Internet

You Can't Always Trust What You Hear Online, and Congress Has Some Ideas About Fixing That

The House Intelligence Committee is mulling ways to stop an "infodemic." Is this really a task we want the government to tackle?

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The hearings had been underway for about an hour and 15 minutes when Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi piped up with an idea. "Are there ways," the Illinois Democrat asked, "that we might be able to infect…the QAnon conspiracy web with other ideas or stories that could sow confusion and discord and cause it collapse in on itself? In other words, kind of embed other crazy things that might pit groups against each other?"

There was a brief pause. Then Joan Donovan, research director at Harvard's Shorenstein Center, offered an objection. Algorithmic recommendation systems "respond to that sort of excitement," she noted, and Krishnamoorthi's operation might just keep the QAnon conversation alive.

It was October 15, and Donovan was one of four witnesses testifying via video call to the House Intelligence Committee. She was joined by Cindy Otis, a former CIA officer now based at the Alethea Group; by Melanie Smith, who works at the social media analytics firm Graphika; and by Nina Jankowicz, a Wilson Center analyst with the wonderful job title "disinformation fellow." The hearing was titled "Misinformation, Conspiracy Theories, and 'Infodemics': Stopping the Spread Online," and much of it was given over to discussing what public regulators and private platforms should do about the dubious claims that circulate on social media.

Early in Donovan's testimony, for example, she quoted a statement Facebook issued in January: "In the absence of regulation, Facebook and other companies are left to design their own policies. We have based ours on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all." Donovan didn't approve of that approach. "Policies like this push corporate responsibility onto the public and onto other professional sectors," she complained. As a result, she argued, reporters and others have been left to clean up social media's messes. "Covering misinformation is a drain on newsrooms' resources, which could be much better spent on sustaining journalism rather than moderating content on platforms."

This seems backward to me. Factchecking politicians and chasing down rumors to confirm or debunk them have always been parts of a journalist's job. Reporters don't always do those tasks well, but they're much more likely to get it right than a Facebook moderator is. In my dream world, communicating on social media would typically be as unhindered as communicating on email, and moderators' scarce attention would be reserved for genuinely abusive behavior, such as violent threats, organized harassment, and commercial fraud.

But that's my view. The mood at the hearing was much more enthusiastic about centralized control of information, in part because so many people speaking there seemed convinced that we're in an unprecedented crisis. Otis claimed that we live in "the biggest period of false information in history." Jankowicz suggested that "the degradation of our information ecosystem" is "dismantling democracy." Rep. Adam Schiff (D–Calif.), chairing the meeting, announced his hope that Americans one day will "occupy the same shared reality again." Note that last word: again. I'm not sure when this Edenic past was supposed to be when Americans all shared the same mental universe, but it definitely wasn't during my lifetime.

No one unveiled a 10-point plan for regulating mis- and disinformation, and I'm not sure the four people testifying—let alone the nine legislators asking them questions—would agree on every aspect of what should be done. (Smith, to her credit, noted that trying to "contain" a conspiracist community ran the risk of "compromising essential freedoms.") But we did get some hints about potential policies, and I don't just mean Krishnamoorthi's COINTELPRO-on-shrooms plan to subvert QAnon by making it even crazier. Notably, both Donovan and Jankowicz said they'd like officials to create a new government agency. Donovan said this bureau could "evaluate what [misinformation's] actual impact is on other sectors and on our information economies and then come up with recommendations." Jankowicz went further, suggesting the agency could either "create a new set of rules or see if the rules that [platforms] created for themselves are being enforced fairly."

Donovan also offered a comparison to the regulation of tobacco, saying that "legislation about smoking had to move beyond the rationale that it was an individual choice and accept that second-hand smoke had public health effects." There just might be some constitutional problems with treating conspiracy theories like second-hand smoke.

The afternoon's one voice of skepticism was Rep. Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat. (All the legislators present were Democrats—the committee's Republicans opted not to show up.) "We've had misinformation and yellow journalism and terrible media and voter suppression forever," Himes pointed out. Were the witnesses really sure, he asked, that the ill effects they were attributing to the internet "wouldn't have happened without the social media misinformation?"

Jankowicz insisted that the Facebook era really is different, but neither of the examples she offered was very persuasive. One was the allegation that "the Trump campaign used Cambridge Analytica data to selectively target black voters with voter suppression ads." That's an odd story to cite when talking about misinformation's real-world effects, since more and more evidence suggests that Cambridge Analytica was better at marketing itself than at actually changing elections' outcomes.

Jankowicz's other example was the band of militiamen charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Social media, she said, both "played a huge role in allowing that group to organize" and "seeded the misinformation that led them to organize." But paramilitary cells were hatching violent plans long before Facebook existed—and the FBI has said that it was through social media that it learned of the Michigan plotters' discussions in the first place. So did these platforms nurture a conspiracy that wouldn't otherwise have existed, or did they undermine a conspiracy that otherwise might have gone farther? (And was that alleged plot really "seeded" by "misinformation"? These guys may well have believed some false rumors about COVID-19—there are plenty of those floating around, as there always are during an epidemic—but I suspect their resentment of Whitmer's corona restrictions are rooted more in a different set of opinions than a different set of facts.)

Himes was also the one member of the committee to raise the subject of civil liberties. "Maybe it was growing up in Latin America in the 1970s," the congressman said, "but I had a pretty up close and personal experience with governments that fought 'misinformation.'" This background, he continued, made him "violently allergic" to getting the government involved in the information management business, and it also made him wary of pressuring private companies into doing the government's dirty work for it. "We understand that we shouldn't be in the business of fighting misinformation—that's probably inconsistent with the First Amendment," he said. "So what do we do? We ask that it be outsourced to people that we otherwise are pretty critical of, like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. We say, 'You do it.' Which strikes me as a pretty lame way to address what may or may not be a problem."

Jankowicz responded by reassuring Himes that she didn't support anything like the "draconian 'fake news' laws" that have been adopted in several authoritarian countries. But she roused his civil libertarian instincts again a little later, when she said that social media allow potentially violent groups to organize "without any oversight."

"I'm out of time," Himes replied with regret. "I would love to continue this conversation and pursue what you mean by groups being formed, quote, 'without oversight.' That also is language I'd like to better understand." You're not the only one, congressman.

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  1. Please, no. Just stop.

    1. It’s a government committee; it will last longer than plastic in the ocean.

  2. The war over who gets to disseminate propaganda rages on.

    1. Robert Reich wants a Truth and Reconcilliation Commission to deal with all the ‘crimes’ and ‘harm’ caused by the Trump regime.

      if this site didnt suck, I’d embed his tweet. The responses from Progs are terrifying

      1. When Trump wins, Reich will be the first one in front of the committee, then in front of the wall.

        1. This is exactly why it’s important that he doesn’t win again. Trump is a leaf blower on flaming stupidity.

      2. I’m thinking, Write your own code, crawl the page, paste code that will isolate from the page. I can’t check for XML with this tablet browser.

  3. Perish the thought! Real freedom comes from total and complete submission to an oligopoly of specially-privileged gatekeepers who censor at the behest of the government. Free mind and free markets baby!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. As long as it is a few specially exempt private corporations doing it at the behest of the Prog elite. where is the harm?

  4. Are there ways,” the Illinois Democrat asked, “that we might be able to infect…the QAnon conspiracy web with other ideas or stories that could sow confusion and discord and cause it collapse in on itself? In other words, kind of embed other crazy things that might pit groups against each other?”

    Welp, at least we know that Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi thinks like a Stasi agent.

    1. One suspects that if the tactic she endorses were used against groups she favors, she would have an issue with it being racist or sexist.

    2. It’s not the principle of information warfare that they object to so much, it’s that damn first amendment.

      1. I think it’s more to do with the end of his nose and the fist of Common Southern Evangelical Demitard.

        I do think the best weapon against the bullshit made up nonsense of people like Trump and QAnon is critical thought. It’s education. Religious teaching has emboldened people to believe wild fiction as fact, and the lack of critical thinking skills taught in public education has left swaths of the country having been taught more about Intelligent Design than why a man underwater from debt can fake his way to looking successful. We are racing headlong toward reaching terminal stupidity, yet the wealthy contingent of the Republican Party continues to exploit the religiously institutionalized idiocy of rubes, who only attach themselves to it for the anti-gay rhetoric. It has only cost the wealthy Republicans a few meaningless words about conception equalling life to get huge numbers of simple, undereducated hicks to vote agains their own economic self-interests.

    3. Does winning an election give you the right to know or only the need to know? Then do you get a purple star that says you have become “liked” as matter of popular mandate?

      I said that because people still vote.

      Can Raja K. be educated by his constituents and friends? Does he need direction? He acts out his name, Raja (of evils, of meditation) as if such suffice in starting position, as if he had been the abandoned fellow in the room for too long …

      Is he Stazi or just a bit on the cool side to cultivation of liberty?

      Is our Congress meant to start their careers so aimless?

      Is Congress hopeless or suffering the professional hazard of (such) absolute power?

  5. “Covering misinformation is a drain on newsrooms’ resources, which could be much better spent on sustaining journalism rather than moderating content on platforms.”

    Which could be spent on generating our own misinformation, you mean, right?

  6. So the libertarian position is to do nothing and hope it all works out OK.

    1. The libertarian position is to reserve Government Almighty force and coercion, to defend us against private force and coercion.

      Some people here and there, saying things that I don’t like, is not force and coercion. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”. (With the usual caveats, to include fraud, libel, slander). The proper response to other lies? More speech to refute the lies! Government Almighty need NOT get involved! Not everything needs to be “fixed” by Government Almighty, is the libertarian position!

      Somebody hurt my baby feelings! Where is my Government Almighty “fix”?

      1. Casual reminder that Mikey Hihn thinks armed agents of the state should come to your home and murder you for possessing black guns that make him shit his pants.

        1. Casual reminder that Mikey Hihn thinks no more.

          1. … or so you have been told …

          2. None of you retards think the person who used the Michael Hihn handle was the actual person named Michael Hihn, right? It’s the same mentally deranged fucknut that’s been spamming here since the days before account registration when they used to post as White Indian. They also use the names of several other libertarian activists as handles (most recently David Nolan and Hank Phillips). Sqrlsy has accidentally outed himself multiple times while handle-hopping because he’s nearly retarded and not very good at what he does.

            1. Nobody cares about your conspiracy theories, Tulpa. Loser

              1. “Sqrlsy has accidentally outed himself multiple times”

                Again, lol.

            2. Hihn had a lot of socks, but he was absolutely the genuine article. I’ve seen enough of the real Michael Hihn’s writing in locations where his identity could be confirmed to see that our Hihn had the same ideas and rhetorical tendencies as the real thing.

              SQRLSY may be just as deranged as Hihn, and Hank Phillips almost so, and both of them even more tedious, but they are clearly distinct individuals. Hihn had his own tells that he could never keep in check, SQRLSY and Hank have notably different ideas and styles.

      2. Well said SQLSY! Get the GOV away from the PRESS!!!

    2. Why don’t you show us on the doll where the libertarian statist touched you?

    3. This is always the best policy. Libertarians are just terrible at sales.

    4. Leaving it alone gives it a better chance of working out OK than any government solution would

      1. Leaving it alone gives it a better chance of working out OK than any government solution would

        FTFY

        Libertarians vote with their feet.

    5. Almost. It is to have the government do nothing.

      Are you new to this whole libertarian thing?

      1. Other than forced lockdowns, forced face diapers, forced vaccinations, forced faggot cake baking, forced race quotas in school admissions, forced mail-in-only voting… yeah, libertarians just hate that bad old gubmint when it comes to stopping race riots or… removing special immunities and privileges from internet data collection agencies.

        1. Those are not libertarian positions in the least, so I don’t know what point you think you are making.

          1. Those are not libertarian positions in the least

            Yet those are all positions supported 100% by Reason magazine and its writers and editorial staff. And the Cato Institute. And every other Koch-affiliated libertarian organization. I guess you’ve still got Lew Rockwell, but then you guys tend to marginalize paleos, Austrians, and anyone else slight to the right of Chairman Mao as dangerous fringe kooks who don’t represent libertarianism. One of you is wrong, and it really doesn’t even matter which.

            1. There are far more Austrians in the Koch-orbit than in the pseudo-libertarian-Rockwell orbit.

            2. Yet those are all positions supported 100% by Reason magazine and its writers and editorial staff.

              I don’t think that is actually true, but even so, they don’t get to define libertarianism for everyone.

            3. Reason magazine and its writers aren’t libertarians. Just look at that article on who they’re voting for.

    6. is on you to not be defrauded.

    7. Well, the libertarian position certainly isn’t going to be ‘let the government determine what is true’.

      1. Considering Reason’s utter subservience to Big Tech, yes they do.
        Or are we pretending Big Tech is fundamentally independent and distinct from government?

        1. Is Reason Schrodinger’s Libertarian? Where they’re libertarian when you need to yell at them for it and then not-libertarian when you need to yell at them for *that*?

          Or are they the Emperor of Libertarians? The Privy-Council who’s word is libertarian law?

  7. At least we can always trust Reason to be a beacon of journalistic integrity, honesty, and to always advance the truth in the noble fight for liberty.
    And if you don’t vote for Biden, you aint libertarian. Derp.

  8. “Are there ways,” the Illinois Democrat asked, “that we might be able to infect…the QAnon conspiracy web with other ideas or stories that could sow confusion and discord and cause it collapse in on itself? In other words, kind of embed other crazy things that might pit groups against each other?” There was a brief pause. Then Joan Donovan, research director at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, offered an objection. Algorithmic recommendation systems “respond to that sort of excitement,” she noted, and Krishnamoorthi’s operation might just keep the QAnon conversation alive.“You sound like a crazy bitch when you talk that way. People’s grasp of reality is bad enough as it is, without politicians like you fucking with their heads even more than you usually do.”

    That’s what really happened, right?

  9. It kills me how terrible the messaging on this has been from Reason and the Libertarian party. Not Walker specifically but many others. The answer is never to give the gov more power, we just have horrible horrible messaging on this right now. Telling conservatives that the censorious regime is actually good and indicative of a healthy market isn’t going to cut it and won’t win you any fans when the fascists you consider your friends and fellow travelers come for you.

    1. In my humble opinion, the solution is to regard social media as part of the ‘public forum’ in the same way the town square has always been regarded in American constitutional law. Social media controls much of the way we communicate and how information is disseminated. Facebook, Twitter, Google, et al. are not your typical “private” companies.

      It shouldn’t be up to the government – or social media with their monopoly on power – to act as arbiters of truth. It should be left to the people to do that.

      Let the people decide what is “fake news.” Sadly, information technology has so radically changed the way humans conduct themselves and receive information (and understand reality) that humanity has not kept pace.

  10. Why won’t Reason reprint the NY Post articles?

    Why has Reason gone all in for Biden, who is far worse than Trump for libertarians and libertarianism?

    1. Why won’t Reason reprint the NY Post articles?

      They’ve already inked an exclusivity deal with the NY Times if the Reason Roundup is anything to go on.

      1. Duopoly, many many Vox affiliated cites also get posted. Almost like ENB is trying to drive readers to her beard’s publication.

    2. The Post was paid by GOP ratfuckers to publish that hoax and Alex Jones picked it up – so the GOP LIAR stench is all over it like James O’Keefe.

      Give it up. There aren’t enough rednecks to reelect the Con Man.

      1. How’s that Russia collusion working out for you? Have you spotted the peepee tape on the darkweb while you’re surfing for kiddie porn, pedophile?

        1. There is nobody who believes that Tulpa has normal porn habits.

      2. “…GOP ratfuckers…”
        As opposed to D kiddyfuckers, turd?

      3. The Post was paid by GOP ratfuckers to publish that hoax

        In what way is it a “hoax”? The E-mails are authentic, not even the Bidens deny that.

        1. Also authentic are the quarter million people who died because Trump is stupid.

          You and the Russians might have been able to “but her emails!” another election if he had been just slightly less of a dumpster fire.

          1. “Also authentic are the quarter million people who died because Trump is stupid.”

            Authentic lying piece of lefty shit.

            1. You don’t think it was tripartisan humor behind that flap.

          2. “…Also authentic are the quarter million people who died because Trump is stupid…”

            This from the shitstain who, a week or so ago was whining that ‘Trump made the US infection rate the worst in the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’.
            A claim now debunked by that RWC rag, NPR:
            “European Coronavirus Infections Now Exceed U.S. Cases”
            https://www.npr.org/2020/10/15/923885813/european-coronavirus-infections-now-exceed-u-s-cases

            Lefty shit? Next time you’re the bottom, please ask for a rusty, running chain-saw and make the world a better place.

            1. Wait, are you trying to say that we can’t just take the numbers at some arbitrary point during the pandemic and evaluate every country’s response based on that? What about if it nicely fits our narrative? Can’t we do it then?
              Next thing you know, you’re going to be saying that we have to use the same criteria for determining what is and isn’t a Covid-19 related death, and that we should take age and comorbidity into account when comparing one country to another. And after that, you’ll say that we can’t just count the number of positive tests without regard for whether a country is testing almost everybody, or just the people who show up at the hospital with symptoms.
              I hope you’ll at least let us compare absolute numbers, and leave that per capita BS to people who actually know what a capita is – it’s not even a word in English.

  11. Otis claimed that we live in “the biggest period of false information in history.”

    That is a deliberate lie. What we live in is biggest period of all information in history. That includes some false information, but it also includes the truth. The biggest periods of false information in history have been under the regimes of the of the Soviet Union and the CCP, where they literally erased the truth and wrote a new narrative. As long as the truth is still there, wise people can sift through the noise. Once it is gone, all that is left is the narrative.

    Setting up any government as the arbiter of truth is begging for the rise of Marxism.

    1. Yeah, it used to be that there was only one or two newspapers per city, and if you wanted to fact check their claims, you had to go to a physical library.

      The bore at the bar who stated his facts with the most confidence won the argument because there was no way to fact check him. Now that every dummy has Google in their pocket, the bores at the bar and the bores in journalism can’t get away with as much anymore.

      Anybody else remember Jayson Blair or the monkey fishing incident?

      https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2007/02/slate-s-author-of-monkeyfishing-now-says-none-of-his-story-was-true.html

      Journalists of the past never dealt with the scrutiny they experience today, and much of that scrutiny came to be by way of social media.

      1. As an aside, they used to tell us in college that academic writing was a bit of an absurdity because in the real world, no one who knows more about a subject than you do would bother to read your work. Nowadays, that may be turned on its head in social media.

        There’s a journalist here who writes about healthcare policy. He doesn’t realize it, but I’ve seen his work criticized in comments by hospital administrators and others with years of experience in the business side of the industry (and I’m not talking about myself). Why are they reading that stuff? It’s not to learn anything new. When they want to know what’s new in the industry, they don’t come to a news and opinion website. They were reading that stuff and criticizing it because they care about policy and wanted to add their expertise to the conversation.

        The interesting thing is that the experts were anonymous commenters in that scenario. The source of their authority was their knowledge of the facts and their logic–no one knew who they were or what they did for a living.

        All of this seems to boil down to people having problems with what it means to be authoritative. The politicians imagine themselves to be authoritative, and journalists seem to want to keep up the pretense for psychological and financial reasons. Their authority is bullshit if it’s based on winning an election or the shear respect someone supposedly deserves for being in print.

        I find Walker’s work on conspiracy theories authoritative because it’s grounded in facts, logic, and does a lot to explain things I didn’t really understand before. Politicians make fools of themselves by trying to dole out authority like it’s theirs to give. Why should anyone take a politician or a journalist’s word for anything?

      2. Yeah, as bad as things appear to be they are much better now. Look at the Clinton/Lewinski sex scandal. Newsweek sat on that story for weeks/months and no one may have heard about it if it weren’t for Drudge. Matt Drudge didn’t need social media to disseminate the story, just an audience. Now despite what I am told about the “near” monopoly social media has, they can’t kill the Hunter Biden story and their efforts only illustrated the Streisand Effect.

  12. “Factchecking politicians and chasing down rumors to confirm or debunk them have always been parts of a journalist’s job.”

    —-Jesse Walker

    I remember those days. I’m not so sure that’s the job of a journalist anymore.

    Journalism has imploded as a profession, and it continues to implode. Journalism on websites doesn’t make up for the thousands of journalists who lost their jobs when print media imploded, and the streaming revolution is coming for what’s left of journalism on cable and broadcast news.

    The purpose of journalism is now to advance an agenda (shared by a particular audience). Within the realm of the news, the purpose of social media is to debunk journalists.

    1. Journalists serve as gatekeepers for the politically connected. Anyone who goes against them is a conspiracy theorist, populist and probably racist.

      1. Probably? lol. They are full blown White Nationalist Supremacist purveyors of hate and terror

    2. The purpose of journalism is now to advance an agenda

      This might apply to video media, but I can say with 100% confirmation that local news (print specifically) have an agenda but not the one you are thinking of. It’s all about clicks. Weekly, monthly and annual quotas on clicks, as well as analysis on how many “subscriptions” are brought in. If you were in a daily slack conversation with these reporters, you would understand how little you know about the business.

      1. It may interest you to know that at no point in the entirety of recorded human history since the invention of the printing press has the news media NOT been an advertising business. Thanks for the hot scoop there.

      2. The local print media has been eviscerated by the web. They were protected from competition by all sorts of factors before the internet–some of them related to local expertise and some of them related to the economics of distribution. There are thousands fewer working journalists in print media today than there were 15 years ago, and the dust still hasn’t settled.

        Those print media voices disappearing is what I was talking about.

        Check these statistics:

        “Employment in newspaper newsrooms decreased by 45 percent from 2008 to 2017—and by 60 percent from 1990 to 2016. (Even so, newspapers, because they are declining from a high base, still have almost three times as many newsroom employees as digital-only news sites: 38,000 versus 13,000.) Newspapers’ paid circulation has declined from 62.5 million in 1968 to 34.7 million in 2016, while the country’s population was increasing by 50 percent. Just between 2007 and 2016, newspapers’ advertising revenue, their major source of income, declined from $45.4 billion to $18.3 billion (by 2016 Google was making about four times the advertising revenue of the entire American newspaper industry). Almost 1,800 newspapers, most of them local weeklies, have closed since 2004. This collapse is especially significant because newspapers were traditionally where most American journalists worked, and where most original reporting was done.

        https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/02/27/can-journalism-be-saved/

        If those are the people we were depending on, “to chase rumors down and confirm or debunk them”, well, those people are probably gone forever.

        Now what?

        1. Now what?

          If only there were a way to run down and confirm/debunk rumors yourself. It would be easy to do over the internet.

          Unless, of course, your ISPs were in fact editors masquerading as content-neutral providers. But, no need to worry, there’s no way such a blatant misrepresentation would take place in the free market.

          1. I have an essay-length rant about Facebook’s “election integrity department” run by former Biden staffers in why they need an election integrity department when they’re protected by section 230.

      3. So, JCW, you are saying that the objective of journalists isn’t to report accurate news, but to whip readers into a frenzy using lies and propaganda so that they click and subscribe.

        I dunno, that sounds worse to me than simply having a political bias or agenda.

        1. And it is hand in hand with the political agenda.

  13. >>Maybe it was growing up in Latin America in the 1970s

    nobody cares. also is there a culture teaching its young to trust all information?

  14. Factchecking politicians and chasing down rumors to confirm or debunk them have always been parts of a journalist’s job. Reporters don’t always do those tasks well…

    No, reporters as a group have never done those tasks well.

  15. If you look closely, in the far corner of the room, Goebbels is laughing his ass off.

  16. “…Is this really a task we want the government to tackle?”

    No, along with many others.

  17. Asia for the Asians, Africa for the Africans, but White countries for everybody?
    Massive immigration and forced assimilation is called genocide when it’s done in Tibet.
    When it’s done in White countries it’s called “diversity.”
    Diversity is a code word for White Genocide.

    1. You’re welcome to go to Northern Europe where the white people come from. They certainly don’t come from the Americas or Australasia. But go, fly free. Have some herring.

      1. You’re welcome to go to Northern Europe where the white people come from.

        The racism and ignorance lives strongly within you, Tony.

          1. One of your more intelligent comments; the rest don’t begin to hit that bar.

      2. But if only we had their mono-cultural utopian Democratic Socialism…

        1. I don’t think it’s been sufficiently explained why only white people are capable of functioning democratic socialism. It’s an awfully odd argument. Democratic socialism works (because empirical facts), but not here where there are too many brown people. Because brown people… fill in the blank, please.

          1. When you leave that straw man at home and ask a relevant question, you might get an answer.

  18. I suppose it’s too much to ask for rightwing media junkies to take personal responsibility and learn what facts are all on their own.

    1. Tony’s easily-boggled mind is completely closed off from reality.

    2. “and learn what facts are all on their own.”

      And Tony just gave his game away.

      1. My game is I’m tired of explaining basic things to people who have perfectly functioning Googles.

        1. Your game is that you lie constantly and get called on it.
          Fuck off, lefty shit.

          1. You’re being lied to but not by me.

  19. I’m sure that when the printing press was invented some idiot said “This new and scary technology has the potential to spread lies faster! We must regulate it!”

    1. A lot of “idiots” said exactly that.

  20. There was a brief pause. Then Joan Donovan, research director at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, offered an objection. Algorithmic recommendation systems “respond to that sort of excitement,” she noted, and Krishnamoorthi’s operation might just keep the QAnon conversation alive.

    Not, “your plan is immoral” but “it might not technically be feasible” and to be sure, we disagree with QAnon…

  21. Marketing things like snake oil have been regulated for about a century. The FDA was created for that purpose. The Supreme Court seems fine with this regulation.

    1. Opioids ain’t snake oil and you ain’t smart.

      1. Snake oil is snake oil. The original snake oil was made by extracting oil from snakes, mixing it with other things, and marketed as a cure all. The FDA which was meant to protect ‘public health,’ was signed into existence by a Republican president.

        1. mtrueman
          October.19.2020 at 11:21 pm
          “Snake oil is snake oil.”

          Bullshit is bullshit and you are famous for it, bullshitter:
          mtrueman|8.30.17 @ 1:42PM|#
          “Spouting nonsense is an end in itself.”
          Own it, you pathetic piece of lefty shit.

          1. Snake oil. FDA. Republican. Etc.

            1. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, etc.

              1. I get a whiff of desperation wafting through your comment.

    2. Oh, and Biden’s TV ads are promising he will cure cancer, stop climate change, make medical care and ‘scrips cheap, make sure no one is ever evicted from their rental, stop the Wu Flu, make the ugly beautiful, and the stupid (yep, you too) smart, and pay your credit card debt!
      And some lumpy black woman was interviewed; she was CONVINCED!
      And the FDA hasn’t raised a finger.

      1. “Oh, and Biden’s TV ads are promising”

        You watch Biden’s TV ads? Different strokes etc. These days I’m watching Youtube clips on cacti. My budgies, Merlin and Morgana, were wreaking havoc by nibbling on the angiosperms (leafy plants.) Switching over to cacti has put a stop to that.

        1. “You watch Biden’s TV ads? Different strokes etc…”
          Sorta…
          Went to the kitchen; wife had the TV on and the bullshit was amazing! Pretty sure you swallowed it hook, line and sinker, lefty ignoramus as you are.

          1. I missed it. I will watch out for it so we can discuss it at length at some future time. In the meantime please tell me your views on cacti, and what if anything Biden will do about them.

            1. Biden’s view on cacti? They make a decent secret drop location for a cash payment from some foreign oligarch, now that Hunter can no longer trusted to not fuck up.

              1. Hunter and Ivanka. Quite a prickly pair.

  22. Tucker is right. It’s called the “Ministry of Truth”. Congress under the Marxist Left is pushing it and Reason is apparently OK with it.

    1. Lying is coercion.

      1. “Lying is coercion.”

        You are a scummy piece of Nazi shit and a lefty ignoramus besides.

      2. Do you have a real-life example of where hearing a lie forced a man to turn a gun on himself and shoot up his entire platoon?

  23. If you don’t want people to lie to you, criminalize lying.

    If you’re not willing to do that, you’re full of shit.

    1. “If you don’t want people to lie to you, criminalize lying.”

      You’d be posting from jail, Nazi scum.

      1. I welcome criminalizing lying.

        You don’t because you’re full of shit.

        Fuck off bigot.

        1. *Liars Criminalized!
          Misek Hardest Hit*

        2. “I welcome criminalizing lying.”

          You’d be posting from jail, Nazi scum.

          1. Partial cremation retardo.

  24. I suppose they’ll be proposing heresy laws next, with some burnings at the stake.

  25. This story annoyed me for three reasons:

    1. The blatantly wrong assumption that the politicians are competent to fix this.
    2. The likely wrong assumption that government is able to fix this problem.
    3. The fact GOP members of the committee didn’t bother to show up.

    I’ve had it with this partisan bullshit.

    1. I don’t know why the GOP not showing up annoys you. The invite probably said something like, “Join us to brainstorm on how to implement the instructions given to us in the book 1984 written by the governmental genius George Orwell.”

      Although I can see where correctly ignoring nut bar politics might be annoying if it has the undesired outcome of making a political party look better than the other.

    2. Rob,
      It doesn’t bother you that the chairman of that committee is a pathological liar?

  26. the problem is that what we are seeing with the disinformation is not driven by face book. facebooks contribution is the way the algorithms help create our bubbles where we only hear voices that feed our confirmation bias, but it is not where the disinformation comes from and it gets out there whether on facebook or not. the problem is us… our current society… the tribalism and distrust and perpetual rage is the problem. people are constantly hungry for something to make them feel better about what they want and to hate anyone who does not agree. don’t like wearing a mask….. poof… here are some crack pots who will give you some BS about masks not doing anything, common sense be damned. don’t want to conserve energy. here is some cherry picking to pretend the laws of physics don’t work. don’t want to grow up and pay your own bills….. here is some good propaganda pretending free money works.

    no matter how much they try to control it, this kind of garbage will continue to get out there, and people will continue to eat it up…. because they want to…. because they want to hate the “other” and they want to feel good about what they want or don’t want to do. trying to exert any control would only create another boogeyman. (like the current efforts triggering cries that it is targeting conservatives.) another thing to hate and make people feel justified. it does not change unless we do. critical thinking has become a lost practice.

    1. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But no, the fabric masks most people are wearing do nothing. Nonwoven surgical masks have some benefit due to the smaller and more consistant pore size, and maybe layered silk. But cotton and similar…..nothing.
      Sadly, the only conspiracy spouting yahoos on this are the ones screaming for everyone to wear masks. Like newspme and the wear masks between bites at a restaurant insanity

    2. “…don’t like wearing a mask….. poof… here are some crack pots who will give you some BS about masks not doing anything, common sense be damned. don’t want to conserve energy. here is some cherry picking to pretend the laws of physics don’t work. don’t want to grow up and pay your own bills….. here is some good propaganda pretending free money works…”
      Ignoring your inability to find the shift key, one of those is not like the others.
      Are you smart enough to figure it out? If not, I charge a lot of money to offer assistance. A LOT of money.

  27. So, you are saying the dems are evil totalitarians who think 1984 is a road map to their utopia?

    And then by default, only a moron should vote for one?

  28. No, most don’t want the government tackling or censoring tech forum speech.

    Now here’s a juicy, bizarro good read from a local source. Its nice to know that the feds use GardaWorld also.
    https://projects.tampabay.com/projects/2020/investigations/garda-world/vaults/

  29. Goebbels would be SO jealous.

  30. Reason writers are truly appalling. They claim to have libertarian principles, but they can’t bear to suffer the frowns of their leftist peers in the NYT and other leftist media elites. As a result, Reason is missing *the* story of the century, relegating it to minor mentions here and there. That story is of course the *orgy* of censorship of conservative voices by left-leaning media organizations and platforms. You have variously suggested that it’s not a big deal, or it’s approximately equal on both sides, or it happens but the big issue is the attempt to repeal section 230.

    Censorship is *the* big issue, dwarfing all others, no matter how much you pretend otherwise. It is much more thorough than you make out, encompassing censorship by financial platforms, crowd-funding platforms, social media platforms, hosting platforms … almost every conceivable service, online or not. Almost all of it is directed against conservative voices. It should be the only story you cover. The amazing result is that Reason is no longer the voice of freedom of speech it once was. Instead, it has now shifted to Andrew Torba and his hideous, vile, cesspool of racism and anti-semitism, Gab, and to Reclaim The Net, and to other far-right voices. You are now
    little more than effete whiners making sure you have your seat at the Starbucks secure before you poke your head up to see the lay of the land.

    You’re nothing less than a traitor to your professed beliefs, because you have a platform to make a difference and you choose to dilute the anti-censorship message amongst all others. Censorship is bad, sure, but what about our high-school student government candidate Jo Jorgenson! And don’t forget, Orange Man bad! And open borders! And crypto heroes! So much to write about, all equally important.

    You are ignoring media censorship for he most pathetic of reasons: because you want to maintain your viability for future employment at these leftist media outlets. You don’t dare cross the line that will make you unpalatable to the NYT. Effectively they are now censoring you, and you don’t even realize it! Well, you’ll find out that you have failed to successfully walk the knife’s edge between libertarianism and coziness with potential authoritarian leftist media employers. As you tiptoe around the censorship issue they are becoming more and more extreme. If not already then soon enough any association with Reason will be seen as disqualifyingly “right-wing”. You will have compromised your values for nothing. The only way they might hire is if you confess your crimes and report for re-education. Congratulations on become irrelevant.

  31. It’s just the “fairness doctrine” by other means. Possibly much worse.

  32. Kinda just makes you want to cut the government’s hand off every time it wants to take the free speech away from people in advance.

    Where do they get to practice free speech, if not on the internet?

    Some of Congress evidently wants America to be one big communist party where if your ideas are not theirs, then off to the concentration camp er, prison).

    You know why Americans never actually needed free speech to begin with and really ought to live under king & queen?

    I don’t think so —

    Eliminating encryption for “those people” too out of touch with cult of personality politics would be like buying out the idea that anyone were actually free to do anything online from beneath one’s feet.

    What next, need of a license to access internet? A photo iD to post or upload?

    Congress has power under the commerce claus to perform some interesting tricks. But where in the Constitution does it say that congress shall make laws to prevent engaging in acts of “freedom” of expression?

    1. “What next, need of a license to access internet? A photo iD to post or upload?”

      Yes, that’s called being accountable for your actions in civilization.

      You should also have the choice to live in the shadows on the internet as you do in life, knowing that it’s when you attempt to coerce in civilization you will be punished.

      1. The article does not present this issue in terms of actionable behavior, so if it is not actionable then a complaint may not be made.

        You don’t need a new law to sue for fraud, libel, slander, nor defamation.

        Your point about illegal behavior has nothing to do with taking away your right to exchange messages with anyone in mutually accepted manner.

        Bringing the guilty until proven innocent theory in here does make the government’s case.

        These must surely be the stakes:

        https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/03/graham-blumenthal-bill-new-path-doj-finally-break-encryption

  33. Criminalizing lying isn’t censorship any more than criminalizing threats is.

    Lying is coercion that compels people under the authority of truth to act in the liars interest instead of their own. 1a doesn’t protect coercion.

    The law against lying would apply to everyone. Politicians, lawyers and salesmen. It would make being a crook that much more difficult.

    That’s why crooks in government and elsewhere won’t advocate criminalizing lying but advocate censorship of truth instead.

    1. Yo be judge of truth should not be the all-encompassing power of state but rather only cases where people think the claims to be damaging.

      In other words, first terrorists then next liars associated with terrorists.

      Then what happens to the people who can only find out they were wrong after serving their expensive prison sentences?

      Government should not be censoring people. But people should be identifying damaging information and even sources thereof.

      Making fradulent claims has always been actionable, at least in more recent history. For example, consider the recent Volkswagen emissions scandal.

      1. Truth and lies are discerned with logic and science. It is no mystery.

        Lies are coercion and should be criminalized.

        Outside of perjury in court and breach of contract, libel requires quantifying the damages today. It shouldn’t anymore than assault should.

        1. Already if you have a case against fraud, don’t you simply go to the courthouse and file a lawsuit, because you have proof? And doesn’t this obligate a defendant to show up to defend their case?

          Or were this rather an effort to procure a tax-paid witness who will not be intimidated by disappointment when a plaintiff might?

          In other words, how does standing government impair the matter of getting fairness in event of perceiving being defrauded? What incentive do you find fair to justify expense of paid witness if proof cannot be established by resourcefulness lack of plaintiff?

  34. I’ll take it one step further.

    Name any conflict that’s you think is not based on a lie and I’ll demonstrate that you’re wrong.

  35. Already if you have a case against fraud, don’t you simply go to the courthouse and file a lawsuit, because you have proof? And doesn’t this obligate a defendant to show up to defend their case?

    Or were this rather an effort to procure a tax-paid witness who will not be intimidated by disappointment when a plaintiff might?

    In other words, how does standing government impair the matter of getting fairness in event of perceiving being defrauded? What incentive do you find fair to justify expense of paid witness if proof cannot be established by resourcefulness lack of plaintiff?

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