Free Speech in a Free Market

Continuing the discussion from Talking Politics Aboard Ship:

Good question. Here is one part of the answer:

TL;DW: Information exchange is controlled by massive corporate entities, and this is an inescapable result of current legislation.

His idea about a digital bill of rights isn’t all bad, but defining illegal censorship sounds difficult. You’d have to prove intent.

I agree, at least in principle, but it’s tricky. Where do you draw the line without denying operators editorial control of their content?

Leonard French lays it out with wonderful clarity here:

This is the system working as intended. However, it’s a bad model for the world we now live in. It worked fine when a single individual could hope to control the whole process, from cutting down the trees to distributing newspapers, and could muster hundreds of competing printing houses to diseminate his opinion. Now that you need access to several services, each controlled by two or three corporate entities, in order to break into a market already dominated by massive pseudo-monopolies, it doesn’t work at all. The end result is that the eye of the needle you need to thread in order to get your word out there, is getting smaller by the minute, and marignal opinions are being further marginalized. This isn’t really the root cause for the process I tried to bring up in “Why can’t we discuss politics…”, but it sure accelerates it.

For the record, I am of what inRange calls the “crypto-anarchist” school of thought, and believe that a proper solution enables people to communicate in a de-centralized manner where corporate or state restrictions on free speech are technically impossible. However, this is separate from the quite interesting question of how society chooses to deal with it.

Either they are publishers (like newspapers and thereby have editors and control content) or they are platforms (they are just a place where anybody can post comments nd there is no editor and the platform bears no responsibility for content(.

Twitter, Facebook etc like the freedom of being platforms and the freedom to allow people freely comment, but they add a layer of editing. They ban people they don’t agree with, remove or shadow ban content to limit people reaching their audiences.

They can’t have it both ways.

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How would that work in practice? Would social media companies submit their proposed TOS (Terms of Service) to the government for approval?

Why not? What law prevents them from acting as editors?

Facebook and Twitter should have acted like editors long ago, but they didn’t want to spend their profits on an army of editors. They were late in waking up to the mess that makes, until the majority of the public was sickened by it and threatened laws to curb their irresponsibility.

Why do you need editors?
Otherwise a platform could be used to foment an armed insurrection, and coordinate the activities of the insurrectionists. If I said a platform could be used to foment a ring of arsonists and coordinate the activates of said arsonists it would come to the same thing. One of the many reasons there is no absolute right to free speech.

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I’m no expert, but wouldn’t that be illegal?

The argument here is for guaranteeing free speech within the law.

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Where’s the line for whats fomenting insurrection and what’s organizing a freedom march?

January 6 was fomenting insurrection. What happens if, say, citizens of Myanmar attempt to oust the military Junta that unjustly detained the citizen government that was in place a few weeks ago?

It seems to me that editing is a dangerous game to play. You either edit at the risk of having the inherent bias of the editor or you don’t edit and allow the public/users to decide what should or shouldn’t be politicized.

Personally I don’t think social media platforms that function as forums, Facebook, Twitter, Parler, you name it should edit for content unless it’s something heinous such as child abuse, for instance. I like Facebook/Twitter’s disclaimer about fact checking below a post. It allows the user to click and see what’s disputed.

The argument here is whether anyone can post anything on a platform, or whether that platform can be edited. We seem to agree that the platform be edited. The question is, to what degree? Twitter is a private company. They set their own rules, just like GCaptain does.

If someone feels they are being muzzled by Twitter, they can create their own website,

Of course the right to editorship must be preserved. Denying someone the right to publish edited content would be totally ridiculous. This forum is a good example of a place that benefits from strong editing, in that it is preserved as a place primarily for maritime discussion, and secondarily for scuttlebutt in a (vaguely) maritime context.

However, there is a very real problem with the space of public expression being increasingly dominated by some extremely heavy hitters, to the point that it’s starting to look like a monopoly. If you don’t agree to that notion, I suggest you have a quick look at the video at the beginning of this thread, since InRange does a better job of explaining this than I. You can skip ahead to 07:00 for the good stuff.

They did and they called it Parler. They promptly got muzzled by Amazon.


With good reason [excerpt from The Verge]:

“…[Amazon Web Services] reported to Parler, over many weeks, dozens of examples of content that encouraged violence,” the company argues in the filing, “including calls to hang public officials, kill Black and Jewish people, and shoot police officers in the head…”

That would be good reason for the legal system to go after the individuals concerned.

There is a vastly greater volume (but not percentage) of this type of shit on Facebook than there ever was on Parler, and yet they aren’t getting shut down. To me it seems rather obvious that the salient difference was Parler’s strong and distasteful political bias.

Amazon certainly didn’t have any legal obligation to do anything. The real reason why Parler got shut down was that Amazon took one look at it, decided that this was distasteful, and that they shouldn’t let it go on. Their house, their rules, so they pulled the plug. The problem here is that a small number of corporate actors get to dictate public discourse according to their tastes.

If you don’t get how that constitutes an impediment to free speech, I’m all outta words.

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This is the dumbest argument that anyone can ever make. Borderline room temperature IQ stupid.

When something is posted on something as monolithic as Twitter - which effectively is a monopoly - that has the reach it does, there is no “weLl JusT STaRt yOUr oWn” possible. Sure, just start up a payment processor, a massive database, an unbelieveably large amount of proprietary cloud servers because AWS or MS is either too expensive or won’t host your platform. The mistake you and people that think like you make is that you’re not just competing against Twitter; you’re having to compete with AND create the immense backbone that makes up Twitter.

See Parlor. Parlor died not because of nobody paying attention to it, Parlor died because the services that “allow” Parlor to run said “nope”. People on Twitter call for white genocide and that straight white men just need to die but whoever provides Twitter hosting isn’t canceling their agreement. Funny enough, the people that do that get editorial jobs at Bezos’s newspaper. At the height of the BLM and antifa riots, people were getting likes and retweets for posting about executing cops - which happened more than once.

Twitter - and the services that allow it to run - is a monopoly run by purple haired social justice warrior freaks that are in their 20s and 30s without a broad enough world view to be unbiased.


Twitter, to me, seems analogous to an open source newspaper. Newspapers have strict rules about what they can publish and not publish. Newspapers have more influence than a guy printing things on a copy machine and passing it out on a street corner. But newspapers still edit, and if people don’t like what gets printed they can make their own newspaper–as long as they follow the rules for newspapers, which have been codified in this country over 200 years. The rules were formed by common law–society deciding what is decent and right.

Printing and distributing newspapers is expensive, but that’s just the way it is. People are still free to pass out their screeds on street corners, as long as they follow the law.

People act like there was no mass media before the internet. There was plenty of mass media before the internet. The difference is the rules for using that mass media got figured out over 500 years. The rules for internet mass media are barely 20 years old, and are still being formulated. It seems to me those rules are moving towards the same rules as the old mass media, which work pretty well. So why all the hub-bub?

Maybe they should. Seems like a good idea to me.

And if you think all free speech is protected, I have news for you. :smiley:

Here’s how. I posted this before.

The Polish example above should apply to Twitter but not gcaptain. The latter is for a specific group with a purpose. Twitter supposedly aims at bringing everyone to its site to say what they want.

Twitter is a private company, they have every right to ban any person, for any reason the wish, or no reason at all

So they want to edit postings and thus they are a publisher and not a platform and so not protected by the exemptions granted only to platforms in not being liable to be sued for their content. They can’t have it both ways.

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Yet strangely it’s only people on the right side of the spectrum that get those locks and bans.

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