Sunday, January 31, 2021

Brian Stelter on CNN hints at the need for social credit systems for people who want to speak online ("Freedom of speech" vs. "Freedom of reach")


winter, finally

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has  a memo, dated January 21, 2021, to the incoming Biden administration.  Note quickly its recommendations on Section 230 and the need to preserve it to allow everyone to be heard with their own point of view.

But we have increasing sentiment that much of our establishment does not want everyone to be heard.  As Brian Stelter of CNN says now, “Freedom of speech” is protected, but not “Freedom of reach”.  It rhymes like in a poem.  Actually, there is some discussion of the latter in the 2007 COPA opinion that I have discussed before.  

But Brian Stelter, in this video excerpt from Tom Elliot,  talks instead about the “Harm Reduction Model”, and “Reducing Information Pollution”.  

Stelter says that Fox has complained that CNN is trying to drive if off the air.  (He wants service providers and ISP's remove access to harmful content, when they really are "telephone companies".) But it is more that large corporate media would like to get rid of competition from low-cost independent producers who don’t provide others with stable jobs in journalism.

You can’t get rid of “information pollution” and keep it from reaching users without gatekeepers.  And it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the obvious way to gatekeep (as the legal climate is less friendly to protecting platform downstream liability) is to pre-screen who gets published, the way it used to be.  (Stelter mentions Schuster’s cancellation of Josh Hawley.)  I’ve called this idea “the privilege of being listened to”, indeed a conditional privilege.  The next apparent tool would be to establish norms of individual social credit worthiness.  If you want to be heard, you should care about the people who will receive your message and have some accountability for what they do. You should have "skin in the game".  The Chinese already have very precise paradigms on how to do this, and pose that it is fundamental to personal morality.  And they don’t have “critical theory” in the way, which is ironic.

Update:  Allison Morrow weighs  in on Stelter and Nicholas Kristoff in this video

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