The platforms control our public discourse, and who they disconnect is arbitrary and capricious

Originally published at:


Unfortunately, rules in the monkey [internet] house don’t amount to much. But just maybe we can see a few of the real nasties removed for their collective disgusting behavior.


These are, as I say, modest goals.

They are, but these companies aren’t going to implement anything that involves an increased cost-centre headcount and related expenses. While princples 1 and 2 can be automated easily enough, principle 3 is going to require a lot of customer service people and a lot of moderators and a lot of training.

That’s before we get into the advertising-based business models which demand that racist uncles and conspiracy-theory loons need to be part of a huge audience.


It turns out that ethics is hard (to implement at a machine algorithm level). Who knew?


Reddit’s moderation system is based on a a small number of anonymous accounts that moderate all the large subs.

Wikipedia’s Editor system is based on a small number of accounts that hover over their chosen stories and prevent edits on a whim.

Facebook is a black box of arbitrary people and algorithms.

Google is a crappy AI and presumably one person that does everything that falls through the cracks.

Moderation of any sort is a shitshow.

1 Like

I don’t think I’ll consider him fully ‘censored’ unless/until he gets kicked off the internet. HTTP still works for him, right? He can set up his own site quite easily (and probably has - I refuse to give him even the smidgen of googlejuice it would take to find out).


Rule 3 also requires that the call center staff to be able to see through bullshit, which is not at all easy. When legitimte people get shut down and call tech support you want their accounts to be reinstated asap. But when a troll gets shut down they’ll call the exact same tech support and try to bullshit their way into getting their account reinstated.

Telling the difference between the two is nearly impossible. Poe’s law comes into effect in a hurry. There is no good filter that can distinguish between malicious idiot and sincere idiot.


The only thing worse is no moderation at all.


Exactly. This made up crisis is getting tiresome. Just because these companies do a better job at hosting and attracting visitors than a privately run server might, doesn’t mean anyone is being censored and it doesn’t mean they control the public discourse. That’s just hyperbolic F.U.D. raking.

1 Like

The bigger, deeper story here, is how private concerns have quietly taken over so many functions where the government used to hold sway, so when they enact policies that harm the public good, there is simply no recourse. It’s not as if the constitution applies to them, after all. Eventually the public is going to need to rein in corporate power the way those dead white guys reined in the monarchy.


I thought that was a cornerstone of conservative politics; why pass laws that limit rights when you have private corporations do it on your behalf?


Meat isn’t all that great at it either.

1 Like

Except here at bbs.


This is the style of argument I hate most. You are acknowledging that unknown causes are being silenced because of these platforms (as they have been pretty much since the inception) basically because they don’t have the money or support to cost the companies money, but as soon as news comes out about the terms of service actually working - as in removing hate speech and people actively inciting bad behavior on the platform - against a mainstream target who only rose to prominence because of the unequal nature of de-platforming there can’t be enough articles defending it. Who is this argument for? Because the nuance is understood by those who care to understand it already, but you are not going to ever have enough public pressure that tech companies volunteer to not be monopolies. It’s not even like you can say proper moderation wouldn’t have removed Alex Jones (because it would have), so why springboard the conversation of what good moderation should be off the back of when the bad moderation happened to be correct? It just makes no sense.

More idealists need to follow the ACLU’s example and actually talk about the approach to meet their objectives.


Arguably, there is no such thing as public discourse.

I’m not saying that this is the way it should be.


looks furtively around

Even that is spotty at times. Moderation is done by people, and people are arbitrary, and subject to their own biases.

Try being off the BB axis of opinion occasionally. It shows.

That said, BB is relatively free of unsolicited dick pics and Infinity War spoilers, so it may come out in the wash.

1 Like

Ah, that canard/victim-card again.

Go ahead, express different opinions here. Commenters regularly do so here without getting their comments deleted or themselves banned.

That said, there’s a wide spectrum of ways of being “off the BB axis of opinion.” The terms of service here clearly describe certain ways within that spectrum of being unacceptably off the BB axis of opinion.

If you want to advocate for killing Jews or black people, or for having sex with children and so on, or if you want to be an obnoxious dick while expressing your opinion while flinging about ad hominem attacks – dude, just go elsewhere. But if you’re going to stay here, it’s not a good look to complain that merely expressing an opinion that’s not held by most people here will get your comments deleted or you yourself banned, because that’s just insupportable nonsense.


FWIW I was banned for several months for going against the grain too hard on this site.

FWIW, commenters get banned often for going against this site’s TOS. I don’t recall “going against the grain too hard” as part of any of the Terms listed there.

You’d have to be much more specific to convince me of what you’re implying, i.e., that you basically got banned merely for expressing a difference of opinion.


Here’s the post that got me banned.

You may note a slight gap in my posting record afterward. That was the result of the ban.