US Meltdown

Hopefully this thread dies off after January 20th, but I figured things are hectic enough over there, it might be a good idea to have a dedicated thread.

So any news or what’s going on, or got something to discuss, post it here.



I wonder who with or how Telegram and Gab host their services? And how long before they start closing accounts or get shut down by their providers too.


Okay, so who’s going to tell the “private companies should give us the free speech right to spread our hate-filled rhetoric” brigade that the messaging platform they’re all moving to now (Telegram) is software developed by Russians and currently operated from a data center in the Arab nation of Dubai? I suppose it’s fitting that it is a known tool of choice for both ISIS terrorists and white supremacist nazis.


Its rather sad state when the US pres is considered to dangerous for social media but still has the nuke codes.


Telegram has had to fight a battle of IP address / hosting provider whack-a-mole with a nation state before (Russia, specifically) so they are probably well prepared if someone decides to try and knock them off the Internet. I covered this for MyBroadband back in the day:

Telegram might be founded by a Russian and might even have Russian developers on the team, but Russia itself certainly doesn’t like them.


I know an Internet activist who worked at getting QAnon’s platforms knocked off the Internet and it’s always temporary. There will always be someone willing to take money to allow people to host whatever heinous stuff they want on the Internet.

I see Parler’s site is online and pings to still bounce back from the Cloudfront node in Johannesburg. Has Amazon reinstated Parler’s services or is something else going on?

Anyway, the larger point here is the issue of free speech. I’m a fierce proponent of free speech, but recognise there is some stuff that we just don’t want in our societies: child pornography, terrorist propaganda, certain kinds of graphic violence (e.g. snuff films and other live murders, suicides).

I can’t help but wonder if the better way to deal with Trumpism, QAnon, and other nonsense conspiracy theories and the wacky beliefs that have proliferated in the dark corners of the Internet is to bring them into the light and challenge them where everyone can see.

Show to the world that the emperor has no clothes.

It’s a tricky one because you walk a line between legitimising fringe views by giving them mainstream attention, but when those fringe views manage to gain enough support to mount an attack on the U.S. Capitol building and be a credible threat then something needs to be done to challenge those views.

At the risk of Reductio ad Hitlerum, a thought experiment:

Let’s imagine we could do over 1924–1933. How do we stop Hitler and prevent World War 2 and the atrocities perpetrated in the name of his hateful populism?

Or are we doomed to a cycle of hatred and death followed by rebuilding because people have to first see an atrocity to be shocked out of their somnambulism.


Free speech comes with accountability, just like Trump is learning, and many don’t grasp. I can say what I like - that doesn’t mean the platform I choose to express myself on needs to cater to my desire to express myself. For example, if I were to say dogs are awesome, and you as owner/admin of MEW decides that you don’t want to take the risk of bringing your site and business into disrepute under the cat crowd, it’s your right to remove my comments.

QAnon are welcome to selfhost their propaganda - its not that hard. The downside is that they lose anonymity, and would have to account for what they are publishing. But I’ve got a feeling that no one in the “organization” is brave enough to do that.


Not our EFF. The good EFF -

Last paragraph sums it up pretty nicely:
“Going forward, we call once again on the platforms to be more transparent and consistent in how they apply their rules—and we call on policymakers to find ways to foster competition so that users have numerous editorial options and policies from which to choose.”


From what I understand, there is a difference between a platform and a publisher. Platforms, what Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. claims to be, aren’t supposed to interfere and block content that “they don’t like” except for the basics like hate speech, porn, etc. and therefore enjoy certain protections from being sued for content on their platform.
I’ve seen some of the content that Facebook and Youtube block and it is ridiculous. Anything that some woke moron from the “trust and safety team” doesn’t like, gets classified as hate speech. So I believe the power the tech companies wield is scary, massively being abused and a serious threat to free speech.

Ironically I think social media is probably partially to blame for the extreme divisions between the left and right these days, although maybe unintentionally. Their algorithms are designed to be unbalanced and filter out and show you all the content that fits your existing point of view. So conspiracy theorists get videos recommended to them with more conspiracy theories, the left get leftist content and the right also just conservative content. Everything is unbalanced so the moderate center gets eroded as everybody is shifting the the extremes.

As for the banning of Trump’s Twitter and Facebook (and the whole Parler platform), I think it was stupid. Not only shouldn’t they be controlling content (being a platform, not a publisher), what effect is this going to have on the conspiracy theorists who already claim that the media and big tech is trying to silence their views? They are essentially “confirming” their conspiracy theories which is just going to widen the divide further.

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Hasn’t happened yet:

Parler will be officially suspended from Amazon’s web-hosting services starting Monday at around midnight Pacific Time. The move will effectively take the site offline.

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I completely disagree with that. Each of those platforms are businesses first, and need programmes that drive quality and quantity of content. How is Youtube’s content partner program (or whatever its called) not interfering, but blocking video’s that’s against T&C’s is? What about T&C’s, for that matter? Snuff is, as far as I know, not illegal, but is not tolerated on Youtube, because that’s not the platform that they choose to be, and that’s fully their prerogative.

Even on MEW, we can find examples of the platform driving the content of the forum, where a coupe of strong words from a mod changed the direction of discourse in the COVID thread. That moderation is interference, but it ensures that the platform is what was envisioned.

In my opinion, the beauty of the internet is not that you can use others’ platforms to spew your message out into the world. The beauty is that if Facebook and Youtube does not like the message you are broadcasting, and chooses to remove you from their platform, you are welcome to roll you own, and carry on shouting whatever you like.

Twitter and Facebook need to consider their businesses first. If Trump’s hateful rhetoric is driving away users, they certainly have the right (and in my opinion obligation) to ban him. Never mind the legal ramifications of hosting inciting messages on their platforms.

Surely POTUS is not dependant on Twitter for his freedom of speech… he’s got a media liaison and a Press Briefing Room, for goodness’ sakes!


That is fine, but if they’re going to be moderating content and imposing on free speech, then they should be classified as publishers and not enjoy the protections of a platform.
I agree that they can set terms and conditions on their sites for what they don’t want there (think I used the word “illegal” in my original post which was wrong), but they are removing content they don’t like that doesn’t breach any term or condition on their site. Sure they cite the reason for the ban as a breach of one of their terms (usually hate speech), but the content being banned doesn’t match the definition of the term being breached. So it all comes down to whatever it is the person on the trust and safety team doesn’t like / agree with his personal viewpoint.

I don’t think that Trump’s rhetoric is driving anyone away from their platforms. I mean, where are they gonna go? Parler? These companies pretty much have the monopoly on social media. I don’t really care what kind of media Trump has at his disposal and it’s not the point. These companies have a dangerous amount of power that they can use to kill free speech and even affect government elections and they seem to be using it.

Just a stupid example of why Twitter banned Trump. His last two tweets, probably his two most toned down tweets from what we’re used to, were massively reinterpreted as “inspire to incite violence” which is crazy given that he had already conceded that Biden had won. Don’t get me wrong, I think Trump is an idiot and he has breached the T&Cs years ago already and they should have banned him then, but now they need to take something silly and massively reinterpret it in order to breach one of their terms so they can now ban him.


I wish I had the time to thoroughly get into this discussion. Work means I won’t be able to give as detailed a response as I’d, so apologies for that @Viper.

Those are two very different things. I have to reiterate, not providing one with a platform is not imposing on free speech.

Moderation is also critical to a platform’s culture. To take an admittedly extreme example, the major difference between Youtube and Pornhub comes down to moderation - I don’t have a copy open in front of me, but I’m pretty sure PH’s T’s&C’s don’t say “it gots to be pron”. :smiley:

I’m not sure whether he is or not is the point… In my opinion, the companies certainly should have the right to ban him if he were in order to protect their platforms.

That’s, like, four other debates in one sentence there! :smiley:

My point of view on this whole thing comes down to:

  1. You have the right to freedom of speech.
  2. You have the right to create a platform for expressing oneself.
  3. You, as owner of said platform, have the right to decide who can use it.

I don’t have much in the way of time to engage, but this might be an interesting watch on the topic of big tech platforms and the moderation of their platforms vs free speech, the jurisdiction of free speech and the protections/limitations.


No problem, but I think we are going to disagree on this.

Well I think they are related. They are moderating content and in effect blocking views that oppose theirs. The terms and conditions are there so that people know how to operate within the rules and those rules are again used to ban / block content that breaches them. They could obviously simply state their views and say that content posted on their platform that is incompatible with that view are not allowed, but if they do that, they’d lose the platform protections. So now they’re simply enforcing that anyway dishonestly classifying anything they don’t agree with as hate speech and nobody has any recourse. It is completely dishonest to accuse someone of hate speech if the criteria doesn’t even match their own definition of hate speech as defined in the T&Cs.

The second point I don’t really get. The T&Cs usually specify what content you don’t allow on your platform and serve as a rules on how moderation is enforced.

Protect their platforms from what? If they claim to be open and unbiased platforms, then they should only be enforcing their terms and conditions.
I agree that Trump should have been banned, but 4 years ago… not now for a comment that has to be massively re-interpreted to breach a T&C, just to win some political favour with the new president.

I think another issue here is the fact that these platforms have a monopoly and they’re now bigger than the media and news houses. Think of how extremely limited you would be if you decided to completely boycott Google and Apple… you might as well be living in China then. So deciding who you do and do not allow based on personal views on that day is essentially banning free speech. Parler, one of the more serious alternative platforms, was killed off by Google and Apple over a couple of days (sure Amazon helped, but the other two alone would have done the job) so creating your own platform isn’t really an option while Google and Apple are the gatekeeper for mobile apps. I’m quite sure there are apps with much more extreme content than Parlor including scams and viruses, but they chose to block the one app that refused to interfere with free speech.

I should probably get back to work though :slight_smile:


Hey, haven’t seen you in a while.

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Howdy, the time budget is constantly stretched or under strain :sweat_smile: :sweat_smile: :sweat_smile:.


Happy to do that! :smiley:
Thank you for the great, mature discussion thus far. I’ll try to reply properly later or tomorrow, as work permits.