SCOTUS on Social Media censorship

Page 2 - Seeking answers? Join the AnandTech community: where nearly half-a-million members share solutions and discuss the latest tech.

Amol S.

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2015
2,347
684
136
This is factually incorrect, both the first amendment AND section 230 simultaneously apply and this violates both.

1) Twitter, just like a newspaper or forums.anandtech.com publishes materials written by other people. Twitter, Anandtech, and the New York Times retain a first amendment right to choose what to publish and what not to publish. The government can almost never compel speech, which is what Texas was trying to do here.

2) In addition to Twitter's first amendment right to not publish anything it chooses not to, section 230 protects Twitter from liability for things you write on the site. This is for the common sense reason that without section 230 social media and web forums would not exist as they would need to choose between being essentially 4chan, filled with pedos and nazis, or be sued out of existence.

3) Private companies provide public services all the time! A bar is a private company that provides a public service. If you don't believe me that private companies that provide services to the public can ban users for what they say try walking into a bar and start screaming Nazi slogans or whatever.
A buissness like a bar has the right to throw someone out, if they are being disruptive or rude, like shouting Nazi shit. Same goes for casinos, they always throw the drunk that can't handle themselfs out.
 

FlawleZ

Member
Oct 13, 2016
88
102
91
So you’re saying congress can pass a law to remove their first amendment rights?
I'm saying they need to make a choice. They are either a publisher, or a platform. Not both. There are distinct legal differences.
 

Amol S.

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2015
2,347
684
136
Yes?

My point is if they are protected from being held liable for the actions of the individual, they should also not be allowed to censor free speech.
Twitter is not a public service. It's a private entity. Just like how one can't just unzip and kiss on the office lobby, same goes for twitter where you can't just crap post Nazi shit.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
83,215
46,779
136
I'm saying they need to make a choice. They are either a publisher, or a platform. Not both. There are distinct legal differences.
This is false. If you'd like to learn about the law you can start here. Conservatives just basically made this up because they were mad at social media.

 

Amol S.

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2015
2,347
684
136
I'm saying they need to make a choice. They are either a publisher, or a platform. Not both. There are distinct legal differences.
A publisher and platform are now a days no longer different. If I wanted to, I could actually create some story book, and publish it by posting it on the forum platform called AnandTech forums. All the book would be required to do is that its contents must satisfy the posting guidelines of AnandTech forums.
 

Zorba

Lifer
Oct 22, 1999
14,292
9,716
136
Yes?

My point is if they are protected from being held liable for the actions of the individual, they should also not be allowed to censor free speech.
So if I post on here how to most effectively kill kids at a school, or how to make meth, you don't think Anandtech should be allowed to delete it? That is the dumbest argument I've ever heard. Even 4chan censors some things.
 

Zorba

Lifer
Oct 22, 1999
14,292
9,716
136
I'm saying they need to make a choice. They are either a publisher, or a platform. Not both. There are distinct legal differences.
The whole point of Section 230 was to allow moderation. The alternative before that was no moderation at all, which is why you are saying should be the requirement.
 

FlawleZ

Member
Oct 13, 2016
88
102
91
This is false. If you'd like to learn about the law you can start here. Conservatives just basically made this up because they were mad at social media.

Interesting link. Looks lengthy ill have to finish it after work.
 

JD50

Lifer
Sep 4, 2005
11,618
1,978
126
Interesting link. Looks lengthy ill have to finish it after work.

It took like 5 seconds to find the relevant section.

If you said “Once a company like that starts moderating content, it’s no longer a platform, but a publisher”

I regret to inform you that you are wrong. I know that you’ve likely heard this from someone else — perhaps even someone respected — but it’s just not true. The law says no such thing. Again, I encourage you to read it. The law does distinguish between “interactive computer services” and “information content providers,” but that is not, as some imply, a fancy legalistic ways of saying “platform” or “publisher.” There is no “certification” or “decision” that a website needs to make to get 230 protections. It protects all websites and all users of websites when there is content posted on the sites by someone else.

To be a bit more explicit: at no point in any court case regarding Section 230 is there a need to determine whether or not a particular website is a “platform” or a “publisher.” What matters is solely the content in question. If that content is created by someone else, the website hosting it cannot be sued over it.

Really, this is the simplest, most basic understanding of Section 230: it is about placing the liability for content online on whoever created that content, and not on whoever is hosting it. If you understand that one thing, you’ll understand most of the most important things about Section 230.

To reinforce this point: there is nothing any website can do to “lose” Section 230 protections. That’s not how it works. There may be situations in which a court decides that those protections do not apply to a given piece of content, but it is very much fact-specific to the content in question. For example, in the lawsuit against Roommates.com for violating the Fair Housing Act, the court ruled against Roommates, but not that the site “lost” its Section 230 protections, or that it was now a “publisher.” Rather, the court explicitly found that some content on Roommates.com was created by 3rd party users and thus protected by Section 230, and some content (namely pulldown menus designating racial preferences) was created by the site itself, and thus not eligible for Section 230 protections.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
94,383
14,744
126
I hope SCOTUS allows it to pass. Then Harvard Law can sue the Supreme Court justices for their opinion in this matter. Filed in Texas of course.
 
Last edited:

pmv

Lifer
May 30, 2008
12,868
7,794
136
I find this discussion informative. Because I've never been at all clear on how this works - it's always seemed intuitively-obvious to me that web sites (with 3rd party content) are going to be in a sort of grey-area between, say a book or newspaper publisher, and a telephone company. But I've never looked into how that was legally-resolved in practice.

I mean, you could argue (and I suppose this is what conservatives currently _are_ trying to argue?) that as soon as you moderate content you are exercising editorial control, and thus you are responsible for what appears, i.e. you are a publisher. But it then occurs to me that the existence of spam-bots alone, even if you ignore dangerous political content or incitement or other illegal speech (like, er, hiring an assassin?), means that some level of 'moderation' is unavoidable if a site is not to become unusable.

Even ignoring toxic politics, sites with no moderation at all are liable, at the very least, to get swamped by commercial spam.

So "platforms" become impossible if no moderation of content is allowed at all. But also become very dangerous for the providers if they are treated purely as publishers. So without a legal framework to resolve that, they cease to be possible at all.

Which I guess is why they are legally treated as a mixture of both or neither.

But is that specific to the US? Are the laws the same elsewhere, e.g. Europe? (I mean, I'm sure somewhere like China has _very_ different rules, but that's probably not an example one would want to follow)
 
Last edited:

tweaker2

Lifer
Aug 5, 2000
14,405
6,814
136
From an outside looking in political point of view irrespective of the legalese being applied to this case, the bottom line here is that the Repubs are pissed that they're being restricted from disseminating misinformation, outright lies, hoax conspiracy theories, innuendo and racist memes in order to curry favor for their side. IOW, they're being cut off from deploying the one and only weapon they have at their disposal to fight against the truths and facts that their party has absolutely nothing else to offer the working class voters of the nation.

The party has been hollowed out, rendered feckless due to their pigheaded support of Donald Trump. The Repub radical base has taken over the party and everyone else, including their leadership have fallen victim to their base's hard on for him.

Their party leadership has been playing this two-faced game with their rank and file membership riling them up with race based falsehoods and other emotionally driven propaganda as a distractive ruse while simultaneously working to take away their pensions, their Social Security benefits and other federal programs that directly affect their quality of life. All this in order to exclusively benefit the very wealthy who own and operate that party of theirs.
 
  • Like
Reactions: hal2kilo and Lanyap

sportage

Lifer
Feb 1, 2008
11,493
3,158
136
the bottom line here is that the Repubs are pissed that they're being restricted from disseminating misinformation, outright lies, hoax conspiracy theories, innuendo and racist memes in order to curry favor for their side. IOW, they're being cut off from deploying the one and only weapon they have at their disposal to fight against the truths and facts that their party has absolutely nothing else to offer the working class voters of the nation.

Yeah, it's a pretty sad day where we now must assume THE PEOPLE are no longer smart enough to figure this out for themselves.
To determine the lies from the truths. You put a lie out there, any insane lie, and millions will believe the lie. And it doesn't matter how crazy sounding that lie might be because we have plenty of folks out there who will believe anything they hear. And like a virus, the lie spreads uncontrollably until the infection becomes life threatening. Or democracy threatening.

Where has the common sense went to? There was a time when you heard something that sounded pretty crazy and you knew it was pretty crazy. Period. There was no need to debate the insanity as a plausible. But now, this is exactly what we are expected do. Just one step away from everyone going totally nutz.
 

KMFJD

Lifer
Aug 11, 2005
28,953
41,410
136
So where does this case fit in?

I have no idea what it was about but it sounds as if in this case Google themselves, as owners of YouTube, were held liable.

I'm amazed that the corrupt meatball won that case, google really should appeal that if it's possible.

tldr about the case -

Journalist: This politician is a liar
Politician: that’s not true, I’m suing you for defamation
Court: you have to prove he’s lying to defend yourself
Journalist: ok, here’s my evide-
Court: Woah woah WOAH. This politician has parliamentary privilege therefore he can’t be held legally accountable for saying untrue things in parliament.
Journalist: … how do I win the case then?
Court: that’s the neat part… you don’t.


The guy that made the videos response -

Well done John. You finally scored the coin from Google. Class act. And you managed to get it without ever having the truth tested in court. You claimed parliamentary privilege to prevent evidence being run against you. You withdrew your action against us so we wouldn’t testify or present our evidence. Poor old google left to carry the can. I guess they are rich enough to not care. We now know that around the same time your lawyers were drafting your concerns notice, you went to the Terror Police and a Strike Force will full surveliance powers was set up against us, the very people you intended to sue. Is it just us or does something about that smell?

Barilaro's not a trustworthy fellow-
 
  • Like
Reactions: pmv

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
83,215
46,779
136
  • Like
Reactions: hal2kilo

pmv

Lifer
May 30, 2008
12,868
7,794
136
Doesn’t really fit in anywhere as it’s not in the US so US law doesn’t apply.

Well, that was part of my question, really, given that most of these platforms operate internationally, is the legal situation dependent on which country one is talking about? And which laws take precedence?

Sounds now as if US laws might protect Google in this case, in fact.

 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
83,215
46,779
136
Well, that was part of my question, really, given that most of these platforms operate internationally, is the legal situation dependent on which country one is talking about? And which laws take precedence?

Sounds now as if US laws might protect Google in this case, in fact.

Essentially Australia can enforce Australian law against google to the extent that they can seize assets that are physically in Australia, so probably not much. They would depend on the US to enforce their fines, and since those fines violate US law, we won’t.

Within each sovereign country‘s borders their laws take precedence but I imagine most of Google’s assets are in the US. Australia could also ban Google from operating in Australia or whatever but smaller countries don’t have much sway. The only reason EU fines work is the EU is such a huge market that companies are willing to play along to keep access to it.
 

UNCjigga

Lifer
Dec 12, 2000
24,787
8,966
136
Stare Decisis is most definitely dead.


The Supreme Court handed down a decision on Wednesday which effectively gives Border Patrol agents who violate the Constitution total immunity from lawsuits seeking to hold them accountable.

Justice Clarence Thomas’s majority opinion in Egbert v. Boule, moreover, has implications that stretch far beyond the border. Egbert guts a seminal Supreme Court precedent, Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents (1971), which established that federal law enforcement officers who violate the Constitution may be individually sued — and potentially be required to compensate their victims for their illegal actions.

Egbert is a severe blow to the broader project of police accountability. While it does not target lawsuits against state law enforcement officers who violate the Constitution, it all but eliminates the public’s ability to sue Border Patrol officers — and possibly all federal officers — who commit similar violations.

In fairness, Egbert does indicate that people who believe their rights were violated by federal law enforcement may file a grievance with the law enforcement agency that employs the officer who allegedly violated the Constitution. But such grievances will be investigated by other law enforcement officers, and no court or other agency can review a law enforcement officer’s decision to exonerate a fellow officer.

And, perhaps most importantly, Egbert most likely shuts down a civil rights plaintiff’s ability to be compensated if their rights are violated.
--
Don't expect any justice for kids forcibly separated from parents at the border, forced to carry babies to term after rape while in custody, etc. etc.
 
  • Wow
Reactions: hal2kilo and pmv

LightPattern

Senior member
Feb 18, 2013
413
17
81
Getting back to the original case I found this little chunk, and I'm thinking it might actually be reasonable (just this part).


"The appellate court [who SCOTUS forced the case back to] also reinstated other parts of the law, including a provision that would require social media platforms to allow de-platformed users to access their own data stored on the platform’s servers for at least 60 days."
 

Dave_5k

Golden Member
May 23, 2017
1,524
2,966
136
And to no one's surprise, after remand to the 5th Circuit, the GQP 5th Circuit just reinstated the Texas social media law that establishes the power of government to force private companies to publish content including that by fine folks such as the KKK, terrorists, other hate speech, and deliberate and harmful misinformation - all of which removal completely outraged the GQP.

This ruling is in direct conflict with 11th circuit that kicked down similar Florida insanity, so back up to the Divine Court of Injustice it goes once more.

Washington post article on it, gifted to anyone to read for free:
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
83,215
46,779
136
And to no one's surprise, after remand to the 5th Circuit, the GQP 5th Circuit just reinstated the Texas social media law that establishes the power of government to force private companies to publish content including that by fine folks such as the KKK, terrorists, other hate speech, and deliberate and harmful misinformation - all of which removal completely outraged the GQP.

This ruling is in direct conflict with 11th circuit that kicked down similar Florida insanity, so back up to the Divine Court of Injustice it goes once more.

Washington post article on it, gifted to anyone to read for free:
More Calvinball. Now free speech means you have to broadcast other people’s speech at your own expense even if you disagree with it. Unless it’s a wedding cake, then your right to speech is paramount. Actual speech? No. Speech by cake? Yes.

Democrats - expand the court. Expand all the other courts. Return governance to the people.
 

VRAMdemon

Diamond Member
Aug 16, 2012
6,441
7,593
136
So ... The 5th circuit has ruled that website operators of private companies have no 1st amendment rights.

It is difficult to state how completely disconnected from reality this ruling is, and how dangerously incoherent it is. It effectively says that companies no longer have a 1st Amendment right to their own editorial policies.

Considering just how long Republicans (and this judge Oldham was a Republican political operative before being appointed to the bench) have spent insisting that corporations have 1st Amendment rights, this is a major turnaround, and an incomprehensible one.

Judge Oldham:

"We reject the Platforms’ efforts to reframe their censorship as speech. It is undisputed that the Platforms want to eliminate speech—not promote or protect it. And no amount of doctrinal gymnastics can turn the First Amendment’s protections for free speech into protections for free censoring."

That paragraph alone is scary. It basically argues that the state can now compel any speech it wants on private property, as it reinterprets the 1st Amendment to mean that the only thing it limits is the power of the state to remove speech, while leaving open the power of the state to foist speech upon private entities. Fucking ridiculous.