‘Freedom of Speech, Not Freedom of Reach’

 

The title of the post is Elon Musk’s new Twitter policy.

Fair enough.

Your freedom to preach on a corner is not an entitlement to a crowd. Where this gets a little hazy is when a tweet is “max deboosted.” I don’t understand Twitter well enough to understand whether that means it will be suppressed. Retweets are a form of boosting. If real people are retweeting, all well and good. But if bots are pushing the retweets then “deboosting” makes sense.

Will this all be figured out with the new “blue check” system? Can bots be “blue checked” if someone is paying for them? Given the opaqueness of intelligence agency funding and their own technical expertise, can legends become Twitter users and push favored narratives?

Strange times.

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  1. Henry Racette Moderator
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    This isn’t what I wanted from Twitter, and isn’t why I rejoined the site when Musk announced his intention to buy it.

    I reject the notion of “negative/hate tweets” as entirely too broad. Much, perhaps most, of free speech, including free speech in the public square Mr. Musk has claimed to value, is in some sense “negative,” and the “hate speech” label is entirely too flexible.

    We have legal standards for constraining speech. Individuals on Twitter can block people whom they find offensive. Twitter can deplatform people who threaten other members or otherwise behave in a way that, absent Section 230, would leave the platform open to legal liability. That seems a reasonable standard.

    I think shadow-banning is the most insidious and sinister form of censorship big tech has introduced, and this sounds like that. I don’t approve.

    (I sent Elon a note to this effect but haven’t heard from him yet. Just like him….)

    • #1
  2. Mackinder Coolidge
    Mackinder
    @Mackinder

    When Musk is echoing — literally — Brian Stelter, he lets us know that he is neither what the Right hopes he is nor what the Left fears he is.

    Stelter: “Freedom of speech is different than freedom of reach.”

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/brian-stelter-cennsorship-harm-reduction

    • #2
  3. Henry Racette Moderator
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Mackinder (View Comment):

    When Musk is echoing — literally — Brian Stelter, he lets us know that he is neither what the Right hopes he is nor what the Left fears he is.

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/brian-stelter-cennsorship-harm-reduction

    What Elon Musk has going for him is a willingness to fail, correct, and try again.

    I’m hoping that happens in this case. I want him to see a pro-free speech backlash, realize he’s going down the wrong path, and change his position.

    • #3
  4. Quickz Member
    Quickz
    @Quickz

    This is fine as a broad-brush statement. I want to see the final rules though.

    • #4
  5. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    I don’t think the definitions of ‘negative’ and ‘hate’ can be operationalized in such a manner that posts can be evaluated by either by algorithms or reliably by humans.  To the extent that they default to or filter up to the latter, it’s going to require lots of people, a condition that Musk doesn’t want.

    Unless the strong default is DON’T boost and monetize unless a tweet is specifically selected (by Twitter humans) for that purpose…which creates other problems.

     

    • #5
  6. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Interesting observation at Twitter:

    every iteration of the FTX story was broken by accounts like @AutismCapital, while nyt and other mainstream outlets obscured, downplayed, and denied the degree to which SBF screwed everyone over

    If true, yet more evidence for the importance of free speech and the danger of suppressing unpopular views.

    • #6
  7. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    My impression is that if a website is not moderated, it descends into a cesspool.  This is unfortunate, but the general level of decorum in our society is distressingly low.  In fairness, most people probably act in a civilized manner, but a disturbing number of people have no sense of propriety.

    Among other things, I suspect that this relates to the degeneration of music.  Just this week, at a gas station, a fairly normal-looking fellow in a pickup was blasting one of the most vile rap songs that I’ve endured.  This is nothing new, and was not limited to rap, but as with so much in our society, deviancy seems to be constantly defined down.

    Looking back, it occurs to me that George Carlin is a major figure to blame for this.  He had his “seven words you can’t say on television” routine.

    Something obscene seems to have happened in our country, and it’s hard to tell exactly when.  The degeneration was obvious in the 1960s, but probably started well before that.  Even Elvis with his gyrating pelvis was rather obscene.  If you follow the Beatles, they go from “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” in just a few years.

    This is what happens when you take off the societal guard rails.

    One of my main conclusions is that libertarians and “classical liberals” are utterly impervious to evidence and experience.

    We used to censor such obscenity and inappropriate vocabulary.  Ever since we stopped, in the name of Free Speech, we’ve been on an accelerating slide into verbal Sodom and Gomorrah.

    This makes Musk’s job difficult.  I think that serious censorship is necessary, or you’re going to have a nightmare of a platform.

    The Left, however, makes things worse, by it’s concept of “hate speech,” which defines reasonable and widespread opinions as unacceptable and beyond the pale.  When I think about it, I am shocked that the advocates of sanctified anal sodomy, dismemberment of unborn children, and mutilation of confused children have the gall, and the lack of self-awareness, to be self-righteous.

    Much of this traces to identity politics, particularly among feminists, black activists, and Jews, who have been highly successful rhetorically by leveling accusations of misogyny, racism, and anti-Semitism against others.  These are not the only groups to do so, of course, but these seem to be the big three, joined more recently by the perverts of the LGBT movement.

    I think that a lot of libertarian and classic liberal-types live in a bubble, in which they generally observe reasonable behavior and decorum around themselves, and assume that this is the norm.  It is not.

    If you doubt this, look up the Grammy performance of Cardi B doing “Wet-Ass Pussy,” or Nicki Minaj’s video of “Anaconda.”  I’m sure there are male acts that are as bad, or worse.

    This nation is in serious need of repentance.

    • #7
  8. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    I see very little trashy content in my (very limited) Twitter feed and the promoted tweets.  If I go down one level, to the responses to those top-level tweets, I do get some unpleasant stuff….for example, Claire Lehmann (publisher of Quillette) tweeted a link to her recent The Australian article on the recent crypto debacle and on tech-industry hubris in general.  About 70% of the replies were on-topic and reasonably polite, but there were also some like “fake blonde”, complaints about The Australian being a paywalled site, etc.  Easy to ignore such things, but doesn’t encourage engagement in the discussion, such as it is.

     

     

     

     

    • #8
  9. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    This isn’t what I wanted from Twitter, and isn’t why I rejoined the site when Musk announced his intention to buy it.

    I reject the notion of “negative/hate tweets” as entirely too broad. Much, perhaps most, of free speech, including free speech in the public square Mr. Musk has claimed to value, is in some sense “negative,” and the “hate speech” label is entirely too flexible.

    We have legal standards for constraining speech. Individuals on Twitter can block people whom they find offensive. Twitter can deplatform people who threaten other members or otherwise behave in a way that, absent Section 230, would leave the platform open to legal liability. That seems a reasonable standard.

    I think shadow-banning is the most insidious and sinister form of censorship big tech has introduced, and this sounds like that. I don’t approve.

    (I sent Elon a note to this effect but haven’t heard from him yet. Just like him….)

    It’s a dilemma. I have some experience with the administrative side of a social media company and have found that the balancing act isn’t easy. Twitter operates on a slightly different scale than the one I work for. Being $44 billion in, plus the advertising issue—controversies aside, recessions complicate things—then there’s the fact that juries are hard to rely on for reasonable claims in a tort dispute with a company as large as Twitter. (I don’t sympathize with Alex Jones, but did he really do $1 billion’s worth of crazy talk?)

    It’s tricky stuff. I guess we’ll see how it plays out.

    Mackinder (View Comment):
    When Musk is echoing — literally — Brian Stelter, he lets us know that he is neither what the Right hopes he is nor what the Left fears he is.

    He’s useful for the time being, but we shouldn’t forget that the man prefers robots to humans.

    I suppose he finds us useful for the time being, too…

    • #9
  10. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    This isn’t what I wanted from Twitter, and isn’t why I rejoined the site when Musk announced his intention to buy it.

    I reject the notion of “negative/hate tweets” as entirely too broad. Much, perhaps most, of free speech, including free speech in the public square Mr. Musk has claimed to value, is in some sense “negative,” and the “hate speech” label is entirely too flexible.

    We have legal standards for constraining speech. Individuals on Twitter can block people whom they find offensive. Twitter can deplatform people who threaten other members or otherwise behave in a way that, absent Section 230, would leave the platform open to legal liability. That seems a reasonable standard.

    I think shadow-banning is the most insidious and sinister form of censorship big tech has introduced, and this sounds like that. I don’t approve.

    (I sent Elon a note to this effect but haven’t heard from him yet. Just like him….)

    It’s a dilemma. I have some experience with administrative side of a social media company and have found that the balancing act isn’t easy. Twitter operates on a slightly different scale than the one I work for but being $44 billion in, plus the advertising issue—controversies aside, recessions complicate things—then there’s the fact that juries are hard to rely on for reasonable claims in a tort dispute with a company as large as Twitter. (I don’t sympathize with Alex Jones, but did he do $1 billion’s worth of crazy talk?)

    It’s tricky stuff. I guess we’ll see how it plays out.

    Mackinder (View Comment):
    When Musk is echoing — literally — Brian Stelter, he lets us know that he is neither what the Right hopes he is nor what the Left fears he is.

    He’s useful for the time being, but we shouldn’t forget that the man prefers robots to humans.

    I suppose he finds us useful for the time being, too…

    Or at least he finds our females useful.  :-)

    Wasn’t that an old B-movie?  “Musk Needs Women?”

    • #10
  11. GPentelie Coolidge
    GPentelie
    @GPentelie

    Musk’s Twitter, over the past week or so, reinstated the accounts of LibsOfTikTok, Jordan Peterson, Trump, Babylon Bee, etc., BUT also the account of … Kathy Griffin.

    Seems to me, he likes Free Speech so much that he’s willing to gamble on providing even someone like Kathy Griffin with as much reach as she can muster.

    I like Free Speech that much, too. How about YOU?

    • #11
  12. Henry Racette Moderator
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    GPentelie (View Comment):

    Musk’s Twitter, over the past week or so, reinstated the accounts of LibsOfTikTok, Jordan Peterson, Trump, Babylon Bee, etc., BUT also the account of … Kathy Griffin.

    Seems to me, he likes Free Speech so much that he’s willing to gamble on providing even someone like Kathy Griffin with as much reach as she can muster.

    I like Free Speech that much, too. How about YOU?

    I certainly like free speech that much. Kathy Griffin was ejected from Twitter for reasons other than a free speech “violation”: she impersonated another user (Elon Musk), in contravention to Twitter’s clearly stated policy.

    Twitter offers their “blue checkmark” as a way of signaling that the platform has performed some due diligence and can vouch for the identity of the user flagged with the checkmark. Kathy changed her user name and profile picture to make it appear that her account was actually Elon Musk’s, and then told people to go out and vote Democrat.

    I had no problem with her being kicked off for that violation, as it was a matter not of viewpoint discrimination nor censorship, but rather of fraud prevention.

    Having said that, I think the best solution would be to (1) associate verified identities only with real names, and (2) prevent people from changing their names once verified.

    • #12
  13. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Looking back, it occurs to me that George Carlin is a major figure to blame for this. He had his “seven words you can’t say on television” routine.

    Lenny Bruce. The father of all the vulgarian comedians. He had his obscenity charge in Chicago overturned in The People of the State of Illinois v. Lenny Bruce. I can appreciate Paul Rahe’s take that the founders didn’t really have his kind of social commentary in mind when they sought to protect political speech, but it seems Americans underestimated the value social convention. As for Libertarians, they might’ve overestimated the value of principle.

    It’s a funny thing how poorly we’ve done with prosperity. We are where we are. I wonder how we work it out.

    • #13
  14. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Looking back, it occurs to me that George Carlin is a major figure to blame for this. He had his “seven words you can’t say on television” routine.

    Lenny Bruce. The father of all the vulgarian comedians. He had his obscenity charge in Chicago overturned in The People of the State of Illinois v. Lenny Bruce. I can appreciate Paul Rahe’s take that the founders didn’t really have his kind of social commentary in mind when they sought to protect political speech, but it seems Americans underestimated the value social convention. As for Libertarians, they might’ve overestimated the value of principle.

    It’s a funny thing how poorly we’ve done with prosperity. We are where we are. I wonder how we work it out.

    The problem with Libertarians isn’t just that they overestimate the value of principle, though they do.  The bigger problem, I think, is that they have only one principle.

    It turns out that their principle amounts to “do your own thing,” which again, is what puts them on the side of the radical Leftists on a great many issues.

    • #14
  15. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    This isn’t what I wanted from Twitter, and isn’t why I rejoined the site when Musk announced his intention to buy it.

    I reject the notion of “negative/hate tweets” as entirely too broad.

    I’ll wait and see what it means.  He has to make sure his advertisers do not all flee.  There would probably be no Twitter without advertisers.

    • #15
  16. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    This isn’t what I wanted from Twitter, and isn’t why I rejoined the site when Musk announced his intention to buy it.

    I reject the notion of “negative/hate tweets” as entirely too broad.

    I’ll wait and see what it means. He has to make sure his advertisers do not all flee. There would probably be no Twitter without advertisers.

    Advertisers may flee for a time, to please certain leftists who probably don’t buy their products anyway.  But I doubt they’ll stay fled for long.

    • #16
  17. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    Quickz (View Comment):

    This is fine as a broad-brush statement. I want to see the final rules though.

    Indeed. I get that Twitter has zero obligation to promote a user’s tweets beyond the user’s own followers, but if I were to tweet something and then I find out that it’s hidden from my followers‘ feeds, I might be a wee bit annoyed.

    • #17
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Misthiocracy has never (View Comment):

    Quickz (View Comment):

    This is fine as a broad-brush statement. I want to see the final rules though.

    Indeed. I get that Twitter has zero obligation to promote a user’s tweets beyond the user’s own followers, but if I were to tweet something and then I find out that it’s hidden from my followers‘ feeds, I might be a wee bit annoyed.

    It’s lately been nice seeing the tweets of some of the people I follow again. 

    • #18
  19. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy has never (View Comment):

    Quickz (View Comment):

    This is fine as a broad-brush statement. I want to see the final rules though.

    Indeed. I get that Twitter has zero obligation to promote a user’s tweets beyond the user’s own followers, but if I were to tweet something and then I find out that it’s hidden from my followers‘ feeds, I might be a wee bit annoyed.

    It’s lately been nice seeing the tweets of some of the people I follow again.

    Some of that was starting to happen before Musk actually took over, which is why some conservative commentators suddenly found themselves with a lot more “followers” than they’d previous known about.

    • #19
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