Antitrust

The Conservative Antitrust Case Against Big Tech Is a Giant Self-Own

It's hard to take seriously complaints that there are no alternatives to Facebook when they're made on Twitter.

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Few prominent political arguments have been so nakedly self-refuting as the conservative case for antitrust action against big tech. 

The argument typically goes something like this: Big tech has too much power, and social media companies like Facebook use that power to shape and stifle political debates, censoring conservatives and conservative speech in ways that are both visible and invisible. They are not neutral actors but partisan boosters, and their sheer size means they must be reined in. 

As Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) put it on Fox News last night, following yet another congressional hearing featuring Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief Jack Dorsey, "These are the most powerful companies we've seen in American history. They're the most powerful companies in the world. And it's time we took them on." Hawley, the right's foremost critic of big tech, has repeatedly called for taking antitrust action against Facebook, arguing that it represents a monopoly. Facebook, he said in October, "is a lot like a supermarket…except there's only ONE supermarket in town, and they decide who can and can't shop." 

Facebook, in Hawley's telling, is the only online venue for political speech. There are no other options. There's no place else to go to share your political views, especially if you're a conservative. 

He explained all this, of course, on Twitter

This blistering self-own was not some one-time tactical misstep on Hawley's part: He has repeatedly called for antitrust action against Facebook on the grounds that as a monopolist, the social media company exerts a de facto censorship power over conservative speech, and he has repeatedly done so on rival social media platform Twitter.

Hawley's Twitter-based attempts to establish that Facebook is the only game in town for political speech have in fact established precisely the opposite. There's obviously a competitor. He's using it. 

This is roughly the quality of conservative gripes against big tech: Far from being overtly hostile to conservative speech, Facebook has actually become a haven for right-of-center media, with conservative outlets regularly dominating charts of the site's best performing content. That proved especially true in the run-up to the election. As Politico reported in September, "the Facebook posts with the most engagement in the United States most days—measured by likes, comments, shares, and reactions—are from conservative voices outside the mainstream media." President Donald Trump's personal page also regularly topped the Facebook charts. 

As for Twitter, Hawley warned in June (again, on Twitter) that "Twitter's 2020 election interference will eventually end in banning Trump." Yet the election has come and gone, and President Trump is arguably still Twitter's most prominent and provocative user, with 88 million followers and a massive secondary media infrastructure devoted to amplifying and arguing with his every word. The company has taken to appending warnings to his (largely false or misleading) tweets about election fraud, but he continues to use the platform to widely disseminate his views. 

The proximate cause for yesterday's hearing, meanwhile, was a pre-election New York Post article alleging connections between President-Elect Joe Biden and his son Hunter's work with foreign governments. Facebook throttled sharing of the article, while Twitter blocked it altogether—a mistake, in my view—leading to accusations that the company had censored the story. 

At yesterday's hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) riffed on this idea, griping about the decision to limit sharing of the Post piece. "What I want to try to find out is, if you're not a newspaper at Twitter or Facebook, then why do you have editorial control over the New York Post?" he said. "They decided, and maybe for a good reason, I don't know, that the New York Post articles about Hunter Biden needed to be flagged, excluded from distribution, or made hard to find. That to me seems like you're the ultimate editor." 

Again, it's a strange accusation that seems to willfully misunderstand what sort of power a newspaper editor has. 

The New York Post published the Hunter Biden piece. It remained available on The New York Post's website, and in the pages of its print edition, at all times. No one from Twitter or Facebook usurped the power or authority of the Post's editors, writers, or publisher; the newspaper's editors remained in complete control of their own publication's editorial decisions. The article remains easy to access for anyone with an internet connection—on The New York Post's website, which New York Post editors, rather than Facebook or Twitter moderators, continue to control. They, not social media overlords, were the ultimate editors of their own publication. 

Fatuous antitrust arguments are not solely the domain of the right. At yesterday's hearing both Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.) and Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) also brought it up, with Blumenthal warning the two CEOs that they had "built terrifying tools of persuasion and manipulation with power far exceeding the robber-barons of the Gilded Age," and Klobuchar accusing Facebook of having "damaged the ability of…small businesses to compete." Perhaps Facebook has a rival in Twitter, but with both so entrenched, would an upstart competitor really stand a chance?

As it happens, an upstart rival is rapidly gaining a foothold at this very moment: Parler, a conservative social media platform with Twitter-like functionality, which launched in 2018 and has reportedly gained millions of new users in just the last few weeks. In the days after the election, Parler became the number one app downloaded on Apple's App Store. Its existence and growing success refute both Klobuchar's accusations and Hawley's dire warnings about left-leaning social media companies controlling online political discourse; to recycle Hawley's metaphor, there's clearly more than one supermarket in town. 

In some ways, however, this is all beside the point. Listen closely to the complaints from politicians on both sides of the aisle, and it becomes clear that the real underlying concern here isn't really about monopoly or censorship or a healthy marketplace. But it is about competition—not with other companies, but with the government itself. 

That idea was inherent in Blumenthal's statement that he has urged "a break-up of tech giants because they've misused their bigness and power," and it was even plainer in Graham's opening statement, which included the following lament: "I don't want the government to take over the job of telling America what tweets are legitimate and what are not. But when you have companies that have the power of government, have far more power than traditional media outlets, something has to give." 

Hawley's Fox News rant closed on the idea that "we the people" need to use antitrust in order to take power over large tech companies that exercise a dangerous amount of control over the country. As is typical of anti-tech populist rallying cries, it managed to wildly oversell the practical power that social media companies actually exert. (Remember Cambridge Analytica?) On the other hand, it was a very frank articulation of Hawley's view that big tech's power is a threat to his own, and that his real goal is to claw some of it back. If nothing else, you can presume that, in this case, "we the people" means senators with last names like Graham, Blumenthal, and Hawley. 

NEXT: A New Prevalence Estimate Suggests the COVID-19 Infection Fatality Rate in Texas Is Roughly 0.4 Percent

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  1. Subtitle doesn’t work when twitter and Facebook get caught colluding to censor in tandem. Never has a trio of companies begged harder to get their shit hit with anti trust laws.

    1. Suderman can subtly GFH

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    2. Libertarians for antitrust lawsuits from DoJ! Libertarians for more federal regulations of business! Libertarians for Just Leave Trump Alone!

      1. Libertarians Against Enforceable Contracts! Libertarians for Illegal Surveillance! Libertarians Against Privacy! Libertarians Against Free Speech and Free Press! Libertarians For Oligopolistic Collusion and Unpersoning!

        1. Libertarians Against Individual Liberty!

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        2. How about, “Libertarians For Private Property Rights”

          1. What I say here on this site is not Zuckerberg’s private property, fvcktard.

            If I sign up for Twitter and agree to their TOS, which says they get collect data on me to sell and I get to publish my thoughts on their platform, as long as it isnt racist or violent or whatever, and they arbitrarily break that contract and dont let me talk about The Bidens or election certification in a negative light, but still collect my info and sell it without delivering their end of the bargain, that is a broken contract.

            1. That would depend on precisely on how legally binding the TOS is, and what specifically you agreed to. If you agreed to something that permits Twitter to change its TOS whenever it feels like, which is from what I understand quite common, then that’s what you agreed to. If that is not something that is legally enforceable, then get a court to agree with you. If you just want to bitch and moan about conservative ‘censorship’ by Big Tech (often, ironically, on Big Tech’s own platforms), then do carry on.

              1. “If you agreed to something that permits Twitter to change its TOS whenever it feels like, which is from what I understand quite common, then that’s what you agreed to.”

                A “contract” where one party can alter it unilaterally is not a contract or agreement whatsoever,

                1. So get a court to nullify the contract.

                    1. You are high on outrage and all you have are the words of a “whistleblower” who just conveniently reinforces all your worst fears about Big Tech.

                      Maybe we should wait until there is some type of independent confirmation of these “bombshell discoveries” before shitting our pants. Oh but why bother, you’ll just believe the next James O’Keefe video that comes out anyway regardless.

                    2. You stupid wortless hack, Facebook has already confirmed Centra when asked by FNC

                    3. I have no doubt that Centra exists. But does it do all of the evil things that you claim it does? Maybe we should not uncritically believe only one side of the story, the one that conveniently reinforces all of your fears and prejudices.

                2. If you agree to the fact that TOS can be changed, then it’s not unilateral.

              2. It’s not even a matter of them CHANGING the TOS. It’s a matter of agreeing to one thing, making a certain investment in resources based on those TOS, and then Twitter acts in a way that was not agreed to in accordance with the TOS.

            2. If Facebook or Twitter deleted your post, it’s because you made up bullshit about the election just like Ttump has. Show me evidence that people get in trouble just for saying “I don’t like Biden.” I don’t believe it.

              1. “made up bullshit” == “anything liberals don’t agree with”
                “nazi” == “anyone liberals don’t agree with”

                Facebook or Twitter have a rather bullshit definition of “made up bullshit.”

                1. About 95% of the time, when some conservative cries “Big Tech censored me!!!!”, what has happened is that the individual either (1) broke the terms of the TOS and/or (2) was being a giant flaming asshole. The individual wasn’t censored for his/her conservative views per se.

                  1. And the other 5% don’t matter.

        3. NashTiger You are honestly a crazy moron. Libertarians don’t oppose collusion between two or more companies, although you haven’t proven this “collusion.”

          1. NashTiger isn’t a libertarian. He’s a typical aggrieved victim-complex right-winger who only comes here to thumb his nose as us crazy weird libertarians and get his outrage boner on whenever a story like this appears.

      2. Bake the cake bigot.

        If banking could be deregulated enough that third parties could get into the market without suddenly finding themselves unable to have their payments processed, I’d be much more okay with what is going on, but that’s not a world I live in and I see no way to actually get back to said world.

    3. Libertarians OPPOSE antitrust laws, and ease prove this “collusion.”

      Go to Parker if you don’t like FB or Twitter.

    4. President Donald Trump’s longshot efforts at getting courts to overturn the results of the presidential election in key states are ending in near-unanimous failure………..USA MORE INFORMATION.

  2. In a hearing where we found out that Facebook and Twitter collude in their censorship efforts, and Facebook illegally tracks users across other websites, illegally, and uses this to build profiles of their users – THIS is the takeaway? Hawley still Tweets?

    The amount of corksoakind TReason does on behalf of illiberal Oligarchs trampling Enlightenment values is dimbfounding. Its almost as if Dorsey, Sindar, and Zuck are paying for this yellow dreck

    1. Maybe Dorsey or Fvckerberg could pay for a Preview feature or an Edit button

    2. Huh? Tracking cookies are illegal?

      1. STFU, tard, if you wont even bother to stay remotely on topic

        1. You referred to illegal tracking. What are you talking about?

          1. Maybe you shouldbread up on the ropic before weighing in.

            Facebook is tracking, not only what other sites their users visit (nothing to do with cookies), but what they Say and Do while there (dedinitely not covered under TOS). If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, and post Wrongthink here at Treason H&R Comment section, it is going in a file and you are going on a Naughty List, and when Jack and Zuck get together to compare lists, you can be Unpersoned online.

            Obsequious worms like Tony and WK fear not, the rest of us free people better push back. God Bless Haey for bringing this to light.

            1. Forgive me if I don’t just take your word for it. Do you have a link for this? Helpful if this link doesn’t go to Breitbart or Gateway Pundit.

                1. So you don’t have a link, got it. You just mindlessly adopt the claims made by your Team Red heroes.

                  I suppose if Hawley claimed that Zuckerberg eats babies, you’d believe that one too?

            2. (nothing to do with cookies)

              Then what is it? Are they installing software on people’s computers? Forgive me if I’m skeptical of these claims.

              1. Its called CENTRA, a whistleblower from Facebook told Hawley’s office about it and took screenshots, and Zuckerberg tried to play dumb not knowing the name, but never denied its use.

                1. It looks like CENTRA is a tool that FB uses to track people via cookies. The way I see it described, it’s not software that’s installed on the user’s computer. Anyway, I specifically block all FB and Instagram cookies, as well as all cookies from the major social media sites. I don’t have a FB account, but websites regularly have tracking “buttons” and set tracking cookies for FB and other sites. I block all tracking cookies anyway. Anyway, I don’t use FB and if you don’t like it, stop using it. No, seriously.

                  1. No one anywhere ever said it was software, and you dont seem to understand what cookies are and how they are used. Certainly not to spy on your messages.

              2. Clearly, the magnitude of NashTiger’s outrage should be sufficient proof for anyone, right?

      2. In Europe they are.

    3. Libertarians oppose antitrust laws. Period. End of story. No debate.

  3. https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/tyler-o-neil/2020/11/17/hawley-claims-to-have-clear-evidence-that-facebook-google-twitter-plot-censorship-together-n1154015

    Facebook confirmed to PJ Media that the company does work with Twitter and Google to fight terrorism but repeated Zuckerberg’s insistence that it does not coordinate with other tech companies on content moderation.

    “You’re coordinating together to control information,” Hawley said to Zuckerberg. “In recent days, my office was contacted by a Facebook whistleblower, a former employee of the company, with direct knowledge of the company’s content moderation practices. And I want to start by talking about an internal platform called Tasks that Facebook uses to coordinate projects including censorship.”

    “The Tasks platform allows Facebook employees to communicate about projects they’re working on together. That includes Facebook’s censorship teams, including the so-called community wellbeing team, the integrity team, and the hate speech engineering team, who all use the Tasks platform to discuss which individuals or hashtags or websites to ban,” the senator claimed.

    Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook employees use the Tasks system “for people coordinating all kinds of work across the company.” It seems to be something of a company-wide to-do list.

    Hawley presented a screenshot of Tasks, mentioning “referenced to election integrity.”

    “What particularly intrigued me is that the platform reflects censorship input from Google and Twitter as well,” the senator claimed. “So Facebook, as I understand it, Facebook censorship teams communicate with their counterparts at Twitter and Google and then enter those companies’ suggestions for censorship onto the Tasks platform so that Facebook can then follow-up with them and then coordinate their censorship efforts.”

  4. Also, no mention of the fact that the Unabomber’s Satanist nephew Dorsey admitted it was a mistake to censor the NYP – only on the premise that it brought them more attention, Not on the premise it was wrong. Wrong to censor, wrong to bury news harmful to partisan interests.

    1. Dorsey said the NYP didn’t violate the terms of service, after saying they were locked out of their account due to their violating the terms of service.

  5. https://twitter.com/dbongino/status/1329067226255810565

    The tech tyrants strike again. They’re doubling down on their war on speech. Here’s an email from the tyrants at .
    @Outbrain
    who canceled services on our websites for spurious reasons.If you’re running a conservative website, you’ve been warned about Outbrain.More on my show today

  6. Eventbrite shuts down March for Trump page for ‘potentially harmful misinformation’
    https://thepostmillennial.com/eventbrite-shuts-down-march-for-trump-page-for-potentially-harmful-misinformation/

    “THE MARCH IS NOT CANCELED,” tweeted veteran Tea Party activist Amy Kremer, citing Facebook, Mailchimp, and now Eventbrite’s efforts to censor the right-wing cause. “#BigTech is trying shut down our march. But we won’t let them.”

    The event listing has been removed and any paid orders were refunded. In addition to the since-deactivated event page, Eventbrite emailed Tuesday morning: “We encourage our organizers to express their views and gather for a chosen purpose as long as it’s done in a way that doesn’t violate our Terms of Service.”

    “We do not permit events, content, or creators that share or promote potentially harmful misinformation,” the letter continued, determining that the event violates Eventbrite’s Community Guidelines and is therefore not permitted on the platform. The company’s Trust and Safety division warned that repeated or severe violations may result in account termination.

  7. https://twitter.com/HonkSJ/status/1327103090890305536

    Google [Docs] censored a spreadsheet collecting data on v-t-r fr–d.

    1. Twatter and Fakebook are the tip of the iceberg. Google and Amazon have terrifying power.

      1. Google and Amazon have terrifying power.

        So what do you want the government to do about that?

        Or are you just going to bitch endlessly about it but propose nothing?

    2. Ah crap, accidentally flagged for review. Is there a reason Reason doesn’t have a flag confirmation button?.

  8. Jesus how dumb can you be? I guess when reason itself gets deplatformed from its hosting provider maybe then you’ll understand.

    1. As long as Big Brother is listed on the Stock Exchange, it really is OK to love him

      ” Four legs good, Board of Directors better!”

    2. I guess when reason itself gets deplatformed from its hosting provider maybe then you’ll understand.

      Nope. As long as they can bake cookies with their sisters and post about how the lockdowns aren’t affecting them personally, they don’t care. As long as the Twitter bots like them, who cares?

      1. They are huge amongst the ex-Shoprite staff

  9. https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/11/breaking-gofundme-shuts-fund-data-analysts-investigating-2020-voter-fraud-raising-240000-new-campaign-launched-givesendgo-com/

    BREAKING: GoFundMe Shuts Down Fund for Data Analysts Investigating 2020 Voter Fraud After Raising Over $220,000 — NEW CAMPAIGN Launched on GiveSendGo.com

  10. I DONT CARE what you think about Josh Hawley’s flawed interpretations of Sec 230….

    If you cant recognize he was the Good Guy in that room, if not downright fvcking heroic on behalf of the citizens of this country, you are hopelessly lost. No Libertarian should be OK with the Oreeliian offenses being perpetrated by this unelected cabal in Silicon Valley. Your stupid ” use a different service” argument is out the window when tjey are illegally surveilling and colluding

    1. Hawley’s interpretation of section 230 is the correct one. The problem is he’s the wrong team (or even just the wrong wing of the wrong team).

      Again, Cox and Wyden stated at the time and since that they felt that Cubby v. Compuserve and Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy were wrongly decided and that this was the motivation for S230. Compuserve was found not to be liable because they didn’t moderate and Prodigy was found to be liable because they do. Cox/Wyden wanted Congress to control moderation to prevent the internet from becoming the Wild West. They wanted Compuserve to face greater liability for in no way filtering/moderating its users’ posts. I’m sure all the “don’t use their products” and “build your own internet” morons were giving Compuserve users their incontrovertible spiel in ’96.

  11. In some ways, however, this is all beside the point. Listen closely to the complaints from politicians on both sides of the aisle, and it becomes clear that the real underlying concern here isn’t really about monopoly or censorship or a healthy marketplace. But it is about competition—not with other companies, but with the government itself.

    I believe you actually got it! All the legal, moral, ethical, and practical considerations aside, this is all about power. I believe the technical name for it is “FYTW”, and once one side starts using it, eventually we’re all going to start using it. And “we” are generally the last ones to start using it but when “we” start embracing the “FYTW”, we tend to start lopping off heads. So, you know, you might want to be a little careful with that shit.

  12. LOL Twitter and Facebook are not rivals.

    1. In a hearing where it came out they collude. this wss the dumbest possible sale

  13. Another clueless article about some unknown species of creatures called “conservatives” by someone who hasn’t been paying attention for the last 5-8 years or the trends before that.

  14. “Classical libertarianism” has given way to Reason’s idea of libertarianism which, at its core, seems to be some flavor “corporate libertarianism”.

    It’s rather odd to me how the writers at Reason refuse to see that the same hammer these companies are dropping on conservatives, and the same limits on speech/the free flow of information they are using to invariably help one side of the political isle (Democrats), will invariably be turned on libertarians, including this site.

    Or maybe they’re hoping their corporate overlords will spare them the hammer since they were all in on “ORANGE MAN BAD!” for five years.

    1. Property rights. Sorry.

  15. So enough bitching from the usual suspects.
    Those of you who are critical of Big Tech, what should be done? What is your plan?

    Do you want government to break them up? How should government do that? What would the metric that the government ought to use to decide that a certain size of company is “too big”?

    Do you want government to declare social media to be “the public square”, effectively nationalizing those companies? How should the government intend to compensate (if at all) the actual owners of those platforms? What is your standard by which a social media platform becomes “big enough” to be declared “the public square”? Do you see any downsides to having the government run social media (think: China) rather than having social media platforms run by private companies?

    And if government should get involved in regulating social media because reasons, why should government stop there? Why shouldn’t government get involved in ANY company, because that company is “critically important” in some way? What is your standard by which government should or should not get involved in the affairs of some company?

    1. People should just do what they’ve been doing, which is go to Parler, Me We, or wherever. There was a time when Twitter and Facebook were much smaller. Eventually they got big. Ok, go get on the smaller platforms. You won’t have as big an audience, but you won’t be censored (maybe).

      1. I personally agree with you.
        But there’s a bunch of people here who don’t, and who are cheering on censors like Hawley to “do something” about Big Tech.
        But all I ever see them do is bitch and moan and complain about it. I say time to put up or shut up. Present a workable idea and defend it. The time for critique is over.

        1. Hawley hasnt censored shit, Twitter and Facebook have, you fvckin idiot

          1. Yes, Twitter and Facebook censor on their own private property, as any private property owner is entitled to do. If you came on to my private property and started spewing your bullshit in my house, I’d censor your ass too.

            The difference is between censorship by private individuals on private property, which is a manifestation of private property rights and something that every defender of liberty ought to be in favor of the right of a private property owner to do, even if they don’t agree with every specific instance of it; and *government* censorship of private speech on private property, which is forbidden by the First Amendment and generally something that is odious to the entire concept of liberty.

            1. Not if I signed a lease and paid rent. Fvck off, slaver

              1. And especially not if you put in hidden cameras, cloned my phone, and bugged and tracked my car

              2. That depends on the lease agreement.

              3. That depends on what the lease agreement says, retard. You can pay rent and still be evicted, dumbass.

                1. Watch your language! Do you kiss Biden’s ass with that mouth?

        2. The time for critique is over.

          Says who? The free speech police?

      2. I hear Parlernlets the Community vote what to censor. Im not big on that, either.

    2. Those of you who are critical of Big Tech, what should be done? What is your plan?

      *sigh* Repeal section 230. It’s not *the* solution, but it is *a* solution and, despite detractors’ cries of impending doom, is not an exceedingly radical one. Let the varying circuits figure out what constitutes legally actionable speech online and what doesn’t. Let SCOTUS strike down/uphold the narrow exceptions.

      1. It’s not *the* solution, but it is *a* solution

        At the very least, it’s an erasure of the initial mentally-handicappng meme.

      2. ITS A SUPERPRECEDENT. WE WILL ALL DIE WITHOUT SEC 230

        1. THE GOVERNMENT WILL FORCE AMAZON TO GO BACK TO JUST SELLING BOOKS!

      3. In the absence of Section 230, why wouldn’t comment forums and social media generally just wither and die? How would this be beneficial towards free expression?

        Furthermore, why is it preferable to let courts decide what individuals may or may not say on private property, rather than letting the private property owners themselves decide what may or may not be said on private property?

        1. In the absence of Section 230, why wouldn’t comment forums and social media generally just wither and die?

          Comment forums and social media existed prior to section 230. Repealing section 230 won’t magically convert Amazon back into a bookstore. When do you people get past this doom stupidity?

          How would this be beneficial towards free expression?

          Are you saying that Facebook and Twitter are the only forms of free expression? That only expression protected by section 230 is truly free? If you are, you’re stupider than the low bar of your reputation, if not, then you’re bothering me with your own misunderstanding of your own arbitrary rules.

          Furthermore, why is it preferable to let courts decide what individuals may or may not say on private property, rather than letting the private property owners themselves decide what may or may not be said on private property?

          Because the courts don’t craft broad legislation nationwide. Moreover, what law they do lay down, they don’t do so of their own volition. Hawley can, professionally, rewrite the law without a single American approving of it or asking for it. No judge (save maybe Roberts) can do the same. This latter part is key as it means that, by and large, so long as the private property owners are copacetic amongst themselves, the government doesn’t get involved.

          NB: All of the above is predicated on ignoring, or a long-winded explanation of the fact that S230 is a prima facia violation of the 1A.

          1. , by and large,

            This would probably be better stated as “as far as the judiciary is concerned”.

          2. Comment forums and social media existed prior to section 230.

            In 1996? Comment forums, ok, but very few people were even on the internet at the time, much less in comment forums.

            1. If you count in home connections, the number was easily in the tens of millions and if you count public access via schools, libraries and internet cafès. So, since the number is significantly different than zero the question to you becomes one not of degree but kind.

              So, at what number of users does free speech transition from an individual right granted by a creator to a Constitutionally protected right? Dumbass.

          3. Comment forums and social media existed prior to section 230.

            They were in their infancy. The commercial Internet was barely getting going at that point. Furthermore we never had social media before Section 230. So I think it’s a bit of a stretch to think that without Section 230, we would still have something like the Internet of today. We just don’t have a real basis of comparison.

            My biggest concern in this area is that without the liability protections that Section 230 provides to platform operators, that they would by necessity have to curate and censor ALL of their material or risk getting shut down if they happen to miss a problematic comment or two. Big companies like Twitter and Facebook can afford to do this, but not the little guys with their niche hobbyist forums or whatnot. It would result in MORE concentration of power with Big Tech as they would be the only entities available to provide curation of their content to keep them lawsuit-free.

            Are you saying that Facebook and Twitter are the only forms of free expression?

            No. I am asking, how is making it harder for one to express one’s opinion beneficial to the cause of free speech? This isn’t about Twitter or Facebook per se.

            And in the second part, you didn’t actually answer my question. I didn’t ask whether courts would be preferable to legislatures. I asked why courts would be preferable to the private property owners themselves in deciding what speech to allow on private property, at least in the general case.

            NB: All of the above is predicated on ignoring, or a long-winded explanation of the fact that S230 is a prima facia violation of the 1A.

            How so?

            1. They were in their infancy. The commercial Internet was barely getting going at that point.

              So what you’re saying is, ecommerce and forums and socializing on the web existed before section 230. Otherwise, it’s not Congress’s job to step in to protect industries, nascent, aged, or other.

              Furthermore we never had social media before Section 230.

              This is a bit of a bullshit tautology. People absolutely socialized on the web. The majority of what makes Facebook and twitter social media companies was already provided by other providers and in different formats. It’s like saying that until we had McDonald’s nobody had ever eaten fast food even though White Castle was selling hamburgers for a decade prior and people walked out of diners, restaurants, bakeries, delis, and grocery stores with prepared food for decades before that (except that there is no section 230 protection for fast food).

              No. I am asking, how is making it harder for one to express one’s opinion beneficial to the cause of free speech? This isn’t about Twitter or Facebook per se.

              I don’t agree with your premise. The idea of repealing a law or rule making something more difficult is stupidly backwards in a ‘wet roads cause rain’ sense and at least partially rests on the presumption that the only reason people would do things the easy way is if the government told them by law. I think by and large, the same login and password will get you the same or similar access to thousands of Facebook or Twitter followers. The only difference is that it will be more clear between yourself, your followers, and FB who’s generating content, who’s editorializing what, who’s liable for what, and who isn’t and easier to resolve the issue should conflicts arise.

              And in the second part, you didn’t actually answer my question.

              Yes I did. I just addressed the trichotomy (or more) that you’re falsely treating as a dichotomy. Now that we’ve cleared that up, when are you going to stop fucking your baby sister?

          4. How is S230 a 1A violation?

        2. Also, you asked for someone to put forth and defend an argument. This argument has been put forth and defended pretty much since S230 was passed. You should realize at some point that your calls to ‘put forth a solution’ are going to be obviously regarded as the stupid “I don’t hear any solutions (that I like).” that they probably already are.

        3. You stupid lying leftist POS, if therr is a lawful usage agreement enteted into for the private property, the owner does not get to police free expression.
          Your landlord cannot prohibit you from speech in your apartment. Avis cannot prohibit your speech in their rental cars. Hilton cannot monitor your room for unpleasant speech. Your argumemt gets dumber each time you overuse it.

          1. Your landlord cannot prohibit you from speech in your apartment.

            That depends on your rental agreement, doesn’t it?

          2. Actually they can under contract… Every single one you mentioned. What most people tend to forget is that the 1A is a restriction of government; nothing else. It’s the peoples law over their government.

            1. Every single one you mentioned. What most people tend to forget is that the 1A is a restriction of government; nothing else.

              What most people tend to ignore is that section 230 is, from inception and on its face, a direct violation of the 1A.

              1. Section 230 abridges the freedom of speech? Where?

          3. You sound like a libtard.

        4. It would accelerate the move to fully decentralized P2P social media, which is desperately needed.

          When that happens, nobody will give a shit what the courts say because their piddly little rulings would be unenforceable. Better to have a technology-based approach to protecting free speech, rather than an artificial one from government (which can be taken away or manipulated).

  16. Anyone who doesn’t think that these tech giants with all their data collection aren’t in bed and working in tandem with the government vis-a-vis the CIA, NSA, FBI, et al, probably has a unicorn in their back yard.

    Naturally, the Republicans get a little hackled by the censorship, but they are doing the bidding of the deep state at every turn.

    These hearings are all kabuki theater. Uncle Sam LOVES what Big Tech provides it.

  17. Josh Hawley is the modern day reincarnation of Joe McCarthy, and needs to die in a grease fire.

    1. This sounds exceedingly ‘Trump is Literally Hitler’esque. Maybe a sarc tag fell off?

      Sure you may not like the guy’s view on Section 230, but he’s nowhere near McCarthy’s level and it’s not like he voted in favor of the war in Afghanistan or supported the Biden Crime Bill.

      1. Everybody voted yes on the war in Afghanistan except Barbara Lee.

        1. I was referring to its initiation. Hawley wasn’t in office to vote like people like HRC or Biden were.

  18. The REAL culprit; copyright and patient law.

    Solution – http://www.facebook.net; looks and works mostly like facebook but served somewhere besides CA. Of course stringent copyright and patient law keeps that from happening. Open Source doesn’t have this problem; Libre Office or Open Office. Stringent copyright law creates exactly these kinds of monopolies in the tech industry.

    The strictness and careless way these patients are handled is shameful. Many tech companies “harvest” the most absurd copyrights one could ever imagine just for financial gain lawsuits.

    1. Of course stringent copyright and patient law keeps that from happening.

      I’m a fan of rolling back IP protections (but not eliminating them entirely). I had generally considered it to be an unrelated issue, but this is a fair point. In addition to section 230 Google or Facebook as a company gets preferential protection relative to other industries and especially smaller businesses in other industries (where “Fred’s BBQ” in Dallas may wind up competing with “Fred’s BBQ” in Austin).

  19. You’re not about to persuade anybody to support Section 230 by denying the existence of Facebook’s and Twitter’s bias. You’re just selling your own credibility short.

    Why not just acknowledge the bias, account for it in your argument, and argue for free speech anyway?

    “While we strive to do as well as possible and be as precise as possible, we will make mistakes,” Mr. Zuckerberg said after Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) read a list of actions taken against content adopting a conservative point of view.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-twitter-ceos-brace-for-another-grilling-before-senate-committee-11605620848?

    Mistakes were made according to Zuckerberg? Why weren’t there mistakes made according to Suderman?

    1. Why not just acknowledge the bias, account for it in your argument, and argue for free speech anyway?

      Because section 230 isn’t about free speech but explicitly and since it’s inception about controlling moderation of the internet.

  20. Another article that shows just how little attention the writer has given to what is going on. There would be no talk of censorship being such a problem if companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google had competition.

    If you’ve been paying attention, “Go make your own x” doesn’t work. You make your own and then within a year or two you be just as censorious or will be shut down. Most of the time, you lose the ability to process payments, or you lose your ad revenue. Other times you just have your web hosting pulled out from underneath you.

    Very rarely will a website still stand despite all of this and when it does, it tends to be home to more of the cesspit of the internet rather than any sort of actual competition. Which drives away people ensuring that the site either stays niche or dies. So what’s your choice, moderate your site and die, moderate your site until there is no difference anymore and die, or don’t moderate your site and be shut down or die.

    Which is why repealing 230 seems like such an appealing option to many. Clearly, newcomers don’t have the same protections that the big corporations have. And despite all the articles at Reason saying how repealing 230 will just cause companies to censor more, the fact that this is even considered should tell you just how bad the censorship is.

    They’re already being censored, and big tech has frequently been caught colluding, and because of the near impossibility of creating an alternative that doesn’t get shut down by big tech and the banks, most see little reason to continue giving big tech any sort of protection anymore. You say that these sites are private property, so then let them take responsibility what’s on it then.

    Or, you don’t have to even go that far. These two changes would go a long way to solve the issue. 1.) You can moderate your site however you like, but you have to be honest and clear on what you allow and disallow. If Twitter, Facebook, and Google want to allow harassment and doxing while disallowing any sort of libertarian or conservative comment, then so be it. If properly enforced, then companies would have to decide between their prejudices and their business.

    2.) Stop direct and indirect interference in competition. This also goes for the banking corporations as well. If people are actually allowed to create alternatives then it shouldn’t matter how censorious big tech gets, as long as big tech stays out of the way of competition.

  21. What’s not to take seriously? Social media company CEO’s lie and they align with the Left using the protections afforded to them by the law along with weaponizing the free speech and privacy property protections in order to destroy their opposition. It would be more productive for Republicans to actually do something rather than just berate and scold Zuckerberg and Dorsey.

    1. They’re privately owned companies, I don’t agree with what they’re doing but they have right to do it on their private property.

      The government stepping in to regulate them goes against everything I stand for as a libertarian.

      1. And you have a right to start you own..oh you can’t get funding because Google/Twitter/FB contact all the hedge funds and tell them not to fund you.or you can’t get capital as cheap as FB cause you didn’t go to some Ivy league classmate at the Fed or Bank or your not in the club. These firms are just bolshevik entities who are at war with the Bill of Rights…so many of their “leaders” seem to cosmo types…red diaper babies for sure.

  22. The amount of so called “libertarians” wanting the government to regulate privately owned social media sites like Twitter and FaceBook is just embarrassing.

    1. Awesome. No regulation is a great idea.

      So get rid of Section 230. Which is clearly and undeniably government regulation.

      Oh wait, you weren’t being the slightest bit honest, were you? You “so called” libertarian.

      1. I’m fine with getting red of section 230.

  23. Superman displays breathtaking cluelessness. Try real hard Peter and you can see the forest, it’s where all the trees are bunched together. Unbelievable.

  24. I’m tired of pretending that companies haven’t abused 230 as a catch-all to manipulate and control information. These companies are going well beyond the pale. I hope that we will continue to protect platforms and not hold them responsible for the actions and speech of their users, but that does not excuse their recent actions.

  25. These firms have an almost monopoly on funding..you have to be in the “woke” NYC crowd to get any hedge funds or investors to pour money into you..and remember the criminal set up that is the Fed/Primary Dealers funnels money directly to hedge funds and investors at artificially low rates that a start up who is for free speech will never get…and if you do somehow get running the “cancel culture” will call their ivy league buddies or tribe on wall street and shut you down real quick.

    These firms are colluding and acting like sovereign nations..if they are simply electronic bulletin boards who make money on adverts…they can’t discriminate with their customers postings..so this isn’t about free speech but a corporation acting like it does not have to obey the Bill of Rights…it sure as hell does. Declare “war” on these bolshevik institutions, dispose the leaders and break them up…they can’t be allowed to censor free speech…

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