Social media and the 1st Amendment (Formerly: Trump seeks to punish Twitter) (1 Viewer)

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superchuck500

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Despite Twitter historically granting Trump far more latitude with violations of Twitter terms of service than average members would get, a recent tagging of a Trump tweet with Twitter's fact-checking tool enraged the president. He announced yesterday that he will take retribution via executive order seeking to remove statutory legal protections in place for social media companies, and instructing his executive agencies (the FCC an DOJ) to formulate plans to take legal action against social media companies for "political bias."

A draft of the order has been released . . . and it is troubling to say the least.

According to analysis, the order will "reinterpret" a key provision of the Communications Decency Act (Sec. 230) that previously protected social media companies for responsibility for the content on their sites. That section works by declaring that social media companies are not "publishers" of the content posted by third-party account holders (members) - and it is statutory. The Trump order apparently also instructs the FCC to create regulations to make this new "interpretation" of Sec. 230 actionable against social media companies. In addition, the order apparently instructs the FTC (which is not an executive agency) to report to Congress on "political bias" in social media - and to consider using the reinterpreted Section 230 to bring actions against social media companies for political bias.

Apparently the order also instructs DOJ to work with state AGs to determine what state laws may be used against social media companies for political bias.

So yep, a Republican president is attempting to restructure the statutory framework that has allowed American social media companies - which are private business by the way - to grow into corporate giants without having to be answerable in court for the content posted by their members. And will do so based on the notion that private business should be held to some standard of political neutrality.

Further legal analysis will be needed, but it seems highly suspect on several important grounds (including the fact that Section 230 is statutory and is very explicit - it's not subject to rewrite by executive order). More importantly this idea that "political bias" can be defined and made actionable by federal agencies against private companies seems a patent violation of the First Amendment.


 
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superchuck500

superchuck500

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Is there some federal law regulating how Twitter and Facebook govern their platforms? In the absence of such I'm not sure why a libertarian would be concerned with how a private company regulated itself. Is this any different than the standards (or lack-thereof) we see from the New York Post or OAN? It's the marketplace of ideas, right?
No, but there is a federal law that gives social media companies statutory immunity from civil liability flowing from content posted on their sites. The argument, as Jim articulately stated, is if social media platforms are going to wade into policing political content, should they lose that statutory protection.
 

CoolBrees

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But the “why” they should lose that protection still hasn’t been answered.

they are a private company that is traded publicly. They are not held to censorship standards (ie the first amendment). If they want to censor something that is well within their free market rights.

Is it unfair? Who cares? Fair doesn’t exist in capitalism.
 

CoolBrees

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efil4

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Well this isn’t going to make the “president” happy

trolling 3d chess style.

When you own the platform, you can do whatever the #@#$ you want.

HA- Free Enterprise baby!

Waiting for more bellyaching by [mod edit - no name calling of other posters]
 
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Saint by the Bay

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SaulGoodmanEsq

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That's exactly why the left cries about Facebook not censoring right of center people.
Still not understanding your ultimate position on this -- are you saying social media platforms should be regulated by the government and compelled to a certain standard of 'publication?'
 

CoolBrees

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I love how the sycophants were sure that Durham would find something. Then nothing. And the QAnon People were all sure that the “president’s” Covid affliction was proof of the coming of the arrests. Then nothing.

then when nothing ever happens they just move on to the next crazy thing.

i dunno. If you offer me a cookie and I say yes, but instead of a cookie you kick me in the junk, I probably won’t say yes next time.

These folks are being kicked in the groin for like the hundredth time and they keep expecting a cookie.
 

JimEverett

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But the “why” they should lose that protection still hasn’t been answered.

they are a private company that is traded publicly. They are not held to censorship standards (ie the first amendment). If they want to censor something that is well within their free market rights.

Is it unfair? Who cares? Fair doesn’t exist in capitalism.
The "why" is that they are granted a benefit that Congress has given them.

If Twitter said only people approved or even hired by them could post tweets and then edited what those people wrote then I think most would agree they have ceased to be the sort of company that Congress intended to receive the benefit. I guess one question would be is there a point between that and extremely limited content control where the benefit should not be granted.

A downside to the status quo is that you get these threats - as the President has done and as the Democratic nominee has done - to take away the blanket immunity from suit over content. Even though there are aspects of what Trump is saying (and perhaps Biden as well) on the issue, I hate how Trump essentially used his power to threaten Twitter on the issue. And, I would guess, potential political pressure from a Democratic government played some degree in Twitter's decision on this Hunter Biden - although I am obviously not sure on that.
.
 

CoolBrees

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@JimEverett -

that makes sense.

but they are a business that gives free access to their platform if you agree to their TOS. Much like this site. If their TOS specifically states you cannot post illegal or ill-gotten documents on their site, I am not sure how this applies. They specifically took down posts containing images of ill-gotten material. As far as I know they have not taken down posts discussing said documents - as shown by the posts SFL has posted. The NYT article never showed any of Trump’s tax information; they just commented on it and told the reader about it. Therein lies the tiny but very specific difference.
 

donato

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On one hand I feel like Twitter should have banned him a long time ago. He gets away with things a normal person wouldn't.

On the other hand I think it's pissed off more people than it has benefited him, further demonstrating who he really is.
 

MT15

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This sorta goes here. New FEC complaint filed against Cambridge Analytica and Trump 2016 campaign.


“New documents from a former Cambridge Analytica insider reveal what an election watchdog group claims was illegal coordination between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and a billionaire-funded pro-Trump super PAC.

The legal complaint touches on some of the same people involved in today’s hotly contested presidential race and provides a detailed account alleging that Trump’s last campaign worked around election rules to coordinate behind the scenes with the political action committee.

The now-defunct British data analytics firm violated election law by ignoring its own written firewall policy, blurring the lines between work created for Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Make America Number 1 super PAC, according to an updated complaint the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.”

...

“The super PAC created a plethora of “crooked Hillary” memes that circulated widely on social media, and was financed largely by conservative billionaire Robert Mercer, who also founded, owned and managed Cambridge Analytica. Kellyanne Conway led an earlier incarnation of the PAC when it supported Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz before she resigned to advise Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Under federal law, a super PAC may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, including from corporations and unions, to support candidates for federal office — but it’s illegal for them to coordinate with political campaigns.

The complaint alleges that Cambridge Analytica used information it gained from working with Trump’s campaign to develop and target ads for the super PAC supporting his candidacy, “constituting unreported in-kind contributions to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. in the form of coordinated communications.””

(Emphasis mine)

This illustrates my point that the assertion that social media is somehow “biased” against Trump is simply gaslighting nonsense. Social media was used to get Trump elected, by breaking federal campaign laws it seems. And they are trying to use social media to do it again now. The incredulous claims that social media is biased against Trump are the worst sort of propaganda.
 

Nebaghead

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This sorta goes here. New FEC complaint filed against Cambridge Analytica and Trump 2016 campaign.


“New documents from a former Cambridge Analytica insider reveal what an election watchdog group claims was illegal coordination between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and a billionaire-funded pro-Trump super PAC.

The legal complaint touches on some of the same people involved in today’s hotly contested presidential race and provides a detailed account alleging that Trump’s last campaign worked around election rules to coordinate behind the scenes with the political action committee.

The now-defunct British data analytics firm violated election law by ignoring its own written firewall policy, blurring the lines between work created for Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Make America Number 1 super PAC, according to an updated complaint the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.”

...

“The super PAC created a plethora of “crooked Hillary” memes that circulated widely on social media, and was financed largely by conservative billionaire Robert Mercer, who also founded, owned and managed Cambridge Analytica. Kellyanne Conway led an earlier incarnation of the PAC when it supported Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz before she resigned to advise Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Under federal law, a super PAC may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, including from corporations and unions, to support candidates for federal office — but it’s illegal for them to coordinate with political campaigns.

The complaint alleges that Cambridge Analytica used information it gained from working with Trump’s campaign to develop and target ads for the super PAC supporting his candidacy, “constituting unreported in-kind contributions to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. in the form of coordinated communications.””

(Emphasis mine)

This illustrates my point that the assertion that social media is somehow “biased” against Trump is simply gaslighting nonsense. Social media was used to get Trump elected, by breaking federal campaign laws it seems. And they are trying to use social media to do it again now. The incredulous claims that social media is biased against Trump are the worst sort of propaganda.
Watch the Social Dilemma on Netflix. They talk about how misinformation is pushed and with very little money and using the algorithms set up for normal feed propagation manipulated in a nefarious way.
 

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