4
   

Parler: The problem with conservative free speech

 
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 03:41 pm
@hightor,
You are making a very partisan argument. You are describing "them" in not very flattering terms, and suggested that they are "basically asking to have their messages pulled". Of course the opposite is true.

The claim is that Facebook and Twitter are biased in their subjective judgement about what to take down. This is a claim that I believe has some validity.

You have yet to provide a way that judge what is offensive or not. The fact is that statements that are offensive to transgendered people are often remove. Statements offensive to evangelical Christians are rarely removed.

Half-truths and lies from the left are far less likely to be pulled down than half-truths and lies from the right.

The question is ... in a information monopoly that services a public space, is there a responsibility for censorship to be fair?

maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2020 03:44 pm
@hightor,
hightor wrote:

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.


I agree with this.

However Facebook, which has a near monopoly and operates as a public space, is doing exactly that. Facebook is censoring what it judges to be "offensive" based on a subjective process that favors one political side over the other.

That is the issue.
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  -3  
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2020 01:00 am
What do you think is the solution to the problem of Twitter and Facebook bias? Should the government start regulating them?

Incidentally I have the same problem with the mainstream media. They let so many lies from the left go unchallenged that it really rubs me the wrong way when they turn around and fact check conservatives.
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  3  
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2020 06:30 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
You are making a very partisan argument.

Only because we're talking about one aggrieved party.
Quote:
Of course the opposite is true.

I'm not so sure:
Fintan O'Toole wrote:
One thing we can be sure of is that for Trump and his followers there are not five stages of grief, leading from denial to acceptance. The furthest their sense of it can go is to the second stage, anger. Just as there is “long Covid,” there is long Trump. The staying power of his destructiveness lies in the way that disputed defeat suits him almost as much as victory. It vindicates the self-pity that he has encouraged among his supporters, the belief that everything is rigged against them, that the world is a plot to steal from them their natural due as Americans.

nyrb
It reminds me of layman's cleverly crafted screeds which skirted the rules of the site and stayed up compared to some of the FEL character's clumsier attempts which were pulled, or coldjoint's insults which were thumbed down below visibility, leading invariably to the breathless complaints of "censorship" — "See what liberals do everybody, Exhibit A right here!!!"
Quote:
The fact is that statements that are offensive to transgendered people are often remove. Statements offensive to evangelical Christians are rarely removed.

That might have to do with the difference between the relative emotional and physical security of members of the two groups. Evangelical Christians have a long history in the USA, they have political power, their votes are courted by Republicans, they may attend mega-churches with thousands of others. Many people in the transgendered community are perceived as illegitimate, many are alienated and alone, some have been persecuted and suffer from physical and emotional trauma. So it's very possible that moderators see offensive messages directed at transgendered people as having greater potential to inflict psychological injury. That's not a distinction between left and right as much as it is a recognition of the difference in social standing and power between two very different groups of people. And yes, it's a stew of subjectivity but, as we've discussed, it's very difficult to apply an objective standard which can be applied to every example of speech from every speaker. There will always be people on one side or the other crying "Foul!"
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2020 09:11 am
@hightor,
Quote:
That might have to do with the difference between the relative emotional and physical security of members of the two groups. Evangelical Christians have a long history in the USA, they have political power, their votes are courted by Republicans, they may attend mega-churches with thousands of others. Many people in the transgendered community are perceived as illegitimate, many are alienated and alone, some have been persecuted and suffer from physical and emotional trauma. So it's very possible that moderators see offensive messages directed at transgendered people as having greater potential to inflict psychological injury.


This is an interesting justification for political bias in public forums. What you are doing is still subjective. You are arbitrarily choosing certain groups (i.e. the transgendered community). You are judging the feelings of alienation of other groups. You may have good reason to choose some groups over others as worthy of special protection. But ultimately this is a subjective decision.

I believe in the concept of "White privilege" academically. As a hashtag on Facebook, or as a liberal political slogan, it has failed. It has failed for a very simple reason... there are tens of millions of White people who legitimately claim that they have been shut out of academic opportunities, are locked in shitty careers with no chance of advancement and are suffering. These people feel (with good reason) that the liberals don't care about their problems because they are White.

Discrimination against racial minorities, or against transgendered people, or against any other identity group is a real problem. But it isn't a simple matter of ignoring the problems of other groups.

The issue is fairness in these information monopolies such as Facebook and Twitter. Using censorship to offer protection to specific identity groups. doesn't fit with the goals of freedom of expression.
hightor
 
  2  
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2020 10:14 am
@maxdancona,
I want to emphasize, max, that I'm not providing my justification for things done on these platforms; I'm trying to think of what justifications might come into play by the people who run those platforms.

Quote:
You may have good reason to choose some groups over others as worthy of special protection.


Again, I'm not choosing any group as worthy of special protection, I'm simply choosing a groups to use as an example. You brought up transgendered people a few posts earlier. But, when comparing the transgendered community to evangelical Christians and considering the problems affecting members of those communities, it's hard to imagine that the evangelicals have a harder time finding employment, housing, and minimal level of social acceptance. So, in that case, I might be more willing to listen to the grievances of one over the other.

Quote:
...there are tens of millions of White people who legitimately claim that they have been shut out of academic opportunities, are locked in shitty careers with no chance of advancement and are suffering.


That's the problem with coining simplistic phrases to describe complicated social problems. Sure, there's such a thing as "white privilege" but that shouldn't be construed as meaning that all white people belong to a select class. White privilege is a phenomenon which arises from time to time in particular situations but it's not meant to describe the universal status of Caucasians.

Quote:

The issue is fairness in these information monopolies such as Facebook and Twitter. Using censorship to offer protection to specific identity groups. doesn't fit with the goals of freedom of expression.


Is "freedom of expression" the stated goal of these private companies? Is "fairness"? Aren't they more about personalized communication? And isn't the concept of "fairness" as hopelessly subjective as determining levels of offensiveness or egregiousness?

I don't think there's a neat solution to the problems you have raised in this thread. But if Facebook and Twitter really are the bastions of liberalism that you describe, why would there even be an expectation of fairness at all?
hightor
 
  2  
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2020 10:24 am
Evidence of anti-conservative bias by platforms remains anecdotal.

Quote:
Conservatives have said for years that online social media platforms censor their views. But their evidence is largely anecdotal, and conservative accounts frequently perform extremely well online.

The charges of censorship will almost certainly play a central role in Wednesday’s hearing. Republicans like Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas are likely to criticize the chief executives about how their platforms have moderated content posted by conservative politicians or right-wing media outlets.

Conservatives have seized on individual instances of content moderation to claim that there is a systemic bias against them on the platforms. In some cases, the companies have said that the content violated their policies; in other instances they have said that the moderation was a mistake.

Recently, Republicans pointed to the decision by Twitter and Facebook to restrict the sharing of stories about Hunter Biden, the son of Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for president. Twitter initially said that the story violated its policy against the sharing of hacked information, but later reversed itself. Facebook has said it is restricting the story’s reach while it waits for a third-party fact checker to evaluate the claims.

In 2017, Twitter took down an ad for Ms. Blackburn’s Senate campaign after the company deemed it “inflammatory” for a line that included a reference to “the sale of baby body parts,” saying the post violated its policies. The company changed its mind a day later.

In 2016, Facebook had to answer questions from conservatives about whether its Trending Topics section, which at the time was run by human curators, not the algorithms that power its News Feed, had suppressed conservative news. The company said it found no evidence that the accusations were true.

None of these cases unearthed evidence of a systemic bias against conservative content. A 2019 study by The Economist found that Google did not favor left-leaning websites. Posts from commentators like Ben Shapiro regularly rank among the most highly-engaged on Facebook. Liberals have also had their posts flagged or removed from the platforms — groups that advocate for racial justice, for example have said that Facebook has taken their content down.

Democrats have accused Republicans of raising the issue to manipulate Silicon Valley companies into being more cautious when it comes to moderating false or misleading information posted by conservatives.

“There’s simply no reason to have this hearing just prior to the election, except that it may intimidate the platforms, who have shown themselves to be vulnerable to political blunt force in the past,” Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, wrote in a tweet this month about Wednesday’s hearing.

nyt
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2020 11:38 am
@hightor,
The facts (I think these are uncontested)

1. These private companies are making arbitrary decisions based on subjective criteria about which posts to censor.

2. These private companies have a monopoly on an important public forum. They can filter the news and messages seen by hundreds of millions of Americans.

3. The employees of these tech companies (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) are decidedly to the political left of the general public.

4. Americans, particularly to the political right, are complaining that their posts are being censored more than equivalent posts to the right.

4. As you suggest, there is data that many conservative posts aren't censored. This isn't really answering the question of how many posts are censored.

5. The data on how many posts are censored isn't publicly available since the companies are keeping this information hidden. There are plenty of anecdotes though which although not conclusive, suggests that there is a problem of fairness.

My opinions

1. I believe that since Twitter and Facebook have information monopolies and control important public spaces... there is a valid concern that their ability to control information.

2. I believe strongly in free speech. I support this not only in the First Amendment sense... I also believe there is a important social good that people are allowed to publicly express even offensive ideas. There is a social risk of harm hen private companies have the ability to hinder the public dissemination of ideas.

3. I recognize the need for some moderation. This often contradicts with my previous point. I fall on the side of free speech with marginal limits.








0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  2  
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2020 12:35 pm
Reddit tried to stop the spread of hateful material. New research shows it may have made things worse

Quote:
On the 28 September, 2018, Reddit made a big announcement.

Two of its most controversial subreddits, r/TheRedPill and r/Braincels, would immediately be quarantined.

Both the territory of men's rights activists and rife with misogynistic material, they wouldn't be banned outright, but subject to tighter controls designed to limit the spread of hateful content.

Their posts would be scrapped from the Reddit front page. Gone from recommendations and subscription feeds, invisible in the search function. Users couldn't make money from them. They could only be accessed with the direct URL or from Google.

And even if people did find them, a warning flashed up: "[This subreddit] is dedicated to shocking or highly offensive content".

It was all part of the company's increasing shift away from its founding principle: radical free speech.

Reddit was being swept up in the growing pressure for social media companies to regulate hateful material on their platforms, and an increasing reliance on advertisers - who weren't thrilled to be associated with such ideas.

The quarantine policy was unique - different to the total ban approaches of other sites, like Facebook and YouTube.

And it hasn't proved to be a huge success, according to new research from the Australian National University.

In fact, it may have unintentionally made things worse when it comes to stopping the spread of hateful and misogynistic content, according to the study's author.

"What it says to me is that we need to think really carefully about the use of technological solutions to stop the spread of hateful material online," said PhD researcher Simon Copland.

The way many users responded - by taking their views to other, self-regulated platforms - is a huge concern, he told Hack.

Hack contacted Reddit for a response but did not hear back before publication.

Engagement drops off, but misogyny remains

r/Braincels - a community for incels - was eventually banned completely, but r/TheRedPill - a cesspool of coercive tricks to pick up women and rants against 'toxic feminism', amongst even more extreme content - is still quarantined.

Mr Copland wanted to see how the quarantines affected three things: the level engagement, the use of misogynistic language, and how users responded to the changes.

He found it did not reduce the prevalence of misogynistic language in either of the subreddits.

"The percentage of comments that had misogynistic language in them stayed the same," Mr Copland said.

In more positive news, engagement levels did go down.

"There was an immediate, probably 50 per cent drop off, in terms of the amount of submissions and comments on those subreddits," he said.

But it was hard to say how much of that was because the subreddits had disappeared from places like subscription feeds and the front page, or because users started taking their chats elsewhere (we'll get back to this).

Mr Copland thinks it was a mix of both.

"So you see a drop, I suspect from those people who are casually engaged," he said.

"It would have taken time for them to even realise it's gone. Or to take the energy to get back involved."

"Then I think you would have had a second part of people who were really heavily engaged and really committed to these spaces, who would have gone well, 'This is no longer worth it, I'm going to go somewhere else'."

Users turn to self-moderating platforms

That somewhere else is an even more dangerous place: small, intense, self-moderated platforms.

When the quaratines were announced, the hierarchy of r/TheRedPill mobilised immediately.

They started actively pushing users to external forums. Moderators promoted specific sites - which we won't mention here - and then they set up an automatic response to every post, asking people to leave Reddit and join other communities.

This is what concerns Mr Copland most.

"These forums are watched far less closely and in turn allow hateful material to develop and spread more quickly," he said.

It's a trend he's seeing more and more these days, not just from Reddit, but in the wake of bans across social media platforms: when QAnon material was removed from YouTube and Facebook, or when r/The_Donald was banned earlier this year, for example.

"And what the research shows is that when you have those sorts of situations, ideas can become more extreme, more quickly."

As this kind of hateful material swells and intensifies on these smaller platforms, he thinks there's potential it could spill out into the real world.

We've already seen extremist violence with shootings in Toronto and Christchurch.

"I worry about that real intensification of these ideas," Mr Copland said.

"The policies like quarantines intensify these ideas, which do have bad and potentially worse outcomes, than not implementing them in the first place."

'We need to take responsibility as a community'

Mr Copland said he'd like to see greater debate about how these platforms moderate their users, and their responsibilities in stopping the spread of hateful material.

In Reddit's case, the policy of quarantining only exacerbated existing distrust of institutions among some users.

"It was sort of seen as being implemented unfairly and unjustly and abruptly, so they didn't see any incentive to change their behaviour."

But he was wary about relying on these companies too much.

"Because they don't have the best interest of the community at heart," he said.

"They have their [own] interests at heart. And that is an interest to make money."

Mr Copland said hateful ideas don't spring up, out of the blue, just on social media sites. Simply banning individuals and groups might only scrape the surface of a bigger issue.

"We also need to do work as ourselves as communities to try and address the root causes of these problems, rather than just relying on technological solutions to deal with them."

abc.net.au
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2020 01:18 pm
@hightor,
These articles are interesting, but the skirt around the same problem.

How do you define "hate speech", or "misogyny"?

Aboriginal tribes in Australia (and other places including North America) traditionally practice polygamy. In Australia the practice continues in aboriginal communities in spite of the fact that many White people consider the practice to be barbaric. Are Aboriginal people misogynist because they practice their cultural tradition? Is labeling an important traditional practice of an aboriginal culture as "misogynist" an example of hate speech?

The political left in the United States has been pushing to greatly expand the definition of hate speech. Right now, there are arguments over using the wrong pronouns is hate speech... in my opinion, this gets a little ridiculous.

Recently Mario Lopez got into trouble for saying"My God, if you’re 3 years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way, and think you’re a boy or a girl, or whatever the case may be... I think it’s dangerous, as a parent, to make that determination,"

Really, this is simply questioning whether a 3 year old is self-aware enough to make a determination as to their gender. It is a little ridiculous (in my opinion)... I know three year olds.

Is this hate speech? In my opinion, the recent drastic change in our culture is something that should be discussed openly.

hightor
 
  4  
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2020 01:36 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
Are Aboriginal people misogynist because they practice their cultural tradition?

Only if we insist on judging them by the standards of our own culture — which seems to be one of the standards of our own culture when you consider how many age-old rituals and traditions around the world were prohibited and extirpated by Christianity and capitalism. But no, basically I would prefer a stance of cultural relativism.
Quote:
Right now, there are arguments over using the wrong pronouns is hate speech... in my opinion, this gets a little ridiculous.

Agreed.

I suspect it will continue to puzzle wiser minds than our own who will continue to skirt around this problem for some time to come.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2020 02:40 pm
@hightor,
The point I am making is that terms like "hate speech" and "misogyny" are subjective. Different people will have vastly different ideas about what constitutes hate and what is acceptable speech (or even truth).

Asking Facebook, or Twitter or anyone else to make definitive decisions on the subjective ideas is a problem. That is a source of bias.

The First Amendment says that in terms of government regulation; hate speech is free speech. This is a civil right because once the government can designate an idea as "offensive" then it can prevent the idea from being expressed. And yet now these monopolistic companies have the power that we think is too dangerous to give to a government.

I don't think you are disagreeing on this point.
hightor
 
  2  
Reply Wed 18 Nov, 2020 04:10 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
I don't think you are disagreeing on this point.

I'll say that I agree about the murkiness when it comes to certain free speech issues, especially when those issues are still being processed by society as a whole, like hate speech and transgender rights.

However, I categorically reject the idea that sites which refuse to post unproven or debunked allegations from dubious sources are "censoring" political speech. And most of the belly-aching I've heard from conservatives has been about things like the Hunter Biden laptop and hydroxychloroquine. People like Giuliani want to use popular social media sites as their own propaganda platforms. Any media site has the right to protect itself against potential charges of spreading lies and disinformation and editing out such content is not just acceptable — it is their responsibility.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Wed 18 Nov, 2020 04:26 am
@hightor,
hightor wrote:

However, I categorically reject the idea that sites which refuse to post unproven or debunked allegations from dubious sources are "censoring" political speech. And most of the belly-aching I've heard from conservatives has been about things like the Hunter Biden laptop and hydroxychloroquine. People like Giuliani want to use popular social media sites as their own propaganda platforms. Any media site has the right to protect itself against potential charges of spreading lies and disinformation and editing out such content is not just acceptable — it is their responsibility.


You are mentioning three different things.

1) "Unproven or debunked allegations". These are things that aren't backed by evidence.

2) Political propaganda.

3) Lies and disinformation.

My principle is simple.... in each of these areas, the sites should treat the political left and the political right equally. If the sites are going to censor "propaganda" from the political right, they should censor "propaganda" or "unproven allegations" from the political left in the same way.

I would like to know if you agree with this principle (whether you think this is actually happening or not).
0 Replies
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Nov, 2020 08:05 am
@McGentrix,
McGentrix wrote:
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.
Totally agree!
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Wed 18 Nov, 2020 09:01 am
@George,
The implication here is that Facebook (with it's monopoly on social messaging) could.

1) Remove any mention of transgender issues and censor any post advocating for transgender rights.

2) Remove any mention of 2nd amendment rights and allow posts with an openly anti-gun agenda with no opposing arguments allowed.

Giving Facebook and Twitter the absolute power over the content allowed on their platforms is one solution. I am not sure how many people would support this solution if it meant that their political position wouldn't be represented.

McGentrix
 
  0  
Reply Wed 18 Nov, 2020 09:31 am
@maxdancona,
If people are getting their information from Twitter and Facebook, that's on them. I use Facebook for funny pictures and talking to my kids. I don't use Twitter.

Now, in principle, I agree with you that they shouldn't censor unfairly and when Cruz asked the leaders of Twitter and Facebook to name one liberal they censored, neither could name one. That was telling.

In reality, they are private companies and they can do what they want with their property as every user signed a user agreement before using it.
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  3  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2020 12:09 pm
Despite cries of censorship, conservatives dominate social media

Donald Trump wrote:
The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google.


Quote:
At the end of August, for instance, Dan Bongino, a conservative commentator with millions of online followers, wrote on Facebook that Black Lives Matter protesters had called for the murder of police officers in Washington, D.C. Bongino’s social media posts are routinely some of the most shared content across Facebook, based on CrowdTangle’s data.

The claims — first made by a far-right publication that the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled as promoting conspiracy theories — were not representative of the actions of the Black Lives Matter movement. But Bongino’s post was shared more than 30,000 times, and received 141,000 other engagements such as comments and likes, according to CrowdTangle.

In contrast, the best-performing liberal post around Black Lives Matter — from DL Hughley, the actor — garnered less than a quarter of the Bongino post’s social media traction, based on data analyzed by POLITICO.




0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  -2  
Reply Sat 21 Nov, 2020 09:13 am
@hightor,
abc.net.au wrote:
Reddit tried to stop the spread of hateful material. New research shows it may have made things worse

I'm off topic from the subject of conservatism here, but this is why I prefer to politely confront Holocaust deniers instead of shunning them.

Driving them into isolation will never change their beliefs.
0 Replies
 
 

 
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