U.S. appeals court rejects big tech's right to regulate online speech
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.)
All of this sounds like an aberration created by giving these companies immunity.
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.
> "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."
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.
I wonder what s the role of advertisers here, since they effectively demonetize platforms that are not strictly censoring (e.g. reddit)
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.
>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?
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.
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?
Or only if the spam is wrapped up as a political viewpoint?
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.
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. And before you respond with "we shouldn't be tolerant of intolerance", read this thread: https://twitter.com/nntaleb/status/1037273239347703808
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
Also them: “I didn’t mean you should censor my hate speech!”
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...
That’s false advertising, or at least bait and switch.
I guess it is a hard topic to define which one is the limit of freedom of “speech”
Why should a _company_ have free speech guaranteed by the constitution? It's a company - not a person.