Comments

jfengel 12d
Seeing as the tech companies have no interest in censoring based on "viewpoint" I don't see what difference this makes. Their entire existence relies on being the single point where everyone goes.

No Republicans have ever been removed solely for being Republican. People are removed for promoting violence and harassing other users.

The fact that Republicans consider violence to be a "viewpoint", and their viewpoint rather than that of a few extremists who use their name -- that worries me. A lot.

mustache_kimono 12d
Important to note that this 5th Circuit ruling conflicts with the 11th Circuit's ruling, a ruling which SCOTUS refused to accept cert on, leaving it as precedent for that Circuit/persuasive authority for the rest of the country.

And this 5th Circuit opinion has very idiosyncratic reasoning [0, just the first few pages will blow your hair back]. It would seem to fly in the face of years of 1st Amendment jurisprudence. I'm not saying this very conservative SCOTUS won't adopt the 5th Circuit's reasoning, but it still seems extremely unlikely. Much more likely is they resolve the Circuit split by adopting the 11th Circuit's view wholeheartedly.

[0]: https://techfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/2022-09-1...

swayvil 12d
The social media companies (Facebook, Google, Twitter) want legal permission to censor us based on our "viewpoint".

Because if they can't do that, they warn, then "dangerous content" will grow out of control.

This seems like a big nope to me.

Overtonwindow 12d
As a free-speech absolutist, I got no problem with this. Unless the speech is threatening the direct physical harm of someone, or violating a law, it should be allowed.

At the same time, everyone else should have the tools to filter, block, and mute speech they do not like. If a tweet or a social media post has a certain word or phrase in it that I don’t like, I should be able to mute that and never see it.

Social media really has become something of a scourge on society.

msie 12d
The Republicans are ruining America! Why is Ken Paxton, indicted for fraud, still working? The appeals court is stacked with Trump appointees. Ugh.
robust-cactus 12d
If this passes, basically what's going to happen is a lot of pre-filtering of people entering social networks akin to next doors strategy.

I've worked at a civic tech social network that had no rules, and eventually the extremists pushed out all the normal folks - it's just stupid shouting matches. We tore it all down and made isolated communities. It's basically the only way to have real discourse.

intrasight 12d
Censoring and moderating and content, as it relates to this lawsuit, is very expensive. I wouldn't be surprised if it ranks pretty high in their cost chart. The only reason that social media platforms do content moderation is to manage the financial (advertisers), and the political risk. Well, if the politicians and the courts tell them they can't moderate political stuff, then the political risk has been removed. All that remains is the financial risk.

Advertisers aversion to controversy is based on, I assume, their adherence to cultural norms. These norms are fluid. So I actually think these laws will give them the cover they need to stop doing something that they would prefer not to do. I also believe that we'll be litigating this for eons.

solarmist 12d
Copied from a comment thread below. Because I feel this is the root of the issue/problem.

> I don't see how the heck my website is a public square but my home or café isn't, this argument sounds self-contradictory.

Yup. This is the exact problem that we’re (as a society/world) wrestling with.

The reason it is (not just seems) different is because of the scope. A message on a chalkboard cannot reach millions of people (without the internet, ignoring [mass] media because the way it amplified things like this was far more complicated and was intentional), but it can on a website.

That by itself distorts the public/private argument, but we as a society aren’t sure how or to what extent yet.

These lawsuits are the second step (the first step was arguing about it in public) of figuring that out.

(Going back to my side note on media, these arguments will affect media outlets directly/indirectly as well.)

JimmieMcnulty 12d
What's funny is that none of the big tech firms would need to change their policies or behaviors, should this actually become the law of the land, as there are currently no policies that prohibit political speech from any of their platforms.
2OEH8eoCRo0 12d
Repeal section 230

All of this sounds like an aberration created by giving these companies immunity.

xavor 12d
It's your right to have an opinion, it's my right not to have to listen to it.
mcphage 12d
What constitutes a “viewpoint” in this law?
fallingknife 12d
On the one hand this clearly violates the 1st amendment. On the other hand, the 1st amendment is already out the window when the FBI is leaning on social media platforms to censor news stories that turn out to be true.
Buttons840 12d
Will this apply to bots? What if I have a big list of a complaints about a certain politician (use your imagination, there's more than one politician to complain about), but the "other party" doesn't follow me, in fact, I have very few followers overall.

So I create a bot that spreads my opinions by replying to millions of other Tweets. Anyone who mentions the politician of interest will receive a reply from "me" (my bot) within 2 minutes. Now I will be heard by millions, and my lawyer is ready should I be banned from the entire site.

Now imagine many people doing this, what a cesspool, you make a Tweet and the bot flood gates open. You Tweet about your grandchild and 30 seconds later you have 400 replies expressing "political opinions" about shady websites with cheap Viagra. Twitter can't ban them though. Welcome to truly free speech. You better learn to code if you want to be heard.

We're already at the point where websites can't control bots. AI that can write better than most humans is knocking on the door, and it can run on my personal computer. This law will only make it worse by adding real legal risk to banning suspected bots.

Am I exaggerating here, or is this actually possible? This feels like a loss in the humans vs bots battle more than a political one.

a_shovel 12d
There's discussion over what exactly a "political view" is here. I find this quote from a previous article [1] enlightening:

> "No one—not lawyers, not judges, not experts in the field, not even the law's own sponsors—knows what compliance with this law looks like."

[1] https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2022/05/texas-law-bannin...

didibus 12d
I do think there's a rationale middle of the road here. Hear me out.

I think if you provide a service that basically creates a free public sphere, and you don't charge for it, it makes sense to consider what you're offering a public sphere and that just mean it has to be treated like one, where you should be free to speak up and mobilize peacefully.

If social platforms charge a fee, or subscription, then it is a private sphere, and I think platforms should be allowed to do whatever they want in that case.

Finally, the constitution only applies to lawful citizens of the US, which means that in order for platforms that would provide a free sphere of discourse, to be excluded from their enforcements, you would need to have performed full know your customers, and proven to the platform you are a real citizen of the US, with regularly having to re-proove that your account is still owned and used only by real citizen of the US. If you didn't provide this info and proved your status, the platform should be allowed to apply enforcement, because you could very well be a bot, or a foreigner.

Lastly, you should also have to speak non-anonymously, if you don't reveal your true identity to others in the public sphere, enforcement would still apply to you, because in a real-life public sphere people are not anonymous either, you should be able to know who is speaking.

Lastly, you shouldn't be allowed to make it look like you are more than one person, so use of multiple accounts and various pseudonyms if found should also make you eligible for enforcement again.

I think with these, it's reasonable on both front, prove you're a real US citizen, have a single public account that's not hiding your identity, go ahead and say what you want unrestricted, you're right to free speech applies. Otherwise, it's not clear you're someone who has a right to free speech, and therefore enforcement should be taking place.

seydor 12d
It is weird that there is no country that allows such freedoms in the world. There is clearly a gap in regulation and constitutions when it comes to the internet because they could have never imagined it 400 years ago. But this needs to be settled in the positive direction and in an egalitarian way: speech that is legal should be free everywhere. and that's the basis upon which every tech business should be built . The fact that they were able to get away with censoring the public for so many years was the aberration.

I wonder what s the role of advertisers here, since they effectively demonetize platforms that are not strictly censoring (e.g. reddit)

mikkergp 12d
Hacker News avoids political discussion, would this mean a site like hacker news(assuming it’s big enough) couldn’t moderate heated political discussion as off topic?

Im curious how this would apply to Reddit, will there just be constant brigading of the political forums?

Ironically as others have pointed out this will probably have a severe chilling effect on speech.

anon84873628 12d
The article says:

>The largely 2-1 ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

And at the end:

>(This story corrects to largely 2-1 ruling in second paragraph)

I don't understand this. What does "largely" mean here? Was it a 2-1 decision or not? Why the qualifier?

pmalynin 12d
The consequences of this law aren’t very clear, especially in the post Citizens United world where scotus has established that corporations have first amendment rights that are protected by constitution. Now, if a corporation is in some sense required to carry someone’s message due to some law, that gets into (arguably) the realm of forced speech.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Citzens United is a horrible ruling, and this whole fiasco just further shows the “rules for thee but not for me” doctrine the Republican Party has been operating for the past 25 odd years.

14 12d
The thought police over at Reddit are going to have some issues after this.
kelnos 12d
> "Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say," Judge Andrew Oldham, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in the ruling.

I don't really understand this; from my perspective, it sounds like this judge doesn't really understand the first amendment (hopefully this is not the case, and the quote is taken out of context). Corporations are not bound by the restrictions laid out in the first amendment; only the government is. And it seems like this Texas law is an infringement upon the corporation's free speech rights.

> The Texas law forbids social media companies with at least 50 million monthly active users from acting to "censor" users based on "viewpoint"

What does "viewpoint" mean? I assume it's written that way to be vague and enforceable whenever the state feels like it. Is it a "viewpoint" to spread false information? Is it a "viewpoint" to spam?

I do agree that social media companies need some sort of regulation, as they have (unfortunately) become the only place where some groups of people communicate and get their news and information. But this does not seem like the right call, or the right law.

Also, this is a Texas law; if Facebook closed down all of their offices in Texas, presumably they could just ignore it, as then Texas wouldn't have jurisdiction over them?

nequo 12d
Would this outlaw for example Gmail's spam filter, too?

Or only if the spam is wrapped up as a political viewpoint?

galaxyLogic 12d
I don't get it. Restaurants can choose their customers based on how they behave or even how they are dressed. Why shouldn't online businesses be able to reject some of their customers?
mkl95 12d
> A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld a Texas law that bars large social media companies from banning or censoring users based on "viewpoint," a setback for technology industry groups that say the measure would turn platforms into bastions of dangerous content

There are many reasons why those companies censor content and they usually have nothing to do with "viewpoints". If some partner demands I shut some content down, should I be forced to refuse and ruin that partnership? Let's not forget that public facing sections of social networks are just fronts for huge B2B operations.

concinds 12d
I don't like the frame of "big tech's rights."

Sure, corporations have free speech rights in America. But the pressure to ban "bad people" comes from below; organized campaigns pressure Twitter/Facebook et al to ban certain people, and they oblige in order to protect their brand. That's a problem when we live under a "platform oligopoly" where high-profile people banned from one platform get banned everywhere at once. It's strange that people conflate corporations' free, voluntary actions, with corporations being pressured by an intolerant minority[0]. And before you respond with "we shouldn't be tolerant of intolerance", read this thread: https://twitter.com/nntaleb/status/1037273239347703808

[0]: https://medium.com/incerto/the-most-intolerant-wins-the-dict...

westurner 12d
Does this mean that newspaper Information Service Providers are now obligated to must-carry opinion pieces from political viewpoints that oppose those of the editors in the given district?

Does this mean that newspapers in Texas are now obligated to carry liberal opinion pieces? Equal time in Texas at last.

Must-carry provision of a contract for service: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Must-carry

karmasimida 12d
Long overdue. Just let people say what the want, by censoring them, you are validating their perspective.
anotherevan 12d
Them: “You must censor hate speech on the internet!”

Also them: “I didn’t mean you should censor my hate speech!”

fny 12d
Texas is setting itself up to be a huge regulatory counterweight to California.

1. We had the finance ruling related to fossil fuels.

2. We had the abortion ruling.

3. We now have this.

This is going to be a huge shift politically. California, given the size of its economy, has often been a defacto regulatory power across the US. Given California's energy issues and high debt levels, their influence may wane even further.

What I find even more fascinating is that Texas has a heavy libertarian bent coupled with cultural conservatism while California is the opposite. Neither, in my opinion, are bastions for freedom proper.

May you live in interesting times they say...

CharlesW 12d
Neat, so Stormfront loses the power to delete posts supporting Critical Race Theory?
user3939382 12d
I made a comment that a lot of people are opposed to this because these platforms are censoring their political enemies and my comment was flagged/censored. Bravo.
osigurdson 12d
Maybe there should just be a way to for people to opt in to censorship in their feeds. For example, one could click on a "no racism checkbox" in order to have racist content removed from their feeds. This way, platforms would be responsible for detection instead of curation. It seems like it would be better for the platforms as well.
gentleman11 12d
This is all a distraction. This is only a problem because we live in monopoly/oligopoly world. If the platforms weren’t so centralized, this is a non issue.
pyuser583 12d
One part I agree with is that Twitter marketed itself as free speech, only to change tune when it became market dominant.

That’s false advertising, or at least bait and switch.

robertwt7 12d
I don’t really understand the law, and I agree that big tech shouldn’t be able to regulate online speech. However one thing that I’m confused is, what about some dangerous stuff like radicalisation which then will produce terrorists or extremist? Other than that, I agree that no one should be censored for any reason

I guess it is a hard topic to define which one is the limit of freedom of “speech”

kybernetyk 12d
>In May, the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, found that most of a similar Florida law violates the companies' free speech rights and cannot be enforced

Why should a _company_ have free speech guaranteed by the constitution? It's a company - not a person.

IYasha 11d
Holy shivers, guys! I've read about this on arstechnica.com and what surprised me the most is the amount of negative sentiment towards the absence of censoring. I highly doubt those are ordinary people writing comments. Most likely hired commenters or bots. ( I hope world's majority still appreciates freedom of communication.