If it’s not illegal to say it, it should be illegal not to transmit what is being said

This was from August 26, 2017: It must be made illegal on “social media” to deny service to people who say things that are not illegal to say. Then by coincidence almost exactly a year later, on August 29, 2018, I wrote this: If it’s not illegal to say it then it should be illegal to prevent it from being said. Then on June 10, 2019, I wrote this: If it’s not illegal to say it then it should be illegal to stop it from being said. On July 29, I wrote another on the same subject, under the title: Twitter too. That was followed two days later with this: There is a constituency on the right for forcing media tech giants to become even-handed.

And now I will say it again. This is the problem. The people who run Facebook, Twitter and Google are some of the most powerful people I know. Although there is no doubt about their sincerity in trying to make a ton of money, more to the point is that there is even less doubt about their relentless efforts in also doing all they can to suppress opinions on the right side of the political divide they do not agree with. It would not make any difference which side of the politics they happened to be on in seeing a fault in their program, but in this case they happen to be on the left, and of their intentions there is not the slightest doubt. As in every institution of the left, if you disagree with what they think, they will do what they can to prevent you from putting your views into the public arena. I am at a loss that anyone who believes in free speech should not see this point. If it is some form of misguided right to private property, then I cannot even begin to see the point. Property is regulated at every turn while suppression of free speech is the primary means to wipe out our freedoms in general.

These platforms arose as a promise to connect people up with each other, so millions across the world signed on. And once millions had signed on, it became like the phone company. The service was then not private and individual, but came with the the promise to connect each customer up to their friends and associates. Nor could there be a multiplicity of such businesses if everyone was to be connected to everyone else. Now these same companies, now that they have connected these vast networks, tell us that they will only connect some people, that if they don’t like what you say – legal though it is to say it – they won’t make the connection. They have thus first broken the law by running a publishing house rather than a platform which forbids them to interfere with the speech of those who use their service, and then second, by lying to their customers by misrepresenting the product they originally offered.

I’ll go back to my first post on this: if it’s not illegal to say it, it should be illegal not to transmit what is said. Speaking for myself, I am happy to see some kind of action finally being taken, and it’s not before time.

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41 Responses to If it’s not illegal to say it, it should be illegal not to transmit what is being said

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    If a law has been broken call the police.

  2. I’ve said before, let them operate as they wish, but in doing so they must be appropriately classified. They are either carriers or publishers.

    Naturally they don’t want to be classified as publishers, because with that comes the requirement for responsibility and increased monitoring lest they risk being sued for defamation etc by allowing defamatory comment. That’s why they fight not to be classified as publishers.

  3. If a law has been broken call the police.

    Do you allow anything to be posted on this site? No? Why not?

  4. Sinclair Davidson

    So the alt-right hate social media because they think they are being censored and the alt-left hate social media because they think it got Donald Trump elected. Between them we have a classic story of Baptists and Bootleggers using the power of the State to oppress their enemies.

    The challenge for the alt-right is the view that the solution to political correctness is bigotry. It just isn’t. The challenge for the alt-left is that their ideas and candidates are so useless that few outsiders can vote for them.

    Having said that – I’m enjoying this acceptance of open slather communications.

  5. bespoke

    And now I will say it again. This is the problem. The people who run Facebook, Twitter and Google are some of the most powerful people I know. Although there is no doubt about their sincerity in trying to make a ton of money

    And that’s why they no-longer need to cater to everyone.

    Cue! some simplistic idea-log that has no solutions.

  6. Sinclair Davidson

    Do you allow anything to be posted on this site? No? Why not?

    Ask Steve – he is the let-it-all-hang-out guy in this discussion.

  7. So the alt-right hate social media because they think they are being censored and the alt-left hate social media because they think it got Donald Trump elected.

    Poor attempt at deflection, my comment has nothing to do with ‘alt’ anything. It’s about anyone being able to access information without it being hidden, changed or distorted in some way by ideologues on the left, the middle or the right.

    Ask Steve – he is the let-it-all-hang-out guy in this discussion.

    I’m talking about your blog, not this thread.

  8. stackja

    The ‘police’ won’t allow an open and full discussion. Why call them?

  9. bespoke

    There is a lot more bigotry in the dominant identity politics, Sinc.

  10. bespoke

    ideologue

    He! Ill try to remember that bemused.

  11. Sinclair Davidson

    Poor attempt at deflection, my comment has nothing to do with ‘alt’ anything.

    I’m talking to Steve – not you.

    I’m talking about your blog, not this thread.

    Really. Ask Steve. I’m keen to hear his answer too.

  12. Sinclair Davidson

    There is a lot more bigotry in the dominant identity politics, Sinc.

    I agree.

  13. Tel

    And that’s why they no-longer need to cater to everyone.

    Cue! some simplistic idea-log that has no solutions.

    The point is that they PRETEND to cater to everyone. Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Committee and declared:

    I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way. To do otherwise would be against our core principles and business interests. We are a company that provides platforms for diverse perspectives and opinions, and there is no shortage of them amongst our employees.

    He also declared there was no manual intervention happening in the search.

    It is not some little man sitting behind the curtain. Basically a compilation of what users are generating. Trying to sort through that information. 3 trillion searches every single day. 15% of the searches, we have never seen them before. This is working at scale. We don’t manually intervene on any particular search.

    Pichai claimed that no particular political views are objectionable.

    We do not define any political views as objectionable. We had areas which we have defined as not allowed on our platforms. For example on YouTube, there are definitions around hate speech, where it is defined as speech which has the primary goal of inciting hatred or violence towards groups of people.

    https://www.c-span.org/video/?455607-1/google-ceo-sundar-pichai-testifies-data-privacy-bias-concerns

    That’s all testimony under oath. However when you listen to the people who have been kicked off YouTube you get a consistent story:
    * Generally they get kicked out when they touch upon certain “verboten” topics, and these are often conservative type topics.
    * There’s never a specific explanation as to what they did wrong.
    * Trying to appeal or ask for clarification is haphazard, slow, and sometimes you get unbanned again without explanation, sometimes YouTube says it was a mistake.
    * Shadow bans (hiding certain YouTube channels from search) and demonetization (blocking advertising revenue) are also common.
    * Most of the people kicked off don’t have the remotest connection to “hate speech” nor can anyone discover how what they are doing would incite violence.

    So there’s strong evidence that google/YouTube say one thing and then their actions are entirely different.

    As James Damore discovered … google do not have “diverse perspectives and opinions” amongst their employees, anyone who has the wrong opinion (even when specifically asked to research and discuss a topic) gets kicked out.

    Then there’s the principle of contract law and the obligation that YouTube has to content creators who make their living from building up a channel with followers, only to find themselves shafted. If you enter into a commercial relationship with another party then yes you are required to deliver and not arbitrarily change the deal.

  14. …if it’s not illegal to say it, it should be illegal not to transmit what is said.

    Makes as much sense as: if it’s not illegal to smoke, it should be illegal for a pub to tell people not to smoke there.

  15. Tel

    Makes as much sense as: if it’s not illegal to smoke, it should be illegal for a pub to tell people not to smoke there.

    The pub that previously not only allowed you to smoke there but encouraged you to setup a stall selling cigarettes within the grounds … oh and they have a big sign out the front saying “Smokers Welcome!” and the CEO of said pub has testified under oath that they don’t in any way discriminate against smokers.

  16. pbw

    If a law has been broken call the police.

    …it should be illegal not to transmit…

    That is, it’s not illegal yet, so the law has not been broken, and that’s the problem.

    So the alt-right hate social media because they think they are being censored and the alt-left hate social media because they think it got Donald Trump elected.

    The alt-left management and, overwhelmingly, staff of Goolag, Facebilk and Twatter are riven with guilt that by doing what they undertook with their users to do – give a voice to the voiceless, publishing all – they exposed the manipulations of the official “opinion leaders” and empowered the Deplorables, leading to the election, tbtG, of Donald Trump. This terrible divergence from the script they regard as illegitimate, and are determined that such a thing will not happen again.

    The worst of it is that, by his alacrity and frequency of response to this post and comments, Sinc seems not to be trolling on this, as I would otherwise suspect.

  17. roger

    The pub that previously not only allowed you to smoke there but encouraged you to setup a stall selling cigarettes within the grounds … oh and they have a big sign out the front saying “Smokers Welcome!” and the CEO of said pub has testified under oath that they don’t in any way discriminate against smokers.

    Yes. Such a pub would still have a legal right to tell you not to smoke there. You can accuse it of hypocrisy, but even if you are right, hypocrisy in itself is not a criminal offence.

  18. Roger

    Former Google engineer: Google will try to prevent Trump’s reelection.

    ‘”[Google] has very biased people running every level of the company. They have quite a bit of control over the political process. That’s something we should really worry about.”‘

    Also, “Robert Epstein, a Ph.D. psychologist who studies search engine manipulation effects, found that Google’s bias can explain Clinton’s popular vote margin of victory. ”

    RTWT

  19. Roger

    Between them we have a classic story of Baptists and Bootleggers using the power of the State to oppress their enemies.

    You can blame the Progressive Movement for Prohibition, not Baptists.

  20. Tel

    Yes. Such a pub would still have a legal right to tell you not to smoke there. You can accuse it of hypocrisy, but even if you are right, hypocrisy in itself is not a criminal offence.

    Not if there’s an agreement in place, and the pub went back on the deal.

    Content creators work hard to get a channel running and attract an audience. Google benefits from this work in terms of building a value proposition for advertisers. Therefore Google made representations to the content creators along the lines of, “Come to our platform, here are the “YouTube Community Guidelines” which by the way are not really guidelines they are rules and if you break them you get booted, and you can work hard and we will reward you with a percentage of advertising revenue.”

    Google did NOT give warning to these people that conservative viewpoints will be removed, or demonetized, or suddenly hidden from search results. Google is also somewhat arbitrary in their interpretation of their “Community Guidelines” and they change the rules when it suits themselves.

    The appropriate response would be getting a class action together to demand reparations for the time and effort that went into building up those audiences and the loss of revenue caused by Google’s actions. It would be regarded as breach of Supply Agreement resulting in loss of future profits for the content provider. Plenty of similar contract law cases have successfully resulted in damages.

  21. Tel

    I should also point out that telling lies to Congress does happen to be a crime in the USA … just like attempting to mislead Parliament is a crime in Australia … they can level Contempt of Parliament charges against you. Admittedly very rare for this to ever happen.

  22. roger

    Not if there’s an agreement in place…

    Great, mate! Apparently, according to you, there is some agreement that was violated.
    Get this agreement, provide quotes and a direct link, and then your argument is backed by hard evidence.
    Should be easy enough for you to back your argument with facts if your argument is truthful.
    I’ll wait, matey.

  23. feelthebern

    Ask Steve – he is the let-it-all-hang-out guy in this discussion.

    Phrasing?
    PS the latest season of Archer is finished so the phrasing thing might die.
    For a bit.

  24. Behind Enemy Lines

    roger
    #3123178, posted on August 4, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Great, mate! Apparently, according to you, there is some agreement that was violated.
    Get this agreement, provide quotes and a direct link, and then your argument is backed by hard evidence.
    Should be easy enough for you to back your argument with facts if your argument is truthful.
    I’ll wait, matey.

    Smug condescension isn’t a good look, matey, especially when you’ve misrepresented what Tel said. It gives you an air of dishonesty alongside your usual trollishness. If you want to invent arguments with yourself, go right ahead, but go somewhere else while you’re at it.

  25. mh

    bern,

    Rafe has posted ‘The deep roots of Extinction Rebellion’.

    Phrasing?

  26. roger

    Smug condescension isn’t a good look, matey, especially when you’ve misrepresented what Tel said. It gives you an air of dishonesty alongside your usual trollishness. If you want to invent arguments with yourself, go right ahead, but go somewhere else while you’re at it.

    Gee, you just called me “smug”, “condescending” and a “troll” for merely asking someone who mentions a violation of some alleged agreement, to produce this agreement, which should take about five minutes to do if this agreement indeed exist.
    Wow, I guess you are not going to like me any more than the precious very little that you now apparently do if I told you to, say, get fucked.

  27. Tel

    Any dipstick could find information on this … but because you are being deliberately obtuse I’ll post it.

    https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/72857?hl=en

    Clearly there’s an offer of exchange:
    * YouTube provides the platform and a share of advertising revenue.
    * The content creator provides material and an audience bringing value to the YouTube platform.

    I think pretty much everyone can understand this. No mention in the docs that conservative viewpoints are excluded, and I’ve already linked above that the CEO has personally testified under oath that conservative viewpoints are quite welcome.

  28. Leo G

    … if it’s not illegal to say it, it should be illegal not to transmit what is said.

    Doesn’t that imply that it should be illegal for each of us not to receive everything that is legally said?

  29. roger

    Any dipstick could find information on this … but because you are being deliberately obtuse I’ll post it.

    Maybe any dipstick could find the page you provided, but it takes a special dipstick to argue that this agreement was breached by Google/YouTube censuring some conservatives views.

    No mention in the docs that conservative viewpoints are excluded

    Correct, there is no such mention, nor is there a mention that videos depicting, say, porn are excluded. In fact, there is no mention of anything in particular being excluded, but the link you provided makes it clear that Google/YouTube reserve the right to decide what can and cannot be published on its platform, therefore no agreement here was breached by any particular exclusion of content by Google/YouTube.

    I’ve already linked above that the CEO has personally testified under oath that conservative viewpoints are quite welcome.

    There are plenty of conservative viewpoints hosted by YouTube/Google. If you can’t find them, I should be able to point out to you YouTube videos of conservatives (including some who were blocked by our conservative government from entering this country because their views were deemed to extreme) freely hosted by Google/YouTube. So, in this, the CEO was truthful.

  30. mh

    FORMER GOOGLE ENGINEER WARNS: GOOGLE WILL TRY TO STOP TRUMP 2020 REELECTION

    ‘They have quite a bit of control over the political process — that’s something we should really worry about,’ he says

    https://www.infowars.com/former-google-engineer-warns-google-will-try-to-stop-trump-2020-reelection/

  31. Iampeter

    This is the problem. The people who run Facebook, Twitter and Google are some of the most powerful people I know. Although there is no doubt about their sincerity in trying to make a ton of money, more to the point is that there is even less doubt about their relentless efforts in also doing all they can to suppress opinions on the right side of the political divide they do not agree with

    That’s what you’re advocating. Tech companies are just exercising their rights.
    Since you don’t support this, you are also not on the “right side of the political divide.”
    You are a leftist who doesn’t even realize it.

    The service was then not private and individual, but came with the the promise to connect each customer up to their friends and associates. Nor could there be a multiplicity of such businesses if everyone was to be connected to everyone else.

    It’s good that we can come to the cat to read this Marxist drivel from a supposedly “classic economist.”

  32. Iampeter

    Yes. Such a pub would still have a legal right to tell you not to smoke there. You can accuse it of hypocrisy, but even if you are right, hypocrisy in itself is not a criminal offence.

    Exactly. But today’s leftist conservatives seem to think hypocrisy from leftists means they lose their rights. This is because conservatives have never had a solid grasp of these political concepts to begin with.
    They are then also advocating the very same rights-violating politics of leftists but remain completely unaware of it.
    Today’s conservatives have hit rock bottom so completely that they are presenting us the spectacle of socialists who think they are an alternative to the left for some reason.

  33. stackja

    Petering out. Amusing itself?

  34. The Beer Whisperer

    If a law has been broken call the police.

    Sinc, do you really think the Police Commissioner who has just returned from a welcome to country ceremony where he ingratiate himself by dancing with the aborigines is going to allow an investigation against powerful progressives?

    The police commissioner was a different senior public servant, however they all salute the same progressive flag.

  35. roger

    They are then also advocating the very same rights-violating politics of leftists but remain completely unaware of it.

    Have to agree.
    They are trying to solve the alleged problem of abuse of power by corporations (which is how they interpret the corporations’ bias, though I would argue that corporations are entiled to be biased as private entities) by giving government more power.
    It’s just so lucky then that governments will never abuse their power, right “conservatives”? Powerful corporations or powrful governments -which is more dangerous?

  36. Zatara

    Powerful corporations or powerful governments -which is more dangerous?

    Powerful corporations which subsume or subvert governments.

  37. Joshua

    roger, in response to the various points you raise:

    The agreement may reserve to YouTube the right to determine what to publish. However, the relevant contractual provisions and the ‘guidelines’ upon which they rely are (i) hopelessly vague; and (ii) occur in the context of a contract of adhesion (ie a contract over which you cannot negotiate – you ‘take it or leave it’). Provisions of a contract of adhesion are usually construed strictly against its drafters (in this case YouTube). There is a strong argument that the relevant contract provisions are void. Further, action taken pursuant to such provisions to deplatform or otherwise restrict videos posted to YouTube are in breach of YouTube’s contractual obligation to provide a service.

    Of course, YouTube can remove unlawful content, such as specific threats of imminent physical violence against persons or property. (There can be no contract obligation to participate in an unlawful activity.) However, this would cover a far narrower range of content than what YouTube is removing at the moment. (The irony is that if YouTube just stuck to this standard, then it would make its job of monitoring content a lot easier and its removal of content a lot less controversial.)

  38. roger

    I disagree with just about every point you have made. Google etc. can remove content which is entirely legal.
    Facebook, for example, decided against allowing pictures of women breastfeeding babies on its platform.
    I was astounded that people actually went to the street to protest against that.
    However, it is not illegal for a mother to breastfeed its child.
    Nor is it for Facebook decide what they accept/reject.

  39. Joshua

    roger, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with me or not; that’s the law. If Google/Youtube or Facebook are exercising their rights pursuant to a contractual provision that hopelessly vague (and they are) then they are on the hook for breach of contract. The fact that they are purporting to remove lawful content just makes it worse for them. The solution for them is to draft more clear provisions about the type of conduct that can be removed. (That said, in drafting more clear provisions, both Google/YouTube and Facebook need to appreciate their status as platforms, not publishers.)

  40. Zatara

    The irony is that if YouTube just stuck to this standard, then it would make its job of monitoring content a lot easier and its removal of content a lot less controversial.

    That presumes that YouTube/Google/Facebook’s “job” is something other than shaping society to a leftist view.

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