Trump vs Social Media

RicardusRicardus Shipmate
edited May 29 in Purgatory
So Trump wants social media giants to be treated as publishers, not platforms, and therefore responsible for the content that they host.

I have no doubt that Trump is primarily motivated by pique, self-aggrandisement, and the need to create a distraction. And the argument that the President's freedom of speech is threatened is unmitigated bollocks. But although it goes greatly against the grain to say so, does he have a point about social media giants being publishers?

AIUI, Facebook and Twitter currently argue that they are just platforms, and therefore, if someone wants to post that bleach cures autism or that Clinton murdered Epstein, Facebook and Twitter are not themselves responsible for the consequences of that post (although the posters as individuals may be) - just as, if I repeat such things to my mates over a few pints at the Dog & Duck, then I may personally be a dick, but the landlord of the Dog & Duck isn't guilty of anything.

To my mind this is anomalous, because it means that if I write an article in The Ricardusborough Advertiser saying that bleach cures autism, then The Ricardusborough Advertiser can be sued for the consequences, whereas if I post the same article on Facebook, Facebook argues that it's nothing to do with them, even though their 'platform' allows my rubbish to reach a much wider audience (and thus do more damage) than The Ricardusborough Advertiser. But anyone who looks like having a decent legal argument that social media giants are really publishers tends to be given a large amount of money to go away (e.g., Martin Lewis).

Marco Rubio's argument, which seems to me non-stupid even though it's Marco Rubio, is that once Twitter start posting fact-checking warnings, then it is editorialising and as such acting more like a publisher than a platform. IOW, the only logical options are either that it's a platform and a total free-for-all, or else it's a publisher that makes some attempt to editorialise its content.
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Comments

  • The difference is that a news has an editor who decides what is published and what isn't. Social media, by definition, allows individuals to post what they want. If a newspaper existed that went to print without a human seeing the content beforehand (which seems almost impossible without computers) then it would be comparable. I think the difference between pre- and post- publication moderation is an important one. The ship takes an extreme position in that it asks hosts to monitor all posted content, versus responding to reports. Proactive and reactive is another axis to consider.
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    I had a similarly uncomfortable (if much less-well-articulated) thought.

    I think Trump is facing a backlash from the far right Republicans precisely because this measure interferes with the concept of free speech, which is a lot freer in the US than in Europe.

    My preferred way out of this dilemma is to allow the freest of free speech, but accompanied (at least in the media) by consumer education by the media company in terms of fact-checking and so on. In this I find Twitter's stance, posting the comment but inviting people to investigate, better than Facebook's.
  • These days, there are parts of newspapers that move towards the platform end of the spectrum as well - most have online editions (which are published, because the articles still go through an editorial process) but also have scope for readers comments which (unlike letters printed in the old days) are not subject to an editorial process.

    There is a spectrum of different mixes of user-generated content and editorial content; I'm not sure there's anything which sits at either extreme end of the spectrum anymore. Social media is much closer to the fully user-generated end of the spectrum, a newspaper much closer to the other end. Social media platforms are legally constrained in many jurisdictions, so have legal obligations to remove illegal material as soon as possible, and also from a practical view that without some form of monitoring and intervention platforms can rapidly become unusable because most people don't want to swim in an ocean of trolls and misinformation.

    And, in relation to the particular foot-stumping tantrum from Trump, banning someone from a particular social media platform doesn't impact their rights for free speech. There are other social media platforms where he might be able to say what he wants. Or, he can build his own website or blog, or even found his own social media platform where he's not going to be restricted by rules and terms that mean the content he generates gets warnings appended.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited May 29
    These are going to be interesting times.

    We do know that the potus never backs down, he digs in. This isn’t going to go away.

    There will be many unintended and unexpected consequences - especially for the potus.

    But, once again, he’s successfully deflected attention from the his terrible record on Covid19.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    The difference is that a news has an editor who decides what is published and what isn't.

    Well, Trump and Rubio's argument is that once a platform starts posting fact-checking warnings, or 'removing a post for reasons other than those described in a website's terms of service' (not sure what that's referring to), then they are de facto acting as editors.

    But even setting that aside, I'm not sure that the lack of an editor *ought* to make a difference. Suppose:

    Alice reads an article in The Ricardusborough Advertiser and, in consequence, force-feeds her toddler bleach.
    Bob reads a post on Facebook and, in consequence, force-feeds his toddler bleach.

    The toddler is equally poisoned in both cases, and in both cases the action wouldn't have happened without the platform/publisher, so, at least from a purely consequentialist perspective, why should one be treated differently from the other?
  • The logic of treating social media platforms as publishers would be that the legal responsibility shifts from the user who creates the post to the platform ... and, therefore the platforms will need to tighten their rules and enforce them more strongly. Instead of additional warning flags the posts will be removed and users who repeatedly post potentially illegal material being banned from the platform altogether. I'm not sure that's what Trump is aiming for ...
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    The difference is that a news has an editor who decides what is published and what isn't.

    Well, Trump and Rubio's argument is that once a platform starts posting fact-checking warnings, or 'removing a post for reasons other than those described in a website's terms of service' (not sure what that's referring to), then they are de facto acting as editors.

    But even setting that aside, I'm not sure that the lack of an editor *ought* to make a difference. Suppose:

    Alice reads an article in The Ricardusborough Advertiser and, in consequence, force-feeds her toddler bleach.
    Bob reads a post on Facebook and, in consequence, force-feeds his toddler bleach.

    My understanding is that part of the reason the distinction ends up being drawn this way stems from the different treatment of media vs carriers - so in the past an organisation sending mail/cold calling advocating bleaching toddlers would be liable, the liability wouldn't be shared by the UPS or Ma Bell, and then this gets carried over to ISPs in the information age and Facebook want to argue that they are more like the latter than they are Fox News.
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    Re T not backing down:

    Actually, he does, if he feels it's in his best interest. He runs ideas up the proverbial flagpole all the time, to test the wind. If people he wants to like him and/or vote for him don't like that flag, he often backs off, lowers the flag, and says/does the opposite thing.

    The problem is his perception of his best interest--and generally not giving a damn about anything else.

    Something else I worry about: the changes in his behavior and functioning over the years. He used to have attacks of speaking word salad; and of saying the beginning sound of a word, and losing track of the rest of the word. He doesn't bounce around as much as he used to. He doesn't get distracted as easily. ISTM he's much more narrowly focused on getting re-elected.

    I think "they" have put him on some kind of med(s). While I don't begrudge him meds if they help improve/heal some of his problems, they also make him appear more normal. Not that his ideas are good, wholesome, intelligent, or even sane. But he carries himself better. And we've had other presidents who battled with the press and with Congress.

    And some people may think he's (mostly) cured--or even forget what he was like.

    :fear: :votive:
  • quetzalcoatlquetzalcoatl Shipmate
    He's not going to cite free speech, is he? So often an abused term, as if I have the right to speak anywhere I want. I don't think that is free speech.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    Here we go - https://tinyurl.com/y9shexcg

    I think I need popcorn! 🍿
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    q--

    I think he's already cited (his own) free speech rights regarding the current mess with Twitter.

    B--

    Thanks for the link. I've seen elsewhere that he also retweeted something about killing Democrats.
  • Golden Key wrote: »
    I've seen elsewhere that he also retweeted something about killing Democrats.
    Something like "the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat". With lots of more reasoned responses along the lines of "the only good Republican is an unelected Republican". We don't wish ill of Republicans (or in the UK, Conservatives), even Trump/Johnson and their cabals; we just wish them to be out of office.

  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    Alan--

    FWIW: I just plugged your "unelected Republican" quote into Duck Duck Go, and got many hits that had "dead Republican". And they were specifically in response to T's retweet.

    And I agree about getting them out of office. Needs to be legally and non-violently. I don't necessarily care about trials or prison. Just getting T out.
  • I said there were lots of more reasonable responses, not that all (even the majority) of responses weren't as bad as the original Tweet.
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    Ok. :) It just read *to me* like you meant "responses to T's retweet that were more reasonable than the content of the tweet".

    No problem.
  • I should have been a bit clearer. I don't follow everything posted on Twitter (I'm not even on Twitter), and rely on what others share ... so though I've seen the "unelected" version I'm smart enough to realise I can't extrapolate from that to the whole of social media responses.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    So Trump wants social media giants to be treated as publishers, not platforms, and therefore responsible for the content that they host.

    I have no doubt that Trump is primarily motivated by pique, self-aggrandisement, and the need to create a distraction. And the argument that the President's freedom of speech is threatened is unmitigated bollocks. But although it goes greatly against the grain to say so, does he have a point about social media giants being publishers?

    AIUI, Facebook and Twitter currently argue that they are just platforms, and therefore, if someone wants to post that bleach cures autism or that Clinton murdered Epstein, Facebook and Twitter are not themselves responsible for the consequences of that post (although the posters as individuals may be) - just as, if I repeat such things to my mates over a few pints at the Dog & Duck, then I may personally be a dick, but the landlord of the Dog & Duck isn't guilty of anything.

    To my mind this is anomalous, because it means that if I write an article in The Ricardusborough Advertiser saying that bleach cures autism, then The Ricardusborough Advertiser can be sued for the consequences, whereas if I post the same article on Facebook, Facebook argues that it's nothing to do with them, even though their 'platform' allows my rubbish to reach a much wider audience (and thus do more damage) than The Ricardusborough Advertiser. But anyone who looks like having a decent legal argument that social media giants are really publishers tends to be given a large amount of money to go away (e.g., Martin Lewis).

    Marco Rubio's argument, which seems to me non-stupid even though it's Marco Rubio, is that once Twitter start posting fact-checking warnings, then it is editorialising and as such acting more like a publisher than a platform. IOW, the only logical options are either that it's a platform and a total free-for-all, or else it's a publisher that makes some attempt to editorialise its content.
    Twitter has acted as content manager for quite some time. The problem is that they do so selectively. The irony or Trump's whinging is that if they had properly acted as a publisher, he would have been barred long ago.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited May 29
    Well, it'll be interesting to see whether they extend their role as content manager to barring, or otherwise controlling, at least some of the POTUS' outpourings...

    Did Mr Obama use social media to any extent when he was POTUS?
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    IIRC correctly, when President Obama was elected in 2008, there was a major fuss about whether he'd even be allowed to carry a personal cell phone, due to concerns of national security. He was the first POTUS to have one.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited May 29
    Good God above - was it as long ago as 2008?

    How time flies when you're having fun (so they say - I wouldn't know).

    Did he use his cell phone for social media purposes, given how many malefactors, malcontents, and miscreants would probably be queuing up to hack his account(s)?
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    IIRC, there wasn't anything said about O using his Blackberry (!) on social media. I *think* he may have used it for contacting friends. He was "addicted" to it, the whole "Crackberry" meme/joke that was around at the time. Ultimately, they came up with some way for him to continue using it.

    And yes, there were major security concerns about his *phone* possibly being hacked.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    And now Ivanka (who is supposed to be the brightest bulb in 45's family) has now been caught using her private email account to conduct government business. She says she did not know she couldn't use a private email for official business. She must have forgotten when the GOP got all over H. Clinton for using a private email server for official business. Where are the chants to lock [Ivanka} up?
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    I don't think it's fair to be able to sue a social media platform for defamatory posts, or punish them for posts which advocate violence,or are abhorrent for some other reason. They are not publishers. Someone above raised the distinction between pre and post-publication review, and that's the key for me. I think that liability for a post should accrue to the social media company within a reasonable time after a triggering event. That event should be a compaint or notification to the platform. If they don't take the post down within say 48 hours of the complaint, they risk being liable for it.

    One of the benefits of such a rule is that the platform would have to hire a great many people to review complaints all around the world. In a post-Covid world, this will be a boon to the economies of all.
  • windsofchangewindsofchange Shipmate
    edited May 30
    What irks me is that the whole reason this became an issue is that Trump was repeatedly tweeting that Joe Scarborough had murdered a woman in 2001, not only in contradiction to the evidence, but in spite of pleas from the murdered woman's family to stop because it was causing them so much pain.

    The family were begging Twitter to take action on *those* tweets. And yet somehow it's gotten deflected to the ones about mail-in vote fraud, which isn't at all the same thing.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    The difference is that a news has an editor who decides what is published and what isn't.

    Well, Trump and Rubio's argument is that once a platform starts posting fact-checking warnings, or 'removing a post for reasons other than those described in a website's terms of service' (not sure what that's referring to), then they are de facto acting as editors.

    But even setting that aside, I'm not sure that the lack of an editor *ought* to make a difference. Suppose:

    Alice reads an article in The Ricardusborough Advertiser and, in consequence, force-feeds her toddler bleach.
    Bob reads a post on Facebook and, in consequence, force-feeds his toddler bleach.

    The toddler is equally poisoned in both cases, and in both cases the action wouldn't have happened without the platform/publisher, so, at least from a purely consequentialist perspective, why should one be treated differently from the other?

    A better analogy for Facebook (AIUI, I'm not a member) is the supermarket queue - you overhear some people ahead of you discussing the amount of bleach one is buying, with the answer that it's to give the toddler as a prophylactic against Covid-19. Is the supermarket owner liable? Should the owner be liable? I'd say no to both.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    If facebook and Twitter didn't police their sites at all, there would be a better case for pretending that they are not responsible for content. The fact is that they do. They do it poorly, but they do.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    edited May 30
    Gee D wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    The difference is that a news has an editor who decides what is published and what isn't.

    Well, Trump and Rubio's argument is that once a platform starts posting fact-checking warnings, or 'removing a post for reasons other than those described in a website's terms of service' (not sure what that's referring to), then they are de facto acting as editors.

    But even setting that aside, I'm not sure that the lack of an editor *ought* to make a difference. Suppose:

    Alice reads an article in The Ricardusborough Advertiser and, in consequence, force-feeds her toddler bleach.
    Bob reads a post on Facebook and, in consequence, force-feeds his toddler bleach.

    The toddler is equally poisoned in both cases, and in both cases the action wouldn't have happened without the platform/publisher, so, at least from a purely consequentialist perspective, why should one be treated differently from the other?

    A better analogy for Facebook (AIUI, I'm not a member) is the supermarket queue - you overhear some people ahead of you discussing the amount of bleach one is buying, with the answer that it's to give the toddler as a prophylactic against Covid-19. Is the supermarket owner liable? Should the owner be liable? I'd say no to both.

    But Facebook, unlike the supermarket, actively pushes content towards you according to what its algorithm thinks you want to hear.

    It would be as if the supermarket owner ran up and down the queue saying 'Hey, did you hear what Alice just said?', and did this as part of his business model to entice people to the shop.


    [ETA: although in accordance with the principle that if you aren't paying, then you're not the customer, you're the product - it would be his way of enticing cans of baked beans and loaves of bread to the shop ...]
  • Worth a try, if it would bring toilet paper to the shop.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    :lol:
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited May 30
    Unusually, I find myself agreeing with @Arethosemyfeet. I haven't so far agreed with anything @Ricardus has posted on this thread. I'm not even persuaded by the algorithm argument.

    However, this is going to backfire on the President, probably very quickly. If he says that social media sites have to accept responsibility for what people post on their sites, the simple and starting response is to block him, totally, 100%.

    If you have to carry the risk of what he utters, and to check every word that comes off the end of his chubby little fingers, that's too high a risk for anyone commercially to be expected to carry.

    I don't think he, or anyone else, could come up with a challenge to that.

  • Gee D wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    The difference is that a news has an editor who decides what is published and what isn't.

    Well, Trump and Rubio's argument is that once a platform starts posting fact-checking warnings, or 'removing a post for reasons other than those described in a website's terms of service' (not sure what that's referring to), then they are de facto acting as editors.

    But even setting that aside, I'm not sure that the lack of an editor *ought* to make a difference. Suppose:

    Alice reads an article in The Ricardusborough Advertiser and, in consequence, force-feeds her toddler bleach.
    Bob reads a post on Facebook and, in consequence, force-feeds his toddler bleach.

    The toddler is equally poisoned in both cases, and in both cases the action wouldn't have happened without the platform/publisher, so, at least from a purely consequentialist perspective, why should one be treated differently from the other?

    A better analogy for Facebook (AIUI, I'm not a member) is the supermarket queue - you overhear some people ahead of you discussing the amount of bleach one is buying, with the answer that it's to give the toddler as a prophylactic against Covid-19. Is the supermarket owner liable? Should the owner be liable? I'd say no to both.

    What if it the plan was overheard by a member of shop staff? If they do nothing to protect the child from harm, they as an individual and the business are morally cuplable.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    Ricardus wrote: »
    But Facebook, unlike the supermarket, actively pushes content towards you according to what its algorithm thinks you want to hear.

    Isn't that the definition of marketing? But the supermarkets do it too -- displaying certain items in more prominent places, and arranged more provocatively on the shelves, than others.
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    But Facebook, unlike the supermarket, actively pushes content towards you according to what its algorithm thinks you want to hear.

    Isn't that the definition of marketing? But the supermarkets do it too -- displaying certain items in more prominent places, and arranged more provocatively on the shelves, than others.
    Yes they do.

  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    Unusually, I find myself agreeing with @Arethosemyfeet. I haven't so far agreed with anything @Ricardus has posted on this thread. I'm not even persuaded by the algorithm argument.

    However, this is going to backfire on the President, probably very quickly. If he says that social media sites have to accept responsibility for what people post on their sites, the simple and starting response is to block him, totally, 100%.

    If you have to carry the risk of what he utters, and to check every word that comes off the end of his chubby little fingers, that's too high a risk for anyone commercially to be expected to carry.

    I don't think he, or anyone else, could come up with a challenge to that.
    Were he banned, it might irk him, but it would play in his favour. It would be spun as censorship.

  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    I don't think it's fair to be able to sue a social media platform for defamatory posts, or punish them for posts which advocate violence,or are abhorrent for some other reason. They are not publishers. Someone above raised the distinction between pre and post-publication review, and that's the key for me. I think that liability for a post should accrue to the social media company within a reasonable time after a triggering event. That event should be a compaint or notification to the platform. If they don't take the post down within say 48 hours of the complaint, they risk being liable for it.

    One of the benefits of such a rule is that the platform would have to hire a great many people to review complaints all around the world. In a post-Covid world, this will be a boon to the economies of all.

    In practice I think I agree with your conclusion, but I think the part I've bolded needs further exploration. That is: just because Twitter doesn't review stuff before publication doesn't make it exempt from the consequences of choosing not to do so.

    Suppose Ricardus Electronics sells electric widgets really cheaply, and that I am able to sell them so cheaply because I don't do any quality control but rely on users telling me that their widget doesn't work. If someone then complains that they were electrocuted by my widget, I can't just say 'Well how was I supposed to know? I didn't test it', and if I further argue that my very business model depends on me saving costs by not testing, you would probably reasonably conclude that my business model is one that does not deserve to exist.

    Now I accept that social media has more of a social benefit than really cheap electronic widgets, but I don't think the lack of pre-publication review exempts Twitter from all liability when not reviewing posts is, ultimately, a choice on their part.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Enoch wrote: »
    Unusually, I find myself agreeing with @Arethosemyfeet. I haven't so far agreed with anything @Ricardus has posted on this thread. I'm not even persuaded by the algorithm argument.

    However, this is going to backfire on the President, probably very quickly. If he says that social media sites have to accept responsibility for what people post on their sites, the simple and starting response is to block him, totally, 100%.

    If you have to carry the risk of what he utters, and to check every word that comes off the end of his chubby little fingers, that's too high a risk for anyone commercially to be expected to carry.

    I don't think he, or anyone else, could come up with a challenge to that.
    Were he banned, it might irk him, but it would play in his favour. It would be spun as censorship.

    I agree.

    If Twitter backs down (in the sense of not tagging any more of his posts), then he looks strong.

    If Twitter bans him, then he gets to tell his supporters: 'Look - the liberals really are trying to silence the conservatives!'
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    Now I accept that social media has more of a social benefit than really cheap electronic widgets, but I don't think the lack of pre-publication review exempts Twitter from all liability when not reviewing posts is, ultimately, a choice on their part.
    Social media is NOT about social benefit. It never has been. Social media is about making money.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    Now I accept that social media has more of a social benefit than really cheap electronic widgets, but I don't think the lack of pre-publication review exempts Twitter from all liability when not reviewing posts is, ultimately, a choice on their part.
    Social media is NOT about social benefit. It never has been. Social media is about making money.

    I agree, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a social benefit, as a sort of accidental by-product.

    What I'm getting at is: if Ricardus Electronics is made to QC everything it sells beforehand, then that's probably the end of Ricardus Electronics, and if Twitter is made to review everything before publication, then that's probably the end of Twitter. But the loss of Twitter probably has more of a negative impact on the world than the loss of Ricardus Electronics.

    (Probably. I'm not a Twitter fan and am open to persuasion ...)
  • Graven ImageGraven Image Shipmate
    Does the consumer not take any responsibility here. If you don't like what he says do not follow him. Why does the news feel compelled to report all his tweets? Yes I know money.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    Now I accept that social media has more of a social benefit than really cheap electronic widgets, but I don't think the lack of pre-publication review exempts Twitter from all liability when not reviewing posts is, ultimately, a choice on their part.
    Social media is NOT about social benefit. It never has been. Social media is about making money.

    Things can still have a social benefit even if they are operated to make money. Mobile phone networks make money but still have a social benefit. So do bookshops.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    @Ricardus @Arethosemyfeet

    Money is their point, so money drives their actions and reactions.
  • Ye, but at the same time options for allowing people to communicate is a social benefit. They may not be thinking "what can we do to be more socially beneficial?" (probably aren't), but if providing a greater social benefit means they get more users and can sell advertising space for more and hence make more money they'll do that. If legislation in any jurisdiction is passed to increase social benefit that costs them money they will fight it.
  • The test would be if, say they were considering an rule change with likely negative social effects but would make more money, would they do it?

    If it was legal and didn't risk the company being sued, they'd probably do it.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    A better analogy for Facebook (AIUI, I'm not a member) is the supermarket queue - you overhear some people ahead of you discussing the amount of bleach one is buying, with the answer that it's to give the toddler as a prophylactic against Covid-19. Is the supermarket owner liable? Should the owner be liable? I'd say no to both.

    What if it the plan was overheard by a member of shop staff? If they do nothing to protect the child from harm, they as an individual and the business are morally cuplable.[/quote]

    Why would they be morally culpable? If in the USA, the staff member may well have heard Trump say it, and think that if the President says it, it must be right. But even here, I'd be very reluctant to interfere, and certainly would not expect a staff member to do so either.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    edited May 31
    Ricardus wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    I don't think it's fair to be able to sue a social media platform for defamatory posts, or punish them for posts which advocate violence,or are abhorrent for some other reason. They are not publishers. Someone above raised the distinction between pre and post-publication review, and that's the key for me. I think that liability for a post should accrue to the social media company within a reasonable time after a triggering event. That event should be a compaint or notification to the platform. If they don't take the post down within say 48 hours of the complaint, they risk being liable for it.

    One of the benefits of such a rule is that the platform would have to hire a great many people to review complaints all around the world. In a post-Covid world, this will be a boon to the economies of all.

    In practice I think I agree with your conclusion, but I think the part I've bolded needs further exploration. That is: just because Twitter doesn't review stuff before publication doesn't make it exempt from the consequences of choosing not to do so.

    Suppose Ricardus Electronics sells electric widgets really cheaply, and that I am able to sell them so cheaply because I don't do any quality control but rely on users telling me that their widget doesn't work. If someone then complains that they were electrocuted by my widget, I can't just say 'Well how was I supposed to know? I didn't test it', and if I further argue that my very business model depends on me saving costs by not testing, you would probably reasonably conclude that my business model is one that does not deserve to exist.

    Now I accept that social media has more of a social benefit than really cheap electronic widgets, but I don't think the lack of pre-publication review exempts Twitter from all liability when not reviewing posts is, ultimately, a choice on their part.

    I'm uncomfortable with the comparison between a manufacturer of a faulty product and the operator of a social media platform which the President of the United States graces with his bile. My discomfort stems in part from the different natures of the product and the intended use. I think it unnecessarily clogs the issue. It certainly clogs my brain, as I try to think clearly about the differences.

    The essence is this: The person who makes and maintains a social media platform makes just that. It works as intended: as a place for people to post messages online, and as a way to collect a great deal of information about those people. That information is then packaged and sold, and so that is really the widget. The purchasers would have causes of action if the information sold was somehow faulty. The people who have freely consented for their information to be so used do not. The analogy for social media posts are probably the stuff out of which your widgets are made. If the materials are faulty, then you have a cause of action presumably against the supplier. The analogy breaks down, as hopefully, will the President of the United States.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    A better analogy for Facebook (AIUI, I'm not a member) is the supermarket queue - you overhear some people ahead of you discussing the amount of bleach one is buying, with the answer that it's to give the toddler as a prophylactic against Covid-19. Is the supermarket owner liable? Should the owner be liable? I'd say no to both.

    What if it the plan was overheard by a member of shop staff? If they do nothing to protect the child from harm, they as an individual and the business are morally cuplable.

    Why would they be morally culpable? If in the USA, the staff member may well have heard Trump say it, and think that if the President says it, it must be right. But even here, I'd be very reluctant to interfere, and certainly would not expect a staff member to do so either.[/quote]

    Are you for real? Someone overhears someone planning to harm a child, possibly kill them, and you'd be reluctant to interfere? I'd do my utmost to ensure the police and social services were there within the hour!
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited May 31
    Yes, I would be out of concern for giving wrong advice myself in an area where I have zero expertise.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    edited May 31
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    I don't think it's fair to be able to sue a social media platform for defamatory posts, or punish them for posts which advocate violence,or are abhorrent for some other reason. They are not publishers. Someone above raised the distinction between pre and post-publication review, and that's the key for me. I think that liability for a post should accrue to the social media company within a reasonable time after a triggering event. That event should be a compaint or notification to the platform. If they don't take the post down within say 48 hours of the complaint, they risk being liable for it.

    One of the benefits of such a rule is that the platform would have to hire a great many people to review complaints all around the world. In a post-Covid world, this will be a boon to the economies of all.

    In practice I think I agree with your conclusion, but I think the part I've bolded needs further exploration. That is: just because Twitter doesn't review stuff before publication doesn't make it exempt from the consequences of choosing not to do so.

    Suppose Ricardus Electronics sells electric widgets really cheaply, and that I am able to sell them so cheaply because I don't do any quality control but rely on users telling me that their widget doesn't work. If someone then complains that they were electrocuted by my widget, I can't just say 'Well how was I supposed to know? I didn't test it', and if I further argue that my very business model depends on me saving costs by not testing, you would probably reasonably conclude that my business model is one that does not deserve to exist.

    Now I accept that social media has more of a social benefit than really cheap electronic widgets, but I don't think the lack of pre-publication review exempts Twitter from all liability when not reviewing posts is, ultimately, a choice on their part.

    I'm uncomfortable with the comparison between a manufacturer of a faulty product and the operator of a social media platform which the President of the United States graces with his bile. My discomfort stems in part from the different natures of the product and the intended use. I think it unnecessarily clogs the issue. It certainly clogs my brain, as I try to think clearly about the differences.

    The essence is this: The person who makes and maintains a social media platform makes just that. It works as intended: as a place for people to post messages online, and as a way to collect a great deal of information about those people. That information is then packaged and sold, and so that is really the widget. The purchasers would have causes of action if the information sold was somehow faulty. The people who have freely consented for their information to be so used do not. The analogy for social media posts are probably the stuff out of which your widgets are made. If the materials are faulty, then you have a cause of action presumably against the supplier. The analogy breaks down, as hopefully, will the President of the United States.

    That's a fair comment but I'm not sure it changes my overall point.

    So a better analogy is: Ricardus Electronics produces really cheap widgets that work exactly as intended (= the personal data harvested from social media posts and sold to advertisers), but I don't bother testing the waste products that are emitted from the factory when the widgets are manufactured (= what people are actually saying in those social media posts), so I don't know if they are toxic or not.

    If the waste products end up poisoning some third party, I don't think I can get off the hook by saying 'Well I don't test the waste products for poison so I couldn't know about it'.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Yes, I would be out of concern for giving wrong advice myself in an area where I have zero expertise.

    But you wouldn't alert the authorities?
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited May 31
    Yes, I would do that, but that was not the question posed. And indeed, to revert to the original question, I cannot see a successful prosecution
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