Free Speech

"Trump Was Kicked Off Twitter. Who's Next?"

"We should be wary of corporate power over political speech."

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This is a new op-ed of mine in the N.Y. Times tonight (note that, as usual, the headline and the subhead were written by the editors, not by me). An excerpt:

Recall the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which held that corporations and unions have the First Amendment right to speak about political candidates. I happen to agree with the court's decision in that case, but four justices and a legion of commentators didn't. Many were concerned that by using their wealth, corporations would undermine democracy and unduly influence elections and sway elected officials.

Yet Citizens United was just about whether corporations could spend money to convey their views. Now we have a few huge corporations actually blocking someone's ability to convey his views. Plus, such blocking affects not just the speaker; it also affects the millions of people who use Facebook and Twitter to hear what their elected officials have to say.

And what happens once is likely to happen again. After this, there'll be pressure to get Facebook, Twitter and other companies to suppress other speech, such as fiery rhetoric against the police or oil companies or world trade authorities. People will demand: If you blocked A, why aren't you blocking B? Aren't you being hypocritical or discriminatory? …

Companies, moreover, are run by humans, subject to normal human failings. Mr. Trump's suspension may have been motivated by a sincere desire to resist efforts "to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power," as Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, put it. But other politicians might be suspended because their policies are bad for corporate profits or contrary to the owners' political ideologies.

The standard Times op-ed deal doesn't let me post the whole piece until 30 days after I publish it. (As you know, we moved here to Reason in part because the Washington Post was putting us behind a hard paywall; but while I don't like having most of my stuff behind a paywall, I'm OK with having <0.1% of my items there.) But if you have N.Y. Times access, I hope you read the whole thing.

NEXT: A Wilderness of Mirror Imaging

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  1. Is Twitter vital to speech though? It is hard to believe that the President is being blocked from conveying his views.

    I’m also not sure if freedom of speech must Trump expressive association. Which is also speech.

    Plus, of course, there is the justification, which is, if not unique, not going to come up very often,

    1. It’s less vital to speech if the tech companies aren’t colluding to suppress competition.

      Build your own app was the retort to people complaining about twitters inconsistent rules on what’s allowed (Trump’s illegally leaked tax returns are ok, but Hunter Biden’s legally obtained emails are forbidden as one example.

      Parler built that app and now that it is becoming more successful, Apple and Google are banning Parler from their app stores, and Amazon is dehosting them with 5 days notice.

      1. You could easily make the argument that big tech companies should be broken up.

        What you can’t do is say that anyone (left or right) has some innate right to use a private platform to spew poetry or garbage, whichever it may be. It’s up to the private platform owner.

        1. I disagree about the owners having free rein to deplatform anybody they want. I don’t know about the fine print in their contracts, but far as I’m concerned, public statements by company officials, such as “promoting diversity”, “encouraging discussion”, etc would be an implicit part of all contarcts, regardless of fine print saying otherwise. It should be perjury to act otherwise, and to me, these deplatforming acts are both perjury and contract violations. Of course this has no bearing on our current legal system.

          1. “I don’t know what the contract says, but I know they breached it.”

            (Also, “I don’t know what perjury is, but I know they committed it.”)

        2. “What you can’t do is say that anyone (left or right) has some innate right to use a private platform to spew poetry or garbage, whichever it may be. It’s up to the private platform owner.”

          That was the attitude that people initially had with radio — about a century ago, the military grabbed all of the more desirable low frequencies and the AM war began. Stations were broadcasting on whatever frequency they desired, often changing frequencies, and often interfering with distant stations, something exacerbated by the fact that it didn’t have to be the same frequency to interfere with the other station’s signal. And everyone wanted a station.

          It quickly became apparent that the AM band was a finite resource and that’s when Congress stepped in, establishing the principle that the public airwaves were the public property that must be used “in the public interest” and creating the FCC to police them.

          I see the same thing here. Twatter is a private platform and if it wanted to have an intranet, not connected to the internet, it is free to exclude whomever it desires. But once it connects to the internet (a public resource) it no longer is able to.

          That’s what “Net Neutrality” was all about, that Verizon can’t prevent me from emailing my poetry to someone whose ISP is Verizon (unless that person doesn’t want me to, which is a different issue).

          1. Without disagreeing with the rest of your post, no that’s not what “net neutrality” was about at all. What you describe might have been a good policy but that’s very much not what the actual net neutrality rules were at all.

            1. Without going into the weeds, it was what its advocates alleged it to be.

        3. There is the safety valve issue. Better to have nut jobs spewing bile in public than forcing them underground where dangerous conspiracy theories can multiply and spread out of sight until they explode.

          1. Why is that better? The last 5 years have certainly not demonstrated that giving alt-right conspiracy nuts a platform stops anything from exploding. On the contrary.

            1. The difference is other people who are paying attention being prepared for the explosion or everyone else caught with their pants down.

              1. Nor to mention that the rest of us say “NO!”

                And I think that helps stop things.

      2. and Amazon is dehosting them with 5 days notice

        That’s far more generous to Amazon than they appear to deserve. Parler’s complaint says they received less than 30 hours notice (under a contract with a 30-day notice and cure period — ouch).

        1. If it had “just” been that, it would have been ugly enough.
          Kicked off the app stores.
          Stripped of hosting.
          Security firm shut off their security in advance of the dehosting, and hackers were given advance notice of this so that they could conduct a massive data breach.
          Both Visa AND Mastercard refuse to process transactions for them.
          Their law firm dropped them.
          Other hosting serviced refused their business.

          And all in the space of a few days. Tell me that wasn’t coordinated. It’s like there’s some sort of advance agreement to kill websites they agree need killing.

          I’d say that was paranoid, but I’d have said that journalists and news outlets conspiring to make sure everybody was pushing the DNC’s talking points was paranoid, and then Journolist was exposed.

          1. “Security firm shut off their security in advance of the dehosting, and hackers were given advance notice of this so that they could conduct a massive data breach.”

            That strikes me as one hell of a class action suit against the security firm — and as hacking is illegal, wouldn’t giving them notice of it be a *criminal* offense?

            1. It is one hell of a class action lawsuit, assuming Parler can find a law firm that isn’t terrified to work for them.

              1. I’m sure Rudy Guiliani is about to have lots of free time.

                1. Yeah, I’m sure you find it very amusing when people you don’t like can’t get decent legal representation because of threats to destroy any law firm that’s willing to represent them. A laugh a minute.

                  1. At least we agree that Rudy Giuliani doesn’t count as “decent legal representation”.

                    1. I suspect most of us agree that your catty heckling adds precisely zero value to the discussion. I’d ask why you’re so eager to distract, but the answer is obvious.

                    2. Yes, obviously I have some very boring documents to read, so I’m procrastinating.

                    3. “I suspect most of us agree that your catty heckling adds precisely zero value to the discussion.”

                      No we don’t. His catty heckling adds negative value to the discussion.

                    4. “His catty heckling adds negative value to the discussion.”

                      Its all Euro snobbery.

                      Why does a Dutchman care so much about US law? No body, and I mean nobody, cares about Dutch law*.

                      *legalized murder of old people excepted

                  2. Again with the whining. It’s fascinating the concern conservatarians have for due process…for a supposed billionaire and most powerful man in the country. It would be nice if they had some of that for, say, the thousands of poor persons of color (and whites) getting rammed into prison every day…

                    1. And Parler, backed by GOP megadonors, poor them! How will they ever get a fair shake?

            2. Brett probably shouldn’t post about Internet security since he has no idea what he’s talking about.

              First, Twilio, the company in question, isn’t a security company. They provide communications tools. They didn’t announce anything to hackers–to the extent anyone talked about them cutting off Parler, it was Parler itself. They didn’t actually even cut Parler off, although they probably would have–Parler turned off their services pre-emptively. Most importantly, the service they provided to Parler was strictly to verify the e-mail addresses of new accounts, and had nothing to do with whether or not you could exfiltrate data from Parler.

              Second, so far all we’ve seen in terms of the Parler “hack” is that someone scraped public messages and packaged them up for all to see. This isn’t a hack any more than something like a Twitter thread that downloads a bunch of Tweets and repackages them to make them more readable is a hack. Yes, it’s doing something at scale, but this was all public information.

              The “hackers” assert that they have more confidential information like IDs used for verification. If that’s true, it definitely required compromising Parler systems somewhere, but definitely had nothing to do with Twilio. More likely, the Parler team just wasn’t very good at security and when faced with a situation where they were put in the spotlight, found themselves vulnerable to attacks. I don’t get the impression Parler has the best engineers working for them, so this isn’t that surprising, but it’s very hard to do an airtight job with cybersecurity. Having said that, if the statements about all the data that folks managed to exfiltrate is correct, there are some very basic security principles (like not retaining data for longer than you need it) that Parler was failing to adhere to.

              1. Brett probably shouldn’t post about Internet security since he has no idea what he’s talking about.

                Can you spot the three superfluous words in that statement?

                1. “about Internet security” — what do I win? If it’s money, I prefer it be donated to helping cure whatever the illness is that makes Brett that way.

          2. It is paranoid.

            Your very first interpretation of any event is that it’s a conspiracy against Brett Bellmore and all he holds dear.

            It virtually never is.

            1. It’s his raison d’etre, for sure. Increasingly it’s the raison d’etre of conservatives in general.

            2. Just because you are paranoid, that doesn’t prove that no one is out to get you.

              1. As an empirical matter it actually usually is the case that no one is out to get you, especially the ones you think are. That’s the problem with paranoia, it leads to being wrong a lot.

        2. Yes, but — and I know this will come as a shock to the sort of people who think Trump is a good person — Parler lied. The actual Amazon contract does indeed have a 30 day notice requirement for terminating the contract, but for other reasons, not for violation of Amazon’s acceptable use policy.

    2. Honestly yes. Don’t you remember that Lincoln couldn’t deliver the Gettysburg Address without twitter?

      1. He couldn’t have delivered it without the telegraph — had the telegraph company refused to permit reporters to send copies of it back to their respective newspapers, the nation would never have heard what the President said.

        The President.

        That’s what is so damn significant about this — the man IS the President of the United States and some spoilt brat is entitled to prevent us from reading what he wishes to say? I don’t think so.

        1. So telegraph companies should have been forced to carry Lincoln’s message?

          Conservatives and libertarians are shedding their principles like an overweight Husky on a July Alabama day.

          1. Telegraph companies were, and telephone companies ARE.

            1. And you agree with that?

          2. Telegraph and telephone companies (like social media companies) only exist because of public grants. In the case of telephone companies it is use of eminent domain and special zoning laws. In the case of social media it is section 230.

    3. ” Is Twitter vital to speech though? ”

      While exercising, I watched a series of clingers on Fox and Newsmax this morning ranting for 50 minutes about how ‘it is impossible for Trump to get his message out’ and how ‘these big tech tyrants have silenced our president,’ asking ‘with all of this cyberinfrastructure closed to him, where is he supposed to go?’

      Fox. Newsmax.

      Conservatives seem impervious to self-awareness every bit as much as they are susceptible to superstition and bigotry.

    4. It’s am embarrassingly bad argument. I’ve never had a Twitter account and I certainly am not oppressed or silenced in any way. Trump could call a press conference right now or pick up his phone and be broadcast on every network, talk radio, newspaper and many internet sites. Republicans and conservatives have become so incredibly whiny under this Whiner-in Chief.

      Also, I don’t think Eugene has a Twitter account. Guess he’s been ‘silenced.’ Who will ever know his arguments now?

      Like I said, embarrassingly bad and whiney.

    5. I don’t remember “vital to speech” being part of First Amendment jurisprudence. Erotic dancing isn’t exactly “vital to speech” yet it is protected. The New York Times certainly isn’t vital to anything (except their corporate profits) yet they are clearly protected.

      Your view of free speech seems to be that it only kicks in when all possible alternative avenues of expression have been exhausted. That interpretation is so anemic that you may as well euthanize the patient now. If you’re not willing to stick up for speech you disagree with, then just admit that you don’t really believe in Free Speech.

      1. Rossami, they just want to cut off conservatives from everything. Internet communications, speaking at colleges, appearing on TV shows, writing op-eds, talk radio via the “Fairness” doctrine.

        It won’t be total, they will let a few here and there so if you complain, they can point to the exceptions.

        1. Losing has consequences. Being a loser has consequences.

          But you get to whine about it all you like.

          1. Funny how “elections have consequences” only when Republicans lose.

            But given that you are the most bigoted, intolerant, and incivil person here, your lack of self-awareness at your own hypocrisy is no surprise.

            1. “Funny how “elections have consequences” only when Republicans lose.”

              There were consequences in 2001, although it didn’t really start to show until 2003, when we decided to liberate the Iraqis to punish Saddam for attacking us on 9/11.
              Not so much consequences in 2007, when Congress changed hands.
              and yes, elections had consequences in 2017. If you don’t believe it, just ask Supreme Court Justice Merrick Garland.

          2. Totalitarians on shameless parade! Wearing Hugo Boss too?

        2. “They” in this case being “everyone”.

      2. “I don’t remember “vital to speech” being part of First Amendment jurisprudence. Erotic dancing isn’t exactly “vital to speech” yet it is protected.”

        Is it? In Oregon, it’s protected by the state constitution, and Conservatives who were bothered by this launched an effort to amend the state constitution to remove this protection, which would have been pointless if the first amendment of the US Constitution was protecting the right to dance naked in exchange for money. (AFAIK, even the Oregon Conservatives didn’t think they could make it illegal to dance naked in one’s own domicile for personal enjoyment.)

    6. “It is hard to believe that the President is being blocked from conveying his views.”

      Without Twitter, the only method he has left is to make long, rambling telephone calls to Fox News programs. It’s not likely they’re going to be as willing to take those calls from President Biden.

  2. In case there’s any low tech Zoomers or Millennials who don’t know how to use the internet you can read the editorial without a NYTs subscription by clicking “open link in private window”.

  3. “The standard Times op-ed deal doesn’t let me post the whole piece until 30 days after I publish it.”

    Aren’t you worried that the whole issue will have blown over by then?

    (Just a little joke)

    1. More likely he’s worried that by then talking about it will get Reason deplatformed.

      1. This is amazing. Reading several threads in a short period gives the impression this Brett Bellmore fellow is having a nervous breakdown. Seek help!

  4. I could not be more in agreement that corporations which are not publishers should not be regulating internet content. Of course, to say that is to posit a privileged role for publishing corporations. The 1A guarantee of press freedom decrees it.

    Far more needs to be said on this topic, but that can wait for another time.

    1. “Of course, to say that is to posit a privileged role for publishing corporations. The 1A guarantee of press freedom decrees it.”

      Your post would have been much better without this weird, illogical leap.

      1. Far more needs to be said on this topic, but that can wait for another time.

        1. O boy, we have another rant on your mistaken understanding of Section 230 to look forward to?
          Can’t wait.

  5. We’ve regularly regulate for far less than tech monopolies colluding together to for all intents and purposes remove a person’s ability to communicate in the modern world. And the people criticizing this scream bloody murder whenever they are slightly inconvenienced by corporations. So I don’t see why reining them in this time is controversial.

    1. “We’ve regularly regulate for far less than tech monopolies colluding together to for all intents and purposes remove a person’s ability to communicate in the modern world.”

      What happened, did your cellular provider shut down access to your phone?

  6. in the 1970s, private clubs were required to allow women as members because the clubs provided important business opportunities and were considered public accommodations.

    The social media platforms have become the 21st century of the public square. they should not be able to to ban speech they disagree with.

    Didnt the leadership of Twitter and Facebook learn about Voltaire in college?

    1. If so, they learned about ecrazer l’homme orange.

    2. “Didnt the leadership of Twitter and Facebook learn about Voltaire in college?”

      1: Voltaire never actually said that — it was said about him as part of the eulogy at his funeral.

      2: Voltaire hasn’t been taught in colleges for over 30 years. This is nothing more than the cesspool of academia overflowing into society at large.

    3. Setting aside your oversimplification of the laws re: private clubs (the laws in question drew a distinction between truly private clubs and ones that were partially generally open), that turned on group membership, not message membership.

      Even the subset of clubs to which the laws in question applied could and still can ban speech they disagree with. They just can’t discriminate based on race/sex/etc.

  7. Well if “private” companies don’t have to provide service fairly, I guess the trucking association can decide not to roll into blue cities. And farmers can restrict the sale of their products by red/blue areas. And doctors/nurses/hospital should lobby not to treat gangbangers/addicts/whatever because, you know, they don’t like them. And stores can refuse all service to the homeless, bakers can discriminate (but only by red/blue), and the list goes on. If business didn’t do business with the blues, they would eliminate a lot of their theft/criminal problems, etc. And since texas is a source source of fuel, maybe they should restrict where it’s transported. No more gas for those woke folks. Hey, isn’t most solar built in the rural areas? No more power to those snobby blues. Wow, what a fun place this will be.

    1. What you’re missing is the anti-trust aspect of this. It would be collusion for the truckers to all agree not to do that — and the ICC regulated railroads because they were natural monopolies.

    2. Blue consumers have money. Red consumers of tweeted coup fan fiction do not.

    3. Your understanding of economics astounds.

  8. So you argue that writers, singers, artists, photographers, videographers, printers, and calligraphers should generally have a Free Speech Clause right to refuse to create or perform material they disapprove of.

    Yet I, as a software developer, am required to let my website become a breeding ground for white supremacists, insurrectionists, and other ideologies I find deeply objectionable and dangerous?

    I disagree. If I don’t want you on my website, particularly if you violate the terms-of-service, then I can give you the boot.

    1. You have a case there with Facebook and Twitter, but where that case falls apart is with AWS, Google Play, and Apples App store. They are using their monopoly power and likely colluding with Parlers competitors to kill Parler now that is gaining a critical mass.

      There has been ample precedent set with Microsoft about companies who own a platform in a monopoly position using it to stifle competition.

      There

      1. I don’t think there’s any monopoly or collusion effects at play.

        For one, no one aside from maybe Parler thinks that Parler is a potential competitor to Twitter or other mainstream Social Networks. The brand is simply toxic outside the far right bubble, especially among the tech community needed to make apps succeed. In fact, if I was Twitter I might actually want Parler around. What better way to stay on top then having a major competitor who has locked themselves out of the mainstream market?

        The actual motivation for the mass de-platforming is nothing to do with collusion but rather a natural result of Trump’s “incident”.

        1. They’ve all wanted to deplatform Parler for ages but the threat of Conservative backlash (and subsequent government action) has stopped them.

        2. Trump went way over the line and created an outrage big enough that Twitter had a chance to ban him without it becoming the main story.

        3. Once Twitter did their thing now everyone was even more distracted… meaning if you had any bans you had been sitting on now was the time to make them.

        The actions are connected for sure, but everyone seems to be an independent actor.

        1. As I mention above, we used to think journalists were independent actors, when they all started spouting the same talking point within hours. Then the news broke about Journolist.

          Why assume they’re independent actors? I don’t think that’s remotely a safe assumption.

          1. Brett, I think this is the true coup attempt, and that they got too cute by half. IMHO, Amazon screwed up by starting a two-front war — they already have merchants mad at them, and that will have traction with Congress as well.

            It’s not the 50 people who went into the Capitol that the left is terrified of — it’s the quarter million who didn’t. And they are terrified of us.

            1. My wife is insisting that we drop our Prime membership, as a result of this, and stop buying anything through Amazon.

              And I’m the political one in the family!

        2. “I don’t think there’s any monopoly or collusion effects at play.”

          A “group boycott” is a per-se violation of the Sherman Act…

          1. Is it? Based on which precedent?

            1. Klor’s, Inc. v. Broadway-Hale Stores, Inc., 359 U.S. 207, 212-14, 79 S.Ct. 705, 709-10 (1959)

              1. If you think that that’s still good law, I have a bridge you might like to buy. Specifically, you’re ignoring NYNEX Corp. v. Discon, Inc., 525 U.S. 128, 135, 119 S.Ct. 493, 498 (1998) (indicating that the per se rule against group boycotts applies only when it entails a horizontal arrangement made by direct competitors).

                Still, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen you cite an actual court precedent in a VC comment, so my esteem of your legal abilities has risen from utterly zero to somewhat above. Credit where credit’s due.

                1. Apple & Google (Android) are direct competitors in the smartphone market.

                  1. Did you miss the part about “horizontal arrangement”? Hint: parallel conduct does not implicate antitrust law.

                  2. “in the smartphone market”

                  3. They are not the only competitors in the smartphone market, and if you have competitors, you don’t have monopoly.

        3. 1. Trump did not create an outrage at all. False flagging thugs did. What’s worse is that Biden intends to take the right to peaceably assemble away from Trump supporters. That is literally cause for war.

          2. Twitter and Facebook both have been planning the current mass purge for some time (and it is a mass purge, thousands of accounts on both services, most of which have never violated that service’s rules). Both the fact that the two firms are doing this in concert, and the stated intention of preventing holders of specified views from having ANY place to express them (even if that’s not quite literally possible yet), ought to be plenty of grounds for successful antitrust action. Of course the victims will have to do that privately.

          1. “1. Trump did not create an outrage at all. False flagging thugs did. What’s worse is that Biden intends to take the right to peaceably assemble away from Trump supporters. That is literally cause for war.”

            Call for Conspiracy Twit on line two. Please proceed to any courtesy phone and pick up line two, Mr. Twit.

      2. You can make an argument that the app stores are some sort of oligopoly (the argument is better for Apple than for Google, since Android allows both alternative app stores and side loading of apps).

        But AWS is not a monopoly. How do we know this? Because the kind folks at Parler told us so! From the post that their CEO made about the situation:

        “We prepared for events like this by never relying on amazons proprietary infrastructure and building bare metal products. We will try our best to move to a new provider right now as we have many competing for our business”

        More generally, many companies explicitly adopt a multi-Cloud approach in order to avoid dependency on any specific Cloud provider, and many companies don’t use the Cloud at all for some or all of their computing because they don’t want to give up control to a Cloud provider. So not only is AWS not a monopoly, you don’t even need to use any Cloud service to run an app like Parler.

        1. Well, let’s see if Microsoft (Azure) picks up hosing on Azure, or IBM. It seems unlikely that Google, also a competitor in cloud services, will do so. There are other vendors, mostly rather smaller, I think, or specialized.

      3. “You have a case there with Facebook and Twitter, but where that case falls apart is with AWS, Google Play, and Apples App store. They are using their monopoly power”

        Except that you have to have a monopoly to use monopoly power. AWS, Google Play and Apple App store do not have monopoly power to use because they are not monopolies. If you don’t like the way these businesses license their services, design your products to not need them services. Duh.

    2. “Yet I, as a software developer, am required to let my website become a breeding ground for white supremacists, insurrectionists, and other ideologies I find deeply objectionable and dangerous?”

      1: Your analogy is that you don’t have to write software if you don’t want to — and you don’t.

      What you’re claiming is that Bruce Springstein has the right to prevent me from hearing one of his songs, when played on the radio, because he doesn’t like my politics.

      2: If you have, say, a Verizon cell phone, why should AT&T and T-Mobile permit you to call their customers? They object to the fact that you aren’t purchasing cell service from them…

      1. What you’re claiming is that Bruce Springstein has the right to prevent me from hearing one of his songs, when played on the radio, because he doesn’t like my politics.

        That’s moronic, you fool.

        It’s like the radio station deciding they don’t want to play Springsteen’s songs.

        Do you think they should have to? Then why don’t they have to play my songs too?

        1. “What you’re claiming is that Bruce Springstein has the right to prevent me from hearing one of his songs, when played on the radio, because he doesn’t like my politics.”

          Closer to, if Bruce records some stuff on his cassette deck at home, can he prevent you from listening to it because you’re standing in his living room fiddling with his tape deck? Hint: Yes, and he can rough you up a bit on your way to the curb to help you remember what his trespassing policy is.

      2. “1: Your analogy is that you don’t have to write software if you don’t want to — and you don’t.”

        Close. It’s actually that, having written the software, does he have to let people he does not welcome use it. And he does not have to, because property law.

        “2: If you have, say, a Verizon cell phone, why should AT&T and T-Mobile permit you to call their customers?”

        They’re contractually obligated to do so, whether their customers want to hear from you or not. If you want to know more, Google the terms “Interconnect agreement” or “peering agreement”

    3. Yet I, as a software developer, am required to let my website become a breeding ground for white supremacists, insurrectionists, and other ideologies I find deeply objectionable and dangerous?

      Yes, I mean the next thing they are going to tell you is that a Christian baker must create a custom-designed wedding cake to celebrate a wedding he considers an abominable sin.

      Would you believe that could happen in America?

      1. If you think political ideology is just as immutable as sexual orientation, you may have bigger problems than thusfar indicated.

        1. Thank you for that non-sequitur.

        2. Sexual orientation isn’t immutable, so you are wrong from the get go.

          1. “Sexual orientation isn’t immutable, so you are wrong from the get go.”

            If it isn’t, just turn straight and it won’t bother you any more.

      2. So… you think Masterpiece Cakeshop was wrongly decided?

        It’s really dumb that conservatives keep going on about the stupid cakes as if the Supreme Court didn’t already agree with them. Even more dumb to try to use it as an example to force other businesses to do things that they don’t agree with since no one is being forced to bake any cakes they don’t want to.

        1. I don’t think it was wrongly decided. But the decision was on narrow grounds.
          And many here DO think it was. The same people who now are all in favor of Twitter and Facebook’s right to censor others.

          1. So, if you think they’re a hypocrite because they think that cake shops should be forced to bake cakes for gay people but that tech platforms shouldn’t be forced to host conservatives, and yet you think that cake shops shouldn’t be forced to bake cakes but tech platforms should be forced to host conservatives…

            Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite too?

            1. How do you know what I think?

              Hint: It’s not what you said I think.

                1. (1) Private companies and actors should be free to use their resources and time as they wish. Certainly not be forced to support expression they disagree with.

                  (2) Others should be free to criticize them for how they act. (On that score, see this piece of artwork I created.
                  https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8d0ae8c49f5a577b9013736d631ac1972ab5b31feba2cc951fb7666a502d739a.jpg

                  Feel free to share it anywhere.

                  (3) Companies that have a monopoly or near monopoly in a particular area may be an exception to this. Twitter and Facebook are not there yet, but they are getting there. (And certainly they are far ahead of the baker in Colorado.)

                  (4) Companies that collude with others in their industry to run an alternative platform out of busines should be very carefully scrutinized for anti-trust violations. And the anti-trust laws may need an update to deal with the Internet economy; relying on late 19th-century statutes to deal with 21st century problems may not be the soundest way of dealing with things.

                  1. I think I agree on anti-trust laws. But, does (1) mean you oppose all anti-discrimination laws?

                    1. They should be phased out. They had their place 50 years ago, because then the federal government was trying to remedy 60 years of government-enforced inferiority.

                      But now they result in gross overreach. Both in activities subject to these laws, and groups that are protected.

                      I would replace them with a forced disclosure law. Social ostracism can deal with the problem, if there is one.

                    2. Meh. If you’re open for business you have an offer to form a contract.

                      When the offer is accepted, the contract is formed.

                      How should we treat people who don’t perform on their contracts, for whatever reason?

                      If you’re offended because the wrong sort of people are eating a cake you made, maybe operating a bakery is not the right business opportunity for you.

      3. I was personally fine with that decision, based on the idea that the cake decoration was a fairly expressive act.

        But building a website, particularly a social network where you’re trying to create a community, that is far more expressive than cake decoration. The very fact that Parler was created as this refuge for “conservatives” should tell you that how you moderate and curate your network is an act of political expression.

        Besides, the actual link I cited was EV’s take on the previous case. And yes, I think he’s being hypocritical by allowing photographers, singers, and others to selectively deny service while insisting that software developers lack the right to curate the communities they create.

        1. Where did EV say that software developers don’t have the right to curate their sites?

          He said they do have the right to do it, but it’s a bad idea.

      4. ” I mean the next thing they are going to tell you is that a Christian baker must create a custom-designed wedding cake to celebrate a wedding he considers an abominable sin.”

        Christian or no, if you open a bakery business, and you sell a cake, your role has reached its end and the owner of the cake now gets to decide who eats it whether or not you approve of their choice.
        Yes, right here in America!

    4. Yet I, as a software developer, am required to let my website become a breeding ground for white supremacists, insurrectionists, and other ideologies I find deeply objectionable and dangerous?

      I disagree.

      You disagree with something he never said? I will assume that you just forgot to click on the link before commenting, or perhaps used up all your free articles and couldn’t figure out how to get around the paywall. He did not say “required” at all.

      1. Agreed, I misinterpreted his moral wariness as legal wariness.

  9. “But there are hundreds of newspapers throughout the nation and several major TV networks. Facebook and Twitter have no major rivals in their media niches. The public relies on them as matchless mechanisms for unfiltered communication, including politicians’ communications with their constituents.”

    This isn’t an argument for preventing companies from regulating what gets posted on their websites; it’s an argument for stronger enforcement of (and possibly just stronger) antitrust laws.

    1. ” it’s an argument for stronger enforcement of (and possibly just stronger) antitrust laws.”

      Exactly.

      One of the interesting things in the Bell System Antitrust case, memory is in the text of the decision itself, is a line to the effect of “even though the men running the Bell System have always acted in the public interest, there is no guarantee that future generations of them will continue to do so.”

      Forty years ago, when much of the nation only had rotary dial telephones, someone foresaw what thew spoilt brats running Farcebook & Twatter might do. And for that reason the Baby Bells were born. See: https://www.nytimes.com/1984/01/01/us/bell-system-breakup-opens-era-of-great-expectations-and-great-concern.html

      But more important was the 1968 FCC decision that non-Bell equipment could use the telephone lines if it met Bell System specs. Private telephone systems, aka private branch exchanges (PBX) could be connected into the system with blocks of phone numbers assigned to the private company, not unlike IP addresses. This extended to cell phones and is how you can call someone with a different carrier than your own.

      This is the solution to Farcebook and Twatter — not breaking them up but requiring them to carry competitor’s traffic. Twatter doesn’t want Trump, fine — he sets up TrumpTweet and the FCC draws up interconnection regs about how TrumpTweet traffic can go over Twatter (and Twatter tweets over TrumpTweet). Just like how anyone with a phone can call anyone else with a phone.

      1. To be fair, Dr. Ed, nobody takes you seriously to begin with, and anyone who pays attention knows you lie about everything. But do you think it helps your credibility to use juvenile labels like “Farcebook” and “Twatter”?

        (Spoiler alert: no.)

        1. Harsh — but fair.

      2. “But more important was the 1968 FCC decision that non-Bell equipment could use the telephone lines if it met Bell System specs. Private telephone systems, aka private branch exchanges (PBX) could be connected into the system with blocks of phone numbers assigned to the private company, not unlike IP addresses. This extended to cell phones and is how you can call someone with a different carrier than your own.”

        Once again you’ve twisted a small about of correct information into a huge swirl of misinformation.

        the reason you can call someone with a different carrier than your own is because of peering agreements, which predate cellular systems by a considerable margin. Hint: the Bell system was always the largest but not the only wired telephone system (both inside and outside of the United States).

    2. “This isn’t an argument for preventing companies from regulating what gets posted on their websites; it’s an argument for stronger enforcement of (and possibly just stronger) antitrust laws.”

      What it is mainly is an argument that you need to learn more about how either A) Facebook and Twitter, or B) antitrust law work, so you can replace this BS with informed commentary.

  10. Thank you Prof. Volokh for the excerpt and pointer to this op-ed. I’ve long been a reader of VC (more than 15 years now)–and even when I disagree with you, I see the merits of your arguments–to be fair, I almost never disagree with you, and when I do, for all I know, I may actually be wrong.

    However, some recent posts on VC have caused me to rethink whether I wanted to continue as a reader–this op-ed convinces me that I must stay.

    Thanks!

  11. “Now we have a few huge corporations actually blocking someone’s ability to convey his views. Plus, such blocking affects not just the speaker; it also affects the millions of people who use Facebook and Twitter to hear what their elected officials have to say.”

    I’m not convinced that this is correct. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that we now have a few huge corporations blocking someone from conveying his views “on their platform, and/or by using their microphone.”?

    Fox News became massively popular by starting a news organization with a far-right, conservative-to-ultra-conservative viewpoint. Murdoch saw that there was an opening in the market and he busted right through that opening. Surely, with 75 million Trump voters and even more Trump Twitter followers (and plenty of filthy-rich people in that group), *someone* can take advantage of this business opportunity and figure out a way to compete with the private businesses like Facebook, Twitter, et al. Ton of money to be made. And you’ll own the entire part of the market.

    Please feel free to steal this idea. You’re welcome.

    1. to come up with a competitor, you’ll need:
      datacenters (AWS is clearly compromised)
      lawyers (note that Parler lost theirs) and accountants
      quite possibly hardware vendors (it sounds like some of these bailed) and possibly hardware support services (some of this can be done in house, but some aspects are best outsourced)
      software developers and sys-admins (not impossible, but the industry does seem to track left)
      payment processors (we’ve seen these folks cut “undesirables” off)
      credit card company (I think there has been some interference at this level)
      banking (not everyone does crypto currency, and this too has been used to kneecap “undesirables”)
      domain name service (look at how much “fun” The Pirate Bay has with this) and possibly a source of SSL certificates
      a smart phone eco-system (phone, app store, etc.) as these too are subject to pressure being used to deplatform your alternative social media platform
      probably a bunch of other areas not yet exploited too

      Yes, it an be done. No, it isn’t easy as you’ll eventually end up having to establish large parts of an entirely separate economy to keep them from cutting you off.

      1. The morning talk show host yesterday was discussing this, and that was her conclusion: That if this can’t be stomped immediately, (And given the election results, it can’t. Which is why they did it now.) we will eventually need our own parallel economy, possibly right down to our own farms and mines.

        1. And I’m sure the talk show host in the next market over spontaneously arrived at the exact same conclusion…

          https://theconcourse.deadspin.com/how-americas-largest-local-tv-owner-turned-its-news-anc-1824233490

          1. Hey, if left wing media figures can spontaneously arrive at the same conclusions, expressed in the same language, why can’t right wing ones? Or is it only the left that’s allowed to have Journolists?

            1. If their bosses all gave them scripts to read that they all followed to the letter, that would also be Stepford-level creepy, and the very opposite of “spontaneous”.

              1. Right, and as the reference to Journolist should have told you, I was being sarcastic about the “spontaneously”.

                1. Given your susceptibility to Poe’s law, you might want to be a little clearer in the future when you attempt sarcasm.

          2. Somehow, I doubt that Sinclair Broadcasting would get away with demanding that Biden be banned, nor that they would even try.

            1. That depends on what you mean by “banned”. I doubt that they would interview him, but they’ll broadcast excerpts of his statements in order to explain why he is satan, I’m sure.

        2. Brett, Glenn Beck was saying something similar, but along the lines of the banking industry and then I remembered the furor when WalMart wanted to start a bank.

          That’s why I wrote what I did about the AM wars — we do not want chaos in the banking network and multiple currencies, which is what this would create.

          1. Hang on, are you telling me you’re still using Biden dollars instead of good old, reliable Bitcoin???

        3. That host is in need of therapy.

    2. Apart from what HowardN said, the problem is that a central tenet of Trumpism is “owning the libs”, and that’s a lot harder to do if you’re all talking to each other on a platform with no “libs” on it. In that sense, the analogy with Fox News fails.

      (In technical terms, there are positive indirect network effects from the perspective of Trumpists to everyone else, and negative indirect network effects from the perspective of everyone else to Trumpists.)

    1. But did anyone (other than you) notice? (If a tree falls in the woods, etc.)

      1. Reason notice. There is a whole article about it.

        Oh, and Twitter still let’s the Ayatollah Khameini keep his account and post, although they do hide some of his more outrageous drivel.

        https://www.cbsnews.com/news/twitter-post-iran-supreme-leader-ayatollah-ali-khamenei-account-covid-19-vaccine-conspiracy-theory/

        Twitter has hidden a post on the account of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on a COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theory.

        The tweet from the account of Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, claimed that COVID-19 vaccines imported from the U.S. or U.K. were “completely untrustworthy.”

        “It’s not unlikely they would want to contaminate other nations,” the tweet said, in reference to America and Britain. The tweet also claimed that French coronavirus vaccines “aren’t trustworthy.”

      2. Oh and Louis Farrakhan’s account on Twitter is still up. He is still posting that white people are “Satan,” although I understand his post calling Jews termites was removed.

        1. I’ve made a policy of not engaging with DavidBehar since he’s either a troll or unhinged, so I’ll anchor here instead:

          Probably worth noting that Paul’s account was temporarily suspended. He wasn’t “kicked off” any more than Khameini or Farrakhan were. In fact, as far as I can tell Paul’s content is all still up, he just can’t add anything new temporarily.

          1. And FB said it was a mistake. (Which I know the loons will sneer at as a “mistake,” but why? If they can overtly ban Trump and his enablers, why would they lie about an irrelevant person like Ron Paul?)

            1. And is leaving Khameini and Farrakhan up a mistake?

              1. I don’t think so?

                Farrakhan is an awful human being, but I don’t know what he’s said on Twitter one way or the other, so I have no idea whether he has violated their policies. Khameini is up under the head of government exception in their current rules, allowing them to say things that ordinary people are not. Is Trump being treated worse than him? Yes. On the other hand, Trump was allowed to get away with stuff for years, until he actually tried to foment a coup. Which is worse than anything Khameini ever did to us.

  12. It’s nice to see this newfound conservative appreciation for antitrust law and non-discrimination law. I’m sure that after 20 January everyone in Washington will rush to enact new laws to regulate ditigal platforms, as proposed by the House subcommittee on antitrust in October:

    https://judiciary.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=3429

  13. “After the Capitol was stormed by a mob fired up by President Trump”

    You do realize that key figures in the mob have already been demonstrated to have planned this at least some while in advance, right? They came prepared for violence, in advance.

    So you can’t honestly lay this at Trump’s feet, unless by “fired up” you don’t mean his speech at the event, but instead the mere fact that he contested the election result.

    That’s getting awfully remote from the event to be casting blame.

    1. So you can’t honestly lay this at Trump’s feet, unless by “fired up” you don’t mean his speech at the event, but instead the mere fact that he contested the election result.

      I don’t think “mere” means what you think it means, but yes. As far as I can tell, non-Trumpist commentators generally use the word “incite” to mean a months-long campaign of lies that culminated in an attempt to violently interfere with the US democratic process, not just a single speech.

      1. Then the articles of impeachment should say that = As far as I can tell, non-Trumpist commentators generally use the word “incite” to mean a months-long campaign of lies that culminated in an attempt to violently interfere with the US democratic process, not just a single speech.

        Note…An impeachment will needlessly inflame passions.

        1. 1. Not needlessly.

          2. The draft article of impeachment published yesterday does say that:

          In the months preceding the Joint Session, President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials.

          https://www.npr.org/sections/trump-impeachment-effort-live-updates/2021/01/11/955631105/impeachment-resolution-cites-trumps-incitement-of-capitol-insurrection

        2. An impeachment will needlessly inflame passions.

          Forget it.

          Trump has been inflaming passions since the election – indeed, during his entire term. This riot was about nothing but his endless lies and false claims of fraud and his “landslide” victory.

          And now, suddenly, you’re concerned about “inflaming passions,” when you never peeped about it before?

      2. Which firmly places it outside any legal meaning of ‘incitement’, and well into normal speech.

        Keep in mind though, that the difference between a “campaign of lies” and a “campaign of disagreeing with us” can get pretty blurry. People don’t tend to be interested in entertaining the possibility that they’re the ones who are wrong. And the idea that somebody like Trump might have some valid complaints in among the BS is repugnant on the left.

        1. that the difference between a “campaign of lies” and a “campaign of disagreeing with us” can get pretty blurry

          It can, but in this case it didn’t, as literally dozens of VC posts over the last two months have explained.

          1. As literally dozens of posts by confirmed NeverTrumpers have explained? Give me a break.

            1. Reality has a well-known anti-Trump bias. I can’t help it if you don’t like it. As others have explained in this comments section, you’re welcome to disappear (even more) into some kind of fact-free parallel media universe.

              1. Yes, that’s what confirmation bias looks like: Reality having a bias in favor of your own beliefs.

                  1. I’m not the one who’s trying to deplatform anybody, you might notice.

                    Yeah, I think that what I believe is true, and that people who disagree with me are wrong. (Who doesn’t?) I’d never lift a finger to silence them.

                    The academic left have been spending years constructing a theoretical basis for rejecting freedom of speech. First it was “agnotology”. The latest version is “information disorder”.

                    It is coincidental that the left has fallen out of love with freedom of speech just as it has found its own hands on the levers of censorship? I have my doubts about that.

                    I have my own beliefs, but the one thing I’ve never tried to do is shut up anybody who disagreed with me, because I do think the truth can prevail in a free and open debate.

                    And that anybody who proposes to obstruct free and open debate is trying to make it possible for lies to prevail, instead.

                    1. And that anybody who proposes to obstruct free and open debate is trying to make it possible for lies to prevail, instead.

                      You’re worried about lies prevailing? Really? You’re a dedicated, unquestionably loyal Trumpist.

                      That means, by definition, you very much want lies to prevail.

                    2. Yes, I am concerned about lies prevailing.

                      You understand the difference between “rhetoric” and “logic”, don’t you?

                      Logic is a group of techniques for finding and persuading people of the truth.

                      Rhetoric is group of techniques for persuading people to agree with you independent of whether you are right.

                      Censorship is rhetoric, not logic. It works independent of the truth of what is being censored. That’s why it’s a key tool for every totalitarian movement or government.

                      Democracies should have an absolute horror of it.

                    3. And the idea that I’m a dedicated, unquestionably loyal Trumpist? You’re delusional. Have you read ANYTHING I’ve written about the man?

                      I thought he was the lesser evil in 2016, though I supported Rand Paul in the primaries. And I thought he was the lesser evil in 2020, too, though it would have been less clear cut if Biden had picked another centrist for his VP instead of Harris, and if the Democratic platform hadn’t taken such a turn towards insanity.

                      But I do not particularly like the guy, and I’ve said as much, many times. I don’t generally expect to like politicians. I just support the least worst one with a chance of winning. So what does that have to do with anything? If I was limited to voting for people I liked and admired, I’d have to vote write-in every election!

                      Sure, when people start in on the idiot trash talk, claiming somebody on Forbes’ list of billionaires is a terrible businessman, that a guy who won one Presidential election, and came within a hair’s breadth of winning a second, is incapable of planning, I object. I’d object if you said an Olympic runner was slow, too, for the same reason.

                      It doesn’t mean I like him, I’m just annoyed by delusional trash talk.

                      Trump has spouted a lot of nonsense about last November’s election. But not all of it was nonsense, a lot of disturbing things happened last year, and I am very concerned about the honesty of our elections going forward if the problems with 2020’s election can’t be fixed, but instead become the model for future elections. For that reason I supported the election challenges.

                      Now we’re not only going to model future elections off last year’s dumpster fire, we’re going to do it under a regime of comprehensive censorship. Excuse me while I renew my family’s passports, this country is going down the tubes, and they’re greased.

                    4. Brett,

                      You consistently, invariably come to Trump’s defense. On every single issue.

                      Now you’re trying to weasel away from that. The thing is, I have read your comments – a lot of them, and as far as I can tell, aside from one or two about him having an unpleasant personality, you have not criticized him.

                      You have taken up every bullshit RW talking about about every issue that has arisen.

                      Just look at this comment. You honestly disagree that Trump lies, lies, lies, continuously, about everything? That’s not just “trying to get people to agree with you,” it’s outright deception, outright dishonesty. But you won’t see it. Instead you lap it up.

                      Is he a genius businessman? Forbes notwithstanding I don’t see the evidence. Sure, he has a lot of money, but he started with a lot, $400 million as I recall. It doesn’t tale much of a genius to turn that into a billion over decades, if he’s even done that. COmpanies run by business geniuses don’t repeatedly go broke.

                      Besides, I think it’s telling how adamant he is about not releasing his financial records. You’d think he’d be proud.

                      Trump has spouted a lot of nonsense about last November’s election. But not all of it was nonsense,

                      See. There you go. Just “nonsense,” and just some of it was nonsense in your opinion.

                      No. He made a serious effort to undermine the results and have the election handed to him. What were his calls to GA? I know your answer and it fits exactly what I said about you. You will always defend Trump. What were his efforts to get Pence to reject the EV’s? I’m sure you have some ludicrous excuse for that too.

                      a lot of disturbing things happened last year, and I am very concerned about the honesty of our elections going forward if the problems with 2020’s election can’t be fixed, but instead become the model for future elections. For that reason I supported the election challenges.

                      There were not “a lot of disturbing things.” The thing that disturbed you was that Trump lost, owing in large part to the fact that city dwellers, many of them not white, voted in large numbers – legally. That’s what has you, and most of the others yelling “fraud” hot and bothered about the election. You don’t give a ff about integrity, unless it can help your side win. You’re happy to suppress voting by Democrats – you’ve said so.

                    5. Yeah, I know you’re in denial about the massive irregularities. Doesn’t make them go away.

                    6. You’re in denial about two simple facts:

                      Trump lost.

                      And he lost legitimately.

                      And you’ve got a red ass about it that you can’t get over, just like you never stopped gloating about 2016.

                      All your “irregularities” don’t amount to a hill of beans. The only fraudulent votes found so far – three of them – seem to have been cast in PA by Trump supporters.

                    7. Trump did lose, and I’ve long since admitted that.

                      “Legitimately” is a matter of opinion about what constitutes being legit. If election laws had actually been followed, he might have won. But they weren’t, and he lost in terms of votes counted under the changed/violated laws.

                      But I thought he should have given up this fight on the 14th, that was the last point at which he had any realistic chance of turning things around.

                      I appreciate that he doesn’t cave as fast as your typical Republican, but there’s such a thing as taking it too far, and he did it.

                    8. Yeah, I know you’re in denial about the massive irregularities. Doesn’t make them go away.

                      The fact that there’s zero evidence of a single one does, though.

                      Which is why the only one you have ever cited is not an irregularity and also did not affect the outcome.

                    9. Brett,

                      You consistently, invariably come to Trump’s defense. On every single issue.

                      Now you’re trying to weasel away from that. The thing is, I have read your comments – a lot of them, and as far as I can tell, aside from one or two about him having an unpleasant personality, you have not criticized him.

                      You have taken up every bullshit RW talking about about every issue that has arisen.

                      To be fair, Brett’s consistent. Even though every single member of the GOP except Mitt Romney fit that description until after 1/6, Brett still pretends that the GOP was against Trump.

                    10. “And the idea that I’m a dedicated, unquestionably loyal Trumpist? You’re delusional. Have you read ANYTHING I’ve written about the man?”

                      What you are is a blatant partisan, subject to fits of self-delusion. (Yeah, that does sound kind of like a Trumpista, doesn’t it?)

                  2. “Yeah, I know you’re in denial about the massive irregularities. Doesn’t make them go away.”

                    WOULDN’T make them go away, IF THEY WERE REAL.

                    I know you like the Republican brand of politics, Brett, but their disdain for reality has hopefully peaked and it’d be nice if they (and you) would drift back in the direction of objective reality.

        2. Which firmly places it outside any legal meaning of ‘incitement’, and well into normal speech.

          Clearly your understanding of “normal” is not the same as everybody else’s. (Or, to put that another way, those are not the only two options.)

          1. “Normal” speech includes a lot of stuff that offends the left. Just as it includes a lot of stuff that offends the right. The “mainstream” of speech is VERY wide, even if platforms like Twitter and Facebook are desperately trying to build dikes to narrow and direct it.

            1. And yet people have tended to think that “normal for the President” ought to be somewhat different than “normal for everyone else”. For example, calling for the overthow of the Republic might have to be tolerated under Brandenburg if it comes from anyone else, but that hardly makes it “normal” when coming from the President.

              1. Yeah, and when the President calls for the overthrow of the Republic, you’ll have a point.

                1. That’s exactly what he’s been doing the last two months.

                  You don’t want to see it, but it’s true.

                  1. No. It. Isn’t. You’re at the point where anything Trump does looks to you like a putsch.

                    What he’s been doing is contesting the election outcome to the bitter end. Longer than I wanted, to be sure, but contesting an election outcome is not overthrowing the government.

                    1. Trying to get Pence to throw out EV’s is just “contesting the election?”

                      Trying to get the GA SoS to “recalculate” is just “contesting the election?”

                      Repeatedly claiming that he won in a landslide, that the election was stolen, that he carried every state, is just “”contesting the election?”

                      As I said, you defend everything he does, no matter what, and then deny that you’re a dedicated cultist.

                    2. If he had gotten Pence to play around, you know what would have happened?

                      It would have been up to state legislatures to say, “yup, that’s our certified result!” And that’s all.

                      But Pence didn’t play along, and there wasn’t much chance of it. And it wasn’t really any more dishonest than the stunt Gore tried in Florida, when you get down to it.

                      But, yeah, I was tired of him claiming a landslide the first time he said it.

                    3. It would have been up to state legislatures to say, “yup, that’s our certified result!” And that’s all.

                      You’re not this naiive. You know what Trump had tried in the past with states, was definitely hoping for again.
                      You know he’s got nothing; and yet you indulge him. And it’s already ended in death and insurrection.

                    4. Notice how quickly using all legal means to achieve your result has turned into a “months long campaign of incitement” to revolution and insurrection?

                      I find hilarious that a legal blog is filled with people – posters as well as commentors! – pushing this view. The next time a lawyer pushing a position in court they know is a losing one, will these folks call it a crime? Will it be insurrection the next time some administration loses a 9-0 Supreme Court ruling? After all, those take months of pushing falsehoods…

                    5. Notice how quickly using all legal means to achieve your result has turned into a “months long campaign of incitement” to revolution and insurrection?

                      It is not legal to file frivolous lawsuits with no evidence whatsoever based on knowingly fabricated claims. It is not legal to pressure elections officials to tamper with the vote totals.

                    6. don’t forget the one you left out.
                      It’s not legal to ask your supporters to try voting more than once. (unless, of course, your name is “Donald”, in which case it’s peachy-keen fine.)

                    7. “What he’s been doing is contesting the election outcome to the bitter end.”

                      Jousting at windmills. Donald J. Quixote.

                2. The Democrats objected, in Congress, the last three Republican Presidential victories. Are you conceding that this was insurrection or incitement?
                  Maxine Waters stated she was going to get Trump’s head. What did you say when that happened?

                  1. “The Democrats objected, in Congress, the last three Republican Presidential victories. Are you conceding that this was insurrection or incitement?”

                    Why would that be conceded to be insurrection? Did they bring a mob along to back their objection? Hint: That’s the “insurrection” part.

            2. ” The ‘mainstream’ of speech is VERY wide, even if platforms like Twitter and Facebook are desperately trying to build dikes to narrow and direct it.”

              The “mainstream of speech” may or may not fall within what private owners of platforms like Twitter or Facebook choose to welcome on their computers.

  14. “We also shouldn’t overstate the danger of corporate power. Facebook and Twitter, unlike the government, can’t send us to jail or tax us.”

    Apparently, though, they can arrange for somebody to be cut off from financial services. And for their lawyers to drop them as clients. And their internet security company to open a hole and notify hackers.

    ‘They can’t jail or tax you, just force you to live in the wilderness off berries and leaves.” isn’t all that reassuring.

    It strikes me that the rationale behind public accommodations law wasn’t any stronger than this, maybe weaker, because it wasn’t protecting you against a constellation of near monopolies colluding against you.

    My concern here is that Google et al may actually be starting the rollout of an American “social credit system” similar to the one Google assisted China in creating. And this is just the trial run.

    1. it wasn’t protecting you against a constellation of near monopolies colluding against you

      It wasn’t? You understand that local market power is also a thing in many sectors, right?

      1. I understand that local market power is local market power, which is pretty different from the sort of market power companies like Facebook, Twitter, or Amazon can deploy.

        1. It really isn’t. In some markets the local angle is irrelevant, like in anything online. In that case, local market power cannot arise. In every other market, local market power is just like any other market power.

          1. The difference is that you can walk away from local market power. You can’t walk away from monopolies that dominate entire industries.

            1. You can’t, that’s the whole point. In many markets (housing, healthcare, groceries), the fact that you can get a better deal in the next town or the next state doesn’t really do you much good.

              1. Sure it does: You can move. People do that all the time.

                But you can’t move out of the reach of a company when it dominates the entire industry, and colludes with other industries to keep alternatives from developing.

                1. You can also set up an entirely new cloud computing service. But given the fixed costs of doing so, neither one is actually realistic.

                  1. Moving IS realistic, people do it all the time.

                    Setting up an entirely new cloud computing service is less so, but it’s the wrong solution anyway.

                    The whole problem here is that we got away from the distributed model of the internet, and ended up relying on a remote server based system, at a time when computer resources are cheaper than ever before. And why? Just because servers are easy to abuse; They centralize data so that you can monetize it, they provide choke points so you can turn purchases into rentals.

                    We need to get back to doing everything possible, (Which is pretty much everything!) peer to peer, and stop creating choke points. Choke points will ALWAYS be abused.

                    Parler could have been set up to function peer to peer, and if it had been, they never would have been able to shut it down, and it’s resources would have scaled with the number of users.

                    1. First, the “peer-to-peer” model of the Internet only really existed for e-mail and newsgroups. (I kind of miss newsgroups–it would be nice to have discussion threads like this that weren’t dependent on a specific web site and its quirks.) But ever since the creation of the web–and really even before that with services like gopher–there hasn’t been a viable peer-to-peer model for the vast majority of Internet traffic. If there’s any exception, it’s possible that in the heydey of Napster or BitTorrent there was more pirating going on than legitimate use of the Internet.

                      Second, even if you wanted to try to create such a thing, it falls apart when you get to the point that people actually want to get paid for creating Internet services. I’ve never seen any model for monetizing a peer-to-peer service, which is why the only notable examples of its usage are either from the pre-commercial days of the Internet or in tools used for piracy where avoiding paying for things was the whole point. As this thread illustrates, conservatives clearly don’t think software engineers deserve any agency in what they work on or how their products are used, but it’s going to be hard to create these amazing peer-to-peer services that are going to compete with server-based offerings if it all has to be done as a volunteer effort.

                    2. The internet was designed to be “peer-to-peer-to peer” so as to survive a nuclear war. Traffic would take a circuitous route around “damage”, i.e. cities that had been nuked.

                      Farcebook & Twatter are essentially imposing a tax on traffic without really adding that much value.

                    3. Dr. Ed 2–I’m sorry you don’t understand the difference between layers in the OSI stack, but you probably shouldn’t try to explain how the Internet works without a rudimentary understanding of the technology involved.

                      The network layer of the Internet is still very much distributed. There are a multitude of network paths between any two points on the Internet, and in general traffic will easily re-route around problems with a particular network path.

                      It was never a design principle of the Internet that an individual application (whether that be a website or the data hosted for an app like Parler) be distributed in the same way. In fact, the foundational design of the Internet assumes that endpoints will actually be unique and it requires a fair amount of work around that fundamental design to introduce redundancy for large sites that need to run on multiple servers or in multiple locations.

                    4. “The internet was designed to be “peer-to-peer-to peer” so as to survive a nuclear war. Traffic would take a circuitous route around “damage”, i.e. cities that had been nuked.”

                      This reflects a basic mis-understanding. Packet-switching networks were designed to be highly resilient to node failure, such as the kind that might be expected after a ballistic missile exchange. The Internet uses packet-switching networks, but not exclusively. the Internet was designed to make use of whatever signaling systems were available for use. There is an RFC that describes how to use messenger pigeons for Internet traffic. Messenger pigeons are NOT generally capable of re-routing traffic to account for nuclear war.

                    5. “The whole problem here is that we got away from the distributed model of the internet, and ended up relying on a remote server based system, at a time when computer resources are cheaper than ever before.”

                      Hint for Brett: All peer-to-peer systems are server-based. A server is just a computer that provides services for another computer. In a peer-to-peer system, all the nodes are servers.

                  2. Moving is too expensive to be realistic? The number of people relocating within the US since last April suggests otherwise.

                    1. Go ahead and tell me how many of those people moved because groceries were too expensive.

                2. “But you can’t move out of the reach of a company when it dominates the entire industry, and colludes with other industries to keep alternatives from developing.”

                  If you don’t take part in the collusion, they can’t keep you from developing your own infrastructure. How much you have to build yourself depends on how strong your unwillingness to abide the terms for using other people’s stuff that’s already been built.

            2. “The difference is that you can walk away from local market power. You can’t walk away from monopolies that dominate entire industries.”

              You’ve never lived in the American West, have you, Brett? Hint: it was populated by people who literally walked away from everything. Although, according to school-approved computer gaming, most of them died of dysentery along the way.

  15. Did you all fail to notice that the speech that is being deplatformed just caused an angry mob to take over the capitol and assault the rule of law itself? What you see as deplatforming, I see as disruption of insurrection and mob violence. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

    1. Why wasn’t twitter deplatformed months ago then?

        1. Oh, Uganda…. Blocking ALL social media

          1. That’s what you were talking about, deplatforming Twitter for being insufficiently friendly to the pro-government narrative. If you want to know what that looks like, here’s Uganda.

            1. No, the implication was that Twitter should be deplatformed for supporting insurrection and mob violence. It objectively has facilitated those things for months. But now, after the kind of insurrection and mob violence that it doesn’t like, it is cracking down in an illiberal and politically biased way.

              1. “after the kind of insurrection and mob violence that it doesn’t like, it is cracking down in an illiberal and politically biased way.”

                Is there something wrong with being politically-biased against mob violence? Because if there is, what you say may be used against you in court…

            2. “That’s what you were talking about, deplatforming Twitter for being insufficiently friendly to the pro-government narrative. If you want to know what that looks like, here’s Uganda.”

              And here’s 1980. No Twitter anywhere. If only the Conservatives could have organized using Twitter, they could have overthrown the disastrous 1980 Presidential election. Hey, wait…

      1. Why don’t you take your what aboutism to someone who actually buys it.

        1. Asking for equality in treatment is not “whataboutism”.

          1. Oh, so someone else got away with something, so that means nobody can ever be held accountable for anything? OJ Simpson got away with murder, so we now have to release all the murderers we’re currently incarcerating?

            1. No, but your response is entirely disproportionate.

              After far more violent, deadly and damaging protests for months, the response was “defund the police.”

              But now after a protest, that by contrast to the ones above, was relatively non-violent (relative to the months of protests above), you’ve gone all “wrath of god” on the protesters, asking for “massive casualties” among them. And color us suspicious if the only reason for this is the political shift.

              Personally, I think fairly minor, but important changes could be made. Things like “make sure you have enough cops during a protest” and “Don’t turn down offers of Federal support before the protests” and “arrest those who stole stuff, and try them without dismissing charges” and especially “Don’t have political leaders collecting bail for rioters, and hold them accountable if they do”

              Wouldn’t you agree, all those are appropriate? For ALL of the riots and rioters, not just the most recent example?

              But shutting down free speech channels and asking for “massive casualties”….that smacks of tyranny.

              1. Massive casualties are a last resort; you try other things too. But ultimately you don’t surrender the capitol to armed thugs, even if you have to kill some of them in the process. That’s kinda the way violence works. And making it harder for violent thugs to organize by shutting down their communications and propaganda networks is hardly unreasonable.

                I would agree with your proposed changes. I would also apply them evenhanded to all rioters regardless of political persuasion. Peaceful protest is fine; rioting isn’t.

                1. “I would agree with your proposed changes”

                  So, you agree that Impeaching Kamala Harris is entirely appropriate?

                  1. For what she did before she became Vice-President???

                    1. While a sitting Senator for California?

                      Yes.

                  2. What specifically did Kamala Harris say or do that you think is impeachable?

                    1. “Don’t have political leaders collecting bail for rioters, and hold them accountable if they do”

                      But go ahead and walk back your position on it now… It’s expected.

                    2. Don’t forget she was encouraging violent and destructive riots:
                      “…there will be more. There should be more.”

                    3. Armchair Lawyer, OK, assuming you’re accurately quoting her, why is that an impeachable offense?

                      Toranth, do you have a citation? I very much doubt that you’ve accurately quoted her in context.

                    4. And there goes the walking it back…

                      Krychek, you’ve stated repeatedly that when elected officials offer “support for rioters” it is an impeachable offense.

                      Asking people to donate to a fund to bail rioters out of jail, while the riots are ongoing may be considered an impeachable offense.

                      I am positive that if Trump tweeted “To all of my supporters, please join me in donating to the Trump Freedom Fund to bail our brave protestors out of jail after their march on the Capital”….you would consider it treason.

                    5. No, that’s not a walk back, not even close. Most of those arrested weren’t rioting, not even close.

            2. Oh, so someone else got away with something, so that means nobody can ever be held accountable for anything? OJ Simpson got away with murder, so we now have to release all the murderers we’re currently incarcerating?

              Perhaps you didn’t notice, but OJ was prosecuted by the State of California through the LA County district attorney. And they held a trial. A long one. I think it was even televised. So the authorities made plain that they were going after murder, including that committed by a famous ball player/celebrity. The jury just did not buy it.

              In contrast, this summer you had state and municipal authorities openly siding with the rioters, or at least tolerating them. You had anti-police rhetoric. In one city, the radicals were allowed to set up their own little statelet, where the strongest warlord ruled. And the mayor of that city did nothing.

              Can you see the difference between doing your best to prosecute crime but sometimes failing, and actively encouraging criminality?

              So yes, there is a double standard.

              1. As I’ve said, I’m far from a fan of how last summer’s riots were handled, although I believe the rioters that could be identified were actually prosecuted.

                But at some point, there needs to be a line in the sand that says that rioting is not acceptable no matter who is doing it. Otherwise, the left now looks at what happened at the capitol and decides to escalate, after which the right escalates, after which the left escalates again, etc. And the fact that that line should have been drawn earlier is not a reason to not draw it now. And simply pointing out earlier events that should have been done differently doesn’t help us with where we are now.

                Rioting needs to be met with force, and those advocating violence need to be deplatformed. No matter who is doing it. And without respect to who did it and got away with it. As with squabbling kids in the back seat, I don’t care who started it.

                1. “although I believe the rioters that could be identified were actually prosecuted. ”

                  The question is, why do you believe it? It isn’t as though we haven’t discussed here the way local DA’s aren’t allowing the rioters to be prosecuted.

                  1. Maybe you should read articles instead of headlines.

                    “Most of the dropped charges were misdemeanor offenses such as interfering with a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.”

                    …so, not rioters in most cases…

                    “In one case, Portland police arrested a 25-year-old protester for allegedly setting fire to a Chase Bank in downtown Portland on May 30, the second night of large-scale protests in the city. The Portland resident was charged with arson, criminal mischief and riot.”

                    Okay, that sounds like a rioter! Those terrible DAs, why would they drop charges against such a thug?

                    “A Multnomah County grand jury heard evidence in the case and declined to return an indictment.”

                    Oh, crap.

                    1. ““A Multnomah County grand jury heard evidence in the case and declined to return an indictment.””

                      Oh, now grand juries are good.

                      When thy do that with police officers, you still riot about it.

                    2. So, which is it–were the rioters wrong or is Brett wrong now?

                    3. I could have given you a page of charges dropped links, but it would take a while. So I just gave you the first result.

                    4. Based on what you’ve pasted so far, it’s likely that there’s lots of prosectors not prosecuting peaceful demonstrators caught up by overzealous police and no prosecutors letting people go who participating in violent riots.

                      If you think there’s actual examples of the latter, please point to them.

                  2. “What he’s been doing is contesting the election outcome to the bitter end.”

                    Brett, there’s no sense in arguing things supported only by evidence you imagined. So stop doing that.

                2. “But at some point, there needs to be a line in the sand ”

                  That point is apparently when somebody you hate does something. Before that, you are merely”not a fan”.

                  1. Please show me where I actually said that.

              2. “Can you see the difference between doing your best to prosecute crime but sometimes failing, and actively encouraging criminality?”

                The real question is why you can see it whether it’s there or not. Or are you confessing your own “actively encouraging criminality”?

    2. “Did you all fail to notice that the speech that is being deplatformed just caused an angry mob to take over the capitol and assault the rule of law itself? What you see as deplatforming, I see as disruption of insurrection and mob violence. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”

      Given a loose enough definition of “caused”. As with all other lefty redefining of words.

      1. You might want to check out the case of Matthew Hale, who is currently serving a 40 year prison sentence for attempting to assassinate a federal judge. What he did was to give someone in his group with known violent tendencies the judge’s address and tell him “I can’t be involved in anything violent, but you follow your conscience.” The same principle applies here.

        1. Well, you have to be reasonable. We can’t be locking up white surpremacist would-be putschists. That would be needlessly divisive.

          1. When you arrest them, they go home and suicide.

        2. So, the incitement was Trump telling them where the Capitol building was?

          1. Ask Matthew Hale.

            1. Matthew Hale doxed a judge. A good argument that doxing should be a crime when you know you’re providing a target list to violent people.

              But doxing isn’t generally a tactic of the right, now, is it?

              1. Yes, it is.

                1. Are you trying to use facts to argue with Brett? You know that won’t work, right?

        3. “You might want to check out the case of Matthew Hale, who is currently serving a 40 year prison sentence for attempting to assassinate a federal judge. What he did was to give someone in his group with known violent tendencies the judge’s address and tell him “I can’t be involved in anything violent, but you follow your conscience.” The same principle applies here.”

          If I assume that your phrasing here is an honest recounting of events, it sounds atrocious. Given that I don’t think it is safe to assume your accounting is accurate, I will look it up.

          And, of course you’re a liar. Hale seems like a piece of shit, but also was railroaded into charges, similar to the “kidnap attempt” of Governor Whitmer. Jail is probably an appropriate place for him, but apparently not for incitement or attempted murder.

          You got your apples mixed up with your oranges.

          1. You’re obviously unfamiliar with how entrapment works. You can say no a hundred times, but if you say yes, even once, you’re guilty. But that wasn’t even the issue here. The issue is that he didn’t explicitly say “Go kill the judge.” Instead, he dropped hints — I can’t be part of this, but follow your conscience — that the jury interpreted as being a way to say go kill the judge without actually saying it. As the court pointed out, the proper response would have been to give a flat no and walk away.

            1. Except, he didn’t “drop hints”. All of the exchanges appear to be the FBI agent suggesting illegal action, and Hale nearly always unequivocally saying “no”, but a couple of times being a little bit weasel-y, like a lefty/politician.

              1. so what your saying here is that lefty/politicians categorically aren’t guilty of crimes.

        4. After reading the case, it’s even worse than that.

          An FBI agent, embedded into the church, offered many times to kill someone, and Hale said “no” many times. Until the one time he said, nah, but you do you.

          Sounds to me like the FBI informant ought to have been thrown in jail for entrapment and “attempted” murder.

          1. Pretty much standard rule, if you so much as suspect the feds might be out to get you, is to get rid of anybody around you who so much as hints that you should break a law with them. They’re probably an informant told to incriminate you.

            1. Wow. so all those years of paranoia may finally pay off for you, then?

  16. Would the New York Times have published Prof. Volokh’s column were it familiar with Artie Ray Lee Wayne Jim-Bob Kirkland — or with the manner in which Prof. Volokh has repeatedly censored liberals and libertarians to flatter a conservative audience?

    Prof. Volokh certainly improved his chance to avoid any problem along that line — not by avoiding hypocrisy in this context, but Instead by banning Artie Ray years ago. For making fun of conservatives.

      1. Crying?

        I am emphasizing that the right-wingers whining limply about censorship are vivid hypocrites with respect to the subject.

        Now we return you to our normal programming . . . stomping the bigoted and backward clingers into submission in the culture war as America continues to progress against the wishes and efforts of conservatives.

          1. Parler’s litigation against Amazon began with a bang today — the judge admonished Parler for failure to effect service on Amazon.

            This isn’t crying, Vinni . . . this is gloating.

              1. Boo-hoo. the big tech companies won’t let me use their stuff the way I want to! WAAAAAA!

  17. In my view social media companies should be treated like public utilities, like telecom companies, rather than like private publishers.

    I don’t think they should have complete discretion to decide what they want on their platforms and what they don’t. A telephone company cannot simply kick people off if it doesn’t like shat they are saying. And social media companies serve the role of telephone companies (among other roles) in the new era.

    If they do exercise editorial control, they should be subject to the full liability that other private publishers are subject to.

    The present sweatheart situation where they have it both ways – power of editorial control without liability – needs to stop.

    1. “In my view social media companies should be treated like public utilities, like telecom companies, rather than like private publishers.
      I don’t think they should have complete discretion to decide what they want on their platforms and what they don’t.”

      Sweet. Clear something up. Does private ownership of property mean anything to you or does it give way to government control of property if if the owners won’t do what you want with their stuff?

      “A telephone company cannot simply kick people off if it doesn’t like shat they are saying.”

      They absolutely CAN tip off law enforcement, though. No warrant needed, because they’re private actors, and not part of the government.

  18. A few points to make.

    1. As noted, just eliminating free speech went beyond kicking a user off Twitter or Facebook. Now “Big Tech” is using its power at another remove, eliminating cloud computing services from a company they disagree with politically. Amazon Web Services cut off Parler’s server use. This is a major step, which essentially eliminated the company.

    2. The obvious next step is for internet service providers to cut off service for companies they disagree with. For example, Comcast could cut off Twitter or Facebook from its network. And “there’s nothing legally wrong” with that. If Comcast cut off Twitter, what would be the result to Twitter’s bottom line?

    3. The third step is for government to use its power to cut off or pressure companies to take steps to suppress speech and ideas that they don’t like. Now you may argue “the US can’t do that”. But I’m not talking about the US. I’m talking about China. And if Google gets cut off of the Chinese market, unless it quietly changes search results….

    3.

    1. 3. is actually the zeroth step; This whole thing probably got started with Obama’s Operation Choke Point. An illegal program where financial services companies were pressured into refusing to provide services, or even terminate existing accounts, for a long list of perfectly legal businesses the administration was hostile to.

      After it was nominally ended, private industry kept it going informally, quite likely under informal government encouragement. And it just snowballed.

      1. In fact, given the extent of “resistance” organization within the bureaucracy, it’s possible that they just ignored Trump’s order to terminate the program, and expanded it beyond the financial industry, instead.

        1. Trump’s authority to silence people remains problemmatic thanks to the 1A, Brett.

    2. “3. The third step is for government to use its power to cut off or pressure companies to take steps to suppress speech and ideas that they don’t like.”

      Yeah. Fuck the First Amendment. What did it ever do for ME?

    3. “Amazon Web Services cut off Parler’s server use. This is a major step, which essentially eliminated the company. ”

      So, to prevent this from happening, you have to own the servers and infrastructure you want to use for your business. What a radical Leftist idea THAT is!

    4. “2. The obvious next step is for internet service providers to cut off service for companies they disagree with. For example, Comcast could cut off Twitter or Facebook from its network. And ‘there’s nothing legally wrong’ with that.”

      Now, do you understand why net neutrality was important? But the big business wanted to be deregulated, so you went along without questioning “could this ever bite me in the butt?”

      1. Beside the amusing assumption that Twitter or Facebook have Comcast as their service provider. Wouldn’t work, they need reliable service!

  19. RE: paywalls

    turn off javascript

    WSJ has a real paywall, almost everyone else uses javascript.

    You can leave a settings window open and toggle it on and off as many sites won’t work at all without it

    1. Or get a browser that lets you disable scripting in general, such as Firefox with NoScript, which lets you set a whitelist of sites whose scripts you’d like to run.

  20. To answer the question in the title, apparently Lord Sumption is next. (High profile former conservative judge on the UK Supreme Court.)

    In the offline world, the famously pro-Brexit anti-lockdown pub chain Wetherspoon’s, the largest pub chain in the UK, has just announced that it’s taking down all the Covid-sceptic posters it had up. (Presumably facing out, since UK pubs have been closed for some time.)

    https://www.legalcheek.com/2021/01/wetherspoon-to-remove-lockdown-sceptic-posters-including-one-featuring-lord-sumption/

  21. People and companies using their power to make it harder for others to speak and communicate is not a good thing for society.

    1. That which fails to kill you makes you stronger.

  22. At first they came for the President of the United States who invites and delights in chaos and I said nothing.

    Next they came for the heavily-armed far-right extremists advocating for the murder of their political opponents and I said nothing.

    Then they came for me but neither of the other two would piss on me if I was on fire anyway.

    1. “Next they came for the heavily-armed far-right extremists advocating for the murder of their political opponents and I said nothing.”

      They wanted their allies dead, too. This probably ends Mr. Pence’s political career. (sob)

  23. Excess that opposes bigotry, ignorance, and lies is bad, but far better than excess that advances bigotry, ignorance, and lies.

    People who oppose bigotry, ignorance, and lies are better than people who embrace bigotry, ignorance, and lies.

    Mainstream America generally gives its vestigial bigots, kooks, and rubes a long leash. The insurrection inclined Twitter and others to reconsider appeasement of lousy people, lies, and belligerent ignorance.

    The Volokh Conspiracy, with bloodstained hands and a record of censorship, is in scant position to whine about this.

    1. Volokh is white and male, and its white male hands are bloodstained?

  24. A libertarian is just a statist who hasn’t…had their social media posts taken down?

  25. The funny thing is that this ban to a guy leaving in office in a week will likely result in the EU and others further restricting these tech companies.

    For instance, Merkel and the President of Mexico criticized it. Merkel is an ex-commie youth leader and she better grasps the future implications than US “liberals”.

    1. Given that US “liberals” includes the likes of Artie, that’s hardly surprising. Artie could piss into the wind and complain about the rain.

      1. And all you can manage is to complain about Artie’s complaining.

  26. Twitter is for twits. Trump uses long, rambling phone calls to Fox News programs to get his message to the faithful.
    For a couple more weeks, he can get national broadcast time just be telling the national networks he’s going to have something to say, which opportunity he will decline to use because he’s still busy trying to get all the White House silverware into his luggage.

  27. Here’s a VC pitch: Using their retained IP rights in the content, Twitter users at risk of losing their platform opt in to a second site that mirrors their Twitter feed. This second site releases a platform or app capable of pulling from both Twitter and their feed. If Twitter limits the primary account, the client-side reader pulls from the second site, and the user has all of their content archived there; when things are normal, the reader is simply a Twitter client. Perhaps it’s a browser-based app, and simply redirects the URL of darkened Twitter accounts. The idea is not to build the second site, but to start multiple potential sources for a universal client-side reader or aliasing browser app.

    Ah, for those heady days of the aughts. Edited a startup site for a few years. Quite fun.

    Mr. D.

    1. Here’s the counter. Twitter already asserts rights to content that others post on their platform. Their terms of use forbid mirroring that that could weaken their ownership right. (If they don’t today, that would be a trivial add – and your continued use of Twitter is implied consent to their modified terms.) Your app is such a mirror. Twitter unilaterally blocks the app. Might be by IP or some other technological fingerprint but it wouldn’t be too hard for a competent information security technician to implement.

      As a potential venture capitalist, I’m not going to offer you very much because the competitive reaction is too easy to predict.

      1. Your competent information security professional doesn’t have to be content just blocking outside access. He (or she)(but probably he) can alter the content if desired. Imagine the fun if all the references to Trump magically become “monkey-dick” on the mirror site.

  28. (Not legal advice) Aha, that’s the genius of it, though. It’s transparent to Twitter for unblocked accounts, but for the blocked accounts, Twitter can’t assert their nonexclusive right to the content, either singly or as a compilation, if they’ve removed it from their system, so the app/browser alias/whatever simply looks for the second silo.

    Key thought is that Twitter does two things. It (1) receives and hosts the user’s content, and (2) it serves it up. A neutral app sitting on top of the silo and redirecting to other sources only replaces the second function. And again, the vision is that we eventually get an abundance of silos that the app can look to.

    Rather invigorating to get back to thinking about this sort of stuff. Off for some buttered coffee. (/not legal advice).

    Mr. D.

    1. “(Not legal advice) Aha, that’s the genius of it, though. It’s transparent to Twitter for unblocked accounts, but for the blocked accounts, Twitter can’t assert their nonexclusive right to the content, either singly or as a compilation, if they’ve removed it from their system, so the app/browser alias/whatever simply looks for the second silo.”

      Not good technical advice either. If you want to avoid tampering, you need to control the whole stack.

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