Reply Mon 6 May, 2019 10:36 pm
Platform Access Is A Civil Right.

When Lyndon Johnson was in Congress in the 1950s he had three of his employees drive his car back from Washington to Austin at the end of every legislative session. That trip took his employees through the deep south. In Johnson’s telling, this went on for years without incident and he was unaware of any issues with this trip.

All three employees were black.

One year, he asked the three employees to take his dog, Beagle, back to Austin with him. According to Robert A. Caro in Master of the Senate, one employee hesitated, explaining:

“It’s tough enough to get all the way from Washington to Texas. We drive for hours and hours. We get hungry. But there’s no place on the road we can stop and go in and eat. We drive some more. It gets pretty hot. We want to wash up. But the only bathroom we’re allowed in is usually miles off the main highway. We keep goin’ ‘til night comes – ‘til we get so tired we can’t stay awake anymore. We’re ready to pull in. But it takes another hour or so to find a place to sleep.

“You see, what I’m saying is that a colored man’s got enough trouble getting across the South on his own, without having a dog along.”

In Johnson’s telling, hearing this story was jarring enough to permanently convince him of the necessity of protecting his employees – and every other African-American – from discrimination.

And it should change the view of any holdout radical libertarian who still thinks that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unjust.

Because you know what? Private property rights are great. But that does not mean that we, as a society, had to let private restaurant owners and private hotel managers turn away customers because they were black. We didn’t have to accept a world in which black people had to defecate on the side of the road because they weren’t allowed to use a privately-owned restroom.

We, as a society, do not have to allow private companies to violate Americans’ civil rights.


Yesterday, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, Alex Jones, and Milo Yiannopoulos were permanently banned from Facebook and Instagram. InfoWars content itself was banned even more broadly – accounts that share InfoWars content will see it deleted, and accounts that repeatedly share it will be banned themselves.

For Watson, this is a nontrivial loss – while he still has massive platforms on YouTube and Twitter, he spent plenty of time building up his Facebook and Instagram accounts too. All that time and effort is now dissipated because of the decision of some petty leftist apparatchiks in Silicon Valley.

But for Loomer and Yiannopoulos, this was the death blow.

Instagram was their only remaining platform, both having already been banned from Twitter. They no longer have any ability to meaningfully contribute to public discourse.

They have been silenced. Not by the government, but by the private companies which – together – constitute the modern public square in 2019.

Reading Laura Loomer’s reaction should trouble anyone:

View image on Twitter

Now, a critic might argue that Loomer’s First Amendment rights haven’t been violated, because she could always go to a public park and scream into the ether.

That’s true.

Lyndon Johnson’s black employees could always sleep in their cars, too.


Platform access is a civil right.

You should now have the same right to speak on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that you do in a public park.

This is not the current state of the law. The Supreme Court has made it clear that the First Amendment does not prevent private actors from restricting speech, except in rare circumstances. And no current legislation recognizes platform access as a civil right.

This is aspirational. It’s what the law should be.

Free Speech is more than the First Amendment, which only protects you from the government infringing on your rights. In 2019, that is woefully inadequate. Access to the large social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – is a prerequisite to meaningful free speech in 2019.

Social media companies certainly will strenuously object to this formulation, but they can hardly complain, given that the federal government has underwritten and undergirded their development.

The vast majority of serious public debate takes place there. Thus, access to large social media platforms is a civil right.

When private companies violate civil rights, we pass laws to stop them from doing so.

That’s what we should do here.


Conservatives should focus on passing legislation – at BOTH the state and federal levels – that protects all citizens’ access to large social media platforms on civil rights grounds. Access should be forfeitable only if one engages in unlawful speech on a platform.

If a large social media company wrongfully denies you access to or removes you from their platform or, you should be able to walk into court, get an injunction against the company that forces them to restore your account, and be awarded substantial statutory damages.

Notice – I said *both* state and federal laws. It will be a very serious challenge to get a federal law passed protecting this civil right, given the current composition of Congress. But states with heavily Republican legislatures can pass laws that protect their state’s citizens from de-platforming.

And if they do so, Facebook, Twitter, and Google will have to comply if they want to keep doing business in that state.

In response to proposals like this, establishment conservatives have been rallying around their favorite argument of all time: the slippery slope. For an example, here’s this, from the Washington Examiner’s Tiana Lowe:

This argument comes up routinely in any discussion about the merits of regulating big tech companies. The problem? It’s facile.


If Democrats retake the White House, they can’t constitutionally use laws like the one I proposed above to constrain speech.

First Amendment Law is a one-way ratchet. If a regulator tried to twist the civil rights laws in such a way that they were constraining speech, you could walk into a district court anywhere in the country and get an injunction forcing them to stop.

The recently decided Supreme Court case, Packingham v. North Carolina, is instructive here.

In that case, Lester Packingham – a North Carolina resident and a registered sex offender – posted to Facebook about an experience in traffic court. North Carolina had a law banning registered sex offenders from using social media sites.

Packingham demonstrates what happens when governments try to use regulation to try and restrict access to social media sites. The facts of Packingham are pretty simple; the government of North Carolina, for perfectly sensible reasons, passed a law that prohibited convicted sex offenders from using social media.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, found this speech constraint unconstitutional. And used very basic, settled law to do so. Simply put – under long-standing first amendment law, the government cannot restrict your access to the public square. As Justice Kennedy explained:

“By prohibiting sex offenders from using those websites, North Carolina with one broad stroke bars access to what for many are the principal sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge. . . . In sum, to foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights.”

So here we have it – a unanimous Supreme Court decision holding that the First Amendment prohibits federal and state governments from restricting your access to social media. North Carolina’s law was clearly well-intentioned; they were trying to protect children from sex offenders by keeping those sex offenders off of social media.

But even a speech restriction that understandable did not pass Constitutional muster.

This isn’t a close question. The concerns about government regulation being turned around to constrain speech are simply unfounded.


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the laws I am proposing do not necessarily require regulators to enforce.

By creating a private right of action that allows citizens to walk into court and get their accounts restored, it will be judges – not regulators – that protect the civil right to platform access.

This is the similar to how other civil rights are protected. While there are regulators that try to stop civil rights violations ex ante, much of the “regulation” is done through ex post litigation. I see very few conservatives complaining about courts’ ability to issue injunctions and impose fines to remedy racial discrimination.

Another example is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) – which imposes restrictions on telephone solicitations, automated text messages, and the use of auto-dialing systems. While the FTC does regulate based on this statute, one of the primary mechanisms of enforcement is litigation. The TCPA created a private right of action for consumers who were the target of unlawful phone calls and texts. That right of action allows private citizens both injunctive relief and statutory damages.

Would conservatives say that the TCPA (signed into law by George H.W. Bush) is an “unacceptable” interference into the free market? Or that we have to worry about what Democrats will do with the power to regulate telemarketers?

Obviously not.

Conservatives should frame de-platforming as a civil rights issue – because it is one.

And Republicans in friendly state legislatures should pass laws protecting that civil right – because they can.

Conservative objections to this plan are “peacetime” objections.

And we are not at peace.

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Reply Mon 6 May, 2019 11:08 pm
It's time to take back this beautiful country.
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Reply Fri 14 Jun, 2019 05:08 pm
Facebook labels users as ‘hate agents’ based on ‘signals’ & off-platform interactions – report

Facebook tracks users’ behavior on- and off-platform, hunting for “signals” that they could be a “hate agent,” and even talking to a “designated hate entity” can get a user banned, according to a policy document seen by Breitbart.

Users who appear at events alongside or even interview “designated hate entities” risk being marked as a “hate agent” themselves, Breitbart reports citing an internal document. Associating with or praising one of these bogeymen – the “Hate Agent Policy Review” cites British anti-migrant activist Tommy Robinson as an example – can also get a user marked with the scarlet letter, as can identifying with or speaking up for a “designated hateful ideology.”

Other “signals” are more vague, such as possessing “hate paraphernalia” or having “tattoos of hate symbols or hate slogans.” The document doesn’t give examples of what these might be, but with the media falling for increasingly ridiculous 4chan psy-ops to have everything from the “OK” hand sign to milk assigned secret racist meanings, today’s innocuous possession could be tomorrow’s hate paraphernalia.

“Hate speech,” of course, figures prominently in the policy, though Facebook’s definition is quite a bit broader than the term is commonly understood. A “tier 2” hate speech comment could include calling a person “stupid,” “ugly,” or even “fraud,” if it was determined that the comment had been made on the basis of a “protected characteristic” like race, religion, or sexual orientation. Meanwhile “tier 3” consists of “calls to exclude or segregate a person” based on their presumed stupidity, ugliness, fraudulence, and so on.

Making three or more “hate speech” remarks in a single statement or appearance constitutes a “signal,” as does making five in the space of a month. Facebook’s hate-hunters are allowed to go back two years in their quest for incriminating material, which can include “public statements, or statements made in private and later made public.”

The company even keeps a list of so-called “hate agents,” because the McCarthyism comparisons weren’t on-the-nose enough already. YouTube political commentator turned real-life UKIP candidate Carl Benjamin (aka Sargon of Akkad) found himself on the list earlier this year, prior to the European parliament elections; a leaked Facebook document revealed he had been labeled a “hate actor” for the unthinkable crime of “neutral representation” of a member of the Proud Boys, along with reposting a homophobic comment directed at himself and making fun of a white nationalism supporter. His fellow UK politician Anne-Marie Waters and YouTube commentator Candace Owens are also on the blacklist, according to Breitbart.

Facebook appears to incentivize its employees to hunt down evidence that users are behaving badly both on- and off-platform, and the latter is scarily easy for Facebook to do. The platform tracks users’ online activities across every site that includes its ubiquitous “like” and “share” buttons, and its tracking is not limited to the primary device they use Facebook on. A massive data breach last year proved Facebook has access to all users’ photos - even the ones they don’t post to Facebook - and the app scours users’ address books to look for potential “friends,” meaning there’s no way to hide one’s “hateful” associates from prying eyes.

Nor are hate “signals” the only factors that warrant inclusion on Facebook’s blacklist - like YouTube, the company is increasingly obsessed with so-called “borderline” content that does not violate its rules but doesn’t sufficiently conform to its favored narratives. It’s up to Facebook whether the weight of all the evidence warrants deplatforming, of course, meaning the banhammer is wielded selectively – but always waiting in the wings for users who step out of line, ideologically.
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Reply Fri 14 Jun, 2019 05:10 pm
Facebook is keeping a secret list!
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