Free Speech

YouTube Removes March 2020 Reason Video About Biohackers Working on DIY Vaccine

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Zach Weissmueller here at Reason has the details:

On Monday, YouTube sent Reason an automated takedown notification for a March 13, 2020, video titled "Biohackers Are on a Secret Hunt for the Coronavirus Vaccine." The message said our video violated the company's spam, deceptive practices, and scams policy.

YouTube denied Reason's appeal, informing us that the video violates the company's "medical misinformation policy."

Did this 16-month-old video really promote "medical misinformation"?

Speaking as the journalist who produced it: absolutely not. While YouTube, as a private company, is within its rights to decide what to carry, the decision to remove this video illustrates a disturbing, censorial trend that has accelerated in the age of COVID.

You can view a non-YouTube copy of the video at that article, so you can judge for yourself; and here's the auto-generated transcript:

NARRATOR (00:00):

The following is an interview in the Southern California home of a biologist whose company is fundraising and effort to construct, test and distribute a DIY coronavirus vaccine out of synthetic DNA reason. Granted his request for anonymity due to a legitimate fear of retribution from the FDA, but has verified his identity, that of his business partner and of a potential Silicon valley funder. The proposal under discussion is available in a link below this video. And those interested can contact the team by emailing Corrine, ope@protonmail.com.

BIOHACKER (00:35):

I'm a biologist I've been working in the field for about 10 years in molecular biology, biochemistry, mostly in industry, making proteins, making DNA, all the kinds of things that people want to pay you to make. And also been involved in the DIY bio community since near its inception

NARRATOR (00:53):

By DIY bio community. He means a grassroots movement comprised of professionals and amateur biologists who experiments with genetic engineering in their homes and community labs. People like Josiah Zaner founder of the Odin, which distributes kits, allowing anyone to experiment with CRISPR gene editing tool members of this community have created glowing yeast by inserting jellyfish genes, injected themselves with homemade vaccines, attempted to reverse engineer patented pharmaceuticals tried to genetically engineer dogs, and there are even efforts to create designer babies by modifying human embryos, all without seeking FDA approval.

BIOHACKER (01:31):

The FDA, despite people's, uh, usual perception of them as fairly friendly. I mean, they, they are looking out for the consumer, but, um, if somebody is trying to develop, um, and distribute unapproved medicine, uh, they, they will come down hard and they have, and um, for someone like me that doesn't have, um, you know, lawyers on retainer and for our group in general, uh, it's a severe risk to our livelihoods outside of this project, if we were to be de anonymized.

REASON (02:00):

So you've put together this proposal and a document titled, CoroNope. Could you give us an overview of what's in that document and what your proposal is,

BIOHACKER (02:12):

Outline of how vaccines are made, how DIY vaccines could be made since so far? No one has really had to DIY a vaccine and kind of a grief, uh, scientific and technical background on how it would be designed and then how we would go about manufacturing it and distribute it. Yeah.

REASON (02:29):

Why do you see the need for this? What is the purpose of a day?

BIOHACKER (02:33):

Why a vaccine at this point in a pandemic situation, obviously there's a bit more leniency on the part of the FDA and various other regulators to push things through as fast as possible, but especially after the swine flu vaccine scandal where the vaccine was developed, rush through and distributed, and then a few hundred people, at least in the U S developed a very rare neurological disorder. Since that time, they've not taken too many more liberties, even during pandemics companies that are developing vaccines nowadays, they have to go through several months of testing and then final approval, and then watching out for side effects. And we feel that there might be a niche there, at least for us

NARRATOR (03:13):

Experts like Anthony Fowchee, director of the national Institute of allergy infectious disease have said a vaccine will likely not be available to the public for about 18 months, even with a fast track testing process,

BIOHACKER (03:26):

The method that we're using, it's very minimal risk, uh, in terms of, uh, the patient safety, there is much more of a risk that it simply won't work, but we prefer to err on the side of it not working rather than it potentially harming people

NARRATOR (03:39):

Other than using the sample of the novel Corona virus and killing it, or recombining it with a less harmful virus to create the vaccine, which would be prohibitively expensive and dangerous. His team is attempting to create a vaccine built from synthetic DNA attached to bacteria, which would then either need to be injected in conjunction with an electrical pulse or combined with a chemical allowing for better penetration of cell membranes.

BIOHACKER (04:03):

How confident are you something like that could actually work given that there's nothing on the market like that at this point, the company that we are, shall we say cribbing the most off of they have phase one phase two clinical trial using the, basically the exact same approach for a Merz middle east respiratory syndrome. They found that they got significant antibody responses in these clinical trials. Now, obviously they can't test it in a epidemic or pandemic scenario. They would have to actively infect people with this virus. So for now that's as close as they can get to approval. It's quite promising. Um, it seems that having an antibody response against the particular protein that we're targeting, the spike protein, uh, is enough to neutralize it, uh, for most Corona viruses. What exactly is the path that you would see this taking? How would it be distributed?

BIOHACKER (04:51):

How would people get their hands on it? Well, there be two separate stages. At the first point, we have maybe a few hundred or a few thousand doses that we can distribute to people and they would go ahead and do the injection, uh, monitor themselves. And then after a few weeks or months, um, ideally we could test their, um, antibody titers against the, uh, the virus. And at that point it would be considered as close to tested as we can get. Um, I don't think we'll have the stage where we're doing a double-blinded placebo controlled trial for this. That's not in our budget and not really in the, uh, the timeline I'm still trying to grasp how this would be distributed. Is this like a Dallas buyers club situation where people are, you know, going to their local community lab and collecting a bunch of needles or is this like online black markets?

BIOHACKER (05:40):

How would an unapproved vaccine like this even get out into the world? Yeah, it's a complicated question because if you're not selling it, which we don't plan to, then it becomes less clear. It's not quite self experimentation, but if you have tens of thousands, people injecting this thing, you, you can't claim that they're all just self experimenting. If it does end up needing an electroporation device, um, yes, it would be centered around community labs. So the plasma itself can be shipped, uh, dry to wherever it's needed and reconstituted quite easily. So, um, that side of it isn't quite as difficult, but I don't see us going with some sort of dark web black market distribution stuff. I don't know if we could make, um, data reporting a precondition of getting a dose in lieu of payment, something like that. But, um, I think people hopefully will understand that it is still experimental, which means we're doing an experiment. Um, so they will become in a way Guinea pigs, which sounds a little bad, but it will be Guinea pigs as well. So at least we'll all be in the same boat.

REASON (06:46):

And what makes you believe that anybody would inject an untested vaccine?

BIOHACKER (06:53):

Well, people inject black tar heroin every day, and I don't think they have quite as much quality control data available as we'll have, but all joking aside, uh, we can provide as much data as we can generate. Um, it's up to people to be able to give their, as it were informed consent about these things. We appreciate them, most people aren't biologists. Um, ideally we could get some biologists who were okay with staking, their reputation, at least a little on saying, yes, this test data looks correct. Having been in the DIY bio community where people will inject plasmids into themselves on a dare or after a couple of drinks. Maybe it seems a little less crazy, but at a certain point not doing something that seems pretty safe in the face of a disease that could kill you or loved ones. Um, it depends on where everyone's particular risk threshold is. I think, and I don't, I don't blame them for, uh, waiting for an FDA approved vaccine.

REASON (07:47):

Do you worry that you could make things worse by if you release a vaccine that hasn't gone through the official process and then it does end up injuring people that then that's going to just create more distrust and, you know, the approved vaccine when it eventually comes

BIOHACKER (08:03):

The other advantage of DNA vaccines aside from, uh, not having to work with live viruses really at worst, they just do nothing. They're extremely well tolerated. That's the one thing we've learned from all the previous clinical trials and various, uh, papers over the years is that yeah, the worst you get is a, a minor rash at the injection site. I think our biggest risk is something that would be true for any vaccine that's developed. Sometimes having antibodies against a virus can do more harm than good.

REASON (08:32):

What is the scenario that you're imagining where this actually would be useful and fill in gaps,

BIOHACKER (08:39):

The company developing a vaccine that we're currently closest to in terms of methodology, uh, there'll be spending the next, at least four, probably six to eight months, uh, doing their testing. Uh, once they get initial confirmation that it's at least safe. Um, but possibly before manufacturing can scale up, we will have at least some manufacturing capacity. And depending on the level of the pandemic at that time, there might be situations where they're only handing out, um, vaccine to going by, uh, like last name or depending on how much money you have or first-world countries. All of these could be preferential distributions that leave plenty of people underserved. And even if it's only a matter of weeks or months, um, before they would get access to the vaccine, those can be life or death. I know it seems like with Italy completely unlocked down, it's nearing maturity, but it's still very early stages.

BIOHACKER (09:32):

And, uh, especially in the U S I would say it's a safe bet that this is the, uh, the worst since the 1918 Spanish flu, I don't think will be nearly as bad as that, but I think we'll quickly see that hospitals are very often operating at or near capacity even without a pandemic on the loose. And, uh, especially considering the amount of, um, oxygenation ventilation that's being needed. Uh, you're going to see a lot of people start being triaged and then the medical services get overwhelmed, and it's hard to get the data. Um, a lot of the numbers out there right now, aren't reliable. They come from say an authoritarian country that has their best interests in at least calming their population and looking good on the international stage versus providing reliable data. So we can hope for the best there. But I think some of the worst case scenarios of 4% case fatality rate, um, could be possible, especially again with overloaded hospitals. Uh, it just depends. And that's assuming it doesn't mutate into something more virulent. Um, Italy's the best case study we have right now, and it's getting, uh, pretty bad. So

REASON (10:40):

No I've gotten verification from one Silicon valley investor that he is interested in supporting your project. What level of interest have you gotten so far and what do you need to actually proceed at the time?

BIOHACKER (10:55):

One of the advantages of a DNA vaccine as that, um, unlike with a regular inactivated attenuated virus where you're injecting it into chicken, eggs, and waiting for these cells to grow mammalian cells or AVM cells divide once every, roughly 24 hours, whereas bacterial cell divides every 20 minutes. So when you're looking at exponential growth, you can get a lot more bacteria. I would say with 25 to $50,000, we could set up a solid buyer, reactor. It's all a purification set up all the chemicals and plastic ware and testing kits that we would need to get again, a few thousand doses at that point. And from there, it's pretty much an economy of scale and you can produce 20 times more bacteria for definitely not 20 times the price.

REASON (11:39):

How hopeful are you that you can actually succeed in this endeavor?

BIOHACKER (11:44):

The most basic level we can get the plasmid synthesized, which also will probably be a few thousand dollars in terms of avoiding getting shut down by the FDA or any other regulatory agencies who knows we'll see whether or not the vaccine itself works. Um, definitely less than 50% chance. We don't want to get anyone's hopes up if they're putting this in. They're not going to be going out the next day or even six months after and believing they have it.

REASON (12:08):

I mean, anyone who sees this, who's interested in either following what you're doing or helping in some way, what are ways that they can do that?

BIOHACKER (12:17):

Uh, we have a Bitcoin address. If you send us an email, um, get in touch with us. We can forward that on to you, uh, for the funding side. Uh, otherwise if you want to weigh in, um, on the technical aspects, uh, or even the regulatory aspects or societal aspects, any of that, uh, please do feel free to get in touch with us. Um, if you're interested in joining our team, uh, again, if we do end up scaling up, uh, getting enough funding for that, we would need, um, skilled hands. Do you think,

REASON (12:44):

Is that what you're doing is going to become more common in the future? Not necessarily for vaccines, but people's ability to kind of develop DIY medications or gene therapies. Like where do you see the future of that going?

BIOHACKER (13:01):

Well, frankly, I thought we would be there by now. This was not the future I was promised, but sometimes you've just got to make that future, I suppose.

NEXT: Was There a Double Flip in the November Sitting?

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  1. You might naively think that, when Youtube labels something “misinformation”, they mean that it’s somehow untrue. That’s a mistake they’d like you to make.

    All they mean by “misinformation” is, “we don’t want people seeing that”. Nothing more.

    1. The assets of the agents of the Chinese Commie Party, our tech billionaires, should be seized in civil forfeiture. They contain billions of federal crimes. They have committed millions of crimes themselves by defrauding advertisers with inflated viewerships. Half their accounts are not human.

        1. Fauci should be banned from YouTube if medical misinformation is a reason.

          A neighbor had her account closed at the Bryn Mawr Trust. She told a diverse cashier, the Lord protects the Ladies in White. I sent her letter for her to submit on her own to the legal counsel, promising a campaign of lawfare. I never followed up, because she is a talker. She once had a real estate business and put $millions through that bank. All woke corporations should be severely punished for catering to the Commie diverse. Zero tolerance for PC, a Red Guard, Chinese Commie tactic of oppression.

          1. The reason this staid bank made such an awful decision is clear, case. It is intimidated by the scumbag, traitor lawyer profession. Easier to give up a big account than to face litigation by this diverse low employee.

            This toxic, scumbag occupation needs to be crushed, not cancelled. Its hierarchy has to be arrested, tried, and executed on the spot in the court basement. The insurrection law must be amended to have a sentence of summary execution. Sorry, I like Eugene, but endowed chairs are on the arrest list. They indoctrinate thousands of students into supernatural doctrines, and into the values of rent seeking, and betrayal of our nation.

  2. Biohacking sounds way cooler than I assume it actually is.

    1. Most of it is pretty primitive, because of limited resources, key materials being restricted, and the qualified people not being suicidality reckless.

      1. I should say there’s probably a moderate amount of more sophisticated bio-hacking going on, especially among life extension researchers, but they’re not exactly going to be public about things that could potentially impact their funding. Some of the current results in that area are so promising you’d just about have to be nuts not to use the treatments yourself on the sly.

  3. HAHAHAHAHAHA

    They’re a private company, so they get to do what they want, right?

    I believe the “Reason” accepted response here is “build your own You Tube!” Do I have that correct?

    Here’s hoping you all get censored a lot more. Because that is the proper fate for those who defend censorship

    1. “I believe the “Reason” accepted response here is “build your own You Tube!” Do I have that correct?”

      Well, let’s see.

      “While YouTube, as a private company, is within its rights to decide what to carry, the decision to remove this video illustrates a disturbing, censorial trend that has accelerated in the age of COVID.”

      Yeah, I guess you have it correct.

      1. Surprising, isn’t it, that Reason is whining about the perfectly reasonable decision by YouTube. Gosh, they even called it “disturbing”! It’s almost like, that when it’s Reason’s ox getting gored, all of a sudden different rules apply

  4. Did you just defend censorship? I wonder if the proper fate will ensue.

  5. Well of course this website can host it’s own content all it wants. The difference is Youtube/Google/Alphabet pays out money for advertising. That is the difference. Maybe sell some adverts here on your hosted content and bypass the trillion dollar multinational corporations run by amoral billionaires.

  6. Wow isn’t this what the New Hampshire Libertarian Party Head did? Or no..she actually lead a coup to overthrow the duly elected board and lock them out of the web site and confiscated the parties physical assets…because..they were actually libertarian and not wokes..too funny. I heard the national chair was involved…what a joke the party is if true

  7. This is something that NBC/CBS/ABC have been doing for years — it’s straight news and (assuming that YouTube has posted some message when people try to access said video) why aren’t they liable for libel?

    Now Reason might be in an interesting legal situation if the FDA were to subpoena them and ask whom it was they interviewed — the same sort of thing that reporters often get into, but this is a press freedom issue and why isn’t Reason screaming that?!?

    Yes, I can legally go out and buy every copy of a newspaper that has an unflattering article in it, but the newspaper is free to tell everyone that I did it…

  8. They’re a private company, so they get to do what they want, right?

    I believe the “Reason” accepted response here is “build your own You Tube!” Do I have that correct?

    I mean, they literally said just that: “While YouTube, as a private company, is within its rights to decide what to carry,”

    1. Cute, not responding directly to me.

      Actually, I think “pathetic” is a better description.

      The point is, why are they writing this article at all? if they believe that “While YouTube, as a private company, is within its rights to decide what to carry,” then that’s where the discussion ends.

      YouTube decided not to carry Reason’s crap. According to Reason, that’s an entirely appropriate thing for YouTube to do

      So STFU about it. If it’s a perfectly reasonable and appropriate decision, then there’s nothing to write about

      1. “within its rights” does not equal “an entirely appropriate thing to do”

        There’s your mistake.

        There are many stupid and obnoxious things that one is within one’s rights to do. And it is within the rights of the rest of us to point out how stupid and obnoxious doing those things is.

        1. That would be a true and reasonable argument, if the dorks at Reason and Volokh hadn’t been previously attacking / mocking the people who’ve been complaining about big tech censorship all along.

          But once you go after people who are trying to stop something, you don’t get to whine when that something happens to you.

          1. The careful reader will note that Greg J has provided exactly zero examples of “the dorks at Reason and Volokh” “attacking / mocking the people who’ve been complaining about big tech censorship.”

            Speaking only for myself, I have generally argued against what you call “big tech censorship.” I have, however, mocked the people who make very bad legal arguments against “big tech censorship.”

      2. One writes the article because the proper way to address idiotic behavior in others is through speech, calling it out.

        Why do you think force or shut up are the only options?

        1. And Reason and Volokh produced articles going after people who were complaining about / opposing big tech censorship.

          because it was apparently perfectly reasonable and wonderful when it was happening to other people

    2. I do love how dishonest you are, David. it makes me feel so good to be on the other side from you.

      Let’s finish that quote, shall we?

      “the decision to remove this video illustrates a disturbing, censorial trend that has accelerated in the age of COVID.”

      So, now that Reason is being censored, it’s “disturbing”.

      No. As a previous defender of our would be tech overlords and their censorship, Reason getting censored is glorious karma and justice.

      The article is pathetic whining from idiots who are shocked that the crocodile isn’t eating them last

      1. ‘It is X’s right to do Y, but/and the trend toward doing that is disturbing/wonderful/puzzling’ seems a relatively standard line of argument, especially in a publication focusing on opinion.

        1. X does Y to Z. A says “those Z people are a bunch of losers for complaining about X doing Y!”

          X does Y to A. A now says “it’s disturbing and horrible that X does Y.”

          That’s only “standard” if you’re an unprincipled pile of garbage.

          So I understand, Rev, why you’re defending it

      2. You’re confusing defending someone’s right to do something with whether they should do something. People have the right to do a lot of things that we can all think are completely inappropriate.

        I also find it interesting how the political sides like to treat big businesses depending on whose ox is then being gored. Go to a Bernie rally, and you’ll hear about the evils of big business and the influence over government. But allows those same businesses (which have far more sway over people than the vast majority of government bodies) to censor the right, it’s sudden, “hey, what’s the big deal? It’s a private company.”

        I’d like to see these same companies start removing posts complaining about GMOs or extolling non-existent health benefits of organic/natural foods just so we can watch everyone’s position on these matters flip.

        1. “You’re confusing defending someone’s right to do something with whether they should do something.”

          Nope. Because the previous reason position was that it was illegitimate and unreasonable for people to complain about big tech censorship. not “they have the legal right to do this, but they shouldn’t” but “they have the right to do this, and if you don’t like it, FOAD”

          If this censoring was happening to someone who hadn’t recently been defending big tech, I’d oppose it, even if i disagreed with what they were posting. (For the record, what they were posting sounds rather cool to me)

          But I’m ALWAYS going to be happy to watch big tech defenders get screwed by big tech

    3. David is, of course, wrong. YouTube is a quasi-governmental organizaiton immunized by the scumbag lawyer profession. It must held accountable, and seized in civil forfeiture for the billions of federal crimes committed on its platform.

      1. That’s the quality analysis we’ve come to expect from someone who got a mail order law degree from an unaccredited diploma mill.

  9. That YouTube, as a private company, can decide what material to carry, doesn’t make it immune from criticism about its editorial decisions.

    1. Or enforcement of the Sherman act…

      1. Too slow, too many lawyer jobs, too iffy, often fails, even too unconstitutional.

        Civil forfeiture is the way to stop these agents of the Chinese Commie Party.

  10. One problem comes up again and again. With today’s internet there is no editing before publication. For some folks, that makes it hard to interpret what is happening, when a publisher decides to take something down after publication. Publisher reads what it has already published, decides the content doesn’t meet its own standards, and edits it after the fact. Libertarians, especially, leap to denounce that as censorship. Not many of them see the process for what it is—an exercise of press freedom by the publisher. The after-the-factness seems to make the reasoning more challenging, even for Reason.

    1. Have you forgotten that Youtube isn’t a “publisher”? They’re a “platform”. The key distinction is that the customers make the decision to publish, and Youtube theoretically foregoes both editorial powers and responsibility. In return for living within these limitations, they aren’t held responsible for the content, the actual publishers, the people who put the content there, are.

      The exception is that they’ve been allowed a safe harbor for removing certain types of content, where a helpful list illustrating the nature of that content was provided.

      Now, if Youtube wanted to be a publisher instead of a platform, that would be fine. They’d lose a lot of legal protections, though.

      The problem is that they want it both ways: They want to exercise the powers of a publisher, and enjoy the protections of a platform.

      1. Brett, have you forgotten that hocus pocus is make-believe? Magic words, even magic words in congressional legislation, cannot change what is really happening.

        All the major internet, “platforms,” are in fact publishers. We know that because they do the things publishers do. They assemble an audience. The members of the audience self-select in response to expressive content the business makes available to the public at large. In the hopes of monetizing audience attention, the business curates the content. The aim is to deliver to advertisers a specific kind of audience attention, which defines the publisher’s business niche. That is a publishing business model.

        Doing those things makes you a publisher, no matter what you call yourself, and no matter what congress calls you. If you doubt it for even a moment, ask yourself what kinds of businesses have suffered financially as internet “platforms” have taken their revenue. If the market you compete in is the publishing market, you must be a publisher. Congress is powerless to redefine that market reality.

        That means that attempts to use law to privilege one class among competing publishing businesses is no better than government picking winners and losers in any other marketplace. But publishing is not just any marketplace. The activity of publishing gets specific attention in the First Amendment, with its guarantee of press freedom. Unless the laws of publishing are alike for all publishers—and do not excessively burden the constitutional liberties of some publishers—there is a First Amendment problem which cannot be wished away.

        1. The problem isn’t that they have this legal protection. The problem is politicians are threatening to take it away, causing lawsuit risk, which will crush their value.

          So the companies censor “of their own free will”. Our politicians should be in jail.

          Some web sites are cutting off Europe as we speak because a directive is going into effect over copyrights making it even easier to go after them. These protections matter.

          But you have to play the game and censor “of your own free will”.

          1. Bullshit

            They’re not censoring because Democrat politicians want them to, they’re censoring because THEY want to.

            Trump used Social Media to win. This upset the people running Social Media, so they set out to make sure no other conservative politician could ever do the same

            Stop lying

        2. “Doing those things makes you a publisher, no matter what you call yourself, and no matter what congress calls you.”

          I absolutely agree that these ‘platforms’ are actually publishers. For one thing, they push content on you, which is a publisher thing, not a platform thing. And they originate a good deal of the content themselves, such as the opinion checking they do.

          But, for legal purposes, they’re ‘platforms’. It may be a legal fiction, but it’s a legal fiction with privileges and limitations involved.

          I’m just saying that, if they want the privileges, they should do a better job of observing the limitations. But they won’t.

          So we should just get rid of 47 U.S. Code § 230 (c) (2) (A), the specific provision giving them a safe harbor for their censorship. If people don’t like some of the content, they can either use their own blocking software, (c) (2) (B), or bring legal actions to have content removed.

          But if Youtube doesn’t want to be liable for content, they should have no choice about whether to carry it. And if they don’t like that, they can become a publisher legally, as well as in reality.

          1. Once more: this is a complete failure to understand the law. Getting rid of (c)(2)(A) would not accomplish the stupid thing you want it to accomplish, because it’s the 1A, not (c)(2)(A), that allows interactive computer services to block material. And it’s (c)(1) that gives them immunity for other people’s published content.

        3. By this rationale, a street magician is a “publisher.” After all, the magician assembles an audience. The audience self-selects based on the expressive content the magician makes available. The magician curates the content in hopes of monetizing audience attention. The magician just doesn’t have advertisers (though could).

          Or you could say a sports team is a “publisher.” They assemble an audience, choose the content to show, and do, in fact, monetize advertisements pitched to an audience.

          My point is that if you just use a few characteristics of what a “publisher” is, you can conclude that many businesses are “publishers.”

          1. A street Magician can be sued for slander…

        4. Doing those things makes you a publisher,

          False. False as a matter of fact. False as a matter of law.

        5. Stephen Lathrop says:
          “All the major internet, “platforms,” are in fact publishers”

          Correct

          “Unless the laws of publishing are alike for all publishers—and do not excessively burden the constitutional liberties of some publishers—there is a First Amendment problem which cannot be wished away.”

          Correct.

          Section 230 protects the “internet platform” publishers, like Twitter, Facebook, and Google, from libel law. All other publishers are subject to libel law.

          This is clearly a violation the First Amendment, and therefore must be ended.

          I’m so glad we’re in agreement.

          Tweets on Twitter are functionally equivalent to letters to the editor to a paper. And you can most certainly be sued and lose for publishing those:

          https://www.rcfp.org/supreme-court-will-not-hear-letter-editor-libel-case/

          If that means that Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube go out of business, so what? Napster went out of business when copyright law was properly enforced against them.

          Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have chosen a business model that depends on an illegitimate government subsidy: immunity from libel law. If removing the illegitimate subsidy drives them out of business, that’s their problem, not ours

      2. SL is incapable of thinking past “I’m angry that I am no longer the one deciding who gets to read what”. He wants to be relevant again, by government force.

        1. Vinni, you didn’t used to seem this way. What happened?

          Practically every comment I make about publishing I explain that Section 230 is not relief from government interference, it is an invitation to government interference. The demands you see on this site calling for regulations to impose on “platforms”—almost without exception—amount to calls for government censorship of the press. Is that what you want?

          Every time this subject comes up, again and again, I reiterate why I think a profusion of private publishers, representing every strand of opinion imaginable, is the only secure refuge for press freedom. You may object to that view. If you do, please explain what regime you think is actually workable, consistent with the 1A, and does not depend on day-to-day government management of what gets published and what does not.

          1. Practically every comment I make about publishing I explain that Section 230 is not relief from government interference, it is an invitation to government interference.

            And practically every time you say this, you are 100% wrong.

            The demands you see on this site calling for regulations to impose on “platforms”—almost without exception—amount to calls for government censorship of the press.

            Also 100% wrong. The demands — almost without exception — amount to calls for government forbidding censorship.

            You may object to that view. If you do, please explain what regime you think is actually workable, consistent with the 1A, and does not depend on day-to-day government management of what gets published and what does not.

            Section 230.

          2. “The demands you see on this site calling for regulations to impose on “platforms”—almost without exception—amount to calls for government censorship of the press. ”

            Bull.

            Not allowing them to censor users isn’t “government censorship”.

            “Every time this subject comes up, again and again, I reiterate why I think a profusion of private publishers, representing every strand of opinion imaginable, is the only secure refuge for press freedom.”

            That’s nice.

            Parler had its hosting killed because our would-be tech overlords didn’t like what it was allowing people to say. So here in the real world, that “perfect possiblity” isn’t going to happen.

            The next best thing is “you can not discriminate based on politics. If you do, then you lose all Section 230 protections,a nd get sued out of existence.”

            That’s not government censorship, and that’s not an assault on freedom of speech. For you to pretend otherwise is insane

      3. Have you forgotten that Youtube isn’t a “publisher”? They’re a “platform”.

        Have you forgotten that this is a made up set of words that do not represent the law, but instead are just something some right wing grifters came up with to fool gullible people on Twitter?

    2. Awesome!

      So, YouTube is a publisher, everything on YouTube is what they’ve published, and therefore, like any other publisher, they can be sued for anything they publish that violates the law.

      I’m entirely in favor of that interpretation. Their platform. They can run it however they want. And they’re responsible for the results

      But I’m pretty sure you don’t favor that. And want to make them the only publishers who aren’t liable for what they publish. Which is to say you want them to get a huge government subsidy

  11. I’m going to write this here, everyone’s going to ignore it because no one ever comes back and follows up on arguments, I’m going to paste it to my blog, and then bring it back the next time this comes up

    There’s two ways to address any issue:
    From a political perspective
    From a principled perspective

    The problem with the political perspective is that your arguments only work with people who are more or less on your side

    The problem with the principled perspective is that it imposes boundaries and limits on you and your future behavior, and your past behavior imposes further limits

    When the issue of big tech censorship came up, Reason / Volokh could have gone with the political argument:
    Look the people being censored are “not our sort”, our social circles don’t like them, we find them embarrassing, therefore screw them, let Twitter / FB / Google censor them, we don’t care

    This would have been an honest argument on their part, but it would have harmed their self image of being righteous and principled people

    So they went for the “principled” argument:
    Look, it’s their company, you have no right to be on their platform, they can kick you off for any reason they want, they can even flat out lie about it, and you have, and should have, no recourse. in fact, you’re a bad person for attacking the techs for this.

    But the bill has now come due on their “principles”. Because if that principle applies to Alex Jones, Donald Trump, or any of the thousands of others who’ve been kicked off Twitter / censored (New York Post), then it absolutely applies to Reason.

    Which means that when Reason publishes “the decision to remove this video illustrates a disturbing, censorial trend that has accelerated in the age of COVID” they’re in diametric opposition to every single one of their previous “it’s their platform, stop demanding they must carry you” articles.

    If what they’re doing is “disturbing”, then people have every right to speak out against it, to try to stop it, to try to get the laws changed so they can no longer do it (unless you’re going to try to claim that Twitter has a Constitutional right to Section 230).

    Since that wasn’t the Reason / Volokh position a week ago, this article is sleazy hypocritical garbage.

    And I’m gloriously happy that Reason is now getting what they wished on others

    1. If what they’re doing is “disturbing”, then people have every right to speak out against it, to try to stop it, to try to get the laws changed so they can no longer do it (unless you’re going to try to claim that Twitter has a Constitutional right to Section 230).

      I mean the 1A gives people “every right to speak out against” anything. One can call to re-enslave black people, to overthrow the government (unless the danger of doing so is imminent, like on 1/6), to nuke Belgium, or to repeal the 1A itself. So, yes, of course people have the right to speak out against decisions by companies on the Internet to not carry their content.

      But, no, the fact that what someone is doing is “disturbing” does not mean that one has the right to try to stop it via the government. It’s pretty disturbing that people keep lying about the election being stolen, but that does not mean I have every right to try to get people prosecuted for doing that.

      Twitter has a constitutional right not to carry other people’s speech. Twitter’s right to block people it doesn’t like from its platform does not stem from § 230, but from the 1A itself.

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