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Parler: The problem with conservative free speech

 
 
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2020 11:34 am
I have mixed feelings about the conservative complaints against Facebook and Twitter. On one hand, I think the conservatives have a valid complaint that they are being singled out. On the other hands, particularly in the Trump era, conservatives are frequently ignoring basic facts.

Conservatives started their own social media platform called Parler. It is based on a lie that they won't censor based on disagreement. In truth, there is a growing list of people who have been banned on Parler, and people with accounts quickly see there is at least as much of a political bias as there is anywhere else.

What Parler is doing is setting up a conservative corner of the internet. It is already the case that everything other than conservative views get drowned out (if not outright censored).

We have a not insignificant part of our society that rejects the mainstream media. They are now isolating themselves even further from society at large. There is less dialog now then ever. I can't imagine that this is a good thing.

Facebook and Twitter are failing to be platforms of real dialog. They tend to segregate people, and this is part of the problem. In this perspective Parler makes the problem worse.

 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2020 11:41 am
@maxdancona,
I thought about seeing what I have to do to get banned on Parler. It seems like a badge of honor. But it has already been done by too many people.
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  3  
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2020 12:05 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
On one hand, I think the conservatives have a valid complaint that they are being singled out.

Do you mean unfairly singled out? Because violating the rules of any website usually results in some sort of disciplinary response. Like bobsal (hardly a conservative) on A2K. I don't do Facebook (or Twitter) and if I'm misinformed let me know, but I thought the problems had to do with posting and reposting false claims about voting and other election matters which the sites publicly announced would not be tolerated. If anyone's being singled out it's only because they've run afoul of site rules. If sites don't do this they run the risk of turning into 4chan.
Quote:
Facebook and Twitter are failing to be platforms of real dialog.

I don't know about Twitter, as I thought that was basically a message board, but Facebook has algorithms which tend to exploit controversy and divisiveness which tends to increase viewership.

It's possible that people really don't want platforms of real dialog and would prefer to stay on their own reservation. Any ideas on how this could be changed?
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2020 12:19 pm
@hightor,
Yes, I mean that in some cases conservatives are unfairly singled out.

It is a matter of degree. The most disgusting viewpoints are censored whether they are politically left or politically right. But in the middle grey area, a questionable conservative opinion is more likely to be fact checked or censored than an equivalently questionable liberal one.

In that sense, I think the conservatives have a valid point.
hightor
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2020 12:54 pm
@maxdancona,
I'm not disputing what you say, I'd just like clarification. Are you saying that liberal claims aren't fact-checked? And are you saying that opinions ("Killary sucks") are "censored"— and not just false statements which c0uld affect civil matters ("Democrats vote on Wednesday") or public health ("Vaccines cause autism") Real life examples would be great.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2020 12:57 pm
@hightor,
I think I am being clear.

The obvious egregious cases are fact-checked or censored on both sides. In the questionable middle cases, the liberal claims are less likely to be fact-checked or censored.

A claim such as "violence against women is increasing" (which is factually incorrect) won't be checked because it fits a liberal narrative.
hightor
 
  3  
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2020 01:26 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
A claim such as "violence against women is increasing" (which is factually incorrect) won't be checked because it fits a liberal narrative.

I don't think that's the kind of claim that gets fact-checked, though. If a conservative stated that "people are more secure in their homes if they own firearms" (which fits a conservative narrative) I doubt that would be fact-checked either. These aren't egregious — these are personal convictions which don't really have civic consequences, even if they're factually incorrect. Hyping an article which holds that hydroxychloroquine is a cure for covid is a different order of irresponsibility because the misinformation has the potential to cause direct consequences.
hightor
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2020 02:14 pm
Pulling Our Politics Back from the Brink

0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2020 02:31 pm
@hightor,
Judgements about what is "egregious" or not are subjective. And that is part of the problem. Facebook is being put into a place of censorship and forced to make these decisions.

The argument of JK Rowling gets more difficult. The statement that "only women menstruate" (this is the one of the statements that JK Rowling got into trouble for making) has scientifically validity based on how you define gender. The argument is around a definition.. which is subjective.

On one side you have civil rights of transgendered people. On the other side you have free speech rights of conservative people. Both of these rights are valid. The claim (which I believe has some merit) is that the gatekeepers are biased to the left.


0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2020 02:41 pm
I have a better example...

There is a book that is noting that the number of teens and pre-teens identifying as transgendered has skyrocketed in the past 10 years. This is factually true... there is no doubt that this is happening.

The author is suggesting that this might cause social and emotional problems based on changing expectations and confused roles. This is an opinion, but certainly one worth discussing.

This book, the author and the discussion is being censored. There is nothing factually incorrect. It is the discussion that is considered too offensive to discuss.

hightor
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 09:15 am
@maxdancona,
Those are interesting examples.

I doubt that J.K.Rowling considers herself a "conservative" as the term has come to mean in the USA. These types of sexual/gender identity problems trip up reasonable people of all political stripes. And I'll agree, it's too bad she can't state a fact based on her own definition of what "woman" means.

The second example — again, not one which can be positioned easily on the standard political spectrum — seems to hinge on "offensiveness", not truth or falsity. I want to know, though, are you describing problems on Facebook or are these particular examples playing out on multiple media platforms? Because if communities find topics offensive, well-organized interest groups may very well seek to have them removed. And the owners of the platform may prefer not seeing their site deteriorate to something like 4chan and might move to restrict commentary which doesn't conform to "community standards" because of the uproar. You can't allow unrestricted freedom of expression and miraculously avoid the appearance of offensive speech, hate speech, disinformation, and outright dishonesty. That's what people do when they think they can get away with it.

As time goes by, I think you'll see similar problems appear on alternative sites set up by conservatives because absolute freedom of expression raises problems for any organization hosting public commentary. I believe the problem is primarily one of human nature — some people like to stir up ****, some people are perverse, some dishonest people like to spread lying memes. Some opinions are just not going to get wide distribution on privately-owned sites and outlets. But as long as you can say these things out loud, write them in a letter to a newspaper, or mention them on a friendly forum without government agents seeking to lock you up I believe these violations of "free speech" don't amount to the dangerous level of censorship which you feel they do. No one is forced to join Facebook or Twitter, no one is forced to read Facebook or Twitter. Either platform could disappear tomorrow and civilization would probably be better off. No one is forced to read denials of the holocaust, no privately-owned platform should be forced to post them. But if someone is intent on discussing the topic with like-minded people they can avail themselves of other social media sites or establish one of their own.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 09:33 am
@hightor,
All of this is subjective. Your idea of what is "offensive" is quite different from other people's idea.

Our country is divided into two main world views. The people on the right are claiming that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are slanted against them. I believe this claim has some validity.

You are wrong when you claim that "offensiveness" can not be positioned easily on the standard political spectrum. Of course it can. What the political left finds offensive is quite a bit different than what the political right finds offensive. It is not that hard to guess what will offend each side.

You have your subjective opinion about what is offensive. Facebook is making decisions that match pretty closely with your subjective opinion. That is why you don't see a problem. But there is a problem. I am not sure what the solution is.

Able2know has to walk this line too... and I think Able2know is quite a bit more hands off than Facebook allowing members from the left and the right to express themselves pretty freely.

Unfortunately, this hasn't really led to as much meaningful dialog as I would like.




hightor
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 10:34 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
The people on the right are claiming that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are slanted against them.

Only if they violate the stated rules of the sites, which the platforms established because of a sense of public responsibility with regard to the election, the pandemic, and safety of minority communities. They are forced to take the easy way out because of the sheer number of posts, forwards, and links. If the sites devolve into dysfunctional hives like 4chan, that would contravene their stated goals
Quote:
You are wrong when you claim that "offensiveness" can not be positioned easily on the standard political spectrum.

Actually it's you who's wrong. "Offensiveness" is that which people find offensive, plain and simple. And "offensiveness" is not a characteristic which can be positioned on the political spectrum because it is an abstract concept. Now, offensive material is different but that means we have to look at the individual case, not generalities.
Quote:
Facebook is making decisions that match pretty closely with your subjective opinion.

No it isn't. You don't even know what my subjective opinions are, you just make assumptions which help you to make your argument. I don't care what anyone says on Facebook, I don't like their use of algorithms, I don't like what they've done to the public dialog, I don't use Facebook, and I certainly don't own Facebook or feel a need to protect it from itself.
Quote:
...and I think Able2know is quite a bit more hands off than Facebook allowing members from the left and the right to express themselves pretty freely.

Um...Twitter has over 300,000,000 monthly users, Facebook somewhere around 1,600,000,000. Those large platforms need to balance social responsibility, the wishes of account holders, and the need for continued profitability. Comparing those sites to Able2Know is really far-fetched.
Quote:
Unfortunately, this hasn't really led to as much meaningful dialog as I would like.

Well, excuse me for attempting to discuss the issue on an open forum. For someone trying to appear so even-handed and concerned with "The problem with conservative free speech", you seem to be more concerned with promoting your viewpoint and characterizing dissent or differences of opinion as not "meaningful".
Quote:
But there is a problem.

Would it surprise you to know that I agree with you?
Quote:
I am not sure what the solution is.

No one does. The ramifications of social media are still playing out and at this time there are no widely agreed-upon solutions.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 11:23 am
@hightor,
1) You are missing the point. The claim is that people are being censored because of their political party. You are implying that this is fair because people are censored based on "the rules of the site". This doesn't work when the rules are biased, or the rules are enforced unequally .

2) People disagree about what is offensive. When you say "offensive is that which people find offensive", I think what you really mean is "that which liberal people find offensive.

3) The fact is that a significant number of Americans are conservative, and most of them will say that Facebook and Twitter are slanted against them. This is evidence that your judgement about what is offensive isn't working.

4) I am am not sure what role sites like Facebook and Twitter have in promoting "social responsibility", particularly when it comes to censorship. These are private sites, but they are also information monopolies that function and public spaces.

I am a little uncomfortable with Facebook inserting or enforcing bias on social issues. I am uncomfortable even when I agree with Facebook's bias. They have an awful lot of power in shaping, influencing or slanting public discussion... that isn't necessarily a good thing.

That is the reason I tend to feel uncomfortable with censorship by Facebook and Twitter on their platform.
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 11:36 am
There is no "Freedom of speech" or expression on privately owned internet sources. Twitter and Facebook have all the rights in the world to censor anything it sees fit.

It is up to the free market to either over come, change it or go somewhere else.

The thing with Twitter is that you need to follow someone to see what they post. If you don't like what someone is posting, you simply unfollow them and poof! They are gone from your feed.

We may not like it, but private companies are under no obligation to cater to anyone.
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 11:55 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
The claim is that people are being censored because of their political party.

They're wrong. But they can gleefully add it to their ever-growing list of grievances.
Quote:
When you say "offensive is that which people find offensive", I think what you really mean is "that which liberal people find offensive.

No, that's emphatically not what I mean. But it is exactly what I mean about your making assumptions.
Quote:
...but they are also information monopolies that function and public spaces.

Had we known how destructive they would become we might have done something before they achieved their current size and power. Unfortunately it wasn't a possibility and we're living with the outcome. I think it's obscene that one f**king company has over a billion customers and no competition.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 01:40 pm
@hightor,
Quote:
They're wrong. But they can gleefully add it to their ever-growing list of grievances.


You are telling tens of millions of Americans that their feelings don't matter.

This asinine attitude is why Democrats are losing elections they should win. If the Democrats write off millions of Americans, they will keep losing elections.

Trump lost the presidential election, because Trump is a blustering fool who pissed off too many of the people who voted for him in 2016. He is a special case. But the Democrats are losing and if you listen to why the Democrats are losing, it is because the "elitist", "dismissive" "self-righteous" attitude of liberals alienate them. They are annoyed by the Democrats (and the left) more than they are annoyed by the other party. They vote for the other party.

Facebook is slanted left. The electorate is not. Ultimately the electorate matters. I accept the argument that Facebook is a private company and can be slanted anyway it wants (although I think the left is quite hypocritical in making that argument). The monopoly Facebook and Twitter hold in information makes this argument a little scary.

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 01:50 pm
@hightor,
I am curious.

I believe that you are claiming that there is a "clear" way to determine what is "offensive" or not in the case where people disagree. Please quite often disagree.

Tell me if you aren't claiming this, and I apologize and drop it. If you are claiming this, I would like to know how you propose to do this?

I don't believe there is a clear way to determine what is offensive or inoffensive that doesn't come down to a subjective judgement.
hightor
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 02:20 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
You are telling tens of millions of Americans that their feelings don't matter.

No, I'm telling the few people who read this that the feelings of tens of millions of citizens are based on a misapprehension of the actual situation. It's not the fact that they register as "Republicans" that results in their posts being taken down. It's that they've chosen to blame their plight on people who have nothing to do with it, like immigrants, inner city non-white people, trans-gendered people, and credentialed experts and, seeking justification for these resentments, avail themselves of the propaganda supplied by the alt-right and troll farms, domestic and foreign. By spreading half-truths and lies they're basically asking to have their messages pulled — which they can then use as more fuel for grievance.
Quote:
If the Democrats write off millions of Americans, they will keep losing elections.

Well of course they will. They can write off millions of conservative USAmericans or they can write off millions of progressive USAmericans. Until centrist sentiment regains preeminence the Democrats will be forced to write off one side or the other.

I think you put too much blame on the media when, in reality, it only reflects the divisions which have been inflamed for thirty years on talk radio and for a lesser amount of time, the alt-right. Currently, Republican politicians see no reason to present themselves as part of an inclusive party. As long as they gain votes by encouraging divisiveness why should they make any effort to tone down their message? I think the best hope is for Republican politicians to emerge who offer an alternative to Trumpism. I admit that this is unlikely but I think it's more likely that solving the problem of monopolistic social media.
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 02:41 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
Tell me if you aren't claiming this, and I apologize and drop it.

I'm not claiming that, but you needn't apologize.

I think trying to limit offensive material is mug's game, symptomatic of a society where people are quick to claim "victimhood" and display it as a badge of belonging. I first began to think about this decades ago when "political correctness" was beginning to emerge. Practically any statement can offend someone. Hell, what right does the weather guy have to say that tomorrow will be a "beautiful sunny day" — is he unaware that many of us enjoy rainy days? That sort of thing. Believe me, it's just not worth keeping score of all the bitter barbs and calumnies flung your way by people who don't even know you.
 

 
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