Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the anonymous-power dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous commenter pointing out how, in criticisms of online speech and demands for regulation, people often forget that some of the things they complain about, like "influencing elections", are exactly what all speech is for:

Um in not "influencing elections" one of the major ideas that people should be able to do with the 1st amendment? I mean, he might have a point if the platforms themselves were speaking false information to influence elections... but then again lying still isn't a crime.

In second place, it's Bloof with a response to the renewed attempts to claim that getting rid of anonymity will fix social media:

Donald Trump was not anonymous on social media and he used it to bring the western world to it's knees. The republicans that aided and abetted him are also, again, not anonymous on social media. Facebook is run by people who want to destroy online anonymity for their own personal gain, they collect vast amount of data, building up profiles on people who don't even use their services and allow their platform to be used as a means to administer propaganda with surgical precision... I'd say that sort of thing has more to do with the current hellworld we live in than someone being able to call themselves Johnny Hotpants online.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Wrym responding to the partially-correct idea that ignorance about the internet among lawmakers is the problem:

Actually, it's more a problem of electing people who don't want to understand a damn thing about the Internet.

They have their idea of what it is, and actively resist learning better information. That is not a problem exclusive to republicans. Even democrats similarly resist understanding the world beyond their current knowledge of it.

Neither is it exclusive to technology matters. Politics and economy subjects are treated the same as they were 20-30 years ago. As if they were right then (which they weren't already) and as if nothing changing since.

As for social issues, republicans still live in the 80s. The 1680s. The democrats are a little late on these subjects as well, but they at least try to show some progress on this front.

So, resistance to change is prevalent across most of the political landscape. Only a few of the most recent entries in the democrat-side of the Congress are actually trying to push for modernization, for long-overdue change. The majority of democrat are still trying to catch up with the 90s and the republicans are trying to pull the country backwards.

How is surprising that they can't cope with such a "revolutionary" concept as actual free speech for everyone? (Not just the few that the newspaper and TV deign to glorify.)

Next, it's Blake C. Stacey bringing some Wikipedia knowledge to the discussion about community approaches to disinformation:

Wikipedia has a policy of "NPOV" --- Neutral Point of View. That's not neutral in the sense that Republicans would want, i.e. false balance, but rather an ethos of sticking to what the sources say. They've also developed a lengthy guideline for what can qualify as a "reliable source". And there's a more specific guideline just for writing about fringe theories, and a guideline for the extra-careful standards for writing about medicine. The acronyms are thick on the ground, because Wikipedia editors are the sort of people who think that all the problems of education and epistemology can be solved by applying more acronyms. Mind you, this is just a slice through the rulebook --- we haven't even gotten to the guidelines for "notability", which say what topics deserve to have articles about them. Or the Manual of Style, or the rules for Conflict-of-Interest editing. In short, it ain't simple.

The question raised by Birdwatch is, if you're trying to do community moderation to build a site that is fact-based and isn't a complete garbage fire, could the rules actually be any simpler? How do you write simple guidelines for a problem that is, itself, necessarily complicated?

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Bloof again, this time with a comment about the RIAA's new front group claiming to speak for indie artists:

Hello fellow ki... Independant musicians.

It's about time small time artists and minor labels had a voice willing to speak up against their interests, to cry out 'We agree!' whenever the RIAA trots out some new twist on copyright to make it easier to strip away the creator's rights, or cut off all the paths they've been using to promote their work and build fanbases without major label backing. Now the little guy will finally get a chance to have someone write an op ed in the New York Times in their name without their consent, which sounds exactly like an RIAA press release, railing about piracy killing music and making artists starve, even though said artists get a tiny cut of the profits from recordings of their work.

Thank god someone's there to think of the little guy and making their lives just so much worse.

In second place, it's Pixelation with a simple suggestion on our post about how it's probably okay to call the Super Bowl the Super Bowl:

Drive the lawyers insane

Call it the "Superbowl Olympics".

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous response to our post about Michigan cops using encrypted messaging to dodge public records obligations:

We finally found the criminals going dark!

Finally, we've got another comment from Blake C. Stacey, responding this time to the question of anonymity online:

Very Serious People: "Everyone would behave if we had to use our real names online!"

Marjorie Taylor Greene: (exists)

That's all for this week, folks!

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  1. icon
    ECA (profile), 7 Feb 2021 @ 12:26pm

    freedom to speak.

    Its a rough world when even the smart people think being Anon, is safer then Standing OUT in the crowd.
    Its Funny to see a nation with freedom of speech, and most people seem afraid. But the problem tends to be, Who we Need to listen. And where to find them.
    Iv noted before that allot of the old social groups have almost disappeared. But that include Other in the list of groups that have been broken up.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Feb 2021 @ 2:56pm

    It's not "freedom of speech" they're harping on about.

    It's "freedom from consequences of said speech" they're really after.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Feb 2021 @ 6:08pm

    This week on Techdirt, Jhon Smith lost his shit trying to force his Guy Babcock screed down everyone's throat and wondering why nobody was clamoring to kiss his footprints.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2021 @ 12:57am

    Just a basic understanding of psychology....

    That's all you need to recognise the data's pretty concrete on how anonymity makes people more open to accepting when they're wrong about something. If a stated, but incorrect idea is attached to a real name, part of someone's sense of identity, they are FAR more likely to dismiss evidence to the contraryand double down on being wrong. Social media platforms which encourage this mentality through pushing people away from anonymity to aid their data harvesting are in part responsible for where we got to.

    And all of this is without even accounting for other important reasons for it like how necessary internet anonymity has been to marginalised groups, allowing them to develop communities without fear of persecution, and how repressive regimes keep moving to strip that anonymity to make such persecution easier.

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

  5. icon
    charliebrown (profile), 8 Feb 2021 @ 3:11am


    I think you're on the right path, but it's more like "freedom of speech as long as it's speech where you agree with what I say".

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

  6. icon
    Kajumba (profile), 8 Feb 2021 @ 3:53am

    really funny, criminals going dark)

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

  7. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 8 Feb 2021 @ 3:57am

    Re: Re:

    To paraphrase Orwell: "All speech is free but some speech is freer than others."

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

  8. identicon
    Bobvious, 8 Feb 2021 @ 4:19am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "The only thing worse than Freedom of speech is Not Freedom of speech"

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

  9. icon
    ECA (profile), 8 Feb 2021 @ 12:05pm


    If you didnt learn that from your grand parents and Parents while you were growing up...
    WHACK, shut up.
    You aint lived.

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

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