back to article Google, Apple sued for failing to give Telegram chat app the Parler put-down treatment

Marc Ginsberg, a former US ambassador who oversees a non-profit called Coalition for a Safer Web (CSW), sued Alphabet's Google subsidiary on Monday for failing to remove the Telegram Messenger app from its Google Play store. The complaint [PDF], filed in the Northern California District Court, claims that Telegram is rife with …

  1. overunder Silver badge

    Am I bad for not...

    ... believing in World Police?

    At a certain point in the future, conformity will become so bad that non-racists will support racists just for the fact that racists support non-conformity... talk about the lesser of 2 evils.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Overunder Re: Am I bad for not...

      Seems that many yanks have forgotten their history.

      For those on the other side of the pond. Google Nazi march Skokie IL

      You should find accounts regarding the ACLU's fight to let a neo-Nazi march down the main street in Skokie IL.

      I may disagree with what you're saying, but I'm willing to fight for your right to say it.

      For you kiddies... this is quintessential of what it means to be an American and our values. Not sure if this is being taught in schools these days.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

        ...and it was a big mistake to defend them. Nazis will NEVER have any legitimacy for any reason.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          @ecofeco Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

          No, it was not a big mistake to defend the right for the neoNazi group to march down main street Skokie.

          Nor was it wrong for the heavy police presence to defend them.

          At the time of writing this, 3 down votes to my post. While everyone is free to upvote/down vote, I want you to think about what I wrote that would be worthy of a down vote.

          As I said, I don't agree with the neoNazi group. My father was 14th Armor and before he could rotate home, he had to guard suspected Nazis in a Dachau sub camp outside of Munich. There are other stories, I can tell. Including one from one of his friends who grew up in Germany during the war and experienced the Nazis first hand.

          But I digress. The point is that if you start to censor speech, or deem everything to be hate speech, where do you draw the line.

          Should Mark Zuckerberg take down 'Jews for Jesus' from FB because he's Jewish and finds their site to be distasteful? Or what they did do was take down a site set up by young Republicans who are against Joe Biden. (This is true...)

          The scary thing is that there are people, like yourself who haven't been taught history properly and/or a civics class / ethics class which deals with speech.

          I guess you're too young to remember the court case which allowed people to burn the American flag. (SCOTUS ruled that it was an expression of free speech and thus protected under the 1st.) Before that... Boy Scouts could burn the flag w a proper ceremony. (You can actually look it up)

          As I said before... I may not agree with you, but I will defend your write to speak your mind.

          That is quintessential of what it means to be an American.

          Unfortunately too many in the DNC have forgotten it.

          1. Jaybus

            Re: @ecofeco @Overunder Am I bad for not...

            "Should Mark Zuckerberg take down 'Jews for Jesus' from FB because he's Jewish and finds their site to be distasteful?"

            And that is the problem in a nutshell. On the one hand, it is a private company. The 1st Amendment applies to FB and its users not being censored by government, not to FB users being censored by Zuckerberg. On the other hand, the 1st Amendment freedom of speech applies to everyone. In fact, the SCOTUS has repeatedly ruled that what is generally held to be hate speech (a term that is not legally defined in the US) is in fact protected speech under the 1st Amendment, the most recent case being Mataal v. Tam (2017) in a unanimous ruling. In other words, Congress cannot pass a law to prevent hate speech, as it would be unconstitutional, The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was an attempt to ban, or at least protect children from, pornography by making it illegal to publish "indecent" or "obscene" content that might potentially be seen or heard by children. The "indecent" provision, the part that could possibly be used to refer to hate speech, was ruled unconstitutional by the SCOTUS in Reno v. ACLU (1997).

            So actually, Zuckerberg has no liability for anything said on FB, and neither does he have any legal obligation to ban any sort of hate speech on FB. At the same time, Section 230 of the CDA protects him from liability for banning hate speech.

            Ditto for Google and Apple. They don't have to ban hate speech, but they can choose to do so. However, if they choose to do so, then they must do so uniformly. They cannot discriminate because of race, religion, age, political views, etc. The banning of Parler has given them exposure that they didn't have before, in that CSW now has a case related to treating Telegram Messenger differently than the Parler app.

      2. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

        Thanks for that as a Brit I had not heard of "Nazi march Skokie IL"

        Looked it up what an ethical conundrum? Got me that interested I just ordered a book on it.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: being taught in schools these days

        From the sheer number of lawsuits filed every day in the USA, they must be teaching

        How to file a lawsuit - 101

        Being your own lawyer - 201

        Getting rid of assets before trial - 301

        Declaring Bankruptcy - 401.

        In many, many schools as getting rich quick schemes. Working 9-5 seems to be only for losers in the US.

      4. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

        I may disagree with what you're saying, but I'm willing to fight for your right to say it.

        And what would a neo-Nazi party do once it gains power? It would disagree with what you're saying and take away your right to say it.

        What happens when they use turbo-charged freedom of speech that social media offers? Unlike traditional freedom of speech there is no consequences, no pushback, and an amplifying echo chamber? Well, we've seen what happens, they end up in Congress.

        Therein lies the conundrum.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

          once it gains power

          But there's the problem. In a truly democratic state parties don't "gain" power, they are "given" power, and if the populace chooses to give it to extremists, well that's arguably a democratic outcome.

          One of the arguments in favour of not silencing extreme views is that people can see them for what they are, without the subversive glamour of "the state is blocking them, so they must be saying something worth listening to".

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: "subversive glamour"

            The flip side is there are an awful lot of gullible fools out there waiting to be lead.

            History has shown us many times that people want simple answers. Not right answers, or decent answers. Blame XYZ minority for your troubles and you will find supporters willing to persecute and kill for any made-up cause..

            1. Falmari Silver badge

              Re: "subversive glamour"

              Yes, there are an awful lot of gullible fools out there waiting to be lead. But do you really think that trying to silence the extremists will work or will trying to silence them be used to legitimise their views.

              Can you really silence them in a free society, the views will go up you take them down they appear somewhere else? They are spread by other means posters word of mouth etc. To really silence them you would have to become a very totalitarian society that controls the media, with the threat of heavy retribution on any spreading those views. Would you then not become the very thing you are trying to stop?

              I am not saying we not should try to silence them I really don't know. But going down that road could be a very slippery slope that leads us to becoming the very thing we hate.

              1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                Re: "subversive glamour"

                There is a big difference between "silencing" someone the way some governments do, by jailing or assassinating them, and denying them a platform to spout bollocks from.

                This is a far deeper problem than political extremists, just look at how the anti-vaxer are causing deaths by omission of protection, as one example, or the whole covid-is-a-hoax movement, or that 5G phones cause illness, etc. And I'm not talking theoretical today, if you saw this case:

                https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55821623

                Making it easy for every bozo to share rubbish suits social media companies as it drives advertising revenue, but that lack of accountability and the fools who follow with potentially fatal results is an issue that has to be addressed somehow.

                1. Falmari Silver badge

                  Re: "subversive glamour"

                  @ Paul Crawford my post was in answer to yours which to me seemed to be about extremists and silencing them. I did not know you were referring to misinformation or just spouting bollocks.

                  Because spouting bollocks is something else. Who decides what is bollocks? Remove posts on Flat Earth, faked moon landings, Scientology or the more mainstream religions like Christianity and Islam? Why not to me they are all total bollocks.

                  BTW I read that article, the guy seems mentally unstable, who “was sceptical of vaccines in general”. The problem was how he was allowed to be a pharmacist or continue to be a pharmacist when he was a sandwich short of a picnic.

                  Maybe we should remove this post "sandwich short of a picnic" Hate Speech?

                  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                    Re: "subversive glamour"

                    Is there really such a big divide between political or religious extremists, and more general conspiracy bollocks?

                    Is there not a basic point where you have to decide if something is causing (or likely to cause) harm. Would it matter if that harm is due to some suicide bomber following a fundamentalist cult killing a dozen in a bomb attack, or dozens of children dying from preventable diseases due to the parents being led by anti-vaxer groups?

                    Sure that guy was a sandwich short of a picnic now, but presumably was once smart and sane enough to get and hold a job in medicine. In this time of lock-down stress and rising mental illness, is it really a surprise he ended up believing the fake-news / alternative-facts narrative beloved of Trump, or the general anti-vaccination myths being promoted on social media?

                    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                      Re: "subversive glamour"

                      There was a time when the abolition of slavery in the US South was an "extremist" viewpoint. When extending the franchise to women was "extremist". When legal personhood for Native Americans was "extremist". When criticism of compulsory military service was "extremist".

                      Promoting those "extremist" views was often punished harshly. Not so long ago, in fact, for some of those things.

                      I can't think of anyone I'd trust to decide which speech can be suppressed. I know whom I don't want making those decisions: anyone who doesn't believe that all political speech, no matter how deplorable, should be protected. And that means protection as enumerated by the First Amendment, under the current interpretation by SCOTUS, or (better) a more generous one.

                      (And before anyone trots out that Holmes "fire in a crowded theater" cliche, or claims that the 1st doesn't apply to the States or to private civil actions, I would strongly recommend reading Ken White's posts on those topics on popehat.com. It's sad how many people get this subject so very wrong.)

            2. Aladdin Sane

              Re: "subversive glamour"

              "awful lot of gullible fools out there waiting to be lead" - about 74,223,744 at last count.

              1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

                Re: "subversive glamour"

                And that's the issue, isn't it? You're ready to silence 25% of the population because they disagree with you? You see an out-of-control racist maniac in the R. I see a thoroughly corrupt D party bent on, among other things, preventing me from speaking freely. When I was in college, the Ds were loud & proud free speech absolutists. I guess the 80's were a very long time ago.

                1. ecofeco Silver badge

                  Re: "subversive glamour"

                  Attempted and deadly insurrection and the death of 400,000 people from deliberate misinformation is not some petty "disagreement."

                  Do try and keep up.

          2. rg287 Silver badge

            Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

            One of the arguments in favour of not silencing extreme views is that people can see them for what they are, without the subversive glamour of "the state is blocking them, so they must be saying something worth listening to".

            This is a very reasonable argument with a lot of merit. The cleansing light of day can do wonderful things. On the flip side, reports suggested that misinformation fell 73% in the days following the suspension of Trump and others from Twitter. Perhaps it is not so much the speech as pinning down the catalysts - Trump never said anything directly white-supremacist, but quite clearly egged on people holding those views.

            I recoil in horror at the idea that the nanny state should decide what we can be trusted to see or hear. Yet it is equally clear that there are lots of gullible fools quite happy to be strung along by conspiracy theorists and con artists. Which is their own business until they end up storming the Capitol Building and getting people killed.

            Quite where you strike a sensible balance is a gnarly problem.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

              I'm getting to understand this now. It's all for the protection of the gullible fools. Those who don't agree with what I say, hence are idiots and should have their idiot beliefs silenced.

              Only that way can we fight fascism.

              Got it.

            2. Adelio Silver badge

              Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

              The issue is not only with "hate" speach but of the telling of outright lies with no apparent recourse, made famous by Trump and the republican sheep following him.

              There is a reason for libel laws, as long as they are used correctly, and there is a fine line between correct and incorrect use.

              1. Zolko Bronze badge

                Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

                "the telling of outright lies with no apparent recourse, made famous by Trump and the republican sheep following him."

                I thought that that had been made famous by the British Prime-Minister Tony Blair about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction ? A lie that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands people. And you manage to turn this into some sort of "it's Trump's fault" ?

              2. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

                Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

                Lies? Michelle Obama still likes to talk about Trump caging children at the border. She knows that it started under her husband, but, you know, narrative etc. They are ALL liars, but allowing one set of liars the right to decide whose lies are acceptable is... dumb.,

                1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

                  "She knows that it started under her husband"

                  As I've commented before, that's disingenuous. The Trump administration massively ramped up family separations.

                  Under Obama, separations were rare and usually for the child's safety -- ie: they were being trafficked.

                  C.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

              Misinformation falling 73% - whatever that means - is not the same as misinformation being accepted as true falling 73%.

        2. ChrisElvidge

          Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

          I may disagree with what you're saying, but I'm willing to fight for your right to say it.

          but also:

          you're not using my megaphone to say it.

          you can't force anyone to listen to you

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          @Dan Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

          I want to give you an example...

          If I were to talk about why SCOTUS was wrong to refuse to hear the lawsuit against Act 77, would the moderators allow it?

          They may reject it because it calls into question the election. Note that now SCOTUS will hear it after the election, however the merits of the lawsuit haven't changed.

          Now here's the point.

          Nothing on that topic is hate speech, inflammatory, or worthy of censorship. No violations of El Reg's ToS.

          Yet depending on the moderator... this post may get rejected because it causes one to think on an issue that makes them uncomfortable.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. FILE_ID.DIZ

            Re: @Dan @Overunder Am I bad for not...

            Are you Ted Cruz?

            Supreme Courts are supreme. Whether they are state Supreme Courts or US/Federal Supreme Courts.... their decision is figuratively the law of the land (implied: the land which they rule).

            You seem to have many issues with SCOTUS decisions in recent comments. Fortunately, opinions are like armpits, everyone has them.

            Good Luck!

        4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

          It's the risk that all democracies run and supposed to be offset by people's better nature.

          And the fact that the US Congress is full of partisan numpties has little to do with free speech on social media and messenger services. There have always been whackos there. The current excesses are driven more by money and the primary system which puts extremists on the slate. The electoral system favours the two party system and letting the legislature draw the electoral boundaries is very much letting the fox run the hen coop. That said, the recent rise of populism in democracies around the world suggests there are other factors in play.

      5. scrubber

        Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

        @MikeTheDlyingRat I find The Blues Brothers covered that quite well.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @scrubber Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

          Why not get back to reality?

        2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

          You know, at the time, so did I. Then I grew up.

      6. DS999 Silver badge

        There's a big difference

        Between fighting for the right for Nazis to march and fighting for the right to make posts planning violent assaults on government and making death threats on public officials.

        If someone with six followers on Twitter posts "hang Mike Pence" and it gets two likes and no retweets, no one should expect Twitter to act if it isn't flagged, because they can't possibly moderate every single tweet. If someone with a million followers posts the same and it gets thousands of retweets and is flagged by many people then there is no excuse for not taking it down, and banning the person making the tweet if they keep doing it despite being warned.

        Parler went bye bye because they allowed all posts inciting people to violence to remain, even as many complained and flagged multiple specific posts over a period of months, including Apple and Google.

        The ACLU might fight for the right of Nazis to march, but if they said they were going to march and at a rally afterwards call for the public execution of the Vice President of the United States, I rather doubt the ACLU would fight for that.

      7. the hatter

        Re: @Overunder Am I bad for not...

        Letting anyone express hate and violent desires which violates the fundamental legitimacy of others is the wrong choice. Those you're defending have no desire to defend your equal right. Trying to be 'fair' about it only pushed the window of what is acceptable in their direction and weakens a society where all people should be regarded as equal. They do so knowing they will mostly be protected from consequence because those they seek to terrorise and oppress, because those people are generally not unhinged, violent bigots. Punch a nazi today, remind them there's a world outside their echo chamber, and that the civilised world won't, or at least shouldn't, entertain promotion of their disgusting ideals.

  2. needmorehare
    Thumb Up

    The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

    The ‘goople’ duopoly opened this can of worms by arbitrarily taking down an app for a communications platform on the grounds of a lack of moderation, despite allowing services like iMessage and Signal which have no moderation at all. Combined with Biden (pulling a Trump) and eradicating Section 230 in the US, all American platforms will have to go all-or-nothing to receive common carrier protections. They can’t achieve all, which means the result should be putting an end to unnecessary gatekeeping once and for all.

    After discovering that a lack of Section 230 didn’t actually stop users from enabling their own filters or run P2P infrastructure to collectively aggregate content between friends, I decided that letting these giant companies burn doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

    Bring on more lawsuits!

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

      iMessge doesn’t allow you to publish stuff to the world. Parler did. I haven’t used Signal, but I believe it is more like iMessage, so it can’t be used to recruit new members.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

        I'm under the impression that

        i) A judge sided with Amazon on their decision to refuse to have anything more to do with Parler.

        ii) Signal is exactly as you described a replacement for WhatsApp with no Facebook involvement. I'm not an Apple person but I thought imessage was instant messaging but allowed small groups and

        iii) If section 230 hadn't been there Trump would have been kicked off Twitter far faster. Odd then that he was against 230.

        iv) Telegram groups can be huge with something like 200,000 so larger than Signal at 1000 and WhatsApp at just 256.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Jimbo Smith Re: The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

          i) You would need to see the judges ruling and the evidence presented in the court documents to have a better understanding of what happened. Any ruling can be appealed to a higher court up to SCOTUS. At each appellate court level, the courts can refuse to hear a case.

          iii) Section 230 has nothing to do with Twitter kicking Trump off or not. There is more to this and unfortunately El Reg's forums isn't a good place to get into a serious discussion.

          Apple and Google are on thin ice in how they handled Parler.

          When you read in the news that Antifa and anti-police groups are using Twitter and FB to organize, you have to ask how Apple and Google are applying their stated rules. Twitter and FB should be taken off under the same pretext and Parler. Not to mention that event the FBI went to FB and Twitter to find evidence of those who tresspassed into the Capitol ...

          Of course one has to be careful here as well. Seems that the mods don't like their sensibilities questions either. ;-)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Jimbo Smith The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

            When you read in the news that Antifa and anti-police groups are using Twitter and FB to organize, you have to ask how Apple and Google are applying their stated rules.

            The issue isn't new, though, it's just different due to the technology. People always find a way around these sorts of controls: go back to Jacobite Scotland, where scurrilous songs and pamphlets used invented language to criticize the English King in a way that couldn't be proved to be treason. More recently Cockney rhyming slang was in part a way to confuse those "not in the know", and Polari was a cant used in the gay world for similar reasons.

          2. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: @Jimbo Smith The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

            The Judges ruling can be found here:

            https://beta.documentcloud.org/documents/20461466-rothstein_order

            I am not a lawyer or anything like but......From my initial reading of the first few pages I came away with the following opinion. Parler alleged that AWS acted in conjunction with Twitter in the decision to remove them. AWS say they don't discuss one customer with another. Parler further alleged that AWS hosts Twitter on their servers and there's nasty content on Twitter. AWS said they signed a deal with Twitter in December last year. However they don't host Twitter Feed and (with no date to do so). So have no means to suspend Twitter Feed

            They alleged AWS were in breach of contract by canning their service. To which AWS pointed to multiple violations of their Acceptable Usage Policy and Customer Services Agreement. Indeed there is mention of some 26,000 posts on Parler that were in violation. AWS had apparently contacted Parler over this multiple times. They cited what rules were broken and the sections in the agreements etc. that allowed them to say they won't do anything further with Parler.

            I didn't get to the third point Parler made because IANAL and it was making me feel sleepy reading the judgement. Bit like an EULA in that respect. That's my opinion and what I took away from it. A legal expert may have a different reading.

            I'm surprised Parler didn't start running it on their own hardware sooner. It's not like they were forced to use AWS.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Boffin

              Re: @Jimbo Smith The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

              The lawsuit is still in motion.

              Parler was asking for a Judge to order AWS to reinstate them.

              If you read the judges' comments, she indicated her decision was based on not allowing Parler to host incendiary comments.

              Parler could easily appeal or motion for the judge to reconsider because of section 230 protections as well as show that AWS is not enforcing their policies equally. For example if there's a store on Amazon that sells 'F the police' or other incendiary comments, yet the products remain. Of course AWS will say that they aren't Amazon, but you get the idea. And while AWS doesn't host Twitter feed, Twitter still uses AWS for part of their infrastructure and as such, following what they did to Parler, they would be obliged to

              remove Twitter from their servers.

              The other thing ... AWS didn't provide a reasonable time for cure. There's also more here and I would be premature to comment, but the judge did err in her order. Its common for this to happen.

              W.R.T to AWS working in concert w Twitter or other 'Tech oligarch companies'... the accusation stands and would be grounds for discovery however I seriously doubt you'd get any hard evidence. A simple phone call could do it, but you'd need to know who called whom and what was discussed. Phone records won't show that.

              AWS kicking off Parler has some serious ramifications and repercussions.

              We'll see this play out over time.

              1. FILE_ID.DIZ

                Re: @Jimbo Smith The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

                Parler was kicked off for violation of a contract. If Parler did not like the terms of the contract presented, they should not have signed it or better yet, fought for better terms. As most know, contracts mostly describe the exit process. :)

                Furthermore, it does not help that the current lawyer for the case is a patent/IP attorney.... not sure he's the right guy for the job at hand.

                But, run with what you brought, right?

              2. Boothy Silver badge

                Re: @Jimbo Smith The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

                Quote: "And while AWS doesn't host Twitter feed, Twitter still uses AWS for part of their infrastructure and as such, following what they did to Parler, they would be obliged to remove Twitter from their servers."

                Nope. AWS terms of service relate to the services AWS host, not something hosted by a different 3rd party. As long as the specific systems that AWS are hosting for Twitter are not breaking AWS terms of service, there is no valid reason to remove them.

                Even if they did kick Twitter off AWS, as stated the Twitter systems in AWS have nothing to do with the Twitter feed, so it likely wouldn't impact them anyway, at least not externally. (AWS are likely hosting HR, or other admin services, or perhaps development/non prod environments).

                If you want to take Twitter off line, you'd need to go to whoever is hosting the Twitter feed, which isn't AWS.

              3. genghis_uk Silver badge

                Re: @Jimbo Smith The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

                <quote> Parler could easily appeal or motion for the judge to reconsider because of section 230 protections as well as show that AWS is not enforcing their policies equally </quote>

                Amazon's rebuttal states:

                Parler’s interference and antitrust claims also fail under Section 230(c)(2) of the Communications Decency Act. Under that statute, the provider of an “interactive computer service” is immune for acting in good faith to restrict access to material that is excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable.

                In this case they are using sub-section 2 to say they have no requirement to host Parler's "excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable" material.

                Parler cannot really use s230 against AWS, it is really the other way round.

                Crying it's not fair does not work either. This is an anti-trust lawsuit basically saying AWS are being unfair to Parler but that does not actually break any laws. They can be as unfair as they want. Parler is free to find another host but the problem is that no-one else wants them either (although I think a Russian outfit may be offering to help)

          3. Adelio Silver badge

            Re: @Jimbo Smith The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

            Being an old far the fact that so many people spend so much time obsessed with Twitter, facebook etc is just sad and just shows how disfunctional society is becoming.

            I also think part of the issue is that people can post annonymosly with no recouse. THAT is a major issue. If they posted and we knew who they were they they may be a little bit more curcumspect about what they write.

            And I understand the issue with whistleblowers etc. But it is too easy to shout and screen at people knowing people have no idea who they are.

            1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

              Re: @Jimbo Smith The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

              In theory, that's all well and good. In practice, you the the response that conservatives get right here? It's become dangerous professionally to challenge leftist cant. And, if they many, many cases of calls on Facebook and Twitter for violence against non-leftists are to be taken in any way seriously, perhaps more than just professionally.

              It's going to be interesting to see what percentage of my posts get blocked today.

        2. rg287 Silver badge

          Re: The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

          ii) Signal is exactly as you described a replacement for WhatsApp with no Facebook involvement. I'm not an Apple person but I thought imessage was instant messaging but allowed small groups and

          Strictly speaking, WhatsApp was a replacement for Signal with better marketing and some more advanced group and sharing features - it's a fork of the open-source Signal codebase.

          Signal has now caught up with a bunch of the consumery features and people should indeed move back to it.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

          "If section 230 hadn't been there Trump would have been kicked off Twitter far faster. Odd then that he was against 230."

          Yes, why would Twitter ever want to host someone who makes them the world's source of Presidential news, with all the associated additional account creation, access to government channels of communication and advertising revenue?

        4. DS999 Silver badge

          @JimboSmith

          I'm not an Apple person but I thought imessage was instant messaging but allowed small groups

          Small groups, yes, but not PUBLIC groups. The only people who can see those iMessages are in your group. Apple cannot see them at all, it would be impossible for them to moderate even if they wanted to. That's similar to a phone call, you can have a conference call but it isn't public so the phone company is deemed a "common carrier" who doesn't bear liability for what it said.

          Section 230 tries to treat the entire internet the same way, but there's a big difference between having a private conference call with a few friends where you say "hey, we should storm the capitol and hang Mike Pence" and making that announcement in a public square with a bullhorn to everyone willing to listen.

      2. anonanonanonanonanon

        Re: The duopoly needs to learn the hard way!

        This is what I thought, you can get a link to a group hosted Signal, which I guess anyone could join, and you could post that link somewhere public.

        But AFAIK, there's no facility in Signal to browse groups, so I can't go onto signal and go looking for groups based on subject or the like. Nor do I care for it to do that.

        Then they're left with the problem that, short of randomly joining publicly posted groups, they can't go looking through the messages because it's all encrypted.

  3. tfewster Silver badge
    Facepalm

    > has legitimate fears about being targeted due to his ethnic and religious identity...

    No, Mr Ginsberg, it's because you've taken a visible position against hate groups. Which is very important and commendable, but means you don't get to play the race card when they target you for your position.

    Ali G's "Is it cos I is black?" catchphrase illustrates the point*. No, Ali G, as you know it's because you're acting like an ass to provoke people to the point where you can use the catchphrase.

    * I may be wrong about that point - I don't find Sacha Baron Cohen funny, so I don't watch his material.

    By all means, drain the cesspools of extremists of all types. But do it right.

    [Full disclosure: White, Anglo-Saxon middle aged atheist male here. I'm all for equality, but "positive discrimination" worries me]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      @tfwwster

      Just a word of caution...

      Once you go down the slippery slope, where do you draw the line.

      FB banned a political activist group of young republicans who are against Joe Biden.

      Republicans vs Democrats. No violence but the opposition party's fb group.

      Think about that.

      Now take a look at the word around you.

      (This can be applied to others... )

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: @tfwwster

        Given that FB, to the maximum extent of their ability, seem determined to be a law unto themselves. I don't think I'd want to take anything they do as an indication of how things should be done.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: @tfwwster

          No, it is an example of exactly what IS actually happening RIGHT NOW.

      2. Ramblings

        Re: @tfwwster

        Clearly a lie. FB wouldn't do that, they know it would create a storm as there's no TOS violation. bet you can't source your story.

  4. Falmari Silver badge
    Devil

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't

    I don’t have any sympathy for Google or Apple but really sued if they do take down apps sued if they don’t.

    Complain that they should not have Section 230 protection because they moderate, complain if they don’t moderate.

    Also I thought Telegram was a messaging app what next take down the phone networks?

    1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
      Joke

      Re: Damned if you do, damned if you don't

      In the next iOS update Internet access will be removed, and the phone disabled.

      Gorilla glass will be removed since it offends conservationists.

      Note sure yet if the clock feature will be kept, there may be a relation with ancient extremist Sumerian religious groups...

      1. Velv
        Pirate

        Re: Damned if you do, damned if you don't

        "Note sure yet if the clock feature will be kept"

        Apple have already paid Swiss Railways for the copyright on their clock, I doubt the Swiss are going to object now to have it removed

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Damned if you do, damned if you don't

      Unless Telegram has a way to make "public posts" I don't think he has a leg to stand on. If they don't have any way to tell what is being said, and hopefully they don't in a private conversation whether between two people or 20, how are they supposed to moderate it?

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Damned if you do, damned if you don't

      Parler is also a messaging app. I haven't followed the cases in the US but it's worth noting that Telegram runs its own server infrastructure and has, in the past, been victim of bans in the past, including, I think, by AWS which it uses to obfuscate location. The owner does say that he will close groups and channels if he thinks complaints legitimate but the main difference is that the platform was designed from the outset to be difficult to close down. Scaling on AWS to handle the traffic is one thing, being able to foil government blocks quite another.

  5. grizewald
    Facepalm

    A polite suggestion to Mr. Ginsberg

    May I suggest a better course of action than wasting your money on lawyers? If you don't like what other people say sometimes then don't read what they write or listen to what they say or watch their videos. At any given moment, there are hundreds of millions of people saying things you might dislike, be affronted by, scared by and so on. There are also hundreds of millions of people violently disagreeing with each other. There are probably billions of people who disagree with things which you hold dear

    The only way to stop all these nasty things happening would be to monitor everyone, everywhere, in audio and video, 24 hours per day 365.25 days of the year and send everyone who says things you don't like to a "re-education camp". In the end, you would probably have to just kill them as there would be nobody left apart from the watchers and no money to pay for "re-education".

    You seem to find other people's speech so unbearable that you are prepared to use Orwell's 1984 as an instruction manual. This would tend to suggest that you may be experiencing a mental illness and I would counsel you to contact your doctor as soon as possible. I am sure that once you explain to him how your anxiety is affecting your judgement that he will quickly refer you to a mental health specialist who can guide you gently back to the ground.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: A polite suggestion to Mr. Ginsberg

      If these people are plotting how to best kill you, pretending they don’t exist isn’t going to stop the problems arising from their conversations.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: A polite suggestion to Mr. Ginsberg

        Seems many commentards here don't understand this.

        The new Nazi are not spouting off ideology. They are plotting AND COMMITTING, genocide and insurrection.

        1. Zolko Bronze badge
          Big Brother

          Re: A polite suggestion to Mr. Ginsberg

          "Seems many commentards here don't understand this. The new Nazi ..."

          there is nothing tu understand but to remember: the Nazi used the burning of the Reichstag to implement draconian laws, and the first of these laws was to ban free speech. So remember now: those who try to rein in of free speech ARE the new Nazis. And of course they would accuse the other side of being so.

          It's actually all written in 1984, exactly as it's unfolding before our eyes. Icon, unfortunately

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: A polite suggestion to Mr. Ginsberg

            That is some gold medal mental gymnastics.

            You are Goebbels and I claim my 5 pounds.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: A polite suggestion to Mr. Ginsberg

          They are plotting AND COMMITTING, genocide and insurrection.

          You're close to a trilemma: genocide, insurrection and gun rights – you can have any two.

          Plotting a crime is usually a crime in itself. As is incitement and that's how these things should be pursued. Going after the gatekeepers rather than the perpetrators will only entrench the role of the gatekeepers over what is and isn't acceptable. I'd rather have the law and the courts do that.

      2. grizewald

        Re: A polite suggestion to Mr. Ginsberg

        And you think that rampant censorship of the type that groups like Coalition for a Safer Web want will stop these problems?

        Get a grip. Censorship, even the deplatforming which has been wielded against Trump, never fixes anything. The particularly worrying side of the kind of censorship which CSW and similar groups are so keen on having is that it is all about imposing their own arbitrary definitions of what you may or may not say on everyone else. These people have no right to make decisions on my behalf about what I may or may not read or say.

        Let the neo-nazis and other nutters say what they want. If you are so thick that you are easily influenced by whatever garbage you read on the Internet, then mummy should take away your computer. I'd much rather see people offended than see the extremists forced underground where we can't see what they are planning.

  6. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

    These sites are a hive mind of political hate and violence.

    Twitter should be banned for promoting left wing hatred.

    Oh wait? That kind of hatred was encouraged and acceptable?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      If you can't tell the difference between demanding civil rights and genocide and insurrection, maybe you should stay in school.

      1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

        “Difference between demanding civil rights and genocide and insurrection”

        The difference is that you describe one ideology as “demanding civil rights” because you support is and the other guys are “into genocide” because you disagree with them.

        Check what the other guys say, you will find that they believe is them who are into “civil rights” and it is you who are into “genocide”.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. It's always been so.

        2. Snake Silver badge

          RE: Differences

          You make a argument for placing reasonable thought behind the decisions.

          However, that said...

          The difference is that the left-wing violence has mostly been against property - inanimate, replaceable objects. They smash windows, burn cars, riot in neighborhoods...out of frustration.

          You know, like this

          https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/27/us-rightwing-extremists-attacks-deaths-database-leftwing-antifa

          Right wing? Let's see what they have been guilty of just in the past year:

          - plot to kidnap and murder the governor of Michigan because she didn't agree with them;

          - desire to overturn the legitimate election results of the United States, because they didn't like the result;

          - armed insurrection at the Capitol, with a plot to kidnap the senators and hold them until they got the political results they wanted;

          - 5 people dead

          Oh, we won't mention past actions like Oklahoma City. Or the Boston Marathon. Or September 11. All right-wing. But doing those comparisons would only be "unfair".

          The governments of the world are looking, more and more to classify modern right-wing movements, including some white nationalist-based "militias", as domestic terrorism.

          They'll do the same for any violent left-wing agendas but the ratio of right-to-left is, what, 200 to 1? BLM and Antifa versus hundreds of local white nationalist movements, a regeneration of post-Civil War attitudes towards equality??

          ...

          If you can't see the difference in the level of 'performance' in (modern) left-wing versus right-wing ideological agendas...I'm sorry, but there is absolutely no hope for you.

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: RE: Differences

            Quite few folks here can't tell the difference.

            And they wonder how the Nazis came to power.

        3. msobkow Bronze badge

          Err, no. There is no comparing protests over civil rights with an armed insurrection that tries to overthrow the duly elected government of a nation.

          I honestly don't think a lot of people making such comparisons have as many functioning brain cells as your average rock.

          1. Snake Silver badge

            RE: Functioning brain cells

            Ironically, at almost precisely the same time I was writing my screed (about 4 PM GMT 27 January, the time stamp of my post would tell the tale if only it was that precise), the United States Department of Homeland Security posted this bulletin...

            https://www.dhs.gov/ntas/advisory/national-terrorism-advisory-system-bulletin-january-27-2021

            Serendipity? Confluence of cosmic phenomena?

            The bulletin technically is bilateral, warning of both left and right-wing extremist actions. But read the referenced actions of past violence. Oooh, pretty much all right-wing sourced... O.O

  7. Cincinnataroo

    Hot off the press.

    The chairperson of "A Safer Universe" has sued for the removal of all human vocal cords. "For many years these cords have been used for hate speech, and even to order the death of vulnerable people." Why did it take so long.

  8. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Shooting the messenger

    I've heard that mails are often used to propagate false informations or hate speech. Shouldn't email clients be also banned?

    And the same for phone calls: ban phones!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Shooting the messenger

      Don't forget snail mail. Remove all the post boxes.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

        Re: Shooting the messenger

        And eat the snails with garlic butter!

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Remove all the post boxes

        That will please the lunatics in the GOP perfectly.

        They hate voting by post with a vengeance. No post boxes means no mailin voting. Win-win-Win!

  9. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

    First they came for Trump and I did not care because I don’t support Trump....

    Next time they will come for you.

    1. PerlyKing Silver badge

      Trump is about to get a more than fair trial by his peers (the Senate), from which he will more than likely walk away scot free.

      Tolerating the intolerant is a one way street. At some point you have to take a stand.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        You miss the point about tolerance. You don't get to decide who is intolerable.

        1. PerlyKing Silver badge

          I get to decide who is intolerable to me.

          And I think you missed the point about intolerance. Tolerance only works when it's reciprocal. If one side is intolerant they will take without giving, until they have everything.

          If you keep on turning the other cheek, sooner or later someone is going to come along and cut off your head.

          1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

            However other intolerant groups get a free pass. You don't get to pick and choose - you have to set a criterion and apply it to all. Those wailing about things like Parler tend to use the "anti-intolerance" card selectively, so automatically lose the argument.

        2. ecofeco Silver badge

          The paradox of intolerance. Look it up.

      2. DS999 Silver badge

        Don't worry

        He will also get a fair trial in New York, Georgia and probably DC in the next few years, and is very unlikely to get away scot free from all.

        I think one of the reasons republicans aren't worried about convicting him in the Senate and being able to ban him from holding office again is because they know they won't have to face him by the time the 2024 primary season kicks off in a couple years. He'll either be busy with multiple appeals, or already be behind bars.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Trollface

      No, first they voted Trump out otherwise Trump would have come for them. Problem?

  10. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Remove Anonymity

    How many of those who incite violence (Left or Right, Black or White) are willing to risk their jobs, relationships, friends by posting their bile under their real names? I know that anonymity has it's uses but it also has it's problems. A large proportion of hate in the world is riding on the back of anonymity.

    Well, we are all responsible for what comes out of our mouths and keyboards and if we don't like the consequences then perhaps shutting the **** up might be a better option. I keep hearing about peoples "right to free speech" but we never hear about peoples "right to not be abused" or "right to not be assaulted". Your free speech comes with responsibility. If you abuse that responsibility by promoting hate or violence, then your right to free speech should be taken away from you since you seem to be incapable of behaving like an adult.

    1. scrubber

      Re: Remove Anonymity

      With no anonymity not only will ideas be suppressed but any ideas that get out will be judged, at least partly, on who proposes them rather than on their own merits.

      FYI: Posting bile is not the same as inciting violence. One of those is already a crime and by conflating them you seek to criminalise speech you dislike. The idea that people should not be slaves, that women could vote, gays should have equal rights, these were all very much against community standards and public decency when first being discussed and any arguments for them would have been banned in the current climate. Something to think about.

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Remove Fingers

      If you abuse that responsibility by promoting hate or violence, then your right to free speech should be taken away from you since you seem to be incapable of behaving like an adult.

      There isn't really any anonymity on the Internet, especially if you're promoting serious hate & violence, and come to the attention of TPTB. Who may then use a combination of warrant & warrantless investigatory methods to determine who you are, and then teach you the error of your ways.

      And then there's mob justice-

      https://www.rt.com/usa/513737-literary-agency-fired-conservative-parler-gab/

      In November she disclosed that she would begin using Parler, describing it as a “great platform with no censorship,” but it appears she used the site for work-related interactions with writers and potential clients.

      Her decision to branch out onto different platforms didn’t seem to cause any consternation among her colleagues, but this suddenly changed after an anonymous Twitter user complained on Monday to the agency that one of its employees “frequents alt-right social media.”

      And she lost her job. The RT story doesn't mention any "extremist" posts, and suggests she was fired simply for having a presence on forbidden platforms.. Where she was apparently interacting with "writers and potential clients". Which might also mean that some of the agency's authors/clients were on those platforms. It doesn't mention if the agency droped those clients as well.

      But such is politics. Terminate the witches! Stop their vile heresies! Lock up the commies! Or just ponder the societal benefits of anonymity, free expression and the ability to engage in rational debate.. Something cancel culture is violently opposed to. As a society, we've decided that torturing, imprisoning or just burning witches is not a GoodThing(tm). We've even decided (in some countries) that Wicca is a valid belief, and offered witches legal protection from discrimination... Even if some used social media to call for coven members to curse Trump. There were no reports of the fleas of a thousand camels infesting his armpits, but a curse could be considered implied violence.

      But this isn't to single out witches or Wiccans*, even if some seem confused about the differences between witch & warlock.. Just that conservatives seem to have become the modern day versions.

      *It just happens that I've been writing about them, so amusing myself with some research. Plus it's still a hazardous occupation/practice in many parts of the world.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Modern technology has a lot to answer for. Once upon a time anyone standing in the town square shouting to a crowd "lets kill all the <random/political racial grouping>" would have been stopped for unlawful assembly.

    These days it can be broadcast to thousands of "followers" anywhere in the country/world. The modern equivalent of meeting in the town square.

    Maybe our overlords should take a fresh look at what constitutes "unlawful assembly" these days.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Once upon a time anyone standing in the town square shouting to the crowd "let's kill all the witches/non-believers" would have been cheered, the wood would be gathered and the knives sharpened.

      Your point being?

      I know, the society evolves, but humans will be humans and everybody has an axe to grind.

  12. Securitymoose
    Big Brother

    The real reason of course...

    ...is that Telegram is a messaging app that prevents all the agencies from spying on the conversations, and therefore can't be controlled. In this world where free speech and 'correctness' are in direct conflict, it is refreshing to be able to say things to friends and colleagues, and retract them if required without ending up in court or worse.

    1. scrubber

      Re: The real reason of course...

      Not in Scotland where a new law has been proposed making anything you say in your own home subject to hate speech legislation and children are being encouraged to report their parents.

      Scottish people: "You may take our lives, but you'll never take our ... oh never mind, let me meekly hand over any sense of individualism or liberty to the nanny state."

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: The real reason of course...

        @scrubber "making anything you say in your own home subject to hate speech legislation" a link would be helpful I did some searching could not really find anything but this

        "While the committee said "hate crime offences are no more acceptable if they are committed inside a person's home than in public places", MSPs added care should be taken to ensure people are not prosecuted for expressing their views in a private space if there is "no public element"."

        on BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-55252105

        1. scrubber

          Re: The real reason of course...

          @falmari

          https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-53526843

          https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/04/uk-lawyers-uneasy-about-plan-to-prosecute-hate-speech-at-home

      2. Zolko Bronze badge
        Big Brother

        Re: The real reason of course...

        "in Scotland where a new law has been proposed ..."

        There is a video circulating from a home in Scotland that is "invaded" by the police and parents are arrested in front of their crying children for violating Covid-19 rules, at home:

        https://twitter.com/CountDankulaTV/status/1347246304401960961

    2. Zimmer
      Stop

      Re: The real reason of course...

      ... it's not a public forum, so not much different to the sending of SMS text messages to the contacts on your phone. In fact (correct me if I'm wrong) the only contacts I can see are Telegram users who are on my cellphone's Contact list..

      Is his next lawsuit aimed at carriers offering SMS ?

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Telegram's founder said recently that only 2% of its users are in the US. It could simply block all US IP addresses and wash its hands of this problem entirely.

  15. Higemc88

    End this censorship

    It has become too fashionable by the liberal media which I will now call the communist media which is what the Democratic party has become to try to squash any alternate voice this is extremely important that Apple and Google do not take this stance and if they do that what remains of our Senate and Congress that actually is still American fight back and squash big tech for this

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: End this censorship

      Welcome to The Register and thank you for your first ever post!

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: End this censorship

      You do not have the right to use some one else's private property just because you feel like it.

  16. yetanotheraoc

    whois?

    Is the Coalition for the Safer Web an actual coalition? Or is it in fact just one person, Mr. Marc Ginsberg? Not much information online except for this news splash. "The Team" is five figureheads but no actual line people. Tiny budget as far as I can tell, in any real world business it would amount to exactly one FTE. I think El Reg should get on it.

  17. msobkow Bronze badge

    I'm not surprised at the complaint given the filer's background. His people are ALWAYS looking for things to be offended by and to "police", as if they were the only victims of abuse to ever walk the face of the earth.

    But that is neither here nor there. The key issue is that the messaging platform in question was not used PRIMARILY to support anti-government and terrorist plans like the US insurrection. There are SOME users posting abusive content in SOME threads, but given that the content isn't widely disseminated nor published outside the app, I really question how much of an impact it can have on society.

    Seriously. I could use an encrypted email session to do much the same thing - would that make my ISP responsible for the content of my emails? I think not.

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