Social Media

How Europe Censors What Americans Say Online

Stanford Law professor and former Google attorney Daphne Keller says tech giants are facing pressure from governments worldwide to clamp down on content.


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Google, Facebook, and Twitter are protected by the First Amendment, but are their decisions about which content to remove and which users to evict from their platforms really free from government pressures?

Social media firms are complying with the requests of lawmakers from European countries, where free speech protections are significantly weaker, according to Daphne Keller, a former Google attorney who's now a law professor at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. They're pressuring these U.S.-based firms to ban "hate speech," "terrorist content," and alleged disinformation, and because these policies are applied across their platforms, they also affect what U.S. customers are allowed to see.

"They are making European law global," Keller says.

Reason's Zach Weissmueller sat down with Keller to talk about the so-called Terrorist Content Regulations currently being debated in the European Union, which could empower local police to track and report terms of service violations. They also discuss the chilling effects that content regulations have on legitimate political discourse and why Mark Zuckerberg's call for federal regulation of Facebook and other social media could be a way of blocking potential competitors.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Alexis Garcia. Graphics by Josh Swain, with additional graphics from Meredith Bragg.

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  1. What would happen if Facebooglezonia had no offices or any corporate property in the EU and simply told those busybodies to fuck off? Saudi Arabia or Russia would probably (try to) block them, but I don’t think the EU has the balls, nor do I think the people would put up with it; not to mention that if Iranians and Chinese can find technical means to get around IP blockage and straight-up censorship, so could Europeans.

    Amazon might have a harder time, seeing as how they deal in physical goods. But Facebook and Google are pure digital. They probably have data centers in the EU, but what if they didn’t?

    The mind wonders….

    1. Interesting hypothetical. First guess, all the corporate executives would have to permanently give up the idea of ever vacationing in Europe lest they be seized at the airport and held personally accountable for corporate decisions.

      Second guess, even without physical facilities or employees, wouldn’t they still have revenues from or in the EU? That would get to some interesting accounting and tax questions – and even more interesting if an EU court decided that they could garnish those revenues.

      A better answer might be to spin off Facebooglezonia EU to its own legal entity. Let the EU regulators screw up their version and leave ours free. I don’t know that the tech companies would want to do that since it would mean giving up a lot of their network-effect value. And it might only be temporary since our own regulators seem determined to drive us down the same hole.

      1. Yes, revenue could be a problem. The increased load on US or other non-EU data centers is a considerable expense and not something a US company would just write off as marketing. They’d get some US ad revenue from other US companies advertising, but those ads and those companies would have to eventually sell something in the EU, and that stops the whole endeavor.

        I doubt US companies would block EU visitors just to reduce their server load, and if they did, I’m certain EU people would find ways around it, just as Iranians and Chinese have. Maybe US advertisers would actually count some of those customers as good advertising audiences.

        Wish we had the opportunity to find out!

        1. Mind you, these American private companies DO NOT have to do this.

          They are CHOOSING to.

          Muh private companies!!!

          1. Reason needs to make up its mind about this shit.

            1. Definitely, and above all, law enforcement authorities across the nation need to make up their minds, follow Europe’s example, and rapidly go after all of the “internet” users who are fomenting inappropriate, and in many instances illegal, “satire.” Here at NYU, we are fortunate to have excellent connections with the police that help us prevent any potential harm to our reputations in such situations; faculty members in other universities might not be so lucky. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal “parody” case at:


            2. It’s shit. Shit comes from assholes. Without assholes, we would all be full of shit.

          2. Mind you, these American private companies DO NOT have to do this.

            Further mind you that, rather than protecting Facebook and Google from lawsuits from American citizens, the US government could be shielding them from *this* bullshit and generally isn’t (tariffs?).

            Now, it would likely end up further federating the internet and you’ll likely end up with shit like ‘VPN server embassies’ but you’d at least have the US government defending US corporations from foreign laws created by foreign governments rather than from lawsuits from its own citizens.

    2. Would Facebook do it though? Hosting profiles / comments costs real resources in terms of space and RAM (though getting cheaper by the day, but still not free). The only reason why they do it is to sell advertizing. If the EU can block private Eurepean companies from advertizing the most FB can profit from would be global corps like McDonald’s which has franchises worldwide, but still based in the US.

      Would be interesting to see how their attempt would play out though.

  2. They’re pressuring these U.S.-based firms to ban “hate speech,” “terrorist content,” and alleged disinformation, and because these policies are applied across their platforms, they also affect what U.S. customers are allowed to see.

    “They are making European law global,” Keller says.

    We’ve known this for a long time which is why us alt-righty maga hat-wearing Trumpistas are so pissed off.

    1. It’s also a big part of Brexit.

      1. But don’t be fooled. The real target is Zuckerberg and his refusal to take the rest of the world seriously as a source of existential problems for Facebook.

        The international dressing down of Facebook underscores what many in the company’s senior management have yet to grasp — that the firm can no longer be viewed as merely a U.S. company, and that by failing to treat global complaints on an equal footing to those from American lawmakers, it’s heading ever deeper into a world of pain.

        “If he doesn’t want to appear to make suggestions on how to regulate, we can do that ourselves,” said Bob Zimmer, a Canadian politician taking part in the London hearing on Tuesday, along with officials from Britain, France, Belgium, Argentina, Brazil, Ireland, Singapore and Latvia, in reference to Zuckerberg.

        That damned right winger Hawley and his anti-free speech Righty-rightypants attitudes!

    2. So does this mean when I call for the violent overthrow of the British govt. in the comment section of British newspapers websites, that they don’t like that kind of talk?

      I wouldn’t have guessed.

  3. This reminds me why the U.S.A needs to get out of the U.N. It used to be part of the Libertarian Party platformed when I first joined. But I haven’t seen anything on of it recently.

    1. That’s because the Libertarian party is being infiltrated and hijacked, just like Reason.

      If the U.S. withdrew from the U.N., Gillespie, Welchie Boy, and all the rest of the dick-sucking Obamafags around here would be red-faced, apoplectic with rage, and spittle would be flying every which direction.

      The Koch boys don’t even care though, because some time in the last few years they decided to sell out for that sweet, sweet Soros money.

      1. No one wants to infiltrate or hijack the libertarian party. There’s no value in it.

        1. That just shows you how far the Long March through the Institutions has spread.

          They’ve even gotten around to Reason.

    2. Keep in mind this site was upset over us potentially leaving NATO, an organization where we are one of the only countries ACTUALLY abiding by the terms of our agreement.

      1. Not to mention that abiding by the terms of the agreement necessitates or at least justifies a lot of the military spending that they consistently harp on the GOP about.

    3. Reason is just globalist cuck shills anymore.

      They will waffle on almost any rights that are actually important, like national sovereignty, gun rights, taxation levels, etc… But tranny bathroom rights and abortions on demand are 100% the most important issues in the world. It’s retarded.

  4. I’m just going to keep posting this quote.

    “Power don’t come from a badge or a gun. Power comes from lying. Lying big and gettin’ the whole damn world to play along with you. Once you’ve got everybody agreeing with what they know in their hearts ain’t true, you’ve got ’em by the balls.”

    In other news, a few weeks from now, Reason’s own Koch bros are teaming up with Big Tech and some Charlottesville-inspired activist group to host a meeting aimed at leading the fight against “extremism”

    Censorship is liberty
    Liberty is censorship
    Progress uber alles

  5. It’s almost like Reason is unaware that there’s not actually a right to free speech. I don’t mean to say that it’s not the intent of the 1A, it’s obvious and can readily be inferred, but the text doesn’t specifically name a right to free speech any more than it names a right to privacy. There is, however, a right specifically named in the 1A. The right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

    Per the 1st and the 14th, the government’s obligation is to protect both FB/Google etc.’s right to free speech and their right to petition *equally to a private individual*. A law, passed by Congress, favoring Google’s “right” to free speech over my, or anyone else’s *right* to petition is unconstitutional multiple times over on its face. It’s an obvious play to specifically generate inequality, not of outcome or of private opportunity, but before the law.

    1. But now we have this wonderful loophole – if we put the vast majority of the public square on a privately held internet server, we can effectively nullify your right to petition the government in any meaningful way. Sure, you can send an email via proton mail, but lets be honest, you might as well not exist if that’s what you’re doing.

      But its fine. Its all fine. Right?

  6. You know who else wanted to control the world from a base in Europe?

  7. Of course, the technology exists to simply present a landing page to any EU user that states their government has stopped their access to the social media, and suggesting perhaps at the next election a change of politicians would be of use. (oh, yes; and also storm the un-elected bureaucrats in Brussels and throw them out on their ass.

  8. The google shill dismisses having an actual free speech platform because “people would see things in their feed they didn’t want to see”.

    This is trivially fixed by allowing blocking rules and inclusion rules to be delegated to people of *your* choice.

    But BigTech doesn’t want to give up the *power* to control what you see.

  9. Knowledge is power and you can’t have it.

  10. There is more than one way to make a One World Government. This is one way but there is another. The other way will not use force or threat nor jail time. The other way is one that will be motivated by love, Godly love.

    1. The other will help you meet Him.

  11. Fucking Europe. What a shithole filled with slaves. Every time I bitch about how horrible things are in the USA compared to the way they used to be, I remember that those assholes have literally never known an ounce of freedom since the dawn of time.

  12. Brilliant! To illustrate what this means, Germans recently rose up en masse to block naming a fast train “Anne Frank”, while a train named Martin Luther zips back and forth among major cities. Yet this is who is writing laws to coerce or at least intimidate U.S. and South American civil libertarians who do not regard Anne Frank as hate speech.

  13. Privacy is myth. It’s sad but it’s truth. I have seen one such video on vigo video app.

  14. Its very hard for Twitter, Facebook and google to evict bad people from their platforms because these people have spread around the globe. Once visit to get VPN and enjoy playing pubg in India. I don’t think so that management of these software will be able to stop bad people using their software.

  15. It’s very difficult to remove the bad people not only from Facebook and Google but also from anywhere.
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