Sunday, March 24, 2019

Pressure on platforms to censor content and deplatform some speakers drives everyone toward identarianism

James Langford, business editor of the Washington Examiner, writes “Social media companies under pressure to censor violent content,”  p 42 of the March 26, 2019 issue. 

He quoted New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern as saying about that (social media) platforms, “they are the publisher, not just the postman.”

But that goes against all the provisions in US law, like Section 230 and DMCA Safe Harbor, that enable user-generated content as we are used to it today to exist at all.  This statement is an existential threat to all individual speakers, confronting them with the need to be willing to let others peak for them through groups. It does play into identarianism and challenges (Ayn Rand style) individualism.
The same battle happens now in Europe, especially with Article 13 (in yesterday’s post) because the EU is about to make platforms legally the publishers of the posts.  In the US, the users are legally the publishers.

Facebook and YouTube were overwhelmed in stopping the spread of the smush (or "snuff") videos of the killings. Some measures, like one minute delays for all live-streams, might help the algorithms stop the worst incidents.

But the Langford article reports that Congress will be looking at more regulation soon.
Little discussed with all this is the major difference in how social media platforms work compared to shared hosting, which users pay for, and for which there is much less censorship, although that has been changing since Charlottesville.

But if all platforms were truly publishers, no one could self-publish.  Everything posted for the whole world to see on an index would have to pass suitability for publication just as in the past with most books and magazines.  It could be expanded, but individuals would have to show social credit before being allowed to be heard as individuals.  Which is what a lot of activists want – to force everyone to take sides and fight.
New Zealand has even made “possession” of a private copy of the “Manifesto” a crime, as if it were child pornography. The analogy is not logical however; a text document with no images did not require a victim to be created. Speakers may need to have private copies to know if they were mentioned, in order to anticipate any legal problems themselves.

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