Making Google the Censor – The New York Times

“Prime Minister Theresa May’s political fortunes may be waning in Britain, but her push to make internet companies police their users’ speech is alive and well. In the aftermath of the recent London attacks, Ms. May called platforms like Google and Facebook breeding grounds for terrorism. She has demanded that they build tools to identify and remove extremist content. Leaders of the Group of 7 countries recently suggested the same thing. Germany wants to fine platforms up to 50 million euros if they don’t quickly take down illegal content. And a European Union draft law would make YouTube and other video hosts responsible for ensuring that users never share violent speech.”

Excellent piece by Daphne Keller. Complicated too.

Here are two comments a currently agree with.

DenisPombriant

Boston 6 hours ago

Users of social platforms must understand that they are using the property of a private institution and that they do not carry with them an undiluted first amendment right to self-expression. Much like this forum where I cannot advocate violent government overthrow or physical harm to political leaders with any expectation of being published, users of social media have to understand they have limits too. I am not persuaded by arguments about censorship or free speech. They are not a forums for free speech and they carry a social duty to inform or enlighten in some way, and not to yell fire in the proverbial theater. The internet is a free forum where anyone can develop a website to broadcast any virulent tripe they want. But a social media platform is someone else’s property and free speech rights should not be automatically granted or expected.

This comment is more complicated, and requires analysis.

David Taylor

Charlotte NC 4 hours ago

“free speech” is not “speech without consequences. We have long recognized that there is proscribed speech that pollutes our common asset, our public forums, political debates, and our information environment. Most Youtube content is innocuous, but there is some quantity of objectionable content that pollutes the commons.

Let Google (who owns Youtube) face the legal and financial repercussions for the inappropriate content they make available. We have the legal tools already, whether it be libel, slander, incitement to riot, extortion, terrorism, pornographic content viewed by minors, fraud, etc. Youtube has forever disclaimed responsibility for the content of the video they host, and that is the real problem. That information exists on Google storage devices, and is broadcast by Google servers.

Google simply follows the standard industrial model. Just as the fossil fuels and many other industries do, they disclaim responsibility for and externalize the cost of the pollution they create. Make the technologists responsible for theses costs, then let the technologists mitigate those costs however they see fit.

There are some good ideas above, but it is not clear to me that the governments should just leave the threat of lawsuits to clean up the harm done by terrorists using social media. Homeland Security should hold Google and Facebook’s feet to the fire, and there should be a full court press to prevent these powerful new media forces from helping bad guys and ethnic cleansers. I recommend to all the Bloomberg Businessweek article that came out on election day, on how the Trump people under Bannon ran a skunk works in Arizona to propel fake news through social media, and how they purchased fake news ads on Facebook targeted at Clinton’s most important voting segments in swing states.

 

 

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About davidlindsayjr

David Lindsay is the autor of "The Tay Son Rebellion, a historical fiction of 18th century Vietnam," that covers a great civil war from 1770 to 1802. It should be published it in the next 6 months.
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