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Revoke the 230 
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Post Revoke the 230
This is a conversation I wanted to have, but it shouldn't siderail the Trump Watch thread. So I'm reposting geo's words here to kick it off.

geo wrote:
I think there are two issues here. 1) Should social media companies be held responsible for what is posted on their platforms? And do social media companies even have a right to censor the speech of others?

Regarding the first question, there's a 1996 law on the books (Section 230) that provides legal immunity from liability for internet services and users for content posted on the internet. Ironically, Trump has called for this law to be revoked because he feels that he is always being attacked on social media.

Regarding the second question, social media companies do in fact try to monitor content. For example, Twitter regularly flags Trump's fact-challenged tweets and Facebook has just taken the step of banning President Trump until he leaves office. I would say that is absolutely the company's right and responsibility to take such actions. If violence happens as a result of false information or incendiary words being propagated on its social media platform, the company would be perceived as partly responsible, and its bottom line might suffer accordingly. And since these are private companies, the first amendment doesn't really come into play, does it?

What seems especially weird to me is that we have a POTUS who uses social media almost exclusively to communicate with the American people. As such, he is required to adhere to those companies' policies regarding content. This is unprecedented territory, a good example of trying to adapt to new technology where there aren't always easy answers.


The second question - whether social media companies have the right to censor the speech of others - is a yes. They are allowed to censor the speech of others, and exercise that right.

The first question is the tricky one. At first glance, their fact-checking efforts and cherry-picked deleting of posts appears to be ample due diligence toward reigning in misinformation. But that's attacking the tip of the iceberg.

Point 1:
The real danger from social media is the transmission rate of disinformation. Of course, it’s far more complex than merely the transmission rate, as human emotion and bias, sourcing, tribal culture, etc. are variables that influence belief. But at the core, the rate at which disinformation spreads is the looming variable. It directly capitalizes on our base nature. If our confirmation bias seeking engines are fed disinformation at a rate 6x that of fact, even critical thinkers will be overwhelmed.

Point 2:
Social media platforms are finely tuned machines, specializing in “engagement”. The longer they can engage, the more likely they are to pass an advertisement across your field of view. The stronger the engagement, the longer you'll stick around to view an advertisement.
Industry insiders can go into a lot more detail on this point, but it’s basically the heart and soul of social media growth. Engagement is king, and it's the sole focus of the algorithm that decides what to put in the feed next.

Point 3:
Increasing engagement is done by maximizing the appearance of content that has “cognitive attraction”. Sounds like a silly buzzword, and maybe it is. But if I were to say that maximizing the “eliciting of emotion” was the best way to increase engagement, I’d be ignoring the hours that people spend watching youtube videos of their favorite gamer. Cognitive attraction includes the eliciting of emotion, but also includes something to do with addiction. I watch videos of woodworking for hours.

We can shape misinformation to be appealing, attention-grabbing and memorable more than what we can do with real information. Notice this does not need to be a conscious process: creators of fake news can deliberately tailor their content to be appealing, but it could also be that, amongst the misinformation websites, the ones that publish non-attractive content are rarely visited and they end up disappearing.” -https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-019-0224-y

The result of maximizing engagement is that the spread of disinformation vastly outpaces real information by orders of magnitude. It’s a nearly inextricable consequence, where fact-checking and banning alone won’t scratch the surface. It’s like swatting at mosquitos in the middle of the forest.

So why should social media companies be liable for content posted to their sites?
In short, because that’s the only possible way to get the algorithm to change in a way that suppresses the spread of misinformation. Yes, it’s all about the algorithm, buzzword or not. Social media companies will never change how their engagement algorithm works unless they’re punished for the unwanted consequences. And the only way to do that is to hold them accountable for what’s posted to their sites. If there is another way, I would like to hear it.

It's a bad solution, but I don't see a solution that's any better. I think we need to revoke section 230 as McConnell proposed.


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Post Re: Revoke the 230
It would help to understand what Section 230 does.

Everything you need to know about Section 230 / The most important law for online speech
By Casey Newton@CaseyNewton Updated Dec 29, 2020
https://www.theverge.com/21273768/secti ... moderation

I'm not sure if that article helps much because one thing I want to understand is exactly WHY Trump wants to revoke it. (Not HOW as stated in the article.) As far as I can tell at this point, Trump opposes Section 230 for the following reasons.
1. If Twitter or Facebook edits or bans any of his posts in any way, he want to sue them.
2. If Twitter or Facebook edits or bans any right wing falsehoods, especially while not doing the same for whatever he considers left wing falsehoods, Trump wants to sue them.

I don't know if the motivation goes any further than that - it's a confusing subject.



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Post Re: Revoke the 230
I think there should be something to allow for moderation immunity, which is exactly the thing Trump wants abandoned. Both sides want at least some version of reform. Both sides are concerned with the impacts it has on harassment, terrorism, sexual trafficking, etc. In addition, the left is concerned about how it propogates misinformation and the right is concerned about how it handles moderation.

So the main point of disagreement between left and right is that the left wants to reign in disinformation, while the right wants to be free to post fake news without moderation.


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Fri Jan 08, 2021 4:31 pm
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Post Re: Revoke the 230
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Eliminating section 230 will eliminate social media which is a good thing for all of us. We survived before social media, and we will survive after it disappears, and we will all be better for it.

This ironic post is from someone on a different social media platform. Is it true? It probably is true if all websites can be sued over user posts. I trust Senator Ron Wyden and the Electronic Freedom Frontier, so I'm sure eliminating 230 would be a very bad thing. Well unless you're a social media Luddite as quoted above.

What about modifying Section 230? Here are a few more extreme examples from the link in my previous post.
Quote:
A smaller faction of Republicans has focused entirely on restricting moderation immunity, punishing platforms that moderate in a biased or otherwise discriminatory way. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has also proposed a bill that would bind platforms to a “duty of good faith,” entitling users to significant monetary damages if they were able to show in court that the platform had breached its duty.

More extreme versions of that approach include Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ)’s Stop the Censorship Act, which sought to prevent platforms from removing content that they found “objectionable.” (That would mean they could only remove posts that violated the law.) Introduced in 2019, Hawley’s Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act would have required platforms’ content moderation teams to be certified as politically “neutral” by a bipartisan panel in order to retain their liability protections.

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Post Re: Revoke the 230
Quote:
Google suspends Parler app from Play Store over failure to moderate egregious content
Parler's failure to remove 'egregious content' related to the D.C. riots violates Google's longstanding policies, the company said

Google announced on Friday that it would suspend free speech social media platform Parler’s listing from its Play Store due to a failure to moderate "egregious content" posted by users related to the violent siege on Capitol Hill this week. A spokesperson for Google confirmed in a statement to Fox News that its "longstanding policies" require that apps with user-generated content have measures in place to remove certain obscene content – including posts that incite violence. Developers agree to those terms.

"We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.," a Google spokesperson wrote in a statement. "In light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat, we are suspending the app’s listings from the Play Store until it addresses these issues."

1/8/2021
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/google ... parler-app

I think this just means new users can't download the app. Otherwise Parler continues to fester.



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Post Re: Revoke the 230
Landroid wrote:
BookTalk just banned several users over spam. Should they be able to extract money from Chris' wallet?


No, I'm not in favor of a full repeal. As I mentioned, we still need immunities for moderation efforts. Trump wants to evoke the 230 so he can sue Twitter and Facebook for banning him, but that's the opposite of what's needed. We need to find a way to minimize misinformation, not enable its spread. Allowing Flat Earthers to sue Facebook for deleting their moronic ideas is progress in the opposite direction.

The solution is far more complex than I'd be able to give a productive opinion toward. My general sense is that there must be a way for a person, a victim of disinformation, to sue a platform that allows it's spread. As long as the platform is given fair warning and time to resolve the issue. There would be an initial avalanche of claims. So much so that perhaps, the platforms would modify the algorithm or put other tools in place above and beyond the current bandaids.

What I'm convinced of is that we can't continue as we are. Half the population is living in fantasyland.


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Post Re: Revoke the 230
Quote:
Twitter has suspended 70,000 QAnon accounts since U.S. Capitol riot
Twitter on Monday evening announced that is has suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated with the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory. "These accounts were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service,” the company said in a blog post. The suspensions come after the company on Friday said that it would permanently remove accounts sharing QAnon content. The company on Friday suspended the accounts of Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, supporters of President Donald Trump.

1/11/21
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/11/twitter ... riot-.html

Parler shut down completely.
Quote:
Parler offline following Amazon, Apple, Google bans over Capitol violence content
Amazon, Apple and Google have banned the Parler social networking app from their services and app stores in the wake of Wednesday's attack on the US Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters. Parler has been rife with violent comments since before the attack on the Capitol, and Apple and Google say they'll restore the app only when Parler moderates its service better.

Parler Chief Executive John Matze posted on his service late Saturday that Amazon had informed him it would no longer host his service on its Amazon Web Services platform. The move followed earlier announcements by Apple and Google that they removed the app from their respective app stores as well.

1/11/21
https://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-apple- ... ol-attack/

Well maybe not completely - I guess you can even search conversations and location information due to a massive data leak.
Quote:
70TB of Parler users’ messages, videos, and posts leaked by security researchers
Parler, a social network used to plan the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week, has been hit by a massive data scrape. Security researchers collected swaths of user data before the network went dark Monday morning after Amazon, Google, and Apple booted the platform. The scrape includes user profile data, user information, and which users had administration rights for specific groups within the social network.

...The data might prove valuable to law enforcement since many who participated in the riots deleted their posts and videos afterward. The data scrape includes deleted posts, meaning that Parler stored user data after users deleted it.

1/11/21
https://cybernews.com/news/70tb-of-parl ... searchers/

We might cheer it now, but this power could well turn against you. Quick as a viper.



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Post Re: Revoke the 230
What still has me stumped is the danger of truth panels. If misinformation and fake news is so incredibly rampant, there has to be some equivalent of a truth panel. Or truth algorithm. Or Ministry of Truth.

In the gameshow “Who wants to be a Millionaire”, one of the lifelines was to crowdsource the answer. We could rely on the majority of a population to have a firm grasp of facts and reality. But social media is changing that. We have a dangerous percentage of the population that is misinformed.

We can let misinformation run rampant and suffer the consequences, like the election of a bigoted fascist. Or we can try to find solutions. Education doesn’t work, as any attempt to educate an already educated adult only polarizes them. Banning doesn’t work, as it makes martyrs of the influencers. Ignoring the issue doesn’t work, because it simply allows the problem to grow into something larger.

But who or what could possibly be an arbiter of truth, that is also immune from corruption?

I’m still pondering this, and the only answers I have are sci-fi futurism concepts that can’t happen for 10 to 20 years.


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Post Re: Revoke the 230
Interbane wrote:
What still has me stumped is the danger of truth panels. If misinformation and fake news is so incredibly rampant, there has to be some equivalent of a truth panel. Or truth algorithm. Or Ministry of Truth.
Of course the Ministry of Truth featured in Orwell’s 1984, as the workplace of Winston Smith, whose job was to systematically alter records of the past. So the concept of Truth can be used to promote lies. Claiming your assertions are objectively true is an important way to increase credibility in a mass audience. That is why Napoleon said never retreat, never retract. Autocracy is a confidence trick. But in modern democracies, Trump has shown that such deception can only work for a short time, even though his base of true believers are incredibly angry in their delusions.

An example of lies as truth that comes to mind is how extractive industries can work in cooperation with intelligence agencies to promote propaganda and prevent criticism. Similar behaviour appears in the promotion of sugar, nicotine, alcohol and gambling, which all require that victims/consumers not understand the harm of consuming these toxic products.
Interbane wrote:

In the gameshow “Who wants to be a Millionaire”, one of the lifelines was to crowdsource the answer. We could rely on the majority of a population to have a firm grasp of facts and reality. But social media is changing that. We have a dangerous percentage of the population that is misinformed.
The USA has long and notoriously had 40% of the population believing in young earth creationism. This infection of fantasy corrupts the entire culture, producing a pathological suspicion of scientific evidence and distrust in expertise. As I explain below, this situation calls for dialogue, not entrenchment of opposing views.
Interbane wrote:

We can let misinformation run rampant and suffer the consequences, like the election of a bigoted fascist. Or we can try to find solutions. Education doesn’t work, as any attempt to educate an already educated adult only polarizes them. Banning doesn’t work, as it makes martyrs of the influencers. Ignoring the issue doesn’t work, because it simply allows the problem to grow into something larger.
The attempt to educate a supposedly educated adult meets the accusation of gaslighting, the malicious effort to convince someone of the falsity of something they know to be true. Questioning motives in this way is an effective barrier to learning. But the problem is the element of truth in the gaslighting assertion. For example, when an evolutionist tells a creationist to abandon their false beliefs, the creationist hears this through the prism of all the tribal cultural associations (modern secular reason) that accompany evolution, with the implied or overt assertion that religious belief must be entirely abandoned as an obsolete supernatural fantasy. I prefer to say that religion is essential for human society, and that Christian traditions can be retained as a moral framework, as long as believers accept that the Bible stories were written as parables, not as history. Unfortunately, the legacy of Christianity as a bulwark of slavery (don’t covet your neighbour’s slave) means that such a challenge to supernaturalism just gets rejected as more gaslighting. Ideas in the New Testament of Christianity as a ministry of reconciliation, forgiveness and truth, recognising that some level of truth exists on both sides of polarised political debates, can offer a path through this thicket.
Interbane wrote:

But who or what could possibly be an arbiter of truth, that is also immune from corruption?
Obviously the church is thoroughly corrupt, due to its long history of peddling falsehoods. But I do believe that a philosophical approach to Christian faith, supporting valid Biblical ethics within a modern sceptical outlook, offers the best potential to create an objective dispassionate viewpoint.
Interbane wrote:
I’m still pondering this, and the only answers I have are sci-fi futurism concepts that can’t happen for 10 to 20 years.
There is no question that social change is a slow process, but there are a series of political emergencies that are urgent, such as climate change and the distrust of institutions. So I think it should be possible to hope for tipping points in social debate, the emergence of a rational centrist view that integrates the valid ideas of left and right in politics.


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Post Re: Revoke the 230
Interbane wrote:
I think there should be something to allow for moderation immunity, which is exactly the thing Trump wants abandoned.

There are ombudsmen at most major news outlets who police claims of bias. Sometimes the NY Times has published censure by its ombudsman, but I honestly don't know where that institution stands at the moment. I can imagine something like that: mods don't get complete impunity but neither are they open to harassing lawsuits.

My biggest priority would be that the platforms take some responsibility for actionable material once it is challenged. They can slow it down, add cautions to it when it spreads, and track it down like a virus to be pulled if it is shown to be false and harmful. I am filled with horror at the idea that Alex Jones could go on claiming Sandy Hook was staged, with no one willing to shut that down.

Deeper than that, perhaps some "profiling" of the kind of material that generates division without having substantive concerns to motivate it. These could be slowed and investigated. Essentially, install an AI brake on the algorithmic tendency to play "Let's You and Him Fight."

Interbane wrote:
Both sides want at least some version of reform. Both sides are concerned with the impacts it has on harassment, terrorism, sexual trafficking, etc. In addition, the left is concerned about how it propogates misinformation and the right is concerned about how it handles moderation.

So the main point of disagreement between left and right is that the left wants to reign in disinformation, while the right wants to be free to post fake news without moderation.

I think that last statement is somewhat true, though it is exactly the kind of thing Fox News would go off on. By way of response I would say first, there is fake news on the left, just as there are crazies on the left who shoot congressional representatives at their softball games. But since that is not a major arm of the movement, the left is not invested in trying to protect the misinformation campaign.

In fact, the left tends to benefit when the truth comes out, both because the traditions of gentility have suppressed the stuff the big-bellied sheriff does behind the woodshed, and because of the tidal wave of fake news either directly financed by dark money or angling for the rewards of clickbait.



Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:54 am
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Post Re: Revoke the 230
Interbane wrote:
What still has me stumped is the danger of truth panels. If misinformation and fake news is so incredibly rampant, there has to be some equivalent of a truth panel.

Interesting except I expect for this to work one side needs to be defeated. I'm thinking of the South Africa Truth & Reconciliation Commission after apartheid was dismantled. Don't know much about how that worked or what it accomplished. However it suggests a truth panel process could not begin in the US until Trumpism is defeated, when craving for an authoritarian leader is in the dustbin, probably not for quite a long time!



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