Loading Notifications...

Privatising censorship

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 Eric9Points 09 Jan 2021

While few would disagree with Twitter and Google throwing Trump off their platforms it does raise an important question.

Should we leave the decision of who gets a voice on social media down to the CEO of a limited company?

Is their first allegiance to democracy and free speech or to their shareholders and their business?

Post edited at 19:15
2
 Andy Hardy 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Eric9Points:

A long hard look at the law is required. The owners of social media firms need to be held responsible / liable for enabling online radicalisation. 

 cb294 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Andy Hardy:

This.

The fact that they are able to selectively remove posters PROVES that they are in exactly the same way responsible for what they let pass. Whoever controls content is a publisher, and should be treated as such.

If we don't have the guts of banning facebook, tw*tter, instagram etc. for the damage to social cohesion they cause, let's simply make them responsible for anything that flows through their channels.

CB

 waitout 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Eric9Points:

> While few would disagree with Twitter and Google throwing Trump off their platforms it does raise an important question.

> Should we leave the decision of who gets a voice on social media down to the CEO of a limited company?

> Is their first allegiance to democracy and free speech or to their shareholders and their business?

It's a good question.

The way I've come to view it is Trump isn't being censored as he still has dozens of other outlets for his bullshit, he's just being refused access to a product. Then there's the point that to the CEOs of Twitter etc - Trump himself IS the product, as is any user, because it's not his views that are uniquely potent (many have much worse in ways far more nasty than his, remember jihadism?) it's his scope.

I kind of see it as a restaurant either refusing an obnoxious patron, or more so, throwing out a delivery of rancid bacon that came in. A business needs to make business decisions. I also don't like the grip some social media has on the collective mind (anything character based really), and feel that window-dressing this as censorship is what empowers them.

I have the feeling they pulled him because sponsoring advertisers threatened to pull. His absence must be worth billions to a business like Twitter. 

Should the decision for denying a platform go to businessmen? In this case yes, because the other option is - if anyone's going to be denied anything - it's the government's choice and that's a worse precedent to have set.

 waitout 09 Jan 2021
In reply to cb294:

> This.

> The fact that they are able to selectively remove posters PROVES that they are in exactly the same way responsible for what they let pass. Whoever controls content is a publisher, and should be treated as such.

> If we don't have the guts of banning facebook, tw*tter, instagram etc. for the damage to social cohesion they cause, let's simply make them responsible for anything that flows through their channels.

I agree with this. It's the medium not the message that is the predominant problem here. If the levels of social responsibility that were forced upon other nasty industries (to varying degrees of enactment of course...) were applied this whole issue could be better addressed.

As per the military, it's the comms, codes 'n crank sets that are the central parts of any offensive, to be protected at expense of all else. So long as there's no real accountability for the system itself, any nefarious behaviour is simply a matter of amplification.

1
In reply to waitout:

> I have the feeling they pulled him because sponsoring advertisers threatened to pull. His absence must be worth billions to a business like Twitter. 

Yes, I think they acted strategically, not morally. Trump's shite is no longer a good product - the rancid bacon that was popular last year has lost its appeal.

> Should the decision for denying a platform go to businessmen? In this case yes, because the other option is - if anyone's going to be denied anything - it's the government's choice and that's a worse precedent to have set.

How is it a precedent? Governments are constantly banning terrorist groups, etc. It's a pretty normal function of government to censor stuff according to laws they've democratically passed. There is no free speech free-for-all, there are legal boundaries. Then there are softer boundaries e.g. contracts, user agreements; then softer again is etiquette/social norms and social sanctions like everyone thinking you're a prick if you make a racist joke.

The internet operates at this middle level of formal/contractual rules and sanctions, and I'm a bit uncomfortable with it because it's governed by what sells. On the other hand, like you, I am wary of increasing legislation about what can and can't be said on the internet, just like in a newspaper (but it seems to me they should be treated similarly - if you make money advertising, you've got to be responsible for the publication). I think all the people at the Telegraph should be literally hauled over hot coals, really slowly, naked, genitals-down, for what they publish, but I don't know how I'd get that to happen without restricting press freedom in a way that would have consequences I didn't like elsewhere.

All in all, I don't know. It's a hard question.

 Andy Hardy 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Twitter are not responsible for the content of Trump's tweets. His shit upbringing and multiple personality defects are in the frame for that. Twitter act as his loudspeaker so he can reach (and hence teach) others to think and act like he would, if he weren't a septuagenarian obese scum bucket.

In short Twitter are aiding and abetting. They are guilty of manslaughter, not murder. But they, and the other SM channels who monetise our content need to be held accountable in law for their actions.

2
In reply to Andy Hardy:

> Twitter are not responsible for the content of Trump's tweets

Of course, but they are responsible for publishing them and making money out of it.

> they, and the other SM channels who monetise our content need to be held accountable in law for their actions.

Yes, I think we agree. To be really rigorous, I don't believe in the idea of "responsibility" at all, stuff just happens. But the system we should have would hold SM channels accountable for the shite they spew forth into the world.

How do we decide what qualifies as "shite"? That's the question. At the moment, we've got some laws saying that some stuff like incitement to violence is not on, and then we've got these contracts about what a twitterer shalt or shalt not tweet, which just now feels pretty arbitrary, patchily enforced and driven purely by the commercial interests of twitter.com, etc. 

Is this the best we can do, or is there a better way of deciding what's OK for me, or you, or Trump to spew out onto the internet?

Post edited at 22:38
 Route Adjuster 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Andy Hardy:

> A long hard look at the law is required. The owners of social media firms need to be held responsible / liable for enabling online radicalisation. 

Not just that, I think the time has come for them to be responsible for the content full stop in the same way that publishers have to be.

 The Lemming 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Eric9Points:

As long as people have a way of getting their message out, they don't need to have access to every single form of media to do this, do they?

If every form of communication was withheld then that is censorship.

I think we need a little perspective on free speech being withheld.

 wintertree 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Eric9Points:

Many of my colleagues in science are now active on Twitter; various fellowships require their holders to actively engage in public understanding of their field on social media for example.

IMO the best way to improve the public understanding of science is to annihilate the toxic cesspit that is Twitter.  It has some great people on it, but the signal-to-noise ratio is atrocious and the shit floats to the top, as shit sells adverts.   Within a scientific sub-community it is great, but as soon as it intersects with the wide world, it goes mad.  Try and argue with the mad people in 320 characters and the good ones are dragged down to their level.  Quippy dismissals and snappy memes. 

You can’t drain the swamp.  It is the swamp.

 waitout 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> How is it a precedent? Governments are constantly banning terrorist groups, etc. It's a pretty normal function of government to censor stuff according to laws they've democratically passed. There is no free speech free-for-all, there are legal boundaries. Then there are softer boundaries e.g. contracts, user agreements; then softer again is etiquette/social norms and social sanctions like everyone thinking you're a prick if you make a racist joke.

I see it as a precedent - particularly in the US where that's a majorly leveraged pillar of their legal system - because when powershifts this will be used to justify doing it again and stretching the meaning. It's already at play, this very debate we are having is now is set against precedents set by previous administrations over things like terrorism (something last weeks events have been often called).

I see your point over boundaries, but what Trump says is inherently idiotic, not outright wrong. It's the scale that makes it malicious, so the precedent then becomes about interpretation. It's not like banning Daesh types who explicitly call for suicide bombings and illegal acts. Trump's broadcasts are more a matter of incitement than of direction (it's the single thing I believe he's clever with) and the precedent of banning that, both legally and socially, won't have the positive outcome it may be hoped for. Already the precedent exists for turning banned tweeters into outlaw heroes - some of the ringleaders of the Capitol mob were just that.

I wonder if a proportionate squeeze on his ability to Tweet would work better, reduce his numbers that can see his posts, reduce his available characters to use, scramble his messages through a Chinese translation, reduce the lifespan of his tweets etc. Degrade his messages to the point of novelty rather than make him the example for the entire next turn of the information revolution. To be honest I don't think it's that hard to do, and no doubt gets used in certain circles for certain reasons already.

> The internet operates at this middle level of formal/contractual rules and sanctions, and I'm a bit uncomfortable with it because it's governed by what sells. On the other hand, like you, I am wary of increasing legislation about what can and can't be said on the internet, just like in a newspaper (but it seems to me they should be treated similarly - if you make money advertising, you've got to be responsible for the publication). I think all the people at the Telegraph should be literally hauled over hot coals, really slowly, naked, genitals-down, for what they publish, but I don't know how I'd get that to happen without restricting press freedom in a way that would have consequences I didn't like elsewhere.

A series of good points (your ideas for the staff of the Telegraph worryingly explicit though, and a good example of something that if Trump has said same would highlight the precedent of outlawing some speech). I don't think the issue is with press freedom, it's with oversight's for journalism. Unlike Twitter, what comes through organized media has a huge back end where multiple levels of oversight can be employed. For the Telegraph or the Guardian (there I go with that pompous false equivalence again) to publish anything it goes through a series of checks and balances as I'm sure you know, so any malicious bullshit has been signed off on likely multiple times, unlike Twitter which needs malicious bullshit to escape into the atmosphere before it's addressed. I believe the output of 'real' media is better addressed by the institutions that feed into it, like journalists and publishing bodies and are partially removed from direct government interference.

> All in all, I don't know. It's a hard question.

Same. And I see the humour in that we are using a privately regulated platform to discuss it.

 waitout 09 Jan 2021
In reply to The Lemming:

> As long as people have a way of getting their message out, they don't need to have access to every single form of media to do this, do they?

> If every form of communication was withheld then that is censorship.

> I think we need a little perspective on free speech being withheld.

Thankyou for saying in as many letters as I need in sentences.

I blame the coffee.

In reply to The Lemming:

> If every form of communication was withheld then that is censorship.

I think that on say, twitter and facebook, there's a legitimate debate to be had about the rules of what's OK and what's not OK, and how those rules are made. I don't use either, but both blur the lines of private communication and publication - and we can't have the same rules for both.

There's no way anyone should face sanctions for what they say in a private conversation or send by email to a friend, unless it's actually part of some kind of specific plot to do something bad. On the other hand, you can't just print racist abuse in a newspaper, nor should you be able to upload it to youtube, it's the same thing. But facebook? When does a private communication become publication?

If I tweet something, that's publishing it. But if I post something on facebook (which I don't use so don't really get) is that publishing it in the same way? I can see why facebook don't want to have to follow the same rules as newspapers. On the other hand, they're enabling vile people to spew poison into the minds of the whole of the human race, for money. They've got to be held accountable.

 waitout 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Jon Stewart:

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/09/trump-twitter-are-you-sure-456794

An opinion here from that nasty false-equivalencist Politico. Be warned, they may not provide a comfy partisan resolution....  

1
 waitout 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> When does a private communication become publication?

When someone pays for it. The stupid or malicious content one person feels they are confronted by is exactly what some others will pay for. In the case of FB, Twitter etc where we are the product, they are willing to pay for our reaction because they can resell it.

> If I tweet something, that's publishing it. But if I post something on facebook (which I don't use so don't really get) is that publishing it in the same way? I can see why facebook don't want to have to follow the same rules as newspapers. On the other hand, they're enabling vile people to spew poison into the minds of the whole of the human race, for money. They've got to be held accountable.

Sort of, Twitter has published it - you gave it to them to do almost what they want with it. You're the cow not the butcher. Twitter, FB etc use an open channel as a draw to sell your consumption habits to companies. They are not publishers, they are marketing companies just as TV stations sell the ads not the shows, and the rules of 'real' media don't apply because media rules are mostly concerned with institutional oversight to determine content. Advertising rules would be closer to what your suggesting.

1
 mondite 10 Jan 2021
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> If I tweet something, that's publishing it. But if I post something on facebook (which I don't use so don't really get) is that publishing it in the same way?

Publishing has a specific legal usage (in the US) but will come back to that.

Twitter vs Facebook serve slightly different models (although both have permissions available where you can restrict the comments effectively to be a private chat but for this purpose will ignore that option even given facebooks approach in the past to "accidently" turning everything to public as a side affect of a feature upgrade).

Both have specific problems associated with them.

Twitter is overall easier to be visible via the tags and easy ability to view. Although then again everyone else can push info and hence you get drowned out.

Facebook is, increasingly, more of a closed shop but has its own problem of selecting what you see from the people you follow plus who it recommends to you plus the advertising. There are several studies showing it has a nasty habit of if someone glances/likes at something mildly nutty recommending more and more extreme options to them.

The publisher vs distributer isnt simply a case of whether or not you are paid but down to whether or not you should whether you should be aware of the content as the publisher/distributer.

A newspaper is a publisher since if I choose your letter to include in the paper then I really should have read the damn thing first whereas if the postal service wont know whats inside the envelope you sent to the newspaper and so is a distributor.

The question then came up whether it applied to an ISP or not. The original cases had the odd outcome that the company which did some moderating was found to be a publisher, since they did carry out some reviews, whereas another which didnt bother at all wasnt. So therefore the one which tried got its arse kicked and the one which didnt,didnt.

The question has never really been satisfactorily answered since despite the 230 kludge which was basically for an ISP whilst you might do some moderation there is simply to much content being published to check it all. The question is where is the boundary line?

No one serious would argue that some moderation isnt useful. If you disagree then go to one of the various chan site and make sure you have a sick bag or look at the parler boss whose belief in "free speech" had an oh shit moment literally in response to people posting lots of photos of shit.

There is no easy answer to the question around who controls and censors what. In my opinion a major part of the problem is in the centralisation of social media in a few providers. Once you have that then those particular censors end up with too much power but how to solve that is a problem in itself. Some of the distributed social networks have promise but they also have major weaknesses and an obvious ease of use problem.

I cant see it being answered anytime soon. There is simply no easy solution to the problem.

Post edited at 00:47
 Cobra_Head 10 Jan 2021
In reply to Eric9Points:

It happens on here though doesn't it? People get banned all the time here.

In reply to Eric9Points:

One of the key issues is whether there is any bias in the "censorship". In other words, is the left as excluded from the social media platforms as the right. Remember, it's not just Trump who gets blocked, so some scrutiny on who gets blocked and who doesn't is important otherwise we get a skewed perspective. 

 Rob Parsons 10 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> Many of my colleagues in science are now active on Twitter; various fellowships require their holders to actively engage in public understanding of their field on social media ...

Formally 'require'? Sounds like a pathetic nod to what's perceived as 'fashionable.'

1
 mondite 10 Jan 2021
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> It happens on here though doesn't it? People get banned all the time here.

I dont think so. When Alan did his post about censorship options he said only a handful of users were banned a year (not counting spammers trying to flog "genuine passports" or whatever). Although there is now the new category of spammers who create an account to post dubious claims about covid.

1
 mondite 10 Jan 2021
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

> One of the key issues is whether there is any bias in the "censorship". In other words, is the left as excluded from the social media platforms as the right.

No it would be are the same rules being applied. Which isnt the same thing.

A casual example would be Trump. He was actually favoured by twitter until now. There have been several cases where people experimented by copying his tweets and got auto banned for the language used.

For facebook there are reports that they have also favoured right wing sites and not applied the same rules to them.

In reply to mondite:

TBH, it was an example, rather than any bias on my part. I have no particular affinity for either end of the spectrum.

In reply to Eric9Points:

The value of a communications system scales with the number of people using it.  This means monopolies and near monopolies form naturally because people want to be on the same system as everyone else.   Twitter and Facebook are becoming near monopolies.

People and businesses are putting significant amounts of  time and money into building a following on Twitter and Facebook, and that investment can be lost with no effective redress.  Suddenly you can't contact the people you spent years building into an audience.

The way Twitter applies its rules is capricious and there is no due process at all.  You just get told you broke a rule.  You get a set number of characters to respond which is totally insufficient to argue why you didn't break the rule all you can basically say is no I didn't.  Then somebody says 'Oh yes you did' with no argument as to why, you are banned for a week and if you do it again you are banned for good,   So your speech is chilled.  Even banned for a week loses you followers and ranking on the algorithm.

At the very least there should be an option to pay (say) £25 to submit the case to an independent arbitrator with legal standing and the arbitration should have due process where Twitter are required to show in detail how the rule reads onto your post and you get to argue they are incorrect.  If Twitter decides to put a ban in force before the arbitration is concluded they should pay damages if they lose.

Post edited at 05:28
 Cobra_Head 10 Jan 2021
In reply to Eric9Points:

Remember Trump hasn't been silenced, he has a press room next to his office, he's always welcome to use that, he's choosing not to because he would then have to answer questions, not simply be allowed to post shit no one gets to question.


This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.