USA Today Publishes Yet Another Bogus OpEd Against 230, Completely Misrepresents The Law

from the aren't-you-tired-of-this? dept

Another day, another op-ed that totally misrepresents Section 230. This one comes from USA Today, and is written by faux-conservative Rachel Bovard, who is doing this on purpose. Sometimes we see op-eds where it's clear the author is unfamiliar with how Section 230 works. Other times they are deliberately misrepresenting it. Bovard is in the latter category. She works for an organization, with dark money funding, that pretends to be for "transparency" about the tech industry -- which is hilarious since that organization's own funding is kept secret. The only known funding for that organization comes from Oracle, a company that has made it clear it wants to do away with Section 230 (despite the fact that it wants people to use its cloud services). Bovard has had many, many experts in Section 230 explain to her why she's misrepresenting the law. And she has never once changed her arguments, nor admitted to being wrong. She just keeps repeating the bullshit.

I get it. That's her job. Everybody's gotta make a buck, and apparently this is the best she can do. However, why is USA Today sullying its own reputation by allowing her to misrepresent the law on its pages? Let's go through some of the misrepresentations.

Though Section 230 protects more than just Google, Facebook, and Twitter, the giant tech platforms have benefited substantially from the privilege — so much that Section 230 can be characterized as a giant government subsidy to the world’s biggest companies.

At least she admits that it protects more than just "big tech" (in the past she has pretended otherwise), but it's still wrong to say that only those companies have benefited, or that it "can be characterized as a giant government subsidy to the world’s biggest companies." Nothing could be further from the truth, on multiple levels. The big companies could deal with the legal liability of not having 230. This is why Facebook has been fine with undermining it over the past few years. The senior management team there long ago made the calculation that they'd come out of it fine. Their competitors would be harmed.

It's everyone else -- including you and me -- who cannot handle a world without 230. Indeed, empirical research has shown that 230 increases competition in internet companies by encouraging investment to go up against the internet giants.

But, more importantly, Section 230 has never been about "protecting" the big companies -- it has always been about enabling you and me to speak. Without Section 230 few websites would willingly host just anyone's speech. Section 230 opened up the possibility for more people to be able to communicate and speak online. And it protects all of us as well. People like Rachel like to forget that the key part of 230 says:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker...

That's what protects you and me when we retweet someone. Or when we forward an email. To say that it disproportionately benefits large companies is simply wrong.

But it's even worse to say that it's a "subsidy." How is it possibly a subsidy, other than if you declare it a subsidy not to have to waste time fighting off mistargeted, vexatious lawsuits? You know, the kind of vexatious lawsuits that "conservatives" like Rachel Bovard used to pretend they were against, but are now for when they're against companies she dislikes. The entire setup of Section 230 is simple: lawsuits should be targeted at those who actually violate the law. It's a tool for avoiding frivolous lawsuits. That's not a "subsidy."

But the article gets worse:

It wasn’t always viewed this way. The law was enacted nearly 25 years ago as something akin to an exchange: Internet platforms would receive a liability shield so they could voluntarily screen out harmful content accessible to children, and in return they would provide a forum for “true diversity of political discourse” and “myriad avenues for intellectual activity.”

This is also a misrepresentation. A big one too. This is one that a lot of people focus in on, and if you're unaware of the history here, I can see how you might get this wrong. Rachel knows the history, so she's using this line to blatantly misrepresent reality. There was no exchange. It wasn't "you get this protection if you create a true diversity of political discourse." Indeed, the authors of the law have directly debunked this point. So I'm not sure why Bovard would repeat it other than that she assumes the readers of her op-ed can be easily misled.

As the authors of 230, Ron Wyden and Chris Cox, have explained, the purpose of properly applying liability to those doing the law violating was not to create platforms that themselves enabled a wide diversity of voices, but to enable every platform to moderate as they see fit so that each platform could use their own favored approach. The "diversity" would be in the different kinds of platforms that were enabled by it. Here's what Cox & Wyden said just recently in their FCC filing:

In our view as the law’s authors, this requires that government allow a thousand flowers to bloom—not that a single website has to represent every conceivable point of view. The reason that Section 230 does not require political neutrality, and was never intended to do so, is that it would enforce homogeneity: every website would have the same “neutral” point of view. This is the opposite of true diversity.

For example, 230 has enabled things like Parler to take a different approach to content moderation than Twitter. That's the diversity they were looking for -- not that Twitter (or Parler) have to host all voices. You'd think that Rachel would know this, seeing as she herself is active on Parler. Parler, for what it's worth, supports Section 230, knowing that it couldn't exist without it.

But, having established the false premise that 230 was a trade-off for "diverse" platforms, Bovard then argues that the big websites engage in discrimination (which they do not):

Critically, in protecting these companies from costly damages in lawsuits, Section 230 has also fueled the growth of the Big Tech platforms which now engage in viewpoint discrimination at an unprecedented scale and scope; international mega-corporations determining what news, information and perspectives Americans are allowed to read, hear and access.

Again, there remains no evidence to support this contention, but even if it was true, so what? Parler's own CEO gleefully shared with a reporter how he was sitting around banning "leftist" trolls who showed up on Parler. This is what Section 230 allows. It allows a website to moderate how they see fit, so that it can ban trolls of any political persuasion. Sites like that need to ban trolls because otherwise the experience sucks. But under Rachel's own (false) argument for how 230 is supposed to work, Parler wouldn't be allowed to ban leftist trolls either.

And, similarly, Facebook would no longer be able to give Trump fans more leeway to post disinformation. Or is that not the "viewpoint discrimination" Bovard is actually concerned about?

A handful of Big Tech companies are now controlling the flow of most information in a free society, and they are doing so aided and abetted by government policy. That these are merely private companies exercising their First Amendment rights is a reductive framing which ignores that they do so in a manner that is privileged — they are immune to liabilities to which other First Amendment actors like newspapers are subject — and also that these content moderation decisions occur at an extraordinary and unparalleled scale.

Nearly everything here is wrong as well. They are not "controlling the flow of information" any more than Fox News or OANN is. Is Rachel saying that Fox News and OANN are "controlling the flow of information"? People go to them for information. And people have lots of choices for where they get their information. None of that has anything to do with Section 230.

More importantly, they are not immune to liabilities that others like newspapers are subject to. First off, most newspaper content is consumed online these days, meaning that they have the exact same liability protections under 230 as any other website does. Second, Google, Twitter, and Facebook (just like newspapers) still retain liability for content they themselves create. Again, this is the same across the board. It's misleading to pretend that there's a real difference.

When Google decides to suppress or amplify content, it does so for 90% of the global marketplace. Twitter’s choices to cut off circulation of certain content — as they did when they banned circulation of a story critical of the Biden family, a month before the November election — very much shapes the national news narrative. Facebook, by its own admission, has the power to swing elections — which is troubling, as some of the platform’s “fact checkers” are partially bankrolled by a Chinese company.

Almost all of this is presented misleadingly. Google search may have 90% market share, but what news does she think it's "suppressing"? And is general search a proxy for news? No, it's not. The Facebook claim about "the power to swing elections" is taking some marketing puffery by their ad sales team out of context, as is the scare quote claim about fact checkers (Facebook partners with a whole bunch of different fact checking organizations, including one with whom Rachel Bovard is a frequent author.

So it would be just as honest to say that Facebook's ability to fact check news is "troubling, as some of the platform's fact checkers are partially run by an organization willing to post blatant misinformation from serial fabulist Rachel Bovard." Can't have one without the other.

And, finally, let's get to the Twitter/Hunter Biden/NY Post story. We've discussed that here in the past, mainly to note that it seemed like a dumb decision, though there were existing policy reasons why it happened. But the most important thing is that it did not "suppress" that story. It did the opposite. The article got way more attention because of the hamfisted moderation issues.

Bovard is selling USA Today readers a load of misinformation. And she knows it.

That policy makers have a role here is obvious. While private companies have the right to set the rules for their own platforms and online communities, they do not have a right to do it with the privilege of Section 230 protections. And the more these companies engage in behavior that ranges away from the original goal of ensuring a “true diversity of political discourse” and toward gatekeeping independent thought in America, the more they prove themselves undeserving of special government treatment.

Again, this completely gets the point of 230 backwards. It was designed to allow platforms to discriminate as they see fit in order to create very differentiated communities.

The question at hand distills to this: Are we to allow the lords of Silicon Valley to determine the terms of free speech, free thought, and free behavior in America? Or will we, a fiercely independent people, speak through our representative self-government to strip them of a congressional privilege they no longer deserve? Trump has opened the door. It is up to Congress to walk through it.

This is just completely misleading. Right before this, she supports Donald Trump's and various Republican elected officials' proposals for gutting Section 230, which would set up the government as internet speech police, determining how social media websites can and cannot moderate their content. That's a true threat to free speech online. Letting private companies moderate as they see fit is not a threat to free speech. At all.

Stripping websites of Section 230 will not give Rachel the world she seeks. It will lock in those large companies, who will retain their 1st Amendment right to not associate with any speech they don't want to associate with. What it will do is shut down many other spaces online -- spaces like Parler, where Bovard and friends like to gather to lie to each other. Removing Section 230 is what would actually do significant harm to the diversity of speech online, by forcing it only onto platforms that can handle the liability.

Rachel Bovard has a job to do: blatantly misrepresent Section 230 to attack Google. I get it. USA Today doesn't need to help.

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Filed Under: intermediary liability, misleading oped, rachel bovard, section 230
Companies: usa today


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 9:40am

    When your job requires you to be a liar, that's not a good look

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” ― Upton Sinclair

    And the streak remains unbroken, the only way to attack 230 is to lie about it.

    I wish the liars in question would come up with some new material already though rather than the same long-debunks garbage, I mean when your arguments don't have to be based upon reality then spice things up, go wild, not like it'll make your arguments worse or anything.

    '230 causes cancer in babies!'

    '230 makes puppies bonk their noses on hard objects!'

    '230 is the reason you sometimes feel the need to sneeze but it refuses to come out and you just end up feeling uncomfortable and making a weird face!'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 9:52am

    That is someone who wants rid of section 230 so that they and their friends can decide what is discussed on all platforms. They do not want diversity, but like their leader Trump a single party authoritarian state.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:25am

    If it wasn't for Section 230, USA Today would face a legal risk allowing her (or anyone else) to post an op-ed.

    Guess it's just another case of rights and protections for me, not for thee.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:59am

      Re:

      Yes and no I'd say(or perhaps 'yes and yes in a different manner as well'), in it does that regarding any online forums they allow others to post to but not for anything offline, however as 230 merely makes clear that online platforms enjoy the same protections that offline ones get by default the '230 is a government subsidy' argument becomes all sorts of funny because to the extent that protection against third party liability is a 'subsidy' it's one that they already enjoy and take for granted.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Robust Content Modification, 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:41am

    Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of The Public.

    So how could they possibly have "rights"?

    Corporations are NOT in the Constitution and because artificial, CANNOT be "citizens".

    You've been told this dozens of times, Maz, (I'm only using your trite formula as above), and YET STILL INTENTIONALLY LIE.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Robust Content Modification, 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:41am

      Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of The Publi

      Corporations have permissions LIKE "rights", and for convenience the term is used, but are NOT persons having 1A rights.

      You show that right here every day when removing "commmercial speech" -- which is usually termed "spam". YOU do not personally regard that as "speech", only unwanted intrusion by a commercial entity. PERIOD.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:53am

        Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of The P

        Spam is speech, the Supreme Court said so. Techdirt doesn't have to host spam and the government can't make Techdirt host it. Why should the first sentence be true but the second one untrue?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Robust Content Modification, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:02am

          Re: Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of T

          First, you're likely a fanboy too chicken to use account name.

          Spam is speech, the Supreme Court said so.

          A) Lawyers can be and are often wrong. Do YOU say is "spam is speech"?

          B) Try to keep that in mind and no one here ever again refer to my comments as spam!

          C) SC has made clear distinction of "commercial speech". Look it up.

          Techdirt doesn't have to host spam and the government can't make Techdirt host it. Why should the first sentence be true but the second one untrue?

          Oh, the government COULD so you're trivially wrong, just going on to make a show as if I'm answered. -- But The Public doesn't want corporate / commercial speech to have same right / privilege as our own, that's for sure.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION

            Why should the government get to tell Mike what speech he can and can't host on Techdirt?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            JMT (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION

            "...no one here ever again refer to my comments as spam!"

            Oh it's definitely spam. Just as annoying, just as worthless.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            bhull242 (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 4:24pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION

            A) Lawyers can be and are often wrong. Do YOU say is "spam is speech"?

            1. The Supreme Court is a group of judges, not lawyers. While the Supreme Court can and has been wrong, it’s fairly rare, and until they overrule themselves, they have the final word about what the law is.

            2. Yes, spam is speech. If it consists of words, then it’s speech. Even if it doesn’t consist of words, it can still be speech. Is spam 1A-protected free speech? That depends, but the fact is that there is no exception that carves out all spam from 1A protection. That doesn’t mean all laws that restrict or ban spam are necessarily unconstitutional; that is decided on a case-by-case basis. Do I consider spam to be speech of equal value to other speech? No. However, that last one has no legal relevance.

            3. What I or any private citizen thinks should be considered speech does not change what the law says is considered speech.

            B) Try to keep that in mind and no one here ever again refer to my comments as spam!

            1. Irrelevant. This has nothing to do with whether or not spam is speech under the 1A.

            2. This person never called your comments spam.

            3. Nothing you said disproves any allegation that your comments are spam. Just saying that they aren’t doesn’t make it so.

            4. Not all spam is commercial in nature, nor does all spam originate from corporations.

            5. B does not logically follow from A. Nothing about the SC ruling that a distinction exists between commercial and non-commercial speech says anything about whether or not your comments are spam. Technically, it doesn’t even say anything about whether or not your comments are commercial speech, though I doubt anyone would argue that it is.

            C) SC has made clear distinction of "commercial speech". Look it up.

            1. Yes, the SC has distinguished commercial speech from non-commercial speech. However, they did not say that commercial speech isn’t protected by the 1A, nor did they say that commercial speech isn’t speech. They simply said that whether or not speech is commercial in nature is a factor to be considered when deciding how to apply 1A protections in specific cases or when deciding how to decide the constitutionality of certain laws that regulate speech. In other words, this point is ultimately irrelevant.

            2. Again, commercial speech is not the same as speech from a corporation. Speech can be commercial even if it originates from a private citizen and not a corporation, and speech from a corporation is not necessarily commercial.

            3. The SC has not made a distinction between speech that originates from a private citizen and speech that originates from a private corporation. Quite the opposite, really.

            “Techdirt doesn't have to host spam and the government can't make Techdirt host it. Why should the first sentence be true but the second one untrue?”

            Oh, the government COULD so you're trivially wrong

            Actually, it can’t. Unless there’s some sort of contract that explicitly says that Techdirt has to host spam, the government cannot legally force Techdirt to host spam. Period. Again, the 1A and property rights mean that the government can’t force Techdirt or any website to host content it doesn’t want to and isn’t contractually obligated to.

            But The Public doesn't want corporate / commercial speech to have same right / privilege as our own, that's for sure.

            Irrelevant. Again, 1A case law does not distinguish between corporate speech and non-corporate speech, and the distinction between commercial and non-commercial speech (which is not the same thing) is rather limited; commercial speech still receives most of the same rights and privileges that non-commercial speech does, even if the protections are somewhat weaker. (And in most cases, whether or not the speech is commercial in nature is not the determining factor for free-speech cases. It’s often the least important factor except for anti-trust cases or in calculating damages.)

            Also, whether or not the public (as in the general population) wants corporate speech or commercial speech to have the same rights and privileges is ultimately meaningless. The only thing that matters is what the law say, and the ones who decide the law are legislators and judges, with the Supreme Court having final say on what the law says. The public doesn’t decide anything other than who the elected officials are and, depending on the city/state, deciding whether some bills should become local/state laws.

            And seriously, please stop conflating commercial speech and corporate speech. They are not the same thing. Corporations can make non-commercial speech, and non-corporations can make commercial speech.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 4:29pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            First, you're likely a fanboy too chicken to use account name.

            So... you're a fanboy, then?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 4:52pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Oh Woody blew past that label long ago, they are not a merely a 'fanboy' they are TD's #1 most obsessed and fanatical follower.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            R.H. (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION

            Spam is not only unwanted commercial speech, the term also includes unwanted speech of all persuasions (for example, trolling).

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2020 @ 1:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION

            “Oh the government could”

            That’s like saying you could fight me even though we both know you can’t lol

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        bhull242 (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 3:41pm

        Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of The P

        Corporations have permissions LIKE "rights", and for convenience the term is used, but are NOT persons having 1A rights.

        The Supreme Court has expressly ruled otherwise. See, for example, Citizens United. I think they got some things wrong in that case, and I don’t like the results, but 1) that doesn’t change what the law is right now, 2) I can’t find any fault in their reasoning to apply 1A protections to corporations, and 3) the law in this area is unlikely to change anytime soon. Again, that you believe that corporations should not be considered persons under the 1A does not change the fact that they are.

        You show that right here every day when removing "commmercial speech" -- which is usually termed "spam".

        There are some major flaws here.

        1. Spam does not have to be commercial speech. Non-commercial speech can also be spam. Spam is just unwanted, repetitious, or completely disconnected from the subject.

        2. Not all commercial speech is spam. Advertising is commercial speech, for example, but that doesn’t make it spam.

        3. Neither spam nor commercial speech have to originate from a corporation. Human persons and bots owned and run by human persons are just as capable of posting spam or commercial speech.

        4. Not all speech that originates from a corporation is considered commercial speech or spam. For example, an article in a corporate-owned newspaper is considered to be speech made by the corporation that runs the newspaper (except letters to the editor and such) (as well as being treated as being by the named author), yet the article is generally not considered to be commercial speech and is never considered spam.

        And then there’s this:

        YOU do not personally regard that as "speech", only unwanted intrusion by a commercial entity. PERIOD.

        Um, you do know that commercial speech is speech, right? The clue is in the name. Spam is also speech, as is speech coming from a corporation. Again, all of these things have been affirmed multiple times by multiple courts, including the Supreme Court.

        Now, it is true that Techdirt does consider commercial spam to be an unwanted intrusion by a commercial entity, whether it be a corporation or a human being, and so it does treat commercial spam differently from other speech, but that doesn’t mean that it is not speech, nor that it is not being treated as such. Removing that speech only shows that Techdirt doesn’t consider commercial spam to be worth keeping on their platform in any way, which is their right under the 1A and property law. They could do the same with your comments, which are not commercial and (presumably) don’t originate from a corporation, and that would be perfectly fine under the law.

        As has been pointed out to you multiple times, that a person or corporation can and does legally remove certain speech from their platform doesn’t mean that they believe that the removed content isn’t speech protected by the 1A. That is true even without §230.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:59am

      Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of The Publi

      I'm so sorry that the fact that corporations are made up of people escapes your comprehension.

      If corporations have 1A rights, quite honestly is not at all relevant here. Because at the end of the day a human did the action. The constitution doesn't magically get negated if it comes in contact with a person who's a member of a corporation.

      Remember the constitution is a description of the powers and limitations of the government as it interacts with the governed. Talking about corporations is just an attempt to muddy the waters.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Robust Content Modification, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:10am

        Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of The P

        I'm so sorry that the fact that corporations are made up of people escapes your comprehension.

        Corporations are LEGAL FICTIONS, period.

        If corporations have 1A rights, quite honestly is not at all relevant here.

        OH, so Maz is WRONG.

        Because at the end of the day a human did the action.

        Yes, one unaccountable weenie in a cubicle somwhere. Is that your idea of First Amendment rights for The Public? It's a lot like the Ministry of Truth, then.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:16am

          Re: Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of T

          First of all: remember 1A only applies to government/governed interactions. Where is the government is this "employee/user" interaction?

          Yes, one unaccountable weenie in a cubicle somwhere. Is that your idea of First Amendment rights for The Public? It's a lot like the Ministry of Truth, then.

          Ah so you believe that 'weenies' (not exactly sure how you qualify that, is it sexual discrimination) don't have 1A rights?
          So when that 'weeny' does home they don't have the right to prevent strangers from barging into their home and blathering about what ever?

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        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 4:36pm

          Re: Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of T

          Corporations are LEGAL FICTIONS, period.

          And those “legal fictions” are still considered persons under the law, and they’re also run by human persons. That’s the point.

          OH, so Maz is WRONG.

          Not exactly. See, the reason corporations have rights, aside from the ones explicitly assigned from them, is that corporations are made up of/run by human persons, and those human persons have rights, which means that the corporations have rights.

          Yes, one unaccountable weenie in a cubicle somwhere. Is that your idea of First Amendment rights for The Public? It's a lot like the Ministry of Truth, then.

          Outside of whether or not the originator of certain speech is a public figure or not or a government official/employee or not, any details on who is making the speech—whether they be a corporate employee writing on behalf of that corporation or an employer or just some random private citizen—is completely and utterly irrelevant to whether or not the speech is protected by the 1A. Accountability is similarly irrelevant. In fact, the whole point behind the 1A protections of free speech is that, outside of a few very limited exceptions, people aren’t legally accountable for what they say, let alone for what others say using their platform. That’s also the point of corporations: to protect individuals from being legally responsible for the actions and speech of the whole.

          Again, that you do not like this or the results is irrelevant to what the law actually is.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Robust Content Modification, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:13am

        Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of The P

        Remember the constitution is a description of the powers and limitations of the government as it interacts with the governed. Talking about corporations is just an attempt to muddy the waters.

        Again not true! The Boston Tea Party was to STOP the British East India corporation from controlling ALL the tea in the colonies. It was approved by the gov't, as are, to lesser but still dangerous degree, corporations today.

        Mainly, though, We The People authorize gov't agents to protect us from tyranny off all kinds and sources, including corporations. WHY do you want Corporate Royalty?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:18am

          Re: Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of T

          Please point of which Article or Amendment and section of the constitution invokes the Boston tea party as authoritative.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 4:49pm

          Re: Re: Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of T

          Again not true! The Boston Tea Party was to STOP the British East India corporation from controlling ALL the tea in the colonies. It was approved by the gov't, as are, to lesser but still dangerous degree, corporations today.

          The Boston Tea Party tells us absolutely nothing about the Constitution. That tale does nothing to disprove the AC’s point. It’s completely and utterly irrelevant.

          Additionally, the British East India company was a legally enforced (not just approved) monopoly. Facebook, Twitter, and Google are not monopolies, legally enforced or otherwise. (See Bing, DuckDuckGo, MySpace, Reddit, 4chan, 8kun, Parler, Gab, etc.)

          Mainly, though, We The People authorize gov't agents to protect us from tyranny off all kinds and sources, including corporations. WHY do you want Corporate Royalty?

          We don’t want “corporate royalty”. That’s just poisoning the well again. The simple fact of the matter is that the 1A does no more and no less than to restrain the government with regards to how it interacts with the governed, which, under the law, includes corporations. Even the authority that we give the government to protect us from corporations is limited by the 1A. That you don’t like the results doesn’t make that any less true. And, again, restraining corporate speech ultimately constrains the speech of human persons as well.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 4:58pm

            And, again, restraining corporate speech ultimately constrains the speech of human persons as well.

            I feel it worthwhile to point out that this not only applies in the small scale but the large as well. The government stepping into tell a corporation what they will and will not say, will and will not allow to be said not only places limits on the people at that company but has the ability to impact vast chunks of the population indirectly, as previously open platforms are either shut down or forced to host speech that they don't want to, silencing if not driving off the users of those platforms.

            Funnily enough in their fits over 230 and free speech Woody is very much on the side of attacking rather than defending that speech, because if they 'won' then they and many, many other people would find themselves silenced or drowned out in filth in short order.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 3:16pm

      Re: Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of The Publi

      Corporations begin and exist only by PERMISSION of The Public.

      So how could they possibly have "rights"?

      Because the law gives corporations rights, including the right to own and control property. Basically, the public (through their elected officials and the judges that interpret the laws created by them) gave them rights.

      Corporations are NOT in the Constitution and because artificial, CANNOT be "citizens".

      You've been told this dozens of times, Maz

      And you’ve been told dozens of times that that is irrelevant. Like it or not, under the law, corporations are legally considered to be persons, and outside a few exceptions (such as the right to vote in elections or hold public office), most of the rights granted by the Constitution (outside of what the government is able to do) are guaranteed for all persons, not citizens, so the fact that corporations cannot be citizens has nothing to do with why we’re saying that the law grants corporations the right to free speech, free association, and to own property. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the Supreme Court. They’ve ruled multiple times that corporations have rights, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

      and YET STILL INTENTIONALLY LIE.

      Again, the Supreme Court and the statutes that are used to establish corporations are what say that corporations have rights. You may not think that they shouldn’t have these rights, but that doesn’t change what the law is, nor does it make it a lie, let alone an intentional lie, to say that the law doesn’t conform to your expectations or desires.

      Now, can you actually disprove these claims about what the law is? Simply saying we’re wrong doesn’t make it so. The last time I made these claims, you tried to get my opinion on what the law should say, which is irrelevant when my argument is about what you claim the law is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:41am

    That's a true threat to free speech online. Letting private companies moderate as they see fit is not a threat to free speech. At all.

    Something that I think needs to be added here: Letting private companies moderate as they see fit is not a thread to free speech because the private companies have no authority to prevent other people or companies from standing up their own platform(s). The government does have that power (or rather, somebody simply standing up their own platform can't escape the governments regulations), and therefore IS a threat to free speech.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Robust Content Modification, 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:42am

    "right of association" is not included in MECHANICAL HOSTING.

    who [false word: they've no body and are not persons] will retain their 1st Amendment right to not associate with any speech they don't want to associate with

    In arguing that Section 230 empowers corporations, Masnick relies heavily on the "freedom of association" notion, BUT HERE when it comes to the advertising spots inserted as apparent stories here, then a disclaimer is adequate: "The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team." -- Similarly, any site can add text to a page to disclaim. -- As I think lawmakers intended.

    Section 230 is the practical way for "natural persons" to have a site, but the hosts are explicitly immunized, that's THE DEAL. -- But instead, sites assert total arbitrary control against those they regard as political opponents which is simply corporate censorship.

    In Masnick's view, therefore: a mere Printer (meaning printing house, or even in his unlimited view, any manufacturer of a desktop printer) should have TOTAL editorial control over what can be put on paper. -- That has NEVER been true. Section 230 is UNPRECEDENTED in all history of granting immunity while (allegedly) retaining TOTAL control over content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 5:07pm

      Re: "right of association" is not included in MECHANICAL HOSTING

      You have not alleged why a printing house should not have editorial control over what can be put on paper. In fact, a printing house can refuse to print something based on any reason at all unless it discriminates based on race, gender, or religion.

      Furthermore, the writers of §230 never intended for disclaimers to be put on everything. That’s just dumb.

      There is also nothing unprecedented about §230. It mostly just codifies common sense when it comes to computer services.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Robust Content Modification, 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:43am

    NO ONE is mistaking a user's opinion for the "platform".

    Does anyone except masnicks in a hurry believe that users on Facebook / Twitter are speaking with the corporation's authority? Or that the corporations are supportive of the views? HMM? Anyone want to claim that? -- NO ONE MISTAKES users for the corporation. There is NO such association in anyone's mind.

    NO ONE is mistaking a user's opinion for the "platform". There is NO direct or implied "association" that justifies the unilateral control of American's speech by mega-corporations as masnicks want.


    @ "AC_Unknown": up there is the "viewpoint discrimination" term that you claimed doesn't exist! Man enough to admit you're WRONG?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:51am

      Re: NO ONE is mistaking a user's opinion for the "platform".

      Dude, stop being so wrong about everything, you're making yourself look like a Trump supporter.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Robust Content Modification, 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:55am

        Re: Re: NO ONE is mistaking a user's opinion for the "platf

        Well, thanks, "AC" for making me look GOOD by comparison with your empty one-liner.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:58am

          Re: Re: Re: NO ONE is mistaking a user's opinion for the "p

          Wow, okay, so you're saying you actually own the accusation that you're a xenophobic racist bigot who wants to overthrow democracy, right?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Robust Content Modification, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: NO ONE is mistaking a user's opinion for the &am

            Wow, okay, so you're saying you actually own the accusation that you're a xenophobic racist bigot who wants to overthrow democracy, right?

            Super good troll! Toss WILD OFF-TOPIC AD HOM that bear NO relation to what I wrote. Must be A. Stephen Stone, too chicken to use account name.

            Thanks for representing Techdirt today. THIS is the kind of speech that Maz wants. More, please!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: NO ONE is mistaking a user's opinion for the &am

            wow you tricked it into being honest. Well I suspect that's the most "correct" thing it has said here.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Robust Content Modification, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:17am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: NO ONE is mistaking a user's opinion for the

              Since the fanboys have nothing on topic, I declare victory and move on before they get worse.

              These silly fanboys are your fault, Maz. They don't draw new readers, to say the least!

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:22am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: NO ONE is mistaking a user's opinion for

                Do "fanboys" like quibbling over details?

                Because that's like 60% of why I'm hear. Pointing out little ways I think the articles are wrong is a pastime for me. And the Techdirt staff just tolerates it.

                Although I am a fan of critical thinking. Does that count for your purposes?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:53am

                  That's the thing that they absolutely refuse to acknowledge since it would force them to admit to what a toxic and pathetic ass they have been from day one: Pointing out where an article or comment got something wrong is perfectly acceptable so long as you do so in a civil manner.

                  'Hey, I think you got something wrong' or 'I don't think that's correct and here's why...' style comments are more than welcome and will usually lead to a productive conversation and discussion, but when the only thing a person brings to the table is insults, strawmen, lies and a persecution complex that's downright presidential people are likely to just flag the comment or return the favor because there's nothing of substance or worth to deal with.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                AC Unknown (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 12:06pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: NO ONE is mistaking a user's opinion for

                There's a figure of speech about not counting one's chickens before they hatch that applies here. In this case, this Anon is doing just that.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 5:11pm

      Re: NO ONE is mistaking a user's opinion for the "platform".

      Does anyone except masnicks in a hurry believe that users on Facebook / Twitter are speaking with the corporation's authority? Or that the corporations are supportive of the views? HMM? Anyone want to claim that? -- NO ONE MISTAKES users for the corporation. There is NO such association in anyone's mind.

      Uh, yes they do. It happens a lot. Techdirt has discussed a number of occasions where this has happened. If it didn’t, §230 wouldn’t be used so often.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Robust Content Modification, 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:52am

    But, Maz, you ARGUE that corporations DON'T have to!

    But, more importantly, Section 230 has never been about "protecting" the big companies -- it has always been about enabling you and me to speak.

    HOW DOES The Public benefit from it, then? YOU SAY the situation is same with or without S230.

    S230 benefits ONLY corporations. The Public is still controlled!

    Without Section 230 few websites would willingly host just anyone's speech

    SO? You only paraphrase the argument against it being as at present -- a de facto sitch which is a power grab by corporations to control ALL speech.

    Facebook's reach means it's controlling hundred of millions to billions of people. That doesn't worry Maz in the least. The Public just has to be cajoled and pacified for a while longer until control is complete. Corporations, profits, and stifling all opposition to leftist / globalist agenda are his ONLY concerns.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:17am

      Re: But, Maz, you ARGUE that corporations DON'T have to!

      HOW DOES The Public benefit from it, then?

      By the very existence of Facebook, Twitter, Parler, Gab, reviews on Amazon etc.

      If you could be sued for what others posted on a site you created, would you allow them to post, or would you take tight control over what was posted. Alternatively would you do no moderation, and watch all discussion swamped by spam, (I was going to add trolls, but you keep on trying to swamp this site).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 5:19pm

      Re: But, Maz, you ARGUE that corporations DON'T have to!

      HOW DOES The Public benefit from it, then?

      By allowing online platforms to exist that, taken as a whole, are diverse in viewpoints. Not that the views on any given platform are diverse, but those on the Internet as a whole. There’s also the fact that it protects users from being liable for content created by other users. (For example, in a reply.)

      S230 benefits ONLY corporations.

      Corporations aren’t the only ones who can own a website, y’know. Anyone who runs or uses an ICS is protected.

      The Public is still controlled!

      Nope. Only the privately-owned platforms are controlled, not the users themselves.

      SO?

      “So” without §230, you wouldn’t have any sites that accept content from just any user. They’d still have full control.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:20am

    I have just one question...

    Are we to allow the lords of Silicon Valley to determine the terms of free speech, free thought, and free behavior in America?

    How did this screed get through the "independent thought" gatekeeping? The Lords of Silicon Valley have some explaining to do!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 14 Dec 2020 @ 11:53am

    Rachel Blowhard... I mean Bovard, is being obtuse. Careful what you wish for Rachel...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 12:50pm

    the ironic thing is facebook and google will be stronger if section 230 goe,s ,
    they have the revenue to employ moderators and filter content.
    what will go is a million websites and small forums that provide a space for ordinary
    people to communicate and talk to each other .
    google will have less competion from small websites and it will be much harder for new services like tik tok to emerge .
    And for small startups that host user content to survive.
    oracle provides services and servers for many companys that need section
    230 to survive.
    Almost any media company that has basic forums or a letters page relys
    on section 230 to avoid getting targetted in random lawsuits .
    getting rid of section 230 is like telling the auto industry seatbelts are now illegal ,
    it does no one any good apart from providing more employment to lawyers
    and does positive harm to ordinary users of the web.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 1:47pm

      Re:

      DEAR AC.
      Show me the Forums for google.
      Show me the chat section.
      You are abit off. Yes the smaller services will have problems, but NONE of this leads back to Google, unless something thinks YOUR comment on a private forum thats RUN on a Google server means Google DID something.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2020 @ 2:01pm

        Re: Re:

        Google builds the search indexes, and is as reliant on user content as any other site. If you think that section 230 does not protect Google, you have not been watching who the tech targets are.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        R.H. (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 10:49pm

        Re: Re:

        As much as I'd like to jump in attacking the AC there, the comments section on every YouTube video would be Google's current public chat/forums. They are certainly protected by Section 230. Honestly, the videos on YouTube themselves, since they're made by independent creators, qualify for protection.

        Lastly, there are a number of reasons that it would be incredibly difficult for a competitor to YouTube to appear (don't forget that Google tried to roll their own in a service called Google Video before they bought YouTube) but, Section 230 isn't one of them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 1:07pm

    Bovard has had many, many experts in Section 230 explain to her why she's misrepresenting the law. And she has never once changed her arguments, nor admitted to being wrong. She just keeps repeating the bullshit.

    Speak of a devil, and Bobmail appears.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 1:30pm

    Anyone?

    Think she BUYS space in USA, site/news/???
    What are the odds, She pays to be on the site?
    At least that she is independent and OTHERS are paying her fee's to BUY into the news.
    Sounds allot like Fox News and OPINION.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 14 Dec 2020 @ 7:05pm

    Gotta make a buck

    I get it. That's her job. Everybody's gotta make a buck.

    That's one take. I've been told for years I could make a lot more bucks as a cocaine dealer. This would be true. I also could fly helicopters into Mexico and pick up drugs without showing up on radar. This also would be true.

    I suppose I could do many many unethical and evil things to make a buck. It takes ethics, honesty, and integrity to Do The Right Thing.

    Also shout out to ThatOneGuy who once again nailed it in Comment#1.

    E

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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