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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

Our first place winner on the insightful side this week is an anonymous commenter who provided a thorough, piece-by-piece reply to a comment about alternatives to Section 230:

I don’t think 230 is so much a panacea. In it’s absence something else (a technical solution) would have evolved

No technical solution can provide you legal liability protections from hosting someone else’s content. Without it, you could punish an innocent person for the actions of someone else. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous.

perhaps something like syndicated self hosting on distributed/shared p2p resources, with embedded remote social content via something like magnet links…In such a case- we’d all be “our own” hosts, and responsible for “our own” speech, AND what we wanted censored from “ourselves”.

As you state, this would require people to run their own hosts/servers. This would mean that all internet connected users would have to run their own server and make sure it was constantly online or the content would disappear. The level of technical knowledge required to do this would exclude the vast majority of internet users. So much so as to make it absolutely worthless. Only people in IT or those with a tech hobby would even attempt it. And even then, they may not have proper ISP service to do it, since broadband coverage sucks and by the TOS, you can’t use residential broadband services to host a server.

Anonymous speech could be handled as it’s own category… People could be free to make and share all the tribal lists of undesirables they wanted to exclude in there preferred filter bubbles.

This makes absolutely zero sense. Since it’s all self hosted, there is NO anonymous speech.

Or free to just deal with the toxic mess that is a small/loud/ugly part of reality;

This is the current state of affairs with social media platforms.

with the comforting knowledge that neither gov, corp, partizan, or religious agendas where controlling their view and ability to engage with alleged commentary.

This is disingenuous. The only important part of that statement is the government. The government is the only one that should be barred from interfering in online speech. Everything else is protected as its own free speech. Currently you are free to do just that. 8chan is still online if you are so inclined to go there.

This would be much more inline with the ideals of the first amendment

No it would not since the First Amendment ONLY applies to the government. Corporations, religious groups, individuals, etc… are free to block or allow whatever content they want on the platforms they own/control.

it would avoid consolidation of power

By making the entire system useless.

I think it would also somewhat alleviate the pressure of hate speech- a part of which is founded on the concern of being manipulated and controlled through censorship

As far as I know, the only pressure on hate speech is to NOT say it. That hasn’t stopped anyone so far who really wanted to say hateful things. Nor would your solution prevent that either. Your assertion (the concern of being manipulated and controlled through censorship breeds hate speech) does not engender more speech (hate or otherwise), it reduces speech over all. You only have to look at countries that severely punish their citizens for saying something that goes against approved speech rules to see massive reductions in their speech.

Hate speech is a symptom of a much deeper problem


trying to cure it through censorship; is like curing an ingrown toenail with amputation

No one is trying to cure it by cutting these people off of the internet (except maybe politicians but we already know they are delusional). What we are trying to do is make the internet a nice place where people can come and not have to see disgusting and offensive views.

Effective censorship requires absolute control

Something that is currently impossible with the internet.

something both the gov and mega corps would love to have

Government? Yes. Mega corps? I think you’d find they don’t, at least not generally. In specific areas maybe, but not over the entire internet. That would be a nightmare for them.

that will almost certainly destroy freedom of speech.

Well it’s a good thing then that the internet was created as a decentralized network so that no one person or entity can take control of it. This will never come to pass so long as the internet remains decentralized. And changing that is nearly impossible.

Censorship can be a slippery slope in either direction, why not leave it to the individual to decide?

Exactly. Which is how it functions currently, including corporations’ rights to block or allow whatever content they wish and they have decided to not allow this content. They are run by individuals as well after all and those individuals have the same rights as the rest of us. The First Amendment and censorship only applies to the government. It does not apply to any other individual or entity.

At least we’d be responsible for “our own” filter bubbles, or lack there of,

We still are. There is nothing preventing anyone from reading something from a person or site that does not align with their views/beliefs.

rather then some proprietary profit-driven black box AI system

This doesn’t exist in any form today.

or an arbitrary and subjective set of new laws that people would quickly learn to subvert and dog-whistle around, only to have them ratchet up until Whinne the Pooh was banned, like in china.

Which is why the government should not pass any new laws dictating what social media platforms should or should not allow on their sites. You claim to want zero government interference in online speech, yet in the exact same breath you want the government to force speech restrictions on people online, namely that they can’t speak out against speech they don’t agree with, or ban it from their site.

In second place, we’ve got DB with some thoughts on Nielsen’s struggle in the face of cord-cutting:

We can be pretty certain they have not been oblivious to their own demise.

The phrase “the company is saddled with debt” means that the upper management and board of directors has already decided to cash out of the business. The net income is likely just barely enough to service the debt, making the company’s net worth close to zero. Perhaps even less. Anyone group buying should expect losses, and have profit elsewhere that it needs to offset. Or expect to be really efficient at running the business and extracting all value from the reputation (which usually involves destroying it).

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous commenter sharing some justified frustration with Elsevier:

Elsevier has a lot of nerve to charge the authors of the articles it publishes to have the articles appear as “open access.” It isn’t enough that the publisher gets the authors’ institutions to subscribe to their journals at their outlandish prices without actually supporting the research necessary behind the articles’ creation? Their annual price increases exceed inflation many times over. Their paper warehouse storage and shipping costs have dropped dramatically with the creation of electronic journal publishing but Elsevier’s prices have not. Their economic moral and ethical practices rival Donald Trump’s. I think it’s time for ALL libraries to boycott Elsevier.

Next, it’s Thad with a thoughtful response to the common reaction to mass shootings in which some people are quick to label the shooter as “mentally ill”:

Psychology Today: Mass Shooting and the Myth of the Violent Mentally Ill

While certainly some shooters are mentally ill, taking it as axiomatic that all mass shooters are mentally ill reinforces negative stereotypes about mental illness. The vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent, and indeed they’re far likelier to be victims of violence than perpetrators.

Clearly there’s something wrong with anyone who would commit such a heinous deed, and I can understand the desire to label that “something wrong” as mental illness. But it’s not, at least, not by the clinical definitions of mental illnesses used by psychologists, and the trouble with making that sort of generalization is that it stigmatizes mental illness.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is another anonymous commenter with a shorter, sweeter take on Nielsen:

Perhaps they can merge with a buggy whip manufacturer?

In second place, we’ve got That One Guy with a copy editor’s note on our post about the White House’s draft executive order on social media bias:

After having read the article I have to wonder: Was that supposed to read ‘draft’ or ‘daft’?

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with Bloof and one more well-deserved jab at Nielsen:

Oh no! Without Nielsen who will sign the deathwarrants for the rare few shows on American mainstream TV that actually attempt to be creative? Who will keep the vaseline porridge of crime/military/medical dramas/comedies featuring people who ‘play by their own rules, damnit!’ appropriately lukewarm? What will become of middle of the road actors like Ted Danson and Scott Bakula who aren’t quite handsome enough for Hollywood? Who will think of the advertisers how will they know what shows to run ads during? They might have to gamble on shows with genuine buzz! The horror1

Won’t someone please think of the mediocre and save them?!

And last but not least, we’ve got an anonymous commenter capping off a thread about living by copyright and, thus, dying by copyright:

You can’t copyright dying. You have to patent it. You can only copyright a particular expression of dying.

So I have copyrighted dying by shooting yourself in the foot. RIAA can pay up as soon as they’re dead.

That’s all for this week, folks!

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Author: Leigh Beadon

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