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U.S. Constitution
See other U.S. Constitution Articles

Title: Tech companies crack down on free speech then label it hate speech like the true fascists they are
Source: The Hill
URL Source: http://thehill.com/policy/technolog ... e-speech-after-charlottesville
Published: Aug 20, 2017
Author: Ali Breland
Post Date: 2017-08-20 09:45:46 by Willie Green
Keywords: None
Views: 321
Comments: 23

Technology companies are confronting difficult questions about whether they should use their power to silence hate speech online

Several tech companies have cracked down on white supremacist groups in the wake of a rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a woman was killed by a car driven into a counter protest crowd

Facebook and Twitter took down the accounts of hate groups from their platforms. GoDaddy and Google banned neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer from their domain hosting services, effectively taking it off the internet

But many in the tech world wonder where they should draw the line when policing content, fearing the crackdown could lead to censorship

In an letter to employees published by Gizmodo, the CEO of Cloudflare, a cybersecurity service provider, mulled the implications of effectively keeping certain voices off the internet after they also banned the Daily Stormer

“Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet,” Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince wrote. “No one should have that power.”

“[An employee] asked after I told him what we were going to do: 'Is this the day the Internet dies?'" Prince wrote in the letter. “He was half joking, but I actually think it’s an important question.”

Prince’s email addresses the schism between free speech and hate speech that internet companies are grappling with. Aside from Prince acknowledging the tough spot technology companies are in, the industry has largely avoided publicly talking about it. Internally though, they’ve been working for a long time to tow the delicate line between offensive speech and dangerous speech

Employees at major technology firms say that they have felt the pressure to take down certain types of content, but in some cases have been hesitant. When GoDaddy and Google banned Daily Stormer from using their services, Twitter waited two days before banning Daily Stormer accounts

“No one wants to be the last company who banned a neo-Nazi,” said one employee of a major technology firm. The employee noted that at the same time, social media platforms often play wait-and-see, watching who gets banned from other websites

“On most issues, [social media companies are] enforcing their own rules,” the employee with knowledge of the matter said. “They don’t have conference calls about whether to suspend Richard Spencer’s account at the same time. But they watch and see what the other companies do and it affects their decisions.”

Decisions on what content stays and goes can become so fraught that they reach the top levels of the company. For example, at Twitter, CEO Jack Dorsey occasionally steps in to make the final call on removals and suspensions

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on this

At Facebook, the Wall Street Journal reported in October that Mark Zuckerberg similarly made a judgement call on content when he decided to not remove posts made in 2016 by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump that may have violated the company’s community standards

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on whether or not Zuckerberg gets involved in decisions over content removal.

In the days after violence in Charlottesville, both Twitter and Facebook along with GoDaddy, Google and a list of other technology companies banned white supremacists from their platforms. Paypal also removed prominent white nationalists involved in the Charlottesville rally; OKCupid kicked off a high-profile white supremacist; Spotify gave white supremacist artists the boot

For some of these companies, the crackdown is a departure from their original ethos of being an unrestricted platform for ideas, even problematic ones.

In 2011, Twitter fashioned itself as the “free speech wing of the free speech party.”

“We don’t always agree with the things people choose to tweet, but we keep the information flowing irrespective of any view we may have about the content,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote that same year

Twitter policed hateful content at the time, but was considered to be far more hands-off than it is now. The company has since made moves to curb rampant abuse and hate speech from its platform, and particularly content that incites violence

Reddit dealt with similar growing pains after its long commitment to being an open platform even for socially repugnant ideas

Some think that this movement to police content, while lauded by progressive and nonpartisan groups alike, could pose concerns if it isn’t handled carefully

“We push companies to uses these algorithms, but they’re not perfect. You get false positives,” a tech firm employee said, noting that even reviewing the results leaves the process open to human error. “People think this is black and white, but we’re really dealing with shades of gray.”

Political heavyweights have also weighed in. Conservative Tucker Carlson argued during his Fox News show on Monday that “Google should be regulated like the public utility it is to make sure it doesn't further distort the free flow of information."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) similarly expressed to Axios that he's worried about "large tech companies putting their thumb on the scales and skewing political and public discourse."

Sonny Sinha, a tech policy expert and former Obama administration staffer, argued that an inconsistent process of content removal without proper checks could have damaging effects

“In some weird flipped reality, innocent groups could be targeted for their speech,” said Sinha

Sinha stressed that he disagrees with white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, but is worried that without a consistent set of standards and dialogue on removing content, it would be possible for groups to clamp down on less harmful speech on the internet in the future

“We need to have a forum and mechanism to have these conversations,” Sinha added

Ultimately though, even opponents of white supremacists point out that these company’s platforms aren’t owned by the government and note that they can do business with whoever they like

“Spotify has the right to take [white supremacists] off their platform. They’re their own corporation,” Luther Campbell hip-hop artist and former frontman of 2 Live Crew told The Hill. 2 Live Crew’s music faced calls for censorship in the 80s over its suggestive content

“If Spotify was owned by government it would be different," Campbell said.


Poster Comment:

Put a muzzle on 'em.

Post Comment   Private Reply   Ignore Thread  


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#1. To: Willie Green (#0)

Put a muzzle on 'em.

I agree. Leftist groups like Antifa and BLM and the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers and atheists and gays spew nothing but hate speech and should be shut down.

misterwhite  posted on  2017-08-20   9:59:46 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Willie Green (#0)

Put a muzzle on 'em.

Ok willie you can no longer post articles.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-08-20   10:00:36 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: A K A Stone (#2)

This isn't a bad article. Not clickbaitish, same stuff you're reading on a lot of Right or tech websites.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-08-20   10:04:00 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: Tooconservative (#3)

Willie likes muzzles. It said so itself.

If Willie changes his mind I will take his off.

If he doesn't I will tighten it.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-08-20   10:05:48 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: Willie Green, A K A Stone, misterwhite (#0)

I almost posted this but wasn't sure it merited its own thread. It's about the perverse postures and incentives of the GOP and the tech titans on online censorship. It's a political rarity, when both sides have strong incentive to take positions that appear contrary to their interests. I thought perhaps I should include it here as a counterpoint.

Who Is Really Opposed to Fighting Internet Censorship?
Jason Richwine, August 18

Jeremy Carl makes a strong case for imposing viewpoint neutrality on tech firms that function as de facto public utilities. To prevent censorship at the whim of a few large firms, Carl would ban Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. from rejecting or discriminating against users for their political views. I endorse the proposal for all the reasons he laid out. But it’s interesting to contrast the public versus private incentives for each party involved. Specifically, one might assume that Republicans in Congress would be eager to ensure that conservative speech is not censored, while Silicon Valley leaders would oppose any such regulation. I suspect the opposite is true.

Silicon Valley leaders are currently falling over themselves to see who can most thoroughly blacklist alt-right groups. They justify the censorship with the principle that they will not be parties to “hate.” In my experience, however, large organizations worry only about their bottom lines. They rarely stand up for any greater principle if it gets in the way of conducting business as usual. When Silicon Valley censors, it is less principle than it is virtue signaling – defensive virtual signaling, to be more precise. Tech firms fear shaming and controversy ginned up by “social justice warriors,” so they compete over who can censor the most. It’s an arms race to make their businesses controversy-proof.

Tech firms would obviously prefer not to worry about signaling all the time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was some way to end the need for signaling without losing virtue points to rival firms? That’s exactly what regulation would do. If Congress imposes viewpoint neutrality on Silicon Valley, its businesses could simply dismiss complaints from Social Justice Warriors: “Sorry, we would love to refuse service to these right-wingers whom you hate, but we can’t. We’re just following the law like everyone else.” Their public posturing notwithstanding, Silicon Valley leaders must find this outcome appealing.

Now think about Congress. Politicians dislike distractions just as businesses do, and the alt-right has become a major distraction for Republican politicians. Every time the alt-right pops up somewhere, the media ask Republicans questions about it, link Republicans to it, tell Republicans to condemn it more forcefully, and so on. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the alt-right could just go away? That might happen – in large part, at least – if tech firms are allowed to block the alt-right’s access to major forms of commerce and communication. For the Republican party, the most immediate effect of passing a neutrality regulation would be to invigorate an alt-right movement that has become a big thorn in its side. How many Republicans are going to be excited about doing that?

I agree with Jeremy Carl that Silicon Valley’s censorship of “hate” will morph into censorship of mainstream conservatism. In fact, as Mark Krikorian noted yesterday, it already has! Nevertheless, Republican politicians may be too worried about the next election to think about the long term. The result may be that a tech-neutrality bill struggles in Congress for different reasons than most people assume.

What the tech companies is doing is intolerable but I do wonder if the GOP will actually take it up and impose viewpoint neutrality, that is "free speech". You have to wonder if they have the guts to do anything.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-08-20   10:12:41 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: Tooconservative (#5)

There are to manny pussies in the GOP.

But I now favor breaking up google and facebook. They are monopolies and should be broken into a thousand or ten pieces.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-08-20   10:22:24 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: A K A Stone (#2)

Ok willie you can no longer post articles.

OK... I was getting tired of always checking all the html formatting anyway...

Willie Green  posted on  2017-08-20   10:30:04 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#8. To: Willie Green (#7)

It is a pain sometimes. Do you know it is now a pain in the ass to edit some of your titles. Chrome wants to block me.

I changed my mind. I do that sometimes. Post your articles. I was acting like your side.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-08-20   10:33:23 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#9. To: Tooconservative (#5)

Silicon Valley leaders are currently falling over themselves to see who can most thoroughly blacklist alt-right groups.

And we all nod our collective heads and agree they can do that. After all, these are private businesses not government.

But that just doesn't feel right. When that happens, I always flip the issue to see how it looks from that direction.

Let's say Silicon Valley leaders were falling over themselves to see who can most thoroughly blacklist traditional leftist groups -- Antifa, BLM, Nation of Islam, gays, pro-abotion, pro-immigration, atheists, anti-school choice, etc.

Would the left accept that? After all, these are private businesses not government.

misterwhite  posted on  2017-08-20   10:35:43 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#10. To: A K A Stone (#4)

If he doesn't I will tighten it.

Well, censoring Willie and pulling the plug on his posting rights on a thread about internet censorship verges straight into irony, doesn't it? Just don't do it.

Like I said, this is a pretty ordinary article on the topic. Notice that the end of the article includes moderate free speech opinions by Ted Cruz and not in a dismissive way. One might quibble with the strategic placement of his remarks at the end of the article, to diminish his importance and his opinion and to increase the likelihood that skimmers will have already quit reading the article by the time a conservative Republican of impeccable legal pedigree is given a few paragraphs to mildly advocate for free speech online.

Lots of libmedia outlets would have gone much further and included no representations from anyone like Ted Cruz, a conservative firebrand with considerable recognized legal expertise, as a very successful former Solicitor General with a great record arguing before the Supreme Court.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-08-20   10:36:05 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#11. To: A K A Stone (#6) (Edited)

There are to many pussies in the GOP.

And not the good kind.

But I now favor breaking up google and facebook. They are monopolies and should be broken into a thousand or ten pieces.

They would successfully argue in court (and Court) that their commercial value is in being ubiquitous, not just in America but globally and that this universal availability is integral to their operation.

Which does start to make them sound like public utilities which can (and should) be regulated by Congress, doesn't it?

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-08-20   10:40:41 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#12. To: Tooconservative (#10)

Well, censoring Willie and pulling the plug on his posting rights on a thread about internet censorship verges straight into irony, doesn't it? Just don't do it.

I already changed my mind in post 8 or so.

My reasoning was Willie likes muzzles and wants to muzzles the opposition so why not muzzle him.

But the forum is to small and we need our token idiot liberal. He makes us look smart by comparison.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-08-20   10:41:26 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#13. To: Tooconservative (#11)

They would successfully argue in court (and Court) that their commercial value is in being ubiquitous, not just in America but globally and that this universal availability is integral to their operation.

Which does start to make them sound like public utilities which can (and should) be regulated by Congress, doesn't it?

My default position is against regulating them. But they are assholes so I changed my mind.

Yes the point could be made they re like utilities.

I like reading your posts. Thanks for helping to keep this small forum going.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-08-20   10:43:25 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#14. To: A K A Stone (#8)

Chrome wants to block me.

Chrome is a pain in the ass... I use it on some of my mobile Android gadgets, but I much prefer Firefox for my desktop.

Willie Green  posted on  2017-08-20   10:50:01 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#15. To: Willie Green (#14)

I used to use Firefox until the faggot took over. Chrome is more stable also. That has been my experience.

I don't like Google but I use chrome for some reason.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-08-20   10:55:24 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#16. To: Willie Green (#0)

Tech companies crack down on free speech then label it hate speech like the true fascists they are

You mean the tech companies are fascist?! Yes they are like all good commies!

Justified  posted on  2017-08-20   10:57:53 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#17. To: Justified (#16)

I changed the title to make it accurate.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-08-20   11:02:44 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#18. To: A K A Stone (#12)

But the forum is to small and we need our token idiot liberal. He makes us look smart by comparison.

You are wise and generous, AKA.     : )

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-08-20   11:16:16 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#19. To: A K A Stone (#13)

My default position is against regulating them. But they are assholes so I changed my mind.

Well, even the GOP has to wake up to this at some point.

You should be a little concerned as well, being the owner of LF. We aren't exactly politically correct here.

You should picture a future in which the web browsers are set up to block "hate sites" and issue warnings to anyone trying to load their webpages similar to how they now blacklist sites with security warnings (like "expired security certificate" or "reported malware site" or similar warnings). So someone might try to visit LF and, before any page loaded, they would get a warning that LF was a blacklisted hate site.

Chilling, huh?

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-08-20   11:22:42 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#20. To: misterwhite (#9)

And we all nod our collective heads and agree they can do that. After all, these are private businesses not government.

Sure, the libs thought they could regulate one-sixth of the U.S. economy by passing 0bongoCare. In what sense is it inappropriate to recognize that Google, Facebook, Twitter have achieved a monopoly status under law and should be regulated as public utilities, just as we regulate ISPs and radio and TV and everyone in the energy sector like natural gas and electricity providers.

It is intriguing to consider that the tech sector, tired of being the heavy internet censors, would like to be forced to allow free speech. And that the GOP is so desperately eager to distance itself from any Nazi/Confederate sympathies that it does not want to act at all to protect free speech (unless it might harm tame GOP domains like rnc.org).

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-08-20   11:28:38 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#21. To: A K A Stone (#17)

LOL well then you nailed it!

Justified  posted on  2017-08-20   11:36:28 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#22. To: Tooconservative (#20)

In what sense is it inappropriate to recognize that Google, Facebook, Twitter have achieved a monopoly status under law and should be regulated as public utilities

Imagine one day Google, Facebook, Twitter under new conservative management. THEN they'll be regulated. Guaranteed.

misterwhite  posted on  2017-08-20   11:37:45 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#23. To: misterwhite (#22)

Imagine one day Google, Facebook, Twitter under new conservative management. THEN they'll be regulated. Guaranteed.

It almost goes without saying, doesn't it?

We almost expect to be treated like second-class citizens.

"Back of the bus for you damned crackers!"

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-08-20   23:18:24 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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