Facebook belongs to Facebook! Go ye and put up YOUR Gasbag Blowhard-Book with a BETTER business model, and go toe to toe with them! QUIT yer bitchin’ to get Government Almighty on YOUR side!

                    5. It’s not a strawman, you post word salad and much like Facebook you want it both ways.


                      We who believe in individual freedom, believe in individual freedom!

                      Perfect example of your recursive logic and word-salad style.

                      Go ahead, tell us more about how a company that insulated itself using the coercive power of the government is the good guy here.

                      Here in reality, Facebook massively benefits from government sweetheart deals and you seem to want to believe that’s a free market innovation.

                      Lets look at that text again from the Reason comments:

                      “We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.”

                      So they do not moderate, but they do reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason which is, of course, moderation. Amusingly, Reason.com knows this better than most and the irony is they won precisely because they don’t do what Facebook does.

                      Newish Reason story on that issue.

                      Here’s a fun blurb explaining it from a Reason author:

                      Reason’s unmoderated comment space is rare among comparable publications and has, over the years, developed into a forum that is by turns exciting, intellectually advanced, outlandish, cringe-inducing, and more foul-mouthed than any locker room this side of the Crab Nebula. It is something to be celebrated as a voluntary community that can be engaged or ignored as the spirit moves you (we say that as writers whose work and physical shortcomings rarely escape unscathed from any thread). However trollish many of our commenters can be, they have created a sphere of free speech that delivers on one of the great promises of the Internet, which is unbridled expression, dialogue, and argument.

                      We took risks by creating an autonomous zone in which our readers are left to their own devices. Some of the risk is reputational—how many other serious outlets allow anonymous commenters to run riot as we do? Some of the risk is legal, as in the current situation.

                    6. “Here in reality, Facebook massively benefits from government sweetheart deals and you seem to want to believe that’s a free market innovation.”

                      Pure made-up bullshit! Citations please! “You didn’t build that”… Are you channeling Obama? Facebook was made by Obama, ’cause Obama didn’t nuke them? Or Facebook was made by BYODB, because BYODB didn’t drop turds on everyone’s chairs, in the middle of the night, at Facebook offices?

                      Can we all just keep our nukes and our turds to ourselves? Libertarian NAP style?

                  2. “But if they want to exercise that kind of control, they assume responsibility for their user’s content and 230 immunity must go.”

                    This.

                    But, the thing is, it’s already in the text of Section 230. Content providers are not shielded from liability.

                    (3)Information content provider
                    The term “information content provider” means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.

                    “…whole or in part…” “…creation or development…”

                    The problem is that the courts, rather than reading and enforcing the law, are reading and enforcing the opinions of interested parties.

            3. Hot damn, you mean if the NY Post just publishes a single random letter to the editor without reading it first they are immune to liability for defamation for time eternal? Have you told them about this exciting new way to get lawsuits thrown out?

              Or maybe what you mean is that the difference between liable and not liable is I just have to push the flag this post button first? If I report the post and Facebook/Twitter doesn’t take it down, the whole it never saw one of their editors excuse evaporates. They’ve reviewed the content and found it acceptable, so I can then sue them for defamation as a publisher right? (The answer is no, by the way, because 230 gives you extra special protections where you can have one your moderators/editors review a post, decide in their official position to leave the post up, and not be liable for the content of the post)

      2. Don’t gaslighting us. Just last week you asserted that Republicans have always been at war with Section 230.

        1. For the exact reason we are talking about. Which part of “if they were not kicking people off their platform because they don’t like their politics” do you not understand?

          No one is gaslighting here. You are just either profoundly stupid such that you don’t understand what is being argued or you are just being dishonest or more likely both.

      3. Have a cow with your heart attack, why doncha? Yes, I miswrote that, but any one with half a brain could see I meant if the platform can delete comments, they become a publisher.

        Makes me wonder how much *you* actually understand the issue, if you’re that easily confused by a sloppy comment.

      4. Idiots can’t seem to fathom that Facebook is exercising editorial control over their platform, and that this basically lets them have their cake and eat it too.

        There is nothing wrong with Facebook exercising editorial control, but it’s curious that people are so stupid that they think Facebook should get to edit their site however they want but are entirely immune from the ‘standard’ regulations surrounding that practice.

        And yes, Facebook doesn’t pre-moderate what most random individuals on your feed say but since Facebook will take those posts down themselves if they disagree with them they are exercising editorial control one way or another. If a post isn’t taken down by Facebook, the assumption should be that Facebook choose to post that particular thing in a sane world.

        And I realize that the technology to moderate billions of daily posts is probably not possible but that is the bed that Facebook made when they decided to selectively moderate their platform.

        If we’re being totally honest we’d be forced to admit that Section 230 isn’t doing what it was originally supposed to do, and that since it was written in the damn 90’s that maybe Congress could clarify that situation now that we’ve had the internet for longer than a handful of years.

        The fear is that, even though 230 is shitty legislation, it might be better than what Congress decides to pass today. That should give you pause before crowing about how wonderful 230 really is, but you do you. It’s a throwaway line that Congress didn’t think through very hard in legislation that was otherwise supposed to punish the internet. Go figure that it did the opposite of their intention.

    2. Mmmmmmm, not exactly. If they’ve been deleting tweets they personally find offensive and defamatory, while leaving others up, you would have a point, as the remaining tweets could be seen as being endorsed. If they have not been engaging in moderating activity, you would not.

      Australia is making the argument that you are required to moderate if you possibly can. Americans make the argument that if you moderate, you are taking responsibility for the content you moderate. It a critical difference.

      1. Exactly that. IT is a critical difference. And there is no excuse for him not understanding it

        1. There is plenty of excuse for thinkoes, Mr King-of-The-Typo.

          There is no excuse for not understanding the implications of banning platforms from moderating comments, of thinking that offensive has one hard meaning and any moderation outside that meaning is clearly beyond the scope of Freedom of Speech. The only possible hard line is only court-mandated moderation or any moderation. If you cannot see that, you are far more unexcusably stupid than my comment would have been even if intentional.

          1. No one wants to ban platforms from moderating comments. They just can’t moderate them in arbitrary ways such that they become publishers and exercise editorial control. If you want to ban content that violates the TOS and you consistently apply that rule, go ahead. But don’t claim the freedom to do whatever you want without assuming the responsibility that goes with that.

            1. They absolutely should moderate comments, people are scum, but the fact their moderation is biased and doesn’t follow their own TOS is a problem to everyone except our small but vocal contingent of ignorant anarchists.

              They can’t get over the fact that freedom’s are not absolute in most cases. They should have the right to masturbate into your yogurt, and they’ll be god damned if you’re going to take that imagined right away.

              1. Not to mention the repeal of 230 isn’t government taking action against anybody, it is removing government’s bar on others taking action against these companies – and having that action be tried and decided in a court of civil law

      2. I do not understand what end game you guys are fighting for. If a Platform is required to “moderate in a neutral fashion” then that pretty much gets rid of any reddit style forum as well as plenty of other themed sites. It gets rid of Red State and it gets rid of Dem Underground (I may be out of tears to shed for that one). That’s if you modify 230.

        If you get rid of 230, then yes, you get what Australia is promoting right now- that Publishers are liable for user generated content, and so must police it.

        1. That is a legitimate concern. You would have to write such that it isn’t neutral but has to be moderated consistent with the stated purpose and rules of the platform. That way if you want to run a “reddit for people I like” forum, you can. You just have to be honest about.

          Another way around this, would be to just set huge statutory damages for a platform provider who violated their TOS. Really the problem with Twitter or facebook isn’t so much that that are leftist assholes. It is that they have terms of service and a business model that claims otherwise. If they said up front “you can’t come on here if you don’t hold politics that totally agree with ours”, I and I think most other people would not have a problem with them. But they don’t do that and essentially defraud their customers and engage in deceptive trade practices.

          So, it may be that repealing 230 isn’t the best way to deal with this. I am open to other options.

        2. Your argument reminds me of the people who see no difference between a small business owner choosing who they do business with and the government mandating that a small business owner may not do business with a specific group.

          Americans are arguing that you can choose to be a platform free to all comers, or you can choose to be an editor who decides which view points are allowed to be published on your website. If you choose to be an editor, you open yourself to liability for what you choose to publish.

          Australia say you have no choice. You are not allowed to be a platform. You must act as editor and screen all comments on your website.

          If this is still hard for you. Consider this analogy. I’m theater. My theater slots are open on a first come first serve basis. I do not moderate for content. If someone decides to put on a play all about how you’re a pedophile, you can’t sue me because I can point to a neutral policy for booking that does not moderate and therefore does not endorse content. If though, I instead turn down ten other plays because they called someone else a pedophile but let the play calling you go through, you could sue me, because I am not just providing a facility but clearly endorsing the content. If I didn’t I would have turned the play defaming you away just like I did with the other plays.

          When you moderate based on content, you are defacto endorsing the content that remains.

          1. “When you moderate based on content, you are defacto endorsing the content that remains.”

            Bingo

            1. Bullshit. Delete a comment hating Trump which is full of obsceneties; does that moderation support clean language or Trump?

              You damned statists are so full of yourselves that you cannot understand even the slightest subtlety.

              1. Bullshit. Delete a comment hating Trump which is full of obsceneties; does that moderation support clean language or Trump?

                If your TOS says “no obscenities” and you delete every other comment like that regardless of the content, then you are not exercising editorial control. You are just enforcing your TOS. But if you only delete comments critical of Trump and let pro Trump comments remain, you are exercising editorial control. You are ensuring that only certain messages can go on your platform. At that point, you are a publisher.

                What is so hard for you to understand about that?

              2. “Not protecting cronies from having to make a case in civil court is statism!”

                So dumb

    3. By the same logic the judge used, if someone spray painted an illegal statement on the courthouse steps, the court would be liable for it.

      After all, they made it physically possible to ‘post’ the message, and even if they deleted it as soon as they became aware of it, it existed for a non-zero time period.

      1. Wow, that’s seriously stupid! No, the courthouse steps aren’t a platform, writing on the courthouse steps is patently illegal, the courthouse isn’t inviting comment, and they sure as hell aren’t picking and choosing. What the fuck! In your mind anywhere anyone might vandalize is a publisher? Seriously tell me you aren’t that fucking stupid.

  4. Well, this explains why Twitter just rolled out a feature to allow people to prevent anyone from commenting on their posts, but still being able to like and retweet.

    1. Literally “plus good” and “double plus good”

    2. Honestly, I like that function on other platforms so it’s not surprising Twitter would finally get the message.

      If, for example, I review a game on Steam there is no way in hell I’m leaving comments open for any rando to comment on my review. I don’t feel like herding cats, or hearing what little Johnny thinks about my review.

      That said let us all also recall that Twitter is effectively nationalized since they are simultaneously a private company doing private things while also, somehow, being an official government messaging platform beholden to those rules (or not, depending on the day). Only if you’re Trump, of course, but this is an example of shooting yourself in the dick if ever I’ve seen one.

  5. JesseSPAZ and company don’t like freedom of the press; they like the freedom to tell others what may be posted, and what may not be posted. Australia is lighting the way towards despotism (admittedly in baby steps), but THIS is what the JesseSPAZIs of the world want for us all!

  6. Make Australia Great Again. The acronym still works.

  7. This is what “conservatives” want. As they themselves said right here last week, the kind of permissions that Section 230 provide are tyrannical abridgements of Free Speech. Which is why “conservatives” want to get rid of Section 230. Because Trump doesn’t like Twitter.

    That’s what Section 230 is!! A shield against what OTHER people post! “Conservatives” along with “progressives” want to get rid of that. Just go ask John.

    1. Huh, weird how the phone company doesn’t need this shield, or the post office, or the city when someone they disagree with protests on the public sidewalk……its almost like there are already protections in place against suing people for others speech in America. Really its almost like what 230 actually does is protect you from being sued when you choose to act as an editor of other people content.

      1. The law regarding bulletin boards in apartment communities and the like is actually really instructive. There, property owners have to be very careful not to exercise too much editorial control for fear a court could declare them a publisher and hold them libel for something a resident puts up. But somehow that same common sense rule doesn’t apply to digital bulletin boards in the form of social media platforms.

        Basically, the people defending this just turn off their brains because they don’t like the people being harmed by it. That is al that is going on. If Facebook were run by Christian conservatives and they were kicking off progs and atheists, reason and the rest of their fan boys would suddenly see 230 immunity for what it is.

        1. If Facebook were run by Christian conservatives and they were kicking off progs and atheists, reason and the rest of their fan boys would suddenly see 230 immunity for what it is.

          Nice strawman. I could just as easily argue that you’re only for regulating the internet because they are going after your political allies.

          By the way, Reason (and I assume their “fanboys”) has been consistent on not regulating the internet on Net Neutrality, a “prog” pet issue.

          1. Section 230 is literally regulation.
            It prohibits citizens from petitioning a court of law to decide issues they have with private companies.
            Repeal of 230 would apply no regulation, it would remove regulation.
            It’s really straightforward

            1. But this issue is not about suing Twitter or Facebook over user posted content… the point of section 230. It never has been about that. You’re using their legal protection as a platform as a cudgel to get them to host speech that you want them to host. It’s a big government solution to promote your own politics by lording over private property.

        2. If that’s the case, the rules for bulletin boards are wrong, not the ones for social media.

          Have you even thought about the logistics of what you are proposing? For every moderator, there are over 1000 trolls continuously posting terrible content on a social media site. Moderators cannot possibly keep up.

          So, you want the company to be responsible for the bad posts of all the trolls they simply don’t have the ability to effectively monitor, just because they tried to reduce some of the crap. It’s either let all the crap stick, or try to catch it all (and get sued when fallible moderators miss something).

          Even if you think Facebook can afford it (and I somehow doubt it), and can afford to do it in several hundred languages no less, less established companies will never be able to compete. The barrier to entrance would be gigantic. Your world would ensure social media monopolies dominate forever.

          I’d say no one could possibly be so stupid, but the internet loves to prove such things wrong.


          1. Have you even thought about the logistics of what you are proposing?

            Why would he, when Facebook themselves did not? This is Facebook reaping the idiocy of what they have sown. No more, no less. It’s Silicon Valley hubris, and they really think their algorithms can save or solve their dual-nature problem.

            If they switched off their moderation algorithms I wouldn’t give a shit either way, so don’t lump me into your imaginary box full of imaginary people.

            Riddle me this: why won’t Facebook stop moderating when it causes them so many headaches to do so? This is a self-inflicted wound, at the end of the day, so why should I feel bad for them for shooting themselves in the dick?


            1. Even if you think Facebook can afford it (and I somehow doubt it), and can afford to do it in several hundred languages no less, less established companies will never be able to compete. The barrier to entrance would be gigantic. Your world would ensure social media monopolies dominate forever.

              Well, they do it today already for nations that use them to restrict speech so I’d say you’re living in an alternate reality where MySpace beat out Facebook…

              And as to the ‘media monopoly’ what you’re describing is the status quo and you don’t seem to realize it. Facebook has literally lobbied to that end for years.

              1. BYODB, please start up BYODB-Book and put Facebook out of business, with your better business model! But PLEASE stop crying for Government Almighty to come and “fix” things for you, in YOUR favor!

                1. I can’t, Facebook slammed the door shut behind them using government force you ignorant fuck. I’m not asking government to fix jack shit, I’m saying they should take their fucking thumb off the scale.

                  Since you’re borderline retarded, I’ll spell it out: you are defending government monopoly force when you’re defending Facebook.

                  Bonus Points: You’re also defending a company that directly helps China silence any internal dissent. Win / Win, right?

                  1. Citation please on the last time that Government Almighty put guns to people’s faces to make them obey Facebook? I have never held an account with Facebook, and doubt that I ever will. They have NO power over me!

                    Government Almighty, on the other hand, is a totally different animal! After you enlist Government Almighty to elevate YOUR gasbag blowhard opinions, the very next day, or not much later, Government Almighty will turn AGAINST you! BEWARE of the friends who you enlist to supposedly do “your” will!


                    1. Citation please on the last time that Government Almighty put guns to people’s faces to make them obey Facebook?

                      And you accuse me of strawman arguments? LOL

                      Reread what I said and get back to me when comprehend it.

                  2. “you are defending government monopoly force when you’re defending Facebook.”

                    Tell me how this is true, totally deluded one! Did your tinfoil hat tell you that? Citations, please!

          2. “Have you even thought about the logistics of what you are proposing? For every moderator, there are over 1000 trolls continuously posting terrible content on a social media site. Moderators cannot possibly keep up.”

            Then do not try to and be protected.

    2. Yes, we want forums that ban us to ban everyone else too.

  8. Austrian Greens suck donkey chunks.

    1. Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek ist ein korrupter Trampel und ihre Partei sind Faschisten.

  9. These Antipodean kangaroo courts can all blow me.

    (I hope Reason doesn’t have a Facebook account)

  10. “use filtering tools that recognize certain trigger words and hide those comments automatically”

    That works most wonderfully on religious sites where mothers share recipes calling for a ‘chest of chicken’.

    Of course, they could leave everything up no matter what (with the possible exception of copyright violation). That is how I read 230.
    Once they flag Trump as violent for “looting leads to shooting” while leaving up hundreds of comments about completely destroying Israel, they are in fact editing, and become publishers.
    Deal with it.

  11. If I am reading the article correctly it was local media (ABC Australian Broadcasting Company for one) being sued for comments placed on their Facebook page, not Facebook being held liable. The solution is simple get rid of your Facebook page. I assume they have their own web page that they can control how and if comments can be placed on it. These companies seem to want to do everything but the simplest answer. You don’t want to have to turn over commenters IP, don’t store it and if you don’t want to be held liable for Facebook posts get rid of your Facebook account. Of course they might lose a little cash (selling posters personal information etc.) but look at the downside if you are held liable.

    1. and wouldn’t the solution for Reason be to get rid of the comment section entirely?

  12. There is only one way I can think of to make any acceptable change to what we have now that wouldn’t end up being weaponized in unintended ways. You make it simple and as clear as possible so there’s no wiggle room. If you make a platform or a comments section, you are not allowed to remove, censor or edit a single piece of user generated content no matter what the content is. That’s all I’m comfortable with. Literally anything short of that and it will only end up being yet another powerful weapon in a stupid culture war that already sucks all of the air out of the room. I for one don’t want to give anyone that weapon, even if they promise to use it to help me. Eventually it won’t be used to help me.

    1. Comment sections should die, the sooner the better. They are a privacy threat and a way for publishers to monetize content they didn’t create. We have better technologies available.

    2. Welcome to 10,000 spam messages on every single reason post, selling you shit with links to porn sites. Good luck finding a single genuine piece of content.

      Do you realize what a moronic suggestion you just made?

  13. Freedom of speech has long been a dead letter outside the Anglosphere. And inside it, it is fading fast.

  14. If it kills the business model of traditional media and Facebook, it’s doubly good.

  15. The internet was great when it was used by a tiny minority of people, mostly academics. The internet in the 1990s was the kingdom of freedom. Afterwards, moronic masses destroyed it with their idiotic escapades on facebook and twitter. “Life is a well of delight; but where the rabble also drink, there all fountains are poisoned.”

    1. The problem wasn’t the “moronic masses”, it was the corporate takeover and centralization of the Internet.

      Messaging and discussion boards prior to Section 230 were decentralized, distributed, and under user control. The servers redistributing the content really did function like telecom providers. Section 230 allowed large corporations to replace those decentralized systems with centralized servers, slap ads on them, and then exercise editorial control with impunity. If sites could be held responsible for user-generated content, Facebook, Twitter, and discussion boards like this could not exist in this form, and that would be a good thing.

      1. And why did the corporate takeover Happen? I mean, why did corporations have the incentive to go into this business? Because normie scum gulp down this shit. You blame supply, but forget about demand. Facebook etc. would not exist without idiotic masses who cannot do HTML, but want to write about their meals, shoes, pets and political frustrations.

  16. Knowledge is power and power is money.

    Those with the power and money NEED to censor free speech on the worlds best communication tool.

    They need to maintain control over us to maintain their power and money.

  17. Jassica Whitey getting paid every month more than $31,000 by doing very easy job online from home. I have earned last month $31540 from this easy job just by giving this job only 2 to 3 hrs a day using my laptop. Everybody on this earth can now get this job and start making more cash online just by follow instructions on this web page….. Buzz11.com

  18. Australia is infamous for their censorship laws. Truly a nation of ninnies. I have no love of Facebook either. I don’t use their products, I don’t like the way Zuckerberg comports himself. I think it is deeply damaging to civil discourse and a good society.

    Losing either would be no great loss to me.

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