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***Official*** Free Speech Thread

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7 minutes ago, ren hoek said:

https://reason.com/blog/2018/07/31/democrats-tech-policy-plans-leaked/

Good news, Senate Democrats are looking to save us from Russian bots even harder in the near future.  Mark Warner, who confirmed the torturer to cia and has been a leading figure against the Russian menace, has drafted policy proposals to protect us from disinformation.  

The panic over fake news and Russian desenformatya has been a great success.  With any luck, online platforms will be subject to rigorous audits and regulation by the FTC, held liable for certain types of content not taken down by demand, forced to log the identity and location of its users' posts, along with a whole host of arbitrary rules and other compliance.  

Oh well, as long as it protects us from Putin I guess.  Nice work resisters, good job. ? 

It is telling that you (and, I assume, the blogs you read) express more concern about a draft policy paper than you do about the overt public actions and rhetoric of the President of the United States.

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27 minutes ago, ren hoek said:

https://reason.com/blog/2018/07/31/democrats-tech-policy-plans-leaked/

Good news, Senate Democrats are looking to save us from Russian bots even harder in the near future.  Mark Warner, who confirmed the torturer to cia and has been a leading figure against the Russian menace, has drafted policy proposals to protect us from disinformation.  

The panic over fake news and Russian desenformatya has been a great success.  With any luck, online platforms will be subject to rigorous audits and regulation by the FTC, held liable for certain types of content not taken down by demand, forced to log the identity and location of its users' posts, along with a whole host of arbitrary rules and other compliance.  

Oh well, as long as it protects us from Putin I guess.  Nice work resisters, good job. ? 

Quote

"comprehensive (GDPR-like) data protection legislation" of the sort enacted in the E.U.

- I'm actually interested in this subject. Why are greater privacy protections bad? Because that's my understanding of what GDPR means, greater protection of private data.

- The only thing I can think of offhand that I don't like from EU data protection is the 'right to be forgotten' which seems to protect corrupt politicians and scam artists primarily, even if that's not the intent.

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4 hours ago, TobiasFunke said:

It is telling that you (and, I assume, the blogs you read) express more concern about a draft policy paper than you do about the overt public actions and rhetoric of the President of the United States.

I haven't really kept up with Reason, but they haven't exactly been easy on this administration.  Actual censorship, based on the arbitrary whims Google/Apple/etc., and attempts to hand control of information over to monolithic tech giants is a much more grave threat to free speech than Trump's petulant beef with corporate news reporters.  

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40 minutes ago, ren hoek said:

I haven't really kept up with Reason, but they haven't exactly been easy on this administration.  Actual censorship, based on the arbitrary whims Google/Apple/etc., and attempts to hand control of information over to monolithic tech giants is a much more grave threat to free speech than Trump's petulant beef with corporate news reporters.  

I don't know that I agree with that.  Trump is smashing some extremely important norms about how the government should relate to the news media and private firms.  Even if he's not technically breaking any laws, I think he's a serious threat to free speech and freedom of the press.

That said, I agree with you that we should be concerned about the big internet companies too.  Like most libertarians, I've always been much more worried about threats to freedom posed by the government and never lost much sleep over a platform like Twitter acting as a meaningful censor, but that was before network effects created the massive social media sites that we have today.  I get that there's a problem here, and I don't see government action as the solution, but I'm still chewing on what the right response might be.

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1 hour ago, ren hoek said:

I haven't really kept up with Reason

You should. Here's their section on free speech. The article on Facebook's banning of Alex Jones raises some difficult issues.

I'm not familiar enough with Alex Jones to know whether he says truly hateful stuff as opposed to just completely wrong stuff. As the Reason article points out, Jones is being sued for defamation -- but Facebook isn't taking his stuff down because it's false or defamatory. It's taking it down because it's hate speech. Which is great. We should definitely have social networks that don't allow hate speech. But hate speech is rather difficult to define very precisely, so it seems like Facebook will generally have to resort to the "I know it when I see it" standard. That's a perfectly good standard in my estimation, although I can understand why some people would be skeptical of it. (It can be difficult to apply evenly, and double standards can be snuck in.)

In any case, I think the more interesting question is whether Facebook should have banned Alex Jones for repeatedly saying false stuff (as distinct from hateful stuff). Fake news is a genuine problem, and Facebook has played an infamous role in facilitating its recent distribution. Alex Jones is as fake as it gets, so he'd be an easy case. But policing false statements can get very tricky in more borderline cases. If I'm very stupid and I think I have great evidence that climate change is a Chinese hoax, should I be barred from saying so on Facebook? In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill makes a pretty good argument that wrong speech should be challenged rather than suppressed. First, sometimes Facebook (and others) might be wrong about whether something is false. Widely disparaged theories do end up being true now and then; snuffing them out before they can succeed or fail on their own merits would be a shame. Also, many wrong statements contain an element of truth, and having various partially-right-and-partially-wrong claims go head to head with each other to see what survives scrutiny and what doesn't is how we refine our understanding of the world. Moreover, unless we allow the truth to be falsely contested, "it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds." You'll understand climate change (or whatever) better if you understand why the arguments against it are misguided, but you won't understand why the arguments against it are misguided if those arguments aren't allowed to be aired.

So when does a status update or shared article article that contains falsehoods cross the line from being part of a healthy discussion to being a pox on our citizenry and our democracy? I'm not sure how easy it is to do better than "I know it when I see it" there, either.

I think having Facebook (and Twitter, etc.) police both hate speech and false speech is desirable ... but putting either type of policing into practice in a reasonable, consistent way seems really daunting.

In any case, I kind of wish that Facebook had used the second type of policing to ban Alex Jones instead of (or in addition to) the first. I don't know to what extent Alex Jones engages in hate speech; but the fact that he inexcusably broadcasts harmfully false speech is a slam dunk.

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7 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

I don't know that I agree with that.  Trump is smashing some extremely important norms about how the government should relate to the news media and private firms.  Even if he's not technically breaking any laws, I think he's a serious threat to free speech and freedom of the press.

That said, I agree with you that we should be concerned about the big internet companies too.  Like most libertarians, I've always been much more worried about threats to freedom posed by the government and never lost much sleep over a platform like Twitter acting as a meaningful censor, but that was before network effects created the massive social media sites that we have today.  I get that there's a problem here, and I don't see government action as the solution, but I'm still chewing on what the right response might be.

If prestige media had done a better job over the years at informing people on the issues, instead of propagandizing and breeding an ignorant citizenry, I'd feel a little more sympathy that Trump is so openly hostile towards them.  Whatever happens between Trump and whatever CNN mannequin he's at odds with, it won't be a meaningful loss to freedom of press.  I have yet to see anything as chilling as Obama's use of the Espionage Act against whistleblowers, and federal surveillance of journalists, which all happened very quietly.  I don't mean it as an excuse for Trump, who is awful, but he's far from a unique evil on this front.  

Alex Jones is an easy target here.  But I think it's a slippery slope with no upside and dangerous implications if people like Jones are operating within the stated terms of service.  It's already been misapplied to groups under the 'Russian bot' pretense and will be for years to come.  

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1 hour ago, ren hoek said:

Actual censorship, based on the arbitrary whims Google/Apple/etc., and attempts to hand control of information over to monolithic tech giants

What model are you proposing?

Youve stated private data which is essential to public or official issues should be public elsewhere.

Here in this situation if the private owners of the technology do not retain it, and if the creators and owners of it do not control it when it touches on public issues, then who do you think should retain it and control it?

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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2 hours ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

So when does a status update or shared article article that contains falsehoods cross the line from being part of a healthy discussion to being a pox on our citizenry and our democracy? I'm not sure how easy it is to do better than "I know it when I see it" there, either.

I think having Facebook (and Twitter, etc.) police both hate speech and false speech is desirable ... but putting either type of policing into practice in a reasonable, consistent way seems really daunting.

I don't really buy that letting commentators such as Jones say whatever they want (as long as it's not inciting violence, which perhaps you could infer from his '1776!!' rambling) is necessarily harmful because it's fake.  I'm sure he has a dedicated faithful who absolutely believe in lizard shapeshifters or whatever, but he also has a lot of fans who watch him the same way grown men watch a WWE match.  He's an entertainer.  An absolute caricature of conspiracy mongering.  How damaging was he versus the media that credulously sold us the Iraq War?  Where's their accountability for fake news?  

But I guess I've always disagreed that fake news has a meaningful impact on society.  It seems like it's a problem that only came into being after the shock of the 2016 election, even though we've had fake news in some form or another since the Internet started.  I think the amount of people who take Alex Jones or Louise Mensch at face value is an extremely tiny fringe of the population.  It's a gateway for states and big tech to assert control over information, not a real problem.  People saw this coming a mile away when the fake news hysteria first began.  

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1 hour ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Here in this situation if the private owners of the technology do not retain it, and if the creators and owners of it do not control it when it touches on public issues, then who do you think should retain it and control it?

Websites like archive.fo could be useful for situations like this.  It already acts like a historical record in this regard.  I would like to see websites like Twitter/Facebook/youtube offer users some sort of exportable download of their own submissions before taking them offline.  That seems like a fair way for them to run their platform as they see fit while allowing users to retain their own records in the event of expulsion, etc.  

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3 minutes ago, ren hoek said:

Websites like archive.fo could be useful for situations like this.  It already acts like a historical record in this regard.  I would like to see websites like Twitter/Facebook/youtube offer users some sort of exportable download of their own submissions before taking them offline.  That seems like a fair way for them to run their platform as they see fit while allowing users to retain their own records in the event of expulsion, etc.  

If that’s the fix, I certainly have no problem with that.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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2 hours ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

I think having Facebook (and Twitter, etc.) police both hate speech and false speech is desirable ... but putting either type of policing into practice in a reasonable, consistent way seems really daunting.

In any case, I kind of wish that Facebook had used the second type of policing to ban Alex Jones instead of (or in addition to) the first. I don't know to what extent Alex Jones engages in hate speech; but the fact that he inexcusably broadcasts harmfully false speech is a slam dunk.

The problem with a guy like Alex Jones is that he doesn't always say things that are provably false. Things like "The government puts chemicals in the atmosphere!" or "The libs want to take your guns away!" are not false statements. Even a phrase such as "The Sandy Hook parents are crisis actors!" is not necessarily false, depending on which definition is used for the word 'actors'.

I don't think it would be that difficult for Jones to make a slight adjustment to his rants to avoid being clipped by the Truth Squad.

 

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14 hours ago, ren hoek said:

I haven't really kept up with Reason, but they haven't exactly been easy on this administration.  Actual censorship, based on the arbitrary whims Google/Apple/etc., and attempts to hand control of information over to monolithic tech giants is a much more grave threat to free speech than Trump's petulant beef with corporate news reporters.  

Who exactly is attempting to "hand control of information over to monolithic tech giants?" Do you mean customers doing so voluntarily?  Are you saying people are a grave threat to their own free speech?  That doesn't make any sense.

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2 minutes ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

Disgusting. And exactly what was to be expected when our nation "choose" this path (which didn't begin with, but has reached new heights, with the election of this Administration).

Really terrible, awful and Anti-American to the core.  

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3 minutes ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

The principle of Navigable waterways is older than the US presence here, this stuff has been tearing up our coast for decades now.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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59 minutes ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

Btw thank you for posting, I wonder if this shows up in our local rags.

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9 minutes ago, Herb said:

Americans are not freaking out about this because most of us have lost the ability to distinguish between general principles and political outcomes. So long as the “right” people are being zapped, no one cares.

But we should care. Censorship is one of modern man’s great temptations. Giving in to it hasn’t provided many happy stories.

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>>As a former Facebook exec tells Rolling Stone: “Knowing that ‘Napalm Girl’ is one of the icons of international journalism isn’t part of the ####### algo.”<<

- I kind of think this is the problem.

I know a little but about marrying tech with substance and I can tell you that people on the tech end don’t understand the philosophical, theological or ideological underpinnings of content. They’re not conceptual and you don’t want them to be. By the same token people of the sort who drive that awesome little private bookstore - people who curate well - would absolutely collapse a google or FB if they ran it. 

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>>Within a year, Google bragged that it had deleted 8 million videos from YouTube. A full 6.7 million videos were caught by machines, 1.1 million by YouTube’s own “trusted flaggers” (we’re pre-writing the lexicon of the next dystopian novels), and 400,000 by “normal users.”<<

- If anyone wants to talk antitrust/monopoly & free speech I think this is a decent point. The company distributing search results is also managing the underlying content for easily the most significant piece of one segment.

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It's weird that Twitter/Facebook/YouTube have become so ingrained into our consciousness that we forget that they are still private businesses and the users are their guests.

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Saying that The death of John McCain will improve the the world got journalist Caitlin Johnsrine banned fro Twitter.....

ive seen much much worse on Twitter, but I guess she pissed off the wrong person....

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3 minutes ago, Rove! said:

Saying that The death of John McCain will improve the the world got journalist Caitlin Johnsrine banned fro Twitter.....

Do you have a link for this? And who is this person?

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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5 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Do you have a link for this?

Apparently they brought her back after it got international attention, but...

 

https://mobile.twitter.com/caitoz/status/1030599316203655168

https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/twitter-has-shut-down-my-account-for-abusing-john-mccain-25e7be909f4d

Edited by Rove!
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9 minutes ago, Rove! said:

Apparently they brought her back after it got international attention, but...

 

https://mobile.twitter.com/caitoz/status/1030599316203655168

Thanks for posting. I've seen instances of people suspended for less. I think the problem is (as we know here) reporting by itself can drive a suspension. She said something extremely upsetting, it angered people, they reported her in large numbers, she got suspended. I think twitter and FB both have a technical problem in that the machine / algorithms really can't distinguish subtle differences in substance. So 'the world would be better off if x dies' vs 'I wish x would die' vs 'someone needs to kill x' are not really things a data program can evaluate fairly. I think frequently even if mods are involved given the number of posts on twitter it might be impossible.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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15 minutes ago, Rove! said:

Thanks, for what it's worth I actually read this. I'm not going to get into details of who she is or what she claims to represent, but it seems to me she said something highly offensive on social media and she thought she had been banned but instead she was suspended for a short time. Also as I understand it twitter does keep the line open for people seeking to communicate about their suspensions/bans. I get the impression sometimes that some of the right wing folks don't really understand how this works technically. Just as an example I think words like "die" and "kill" and other terms can likely automatically catch the attention of programs designed to prevent offensive content. It's definitely not a fair cop but that's technology.

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>> Bannon said Big Tech's data should be seized and put in a "public trust." Specifically, Bannon said, "I think you take [the data] away from the companies. All that data they have is put in a public trust. They can use it. And people can opt in and opt out. That trust is run by an independent board of directors. It just can't be that [Big Tech is] the sole proprietors of this data...I think this is a public good." Bannon added that Big Tech companies "have to be broken up" just like Teddy Roosevelt broke up the trusts."

>> Bannon attacked the executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google. "These are run by sociopaths," he said. "These people are complete narcissists. These people ought to be controlled, they ought to be regulated." At one point during the phone call, Bannon said, "These people are evil. There is no doubt about that."

- Fascist or socialist, you decide.
 

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>> Bannon attacked the executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google. "These are run by sociopaths," he said. "These people are complete narcissists. These people ought to be controlled, they ought to be regulated." At one point during the phone call, Bannon said, "These people are evil. There is no doubt about that."


Classic projection strategy. "Everyone else is an evil, sociopathic narcissist. I am the only person who can be trusted."

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2 hours ago, Joe Summer said:


Classic projection strategy. "Everyone else is an evil, sociopathic narcissist. I am the only person who can be trusted."

Absolutely, it’s sick.

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Facebook blocked the spread of a liberal article because a conservative told it to

Quote

Facebook, in an effort to deal with the fake news crisis, has given five news outlets the power to block the spread of articles they deem “false” on Facebook — empowering them, in essence, to act as the social media giant’s censors. They are the Associated Press, FactCheck.org, Snopes, PolitiFact, and the Weekly Standard: four nonpartisan outlets and one conservative one.

 

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20 hours ago, fatness said:

Stopping the spread of fake news (by which I mean actual fake news, the original usage of that phrase, not the new usage introduced by the current President) is important, but hard to do in a consistent, fair, effective way. Deferring to generally reputable fact-checkers, as Facebook is doing, seems like a pretty good effort. Maybe it can be improved upon. Probably no method will be perfect.

I have no issue with the result in this particular case. The headline in the Think Progress article was misleading. The Weekly Standard was right to call it out. Headlines are important. They are much more widely read than the actual story. Think Progress ruined a perfectly good article with a misleading headline. They should get the message and stop doing that if they want their articles to be widely shared on Facebook. That would be good for democracy.

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15 minutes ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

I have no issue with the result in this particular case. The headline in the Think Progress article was misleading. The Weekly Standard was right to call it out. Headlines are important. They are much more widely read than the actual story. Think Progress ruined a perfectly good article with a misleading headline. They should get the message and stop doing that if they want their articles to be widely shared on Facebook. That would be good for democracy.

I'd agree more if other articles with misleading headlines were stopped as well. But we both know they are not, not by the fact checkers until this one.

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6 hours ago, fatness said:

I'd agree more if other articles with misleading headlines were stopped as well. But we both know they are not, not by the fact checkers until this one.

That seems like something the fact-checkers should get on the ball with. What is FactCheck.org doing these days, just eating pizza and watching Netflix?

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1 hour ago, Maurile Tremblay said:
8 hours ago, fatness said:

I'd agree more if other articles with misleading headlines were stopped as well. But we both know they are not, not by the fact checkers until this one.

That seems like something the fact-checkers should get on the ball with. What is FactCheck.org doing these days, just eating pizza and watching Netflix?

Seems to me that until now, the fact checkers were checking the substance of articles, not quibbling about headlines, and that the Weekly Standard decided to change that.

They did not dispute the substance of the article.

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