Inside the triumphant Alex Jones banned everywhere story is a worrying nuance about free speech and platform dominance


#21

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#22

If YouTube and Vimeo ban Alex Jones, then they are also not generic video distribution services and so I don’t see a difference from Netflix other than how selective they are about the content they will carry.


#23

They all also have terms of service that go beyond business mission. In the case of YouTube (which, unlike Netflix, allows the posting of user-generated content), Jones violated their prohibition against using sockpuppet accounts to re-post individual videos that were previously taken down as hate speech.

The same thing happens on the BBS portion of this site regularly. The difference is that that BB does not have the virtual monopoly power that FB or YT do.


#24

Wildly don’t care about Alex Jones’ “rights” to a national platform.

I’m in favor of kicking Jones off every possible platform for the same reason I’m in favor of punching every possible Nazi. Because they’re garbage people willing to harm innocent people for the sake of money or ideology or Lulz. In a proper world, Jones would be screaming about gay frogs and fake dead children from the local drunk tank, not from Twitter.

Shorter me: Fuck Alex Jones.


#25

It’s basically that we should not trust free-market principles to protect free speech rights.

It’s great when it works out and trash like InfoWars gets removed, but reacting to this news with “Yeah! The system works.” is misguided.

In many cases, the profit motive does not align with what is best for free society, as Facebook’s cooperation with the Cambodian government to suppress dissident speech shows.

As these platforms become larger and their growth slows, the pressure to profit by aligning with whatever side that has the most money will only increase.


#26

This is slippery-slope fallacy scaremongering. Alex Jones having been banned from various platforms means… that Alex Jones has been banned from various platforms. Those same platforms and others ban users everyday—most of whom are simply too low-profile for it to be publicized.

What you’re calling “speech” here is also data that is being hosted and published at the platform owners’ expense. If Alex Jones or anyone else wants to make their speech-data available to others, then they can pay to host/publish it themselves. Having your data hosted/published by a corporation on their platform is a privilege—not an entitlement. The suggestion that others should host/publish your content indefinitely and for free with no stipulations or strings attached because “free speech” is a childish fantasy. Alex Jones was foolish to make his livelihood so dependent on infinite corporate tolerance and generosity (i.e., delusions of impunity, which is what many “free speech” arguments are rooted in).


#27

You know they’d selectively enforce it against black people. In the U.S. this is not a good joke.


#28

You beat me to it.

I’m never in favor of legally curtailing anyone’s right to vote, because TPTB will use it against us.


#29

Not because this violates the First Amendment, and not because the strict First Amendment rules should necessarily apply to private actors, even very, very large ones – but because when the majority of our civic discourse is regulated by unaccountable algorithms and unaccountable moderators working for giant monopolistic companies, that has real, inarguable free speech implications.

This sounds a lot like the argument the good folks over in the Breitbart comments section were making.


#30

The platform algorithms amplify the most “engaging” (aka divisive and provocative) content. Jones has been around for a long time, but never broke out of his little community of nut-jobs. The whole reason for his sudden fame was that the platform algorithms saw how “engaged” his audience was, and then pushed it out to the larger user base.

Personally, I think the solution is regulating facebook. They currently have extremely broad common carrier protection. I think that protection should be contingent on them being a true neutral platform. No more picking winners and losers with the algorithms. Their algorithms gave Jones his unnatural reach. That should make them responsible for what he says the same way Disney is responsible for what Jimmy Kimmel says.

On the other hand…if facebook wanted to go back to a reverse chronological feed, they’d have a much stronger argument for why they deserve common carrier protections.


#31

Oh my god, the quotes from Jones in that article are all the things:

Jones tore into the “LGBTQ23PCL4 agenda”, claiming kids are being taught to have sex with cars, and that the promotion of sex with cars was now mandatory in the US, Canada and the UK.

He said: “They’re now saying sex with machines or sex with cars or sex with appliances—there’s a whole big movement where people are marrying their cars, marrying their toasters, marrying their dogs, their cats, their horses. I’m not kidding.

“They’re catching people in public places – you see it all the time – trying to have sex with a Ferrari or trying to have sex with a ’57 Chevy.

So, ah. They actually poked fun of a website that was a HOWTO guide on this, back in the day when the Portal of Evil was still live and active. You’d think the guy collected sexy cars like Porsches, Lamborghini’s etc. given his proclivities, but nope. It was mostly old Cadillacs.

I miss Portal of Evil. Collecting the oddities of the internet and making fun of them.


#32

Selective enforcement of ‘it’ - whatever ‘it’ happens to be - is never a joke. There are many ‘its’ relating to voting eligibility and the issue is not what the ‘it’ is, the issue is the selectivity of enforcement.

It’s not very productive to protest against any particular general rule re voting rights (yeah I am assuming generally applicable rules, not rules deliberately engineered to in effect implement, for example, an “if not white, no vote” situation*) if it is the deliberate selectivity of enforcement that causes the problem and without which there would not be one.

Asterisk: And, yeah, I get that there may be overlap/ grey areas and it’s all more complex than that.

(How to stop asterisk at start of sentence turning into indented bullet point?)


#33

So what exactly is it like being a trust fund kid, or self-employed, or whatever the hell inspired this Mitt Romney-esque assertion?


#34

Lolwut?

TRASH


#35

Thomas Dolby was ahead of his time…


#36

Can I protest your idea for voter disenfranchisement on the basis that it would further entrench the surveillance state and give the government detailed information on the online activities of every person in the country as well as require the development of a de-anonymization mechanism that could tie said activity to a specific person with 100% accuracy?

Because that’s just as bad and has nothing to do with how selectively it’s enforced.


#37

It doesn’t really matter if the engineering is deliberate or random. In the end the restrictions that restrict the proper sort of people are the ones that stay on the books. This is exactly what the civil rights movement was fighting about. Back in the day they were called “literacy tests.”


#39

An album that is underrated AF.


#40

I’m glad I wasn’t the only person wondering this.


#41

Relevant Onion article: First Amendment Experts Warn Facebook Banning InfoWars Could Set Completely Reasonable Precedent For Free Speech