Friday, May 29, 2020

A Bird in the Hand

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, trump, executive order, twitter, google, facebook, free speech

President Trump has launched what will surely be another battle royale, and we think this one was long overdue.

On Thursday, the President signed an executive order which will turn up the heat on the giant social media corporations who are currently curtailing the free speech of Americans in order to advance their own political and business goals. This has always been discouraged, but there were no enforcement teeth which could truly tame these media megaliths. Until now.

We'll do our best to explain what we think this means, since you're going to be hearing wild distortions and misrepresentations about this executive order. Which, come to think of it, is nothing new - and exactly why this executive order is so important.

Currently, there is something called "Section 230 Protection" which says that Twitter, Facebook, Google, and similar services are "platforms" which host content, but do not control it. In this way, they avoid any legal liability for what is said by others using that platform. It was the government's way of trying to guarantee that speech would remain free.

Other platforms would be the phone company which doesn't censor your calls, or jump into a conversation to "fact check" what you're saying. Similarly, the postal service is a platform which delivers your letters without redacting parts they don't like, or just banning you from using their service. Simply put, a platform is simply a delivery system with no editorial control...and therefore no liability for the content that is transmitted.

BUT, at the point content is edited, manipulated, labeled as untrue, or banned entirely, the entity in charge is no longer a platform but is instead a publisher - a status which is not protected by Section 230.

Despite what we see in the NY Times, publishers are not allowed to make up or propagate lies and smears about a person, company, or news event without legal consequence. They can (and should!) be sued for libel when that happens, because they're responsible for everything that appears on their printed page or website.

Trump's executive order clarifies and updates Section 230 to make these distinctions clear: if you're a platform allowing everyone to post whatever they want, you're shielded from liability. If you're a publisher, editing, changing, "correcting," or banning content, then you're going to share the legal liability for all of the content that you've "chosen" to publish.
If the executive order manages to stick, social media sites will have to go back to letting citizens air their views, right or wrong, without encumbrance. More importantly, they'll have to stop shifting and slanting information for the express purpose of manipulating the minds and votes of the American people. And it couldn't happen at a more crucial time.


Wow, we didn't mean to go on so long (and so humorlessly) about the story above, but it's an important one. Still, Friday deserves a lighter touch, so we present you with another edition of...


Titan Mk6B said...

Southern U-AWL. That is a classic.

Had I been drinking coffee, well, you know what would have happened. Luckily it was beer and I just don't waste that.

Uhny uftz.

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

It would appear that social media is going to need the services of Guy dePiles, Medieval Proctologist.

Which is long overdue...

REM1875 said...

The King Kong Prong .........for reining that damned big gorilla in (and preventing him from breeding) ..... and the lucky winner of the short straw championship and therefore bearer of the prong ...........

Fred Ciampi said...

I'm glad to see President Trump dropping the hammer on (un) social media. I have spent more time in farcebook jail than the birdman of Alcatraz. But some of the missives I've seen from the other side (ie: democrats, et al) caught my laptop on fire.

And concerning Minneapolis, (and this would get me 17 years in fooze book jail), looters should be shot. And arsonists too. What does breaking into a store and stealing TVs have to do with seeking justice for the murder of a citizen by a cop?

OK, I'd better wrap it up now and go fire up my still, oh, wait, I mean make some hand sanitizer.

Alfonso Bedoya said...

"Freedom of the Press" was never meant to be interpreted as freedom to lie. Sadly, what was once known as the "Press" has morphed into the propaganda arm of the Democrat (ooops....the "Progressive" Party), and the MSM should not be allowed to get away with it.

What happened to unbiased/objective Journalism? Nowadays, it's almost impossible to trust what is thrown at the American public under the guise of truth via a "free" Press. No wonder the rise of Socialism/Communism has continued unfettered. What else could be expected when colleges and universities (plus a lying Press) are allowed to infect the minds of the vulnerable public with their mindless propaganda, while educated opinions that differ are either altered without permission or outright censored in order to fit the Socialist/Communist agenda?

TrickyRicky said...

During the attack of the 50 foot woman, it was determined that she should not be allowed to reproduce. The only flaw in the plan was who would volunteer to introduce the IUD.

BTW, it's long past time to end the high tech moguls' power to shape opinion and subvert our democratic republic. It's now or never.

John D. Egbert said...

@Alfonso Bedoya: Sadly, the "Fourth Estate" became a "Fifth Column" along about the time of Silent Cal -- but specifically when a Republican is in office. They really went off the deep end in 1973, and keeps getting worse.

Geoff King said...

I was blocked on FaceBook for posting: "Other than possibly rare hermaphrodites, there are only two genders".
Evidently it went against their Community Standards because it was too factual and completely supported by science.

Sortahwitte said...

This is one of the main reasons I have long advocated the carpet bombing of "journalism skools" and the adjacent klown kolleges. Journalism is dead. Long live propaganda.

John the Econ said...

@Stilton, excellent explanation of the issue that you are unlikely to see in the MSM.

It's both a simple yet complex issue: On one hand, Twitter, Facebook, etc are private platforms and as such it's assumed (or should be) that their owners can run them as they see fit. On the other hand, they enjoy certain protections of law based upon how they are run. If they are in fact the equivalent of a "community bulletin board", then they are protected from certain liabilities for what other people post and say on their platform. On the other hand, if they take an editorial stand, then that makes them a "publisher", which can be held liable for what appears on their platform.

Deciding to flag or otherwise "correct" the posts of particular users based upon their political standing is decidedly taking an editorial stand. "Fact checking" and appending people's social media posts with corrections is in fact taking an editorial stance.

So they've decided to fact check Trump's posts. Yet every day, I see countless idiotic and blatantly factually-challenged content presented as fact on social media that go unchallenged by the platform owners.

The issue does tend to get a bit muddy when we throw in "community standards". For example, there's little debate that ISIS apostate snuff videos shouldn't be allowed on social media platforms along with other violent of offensive content like pornography. So we do permit and even encourage social media platforms to exercise some degree of editorial control. But fact checking, especially when it only seems to apply to conservatives is a bridge too far.

I guess the upside of a Biden Presidency would be that Biden would be so totally incoherent that there'd be nothing to fact check.

O Caption, My Caption: Circumcising Trump is not a job for the meek.

Unrelated topic: Is it just me, or does someone else find it absurd that police violence and rioting in a city that has been exclusively controlled and run by Democrats for generations should be blamed on Trump?

Pat Cummings said...

The Sagginwobble Ceremony tour leader found an alternate use for his canoe lifter: "Follow the rabbit and stay together, men!"
@John the Econ: That's the fuzzy, dangerous edge of "community standards." Private companies have their own community with applicable standards, which we currently see Twitter imposing. So we observe the irony of a public platform controlled by a private company. My opinion in this matter is the same as my reaction to the insanity of California: I left Twitter and Facebook several years ago (years before I moved to Utah).

As for "blaming Trump," that's a tool in the Demkit. Everything in the kit may be broken or useless when it comes to the POTUS; they keep trying nontheless...

Fish Out of Water said...

@John: from my 'unwoke' white privilege POV, these riots, like periodic skin eruptions, are due to pressure building from the hopelessness of the urban democratic controlled 'plantations' Now the actions of the police that has ignited this was due to what? No, not white racism. It comes from a culture linked the the urban plantations that treats authority represented by the police as the enemy to resist and confront. And as an urban police faces that day in and day out, police are human too and can lash out as well

Colby Muenster said...

I'd like to thank you for that concise explanation of Section 230." As Mr. Econ pointed out above, we will never see it explained in the MSM without it being twisted 180° and portrayed as something beyond Trump's scope of power. Dear MSM, it is the Chief Executive's JOB to enforce (execute) the law, and that's precisely what he is doing. I agree that social media outlets need to be held to a moral standard (no porn or violence and such), but they can accomplish that without blatantly stomping on people's 1st amendment rights.

I'll bet Twitter has a whole team of people monitoring Trump's tweets, and they've probably been itching to do "something" for years. They may have poked the bear this time.

Trump is stupid like a fox. I suspect he knows, no... HOPES this will get challenged in court, and end up at SCOTUS.

All are awesome! I can't pick a favorite.

@John the Econ,
The riots are obviously Trump's fault. You know he's a racist, right? I'll bet he called that cop and told him to do it. I think I'm gonna go downtown right now, light the police station on fire, steal a few TV's and smash a white person's car, just to show that I'm not a racist too. I read where the Governor pleaded with the rioters to calm down and stop because justice will be swift. Huh? Perhaps his definition of swift is on God's scale. You know, like a couple thousand years or something. Arrest the a-hole cop already!

John the Econ said...

Hey Twitter? When are you going to start fact-checking Fauxcahontas?

"Donald Trump is calling for violence against Black Americans. His advocacy of illegal, state-sponsored killing is horrific. Politicians who refuse to condemn it share responsibility for the consequences."

Thought so.

Fish Out of Water said...

@John: That uniformed outburst is a candidate for the Facepalm d'or.

Edam Wensleydale said...

@John the Econ: "Circumcising Trump" wins the captions this time around.

MAX Redline said...

Happened a couple of hours ago.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Titan Mk6B- Glad you like the U-awl gag. I, in turn, applaud your use of Uhny uftz. The episode that phrase appeared in is one of my favorites!

@M. Mitchell Marmel- Damn the KY! Full speed ahead!

@REM1875- Actually, I think it's meant to just lift the King Kong ding dong to keep him from peeing where it isn't wanted.

@Fred Ciampi- An adjustment to social media control of the flow of information is long overdue. It's going to be a tricky argument, but it's one we HAVE to have. Now.

I didn't mention the Minneapolis situation in the blog because it's all so damn depressing. The original incident sure looks like murder or manslaughter, and outrage and protests are entirely appropriate. Looting and burning? Not so much. This should be tamped down hard.

@Alfonso Bedoya- Sadly, I think the best we can do right now is have unfettered information, knowing that much or most of it will be complete crap. It then becomes our job to sort it out and decide what sources are most legitimate. "Free Press" means that no government body should take up the task of "fact"-checking or dictating what can and can't be said. As you suggest, that quickly leads to totalitarianism.

@TrickyRicky- You know, I thought that thing looked like an IUD, but I didn't come up with the 50-foot woman angle! Well done!

@John D. Egbert- You're absolutely right.

@Geoff King- Yeah, Facebook's "community standards" can easily be violated by obvious truths.

@Sortahwitte- Journalism certainly isn't what it used to be. I don't really know WHAT the field should be called now, but it definitely needs a new name to reflect the emphasis on sensationalism and ideology over actual facts.

@John the Econ- And you did an even better job of summarizing the nature of Trump's executive order. Although if you wrote it cold sober, you had an unfair advantage over me (grin). I agree that "community standards" are probably necessary - but they need to be clearly stated and applied without bias (yeah, good luck on that part). Who the hell knows what the "community standards" are on the major platforms?

Regarding the chaos in Democrat-controlled cities, such can always be blamed on Trump for creating "a climate of violence." (facepalm)

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Pat Cummings- There's probably a "hare-raising experience" gag lurking here somewhere.

And yeah, "community standards" are fuzzy indeed. As is everything else these days.

@Fish Out of Water- Great comment. I completely agree.

@Colby Muenster- In fairness, I only hope I explained the Section 230 issue correctly. The story broke when I had finished the post for today, and Happy Hour was in effect. But I thought that the story was too important for me to let go by, because the screaming media types would soon distort it all to hell.

Regarding the rioters, I highly doubt that "justice will be swift" if it comes at all. I think we've all seen this sad film before.

@John the Econ- Boom. A perfect example of the outrageous leeway given to Liberal darlings by the social media consortiums.

@Fish Out of Water- I'm going to start trying to work "Facepalm d'or" into more conversations!

@Edam Wensleydale- Oops, I'd skipped mentioning it, but the "circumcising Trump" line was indeed a good one!

Dan said...

3:22 pm est 30 May. Liftoff.

Rod said...

Late to THIS game; I like the other captions better; but when first saw the 'toon my first thought was "With a skewer like that; one could roast the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters I"

Reminds me of a campfire when our daughter showed two marshmellows in full flame on a wire skewer & asked "What do ya think?" I told her "You cook like your Mother".

Pat Cummings said...

@Dan: Spouse and I were both in tears to watch this live!