Section 230

Big Tech, Voting Rights, and Weed

What more do you need?

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The Reason Roundtable mixes it up this week with the usual host, Matt Welch, vaccinated and vacationing. In his absence, Peter Suderman leads the weekly discourse with Katherine Mangu-Ward, Nick Gillespie, and a special guest, Senior Editor Elizabeth Nolan Brown. The group breaks down tech regulation, Georgia's new voting law, and weed.

Discussed in the show:

1:06: The government versus "big tech": Section 230, antitrust, content moderation.

29:35: Voting bills and voting rights.

47:00: Weekly Listener Question: "Is catcalling freedom of speech? Is it violence?"

52:17: Media recommendations for the week.

This week's links:

Send your questions either by email to roundtable@reason.com. Be sure to include your social media handle and the correct pronunciation of your name.

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Audio production by Ian Keyser.
Assistant production by Regan Taylor.
Music: "Angeline," by The Brothers Steve.


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  1. The idea that the Democrats don’t know what they want to do to Big Tech or why is contradicted by the 450 page report the congressional Democrats released in October detailing what they plan to do to Big Tech and why. One of the things the Democrats want to do is break up Big Tech companies, and one of the reasons is because they don’t like the way Facebook and Google handle news and “misinformation”.

    From the Executive Summary:

    In the absence of competition, Facebook’s quality has deteriorated over time, resulting in worse privacy protections for its users and a dramatic rise in misinformation on its platform.

    . . . .

    As part of this process, the Subcommittee received testimony and submissions showing that the dominance of some online platforms has contributed to the decline of trustworthy sources of news, which is essential to our democracy . . . . Google and Facebook have an outsized influence over the distribution and monetization of trustworthy sources of news online,25 undermining the quality and availability of high-quality sources of journalism.26

    —-Majority Staff Report and Recommendations, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, October 2020

    https://judiciary.house.gov/uploadedfiles/competition_in_digital_markets.pdf?utm_campaign=4493-519

    Under the “Restoring Competition in the Digital Economy” section of the Executive Summary, the Democrats recommend a number of anti-libertarian and anti-market capitalist “solutions”. Two of them should be of immediate interest”

    1) “Structural separations and prohibitions of certain dominant platforms from operating in adjacent lines of business”

    That’s effectively recommending that companies be broken up–say forcing Facebook to divest Instagram and/or WhatsApp, forcing Google to spin off YouTube, etc.

    2) “Nondiscrimination requirements, prohibiting dominant platforms from engaging in selfpreferencing, and requiring them to offer equal terms for equal products and services”

    Isn’t this the essence of what Reason used to be call “net neutrality”?

    1. In short, any libertarian who defends Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google deplatforming various voices, companies, or individuals–under these circumstances–as an excellent example of Big Tech exercising their association rights is just plain nuts. Wake up already!

      The most significant event of January 6th for social media and Big Tech was not the Capitol riot. It was the Democrats’ winning both of the Georgia Senate run-off elections the night before January 6th. Once it became clear that the Democratic Party and the U.S. government were to be one in the same, the Democrats threats to break their companies up if they didn’t crack down on “misinformation” suddenly became very, very real.

      Did you know there are two antitrust cases pending against Big Tech companies already?

      I repeat, the Democrats promised to use the government to break up Big Tech companies for failing to crack down on speech that the Democrats don’t like, and anyone who defends the ongoing purge of Republican and conservative voices from social media–now that the Democratic party and the government are the same thing–is carrying water for the enemies of the First Amendment, whether they realize it or not.

      1. I don’t need to read the Democrats’ own words to change my mind about Republicans being the biggest threat.

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  2. Big Tech, Voting Rights, and Weed

    What happened to Mexicans, ass sex, and weed?

    You’ve changed, Reason. You’ve changed.

  3. “Big Tech, Voting Rights, and Weed
    What more do you need?”

    I’m picturing 20-something tech bros and influencers handing out free weed samples in the voting line to anyone who promises to vote for AOC.

    Democracy!

  4. Nice content thanks for sharing with us.
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  5. lol Reason does not get it

    this is what Big Tech is for

    https://dailycaller.com/2021/03/17/virginia-parents-targeted-for-opposing-critical-race-theory/

    The Virginia Project announced the plans for legal action on its web site after members of an “antiracist” Facebook group with 624 members, sought to “compile a document of all known actors and supporters” and intended to “expose these people publicly,” the Daily Wire reported.

    The list not only included those who opposed including CRT within the public school curricula, but also those who were suspected of trying to remain neutral in the dispute, according to the Daily Wire.

    1. best part is the prosecutor to whom charges would be referred being *in the FB group*

      This is a call for volunteers to combat the anti-CRT activities of the P.A.C.T. folks, the stoplcpscrt website, and the like. Looking for folks who are interested in volunteering to organize, lead, execute, and donate regarding the following points:

      Gather information (community mailing lists, list of folks who are in charge of the anti-CRT movement, lists of local lawmakers/folks in charge)
      Infiltrate (create fake online profiles and join these groups to collect and communicate information, hackers who can either shut down their websites or redirect them to pro-CRT/anti-racist informational webpages)

  6. Peter Suderman’s theory about Republican election law preferences starts from a mistaken premise. It is mostly predicated on a theory of how Democrats are cheating. If you don’t believe Democrats are cheating (or that their cheating is no worse than anyone else’s and is in fact in some way retributive for the constraints that rules like “majority minority” districts create, then you will naturally see these things as illegitimate.

    But the Republican theory of the case is that Democrats who control certain urban electoral districts can overcome the checks and balances between departments to enable ineligible voters to vote. This isn’t exactly a new idea – wasn’t it Harry Truman who indicated that he would like to be buried in Chicago so he could remain active in politics after his death? Jersey City, Gary, Indiana and other such places have reputations for machines that are able to get dead folks to vote.

    If one party controls all of the appointments to all departments for decades, it is possible to have loyalists at all of the key departments and instead of having them act independently, requiring say, the election commission (that supervises voter rolls) acting independently of the bureau of vital statistics, that records births and deaths, you can instead get intra party coordination between these these people. You might argue that this is far fetched, but then, I would have to ask what sort of libertarian you are? For surely, this sort of institutional venality is EXACTLY the argument for a weak and small government – a more limited scope keeps the stakes low, and a small organization to oversee.

    And let’s be honest, Ds have something of a track record of this sort of behavior, dating at least to the 19th century and the fusion of Southern landowners and Northern urban white ethnics. More recent efforts like ballot harvesting – which was not aimed at getting “more votes” but only at getting more DEM votes are a classic case of this. Acting as a sort of extension of the election commission, but not acting in a non-partisan way, is exactly the sort of thing that speaks not to a sense of public spiritedness, but rather of ruthlessness. If that is what you expect from your opponent, you can see why you would want to put protections in place to disallow this sort of behavior. The same can be said of the prohibitions on interfering – even with “good” or “noble” intentions – with voters in the process of voting.

    Republicans are particularly concerned, I think, and are so also behaving somewhat prophylactically, to inhibit the ability of Democrats to import millions of new voters in ways calculated to disenfranchise R voters.

    D enthusiam for this sort of thing – from adding new states to court packing suggest that Rs are not crazy.

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  8. nice and very interesting post on Tech
    thanks

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