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Expression and regulation online

Discussion in 'Real Life Discussion' started by ScottPress, Apr 11, 2019.

  1. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I'm having trouble identifying a single topic/thread of discussion in this thread so I'll just make a couple of observations that seem relevant.

    1. Would it be so terrible if the regulatory environment greatly reduced the scope of social media?

    One reaction to the laws currently being proposed is "but this would make it basically impossible for social media to operate". And my response is... so what? If social media cannot operate in a socially responsible way, then maybe it shouldn't be able to operate at all.

    Economically speaking, social media is a demerit good with many negative externalities. Just as we say a factory which cannot operate profitably without polluting the environment should not be able to operate at all, maybe we should say that social media which cannot operate profitably without polluting social discourse cannot operate at all.

    After all, what would be the loss here?

    I honestly can't really think of a single benefit that social media has brought to people's lives, other than a) ease of sharing photographs with people and b) ease of organising events. Both of those aims can be served with much narrower platforms.

    Otherwise, what has social media done? It has fed the rise of populism, spread misinformation, lowered journalistic standards, fostered cyberbullying, undermined traditional social ties, provided a platform for hate groups, sold individuals' private data to the highest bigger on a massive scale, and facilitated the manipulation of elections. Not a great track record.

    I genuinely think that social media in its current form is in a fight to justify its right to exist. A fight which it is losing.

    2. Political and legal culture is more important than the wording of laws, especially in common law jurisdictions.

    This is largely in response to @Arthellion's point about "if a law can be abused, it should not be passed". I think this is overly simplistic and puts too much focus on law as a text rather than law as a social institution.

    In reality, the thing which governs what a government can get away with is not the text of any law or constitution, but the political and legal culture which society possesses. This is because a constitution or law is only as strong as the political and legal culture which supports and enforces it. A constitution which is widely considered to be wrong (especially by officials and other influential individuals) is a constitution which will rapidly be overturned, regardless of whatever legal provisions that constitution may have which attempt to cement its place. Just look at the successive French republics. Or attempts to introduce democracy to the Middle East.

    This is known as the "Rule of Recognition":

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_recognition

    So in practice:

    A) You can draft your laws as narrowly as you like, but they will only restrict government action if the political and legal culture is strong enough and inclined to restrain the government.

    B) If the political and legal culture is strong enough and inclined to restrain the government, then you don't need narrowly written laws to do so. Political and legal actors will exercise their discretion under broadly written laws to interpret those laws sensibly and reasonably.

    What is happening at the moment in the UK is not some spate of legislation which is granting the government new draconian powers. The law which is being used for all these Twitter prosecutions was passed in 1988 and for decades was barely used. What is happening is a decline in political and legal culture which is leading to individuals using their powers in new ways.

    The problem isn't that the 1988 Act was worded badly or too broadly. The problem is that the people, politicians and public officials all consider this use of government power to be acceptable. If these powers hadn't been created in 1988, then similar legislation would simply have been passed in 2010 to enable these prosecutions. Once the people, public officials and politicians all think something should happen, there isn't really anything anyone can do to stop it - regardless of the political system in place.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
  2. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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  3. awinarock

    awinarock Fourth Champion

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    1. Social media doesn't need to provide a net benefit to society.

    At the end of the day, social media is a product made to meet peoples demands. It doesn't need to provide a net benefit economically or to society, it just needs to meet peoples demands without explicitly breaking any laws (like hosting CP and terrorist propoganda without attempting to remove it). It's like fast food: it provides no real benefits and in fact causes many societal and health problems but we allow it to exist and be sold because it's something that people want and it's not explicitly illegal (like certain recreational drugs).

    2. You're right but that's all the more reason for us to make a stink and kick up a fuss

    The political and legal culture of a nation is absolutely more important than the exact wording a law in determining how that law will be executed and whether or not it will be abused. That being said, this is all the more reason for those of us who are concerned with the general direction that internet regulation is heading towards (censorship and suppression in the name of security, safety, and children) to protest as loudly and clearly as we can so that might convince others of the threat of internet censorship.
     
  4. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    @Taure, agreed on a general basis. Whether that applies here in particular needs to be determined, naturally.

    @awinarock:
    "social media is a product made to meet peoples demands". Yes, and sometimes we don't allow people to have everything they want. Leaving aside whether I agree with that for the moment, there is more than ample precedent. Which is why the "without explicitly breaking any laws" qualifier is irrelevant, because if enough people feel like there should be a law, there will be. That's the entire point of the discussion.


    So getting back to Taure's point ... personally, all of fb, Twitter, Instagram & co could be banned -- as in forced to shut down operation, not cutting access -- and I wouldn't mind one bit. But then I naturally wouldn't, because I don't use it and never did. I'm a 90s kid, I grew up with A) no internet, and then with B) internet in emails and forums on computers. So I'm probably the last generation to not be socialised by social media and smartphones.

    (Tangentially, the massive difference between a forum on a computer and ubiquitous social media on your phone is obvious, I hope -- it's precisely the difference of the ability to disconnect without undue demands on the person this is suggested to as a solution. One is "well, don't visit that place, then". The other is "well, never go out at all then".)

    But I suppose and suspect this is radically different for millenials. They live their lifes there, online. Hypothetically shutting down all social media is like bulldozing a city. Now I'm never opposed to radical solutions just because they are that, but I'm struggling to think of an equivalent. A factory that can't operate without polluting the environment shouldn't operate at all, true -- but if an entire generation of your people lives and works there, then what? I can't think of any precedent to the situation we're in w.r.t. social media. Which might just as well be why everyone's struggling to deal with it.

    Long term, the solution is quite likely going to be AI. If social media is a city, except its size in infinite, then it needs to be policed like one -- that is to say, laws enforced, and minders being present in the ways teachers and parents are present offline -- except it can't be done by humans. So fb & co will have bots in discussions, and "cyber bullies" will be punished. And then children will find ways to spend time away from supervision, and the cycle continues, the way it has for all of history. The problem today is not so much that there are places without supervision, it's more that there are no supervised places -- to retreat to without undue burdens; the balance is off.


    And short term ... well, perhaps it's time for some good, old-fashioned optimism in agency: fb, for instance, might want to make "long term" as short as it possibly can, because the struggle to justify its existence potentially is not so much with law and society as a whole as it is with its users -- as a new generation starts out quite concerned about the negative externalities. From the very youngest, I noticed quite critical tones. A place where bullies have free reign is just not a nice place to stay. Anecdotal, sure -- but it's in social media's interest it remains that way.
     
  5. awinarock

    awinarock Fourth Champion

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    @Sesc You're absolutely right. That's why the FCC maintained net neutrality (because the overwhelming majority of the populace was in favor of it and people practically begged their Senators/Representatives) and the EU threw away article (for the same reason). /s

    It seems that "enough people" really only means just enough well intentioned but naive/scared people who politicians can manipulate into giving the government more authority over the internet (and other things). What about the other overwhelming majority who don't want these laws?

    The solution is to literally let it be. Facebook and other social media outlets will naturally be phased out just like MySpace and every other internet trend as the people who use them get older (and busier) and the new generation latches onto other things. Unless your solution is to monitor the behavior of children every second of every day, there isn't anything you can do stop them from being bullied besides talking to them, the school, the bullies' parents, etc. and teaching your kid some self defense.
     
  6. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    Well, for starters, I would mildly suggest that this requires a <citation needed>. My personal guess is that the overwhelming majority -- doesn't care either way. As usual.

    Which is also why the online copyright law the EU passed recently is fair enough (personal opinion aside). Protest is protest is protest, but you're not special because you happen to be young, and your tool is the vote. So I facepalm when I hear "now I'm never gonna vote again cuz they didn't react to mah protest!!1eleven!". Way to show them you're not a petulant child. There are enough parties -- and were enough parties -- that ran on that very issue. The Pirate Party first and foremost.
    /tangent

    I just described what my thoughts were. And it strikes me the issue here is not fb, or Twitter, or any other individual company on its own, but the online sphere in general. Cf. my comparison with a city.
     
  7. awinarock

    awinarock Fourth Champion

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    https://thehill.com/policy/technolo...ers-support-keeping-fccs-net-neutrality-rules

    Unfortunately, I couldn't find any polling data on the EU article 13 but given the general reaction on the internet, we can extrapolate that most people would likely be against that as well.


    I don't really know how this applies to anything I've said. I've always advocated against voter apathy and even third party protest votes (in American elections). I actually agree with you on this issue (I think), more people should vote out these retards and vote in people who actually understand how the internet works and how to regulate it responsibly,

    I see the general online sphere as more of a national park system. There are endangered species (free speech, freedom of expression, etc) living inside of it that we need protect. Carpet bombing it because a couple of invasive species happened to fuck things up and cause problems for visitors isn't a solution at all.
     
  8. Silirt

    Silirt High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    It may be the case that most people were not in favor of it, but 'the general reaction on the internet' is prone to multiple biases. People making memes about article 13 are a non-random sample of people on the internet, many of whom likely do not live in the EU. It makes sense for there to be more sympathy in European countries for regulatory policies on the internet; there are plenty of those already in place; the French evidently have a functioning cyber police. I would not be at all surprised to find the silent majority thinking 'oh, well, I'll miss the memes, but the EU always knows best'.
     
  9. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    awinarock:
    Erm. I took your net neutrality general example of laws that didn't happen to be just that. It's got nothing in particular to do with this topic, does it? Net neutrality == not allowing providers to prioritise certain web traffic (e.g. if a company pays more). This == debating about what to do about bullying that happens online. I'm quite sure there is only limited correlation between liking net neutrality and having equally strong opinions on regulating bullying either way.

    I dunno. I think I had the same impression about your post, that's why I ended up rambling a bit. I wasn't even strictly responding to you in the first place, other than to note that "it's there because people want it" isn't the greatest (or most successful resp. convincing) of all reasons.


    This is an interesting point, though. IRL, I entirely see capet bombing (or, to be more practical: burning down) an actual national park with an actual invasive species problem as a valid strategy. Dunno if we want to discuss this. Probably not (here).
     
  10. Darth_Revan

    Darth_Revan Secret Squirrel Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Freedom of speech, at least in the US, has never had greater legal weight. So much so that it's turned into a weapon for people to win other unrelated rights cases. Describing it as an endangered species is beyond laughable.
     
  11. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I think you guys are just talking past each other.

    @awinarock, do you agree or disagree with this statement:

    I ask because the general gist of your comments appear to be of the libertarian/anarchist persuasion and I note that you have not engaged at all with the analogy to a factory which is polluting the environment. It strikes me that it's entirely possible that you don't think polluting factories should be prohibited.

    If you disagree with the above statement then there's an ideological difference which goes beyond the scope of this thread and which would be a massive derail to discuss (inevitably, every political discussion with a libertarian very quickly becomes a discussion about libertarianism in general). If that is the case then I think the only productive response is "agree to disagree".
     
  12. Agayek

    Agayek Fourth Champion DLP Supporter

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    Not to put words in his mouth, but if I'm reading it all right, he and I are more or less on the same page, which is that that statement isn't wrong, but it is incomplete/overly simplified. Society can and should have the ability to protect itself from harm, but it also needs to be very careful in determining the source of said harm, and in making very sure that the cure causes less harm than the disease.

    Because let's be clear here, regulation is itself a harm. It's much like wildfires; it can be, I'd say even often is, a good harm, as it clears away choking excess and opens new avenue for growth, but it can also be a bad harm, destroying the very foundations that allow for that new growth in the first place.

    It's vitally important that at least some elements of society push back against such regulations, even if only to try and find where it can fail and become the bad kind.
     
  13. awinarock

    awinarock Fourth Champion

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    I only brought in net neutrality to show that the political climate of a nation doesn't matter as much as the political will of politicians and the donors they're beholden to.

    Fair enough. I think it just comes down to a difference in fundamental values. I don't believe that the government should have the right to tell people what they can and can't consume, whether that be social media or drugs, simply because they've determined that it causes harm to that person (and society as a result). More often than not, the means with which governments regulate our consumption causes more damage to the people and society than the original product itself (see the war on drugs).


    Lol, I'd actually be more than happy to discuss this as I have an actual interest in becoming a park ranger.

    I was talking about the EU though I'm tempted to argue that while freedom of speech has never had greater legal weight, if your life and career are ruined due to something you said during your off time, then you don't really have free speech. "Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences" seems like a convenient justification for modern 1st world mob justice.

    @Taure I agree with the statement though I would probably amend it to something along the lines of:

    Going back to the factory example, responsible regulation would be things like carbon taxes, emission caps, green energy reinvestment subsidies, etc. Irresponsible regulations would require the factory to shut down and immediately switch to green energy or go out of business. Now the business is going to shut down completely and an entire community might be devastated. The most prominent and visible real life example of irresponsible regulation/prohibition is the war on drugs. Drug prohibition has done more to wreck communities and ruin lives than the drugs themselves ever have. Drug schedule laws are so stupid that I can't even begin to fathom why they even exist beyond making things worse for society in general (or just poor people). You're not even allowed to conduct research on these chemicals because the DEA has determined that they have no medical benefit (and how exactly would they know that if no one's allowed to perform any research on these drugs lol). Imagine if medical professionals could conduct proper research on these drugs to find a cure to their addictive properties or synthesize new forms of street drugs that could give you the high of old street drugs without the addictive properties. The point being that prohibition and regulation are things that need to be carefully considered before being implemented.

    Not to mention the internet already is already pretty reasonably regulated anyway. Hosting/downloading child porn and terrorist propaganda isn't tolerated, and websites are given reasonable time to take that shit down. When you bring unnecessary regulations like the EU is attempting to do, you have to deal with the archive.org bullshit and worse.

    And I'm definitely not a libertarian/anarchist.
     
  14. Darth_Revan

    Darth_Revan Secret Squirrel Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Why would you expect to speak and not have anyone take notice?
     
  15. awinarock

    awinarock Fourth Champion

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    Taking notice is one thing but ending someone's career over a tweet or facebook post or whatever without a history of malice and malpractice is ridiculous. What your coworker thinks about colored/trans/whatever people in their spare time shouldn't matter anymore than what they think about anything else. Businesses caving into the demands of people screaming for this person to be fired is mob justice without the explicit violence.
     
  16. Stenstyren

    Stenstyren Professor

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    I mean, before social media the only thing comparable would be people screaming their opinions on some townsquare somewhere. Don't think they'd be considered for any CEO-positions either.

    If you have controversial opinions, don't post them online if you want to maintain the respect of the people that strongly disagree with you.
     
  17. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman Prestige DLP Supporter

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    It does matter if you are coloured/trans/whatever. If you have to go to work each day knowing that the guy at the desk beside you thinks you're sub human, or jokes about finding and beating up people like you, or thinks you're filthy/disgusting/pathetic/deviant, then you're going to struggle in that work environment. You're not going to feel like you're physically safe, your mental health is going to be impacted. As is your productivity/efficiency/competency. And so your employer does have the responsibility to take action, to protect your safety and well being, as well as their bottom line.
     
  18. awinarock

    awinarock Fourth Champion

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    The real equivalent would be talking about it in an open setting like a bar but not necessarily screaming your hate ideology at everyone. They're not bombarding your social media feed with this bullshit. They're bothering their friends and their family with their crap.

    I'm not saying we should respect or even like these people, just that their controversial opinions are just that: opinions. That shouldn't be reason enough to ruin their life and further cement their hatred.

    So what? You go to work to do work, not to like everyone and feel comfortable. If you feel physically threatened by your bigoted coworker, report them. That's what HR and the police are for isn't it? More to the point, does it only matter when those opinions are publicized? If you're gay/trans, there's a good chance your Muslim/Christian/Hindu coworker thinks you're a subhuman degenerate who deserves to be stoned to death or thrown off a building. Does that justify firing them too? What about the coworker who's lowkey but definitely racist as fuck? Should we fire them too because you (not specifically you) feel uncomfortable?
     
  19. Silirt

    Silirt High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    I mean I would guess that quite a few people in this thread have some subset of the population they'd rather throw off a building, and while DLP is not indicative of the population at large, if everyone got fired for hatred, I estimate employment would be around ten percent, which would be somewhat bad for the economy. The reason everyone hasn't been fired for that is because there are people that are socially acceptable to hate (Nazis, conspiracy theorists, bankers, politicians, radio show hosts, everyone who'd like to push you off a building, you get the idea) and because most people don't espouse all their views regarding the appropriate subset of the population to yeet off the nearest tall building. In a model as simple as the one I've described, it's like a prisoners' dilemma. Everyone espouses hateful views; companies shrug and accept it and people without hateful views are no longer presumed to be hiding them for fear of ruination. Just a few people espouse hateful views; they get fired and everyone else gets paid a little more. No one espouses hateful views and no one gets fired. Keeping your foot in your mouth is a strategic decision and ultimately good advice.

    While I support the right of an employer to terminate the contract for any reason or for no reason, I can't conceptualize how anyone thinks they need to fire people for hating, say, Muslims. I wouldn't think Apple hates Islam if some Chinese person putting iPhones together would prefer to push Muslims off buildings. I wouldn't have any idea why anyone would think that a single Apple employee's opinions(possible heap problem) determine what Apple's stance on anything is. In this sense it's kind of like the Youtube ad situation where content creators who use words like 'dead' in their videos are being demonetized because the advertisers don't want to be associated with the word 'dead'. Why? I have literally no idea what idiot with a marketing degree thinks that I believe people who advertise on channels with offensive jokes find all those jokes funny. It was my impression that advertisers don't even watch the videos. I suppose it's possible one of them started monitoring the content they used for advertisement and the rest of them had to do it after that, but I can only wonder who the hell thought it was a good idea to monetize the 'Spider-man and Elsa' videos if that's the case.
     
  20. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman Prestige DLP Supporter

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    There are two reasons people get fired for their opinions. One is that either a colleague or customer complains about the airing of those opinions. The other is that the company wants to avoid those complaints.

    If my colleague was talking about how gay folk deserve to be stoned, you're damn right I'd be reporting them to HR. And if they didn't take appropriate steps, I'd be leaving and taking action against the company.

    If my colleague's religious beliefs result in them holding reprehensible beliefs then yes, they deserve the consequences of those beliefs. Because I shouldn't have to go to work in the knowledge that my colleague thinks I should die.

    As for lowkey racist...I don't know what you mean by lowkey but definitely. If you're racist then fuck you, you deserve to be fired because your colleagues shouldn't have to deal with having an environment like that at work. And your business doesn't need the risk of you being racist towards a customer, and there being the consequent negative attention on the business.
     
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