Free Speech and Responsibly

A significant problem in society is the acceptance of falsehoods as truth. Attempting to control those that promote falsehoods runs counter to our current rules regarding the freedom of speech. A few points on this topic.

  1. The promotion of a falsehood can be profitable and the falsehood can be damaging. How should we account for this?
  2. Not all falsehoods are bad, some can be good such as fiction or stories. How do we distinguish between those that promote the two?
  3. Damaging lies often must be repeated multiple times to become adopted. Do we distinguish the number of times something is said so we aren’t chasing slips of the tongue?
  4. How do we discipline those we know have damaged society. How do we correct the problem.

I think adding subjective limits to free speech not directly related to people’s safety is a dangerous, un-American road, although I understand the desire recently. I don’t think we should be so quick to give up our first amendment rights though, we should simply bring seditious members of our federal government to justice.

But in line:

  1. Libel laws
  2. We should regulate social media companies both in terms of their monopoly power but in a similar way to how we do media companies
  3. I don’t think we should worry about tallying quantities of a given lie
  4. DOJ charge POTUS with sedition. Senate vote to remove from office the ~4 Senators who voted to object to certify the results of the election for no reason but to cause further chaos, plus my response to 2.

I think this is the issue of our time. Second Amendment fans claim that the 2nd is the most important. I disagree, I think the First is. Take away the ability to criticize gov’t, and all the other rights (including the 2nd) will fade away.

The classic liberal argument was that “you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”. Give free expression to both truth and lies and Truth will win often enough.

That doesn’t seem to be working today.

But, the risks of gov’t censorship are higher today than they have ever been. China has shown us the future, and it is really dark. Orwell could look at the technology available in 1949 and say that was really scary. 2021 technology is far worse.

I’m happy that Trump is off Twitter. But, that’s because I think the people running Twitter have the same ideas of what is bannable as I have. What would it be like if their ideas were different from mine?

Politically interested people have always been able to build their own small echo chambers. But, technology kept them small, and people in them had to acknowledge the broader world. Again, new technology allows continent-spanning echo chambers, and an infrastructure that allows people to burrow deep inside.

So the dangers of lies seem greater at the same time that the dangers of censorship seem greater. (duh)
I’ve got nothing.

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I agree with NormalDan that libel laws are a viable option. I don’t want the government going all in on this because when they do we end up with all the shit like Homeland Security that arose out of 9/11. Dominion is suing the lawyer that lied about how they fixed the election for Biden. If you lie about a person or a business you can get sued. What if you lie about science or the government? The election was a steal lie galls me because there is no way to sue them for the lie. There is no punishment.
Who defends the facts? The FDA protects the facts about drugs. You can’t lie and say your drug performs miracles. What about anti-vaxxers? Is there a way to control their lies?

I’m in on libel. Let’s change section 230. I understand how it came into being. We don’t (and should not) hold phone companies responsible for what gets said over their cell towers. But the landscape is a whole lot different now that business models are geared towards monetizing clicks. Those falsehoods are their livelihoods.

IANAL, so how that works - criminal vs civil - is not something I can speak to.

On #1, I applaud Dominion for suing the everything daylights out of these people that are running their name through the mud for no reason. We had 2 hand recounts of Georgia’s ballots that matched their total. Once there is proof they did nothing you can’t say they did anymore and they get to sue you if you do.

I think the core of the problem has been a refusal to deal with the hard problem of figuring out how to properly regulate social media companies. At the very least Facebook, etc. likely has monopolistic power, but even beyond that it’s absurd that a company that operates as news for a huge section of the population gets to hide under the regulatory radar.

And in terms of the censorship issues, I think we’re just seeing the lines between conservatives and Trump-supporters. Twitter can ban whomever they like, that’s a conservative idea, but when they ban cult leader it’s censorship? If you walk in my house and start calling me names and I kick you out I too can be a censor. If these people don’t like it then start their own 21st century equivalent to a newspaper and convince people to read it. Then if you get censored by the Federal government at least we can have an actual debate about freedom of speech.

I think the abuse of social media is more of a symptom of our current election system as opposed to the problem with it. Most of our peacetime issues with social media are unfortunate, but mostly minor. But add in a 24 month election cycle and by the end of that cycle shit is out of control due to both sides weaponizing information (or disinformation) through social media platforms. So in 2018 we had anti-vaxxers posting misinformation on facebook. Lame, but we can live with this for the sake of uncensored media. But after 24 months of election propaganda, we have people literally storming the capital over it, which is more than lame and we cant just live with it.

Maybe some laws that regulate the length and intensity of election cycles would get at the root cause more than direct regulation of social media. Maybe trump shouldn’t start holding rallies for 2024 on in Feb of 2021.

Twitter is doing what the US as a whole should be doing- Exiling Trump. But its not twitter’s place to do this… Send trump to Elba.

Fortunately I believe citizens are going to hold corporations accountable for their political contributions moving forward. I believe the simplest way to regulate campaign speech without abridging The First Amendment protections is to force PAC’s to disclose all donors and eliminate the use of 501c laws to hide contributions.

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People choosing where to spend their money based on pollical beliefs seems like a step in the wrong direction. My theory is people need to be less emotionally invested in politics.

I do agree that PACs need a big shakeup along with campaign finance regulation in general.

Yep. Transparency is the first step. Get all the money flow in politics out in the open, then we can see how to proceed.