Social Media

Democrats Hate Facebook. Republicans Want To Ban TikTok. The Bipartisan Backlash Against Big Tech Is Here and It's a Disaster.

Even as Americans rely on tech more than ever, our early-pandemic truce with the industry is officially over. 

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It's the summer of 2020, and everyone seems to hate Big Tech.

Over the last three months, President Donald Trump has issued orders targeting not only Twitter, the highly politicized social media platform he uses incessantly, but TikTok, a Chinese-owned service known mainly as a place to share teen dance memes. Democrats used a high-profile congressional hearing in July to bash Google and Amazon, two of America's most successful companies, for allegedly anti-competitive practices. And members of both political parties repeatedly went after Facebook for restricting too much speech—and for not restricting enough. Big Tech just can't win.

In one sense, none of this is new. For the better part of the last decade, Silicon Valley has been on the outs. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have targeted it. Mainstream media has become increasingly critical. Ordinary people have begun to treat the internet, and the opportunities it has created, as a nuisance. Even as their products have transformed nearly every aspect of everyday life, large tech companies have been subject to increasingly negative public perception and attendant political attacks.

Yet for a brief moment this spring, as the U.S. shut down and stayed home in response to the coronavirus, it looked like American tech companies might be making a reputational comeback. With everyone trapped at home and indoors, Big Tech provided a lifeline, connecting Americans to food, entertainment, work, and each other. But America's temporary truce with Big Tech wasn't to last. Nearly five months into the pandemic, it appears any newfound goodwill earned by Silicon Valley has already been burned.

"There was a small window of time where everyone was grateful that technology was allowing us to continue to function as a society despite our inability to gather in physical spaces," Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman tells Reason. "And yet that gratitude wore off so quickly. Everyone just went right back to hating on internet companies and forgetting all the great things we're benefiting from today."

Why the sudden reversal? Perhaps because the political battle against Big Tech—and attempts to make it a populist cause—has been based on a loose constellation of personal grievances, culture war opportunism, crime panic, and corporate rivalry—all of which were on display in a recent congressional hearing in which the top executives of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon were grilled, often inartfully, by members of Congress.

In theory, that hearing was focused on antitrust concerns. But members of both parties repeatedly brought up frustrations with how social media platforms and search engines were handling user content—a reminder that the future of Big Tech is inevitably bound up with the future of free speech. That same impulse was on display days later when Trump issued his executive order on the "threat posed by TikTok." Somehow, the app had been caught in the middle of the culture war, the trade war, fears of a foreign power, and panic over social media speech and user privacy, all at once.

In the COVID-19 era, federal tech policy has become a vehicle for conspiratorial and authoritarian impulses of all kinds. Politicians attacking Big Tech have invoked Silicon Valley elites, Russian bots, Chinese spies, Middle Eastern terrorists, domestic sex predators, gun violence, revenge porn, internet addiction, "hate speech," human trafficking, and the fate of democracy as reasons for action. Whatever works to distract people from their attempts to interfere in American freedom of expression, commerce, and privacy. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter—even platforms as seemingly superficial and politics-free as TikTok—have all been swept up into a wide-ranging political war on the foundations of online life and culture.

It might be working. Even as Big Tech has benefited ordinary people in countless ways, political backlash to the size and power of America's largest technology companies—what some insiders call "techlash"—is coming stronger than ever. And it could make addressing everything from the pandemic to election integrity, cancel culture, criminal activity, police reform, racial justice, and state surveillance of our digital lives so much worse.

The Story of Section 230 

So how did we get here? In many ways, the story starts in 1996, when the World Wide Web was relatively new and full of radical possibilities—and also potential for harm.

In response, Congress passed a law, the Communications Decency Act (CDA), that attempted to regulate online content and was mostly declared an unconstitutional, unenforceable mess. But the courts let one part be: Section 230. This short statute stipulates that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." That's the first bit, and it's vitally important for freedom of expression online because it gives tech companies less motivation to censor speech.

The second part, meanwhile, is more about protecting users from harmful content by assuring these companies that they won't be penalized for "good faith" actions "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," nor would providing "the technical means to restrict access to material" they find objectionable. The so-called "Good Samaritan" provision lets tech companies moderate and block some content without becoming targets for criminal charges or lawsuits.

Overall, it gave tech entities a way to protect their users' (and their own) First Amendment rights without requiring a prolonged court battle for every single piece of disputed content. And for a long time, very few people, politicians, or interest groups thought this was a bad thing (to the extent that they had ever heard of this wonky internet law at all).

A decade later, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other web 2.0 technologies had shifted the balance of power on the internet to favor the masses over the gatekeepers. Time magazine declared "you"—the user of these digital services—the person of the year. In the Middle East and other conflicted areas, populist rebellions against autocratic leaders were spread internally and globally through Twitter. Meanwhile, in the U.S., social media has given rise to underrepresented voices and political ideas often ignored by establishment powers. Its ability to document and share police abuses against black Americans in Ferguson, Missouri, and beyond made it integral in launching a new civil rights and social justice movement. The internet was a force for individual empowerment, and thus for good.

But all that freedom—to speak, to share, to joke, to communicate, to connect—was messy. It allowed people to speak truth to power, and also to spread misinformation. It created new ways to shine light on injustice, and new means to perpetuate it. It gave politicians a more direct-to-the-people megaphone—and vice versa. It spread sociability and solidarity while simultaneously enabling identity trickery, scammers, saboteurs, scandals, and pile-ons. It gave a platform to vital information, ideas, and images as well as vile expressions of violence and hate. And, as the 2016 election approached, it became mired in increasingly angry partisan political disputes.

Within a few years, Republicans and Democrats in Congress could hardly agree about anything when it came to diagnosing issues with online life. But they coalesced around similar solutions: more federal regulations and criminal investigations. Using antitrust laws against sites and services that have gotten too popular. Suddenly, high-profile pundits and politicians—from former Vice President Joe Biden to a range of Republican senators to Fox News host Tucker Carlson to left-leaning newspaper columns—started calling for Section 230 to go. Big Tech was a threat, and it had to be contained.

Big Tech vs. Big Virus 

Which brings us to the present, and COVID-19.

In the early days of the pandemic, Amazon deliveries seemed to be single-handedly keeping at least half of America stocked with groceries, hand sanitizer, and household supplies. Meanwhile, Zoom became the standout service for staying in touch.

During the worst days of personal protective gear shortages, Italian hospital horror stories, and general mass panic, Silicon Valley's leading lights donated money and much-needed supplies. By the end of March, for example, Apple had announced it would donate some 2 million masks to medical workers, while Facebook and Tesla immediately offered hundreds of thousands of masks they'd had on hand for wildfires. Tesla also donated 1,200 ventilators when those were in short supply. Google gave away hundreds of millions in free ad space to groups working to combat COVID-19's impact.

Meanwhile, social media allowed people to talk through new research and share ideas, as widespread videoconferencing—once the province of science fiction—allowed people to gather, exercise, hold business meetings, have happy hours, celebrate special occasions, and console distant loved ones from within their own homes.

And as businesses shuttered and economic turmoil spread, tech tools from peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo and Cash App to crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe, document sharing services like Google Docs, and myriad others allowed people to organize mutual aid funds, spread the word about volunteer initiatives, ask for help, give directly to those in need, and share specialized community resources.

Of course, COVID-19 also meant that people were—and are—more reliant on tech-mediated reality than ever before. Those excluded from or marginalized in certain digital arenas had more reason to grow resentful. Politicians had more reasons to want to grab control. All of us had more opportunities to muck things up by speaking too hastily or picking the wrong side of what seemed like a billion new battles a week.

In a pandemic, the internet's freedoms were messier than ever. And that messiness fueled a new wave of tech-skeptical politics.

 

Coronavirus and the Crisis of Truth

Almost immediately, lawmakers began publicly bashing tech providers and calling for investigations. Amazon faced accusations of price gouging during the pandemic. Zoom was targeted as a threat to user privacy. In June, Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.), a longtime critic of Google and Facebook, introduced legislation to curtail Section 230. Meanwhile, the country was erupting in protests and upheaval following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

"We're back to politicians spending time talking about Section 230 and breaking up platforms," TechFreedom's Ashkhen Kazaryan said in June, "while the country is still being torn apart by both racial injustice and the pandemic."

Some of this renewed animosity was probably unavoidable, simply because so much contentious discourse is mediated through social media. Yvette Butler, an assistant professor of law at the University of Mississippi, thinks the pandemic has brought a heightened sense that social media platforms have a moral responsibility "to fact-check and promote the truth."

Some of it has been spurred by tech leaders getting too political, or at least taking actions that are perceived that way.

"It's both the fact that the political discourse has been very charged in the past few weeks and a lot of it has happened on these platforms, and the fact that by default the tech leaders are participating in the political dialogue," says Kazaryan.

She thinks "the pressure point—the point of no return for this—was the protests for reopening America," when Facebook angered a lot of people by banning pages for some anti-lockdown events. Then, Twitter and Snapchat actions against Trump's accounts followed suit.

Michael Solana, vice president of the San Francisco–based Founders Fund, a venture capital firm that counts Peter Thiel and an array of other Silicon Valley heavyweights among its partners, suggests that gripes about social media are creating more than just a media-driven backlash this time. "The left now generally believes Facebook is why Trump won. The right believes they're being censored by like five white Communists who went to the same school and now live in multi-million dollar homes in Atherton [California] and San Francisco," he says. "Both sides seem to want blood."

Trump Steps In

The temporary truce came to a definitive end with Trump's May 28 executive order on social media speech, following Twitter's decision to fact-check Trump's tweets.

A day earlier, Twitter had affixed blue exclamation-point icons and links saying "Get the facts about mail-in ballots" beneath two Trump tweets about mail-in voting, in which the president had said "there is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent" and made false claims about California's vote-by-mail process.

Clicking the Twitter link led users to a page titled "Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud," where Twitter explained its move ("part of our efforts to enforce our civic integrity policy") and included a series of tweets from media outlets, nonprofit groups, and journalists countering the president's claims.

Trump's subsequent order suggests that Twitter's fact-check "clearly reflects political bias" and therefore somehow amounts to illegal censorship.

A private company cannot censor the president of the United States, at least not in the sense that they'd be violating the First Amendment, which protects private speech from government restrictions. But Trump's order attempts to reposition free speech as forcing private companies to follow government-set content standards and forbidding them from countering false claims made by him and his administration.

The president's order also completely mangles descriptions of Section 230 in the course of calling for it to be amended.

"When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators," states the order.

In this passage and throughout the decree, Trump argues that companies cross a legal threshold by exercising judgment about user content and forfeit the right to be treated as legally separate from their users. Trump portrays all of this as the mandate laid out in Section 230.

But the idea that these companies must be some sort of neutral conduits of user speech (or else cross an imaginary legal line between being a "publisher" and a "forum" or "platform") is not just pure fiction but also the exact opposite of both the intent and the function of Section 230. The whole point of the law is to protect the editorial discretion and content moderation of tech companies.

"Section 230 was never meant to require neutrality," said former Rep. Christopher Cox (R–Calif.), who co-authored Section 230 along with Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Ore.) some 25 years ago, at a July 28 hearing held by the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet. "To the contrary, the idea is that every website should be free to come up with its own approach" to content moderation, Cox said.

Nonetheless, Trump's order directs the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to review ways that Twitter and other tech companies might be exhibiting bias and how this might be used to say Section 230 doesn't apply to them. And, in July, the Department of Commerce formally asked the FCC to follow through.

The good news is that the FCC can do little to reinterpret a law whose statute is so clear, and at least several commissioners appear to have little interest in looking for interpretive wiggle room.

"The FCC shouldn't take this bait," Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in a July 27 statement. "While social media can be frustrating, turning this agency into the President's speech police is not the answer."

"We're an independent agency," Commissioner Geoffrey Starks pointed out during a July 17 panel hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, adding that the "debate [about Section 230] belongs to Congress."

'Censorship Is a Bipartisan Objective'

That Trump's executive order on social media is toothless is a good thing, since Section 230 has allowed so much of what we love (and politicians hate) about the modern internet to flourish. However, the order seems to be working as a political rallying cry on the right.

It's "so cartoonish that you would think people on his side would distance themselves from it," says Goldman. Yet the order, "for all its cartoonishness, seems to be getting people in line instead of pushing them away."

For Republicans, animosity toward Section 230 turns largely on alleged fears about anti-conservative bias from social media companies. "That [idea] has penetrated pretty deeply among the activist and politician class" on the right," says Zach Graves, head of policy at the Lincoln Network.

Though Graves thinks Trump's executive order on social media is pure "political theater" and "won't get anywhere by itself," he notes that "there are a lot of other grievances" besides the alleged anti-conservative attitudes.

In early June, the American Principles Project—a newly launched think tank dedicated to promoting nationalist and Trump-friendly public policy—released a plan for altering Section 230 aimed at "protecting children from pornography and other harmful content" in "the digital public square." Mike Masnick, executive editor of Techdirt, described the proposal as an attempt "to bring back the rest of the Communications Decency Act"—that is, the parts aside from Section 230, all of which were struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

By the end of June, the Department of Justice had released its own four-pronged reform proposal and South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune—joined by Hawaii Democrat Brian Schatz—offered up the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, a bill that would put the federal government at the center of social media content moderation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital privacy rights nonprofit, called the PACT Act "a serious effort to tackle a serious problem: that a handful of large online platforms dominate users' ability to speak online." But it opposes the bill because of well-founded fears of unintended consequences, including "more illegitimate censorship of user content" by dominant tech companies; its threat to "small platforms and would-be competitors to the current dominant players"; and the "First Amendment problems" it presents.

In July, Hawley introduced a less serious effort: the Behavioral Advertising Decisions Are Downgrading Services (BAD ADS) Act, which Hawley's office describes as "a bill to remove Section 230 immunity from Big Tech companies that display manipulative, behavioral ads or provide data to be used for them" and "crack down on behavioral advertising's negative effects, which include invasive data collection and user manipulation through design choices." (This follows two of Hawley's previous anti-tech measures on similar themes going nowhere.)

Meanwhile, Democrats have been sounding anti-tech alarms, too, as well as pursuing similar solutions, albeit under different guises. For instance, Beto O'Rourke, during his presidential run, included Section 230 reform in his proposal for "combating hate and violence."

Democratic Senator and vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris has targeted Section 230 as part of her crusade against "revenge porn."

And in response to Facebook refusing to remove an ad featuring false information about Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate said in January that "Section 230 should be revoked, immediately … for Zuckerberg and other platforms."

People on both the right and the left "want to erode [Section 230] in order to put an affirmative pressure on platforms to be cops for various kinds of harms or illegal activities," says Graves, "and there are people who think liability is the tool to do that." The Overton window on the issue has been moved, he adds.

"It used to be a kind of sacred cow that people couldn't touch" but now there are coalitions with well over 60 votes in the U.S. Senate to take action on Section 230 and even to revoke it, Graves says. "But it probably won't be wholesale, it will be chipping away based on a feel-good cause."

That's exactly the point of the EARN IT Act. Proposed in March by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.), the bill—which got a hearing in March and was placed on the Senate calendar in July—targets Section 230 under the guise of stopping the "online sexual exploitation of children." It has a roster of prominent bipartisan co-sponsors, including Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.), Ted Cruz (R–Texas), Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.), and Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa).

The legislation that began this trend—the 2018 law, FOSTA—was also alleged to target online sexual exploitation and also enjoyed extremely bipartisan support. FOSTA was sold as a bill to target child sex traffickers, but really took aim at consensual adult prostitution and sex work more broadly, as well as online speech about these issues. (Prominent Democrats including Sens. Ro Khanna, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders have since backed legislation aimed at studying FOSTA's impact and perhaps working toward its repeal, but it has yet to gain much traction.)

The fight to abolish or severely restrict Section 230 shows "how tempting censorship is to all sides," says Goldman. "Turns out that censorship is a bipartisan objective."

Perhaps that explains why—with so many life-or-death matters on American minds right now and an election on the close horizon—authorities are still paying so much attention to relatively obscure tech policy laws and the content moderation moods of private companies.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on, police brutality and racial justice issues under a microscope, and urgency around concerns like voter suppression, "you would think Section 230 would drop down the list" of things politicians spend time talking about, says Goldman. "But you know, censorship is like catnip to regulators."

It's anyone's guess whether political focus on social media rules and internet regulation will persist as the 2020 election season really gets underway. "A lot depends on Trump," says Goldman. "If he wants to keep banging this drum, that's going to keep ratcheting up the pressure on Section 230."

But even if backlash against Section 230 quiets down, there are no shortage of election-friendly issues for politicians and parties to wield against tech companies.

In the last week of July alone, the Senate held a hearing on digital copyright law and the aforementioned Section 230 hearing featuring the law's author, Cox, (a spectacle loosely centered around the PACT Act) while the House hauled the chief executives of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google before its Judiciary Committee.

The latter was purportedly a probe into possible violations of federal antitrust law, but turned into a long, weird airing of grievances against tech companies that had little to do with anti-competitive business practices and often saw Democrats and Republicans proposing diametrically opposed solutions for these companies to adopt. At times, lawmakers from both parties went back and forth between demands for more content and users to be suppressed, and less.

The hearing hopped seemingly at random from topic to topic: Lawmakers asked about, among other things, social media content moderation, election integrity, fake news, privacy issues, data collection transparency, counterfeit products in online marketplaces, ideological diversity among tech company staff, court-ordered takedowns of speech, general support for "American values," contracts with foreign governments, working with police and turning over user data without warrants, how search engines work, how Apple chooses what apps and podcasts to allow in its stores, and even how Gmail content gets marked as spam.

More than a few times, their questions made clear they had no idea what they were talking about. (One Republican asked Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, why the platform had taken down a post by Donald Trump, Jr., but the takedown had actually occurred on Twitter.) Their demands were often contradictory. The only clear implication of the hearing was this: There was no way for tech companies to win.

'We Will Lose a Little Bit of Freedom'

Looked at one way, the techlash makes little sense since it comes at a time when Americans are relying more than ever on technology to mediate their lives. But that may be exactly why the industry has come under fire.

When it comes to the pandemic, "I do think there's going to be a [tech policy] reaction," says Arthur Rizer, "and I think that reaction is going to be that we will lose a little bit of freedom through technology for the sake of safety, as it historically has always been." As one example, he points to the use of facial recognition technology by police departments who said it would only be used for solving certain serious crimes but recently admitted to "using it to find who was out and about during quarantine."

"Every time this country faces an emergency," Rizer says, "we kind of act poorly when it comes to our civil liberties."

Kazaryan notes that a new California "privacy" law places serious burdens of time and money on any businesses that interact online—something that could prove tough right now, especially for small businesses, as people struggle to come back from the pandemic and lockdowns. Yet its requirements and effects have received little attention amid all the chaos right now.

Pressure from outside-government groups to ramp up regulation on digital media and tech companies could also grow if economic pressure gets worse.

Graves sees techlash partly as a normal response to "the growth in power and pervasiveness of the companies," with them simply facing the same sort of interference and resistance that any mega-corporation gets from regulators and activists.

"Part of it is fears and anxieties" about the power they have. But another part of the push for new tech regulation is "opportunistic," he adds, pointing to hotel industry lobbying against Section 230 because it benefits home-sharing companies like Airbnb, or newspapers lobbying against it because it helps their digital competitors.

"A lot of what's driving the techlash is these sort of inter-industry fights," not because "it's the issue that people are thinking about when they're going to the polling booth," Graves says. And right now, with "a collapse in the advertising market [and] a lot more consolidation in some industries," this sort of competition—and attempts to use government regulation to one side's advantage—only stands to get worse.

In the case of TikTok, Chinese parent company ByteDance seems to have gotten caught up in two different political fights. The first is the Trump administration's international power struggle with the Chinese government and associated worries that the Chinese government could order companies to turn over data about U.S. users. The second involves the president's personal grievances with the app, after TikTok teens were rumored to have signed up for tickets to a Trump campaign rally and then not used them, leaving the president planning for heavy rally attendance that didn't pan out.

In addition to political threats and competitive pressure, large tech companies—particularly Facebook—are facing demands from progressive activists and identity-based interest groups to crack down on more speech. Earlier this summer, groups including the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP "helped push hundreds of companies, such as Unilever and Best Buy, to pause their advertising on Facebook to protest its handling of toxic speech and misinformation," as The New York Times reported. Misinformation fears and activism around them seems only likely to increase as the election heats up and the pandemic wears on. And that means pressure to crack down is likely to increase.

Techlash Could Make Coping With COVID-19 and Documenting Police Abuse More Difficult

If and when that happens, it will be our loss.

Not only does the political obsession with regulating and punishing Big Tech distract from more pressing issues, from police abuse to the economic downturn due to pandemic-related lockdowns, it also makes it more likely that we will struggle to address those problems.

Think about all the ways digital tools and tech companies have ensured access to up-to-date and diverse information during the pandemic. Think about all the online streaming services, interactive video games, e-book purveyors, podcast makers, and apps that have been keeping us entertained. The many kinds of free chat services letting us keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. The online educational tools helping to make homeschooling at least somewhat tenable. All the crowdfunding donation platforms, people-powered marketplaces like Etsy and eBay, and gig economy apps from Uber to Patreon that are helping people make ends meet.

It's fair to say this is far from ideal. But without today's technology, it would be so much worse.

Now think about the recent pushback against law enforcement being able to hurt and kill people—especially black Americans—with impunity. Think about the way we've seen police and federal agents react in recent weeks to protesters and the press covering them.

Think about how much of that would still have happened without not just smartphones and digital video but also quick, accessible, and gatekeeper-free ways to share and spread that video.

Without social media, "there are so many important conversations that would have never happened," says Kazaryan, referring to recent protests and activism around police racism and brutality. In addition, she points out, "tech companies have been creating jobs and providing tools for people to do their jobs" while we deal with the coronavirus.

A more immediate consequence of anti-Section 230 efforts will be forcing social media companies—and the rest of the internet along with them—to crack down on content from users and ratchet up content and account removals.

By seriously raising the legal hoops that these entities must jump through to defend their First Amendment rights, and the potential legal liabilities if they can't, the government will leave online speech platforms with little choice but to severely curtail the amount and types of speech allowed—thereby increasing the social media "censorship" problems that Trump and company say they're out to fix. The only other sound strategy for these companies is to give up on content moderation entirely to avoid any way of "knowing" about bad content—thereby increasing the amount of obscene, violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable content which anti-Section 230 laws claim to thwart.

So what looked like a moment of redemption might turn out, instead, to be a tipping point in the other direction. "I think that the fundamental forces driving the techlash are going to be made worse, not better, by COVID," says Graves.

"Whatever goodwill that [tech companies] have picked up is either gone or [has] been spent," Rizer says.

The techlash may only just be getting started.


CORRECTION: This article previously described Section 230 co-author Christopher Cox as a former senator; he was a member of the House of Representatives.

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  1. Dems don’t hate Facebook because Facebook is some right wing discussion site, or because they allowed a handful of amateur hour Russian ads through in 2016, but because Facebook refuses to take down posts by the President of the United States of America when he writes things they disagree with.

    1. And Dems love TikTok because it’s Chinese-owned and the Dems are in bed with China. Pelosi even said with a straight face on why we should vote for Biden that China likes Biden.

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    2. Dems hate Facebook because they don’t control Facebook.

      Repubs, on the other hand, hate Facebook because they don’t control Facebook.

      1. And I hate facebook because everyone seems to need to spew all of their retarded political opinions all over the place. If it was just for organizing events and catching up with old friends, it would be great. Politics fucks everything up.

        1. Amen.

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        2. You forgot about users telling us what they had for lunch.

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    4. This article was complete drivel.
      Robust debate and better arguments winning at the polls is the essence of democracy.
      Now these tech giants censor only conservative speech.

      Just look at the doctors who spoke on the Supreme Court steps that plaquenil/z pack/zinc combo works.
      Social media giants took it down.
      Doctors discussing treatment of patients is censored by the non doctors at Twitter/ Facebook
      Because free speech is a problem…for leftists.

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  2. Democrats hate facebook because it won’t censor their enemies. Republicans hate twitter because twitter shadow censors anyone they disagree with. But we should definitely feel better with dems in charge. Exactly the same.

    1. Is there a left version of Alex Jones? Is Wikileaks right wing?

      I get the fight over Twitter/Face Book and have come to expect the false equivocation from Reason. But the continued insistence that the left isn’t overtly and more egregiously trying to control any/all narratives on the internet (and elsewhere) since the days before Joe Lieberman is absurd and contravenes their own narrative. Are there really a lot of right-wing republicans out there insisting that we change the term to Master-but-not-in-the-slave-owning-sense bedroom?

      1. “Is there a left version of Alex Jones? Is Wikileaks right wing?”

        Rachel Maddow? https://youtu.be/f0krkHRBaVI

        1. Also, anything that embarrasses the establishment Democrats is right-wing.

        2. I mean in terms of collusive censorship, not crazy messaging. I don’t agree with Jones’ messaging but the fact remains that the guy was booted from multiple platforms, and more than just social media, simultaneously. And for speech that, as indicated, was closer to crazy stupid than it was to deliberately dangerous.

          Is there anyone on the left that was booted in the same way? Because there are plenty of deliberately dangerous leftists who openly foment hate and call for violence on these platforms.

          1. We’re just trying to do what we can within the bounds of the law to prevent the Nazis from taking over. Rightwing extremism is just more of a threat right now as a matter of fact, and their propaganda tactics are not benign.

            1. Did someone steal Tony’s handle? He’s not generally the type to say something this dumb when we are literally still cleaning up the rubble from left wing “protests”.

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            2. Nazi is an acronym for National Socialism…. Which party is pushing for National Socialism again???? Seems you’re loaded with “propaganda tactics”.

            3. Rightwing extremists are with you on opposing the Nazis. The right opposes all forms of socialism, “National” or otherwise. Left is collectivist: Marxist, communist, socialist, social democratic, fascist, national socialist, all are peas in a pod (and work well with another form of collectivism: identity politics).

              The right, as it is currently defined in the US (it’s a moving target… certainly none of us are royalists when it comes to French politics of a few hundred years ago, where the term originated), is for individualism, individual freedom, decentralized government, small government, low taxes, few regulations, few laws, free enterprise (unrestricted capitalism, relatively speaking), maximum free speech/expression/right to peaceably assemble (at all times), freedom of religion, gun rights…

              Go down the list, and every one of those things was equally opposed by the Nazis and the Soviets.

              Fascism and communism are not polar opposites… they mix together quite nicely, and they are both part of the mix in our mixed economy. Medicare is communist, crony capitalism is fascist.

              There’s not a lot of difference between taxing and regulating a business to the point that it may as well be nationalized, while making the ostensible owner a de facto member of the governmental ruling elite, and actually nationalizing the business and having a member of the ruling elite run it as a state enterprise.

              Take everything from the Nazi playbook, substitute “ongoing revolution” for “state” and “bourgeoisie” for “Jew,” and you’ve got communism in a nutshell.

              So yes, Tony, we on the right oppose fascism and Naziism as much as you do. We just wish you would join us in opposing fascism’s equally evil fraternal twin by any of its names… socialism, communism, progressivism, Marxism, whatever.

              Totalitarianism is collectivism, and collectivism is left. Racism is collectivism too… can’t focus on race if you are too busy looking at people as individuals rather than members of either a favored or a disfavored group. It’s why the left can’t stop obsessing on matters of race, like a presidential candidate knowing his running mate was going to be a non-white woman before he even knew who it was. Gotta tick those victim group checkboxes first, and worry about that other unimportant stuff later.

              Kinda crazy that MLK Jr’s idea about people being judged by the content of their character and not the color of the skin would get him called a racist (or any other of the many insults dished out to people of one of the Democrat-owned victim groups who don’t toe the line) today, isn’t it?

              1. Have you ever read a book?

                1. Don’t be a sheep ignorantly led around by blind sheep.

      2. Yes, the Left Alex Jones is called CNN

  3. Government sucks. Just as Sarbanes-Oxley (sp?) was ostensibly meant to rein in banks, it clobbered small banks and made big banks more powerful. Everything government does backfires, even if the backfire was allegedly taken into account. Government regulations always have terrible costs which are more readily absorbed by big companies and drive the small ones into bankruptcy and being bought up at fire sale prices by the giants.

    1. Anything the government does that doesn’t backfire can be made to backfire.

      1. Another way of saying that if it doesn’t backfire, it isn’t made by the government?

        1. Not quite. Businesses and people often do stupid things that backfire; but they pay the price. Businesses go bankrupt. People lose money. Government burrocrats just keep on keeping on, and take the failure as proof that more of the same is necessary.

          1. Ding. Winner.

  4. That’s the first bit, and it’s vitally important for freedom of expression online because it gives tech companies less motivation to censor speech.

    Except it didn’t give them less motivation. It shifted the motivation from the judicial branch, where they could be sued, to the Legislative branch, where they had to act in good faith.

    We don’t have free speech because Congress gives us free speech, what free speech we have is because Congress is prevented from giving (or denying) it to us.

    1. ^VERY WELL SAID!

  5. bad feels not the same thing as “disaster”. Be less stupidly dramatic please.

  6. (D): facebook doesn’t censor enough. hate!

    also that shot of Cook looks like he’s the prize if you win Breakout

  7. “Section 230 was never meant to require neutrality,” said former Sen. Christopher Cox (R–Calif.), who co-authored Section 230 along with Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Ore.) some 25 years ago, at a July 28 hearing held by the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet. “To the contrary, the idea is that every website should be free to come up with its own approach” to content moderation, Cox said.

    Right, there’s no guarantee of neutrality and every website should be free to come up with its own approach as long as congress deigns such approach to be in good faith.

    It’s like people can’t fathom the idea of a parent saying and even wholly believing, “I love all my children equally.” and then showering one with adoration while shunning others.

  8. And yet that gratitude wore off so quickly. Everyone just went right back to hating on internet companies and forgetting all the great things we’re benefiting from today.”

    Are people hating on internet companies and technology in general, or just a few group of mega-social-networking giants?

    1. People are spending more time at home getting pissed at facebook and obsessing over their google results.

      1. Sounds like a great “money making” entry point for someone else.

    2. That’s what I was thinking. The companies that made it possible to do so much from home are not Facebook or Tik Tok, or any of the other social media. There’s some painting with an overly broad brush here. We like what some tech companies have made possible, so we must therefore like them all? My opinions have more granularity than that. I can like and dislike companies individually rather than have one opinion for a whole collective group of them.

  9. I’ve still yet to understand why, if section 230 is the… golden calf of internet free speech… why are tech companies rushing full-tilt to censor anything and everything that makes them feel even slightly uncomfortable? Why, for example, does youtube even HAVE copyright strike system. If a user violates copyright in a video, why wouldn’t youtube say to the copyright claimant, “Sure, whatever, that’s between you and user XJSTC420” and delete the email.

    1. One of the prime fallacies of statism is that a government paycheck turns ordinary deceitful, naive, lazy, ignorant people into wise, benevolent, clever, cautious paragons of virtue.

      Don’t make that same mistake in the opposite direction. The only virtue business people have over government bureaucrats is the ability to go out of business and be fired and lose money.

      1. Very true. But it’s a big virtue.

    2. Because you are still required to remove illegal content from your platform. You are permitted to let your users upload content immediately, with a brief opportunity to remove anything illegal after being notified of its existence, rather than needing an army of people pre-moderating everything before it can be posted.

      1. The requirement to take down illegal things has nothing to do with section 230 of the CDA and everything to do with the DMCA, a totally different law with a totally different purpose.

        1. Also, even if removing the illegal content were a provision of section 230, content isn’t illegal because another youtuber says it is, it’s only illegal when declared so by a court. So again, that doesn’t answer my question about the copyright strike system youtube employs. Youtube presumes all claims as 100% legit and removes any and all videos that receive strikes- regardless of merit.

    3. Youtube taking down a copyrighted video has nothing to do with section 230. Section 230 is about assigning legal liability for speech with the speaker rather than the platform. If I use youtube videos to scam/harass people, for instance, then I am the one who goes to jail, not anyone at youtube. At the same time, it carves out a right for platform providers to moderate as they see fit for any reason that they care to. Youtube isn’t legally liable for anything I say on its platform, but the platform still belongs to it and it’s legally within its rights to do anything it wants with the content I put there, such as censoring it, promoting it, or simply ignoring it and none of those activities constitute “publishing”. The fundamental idea is that your servers are your property and the data contained on them is yours to do with as you please. As universal as it is, Facebook is fundamentally no different than if 2 billion people decided to go hang out in Mark Zuckerberg’s garage. Everyone might be there but it’s not a public space and Mark can kick you out for any reason because it’s his garage and not yours.

      1. but the platform still belongs to it and it’s legally within its rights to do anything it wants with the content I put there, such as censoring it, promoting it, or simply ignoring it and none of those activities constitute “publishing”. The fundamental idea is that your servers are your property and the data contained on them is yours to do with as you please.

        That I understand, but in regards to the copyright strike, it’s my understanding that youtube aggressively removes any video where a claim is made so Youtube doesn’t get held liable for the copyright violation. Otherwise, why would youtube care?

        Perhaps my question is better stated as, section 230 aside, why does youtube care about a copyright squabble between two users since Youtube is the ‘platform’ not the ‘publisher’?

        1. Title II of the DMCA creates a requirement on online service providers to take down infringing content when notified by a legitimate copyright holder. They are supposed to evaluate the copyright claims for fair use and in the case of takedowns they must offer affected parties a way to contest the takedown, however as you can imagine the entire game is rigged so that large copyright holders can issue entirely automated takedown notices which are never scrutinized and implemented through automation, subjecting users to takedowns instantly and then forcing them to jump through hoops to prove their overwhelming innocence, a process which takes months at best. There’s no penalty for submitting a bad faith takedown notice so entire businesses are made literally just grinding takedown notices out of a machine and mass issuing them against anything and everything.

          In short: FYTW

      2. Youtube taking down a copyrighted video has nothing to do with section 230. Section 230 is about assigning legal liability for speech with the speaker rather than the platform.

        Of course it has to do with copyright. Prior to CDA (and later DMCA), companies like YouTube were legally liable for contributory infringement if someone else used their platform for copyright infringement.

        YouTube couldn’t exist without such legal protections.

        That’s precisely why we should abolish Section 230 and the related provisions from the DMCA.

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  11. How is this different from the Netscape/Microsoft bullshit of 25 years ago?

    1. Those were one set of big companies going after another bigg(er) company.

      A better analogy to the Microsoft squabble was the Net Neutrality fight (pushed mainly by the left) which has gone mostly quiet now.

      With NN, you had a set of companies worried that with X backbone corporations (last mile of copper, etc) controlling 90% of the physical access, and then also getting themselves into the content business, they might start ‘throttling’ access to their competitors. This was very analogous to what was going on with Microsoft back in the 90s. Microsoft was the operating system company or the ‘backbone’ provider (if you will). Microsoft which was also in the ‘APP’ business might restrict or hobble their competitor’s apps which were forced to run on the M$ platform. Because this was a temporary market squabble, as we saw (and I predicted from day one) it sorted itself out when the technology world literally just did an end-run around Microsoft.

      This fight seems to be more representative government responding to the squeals of their constituents to hobble the corporations said constituents can’t seem to tear themselves away from.

      There is a good argument vis a vis big tech censorship, but I still stand by my statements that this can be handled in civil court around the subject of Terms of Service violations. And so far, my suggested seems to be coming to fruition.

      1. Net Neutrality went away because the left lost, and then their worries were proven completely unfounded. Mostly because what they claimed to worry about was already being done and wasn’t actually harming them. That’s a rare occurrence.

        I think a key issue here is that the congressmen see themselves as victims here. Notice how often the examples are personal: my email is going to spam, facebook is blocking my message, twitter is shadowbanning my supporters! If there were real lobby groups behind this, the congressional staffers would be better prepared with legitimate examples.

        1. I think a key issue here is that the congressmen see themselves as victims here.

          There is definitely an element of that here, and it can’t be understated.

      2. I still stand by my statements that this can be handled in civil court around the subject of Terms of Service violations. And so far, my suggested seems to be coming to fruition.

        TOS that can be arbitrarily changed by one party at any time and provide no recourse to arbitration? And coming to fruition in the sense that there has not once to date been a single successful challenge to a major internet company’s TOS in civil court, including multiple TOS lawsuits being dismissed on section 230 grounds even though section 230 supposedly doesn’t apply to TOS violations?

        1. Come to fruition in that there are several lawsuits going right now, one of the prominent ones being the Owen Benjamin case against Patreon, where Patreon just lost their case to classify all the claims as a ‘class’. Patreon changed their terms of service to retroactively bar the users from making their claim, but they lost that in court.

          Watch the video above, it’s 18 minutes and an excellent legal summary of what’s going on.

          My point about this is this will take some time for court cases to work their way– with the right lawyers fighting the right arguments.

        2. To clarify, I think the conservatives ’embracing’ the left’s argument that the social networking companies need to be regulated like utilities is misguided, and anyone who’s lived long enough to have a little experience and wisdom knows how sideways that will go.

          What I think needs to happen, is the the TOS bubble needs to be hit in the right way with the right hammer– causing the courts to set generalized, non-politicized precedents that treat Terms of Service less like one-way, anything-goes liability shields for the companies, and more like two-way agreements between the users and the platforms. This way it’s less politicized, less about one side ‘winning’ and more about putting the tech companies on notice they’ll need to be much more careful when they interfere with someone’s livelihood- especially when they have so many users’ livelihood in their hands.

          1. That is pretty much my position. Make attorney’s fees available for prevailing parties who sue one of these companies for violation of the TOS. Federalize the law governing the TOS to ensure that every term is construed in favor of the user and against the company. Then also award statutory damages to anyone who wins a TOS claim.

            That would put an end to all of this I think. The problem with the censorship isn’t so much that they are censoring. It is that they are censoring while telling their customers that they will not engage in viewpoint discrimination. These companies are not committing censorship, they are guilty of fraud.

            If Twitter wants to tell the world in it’s terms of service that only left wing views are allowed, I am fine with that. If they ever did that, however, their business model, such as it is, would be done. They would be out of business in a month. So, if you make them live by their TOS, they won’t engage in viewpoint discrimination because doing that openly is totally inconsistent with their business model.

            1. I think I can get behind this approach.

      3. With NN, you had a set of companies worried that with X backbone corporations (last mile of copper, etc) controlling 90% of the physical access, and then also getting themselves into the content business, they might start ‘throttling’ access to their competitors.

        Kind of right. But “access to their competitors” doesn’t meant that companies cut off access to content from small startups that users actually want, it means that those companies might cut off Google or Facebook advertising, content that users don’t want to see anyway.

        The ad-based models of companies like Google only became possible because of de-facto net neutrality. And that’s why these behemoths lobbied so hard for net neutrality.

  12. Didn’t read don’t care. I hate all social media and hope it gets shut down or heavily regulated. It’s a garbage fire mess and everything about it sucks. I want elected officials off the internet because all they do is preen likes whores when they know people are watching. I don’t want to read any more journalism by twitter.

    1. You do make a compelling case. I suspect the world would be a much less stupid place right now if internet social media was not a thing.

      1. I have come to the same conclusion Zeb. Suppose the feds suddenly regulate the living hell out of social media. What will be the result? Best case, the media companies get out of politics altogether and the internet goes back to being about cats, porn, and grandmas sharing pictures of their grandchildren like it was supposed to be. Worst case, they regulate the services out of business and we go back to the world as it was before them. Both of those results look like an improvement over the current situation.

        1. Absolutely this. Reason always warns us “If you get the government involved then there will be more censorship!” Yeah, and? There’s already censorship, it’s just completely one-sided and unaccountable. What you’re actually scared of is that the institutions you’ve captured and skinsuited might have to be have universal standards and transparency. Oh the horror!

          1. At least with government censorship, I can vote for people who won’t censor me. With private censorship, I am fucked. The far left run all of these companies and no one who isn’t far left is ever going to be treated fairly by them.

            1. ^this^ and -“go build your own facebook or google” is on its face ridiculous – especially the more those companies buy politicians either with money or appeasement. by the time free market evolution solves the left oligopoly in online tech they will already have delivered the promise land of one party rule to the dems

              1. And they act in illegal cartels to crush any competition. Look what happened to Gab. They got kicked off of one platform after another and couldn’t get any banks to do business with them. No, you are not starting your own Twitter.

                1. Then there should be an anti-trust case filed. Ignoring previous laws to make new frivolous laws that will be ignored too isn’t a solution.

      2. I suspect the world would be a much less stupid place right now if internet social media was not a thing.

        Sarcasm aside, I think we could do with less Twitter. It would dramatically improve journalism.

        1. Twitter has done more to destroy the power and influence of the mainstream media than anything in history. Before Twitter, journalists had editors and producers who could filter their thoughts and make them look reasonable. Twitter gives them a chance to put their unfiltered thoughts out into the world. And that is not a good look for them. Moreover, they are so egotistical, they can’t help themselves but do it. Thanks to Twitter, the world now knows just how stupid and biased journalists actually are. Journalists in the past were not much better, but they had editors and producers to make them look better than they were. Twitter gave the world the unvarnished truth about journalists. And that is destroying them and the entire industry.

          1. And I would add that Twitter et. al. allow thoughts to be published seconds after they’re made. There’s no time for reflection.

    2. all this.

    3. I hate all social media and hope it gets shut down or heavily regulated.

      Neither of those is necessary; the free market will destroy those companies if we only give it a chance. Let’s kill Section 230 and any other special privileges these companies have carved out.

      Google, Facebook, etc. are juicy targets for copyright infringement, defamation, illegal content, and similar lawsuits, and stripped of their protections, they will be buried under a mountain of lawsuits that even they can’t dig out of.

      1. It makes no sense to convict the 3rd party.. If renters go rob a bank why would police show up to arrest the landlord??? People on the internet should be held responsible for crimes not 3rd party innocent companies.

        1. Your analogy is flawed. But in any case, we aren’t talking about whether third party liability makes sense per se; publishers, landlords, and others are frequently held responsible for the actions of others under current law.

          What we are talking about is whether a few well-connected corporations should be exempted from those laws, and I see no reason why they should be. Either abolish third party liability in general or apply it uniformly.

  13. If Stefan Halper stalked Carter Page on Facebook, and if Steven Schrage put out a Tik Tok about that, would Reason then mention them?

    1. Shh, we don’t talk about that stuff here.

  14. Socialism is essentially the right of the socialist to be unaccountable.

    Borrow $250K for a degree in puppetry? Others pay for it.

    Online liable? Slander? Incitement to violence? Interference in someone’s ability to make a living? Sect 230 says the left is unaccountable.

    Rape Juanita Brodderick? Fly to Epstein Island? You’re good.

    Loot and riot? Sure.

    The left always has to be pampered and coddled.

  15. Reason’s love of megacorps is bizarre.

    1. Corporations who are in bed with the Chinese police state, have zero regard for privacy and freedom, and engage in fraud and contract violations against their customers as almost a matter of course.

      Yet, reason fucking loves them. And a lot of reason readers love them. Reason and it’s followers affection for these scumbags defies explanation.

      1. I wouldn’t call it love and I don’t think it’s that bizarre. Libertarians for the most part prefer corporations to government and defend private entities against government intrusion. Now, there is a reasonable debate to be had about to what extent some corps are really private, but I think that’s another question with different answers.
        I’m kind of torn on this myself. On the one hand, these companies are being absolutely awful in many ways. But I don’t believe that more government involvement is going to make anything better.
        And I’m not convinced that you can’t make a new twitter or facebook. Things like that often seem impossible until they happen. Remember Myspace?

        1. And I’m not convinced that you can’t make a new twitter or facebook.

          That’s because you’re retarded. Go ask Gab about it. Pitch me your business plan that involves launching a social media network that can dislodge hundreds of millions of users from the walled-garden data silos of the existing companies. Oh and by the way, you have to do it without having access to third party domain registration, cloud hosting, DDoS protection, banking services, payment processing, venture capital, equity markets, crowdfunding, digital or conventional advertising networks, since all of those industries will collude together to exclude you from participation in the market.

          Remember Myspace?

          The Newscorp company that had only 100 million users at its peak and that a handful of radical left wing VC billionaires dedicated their entire lives to taking down for half a decade? Excellent example.

          1. Like I said. It seems impossible until it isn’t. Predicting the future is hard. If you are absolutely certain about anything like this, you’re the retard. I never said it was easy to do right now.

        2. Libertarians for the most part prefer corporations to government and defend private entities against government intrusion.

          Libertarians prefer free markets and legal accountability. In a libertarian, free market system, corporations like the ones we have in the US wouldn’t exist because the legal framework would be substantially different.

          I’m kind of torn on this myself. On the one hand, these companies are being absolutely awful in many ways. But I don’t believe that more government involvement is going to make anything better.

          The idea that we have to choose between abusive corporations and government regulation is itself a leftist fiction. In reality, if we move more towards a free market, the problem will take care of itself. Something like Google or Facebook simply couldn’t exist in a free market system.

          1. The idea that we have to choose between abusive corporations and government regulation is itself a leftist fiction. In reality, if we move more towards a free market, the problem will take care of itself. Something like Google or Facebook simply couldn’t exist in a free market system.

            Quoted For Truth.

          2. But in the meantime you’re going to advocate for every deregulatory policy that comes down the Heritage Foundation conveyor belt.

            Since corporations are government-created entities, why can’t government regulate them however it wants? And what do we do about any bad outcomes happening now before we can set up libertinia?

            1. Since corporations are government-created entities, why can’t government regulate them however it wants?

              It can and it does. That’s the problem: the more government regulates companies, the more corrupt, monopolistic, intrusive, and discriminatory companies become. The more government regulates companies, the more companies become instruments of an authoritarian, intrusive state apparatus.

              There is a continuum from free markets on one end all the way to the fascist economic system of private companies subserviant to the state on the other end, and you to move us in the direction of the fascist system.

              But in the meantime you’re going to advocate for every deregulatory policy that comes down the Heritage Foundation conveyor belt.

              You may get your talking points from foundations, I don’t. I suspect I want a lot more deregulation than the Heritage Foundation advocates.

              1. How does regulating lead out of the water supply lead inexorably to corruption?

                Try making an argument for once instead of throwing words and concepts at a wall and hoping I’m dumb enough to think you’re making any kind of goddamn sense.

          3. Yes, I agree with this.

      2. Corporations in bed with China makes me think of the NBA and Wuhan Lebron.

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  17. I just dropped the FB habit because one of their auto-ban scripts didn’t like me calling the Iranian theocracy “goatfuckers”. Ok, Zuck can do what he wants on his platform, but I’m out.

    -jcr

    1. I dropped FB about five years ago. My life seems unchanged.

      1. I dropped FB about 5 months ago. My life is noticeably improved.

        1. recent increased smiley faces in your posts.

  18. They upset the Dems because Democrats think they should have a corner on all the media political spin of current events. When a narrative that does not put them in a positive light should be suppressed for unfairness.

    They upset Republicans because the Tech companies have been suppressing Conservative voices to a certain to appease the Dem’s threats made against them and their own woke minions.

    But it is difficult to defend their free speech when they do not care much about the free speech of their users and creators and have been very opaque about the reasons why. No one has much reason to defend the apparent coordinated bannings and demonetizations.
    No one needs to feel gratitude towards people who have demonstrated no compunction against arbitrarily taking away your access to the public forum.

  19. Incredible how Reason gets stuck in the past with outdated theories. Tiktok was caught circumventing rules to secretly track user data. But hey, private company, no problem!
    Google, FB, Twitter et al monopolize and control the modern public square, censoring speech according to their agenda? NO PROBLEM! Private company!
    China using forced labor to manufacture products like all our medical supplies and medicine? WHO CARES? FREE TRADE!

  20. TikTok and Facebook should work on banning Republicans and Democrats.

  21. The usual mishmash of nonsense by ENB along with nonsense by ENB’s friends. This defense of Big Tech is complete garbage. ENB and company would have you believe that facebook, twitter, instagram, and every other company are innovators with magical tech. Just the opposite is true. Their tech is nothing, any competent computer science major can put out tech that is just a good or better. The “Big” part of big tech is the size of the companies, not the size of the tech. These companies were innovators, but the innovation was not in tech, it was in recognizing how the right simple tech can attract a crowd. They were first movers and grew big and wealthy. Good for them, they earned their rewards. But suggesting that they hold some kind of magic back in the headquarters is simply wrong. “…and forgetting all the great things we’re benefiting from today…” I haven’t forgotten anything. There is nothing so great facebook or twitter provide that would make me shut my mouth about the outrageous censorship those platforms impose on conservative or out-of-the-mainstream opinions. The guys did not invent penicillin or the internal combustion engine or anything so amazing that we should give them a mulligan on their Stalinism.

    1. It is not the tech. It is the marketing.

      I do not do any of that. My choice.

      1. Well, on the other side, the big tech has provided well over a million jobs. Amazon alone has over 300k employees. Destroying the big tech would have devastating consequences for the economy. If you don’t like Twitter, use Parler. If you don’t like Youtube, use Bitchute. If you don’t like Google, as I do not, use Duckduckgo in your browser. Sate action against the big tech would be like a bull in a China shop. Beware of the State even when bearing gifts. Especially when bearing gifts. Haven’t we learned anything from the Microsoft affair? MS was an evil “800 LBS gorilla”. who would stifle the browser market. These days we have Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Edge, among others, despite the big bad Microsoft.

  22. I read that social media were used to invite/recruit participants in the Chicago riots of Sunday night.
    I guess police should (somehow) monitor social-media traffic.
    Spying?

  23. Well, so called “big tech” has caught the whole society by surprise. Their impact is felt in many areas: shopping, press, TV, movies and, education and politics. It is entirely possible to influence elections in one country from another country using Facebook, Youtube or Twitter. When the phenomenon called “Internet” came into being few have realized how powerful and disruptive it really is. The first such realizations were followed by the first requests for censorship: no drugs, no pedophilia, no terrorism. That was reasonable but was shortly followed by the further censorship requests: no KKK, no white supremacy, no racism, no neonazis, no “hate speech”, whatever that might be. And the big tech obliged. They started censoring. And censoring they are. Absent any guidelines, the big tech have written their own “rules of engagement” and they censor by their own criteria which are, frankly, quite appalling. The last thing that Congress should do is to intervene with some kind of “censorship guidelines”. I suspect that those would go against the 1st amendment, even if they were somehow agreed among democrats and republicans which is unlikely. Free market will take care of it. There is Parler, in addition to Twitter, there are Vimeo and Bitchute in addition to Youtube and there is DuckDuckGo in addition to Google. State bureaucracy is an elephant in a China shop: it can only make things worse and disrupt the development of the beautiful technical inovation that Internet is.

  24. Another way of saying that if it doesn’t backfire, it isn’t made by the government?

  25. One would think the federal government would have better things to with their time than host Oprah shows.

  26. The best way to handle this might be to cut back on all the censoring, other than for obvious things like hate statements and pornography, and then make libel and slander criminal rather than civil crimes. That way, if someone tweets a provable lie about you, the police and courts will handle it. You wouldn’t have to pony up $25K to hire a lawyer to bring a libel suit. It would make for more police work in the beginning, but that would drop off once people realized they couldn’t post damaging lies about the poorer people in our society without paying the price. Even politicians, including the President, would not be immune to such charges.

    1. Ratwrangler, what are hate statements? Does the statement “I hate broccoli” qualify as a “hate statement”? After all, it uses the verb “hate” quite directly. No? OK, let’s go a bit more personal. What about the statement “I hate pedophiles”? Does that qualify as a hate statement? How would you define a “hate statement”? Should we ban the verb “hate” outright and throw if out from the English language? Which words (verbs, nouns, adjectives, pronouns) should be banned? Who should define that new language, let’s call it “Newspeak” after the language invented by a great master of the English language, George Orwell? Would you trust a Congress committee to redefine the English language? What if AOC or Ilhan Omar were in the committee? State redefining language is precisely the thing that Orwell was writing about in his masterpiece, “1984”.

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  28. Facebook on Thursday outlined the threats that the company is working to counter ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
    These threats by foreign and domestic actors include:
    Attempts to use social media to suppress voter turnout by spreading false information about how voting works in the midst of a pandemic.
    Attempts to corrupt public debate during vote counting.
    Hack and leak operations where a bad actor steals information and releases it to influence public debate.
    https://worldabcnews.com/facebook-outlines-threats-its-bracing-for-ahead-of-2020-u-s-election/

  29. nice article it helped me lot and hope it will help lot of People…check this for more news related to bollywood industry must click here

  30. Yes yes, our Silicon Valley overlords are Not Pleased and must be adored.

    youtube.com/watch?v=GLjook1I0V4

    This comment not approved by Silicon Valley brain slugs.

  31. Such companies offering social media have to decide whether free-speech is allowed or not. The moment they start being selective, free-speech and curating content becomes bias.

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