While We Were Sleeping

 

The alarming thing has nothing to do with health or elections or wars. The alarming thing is the control of lies. It would be nice if we could eliminate all the lies and have nothing but truth left, as that would clear a lot of things up. The problem and what makes it the alarming thing is, who gets to decide?

YouTube announced it is removing accounts it considers to be providing misinformation. It could be right, and maybe it is misinformation. If it is, it should be removed, or should it? I think it probably has a right under its terms of use. But should it remove information, even if it’s proven to be bad information?

I’ve considered this quite a bit of late, and as much as I would like to see only the truth, I’d rather someone else not decide what is true. It should be up to me to decide, and by me, I mean all of us. Leaving it up to us may lead to our demise, but not having the choice may lead to worse.

The people should decide.  

Edited to add:
I think many would agree that bad information has gotten out of hand in recent years. The government cannot and should not take action.  The various sources cannot really be trusted.  What is the real fix? How do we preserve the truth and disarm the lies?

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  1. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    In this ongoing controversy, I don’t understand why youtube, facebook, et al, can’t just add their comment to the post, and let the readers decide which to believe. How does that not deal equitably with the “misinformation” problem? Why does the site need to intervene?

    • #1
  2. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Besides the obvious answer, we have to remember how often today’s misinformation becomes tomorrows truth.

    Do I have to provide citations or can we just think about the past 5 years or so with major stories later proven completely false?

     

    • #2
  3. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I suspect that it would be even more concerning if we knew the age,  level of knowledge, and political affiliation of those making the decisions.

    • #3
  4. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    It used to be common that talk shows were followed by an announcement that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the management or editorial staff. I don’t watch TV much anymore so I don’t know if that is still done, but it works for me.

    I was working at a small radio station once when the guest interviewee did not appear so the Station Manager and the news editor spent the on-air time discussing their views of current events. This was followed by the standard pre-recorded announcement above. It struck me funny when I asked myself the question, “Whose views are they then?”

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Franco (View Comment):

    Besides the obvious answer, we have to remember how often today’s misinformation becomes tomorrows truth.

    Do I have to provide citations or can we just think about the past 5 years or so with major stories later proven completely false?

    And things that were denied having come out as the reality.

    • #5
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    I suspect that it would be even more concerning if we knew the age,  level of knowledge, and political affiliation of those making the decisions.

    Under twenty-five, gender-studies majors, communist/socialist/Democratic Party.

    • #6
  7. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    In this ongoing controversy, I don’t understand why youtube, facebook, et al, can’t just add their comment to the post, and let the readers decide which to believe. How does that not deal equitably with the “misinformation” problem? Why does the site need to intervene?

    Exactly my thought!  They could even attach something to the bottom of the page.  

    • #7
  8. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    I edited the post to add:
    I think many would agree that bad information has gotten out of hand in recent years.  The government and cannot and should not take action.   The various sources cannot really be trusted.   What is the real fix?  How do we preserve the truth and disarm the lies?  

    • #8
  9. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I suspect that it would be even more concerning if we knew the age, level of knowledge, and political affiliation of those making the decisions.

    I had a Facebook post that made a joke that concluded Canadians must not be very smart.  It was flagged for racial/ethnic sensitivity.  I “appealed” out of the mistaken belief that a functioning human would then read it and see that it was innocuous.  No such luck.  The robo appeals bot sustained the robo filter bot.

    At least I hope they were bots, if those were actual people… that humorless and stupid…

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    I suspect that it would be even more concerning if we knew the age, level of knowledge, and political affiliation of those making the decisions.

    Under twenty-five, gender-studies majors, communist/socialist/Democratic Party.

    Who’ve never heard of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn or Arthur Koestler and think Animal Farm was written by the racist Dr. Seuss.

    • #10
  11. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    I don’t get why any of these companies are doing this.  If you just let people post and then take it down when told it is a monetary fraud or libelous or something else that involves actual liability of some kind for the uploaded/poster, then none of that is your fault. 

    Once you start being selective, you are taking on responsibility and maybe liability.  If you declare all content favoring one political party a violation of standards, then you are one election away from having an unhappy conversation with the FEC about in-kind contributions.  If people tell a judge they relied on something on Facebook or YouTube because they know that false information is removed by those companies, it is a lot of extra work for their attorneys to keep plaintiffs out of their very deep pockets.

    Young lefties have no concept of Lockeian liberalism and the philosophical and historical context of free speech.  Might as well use bots.

    • #11
  12. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    JoelB (View Comment):
    It struck me funny when I asked myself the question, “Whose views are they then?”

    Not necessarily the views of the shareholders or advertisers, I should think.  

    • #12
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    I don’t get why any of these companies are doing this.  If you just let people post and then take it down when told it is a monetary fraud or libelous or something else that involves actual liability of some kind for the uploaded/poster, then none of that is your fault. 

    Once you start being selective, you are taking on responsibility and maybe liability.  If you declare all content favoring one political party a violation of standards, then you are one election away from having an unhappy conversation with the FEC about in-kind contributions.  If people tell a judge they relied on something on Facebook or YouTube because they know that false information is removed by those companies, it is a lot of extra work for their attorneys to keep plaintiffs out of their very deep pockets.

    The scale and scope of the laws and regulations they are calling down upon themselves would make a fitting subject for a painting by Hieronymus Bosch.

    • #13
  14. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Lawst N. Thawt: I think they probably have a right under their terms of use. 

    Not really, but I am being a stickler about “rights” here.   Corporations have a right to speak without government censorship, but corporations that act as public utilities do not have a “right” to censor the content on their platforms.  What is allowed and what is regulated is up to the states. 

    • #14
  15. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Lawst N. Thawt: I think they probably have a right under their terms of use.

    Not really, but I am being a stickler about “rights” here. Corporations have a right to speak without government censorship, but corporations that act as public utilities do not have a “right” to censor the content on their platforms. What is allowed and what is regulated is up to the states.

    I don’t think this type of thing has made it to a court yet and will be interesting when it does.  Many of the agreements that no one reads have terms that place no obligation on the provider to host the user’s content and gives the provider sole discretion to remove content or users. 

     

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Clearly they plan to continue to censor things that don’t meet their political agenda. Period.

    If we wonder what is true, and it’s important enough for us to know the truth on a particular matter, we must select our “go-to” sources whom we trust to be reliable if we want to test an unfamiliar writer. Even checking a couple of sources isn’t a bad idea. Not for everything, but for things we judge as important. And let go of the rest.

    • #16
  17. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    If Google (for example) simply ran a website or family of websites, I would have much more sympathy with arguments that they may do as they like on their sites, that they need not bake the cake, so to speak.  It would be a matter of an editor refusing to publish a particularly loathsome letter to the editor, or refusing to run an advertisement loathsome to the readership.

    Google, however, is in a monopoly position which is odd in that it doesn’t matter how many companies occupy the same state — it is a vertical monoply, not a horizontal one.  Google, makes (and is certainly free to make) hardware, software, networks, and content.  Their combinations of those products further produce platforms, data, and n-level metadata.  It is inappropriate for themn to produce your phone’s hardware, firmware, operating system, applications, websites you visit and content that you consume — and say that they can do what they want in the operating system without affecting your speech rights on their platform. 

    Google can track you via hardware and the operating system, and feels free to use that information in deciding whether you are welcome on their website.  For instance, when you type into a third-party private messaging application and the spellcheck keeps giving you suggestions — where do you think those come from?  The “keyboard” keystrokes are still handled by the operating system, and Google is always listening.  They see everything you type, and that information is then encrypted by the private messaging app for secure delivary to another platform, which is also spying on you at the recipient’s end.  When the wifi is up on your phone, it sees other wifi access points and can guage how distant they are.  If your wifi is up, they can pinpoint you with breathtaking accuracy. 

    Just like Alexa or Hey Google or Siri must always listen in order to come when called, phones and PCs are always exchanging huge amounts of valuable information in order to offer you opportunities to connect to wifi, cell services, bluetooth, devices on networks, and other networks.  That information doesn;t go nowhere.  It is encoded in cookies or in Google’s new “FLoC”, which aims to kill off cookies and replae them with a supercookie system that only Google can benefit from.

    Oh, the same goes for Apple and Microsoft.  And they all share information to the extent that it is mutually beneficial, and they famously each have “business relationships” with their “business partners” who do the next step in heavy lifting — clearing and collating columns of data into rows of meaning.  Then the rows are sold.

    When I go to the store, I refuse to let them scan my license for age verification.  Having a checker verify my age just verifies my age.  Scanning my license transmits my identity for refining their Orwellian profile of me.

    Baby steps.

    • #17
  18. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    In this ongoing controversy, I don’t understand why youtube, facebook, et al, can’t just add their comment to the post, and let the readers decide which to believe. How does that not deal equitably with the “misinformation” problem? Why does the site need to intervene?

    JoelB (View Comment):

    It used to be common that talk shows were followed by an announcement that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the management or editorial staff. I don’t watch TV much anymore so I don’t know if that is still done, but it works for me.

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    If we wonder what is true, and it’s important enough for us to know the truth on a particular matter, we must select our “go-to” sources whom we trust to be reliable if we want to test an unfamiliar writer. Even checking a couple of sources isn’t a bad idea. Not for everything, but for things we judge as important. And let go of the rest.

    I think what is different is the volume of information, both true and untrue.   Back in the newspaper only days, I think the readers were the fact-checkers, by comparing notes around the barbershop, the coffee shop, etc., and a paper wouldn’t have survived if it strayed too far, and maybe that carried over some to radio and TV.  The internet is too vast.  The temptation is too easy for the user to abuse with bad info and too easy for the providers to abuse control of the users. 

    • #18
  19. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    I share the concerns of @franco (#2) and @arahant (#5) because so many things that were “certain fact” were later revealed as not so factual, and so many other things that were “certainly false” were later revealed to be quite true. 

    Plus, how can a small group of “experts” in a few government agencies or in the employ of a few companies really know enough to correctly judge “truth” and “false”? Utmost arrogance. And completely anti-science, since science is all about proposing theses, many of which are directly counter to accepted truth, and then testing them out. But if the thesis can’t even be proposed, it can’t be tested. So we’ll stop learning and reduce the development of new knowledge. 

    • #19
  20. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    It is not as though you can “freely choose to sever your relationship” with Google or similar.  They are tracking the everloving crap out of everybody.  If you’re not shoveling information to them about yourself, your friends, your neighbors, co-workers, and contacts, well plenty of other people are.

    You are not free to disengage with these creeps, because they do for the government what the government is “discouraged” from doing for itself.  It’s extraordinary rendition, all right here on US soil.  Why, we never interrogated those prisoners — we just allow contractors do it as a normal course of their business, and we ask them for things from time to time.

    Snowden was right to freak out, and it’s much worse now.

    • #20
  21. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    BDB (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):
    It struck me funny when I asked myself the question, “Whose views are they then?”

    Not necessarily the views of the shareholders or advertisers, I should think.

    Advertisers are almost all cowards.

    • #21
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    Plus, how can a small group of “experts” in a few government agencies or in the employ of a few companies really know enough to correctly judge “truth” and “false”? Utmost arrogance. And completely anti-science, since science is all about proposing theses, many of which are directly counter to accepted truth, and then testing them out. But if the thesis can’t even be proposed, it can’t be tested. So we’ll stop learning and reduce the development of new knowledge.

    Hello Lysenkoism! It worked so well everywhere else it was tried.

    • #22
  23. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Let’s talk about misinformation.  Let’s say one of our resident conspiracy nuts says that the vaccine will make you melt like the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark if you do not pledge your soul to Bill Gates.

    If you want to debunk that, it used to be that you could turn to some particular group of experts.  However, the experts have squandered their credibility.  The CDC or FDA has about the credibility of a used car salesman currently.  Actually debunking something takes a long time, just like trying to look up information on something challenging for my job.  90% percent of evidence can get tossed with a quick reference to data manipulation by Big Pharma etc.  The sad and scary part is it is harder to say that is entirely implausible.   As the government gets more and more corrupt and stupid, it becomes harder to shoot down conspiracy theories.  So you can spend hours of time debunking the latest offering, only to have yet another one show up the next day.

    It would be so easy to just delete them.  “Everyone” knows they are bogus and just spreading garbage.  Why spend all that time on the debunking and arguing with them when you can just shut them down.  It’s even easier if you automate it.  A lot of people would not mind them being shut up.   It can be so tempting.

    It’s so very easy to shut down dissent, until it is your turn to be silenced.

    • #23
  24. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    We should have a free market of ideas.  Let everyone say what they want and each of us will decide who is closer to the truth and who is closer to error.  

    Also, let each individual business/corporation make their own decisions regarding which views they will blast from their megaphone.  If Coca-Cola doesn’t want to pay LeBron James to sell Coca-Cola because Coca-Cola is afraid that LeBron James is too controversial, so be it.  

    If YouTube only wants to be a platform for Lefty videos then I am certain that a group of non-Lefties will develop Free Tube where conservative vids can be uploaded and viewed.  

    I am not going to force Amazon or YouTube or Twitter to provide me or anyone else a platform for their views.  But I will continue to read viewpoints from other sources.

    • #24
  25. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    I am not going to force Amazon or YouTube or Twitter to provide me or anyone else a platform for their views.

    The problem is when they have special legal considerations as a platform, but then act as a publisher and try to act as if they are still merely a platform.

    • #25
  26. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Arahant (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    I am not going to force Amazon or YouTube or Twitter to provide me or anyone else a platform for their views.

    The problem is when they have special legal considerations as a platform, but then act as a publisher and try to act as if they are still merely a platform.

    Sure.  But a group of conservatives could create something very similar to YouTube or Amazon or Twitter and have that be a “publisher” of conservative viewpoints.  

    I listen to podcasts where people criticize transgenderism, where people criticize woke-ism.  There is no monopoly.  Thus, there is no reason why the government should be allowed to intervene.  

    • #26
  27. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    We should have a free market of ideas. Let everyone say what they want and each of us will decide who is closer to the truth and who is closer to error.

    Also, let each individual business/corporation make their own decisions regarding which views they will blast from their megaphone. If Coca-Cola doesn’t want to pay LeBron James to sell Coca-Cola because Coca-Cola is afraid that LeBron James is too controversial, so be it.

    If YouTube only wants to be a platform for Lefty videos then I am certain that a group of non-Lefties will develop Free Tube where conservative vids can be uploaded and viewed.

    I am not going to force Amazon or YouTube or Twitter to provide me or anyone else a platform for their views. But I will continue to read viewpoints from other sources.

    The problem here is that various other schemes are pressured out of business by credit card processors, network providers, etc, in part because those companies themselves are ALSO reliant on Google or Amazon for hosting, for corporate services, for data about customers, for their own advertising/market info needs.

    Google in particular is playing multiple positions ont he field, and sprinkled across both teams.  It’s like saying that Internet Explorer is free to compete against Netscape Navigator, when IE was forcibly bundled into the OS by MS.  That’s not competition — that’s a vertical monopoly.

    • #27
  28. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    As a free market supporter, I would rather we pass legislation that increases business autonomy.  

    For example, just because someone tells a sexist or racist joke at a workplace does not mean that the business/corporation should be sued for discrimination (having a hostile work environment) because they don’t force their employees to endure 20 hours of sensitivity training.  

    We need to make it harder for people to sue businesses for discrimination, not easier.  We need to make it harder for government to micro-manage businesses, not easier. 

    Less taxing, less spending, less litigation, less regulation.  That’s what I would prefer.  Not government intervention against corporations that do things I disagree with.  

    • #28
  29. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    See my post from last year, Do the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop Approve?

    It is a fundamental error to view Americans as merely consumers who need to be protected, rather than as citizens, who are actually in a sense officers of the state.

     

    • #29
  30. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Costs used to go up with size, especially publications, so there was competition and folks took several newspapers, listened to radio and saw Television.  The digital age makes costs go down forever and we have to come to grips with these natural monopolies.  Either they publish or provide content, they can’t be allowed to do both.  The folks who ran places knew they had to compete and had to compete to put food on the table.  Now they’re all billionaires and they are less aware of their ignorance than the previous folks.  If they publish they shouldn’t have control of  content, users decide on content.  Anti monopoly is needed and it might even be possible as the process is not yet under control of the totalitarians taking over the country.  

    • #30