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    After Censorship Outrage, FCC Will Move Forward with Rulemaking to Clarify Free Speech Rights of Social Media Companies

    After Censorship Outrage, FCC Will Move Forward with Rulemaking to Clarify Free Speech Rights of Social Media Companies

    “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.”

    https://twitter.com/SohrabAhmari/status/1316446749729398790
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    Social media platforms, namely Facebook and Twitter, have hidden behind a specific provision, Section 230 of the Communications Act, maintaining that they are platforms, not publishers, justification they’ve used in broad and largely ideologically specific content and user censorship.

    Thursday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai indicated those days may soon come to an end.

    In a statement Thursday, Pai said:

    “Members of all three branches of the federal government have expressed serious concerns about the prevailing interpretation of the immunity set for in Section 230 of the Communications Act. There is bipartisan support in Congress to reform the law. Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.”

    Full statement here:

    In May, President Trump signed an Executive Order to prevent online censorship in order to “protect and uphold the free speech rights of the American people.”

    Just this week, Facebook and Twitter suppressed a story unfavorable to the Biden family, leading to massive outcry of censorship and ideological favoritism on the part of both publishers.

    Facebook and Twitter started this war.

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    Comments



     
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    alohahola | October 16, 2020 at 6:51 am

    It just amazes me that adults are arguing over adolescent interfaces.


       
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      Dathurtz in reply to alohahola. | October 16, 2020 at 7:58 am

      It is absolutely insane to ignore the power of these tech companies. They have the power to see to it that you cannot hear the voices of literally anybody they want unless you talk to them in person or on the phone. That is incredible.

      The conservative movement wouldn’t even exist without 1-2 radio programs early on and internet presence today.


         
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        daniel_ream in reply to Dathurtz. | October 16, 2020 at 10:43 am

        you cannot hear the voices of literally anybody they want unless you talk to them in person or on the phone.

        I’m not using a phone right now.

        That is not how the Internet works. At all. Four web sites are not All Of The Web, and the Web is not All Of The Internet.

        The fundamental problem with this issue is nobody on our side has even the faintest idea how the Internet works and is unwilling to learn.

        Believe it or not, in the Before Time, Facebook and Twitter did not exist (gasp!). People paid money (double gasp!) to “hosting providers” for “servers” and ran their own sites on their own computers.

        There are times when I feel like I’m living in some sort of weird post-apocalyptic movie, with tribes of Neolithic humans living in the ruins of the advanced technology all around them yet ignorant of its potential, using Compaq desktops as hammers and Cat5e cables as necklaces.


           
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          Dathurtz in reply to daniel_ream. | October 16, 2020 at 12:58 pm

          Educate me. I’m really good at molecular biology, not the internets. What is stopping 3-4 large telecoms from blocking me from viewing this website? What is stopping 3-4 telecoms from dropping traffic to websites like this dramatically by making this website harder to find?

          I found this website by googling information about Trayvon Martin. How hard would it be for Alphabet, Microsoft, and Yahoo to decide to bury this website on page 28 for matches?


           
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          GWB in reply to daniel_ream. | October 16, 2020 at 1:08 pm

          And how are people supposed to find those paid-for websites? There are only two methods I know of on the WWW: search engines and word-of-mouth. (Or, I suppose, paying for placement on some other website, like the old Prodigy setup.)


       
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      GWB in reply to alohahola. | October 16, 2020 at 1:10 pm

      Having said what I said, I will also agree with this. Why are most people even on Twitter? Or Facebook? While there is some legitimate uses for them both, an awful lot of what they enable is middle school gossip and catty name-calling and “oooh, burned!” sorts of immaturity.


     
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    smalltownoklahoman | October 16, 2020 at 8:07 am

    The best move the FCC could make regarding Tech censorship: simply tell them “if it’s legal, it stays.”


       
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      daniel_ream in reply to smalltownoklahoman. | October 16, 2020 at 10:45 am

      Thus removing the ability of every blog to curate comments, forcing every tiny web site like this to go to moderator-approved comments?

      That’s a bold plan, Cotton, let’s see how it works out.


         
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        Milhouse in reply to daniel_ream. | October 16, 2020 at 11:08 am

        It would be worse than that. Not only would all comment sections everywhere need pre-moderation, but the moderators would need legal training, would need to spend more time considering each comment before approving it, and would need to err heavily on the side of censorship.


         
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        Milhouse in reply to daniel_ream. | October 16, 2020 at 11:08 am

        Effectively it would make forums like this one impossible.


         
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        Milhouse in reply to daniel_ream. | October 16, 2020 at 11:17 am

        Worse than that, it would force sites like Wikipedia, IMDB, and youtube to shut down. Anything with user-supplied content and any degree of moderation would have to switch to using paid editors to pre-approve everything, just like a publisher.


           
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          GWB in reply to Milhouse. | October 16, 2020 at 1:04 pm

          Of course, IMDB and Wikipedia ARE publishers. (And Wikipedia is technically curated, if badly.)


             
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            Milhouse in reply to GWB. | October 16, 2020 at 4:38 pm

            No, they are not publishers. They are interactive computer services, made possible by section 230. If they were classed as publishers they would have to shut down.


           
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          CommoChief in reply to Milhouse. | October 17, 2020 at 1:15 pm

          Milhouse,

          A few potential solutions for the platforms to:
          1. Provide a choice upon sign up. One could choose to be in the wild west version or the safe space version.

          2. The platforms could simply revert to unmoderated mode.

          3. The platforms could, with a little congressional/regulatory help, decide to turn their moderation efforts exclusively to certain criminal activity; child porn, human trafficking etc

    Maybe we could resurrect the Fairness Act? Since it’s a controlled distribution method, with high barriers to entry, they should be forced to give equal time? (That was the justification for the original, I believe. So it was ok for tv, but not applicable to newspapers.)

    *walks away from ticking time bomb, whistling*


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