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Thread: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

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    antaeus's Avatar Simplism
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    Icon8 Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Ever since last week's riots at the Capitol, the global debate on freedom of speech online has been dragged back out of it's closet for another going over.

    As a TLDR summary to provide context to this thread, as of this week, President Trump has been banned or blocked from a wide range of the largest social media platforms - for the most part the bans and suspensions are for terms of use breaches in response to the claim that he used his pulpit to prompt the Capitol riots. As an aside to this, social media platforms which have more liberal free speech policies and that have been seen as alternative pathways for the President to communicate have been dropped by app hosts such as Google, Apple and Amazon.

    For me this conversation leads to a level of dissonance that I struggle to reconcile.

    Freedom of speech
    I am an advocate of the concept of freedom of speech in it's classic, and internationally recognised sense: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. On the other hand I also feel that freedom of speech shouldn't shield people from the consequences of what they say where it infringes on other rights of other individuals - there is a delicate balance to be found where the expression of a right of one individual can potentially infringe on a right of another.

    Scope
    Confusing the discussion further are two other factors. The first factor is that our communications are now global. Participants in conversation sit under different legal interpretations of what freedom of speech and accountability are. The second is that much of our communication online occurs in a confused collection of environments that function as a public realm, but are administered as private and corporate owned space. One could easily envisage a situation where an opinion is stated by a Russian person speaking on a platform that is hosted in multiple locations including India and Turkey, moderated in Bangladesh, owned by a company that is incorporated in Ireland and where the majority of development staff are based in the United States: Would US legal or cultural ideas on free speech apply to this situation where an American reader comes across the original Russian opinion?

    Question one: How do we manage freedom of speech when it crosses borders? I.e. What obligations to private corporations who own our communication space have to respect freedom of speech across borders? What obligations do these corporations have, when they are headquartered in another legal jurisdiction from their primary user base?

    Social media - a facilitated community
    Corporations that facilitate conversation within their privately owned and moderated communities should in essence be able to moderate free speech however they see fit within their legal framework. We can choose to join and leave their communities and we accept their terms upon joining. Much like I can kick ol' uncle racist Bob out of my house when he starts screaming about "PC gone mad", a facilitated community should be able to define who can join a conversation, and what the limits of that conversation are. But the nature and scope of the way these facilitated communities function as a semi-public space does lead to a grey area: whether they are providing public utility - or for that matter, whether they are broadcast media. The latter two situations would imply different and perhaps conflicting sets of standards and different obligations regarding the free expression of their users.

    Question two: Are social media companies providing public space? and as such should the use of that public space be governed by a nation's legal framework around freedom of speech?

    Systemic bias
    Because of the size and scale of the interactions in these facilitated communities, algorithms are used to manage what users within the community see. The role of the algorithm is two fold. Firstly it serves to improve a user experience: it filters what a user sees by judging what is most relevant to that user's interactive engagement. Secondly it serves to monetise the facilitated community: again it filters what a user sees in a way that maximises the future potential interactions with services that have a paid component. The algorithm's goals: to increase engagement and monetise that engagement - don't specifically include human judgement on what type of content is engaged with, just that it increases that engagement - at the same time it is topic neutral, but pro-topic.

    The "basket of deplorables"
    Thanks to the two stated roles of a facilitated community algorithm - interaction and monetisation at all costs - these communities have witnessed a 'race to the bottom' whereby communication that is more likely to be interacted with, is more likely to be propagated. In effect, algorithms punish mundane communication in favour of opinionated discourse. This leads to a hollowing out of the middle ground in debates as the loudest voices are rewarded with the most engagement. Make no mistake: this situation isn't exclusive to one political party or narrative - no matter how much you feel it is - Every political perspective becomes amplified at once to a specific audience in order to maximise the algorithm's goal of engagement and monetisation. This means community feelings of anger, victimhood, success, struggle, victory etc etc are amplified to the most engageable users for each of those feelings.

    Arbitrary solutions to the most obscene of voices
    In a situation where freedom of speech has been sidelined in favour of algorithmically targeted and monetisable communications, and where mundane conversations are sidelined in favour of louder discourse, we find ourselves facing up to the results of the increased volume of opinionated content. The major facilitated community providers have been forced through public pressure to tackle the net result of the effect of their algorithms: punishing people who do exactly what their algorithms prefer (create loud opinionated conversations). Because of the internal conflict within these organisations between their desire to increase and monetise opinionated conversation, and the public relations problems created by the amplified opinions, the owners of facilitated communities have operated a minimum possible interference model. They they are slow to act even in response to those who fail to behave in accordance with their own terms of use. They are reactive rather than proactive and appear arbitrary in action. For example, Donald Trump has likely been banned from his facilitated communities because of the results of his speech, not because of the speech itself or any speech he has given previously - He was banned only when his speech led to an action.

    On the other hand, facilitated communities that take a lighter touch on moderation tend to end up as a "basket of deplorables" where under the guise of free speech, users utilise the open mic that is provided to advertise extreme perspectives that are too distasteful for the majority of facilitated communities. Whether these services like it or not, their services become active facilitators for extremism - and again in effect, suppress free speech by algorithmically disincentivising mundane opinion.

    Question three: How can social media companies moderate their communities when their financial survival depends in part on the results of unmoderated engagement?

    Question four: Should we be depending on private corporations to moderate free speech, and if not, would this necessitate further guidance from governments on exactly what free speech is in the age of amplified opinion?

    Question five: Can free speech even exist at all when our entire discourse is being channelled by algorithm?

    That should be enough to get some opinions going...
    Last edited by antaeus; January 10, 2021 at 09:56 PM.
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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    The way I see things the free speech issue is split between two sides that are horribly, completely wrong in a Crassus at Carrhae kind of way.

    On the one hand you have people who think free speech = say anything you want. On the other hand you people trying to ban random numbers, words, signs and watnot in the name of freedom and fairness i.e the cancel culture suidicides (I say sucidies because much like in the soviet block, their censorous ways will come back against them) .


    Public discourse on free speech should return to what free speech originally meant: you are guaranteed the freedom to hold your own political opinions and the freedom to epsouse them as often and as loduly as you like as long as your honest about it and do it in a morally just setting (so no gender theory in lit class) as well as government protection from any form of silencing, cancel culture or bullying for holding said ideas.

    Imho dangerous ideas like feminism, nazism, sjw/woke, fascism, communism, black and white power/supremacy, etc should not be banned from public discourse or allowed to be covertly forced down people's throats (like the woke cancer is today) but should be brought up into the light and dissected to their very attoms so that people see how ridiculous and cancerous they are.
    Last edited by Sir Adrian; January 12, 2021 at 12:04 PM.
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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    WRT question four, what needs to be done is state action (particularly by the US federal administration, but I'd also like to see something done by the EU and other countries and supranational organizations) against the Silicon Valley cartel. The current situation is untenable and has very little to do with a free market, let alone a free marketplace of ideas.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    On the one hand you have people who think free speech = say anything you want. On the other hand you people trying to ban random numbers, words, signs and watnot in the name of freedom and fairness i.e the cancel culture suidicides (I say sucidies because much like in the soviet block, their censorous ways will come back against them) .
    The latter category including those who say "it's a private company bro" and "if you don't like it, why don't you switch to the competition, lol?" and then proceed to subvert or destroy said competition.

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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    The objective should be to create online spaces which mirror “quintessential (traditional) public forums”*. These would be privately owned online spaces in which viewpoint discrimination was prohibited. In exchange for not interfering with user generated content protected by the First Amendment or meddling with the flow of information (e.g. curating trends or engaging in algorithmic favouritism), the platform owners would be offered significant liability safeguards and given tax breaks/subsidies for providing a public service. To protect the integrity of the space, caveats covering issues such as pornography and spam bots would need to be included, as would exceptions for private or limited use, user generated areas.

    *The liberal ruling classes believe that social media regulation should be used, not to protect free speech, but to further their political interests.

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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    The objective should be to create online spaces which mirror “quintessential (traditional) public forums”*. These would be privately owned online spaces in which viewpoint discrimination was prohibited. In exchange for not interfering with user generated content protected by the First Amendment or meddling with the flow of information (e.g. curating trends or engaging in algorithmic favouritism), the platform owners would be offered significant liability safeguards and given tax breaks/subsidies for providing a public service. To protect the integrity of the space, caveats covering issues such as pornography and spam bots would need to be included, as would exceptions for private or limited use, user generated areas.

    *The liberal ruling classes believe that social media regulation should be used, not to protect free speech, but to further their political interests.
    Hear, hear. Call it something like, “Total War Center”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Hear, hear. Call it something like, “Total War Center”
    I've been lobbying for TWC subsidies for years.

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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    I've been lobbying for TWC subsidies for years.
    I’ll sign the petition and put in a good word in DC if you include me personally in the program. The amount I have to pay for internet every month vs the quality puts me squarely in the systemically disadvantaged category. Congressional staffers in the family notwithstanding.

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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    The useful idiots have ceased to be useful.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    The objective should be to create online spaces which mirror “quintessential (traditional) public forums”*. These would be privately owned online spaces in which viewpoint discrimination was prohibited. In exchange for not interfering with user generated content protected by the First Amendment or meddling with the flow of information (e.g. curating trends or engaging in algorithmic favouritism), the platform owners would be offered significant liability safeguards and given tax breaks/subsidies for providing a public service. To protect the integrity of the space, caveats covering issues such as pornography and spam bots would need to be included, as would exceptions for private or limited use, user generated areas.

    *The liberal ruling classes believe that social media regulation should be used, not to protect free speech, but to further their political interests.

    So basically 4chan.
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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    So basically 4chan.
    Returning to the laissez faire model which prevailed on major platforms like YouTube and Facebook prior to 2016 would be satisfactory. The question for conservatives and other dissidents is how to achieve that objective in the current climate. The biggest obstacle we face is not the tech companies (who will bend whichever way benefits their corporate reputations), but those with systemic power who are threatened by the growth of alternate voices (the established political class, the legacy media, the entertainment industry, elements of academia etc.).

    Other potential solutions to the one offered above could include using antitrust legislation to break up the tech monopolies (Amazon, Google, Apple) or classifying political views as protected beliefs under the Civil Rights Act (which would have the advantage of combating cancel culture nationally).

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    makawa's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    (which would have the advantage of combating cancel culture nationally).
    How exactly are you going to prevent people from rejecting or stop supporting someone? How can you prevent something from being boycotted or criticized? You want that?
    So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16).

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    Quote Originally Posted by makawa View Post
    How exactly are you going to prevent people from rejecting or stop supporting someone? How can you prevent something from being boycotted or criticized? You want that?
    The protection of political views would mirror the protection of religious views as outlined by the Civil Rights Act. The state, market and educational institutions would be prohibited from discriminating against, or excluding, people based on their political views, supposing said views, or the expression thereof, were not illegal. Criticism would still be protected under the First Amendment, as it currently is for religion.

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    antaeus's Avatar Simplism
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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    Returning to the laissez faire model which prevailed on major platforms like YouTube and Facebook prior to 2016 would be satisfactory. The question for conservatives and other dissidents is how to achieve that objective in the current climate. The biggest obstacle we face is not the tech companies (who will bend whichever way benefits their corporate reputations), but those with systemic power who are threatened by the growth of alternate voices (the established political class, the legacy media, the entertainment industry, elements of academia etc.).

    Other potential solutions to the one offered above could include using antitrust legislation to break up the tech monopolies (Amazon, Google, Apple) or classifying political views as protected beliefs under the Civil Rights Act (which would have the advantage of combating cancel culture nationally).
    I agree with you from an ethical standpoint, that the best model is one of equal footing for all voices. I also agree that more competition in the sector would be better for everyone. While I think that corporations should have the right to be censors within their own organisations, I think they've crossed the line in most cases and have created de-facto public spaces.

    But I think the flaw in the laissez faire model you suggest by harkening back to the golden age of new social media is the same flaw those social media organisations had at the time. That of monetisation. Most were funded at the time by hopes, dreams, and by rich backers betting on the long term. They were financially unsustainable without figuring out how to monetise their base of casual subscription-resistant users. Their solution was, as I mentioned in the OP, to encourage participation by promoting the most clickbaity posts, users, opinions - the obnoxious at the edges of the spectrum were and are amplified because they generate the most income for the hosts (whether they be Antifa or the Proud Boys). I think there is a paradox here.

    The system does not provide an equal footing for all opinions. It provides and exaggerated footing for fringe opinions, which over time become less fringe than they would have otherwise been.

    I'm not sure how social media could monetise in any other way and remain sustainable.
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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by antaeus View Post
    I agree with you from an ethical standpoint, that the best model is one of equal footing for all voices. I also agree that more competition in the sector would be better for everyone. While I think that corporations should have the right to be censors within their own organisations, I think they've crossed the line in most cases and have created de-facto public spaces.

    But I think the flaw in the laissez faire model you suggest by harkening back to the golden age of new social media is the same flaw those social media organisations had at the time. That of monetisation. Most were funded at the time by hopes, dreams, and by rich backers betting on the long term. They were financially unsustainable without figuring out how to monetise their base of casual subscription-resistant users. Their solution was, as I mentioned in the OP, to encourage particiption by promoting the most clickbaity posts, users, opinions - the obnoxious at the edges of the spectrum were and are amplified because they generate the most income for the hosts (whether they be Antifa or the Proud Boys). I think there is a paradox here.

    The system does not provide an equal footing for all opinions. It provides and exaggerated footing for fringe opinions, which over time become less fringe than they would have otherwise been.

    I'm not sure how social media could monetise in any other way and remain sustainable.
    Tolerating the "obnoxious edges of the spectrum"* is the least-worst solution. This is because (a) orthodox views are not inerrant; (b) popular opinions are often underrepresented, if not actively suppressed, by the establishment; and (c) silencing one view creates a precedent for silencing others.

    Secondly, click bait culture, the promotion of radicalism and the spread of misinformation will continue to be perpetuated by approved legacy media outlets, irrespective of social media crackdowns on independent/alternative creators. If anything, the sophistication and reach of the mainstream press makes the falsehoods they spread all the more pervasive and insidious.

    As to the point about an “equal footing”, the objective should be equality of opportunity, not outcome. Social media and search engine giants should not be curating trends, fact checking users or interfering to prioritize content in accordance with their own interests.

    *Not including illegal speech as outlined by the Brandenburg test.
    Last edited by Cope; January 24, 2021 at 12:54 AM.

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    antaeus's Avatar Simplism
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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    Tolerating the "obnoxious edges of the spectrum"* is the least-worst solution. This is because (a) orthodox views are not inerrant; (b) popular opinions are often underrepresented, if not actively suppressed, by the establishment; and (c) silencing one view creates a precedent for silencing others.
    "Popular" opinions - according to our AI social media overlords are concerned - are those which illicit the most responses and interaction, irrespective of what they say, or whether they are orthodox, previously underrepresented, suppressed or silenced. Much like how it's difficult to ignore a crying child or barking dog, opinions which are most likely to illicit the most responses are those which are inflammatory.

    This relegates discourse such as you and I are having right now, within the context of social media, to the status of suppressed - not literally through censorship, but de-facto by limiting it's reach relative to that which engages the masses. I don't think there even needs to be a conspiracy behind social media management for there to be silencing of opinions, although what we are seeing with the reaction to Trump's mob this month, could be classed as a conspiracy (and by those who made it possible in the first place).

    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    Secondly, click bait culture, the promotion of radicalism and the spread of misinformation will continue to be perpetuated by approved legacy media outlets, irrespective of social media crackdowns on independent/alternative creators. If anything, the sophistication and reach of the mainstream press makes the falsehoods they spread all the more pervasive and insidious.

    As to the point about an “equal footing”, the objective should be equality of opportunity, not outcome. Social media and search engine giants should not be curating trends, fact checking users or interfering to prioritize content in accordance with their own interests.

    *Not including illegal speech as outlined by the Brandenburg test.
    Mainstream press blather aside, I can't disagree with any of this, as I also agree that social media organisations being our arbiters of free speech is problematic. They have created their own town squares and forced everyone into them (even people with no social media accounts exist within their spheres as uniquely identifiable non-registered users). But I can't see a solution to this situation that isn't either heavy on the legislation, or that somehow reclassifies social media in general as a public utility (with all the legal chaos that would ensue).
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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    The idea of violating one right (e.g., free association) to protect another (e.g., free speech) is dubious at best. There aren't multiple competing freedoms, but one coherent freedom; if you violate one part of it then you've violated the whole. Whatever one hopes to gain by criminalizing private discrimination, freedom is not it.
    Last edited by Prodromos; January 24, 2021 at 09:00 AM.
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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by antaeus View Post
    "Popular" opinions - according to our AI social media overlords are concerned - are those which illicit the most responses and interaction, irrespective of what they say, or whether they are orthodox, previously underrepresented, suppressed or silenced. Much like how it's difficult to ignore a crying child or barking dog, opinions which are most likely to illicit the most responses are those which are inflammatory.

    This relegates discourse such as you and I are having right now, within the context of social media, to the status of suppressed - not literally through censorship, but de-facto by limiting it's reach relative to that which engages the masses. I don't think there even needs to be a conspiracy behind social media management for there to be silencing of opinions, although what we are seeing with the reaction to Trump's mob this month, could be classed as a conspiracy (and by those who made it possible in the first place).
    Provocative and/or simplistic material (much of it supplied by legacy media) attracting more attention than detailed information is an age-old problem which has inevitably materialized online. The climate of division encouraged by social media is not worse than the censorship proposed to curtail it.

    The problem of free speech and polarization was discussed by Mill:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    I acknowledge that the tendency of all opinions to become sectarian is not cured by the freest discussion, but is often heightened and exacerbated thereby; the truth which ought to have been, but was not, seen, being rejected all the more violently because proclaimed by persons regarded as opponents. But it is not on the impassioned partisan, it is on the calmer and more disinterested bystander, that this collision of opinions works its salutary effect. Not the violent conflict between parts of the truth, but the quiet suppression of half of it, is the formidable evil: there is always hope when people are forced to listen to both sides; it is when they attend only to one that errors harden into prejudices, and truth itself ceases to have the effect of truth, by being exaggerated into falsehood. And since there are few mental attributes more rare than that judicial faculty which can sit in intelligent judgment between two sides of a question, of which only one is represented by an advocate before it, truth has no chance but in proportion as every side of it, every opinion which embodies any fraction of the truth, not only finds advocates, but is so advocated as to be listened to.

    On Liberty


    The liberal establishment rejects this reasoning (ironic given Mill’s association with liberalism), instead preferring to use the existence of polarization as an excuse to protect and further its own hegemony. For instance, when von der Leyen laments that digital media has become a “danger to democracy”*, and claims that “in a world in which polarising opinions are most likely to be heard, it is a short step from perverse conspiracy theories to the death of police officers,” what she’s really denouncing is criticism of, and organization against, the prevailing political structures and ideologies in Europe.

    *An absurd accusation coming from an obscenely powerful, unelected president of five-hundred million people.


    Mainstream press blather aside, I can't disagree with any of this, as I also agree that social media organisations being our arbiters of free speech is problematic. They have created their own town squares and forced everyone into them (even people with no social media accounts exist within their spheres as uniquely identifiable non-registered users). But I can't see a solution to this situation that isn't either heavy on the legislation, or that somehow reclassifies social media in general as a public utility (with all the legal chaos that would ensue).
    The point about the mainstream press is not “blather”. Misleading, false or conspiratorial content disseminated by CNN, The Washington Post or Fox News (all of which are shown preferential treatment by big tech) is typically more sophisticated and influential than Alex Jones’ rants. Shutting down independent/alternative creators simply restores old media’s monopoly on the national discourse without solving any of the issues relating to fake news or conspiracy theories.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prodromos View Post
    The idea of violating one right (e.g., free association) to protect another (e.g., free speech) is dubious at best. There aren't multiple competing freedoms, but one coherent freedom; if you violate one part of it then you've violated the whole. Whatever one hopes to gain by criminalizing private discrimination, freedom is not it.
    The purpose of the Civil Rights Act was to desegregate America racially; the idea behind protecting political speech would be to arrest the resegregation of America along partisan lines.

    For example, federally subsidized colleges/universities should not be entitled to obstruct conservative groups on campus or facilitate the ideological monopolization of higher education. Nor should businesses be entitled to engage in employment discrimination based on participation in the democratic process (e.g. refusing to accommodate workers requesting time off to vote).
    Last edited by Cope; January 24, 2021 at 08:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    Returning to the laissez faire model which prevailed on major platforms like YouTube and Facebook prior to 2016 would be satisfactory. The question for conservatives and other dissidents is how to achieve that objective in the current climate. The biggest obstacle we face is not the tech companies (who will bend whichever way benefits their corporate reputations), but those with systemic power who are threatened by the growth of alternate voices (the established political class, the legacy media, the entertainment industry, elements of academia etc.).

    Other potential solutions to the one offered above could include using antitrust legislation to break up the tech monopolies (Amazon, Google, Apple) or classifying political views as protected beliefs under the Civil Rights Act (which would have the advantage of combating cancel culture nationally).
    Maybe you've forgotten but pre 2016 youtube comment section had links to child porn, full body of mein Kampf, full body of the Communist Manifesto, links to hacked celebrity photos, and all other kinds of illegal stuff and as much comment section censorship as all communist dictators put together. I don't like political censorship but anonimity and complete freedom never ends well. The right to free speech does NOT extend beyond political oppinions and should never be allowed to be exercised in complete annonimity.
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    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    Maybe you've forgotten but pre 2016 youtube comment section had links to child porn, full body of mein Kampf, full body of the Communist Manifesto, links to hacked celebrity photos, and all other kinds of illegal stuff and as much comment section censorship as all communist dictators put together. I don't like political censorship but anonimity and complete freedom never ends well. The right to free speech does NOT extend beyond political oppinions and should never be allowed to be exercised in complete annonimity.
    I stated the following:

    1. "The objective should be to create online spaces which mirror 'quintessential (traditional) public forums.'" In exchange for certain benefits and protections, the administrators of consenting platforms would be prohibited from "interfering with user generated content protected by the First Amendment" (i.e. legal speech in the US). These platforms would still be entitled to remove content which they reasonably believed was not protected by the the amendment.

    2. "To protect the integrity of the space, caveats covering issues such as pornography and spam bots would need to be included, as would exceptions for private or limited use, user generated areas."

    The mention of the laissez faire approach regarded the comparative absence of censorship, demonetization, shadow banning, fact-checking, trend curation and favouritism. It had nothing to do with ignoring illegal or criminal content.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Free speech in the age of amplified opinions

    Freedom of speech
    I am an advocate of the concept of freedom of speech in it's classic, and internationally recognised sense: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. On the other hand I also feel that freedom of speech shouldn't shield people from the consequences of what they say where it infringes on other rights of other individuals - there is a delicate balance to be found where the expression of a right of one individual can potentially infringe on a right of another.
    A small side comment from me.

    The first and foremost and most fundamental right of any human is the right to discriminate. The term "discriminate" is not inherently negative, it is neutral, it simply is the capacity for an individual to enact preferences, to refuse or embrace options. The right to discriminate can be exercised towards anything, such as a choice of companions, opinions, professional choices, etc.

    That right is exercised in both ways. You may state an opinion, no matter how unusual or adversarial it may be. Can there be consequences for stating an opinion? Yes, but censoring, persecution, "cancelling" someone, or violence aren't acceptable. The range of acceptable consequences must respect another's autonomy and the possibility of the party who heard such an opinion to also discriminate in return, or in other words, to outright refuse another's opinion, wish to have nothing to do with them, and/or protest against another's opinion but without denying the fundamental right of other party to express themselves.

    The current narrative from the left, sjw, socialists, fascists, and totalitarians in general, when saying "freedom of speech shouldn't shield people from the consequences" in actuality is just a indirect way to justify violence against someone they disagree with. When they use the word "consequences" they in actuality are trying to excuse the use of violence and coercion against those who profess opinions that stand in opposition to them. It's a subversive narrative. Only discrimination is acceptable between disagreeing groups, since this procedure does not compromise the autonomy and the reciprocal right to discriminate from the other party.

    In truth, when the left uses the reasoning "freedom of speech shouldn't shield people from the consequences" in order to justify their narrative, it is their hope that a preemptive self-censorious mentality takes hold of other people's mind, or in other words, people police themselves out of fear, fear has taken control of them, fear of the violent repercussions from totalitarians, these repercussions can range from bodily harm, destroying someone professionally and financially, and thus indirectly deny them their right to live and eventually perish under a bridge, with no way to survive, impoverished. And through these methods they reach their objective of killing/eliminating their adversaries, but indirectly, and without necessitating to be open and honest about it, which would been seen as unacceptable in any free society, and these totalitarians know it.

    “When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”


    George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

    (edited for grammar corrections)
    Last edited by numerosdecimus; January 26, 2021 at 07:14 PM.

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