back to article Trumpian politics continue as senators advance controversial Republican FCC commissioner nominee

Although the Trump administration is in its final days, the destructive partisan politics it has persistently fanned are still in full effect at the FCC. On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee passed the presidential nomination of Nathan Simington as a commissioner of America's communications regulator 14-12 along party …

  1. Cederic Silver badge

    Section 230 is tricky

    While I deeply dislike social media and online search companies censoring political views with which they disagree, promoting disinformation and civil unrest, acting like publishers and being generally intolerant and hateful, I'm not sure that just removing section 230 is a sensible approach.

    The protections it offers are essential for smaller websites and online discussions, far more than for the major sites. For example The Register is a giant in its niche but not a major website in a general sense, but would be far poorer if it had to remove the ability to comment on its stories. Section 230 allows a light touch moderation that encourages conversation and debate (even if you are all wrong); removing section 230 imposes far higher moderation workload and much lower tolerance for disagreeable comments purely to mitigate any risk of legal action against the host site.

    So I do support section 230 reform but disagree that revocation is the best approach.

    (Also, what's "Trumpian" about political appointments? They predate him by literally millenia)

    1. Palpy

      Re: Trumpian appointments

      I believe that the usage refers to the Trump administrations penchant for nominating people adamantly opposed to an agency's mission to head that very agency. This is probably not a new practice, but to my knowledge no other administration has used it so often or so blatantly. In this case, "deadlocking" the FCC by appointing another partisan Republican conservative neuters the FCC until Biden appoints Ajit Pai's replacement -- which, should the Republicans retain control of the Senate, could be blocked indefinitely.

      "The FCC was once a body that prided itself on staying largely outside of day-to-day politics. But it has now become a firm part of the political battleground. It will mean the death of well-considered and productive policies – and that will cause far greater problems."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Trumpian appointments

        The FCC's job is to regulate mass communications in the U.S. Whether or not you believe that Section 230 should be axed, it does fall into the purview of the FCC. It would be much better if Congress would address this issue with legislation or a considered decision to leave things as-is, but the FCC does have at least some jurisdiction to act on this matter themselves.

        And this would not be the first time Congress ducked an issue and de-facto kicked it over to the regulatory bodies to handle, so that Congressmembers can play it both ways on the issue in front of constituents and business interests.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Trumpian appointments

          YES

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Trumpian appointments

        "which, should the Republicans retain control of the Senate, could be blocked indefinitely."

        With a 2R+2D and a vacant chair, I would normally suggest that the most obvious solution is to put an apolitical person who understands the industry and wants to do a good and independent job into the position. Then I remembered the current state of US politics. Your are either R or D. Anyone not R or D is the enemy of both the R and the D, at least in most R and D minds.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Section 230 is tricky

      Comments here are separated from articles - it's not everybody can publish anything without any check. Readers can wholly ignore the "comments" section.

      I think this site is regraded as a "publisher".

      Also comments here are moderated. Nor it does promote "user generated contents" to attract clicks, using the worst of them. Sure, we have "On call" and "Who, me?" - still edited to not cause harm to anyone.

      I've been banned for a while, then re-admitted with every post of mine checked before publication - without even knowing why, and without any warning. Their site, their rules. If I didn't like it I could have gone elsewhere, and it's not I can't setup my site and tell whatever I like there.

      I do not believe sites like Facebook & C. should have a perpetual "get out of jail card", especially because they knowingly take advantage of worst instincts to make money, willingly to ignore any consequences. But that's not something an agency like FCC should regulate - that's up to the the Congress, they are elected and paid exactly to write and enact laws, following the rules to write, discuss and vote them.

      1. genghis_uk Silver badge

        Re: Section 230 is tricky

        This site is a publisher for the articles that is publishes.

        The Forum comments are not part of that and would be covered under s230 - much as Fox News' online comments section is, also Parler, Gab etc...

        S230 is not that difficult:

        a) It removes liability for the speech of others i.e. the site is not liable for the content of the comments on it - note: this is all sites not just the big ones.

        b) It removes liability for moderation decisions - i.e. if the site does not want your comment to be published, you cannot sue them for removing it.

        The problem is that a lot of people think they know what it does and try to make it fit. Most of Trump's rants are actually about the 1st Amendment but he thinks it is s230... Biggly sad!

        1. DS999

          Re: Section 230 is tricky

          Trump's rants have nothing to do with the first amendment. Twitter putting a warning on his tweets, or even deleting his account entirely is not a first amendment issue. The first amendment only prevents the GOVERNMENT from censoring speech. Private people/companies are free to censor all they want - I don't have to let you stand on my lawn and tell people why abortion is murder or whatever.

          I know some conservatives want to claim they are monopolies, as if Facebook or Twitter are the only places they can post their stuff, and therefore hold them to a different standard, but that would require new lawmaking that has nothing do with section 230 or the first amendment.

          Removing section 230 would cause social media to censor MORE to keep themselves safe from lawsuits. A lot of Trump's tweets would be deleted if there was no section 230, Twitter would have no choice as they couldn't accept liability for some of what he says (both in terms of outright lies, and instigation of violence) The fact a lot more left wing comments would also be removed would not assuage his anger I'm sure.

          Smaller sites would simply shut down comments or require moderators to approve everything - and they'd have to take a very conservative approach of refusing to approve anything that is questionable to even the smallest degree. This would have the effect of making Facebook and Twitter MORE powerful, because so many comment sections elsewhere would be shut down, or moderation would make the conversation move so slowly people would mostly abandon them.

  2. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

    Other opinions are available

    But to hook the fish (the users who be used) it's easier to feed them the same sort of bait, regardless of how toxic that bait is. That's not just a problem, it's deplorable. But profitable

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Other opinions are available

      from the article:

      the destructive partisan politics it has persistently fanned

      in reference to the CURRENT President, naturally.

      Other opinions ARE available.

  3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

    I'm a bit confused. The article says:

    "Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the slice of US law that ... makes sure Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc, largely can't be held responsible for netizen-generated content ... There is an ongoing push to overhaul or dissolve this legal shield by those who are upset at what they claim is censorship by the web giants."

    If they can't be held responsible for what is posted, but they are (maybe) censoring stuff, aren't these different things? The first part is about what users do (write), the second is about what the platform does (moderate/censor). It seems to me that the only changes that can be made are a) to allow all users to post entirely freely with no moderation, or b) make platforms responsible for every bit of comment from anyone. Neither would suit Trump - he'd lose out either way - so what's going on?

    (I know I could go and look it up, but I don't have the time, and a quick explainer would really help.)

    1. PerlyKing Silver badge

      Re: what's going on?

      What's going on is that Trump has lost what was left of his tiny mind. Section 230 protects web site owners from liability for what third parties post. Unless he's playing a deeper game than anyone gives him credit for, Trump seems to think that without Section 230 Twitter et al. will be forced to let him post whatever he wants. The rest of the world thinks that without Section 230 Twitter et al. will ban his accounts in a heartbeat rather than be liable for the content of his posts.

      The whole censorship argument is a complete red herring.

      Censorship is what happens when the government prevents citizens from saying something. What is actually happening is that Trump has been posting garbage to Twitter's privately owned web site, using his private account, having accepted their terms and conditions about what is acceptable there. Furthermore, Twitter hasn't prevented him from saying anything, but they've added tags to his tweets when he says something "controversial" (i.e. lies).

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: what's going on?

        Yeah the way I see it, without this legal protection Twitter, etc will be forced to block Trump's account or be liable for all the lies, racism, sexism, incitements to violence, etc that spew forth from his tiny hands on a daily basis. Probably not the outcome Donnie imagines.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: what's going on?

          Thanks, @PerlyKing and @iron. It really doesn't make sense, then!?

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: what's going on?

        basically take what YOU said, invert it, and that's close to what I would like to say.

        Additionally:

        Editing, banning, or "fact checking" what a politician says during an election, showing bias against one candidate and towards another, COULD be considered an "in kind" contribution, and as such, would fall under the umbrella of campaign finance laws and regulations. An "in kind" contribution could violate existing laws, in other words.

      3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "Censorship is what happens when the government prevents citizens from saying something."

        And that's the key word here.

        Government.

        Not a private company. Not Trumps next neigbour.

        Government.

        Trumps government (such as it still is) has never stopped him spouting whatever load of s**t his brain come up with.

    2. naive

      The cause of the whole section 230 discussion is the fact that Big Tech is accused of selective moderation. This created a situation that on one side section 230 gives them legal immunity for everything that is published on their sites. At the other end, they use their monopolistic power to influence elections by suppressing, flagging, tweaking search results to favor leftist content, and actively removing conservative content.

      If unchecked, global public opinion would become what the likes of Eric Schmidt, Marc Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai think it should be. This is a real treat for any democratic system.

      Removing section 230 protection will make their current way of operating pretty difficult to continue, and it would offer opportunities for a more diverse ecosystem of information sources, like we had dozens of newspapers, made by different companies, to choose from in the 80's.

      1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

        Removing section 230 protection will make their current way of operating pretty difficult to continue ...

        Agreed. And not just their way of operating - every site that allows user comments or user content generation.

        ... and it would offer opportunities for a more diverse ecosystem of information sources, like we had dozens of newspapers, made by different companies, to choose from in the 80's.

        No. It would prevent any internet-based public debate at all. Have you not noticed that there are no sites similar to Twitter or Facebook operating out of the UK? And that no UK newspaper sites allow public debate?

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Pirate

        This is a real tHreat for any democratic system.

        I think you meant it to say 'threat' and not 'treat', right?

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      foxes and henhouses.

      So ask this question: who's the "fox", and where's the "henhouse"? And just HOW deep does this rabbit hole go?

      icon, because, black helicopters

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like trashing a rental home

    The landlord throws Trump out, Trump's a nasty POS, so he trashes the home on the way out the door. That's what's happening here. He's trying to do as much damage as he can on the way out. I bet even the Resolute desk will be destroyed on his way out, then he'll claim Democrats did it.

    He's withdrawing all but 2500 troops from Afghanistan, leaving just enough for hostages and body bags. All to be done by January 15th, so he clearly knows he lost the election, whatever he says in public. Trashing the military on his way out.

    He's bypassed the chain of command and put special forces under direct control of newly appointed Q-Anon Trumpettes in the Defense department. He's brainwashing his Trumpettes with lies. And the Tellyban on Fox News are pumping up these Trumpettes to turn them into domestic terrorists. Trying to launch his boogaloo boys as a domestic terrorism group.

    He's busy attacking the elections, "How did Biden win so well in swing states but not other states". Indeed, how? Florida uses hand written ballots read by machines and verified by human eyes. *Verifiable* ballots strongly in favor of Biden. People voted for Biden. Whereas Texas uses electronic voting machines WITHOUT paper audit trails. The Texas machines vote strongly Republicans and *cannot* be verified.

    So his point is correct, but it's also projection. Those Texas riggable machines voted Republican, strongly. In Texas' case, strongly enough to swing the result. Tell me Texas why you are using unverifiable voting machines and those voting machines vote strongly Republican?!! The people vote Democrat, but the machine vote Republican, why should Texans have to take your word about those machines? Why are you using machines that cannot be verified 14 years after the verifiable paper trail was introduced?! Why Texas? Why? Did Republicans actually win Texas? I get Trump's point, and know he projects, and we're supposed to be distracted from this very very odd situation of Republicans running unverifiable voting machines that vote heavily Republican!

    Now would be a good time to call their bluff, force access to the software on those paperless DRE machines and go see the ownership and money flows into those companies. Who exactly stops the verifiable voting machines being rolled out, who bought them, get the source code, see the database tables, how easy is it to simply image a voting machine image with a Republican win on those machines.

    Elections aren't an exercise in trust, and if Texas used verifiable voting machines, I bet those machines would vote Democrat along the same lines as everywhere else if they could be verified. Trump must know this, and is projecting the reverse.

    https://ballotpedia.org/Voting_methods_and_equipment_by_state

    Harris county still uses unverifiable voting machines:

    https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Harris-County-the-largest-in-U-S-still-voting-on-15617300.php

    Harris county votes strongly Republican:

    https://data.shreveporttimes.com/election-results/area/harris-county-tx/48201/

    While Trump is busy trashing the elections, use the crap he's kicking up to go look at what the Republicans did in that election. It's not just Lindsey Graham and his private calls to discard ballots. It's not just suppressing the mail-in vote by removing all those sorting machines in major cities. It's not just DeJoy removing the internal tracking and losing track of 300,0000+ votes. It's not just removal of ballot drop stations, so there was only one location to drop ballots for a county of 2 million plus voters. It's also these machines. Unverifiable machines that voted Republican.

    So go look.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Georgia Dominion voting machines

      You can see what I mean by "projection" in Georgia. Trump is attacking the new *verifiable* machines in Georgia:

      https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/as-georgia-rolls-out-new-voting-machines-for-2020-worries-about-election-security-persist/ar-BBYhJD1

      Georgia changed its voting machine from paperless, unverifiable ones, to Dominion ballot markers for the 2020 elections. The Dominion ones mark a paper ballot which can be hand counted, can be seen and verified by the voter and by the counter. People's votes can be verified.

      *VERIFIABLE* voting was introduced in Georgia for 2020 after a Judge ruled it was compulsary after 2019. No more unverifiable votes from unverifiable machines for Georgia:

      https://apnews.com/article/abd2949881514e42a50f2025595c9c2a

      When they removed the *unverifiable voting machines* Georgia swung from Republican to Democrat voters. This was despite a voter suppression effort by Republicans, that removed 200k black Georgians from the voting rolls.

      https://www.gregpalast.com/wp-content/uploads/Fliled-Georgia-Complaint.pdf

      Trump is attacking those *verifiable* voting machine, pushing for the older *unverifiable* ones instead. Projection! Why would you want unverifiable machines used to count votes? Apparently the voter suppression wasn't enough, but for the old voting machines to help, there would have to be election rigging on those machines.

      2018 and Kemp as secretary of state, ran an election for Kemp to be governor, and Kemp won on the unverifiable voting machines, at least according to Kemp. His challenger sued to get the servers verified for signs of election rigging and a few days after the lawsuit was filed, Kemp, then Governor had the servers wiped. Apparently there was no backups and the wipe was total and all traces of forensic evidence went poof.

      Those voting machine voted strongly for Kemp back then, and you could not verify why that was.

      Now in 2020 after a judge *required* verifiable paper audit trails. Democrats wins Georgia by a small majority. Those paper ballots can be recounted, bypassing the machines and confirming the result by hand. So everyone can be confident in that tally.

      You verify, you don't trust election. Elections are not an exercise in trust, they are an exercise in *lack* of trust.

      In Florida, Republicans ran fake left wing candidates as an attack on democracy. If they could simply have copied some files across onto voting machines with a different vote result set, do you imagine they wouldn't do that? That somehow Republican would see that as something more serious than all the other types of election rigging and vote suppression they did?

      Of course not. Florida uses paper ballots scanned by optical scanners. The voting machine attack isn't practical. Republicans would if they could but they can't.

      If Trump is attacking the switch to *verifiable* voting machines, it means he knows he could have won on he old unverifiable ones.

      Those unverifiable ones are throughout the USA in Republican states like Texas. Counties that polled strongly Democrat voted strongly Republican on those old machines. The unverifiable ones.

      Those machines vote Republican. And somehow they vote ever more strongly Republican in proportion to the votes needed to stop a swing to Democrat happening in the verifiable paper votes.

      So see the projection for what it is, and go look at Texas and its unverifiable voting machines. Riggable machines in Republican hands.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Georgia Dominion voting machines

        More TLDR.

        Regarding those voting machines, have you seen THIS? (it's Texas' assessment)

        https://www.sos.texas.gov/elections/laws/dominion.shtml

        That's the Texas page that has the PDFs for the various evaluation reports. (now where's the 'Sauce' icon...)

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Like trashing a rental home

      So go look.

      TLDR _AND_ telling me to "go look" ?

      No.

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Evil empire

    In other words, the desire to prevent the other side from achieving anything has already overtaken every other consideration.

    When respecting election results and voters wishes is not a priority but keeping power at any cost is, then one can consider that people involved in these efforts don't give a fuck about democracy and can be considered as enemies of it.

  6. EnviableOne Silver badge

    The DNC need to win at least 1 seat in georgia

    If they take 1 senate seat VP Harris gets the deciding vote in tiebreakers, so they win.

    If they dont get one, then welcome to 4 years of deadlock

    1. Just An Engineer

      Re: The DNC need to win at least 1 seat in georgia

      Sorry, but they need both seats to take over the Senate. It is currently 50 - 48, they win both seats then Harris can be the deciding vote.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: The DNC need to win at least 1 seat in georgia

      4 years of deadlock

      Not a BAD thing, as a consolation prize.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        FAIL

        "Not a BAD thing, as a consolation prize."

        Spoken like a true support of Big Baby Little Hands himself.

        Let me see if I can raise the level of your debate.

        Your loser candidate is a loser and lost.

        Get over it.

  7. Just An Engineer

    “Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the US to 'Big Tech' (the only companies in America that have it )".

    Too bad this is a LIE. The US firearms industry has even greater protection from liability. They are well and truly protected.

  8. bleedinglibertarian

    liberals aren't too bright

    stopped at "destructive partisan politics it has persistently fanned "

    liberals are such idiots and wimps. haven't met a lib i couldn't slap around

    1. Getmo

      Re: liberals aren't too bright

      stopped at "destructive partisan politics...

      liberals are such idiots and wimps...

      Huh, don't think I've ever met anyone who openly called for more destructive partisan politics. Anyone who admitted it in public, at least.

      I'm honestly kinda sad to see Trump leaving office, he offered your type a lot of perceived protections that gave you the confidence you needed to stick your neck out like this. Now it's like whack-a-mole, where the smarter ones in your lot are already pulling their head back under the sheets, yet a few dummies still like to pop out and spew more garbage & hate.

      Let's see, does the comment contain crippling insecurity and projection?

      "haven't met a lib i couldn't slap around"

      Check. I'm very familiar with your type, the louder you cry means the bigger the lie. You've never slapped anyone around ever, have you? But you're so insecure about yourself you have to invent a tough-guy Rambo image of yourself in your head? That's not just sad, dude. That's pathetic.

      You should seek out a therapist, please get help.

  9. joeydiggs

    hahahah DRUMPF is so burnt he's turned orange!!!

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      "hahahah DRUMPF is so burnt he's turned orange!!!"

      Nice.

  10. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Angel

    'Tribal Politics'

    Although the Trump administration is in its final days, the destructive partisan politics it has persistently fanned are still in full effect at the FCC.

    However distasteful Trump, which party and governing Media made his entire term a tissue of allegations, meant to hobble him from doing anything, from sad little immigrants, to Muslim-bashing, to undercutting the Chinese manufacture on which they rely, to refusing to start any war for regime change [ UnAmerican ], to ludicrous Russian stories such as the disproved Russiagate inquisition [ Donald Trump was a Soviet Asset since 1987 ], to creating Tweets allegedly made by him for which content they then attacked him.

    Both sides are proof of Democracy's essential depravity.

    .

    To any taking exception to that, I/ why are believers in that system never going to allow issues to be directly agreed by a majority of the moronate and not by 'representatives'; and II/ why do they not believe in utterly unfettered non-moderated free speech in any communication ?

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