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  • Understanding Section 230

    Posted on Will Fastie Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

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      • #2329112
        Will Fastie
        Manager

        Legal Brief Understanding Section 230 By Max Stul Oppenheimer, Esq. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, over two decades old, is to
        [See the full post at: Understanding Section 230]

        4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2329363
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        This is a very important and complex legal issue that is coming more and more to the fore because of the increasing proliferation of untruths and conspiracy theories distributed widely by social networks, something that has been causing demonstrable damage and also presents the serious danger of unjustifiably undermining public trust in democratic institutions, not just in the USA, but in other democracies around the world.

        Clearly treating Facebook or Twitter as fulfilling the same function as telephone companies, and not being, therefore, legally liable for the messages they distribute, is no longer good enough. Besides, it is really difficult for me to equate a company that merely carries messages between two or, at most, a few parties in its network, to one that not only carries them that way, but lets them be made accessible to many, potentially millions of users, and in this way broadcasts many copies far and wide, much as newspapers and news TV channels do.

        As pointed out by Mr. Oppenheimer in its article in today’s Newsletter, the current legal apparatus set up back much earlier on, it was at least in part intended to help the fledgling Internet networking companies to avoid the burden of legal liability for the content they distributed. That was long ago. Now the situation has changed. For one, the main social media companies are all worth hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars in the stock markets, have comparable assets at their disposal and have commanding positions in their fields. They distribute huge amounts of perfectly acceptable private news and opinions. However, as pointed out at the start of this comment, also distribute dangerous lies and superstitions, conspiracy theories and subversive material.

        I really am prepared neither by profession nor by practical knowledge, to discuss all the undoubtedly many and complex legal and practical considerations involved here, and certainly know very well that the best intentioned ideas, sometimes may, in practice, have very unpleasant unanticipated consequences.

        However, and fully conscious that I am going to present my own idea now in an inevitably simplistic way, I would say that some kind of “moderator role” should be imposed on the companies running social networks, and that these companies should be liable for their negligent moderating of content they distribute; all this implemented and applied similarly, but not necessarily exactly, as in the case of newspapers and TV networks. The exact details should require much study and discussion. But, at the end of day, we cannot have the present situation continue indefinitely in the name of freedom of expression. This is not just about people crying fire in crowded theaters, but is also about many propagators of misinformation, some of them at the service of shady extremist and, or criminal groups, with even some at the service of hostile foreign governments. As well as mobs of faceless people using the channels provided by the social networks, that masked with made up names defame individuals that have no one they can sue for defamation because they cannot identify anyone for a start. If you like, this is not simply a mater of quality, but also of quantity.

        I do not know what may be the best and most effective way to deal with this serious issues. But I am sure that something needs to be done, because the existing legal and regulatory framework is no longer sufficient for doing all that our times require. Clearly this is a topic well worth thinking more about and I am thankful to Mr. Oppenheimer for bringing it here, in his thoughtful and informative article, for our consideration.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by OscarCP.
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      • #2329631
        Elrod
        AskWoody Plus

        This was a very interesting article.  I’m looking forward to more of them!

        Group "L": Linux Mint

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2329690
        WSseitzst
        AskWoody Plus

        By definition, “Truth” is singular. There can be only one “truth”. Different observers can not see different “truths”. They can only see different opinions.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2329924
          rc primak
          AskWoody_MVP

          In legal circles, as well as political realities, there are indeed multiple “truths”. Read these as “points of view” rather than as the more absolute “Eternal Truth” kinds of things.

          -- rc primak

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2332297
            RTEsysadmin
            AskWoody Plus

            The proposal that there are can be multiple “truths” makes the definition of “truth” equivalent to “opinion”, and is the foundation of the argument that we can never know anything for sure. That obfuscation is used anytime an actual “truthful” argument can’t be formulated, but someone “feels” the need to object, anyway.

            Truth is not opinion, and the establishment of truth relies on fact and rigorous reasoning. Opinions can be based on whims. They are different things, and we shouldn’t confuse the two.

            Group K(ill me now)
      • #2329759
        anonymous
        Guest

        I agree with OscarCP and would propose  an Idea.  I would optimistically think that most people really do want know the truth about events.  This is why there are sites that vet rumors/statements as to their validity.  It seems, that social media sites could be required not to block speech, but to append or insert either links to truthful sources or actual vetted information.  Artificial Intelligence could do much of this or vetting sources could be given enhanced access to insert links.  I would hope that by making the truth or alternative views easily available that the spread of misinformation could be curbed.  I have seen on TV recently, a video clip of a person carrying a sign that says: “Distrust breeds Misinformation.” I would reverse that and say “Misinformation breeds Distrust”.  I have to believe that most people do want to know the truth.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2329946
          rc primak
          AskWoody_MVP

          Sadly, many psychology studies contradict what you say.

          Once people have an opinion, they tend not to want to see or hear anything which contradicts the opinion they have formed. In matters of politics and religion, it is very likely that people have formed their opinions very early in life. This is what the Social Platforms (and Cable News Media) exploit, for the corporate profit (revenue) motives we are all too familiar with. The power of amplifying these opinions has lately been shown to be truly awesome (and awful).

          No, most people do not want to see or hear the truth. They want to see and hear only that “truth” which reinforces opinions they already believe in.

          So, how do we balance what people want to know, vs. what we determine people “should” know? That is the sticky political and legal issue here. And one for which I can offer only one hint at a solution:

          Force ourselves to look at and listen to “truths” from a variety of sources. Even sources with which we know in advance we will disagree. We do not need any laws or modifications of laws and regulations to do this. But we do need the courage to allow others to openly disagree with us.

          No  laws can instill this ethic — either we summon this courage from within ourselves, or the current flaws in our social media will continue to grow and worsen. And then we would have only ourselves to blame.

          -- rc primak

          • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by rc primak.
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          • #2330548
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            rc primak wrote: ” No, most people do not want to see or hear the truth. ” I don’t think that most people are like that ( and I certainly hope I’m right here), but clearly plenty enough of them are, when able to use social media to propagate their preconceptions, to pose a serious problem.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

            1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2334880
            sdled
            AskWoody Plus

            i salute you for being the most intelligent person on the internet, you must be from another planet, like myself..just visiting and forgot where i parked my starcraft..stupid cloaking device

            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2334884
              Susan Bradley
              Manager

              Apparently you weren’t given the app to find your starcraft?  😉

              Susan Bradley Patch Lady

              1 user thanked author for this post.
              • #2335486
                rc primak
                AskWoody_MVP

                In my case, the battery for the fob died. Can’t find a replacement on this planet. 😉

                -- rc primak

      • #2329767
        anonymous
        Guest

        The Social Dilemma is a pretty good doc about how these social networks operate. Many people on these networks really just want to be popular and or make a living on them anyway they can. Personally was never on any social network and try to avoid ever reading anything on them.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2329998
        anonymous
        Guest

        Search popehat fire theater

        and learn why that saying is false.

        Section 230 is not necessary, as there are prior case law which says that a platform which does not take editorial control is not liable: Cubby Inc v. CompuServe Inc.(1991)  There is a counter case, Stratton Oakmont Inc v. Prodigy Services Co.(1995) which found liability because Prodigy was more moderated (to match it’s training-wheels target market).  It later turned out, Stratton Oakmont founders plead guilty for things similar to what was posted on Prodigy.  That means Prodigy would have eventually won that case, too.

        • #2330645
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          I have always understood the “man crying fire in a crowded theater” to be just a made up example, a metaphor, or even a synecdoche for the inappropriate forms of public speech not covered (or worthy of being covered) by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Hence the right to sue for defamation, for example.

          Also: interesting legal precedents. Thanks, Anonymous.

          This is certainly a knotty legal subject, everything considered, although I still think that things cannot stay now where they were left, as being already settled, decades ago, in a different time and, in some important ways, a different world from the one we live in today.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2332449
        RTEsysadmin
        AskWoody Plus

        I firmly disagree that government should play any role in speech moderation.

        First, Mr. Oppenheimer is wrong when he says that “you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater”. While the proprietor certainly has the right to throw someone out when they disturb other customers, those customers may also be grateful that that person saved their lives. Furthermore, the SCOTUS ruling cited by Mr. Oppenheimer in which Oliver Wendell Holmes made that famous statement was later overturned. In any case, the statement was ancillary to the case at hand (whether or not statements in protest of participation in World War I were constitutional) and did not have the force of law.

        Yelling fire in a crowded theater is not illegal. Causing a disturbance may be illegal, but it isn’t always, and many notable First Amendment lawyers wish people would stop using that trope. See It’s Time to Stop Using the ‘Fire in a Crowded Theater’ Quote, by Trevor Timm of EFF.

        Second, the First Amendment clearly prohibits government regulation of speech. Do we really want to change that? We’ve recently seen that a President, at war with media that is critical of him, might want to punish people who criticize him. At this point, there is little reason to doubt that, if he had that power, many reporters and journalists would be in prison today.

        While many people complain about others’ tone and boisterous behavior in the public square, and claim that useful discussions are interrupted by disruptive “trolls” in online forums, whose fault is that? Is it the people who respond to trolls and give them air, or the trolls, themselves? I don’t have to allow myself to be distracted by someone who’s only response to my post is a four-letter word, and I’m fairly confident that no one who is interested in a genuine debate would take them seriously even if they wished to argue against my ideas.

        So who is responsible for regulating intemperate participants in an online forum?

        If someone makes credible threats or engages in criminal communications in furtherance of a crime, then law enforcement can step in. But other than that, responsibility falls to the participants, including the hosts. I am responsible for my speech, and I am responsible for how I react to others’ speech. If I get angry about something someone else has said, that’s my decision, and it is wrong for me to try to pass the blame for my feelings onto others. Furthermore, if someone insists on standing on my front porch and saying things that I don’t want them to say, they might expect to get a few bruises when I haul them off of my property and into the street. But I’m more likely to ask the police to do it for me, since it then becomes an issue of tresspassing and not one of speech.

        The answer has always been that the solution to bad speech is more speech. Peer pressure, in particular, is an effective weapon. As we’ve seen in recent days, even a President can be cowed when those who had supported him for years begin criticizing him publicly. Moreover, Parler, a forum favored by criminals who participated in last week’s insurrection, was “regulated” off the internet entirely by private actors. The government wasn’t involved in their demise at all.

        We should not invite government to regulate the arena of public speech. It is unnecessary and invites abuse by those in power. We are a self-governing people, and we must take responsibility ourselves. We have the power to do that. We should use it, and not run crying to mommy and daddy every time our feelings get hurt.

        Group K(ill me now)
        • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by RTEsysadmin.
        • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by RTEsysadmin.
        • #2334112
          Max Stul Oppenheimer
          Guest

          My crystal ball is no better than anyone else’s, but I imagine that Justice Holmes would respond “we are in agreement … you have overlooked a very important word in what I said.  I said “falsely” cry fire.  In your example, the individual truthfully cries fire.  I would heartily agree that there is no reason to find someone liable for telling the truth in that situation.”  Of course, he would have said it much better.

          But your example places the 230 debate in perfect context: suppose there is, as you suggest, a fire in the theater.  Someone notices it and yells “fire!”  You and Holmes would, I think, agree that that person is to be commended, not punished either criminally or by a civil suit.  Now imagine that the theater owner does not see the fire and ejects the “unruly” patron, goes on the loudspeaker and says “Dear patrons. There is no fire. I have removed the person who said there was and will never let them back in this theater again.  Please enjoy the rest of the show.”  When the theater then burns to the ground, severely injuring those who stayed inside, what liability should the theater owner face?  That –in the interesting context that you pose – is the issue around which the 230 debate revolves.

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          • #2334118
            Max Stul Oppenheimer
            AskWoody_MVP

            didn’t mean that to be anonymous
            Moderator Edit: Now fixed

            1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2334161
            mn–
            AskWoody Lounger

            This is even more of an issue on the international side.

            All kinds of legal issues become exponentially more complicated when you add a few international borders and differing legislatures and judicial systems to the mix.

            The local news over here recently did a piece on an American platform that has a practical monopoly in a specific field in other countries too, decided to evict a local enterpreneur (completely legal here, too) from the service without clear warning, causing significant financial loss.

            We’ve recently seen that a President, at war with media that is critical of him, might want to punish people who criticize him. At this point, there is little reason to doubt that, if he had that power, many reporters and journalists would be in prison today.

            We’ve recently seen several presidents and other rulers like that, actually… the situation in Belarus still seems to be particularly nasty, for example.

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            • #2334955
              OscarCP
              AskWoody Plus

              mn- : “All kinds of legal issues become exponentially more complicated when you add a few international borders

              And perhaps state or provincial borders and even those of certain communities where people are not supposed to have this or that in their gardens or to paint their own houses, for example, maroon with yellow polka dots, which might conceivably be construed as “speech” in the broad legal interpretation of this word.

              Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

              • #2335039
                mn–
                AskWoody Lounger

                or to paint their own houses, for example, maroon with yellow polka dots,

                Oh don’t remind me. There’s a country town that had a hassle about what color you’re allowed to paint your house… because pink paint was cheap or something, and…

                Don’t remember if it got much anywhere but at one point their parish priest was threatening to paint the church pink too. Then again, knowing that priest

                (link’s in Finnish, but just look at the images and remember that this guy has been the well-liked parish priest of a conservative country town for decades now… well he says his fashion sense is from the 1700s)…

          • #2334205
            RTEsysadmin
            AskWoody Plus

            That was a minor part of my argument, and since we agree that there’s a difference between a false and a true disturbance, I’d rather focus on the fact that not all disturbances are illegal, which is what my second, longer discussion is about. I think that’s more to the point of Section 230.

            Group K(ill me now)
      • #2332773
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        One might be of the opinion that the government has no business in policing the publicly expressed ideas of anyone, no matter what these might be, except in clearly criminal cases, and that it is everyone’s responsibility to shame and oppose such attempts, leaving the most extreme cases to the police to deal with. I agree with much, but not all of that.

        I offer what follows, not as an answer to RTEsysadmin, because I am not about to start here a debate that belongs, in my opinion, in the “Rants” Forum if it is to be carried out freely and in a satisfactorily detailed and thoughtful way without being subject to as much moderation as would be due here. Instead, I am writing what follows to make my own position clearer by explaining what I see as its possible legal foundation based on legal precedent.

        Purely as a legal precedent and without arguing whether it was a good thing or not, in the past, the Communist Party, that had been legal for many years in this country until then, was declared illegal and the promotion of its views subject to government sanctions. There was also the requirement on those applying for green cards to become residents of the USA to declare that they were not and never had been members of a Communist party.

        Expressing public support for terrorist attacks is a form of personal expression that is definitely frowned upon by the police and the courts.

        In other democratic countries, Germany comes to mind, the freedom of expressing publicly certain ideas, such as making the eulogy of Nazism or denying the reality of the Holocaust, is curtailed by being subject to legal sanctions.

        In the USA, as in the case of Communism, prohibitions to express certain ideas have been legally in place at times, some for quite some time, because those prohibitions were ruled as acceptable under the First Amendment. One may or may not agree with some or with all of those restrictions, but they are nothing new, and that is my point.

        In the case of hate speech, to take this as an example, many, myself included, are of the opinion that this type of expression should be illegal and subject to penalties, including jail time for those who express such views with the intention, whether clearly of surreptitiously worded (“dog whistles”) of inciting people to do moral or physical harm to others, even when they are not committing those harmful acts themselves. But this idea has been repeatedly and successfully disputed by others and has not been made into law. However, that is not proof that there can never be legal ways to curb such manifestations of hate speech, as well as more or less obvious calls to sedition, by means of legislation. It merely indicates that this is, and for some very excellent reasons, a very tricky thing to do. The same could be said of the spreading of misinformation and false accusations to destroy the reputation of individuals or organizations (often using aliases to make the accusers immune to defamation lawsuits), or even to destabilize politically the country.

        Making companies that run social networks responsible for moderating the content they distribute, so they are legally liable for lax enforcement of this obligation, instead of merely leaving to them to do that by policing themselves, as at present is, in my opinion, one possible avenue to explore towards that end. This will make the “government”, understood as being the democratically elected members of the legislative and executive branches of it, the ones that draft, approve, put in place and see that they be properly applied, the laws restricting the freedom of expressing hate speech, false conspiracy theories, harmful superstitions, etc., but leaving every case to be decided by the independent judiciary branch of government, following the long established rules of due process.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        • #2334208
          RTEsysadmin
          AskWoody Plus

          One may or may not agree with some or with all of those restrictions, but they are nothing new

          This is absolutely true. From time to time, various forms of political speech have been made illegal by Congress or individual states. However, every time those issues come before SCOTUS, those laws are ruled unconstitutional except when speech enables crime, especially crimes of violence. In fact, two exceptions to the First Amendment are embedded in the Constitution itself, for treason and for insurrection or rebellion, which may involve speech in furtherance of those crimes. Most legal scholars seem to agree that incitement to riot is not protected by the First Amendment. In addition, commercial speech which is used to support acts of fraud aren’t protected.

          Section 230 doesn’t protect those who commit crimes. There seems to be no reason for any additional regulation.

          Group K(ill me now)
      • #2334181
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        I can add to mn-‘ s comment, the fact that some of  the big names in social networking and online personal communication services, such as Google, Facebook, etc. have been asking for some time, and at least some have renewed their claims after the recent events in the USA, for a legal framework to be in place on how they can legally moderate content as improper, for example either by deleting it, or by adding to it, as has been done recently by some of these companies, a note that some or all the statements in a posted comment are questionable, or incorrect, or a plain lie. Or by cancelling the user’s account outright.

        The reason for these requests could well be that those companies are not entirely happy about policing themselves the distribution of the content they are given by their subscribers to have distributed. This can, potentially, result in legal entanglements, loss of revenue and consequent loss of support from shareholders.

        The following article offers an interesting and wide-ranging discussion of the various factors to be taken into account, including free competition, freedom of speech, net neutrality broadly understood, etcetera:

        https://www.theverge.com/22225238/trump-social-media-ban-platform-moderation-tech-regulation-daphne-keller-interview

        Here is an excerpt relevant to some previous paragraphs in this comment:

        If Cloudflare, for example, is protecting a service from hacking, and when Cloudflare boots you off the service, you effectively can’t be on the internet anymore. [then]We should talk about what the rules should be for Cloudflare. And in that case, their CEO, Matthew Prince, wrote a great op-ed, saying, “I shouldn’t have this power. We should be a democracy, and decide how this happens, and it shouldn’t be that random tech CEOs become the arbiters of what speech can flow on the internet.” “

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        • #2334209
          RTEsysadmin
          AskWoody Plus

          That’s an excellent point about corporations wanting government to do the job that they don’t want to do, and I think that’s the most important issue: Who should be responsible? I think the First Amendment says that we, as private actors, should be responsible for our speech and that the government should have no role in regulating it. In the case of Parler, that appears to have worked out very well. But if some corporation is afraid of losing money simply because it stands up for a human principle, I have no sympathy for it at all. Profiting from hate may be protected from government regulation by the Constitution, but it isn’t protected from the actions of private individuals. Sometimes, we kill corporations that do such things.

          Group K(ill me now)
          • This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by RTEsysadmin.
      • #2334218
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        RTEsysadmin: “I think the First Amendment says that we, as private actors, should be responsible for our speech and that the government should have no role in regulating it.”

        First Amendment to the Constitution of the USA:

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        This seems clear enough, so why are there precedents (I already pointed out  few, and not necessarily ones that I like) where the US Congress has made laws that abridged, by declaring illegal, certain forms of expression? Well, that is because the Constitution is not simply ink on paper, but like the text on the tablets Moises got on Mount Sinai, it is a fundamental document that needs to be, and is, interpreted to be used.

        For example:

        Act No. 3815
        Revised Penal Code
        as amended

        Title Three
        Crimes Against Public Order
        Chapter One”

        “Rebellion, Sedition and Disloyalty”

        ART. 138. Inciting to rebellion or insurrection. – The penalty of prison mayor in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any person who, without taking arms or being in open hostility against the Government, shall incite others to the execution of any of the acts specified in article 134 of this Code, by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners or other representations tending to the same end.” (Emphasis mine.)

        So the debate on whether it is OK or not to forbid by law certain forms of expression is one that remains open, because the reality of human life in society is too complex and also always in flux, for laws meant to regulate it to be written and decided once and for all. And this, in a democracy is, I think, as it should be.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        • This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by OscarCP.
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      • #2334225
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Hmmm …  This is a US law relevant to my previous argument and not the one I quoted previously, even if they are similar:

        18 U.S. Code § 2385 – Advocating overthrow of Government

        Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so;” (Emphasis mine.)

        ….

        Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

        The law I quoted in my previous comment is not one of the USA! See? I already said I am no legal expert.

        But the rest of my previous comment is OK.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        • #2334227
          b
          AskWoody Plus

          Hmmm …  This is a US law relevant to my previous argument and not the one I quoted previously, even if they are similar:

          18 U.S. Code § 2385 – Advocating overthrow of Government

          “Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so;” (Emphasis mine.)

          Except that this one has nothing to do with speech.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2334230
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            “Speech” in legal terms is not just about things said out loud or even written down. It includes all the things in the list I have marked in bold letters in my comment and many more. For example, burning a US flag is considered, in the USA, to be a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment. Broad definition, I know, if even flag burning is a form of protected free speech. In fact anything someone does to indicate, or propagate, a certain point of view concerning maters of public significance is considered, or can arguably be considered to be “speech.” This keeps busy lawyers specializing in First Amendment cases.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2334278
        geekdom
        AskWoody Plus

        Section 230 question is one of ownership: Who owns content and under what circumstances does an owner have the right to remove said content?

        Beta Work {Got backup and coffee}
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        • This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by geekdom.
        • This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by geekdom.
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        • #2334372
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Who owns the content? That is a valid legal angle not considered so far.

          But there is more to the subject under discussion than that.

          The discussion here, until now, has been on whether, regardless of the ownership of content, the legal obligation could be put on social network operators of not distributing certain opinions, this having been pursued further, in subsequent comments, by considering whether making and, or distributing such opinions is also exercising a form of protected speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, or not.

          Because, if it is not so protected, then the government, in the USA, can put in place laws and regulations to make such speech (in the broad legal sense of this word) and its distribution by the social networks, to be subject to legal penalties, including fines, imprisonment and also the banning of those making or distributing such expressions from occupying public office, etc. without running afoul of the First Amendment. Or, as I have suggested, the government could put in place laws setting down rules of content moderation the operators of the social networks would be mandated to follow diligently, on pain of legal consequences if they do not.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2334866
        Corfe
        AskWoody Plus

        Just one small point. The AskWoody Newsletter is read in many different countries and each country has it’s own laws and regulations. PLEASE at the beginning of a “Legal Brief” article tell us which country this article applies to

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        • #2334872
          Kirsty
          Manager

          I suspect they will all be US-centric…

        • #2334879
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Corfe: If you read the comments already made in his thread, starting with the article by Mr. Oppenheimer at the very beginning of it and also published in the current issue of the Newsletter, this is about the legal US regulation known here as “Section 230” that determines, in the USA, of course, how the companies running social media networks are responsible for the content they distribute, and how to update it to suit the current situation, that is very different from what it was in the 1990’s when 230 was made into law. It also has been pointed out in some comments made also in this thread that this is a problem affecting “other democracies”, not just the USA.

          I hope this answers your question.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        • #2334888
          Susan Bradley
          Manager

          Good point.  But with anything on the Internet, the laws of one country often impacts us all.  Case in point GDPR compliance has world wide impact.

          Susan Bradley Patch Lady

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2334877
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        There are also moves in the European Union to update regulations that make clearer the rights and obligations of those running social networks and the like.

        This thread  has been mostly, so far, about Section 230, which is part of the USA legal framework dealing with the responsibility of social media for the content they distribute and largely shielding them for any legal action against them for what they publish and distribute on behalf of their users, much as the Post Office is not made responsible for what is in the letters and parcels it receives, conveys and delivers. The question here is whether there is a valid way to modify 230 to include some content moderating duties that can be sustained vis a vis the First Amendment to the US Constitution that, among other things, guarantees the “unabridgable” freedom of expression.  In particular, how 230 my be updated without conflicting with the First Amendment, so as to deal with problems brought about by the increasingly widespread use of social media to disseminate fallacious information intended to confuse and anger citizens by nudging them to feeling unjustly treated by their governments, as well as the potential of such content for subverting the possible results of elections by foreign and domestic bad actors, not just here, but also in other democracies abroad.
        But the essence of the issues discussed: freedom of expression and the necessity to restrain certain dangerous abuses of it, is not only an issue under discussion in the USA, but also elsewhere, as the following documents from the EU, of which I include here the URL links and some excerpts, clearly show:

        https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_2347

        Concretely, the Digital Services Act will introduce a series of new, harmonised EU-wide obligations for digital services, carefully graduated on the basis of those services’ size and impact, such as:

        Rules for the removal of illegal goods, services or content online;
        Safeguards for users whose content has been erroneously deleted by platforms;
        New obligations for very large platforms to take risk-based action to prevent abuse of their systems;
        Wide-ranging transparency measures, including on online advertising and on the algorithms used to recommend content to users;
        New powers to scrutinize how platforms work, including by facilitating access by researchers to key platform data;
        New rules on traceability of business users in online market places, to help track down sellers of illegal goods or services;
        An innovative cooperation process among public authorities to ensure effective enforcement across the single market.

        Further:

        https://www.imap-migration.org/sites/default/files/Publications/2020-07/Studyfortheassessmentofthecodeofpracticeagainstdisinformation.pdf

        Assessment of the implementation of the Code of Practice on Disinformation 67 Directorate -General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology.
        The Directive on security of network and information systems (NIS)
        is the first piece of EU-wide legislation on cybersecurity. It provides legal measures to boost the overall level of cybersecurity in the EU. It lays down obligations for all Member States to adopt a national strategy on the security of network and information systems; creates a
        Cooperation Group in order to support and facilitate strategic cooperation and the
        exchange of information among Member States and to develop trust and confidence
        amongst them; creates a computer security incident response teams network (‘CSIRTs
        network’) in order to contribute to the development of trust and confidence between
        Member States and to promote swift and effective operational cooperation;
        establishes security and notification requirements for operators of essential services and
        for digital service providers; lays down obligations for Member States to designate
        national competent authorities, single points of contact and CSIRTs with tasks related to
        the security of network and information systems. It also sets up transparency
        requirements on cyber threats, regarding hybrid threats.
        There are also synergies between the Code of Practice on Disinformation and the Code of conduct on hate speech.
        To prevent and counter the spread of illegal hate speech online, in May 2016, the Commission agreed with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube a “Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online”. In the course of
        2018, Instagram, Google+, Snapchat and Dailymotion joined the Code of Conduct.
        Jeuxvideo.com joined in January 2019. The implementation of the Code of Conduct is evaluated through a regular monitoring exercise set up in collaboration with a network of organisations located in the different EU countries. Using a commonly agreed methodology, these organisations test how the IT companies are implementing the commitments in the Code.

        The last evaluation shows that the Code delivered successful results: the companies are now assessing 89% of flagged content within 24 hours and 72% of the content deemed to be hate speech to be removed.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2335071
        wavy
        AskWoody Plus

        There is a lot of slippery very slippery slope here. We here in the USA are lucky to have a very well defined right of free speech (but with freedom comes responsibility). Perhaps a slightly different tack would help. Can we avoid partisans of one particular point of view of allowing themselves being force fed only the ‘information’ they are addicted to? Perhaps the recommendation engines of the social media providers could be tweaked to add in a mix with other points of view keeping the ‘bubbles’ open. Free speech would not be the issue then. Make it positive to be on a site/service with a more open allowance of view points.

        🍻

        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
        1 user thanked author for this post.
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