back to article Big Tech has a big problem with Florida passing a law that protects politicians from web moderation

Two technology grade groups backed by Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter among others, on Thursday challenged the constitutionality of a new Florida law, SB 7072, that prohibits social media companies from deplatforming state political candidates and establishes a right for citizens to sue over platform moderation decisions …

  1. tfewster Silver badge
    Facepalm

    IANAL, but it seems like the California governor is trying to control free speech by telling the private companies what is and isn't acceptable.

    Private companies can't violate the first Amendment, as they're not Government. It's their platform, and they don't have to give anyone a soapbox to preach from.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      California

      You mean Florida, right?

      C.

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: California

        Oops, I have no idea why I typed California, Florida is clearly mentioned several times.

        Hopefully that was the only reason for the downvotes ;-)

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: California

          Well, I for one, upvoted you because I knew what you meant. On the other hand, this is the sort of thing more likely to come out of California, so the mistake is very understandable :-)

          Florida Man and California Man are two closely related branches of the same devolutionary tree.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: California

            Heh!, I'm not sure if I offended some Californians or if some Floridians are denying [d]evolution :-)

            Maybe I got a toofer!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      By their popularity and gratuity they are essentially public companies...

      If they are private why do the members not pay a membership fee?

      As such, either members hold be vetted beforehand or all members should have the same rights regardless of their politics. Unless of course these companies start to clearly announce their political motivations.

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Not quite.

        "If they are private why do the members not pay a membership fee?"

        Private in the sense that they are private property not private as in exclusive or of restricted membership.

        Do try and keep up.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Not quite.

          Although there comes a scale where a private company is effectively a public utility.

          Suppose Twitter cancelled all Republican politician's accounts, or Google didn't return any results for Republican candidates, or Visa/Mastercard declined to process donations for Republican causes ?

          1. MrDamage

            Re: Not quite.

            Then those companies are acting under the very exact "anti-gay wedding cake" laws that the Republicans fought long and hard to introduce.

            Now that those very same laws are being used against them, legally, the Republicans are crying foul and trying to introduce more legislation to "even the playing field". The simplest solution would be for all of the services affected, to stop servicing Florida.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Not quite.

              I think a small independent baker SHOULD be allowed to not bake a gay wedding cake if they don't want - they are losing business and there are plenty of other bakers.

              But say Alaskan Airlines shouldn't be allowed to refuse gay passengers if they are essentially the only choice to fly to Alaska.

              There is a scale at which the company has sufficient power that there needs to be some level playing field.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Not quite.

                Where does that line start?

                2 companies? 3?

                With 2 companies 1 priced at normal prices for 'normal' people, the other at an abnormally high price for the 'abnormal' people?

              2. Def Silver badge

                Re: Not quite.

                No. Companies should NOT be allowed to discriminate. No exceptions.

                Companies can refuse to provide you with a service if, for example, they are unable to for logistical or legal reasons, but that refusal should never be based on discriminatory reasons.

                If a baker is allowed to refuse to bake you a cake because there are plenty of other bakers, is a taxi driver allowed to refuse to take you because there are plenty of other taxis? Or can Amazon refuse to sell you a book because other book stores are available?

                1. Claverhouse Silver badge

                  Re: Not quite.

                  What about Nazi Birthday Cakes ?

                  1. Def Silver badge

                    Re: Not quite.

                    If I was a baker I wouldn't have a problem with baking such a thing because it makes zero difference to my life how someone else chooses to celebrate theirs.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Not quite.

                  If a baker is allowed to refuse to bake you a cake because there are plenty of other bakers, is a taxi driver allowed to refuse to take you because there are plenty of other taxis? Or can Amazon refuse to sell you a book because other book stores are available?

                  Most nonessential businesses can refuse to serve a potential customer. It is the WAY or REASON that it occurs that can be challenged, and a smart business owner will figure out how to do it. A bakery can claim they are overbooked and cannot take on more work. Cab drivers will pass by people they wish to avoid serving, go ahead and try to prove it wasn't "sorry, mate, didn't see you there". Amazon provably adjusts their prices depending on the algorithms of what you have been searching for previously.

                  https://www.propublica.org/article/amazon-says-it-puts-customers-first-but-its-pricing-algorithm-doesnt

                3. msobkow Bronze badge

                  Re: Not quite.

                  Companies are perfectly within their right to declare "no shoes, no shirt, no service" and it is not considered "discriminatory."

                  Telling people you WILL post and discuss topics in a civilized fashion on our website is no more discriminatory than that.

                  Trump and his minions are just ticked off that they didn't get to nuke the world in term 2 like they were planning to.

              3. toejam++

                Re: Not quite.

                The problem with allowing businesses of any size to refuse service based on discrimination is that in areas with little or no competition, it can create an undo burden on the customer to find an alternative. What if you are trans, live in rural Kansas, and the nearest baker who will sell to LGBT customers is 150 km away?

                Then there are more serious issues like needing to purchase fuel, food, or medication. Is it not okay for essential services to discriminate but okay for everyone else? Where do you draw the line as to what is essential?

            2. JimboSmith Silver badge

              Re: Not quite.

              The simplest solution would be for all of the services affected, to stop servicing Florida.

              Given the effect of GDPR on some US website owners, that might not be too far wide of the mark. What happens when they do block Floridians? Another law forcing Twitter, Facebork etc. to serve Florida IP addresses?

            3. NopetyNope

              Re: Not quite.

              "The simplest solution would be for all of the services affected, to stop servicing Florida."

              My assumption here was that Facebook, Google and Twitter would be looking to very rapidly purchase or build a theme park. Just one would do it nicely.

          2. jonathan keith

            Re: Not quite.

            Suppose Twitter cancelled all Republican politician's accounts, or Google didn't return any results for Republican candidates, or Visa/Mastercard declined to process donations for Republican causes ?

            Then the world would have been made an ever so slightly better place to live.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not quite.

            Suppose Twitter cancelled all Republican politician's accounts, or Google didn't return any results for Republican candidates, or Visa/Mastercard declined to process donations for Republican causes ?

            Oh, be still my beating heart! I came to suggest that FB et al. deplatform every Florida politican just to see if the law would hold. (It won't). I love it when the GOP discovers that some short term, vindictive little tantrum they enact then bites them in the rear.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "If they are private why do the members not pay a membership fee?"

        What's membership cost at Walmart? Are they free to refuse service without having a paying membership?

    3. Andrew Williams

      Private businesses apparently cannot discriminate against people, or so the courts ruled regarding the bakers. So, why do social media private companies have the right to remove commentary that they do not like?

      They dropped the “Covid came from the Chinese Lab” commentaries like they were hot. Now, they are all plausible and must be investigated.

      Basically, social media needs to bake the cake that their users want to bake.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        "Private businesses apparently cannot discriminate against people, or so the courts ruled regarding the bakers."

        You will find when you read about it that the bakers concerned objected to writing a message on the cake, refused to do so, and were upheld by the courts. Ergo it is legal for companies to refuse to write or publish when they do not want to do so, or to discriminate using certain nonprotected characteristics. These rules may not apply if a company has a monopoly position. Most social media companies do not have such a position in the relevant market, namely that of online publishing. Whatever your feelings about the companies themselves, the people they choose not to permit, or the things they do, the above are facts about the legal situation which you will need to factor into your argument.

      2. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

        Well, the problem did come about because they treated Republicans differently to Democrats.

        Many Democrats explicitly called for violent BLM riots, but this was seen as acceptable, while Republicans were cracked down on for relatively minor things.

        I can't say I support either group, but it was quite clear by the end that social media regulation was highly one way traffic.

        I mean, they blocked the "Hunter Biden is a junkie hooker addict sleazing around the Ukraine" story from being published on the eve of the election. They blocked factual reports on the BLM founders buying $6m of housing, against their "Marxist" principles. But clamped down and demonitised every major Conservative youtubers ads.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Don't be silly. Trump got away with far more than anyone else would. You just think they were biased against republicans because those are the only incidents you take notice of.

          If you want to call bias, is bias against lies, incitements to violence, and targeted hate speech the flag you want to campaign under?

        2. codejunky Silver badge

          @low_resolution_foxxes

          "Well, the problem did come about because they treated Republicans differently to Democrats."

          There is currently some serious pointing at bias of the media for not plastering Biden's creepy comments about a child-

          https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9631457/Creepy-Joe-Biden-slammed-remarks-elementary-school-aged-girl.html

          Sorry its DM but its the video that matters.

          As for FB and its bias, by trying to tell people what is truth and what is lie they flagged against Trump for pointing to the lab as a source of the WuFlu only for it to now be considered acceptable since Joe is saying it.

          1. Dr_N Silver badge

            Re: @low_resolution_foxxes

            CAnon> Sorry its DM

            Sure you are. And a staunch supporter of Ex-President-Wants-to-"Date"-His-OWN-Daughter pointing out Pres. Biden's dodgy comment. Irony overload.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: @low_resolution_foxxes

              @Dr_N

              "And a staunch supporter of Ex-President-Wants-to-"Date"-His-OWN-Daughter pointing out Pres. Biden's dodgy comment. Irony overload."

              Irony is certainly there, why isnt this creep being splashed all over and slated for inappropriate comments over an under-age girl?

              Cmon troll explain how its ok? Or is toll just a troll?

              I am amused you think I am a staunch supporter since I didnt credit him as a good/great president, just much better than the alternative. He knocked out the candidate I would have liked to see win.

              1. Dr_N Silver badge

                Re: @low_resolution_foxxes

                Maybe you only see Daily Mail and Express feeds and search results. I don't know why you don't see stories that are out there.

                Anyway your incessent Worstall-wannabee posting is starting to look unhinged.

                It's not stating facts. Or discussion at any level.

                It's just deranged extreme opinion and obfuscation.

                You should be out their enjoying the fruits of brexit. And rejoicing at the failure of access to vaccine and the low vaccination rates in other countries.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: @low_resolution_foxxes

                  @Dr_N

                  You could have simply answered that you have no clue (or that your clueless).

                  I do get a little concerned at your fantasies about me. Especially when you post them so publicly. What gets you off privately is up to you but there is no need to share.

                  1. Dr_N Silver badge

                    Re: @low_resolution_foxxes

                    Your non-stop rambling and incoherent posts that pop up all over the comment section are starting to be less annoying and more actually concerning.

                    I will not respond to them any longer as it clearly adds to your issues. Seek help.

                    1. codejunky Silver badge
                      Pint

                      Re: @low_resolution_foxxes

                      @Dr_N

                      "I will not respond to them any longer"

                      Huzza!!! Long may we hold you to that!!!

      3. msobkow Bronze badge

        Sorry, but I don't buy into your proposal that society should be ruled by the "offended" dictating what is "acceptable" for businesses to do. They have the right to take their business elsewhere or use another website, but they do NOT have the right to dictate how the business is to operate - and that INCLUDES Trump and his degenerate "team" of Republican thugs.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They didn't remove "commentary they didn't like". They removed hate speech, lies, and libelous comments.

        If they were the deep state leftie communist American haters you believe them to be, Trump et al would have been banned immediately.

        Actually, Trump got away with far more than most people, so if you want to believe a conspiracy, these companies are actually right wingers.

        Silly isn't it?

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Private companies that are "common carriers" must abide by strict guidelines, some of which involve discrimination against individuals, organizations, and (yes) politicians.

      If your phone company could disconnect your phone line because you LIED over the phone, according to their definition of "lie", it would be illegal for them to do so as they are a "common carrier". Similar for other public utilities.

      There are also CAMPAIGN FINANCE laws, which would attribute a "de-platforming" or "censorship" or "flagging as incorrect" as CONTRIBUTIONS IN KIND, as if these actions in and of themselves constituted a form of ELECTIONEERING or "indirect campaign ads".

      What Florida is doing is, essentially, based on these well tested precedents. And I agree with them.

      1. Tomato42

        You can't have it both ways, either Twatter and ISPs are common carriers or they're not.

        The fascist party fought long and hard to ensure that they aren't common carriers, now they they're upset by the effects of that.

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        If your phone company could disconnect your phone line because you LIED over the phone, according to their definition of "lie", it would be illegal for them to do so as they are a "common carrier". Similar for other public utilities.

        How are Twitter or Facebook public utilities? If I have a phone line then I have to pay for that. I've never paid a penny to Facebook or Twitter. The same with water, electricity and gas (that's actual gas and not petrol) those I consider to be an actual utility and pay for. If I did't have access to those things those then I would say my life my life would be considerably worse off. Conversely my life would not be measurably worse off if Facebook didn't exist nor Twitter either.

        There are also CAMPAIGN FINANCE laws, which would attribute a "de-platforming" or "censorship" or "flagging as incorrect" as CONTRIBUTIONS IN KIND, as if these actions in and of themselves constituted a form of ELECTIONEERING or "indirect campaign ads".

        It's a shame they can't just ban politics altogether on those things, would make me slightly more likely to use Twitter.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I've never paid a penny to Facebook or Twitter."

          Oh really.... you might not have done directly but indirectly you have paid them many times over. You are their source of income.

          1. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Oh really.... you might not have done directly but indirectly you have paid them many times over. You are their source of income.

            How am I their source of income?

            I don't visit their sites,

            I block their scripts/3rd party cookies on other websites,

            I disable or delete their apps on my phones etc.

            If anything I cost them money because they have to pay to have their apps installed on my phone.

            I've certainly never and will never let them have my card details.

            1. KBeee Bronze badge

              Not quite.

              These sites make their money from advertising. The cost of that advertising is included in the price you pay for the goods or services you use. You might not use Google or Facebook etc. but each time you buy (for instance) a pack of soap powder 10c of your money goes to them.

              When you see "Internet Company XYZ earned $60B" that 60 billion came from the consumers buying the advertised goods or services, whether they saw the adverts or not.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What happened to small government, and unfettered capitalism, Bobby?

        1. Def Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Obviously that's only applicable when things are going your way.

  2. myithingwontcharge

    How much does a theme park cost?

    Surely Twitter and Facebook can afford to setup a small theme park somewhere? I for one would love to see people ride on the Twittersphere.

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: How much does a theme park cost?

      It's a lot cheaper if you have a bunch of shell companies and proxy buyers buy the land before the average Joe figures out that something big is coming. But, yeah it's still within the realm of possibility for the likes of Larry or Jeff, let alone their businesses. If they throw in a nice golf-course with private helipad, so much the better.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: How much does a theme park cost?

        "If they throw in a nice golf-course with private helipad, so much the better."

        How big and expensive must it be before it can be called a "Theme Park"? A couple of cheap kiddie rides an a car park is probably enough. I doubt there's an actual legal definition anywhere.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How much does a theme park cost?

          Stick a roundabout and an egg-cup ride on the main campus somewhere. Open to the paying public (under 5s only - it's a childrens ride) on the 4th July (freedom!) between 2am and 3am.

          Sorted.

        2. PerlyKing Silver badge

          Re: How big and expensive must it be before it can be called a "Theme Park"?

          According to what I've read about this law, it has to have at least one million visitors per year. So they've at least thought that far ahead.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: How much does a theme park cost?

      Step 1 - buy a disused theme park somewhere

      Step 2 - ban all Florida politicians who voted for said legislation

      Step 3 - profit!

    3. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      Re: How much does a theme park cost?

      > can afford to setup a small theme park somewhere?

      Its usually cheaper to just buy the politician directly at the wholesale rate.

    4. Grunchy

      Re: How much does a theme park cost?

      Define "theme park".

      As far as I'm aware the Google break room is pretty much a theme park already?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh it's easy ...

    You just declare that people acting in an "official political capacity" have to have a special account that identifies them as such together with their affiliation and that they must pay per post for the privilege. Otherwise they are no different from anybody else.

    My house, my rules, it's a business after all :-)

  4. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Joke

    Health Warning?

    It would be an enormous effort to correct posts, or just warn viewers of specific incorrect statements in politicians' posts, but I suppose the big companies like FaceBook and Twitter could easily mark out each politician's output with:

    WARNING - WE ARE OBLIGED BY FLORIDA LAW TO ALLOW THIS POLITICIAN TO POST ON OUR SITE - ANY FACTUAL INACCURACY IS ENTIRELY THIS POLITICIAN'S RESPONSIBILITY AND NOT OUR FAULT - YOU SHOULD CHECK CAREFULLY BEFORE BELIEVING ANYTHING THIS POLITICIAN TELLS YOU

    if they have been found to post untruths, supposition or downright lies. Who could possibly object to that?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Health Warning?

      Actually, that should become a mandatory inclusion in any news post about any politician's declarations, just like the health warning on cigarette packs.

      It will be just as ignored by those who don't care, but they won't be able to say that they haven't been warned.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Health Warning?

        Sounds like a good idea, similar warnings on all premises have stopped Californians dying of cancer

    2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      Re: Health Warning?

      They should add poo emojis to the end of every politicians post, one for for every past post that should have been banned.

    3. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      Re: Health Warning?

      Just add poo emojis to the end of every politicians post, one for each past post that should have been banned.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Health Warning?

        I'm glad you posted it twice, because I wanted to upvote it at least twice

        *yes I know the commenting backend was poorly, I double posted a few times as a result.

        ** Kudos to the editor Chris Williams replying to my query about this at 2015 on Sunday on a Bank Holiday Weekend. Now that is above and beyond SLA!

  5. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    It's all fun and games...

    until the viewpoint being driven from effective public discourse is one you agree with.

    Thanks to the way that the 203 exemption has be interpreted, these companies are VERY much the beneficiaries of government intervention in the market. No other group of publishers gets these freedoms.

    These companies are hanging out by the town square, handing out megaphones (that actually deserve the prefix mega-) to favored groups--drowning out the rest of us. Freedom to effectively communicate disfavored view is thereby squelched. The First Amendment addresses the government, but the right is only meaningful in the context of society.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: It's all fun and games...

      Who is stopping them from creating their own venues?

      Besides nobody.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: It's all fun and games...

        Well, it seems that Donald Trump has learnt how to write a 'blog', but I wonder whether Facebook, Twitter et al can reasonably claim that he is not a politician since he is not currently in or seeking office so they can continue to block him on their platforms?

        1. Tomato42

          Re: It's all fun and games...

          One of the rules actually enshrined in the constitution is the freedom of association. It doesn't matter why Facebook or Twitter don't want to associate with the Malignant one, they're completely in their right to do so.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: It's all fun and games...

            Is that only positive benefit of defining corporations as "people"? :-)

            1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

              Re: It's all fun and games...

              I would think that the ability to sue them would be considered a benefit.

    2. Grunchy

      Re: It's all fun and games...

      Eh, I ran my own BBS for years and years. There was tons of sasquatch theories and calls for anarchy and whatever. I ruled it with an iron fist!

      Well actually, I didn't, but I knew another guy who ran his own competing BBS, if you told your modem to "ATH" without using his logout routine he had his BBS programmed to auto-ban you for a week. I was like, "but my mom picked up the phone!" ABSOLUTELY no sympathy. Pretty much Gingrich Khan in the flesh...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "drowning out the rest of us"

      Drowning out what? I keep hearing that it is "Conservative Viewpoints" that are being suppressed but the only things I see being suppressed are hate speech, falsehoods and batshit crazy conspiracy theories.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "drowning out the rest of us"

        The difference between those two categories has vanished quite a few years ago.

      2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: "drowning out the rest of us"

        @AC OP - of course you don't see what's being drowned out, because it's being drowned out! Try posting "Trans women are not women, though they do have some special interests that might need protecting" on Twitter and see what happens (yes, I got banned for that simple, reasonable post).

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: "drowning out the rest of us"

          Well, Trans women are women, so your post was factually inaccurate, and I'm not sure there was that much that was reasonable about it (it certainly doesn't contain a reason for the claim).

          However, I just received a 30 day FB ban for the following:

          [OP: Labour would have performed even worse with Covid19]

          My comment: "The only way Labour could have done worse is if the British are a uniquely stupid people. There are only about a dozen countries that have done worse than us, and they didn't start as rich countries with a state healthcare system, a headstart, and a largely sea border"

          Am I being drowned out? Or have I just tripped an algorithm, like you did? I see plenty of comments suggesting trans women aren't real women, or that all muggers are black, etc. These voices are not being "drowned out" (not nearly enough, if you ask me) any more than I am being censored for being anti-Boris. It's just imperfect automatic content moderation.

          It's annoying, but Facebook doesn't have any obligation to publish my musings. Their space, their rules. I might think their rules are stupid (actually I think they are largely ok) and I might think their algorithms are stupid (I feel I am stronger ground here) but you know, that's just how it is.

          1. FeepingCreature

            Re: "drowning out the rest of us"

            > Well, Trans women are women, so your post was factually inaccurate

            As the meme goes: our commonsense facts, your uncritical parroting, their lies and bigotry. And I agree with your viewpoint - but taking a subjective claim and saying "that's just a fact" after it is like writing "cold" on a box and calling it a fridge. "Woman" is simply not a physically measurable quantity, so there is no sense in which a person can be "wrong" about saying "X is a woman" if you disagree what "woman" should mean to begin with.

            Parent does not consider trans women to be women. This is clearly true, and I doubt you disagree with it. But what exactly does "trans women are not women" *mean* beyond "I don't consider trans women to be women", that one could be true and the other false?

            In that sense, "trans women are women" taken as an argument could never *convince* anyone that thought otherwise. Taken as a statement of fact, it has no meaning because it's a statement about the definition of a word, and English is not a prescriptive language. And saying "that's just a fact" after it changes this not at all.

            1. John H Woods Silver badge

              Re: "uncritical parroting"

              I'm not arguing that trans women are women, I'm telling you :-) just like I might tell you there isn't a largest prime number. It's not "uncritical parotting" or "commonsense facts" but based on a genetics BSc, a biochemistry PhD, and an atypical sex chromosome makeup. There's a few biologists and ex-biologists on here, let's see how many of them rush to your defence...

              However, we can leave the "biological truth" of the matter to one side: it doesn't even matter what the OP thinks --- there are statements that it is completely unreasonable to publish, probably to say out loud in any polite company (and possibly in any company whatsoever).

              For instance, David Lammy recently had to deal with a caller who asserted, several times, with no embarrassment, that "You can't be British and Afro-Carribean." This is not a reasonable thing to say whatever one thinks. By the same token "Trans women are not women" is not, in this instance, just some academic idea being dealt with in an essay with some degree of sensitivity, it is a pointless and inflammatory social media post. Nothing reasonable about it at all.

              We don't have to say everything we think. The measure of "should I say it" isn't "can I get away with it" or even "is it objectionable" - it is "how will it make other people feel." I spoke to both a beautiful young girl in the super market today, and an enormously fat man (on reflection, this might have been my reflection). I didn't feel the need to point out to either of them the visual impression they had made upon me.

              You say " it's a statement about the definition of a word, and English is not a prescriptive language" But in that case, why say something hurtful that is not even (according to your own argument) an objective statement, let alone one which can be proved?

              TL;DR: as it is never appropriate to say "trans women are not women" it must indeed be a fact that "trans women are women"

              1. FeepingCreature

                Re: "uncritical parroting"

                I'm not saying it's *wrong*, I'm saying it's not in the category of objectively knowable fact, because "woman" is not a term that has an unambiguous measurable definition. If it does, I challenge you to provide it.

                > TL;DR: as it is never appropriate to say "trans women are not women" it must indeed be a fact that "trans women are women"

                That is among the most Orwellian things I have ever seen upvoted on this site. If I said that in parody, people would accuse me of insulting their position. You're *literally* saying the objective, unambiguous definition of "woman" is "whatever society decrees it is". That's the definition of a subjective term!

                What the f*ck!

                1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

                  Re: "uncritical parroting"

                  It appears that you have awakened to the nightmare of wokeness. Be prepared for the reaction should you not violently repent.

          2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: "drowning out the rest of us"

            Woman = adult human female.

  6. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    FAIL

    Ladies and gentlemen ...

    ... I give you the party of smaller, less intrusive government.

    1. JWLong Bronze badge

      Re: Ladies and gentlemen ...

      I like parties, BYOB, BYOD, BYOG.

      BYO what the hell ever, let the party begin.

      Oh, when did the Nazis buy Florida?

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Ladies and gentlemen ...

        1937 or so - see the Dr Suess cartoons on the issue

  7. Kev99

    It has been litigated innumerable times. A business is under NO obligation to allow everyone into its premises, except when such refusal amounts to to any discriminatory act prohibited by federal law. Which means a bigoted baker can deny a gay person but the jerk cannot deny a black, hispanic, asian etc.

  8. Grunchy

    Well, just as long as it's still legal to say that Trump is an asshole.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure. Surely the next step will be to ban any actual facts that would disagree with whatever Republicans have decided to become their reality for that day.

  9. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Leave the state

    Honestly, I would just cut off the state of Florida from service, and let anyone who was not automatically geoblocked that if they are from Florida, they are using the service without permission and must stop using the service.

    1. KarMann
      Joke

      Re: Leave the state

      Honestly, I would just cut off the state of Florida….
      Obligatory Bugs Bunny clip

  10. Edward Clarke
    Black Helicopters

    A solution...

    Would it not be easier for all of these "social media" companies to make a simple rule:

    No person in public office may have an active account with us. Any person in active public office or who is running for public office shall immediately have their account locked and hidden. Accounts shall be restored after leaving public office or withdrawing from an election for public office. Public office shall be defined as any post that is paid for by a tax levy.

    No discrimination - a simple refusal to provide free advertising for politicians of any color/creed/faith.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A solution...

      That won't work. Expert avoider-of-paying-any-bill-himself Trump would just get a load of private proxies who would declare his talking poiints as something they agreed with. That's message and enforcement in one go.

      As a matter of fact, that's exactly what they did already, with the added bonus that they deluded enough (clearly easy to delude) people to not only repeat their BS for free, but to even defend it.

      Now we are starting to get a grip on the pandemic, maybe we ought to see if can tackle finding a vaccine against stupid because we're facing an extinction level threat from those.

  11. six_tymes

    hypocrites: "Your company has to bake my cake or ill sue!" same hypocrites "Facebook and twitter are private companies and can do what they want"

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      I was always suspicious that the Gay Wedding Cake case was a Republican stalking horse.

      1, Fund the case against the baker and get a ruling that anyone discriminating against a customer gets a huge fine.

      2, Get a list of Muslim owned business and demand that they make a T-shirt with Muhammad on it, when they refuse fine them out of business

      3, Book every synagogue function room for your Hitler's birthday celebration. Similar..

      Repeat for every group you don't like

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Read up on discrimination laws.

      Equating them with blocking deliberate lies shows that you're one to the turkeys I mentioned in my previous post.

    3. Teejay

      Ah, but conservative leaning bakers are bad, while left leaning (heavy coughing fit) megacompanies are good.

      It's very simple. You really should have watched more TV since birth to snap into that good-bad thinking principle.

  12. msobkow Bronze badge

    Welcome to the Ferengi-Nazi States of America, where anything and everything can be bought and sold and you have all the rights of a rock in a field...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Republicans...

    Republicans... the party of small government, and unrestricted capitalism..... Except when it affects them.

    Republicans... The party against cancel culture... Except when it affects them.

    Republicans... The party for truth and democracy... Except when it affects them.

    In reality, Republicans only guiding principles are what benefits them. The voters are useful for votes only. Republicans hate you if you aren't rich and powerful, but still the turkeys vote for Christmas..?

  14. Teejay

    Undemocratic group think

    I find the spin of the headline, the whole article and many of the comments surprisingly in line with very anti-democratic thinking. Feels a bit like at Ars.

    Basically, in my reading as a European, the proposed legislation intends to protect free speech of politicians and stop deplatforming. Sure, one can make this about Trump and add some orange hair jokes for bad taste and peer-group approval, but one can also step back from one's conditioning and try to grasp the bigger picture.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Undemocratic group think

      It's not about "free speech of politicians." If I used my phone line to fraudulently sell bogus financial products I'd probably find myself without a phone line. That isn't a deprivation of my free speech. If I were to libel you I'd possibly find myself in court. That isn't a deprivation of my free speech. It's just consequences.

      My free speech (such as it is, because it's not that straightforward in the UK) is that I the state may not punish me for expressing an opinion just because they don't like it. It has got almost nothing to do with "deplatforming' because no-one is obliged to give one a platform.

      1. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

        Re: Undemocratic group think

        If I used my phone line to fraudulently sell bogus financial products I'd probably find myself without a phone line.

        Yes because they generally don't supply phone lines to individual cells. Please do not confuse criminal activity with holding an opinion no matter how distasteful you find that opinion.

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: Undemocratic group think

          Using a platform to instigate a coup on an entirely false basis that democracy has been denied is criminal activity, old chap. Nobody is suggesting that "holding an opinion" is criminal activity, no matter how distasteful, but in many countries expressing certain opinions certainly may be. In the USA it isn't, but that doesn't mean that pointing a gun at somebody and saying "I believe that is my money" is protected by the 1A.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Undemocratic group think

            @John H Woods

            "Using a platform to instigate a coup on an entirely false basis that democracy has been denied is criminal activity, old chap."

            While telling them not to do so got Trump criticized as doing so. While Democrats supporting and even telling people to fund actual rioters was accepted. Then we have the likes of facebook as the arbiter of truth rejecting Trumps conspiracy nutty theory of the pandemic starting from a Chinese lab is now..... not a nutty wild arse theory.

            Republicans have their problems but Dems really need to reread 1984 and not as a how to manual.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Undemocratic group think

              "Trumps conspiracy nutty theory of the pandemic starting from a Chinese lab is now..... not a nutty wild arse theory."

              https://www.vox.com/2020/9/18/21439865/coronavirus-china-study-bannon

              It went further than the accidental release, which was always accepted as a possibility is all quarters. Are you gaslighting?

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Undemocratic group think

                @AC

                "It went further than the accidental release, which was always accepted as a possibility is all quarters. Are you gaslighting?"

                Of course it was always accepted, which is why Fauci laughed as he waved it away as nonsense and the investigation was ended because it started under Trump.

                https://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthart/2021/05/26/biden-team-shut-down-secretive-trump-era-project-pursuing-the-wuhan-lab-leak-theory/?sh=46ae80297fdd

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Undemocratic group think

                  "and the investigation was ended because it started under Trump.

                  https://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthart/2021/05/26/biden-team-shut-down-secretive-trump-era-project-pursuing-the-wuhan-lab-leak-theory/?sh=46ae80297fdd

                  "

                  You seem to be having an issue with facts. Including the ones stated in your own reference. Please do not confuse your opinion with actual facts. It muddies the waters of debate.

                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: Undemocratic group think

                    @AC

                    "You seem to be having an issue with facts."

                    I am not sure where you are confused (or I dont seem to be seeing the fact you believe exists), care to try and point it out?

                    "Including the ones stated in your own reference"

                    The reference that supports what I wrote?

                    "Please do not confuse your opinion with actual facts. It muddies the waters of debate."

                    Feel free to mention said facts or how I got something wrong. Also if you have confidence in your comment what is with the AC (honest question)?

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Undemocratic group think

                      "and the investigation was ended because it started under Trump."

                      Please point to the part in your referenced Forbes piece that supports your above opinion. Thank you.

                      Trump' allies tried to fabricate a conspiracy theory that Covid-19 was a bioweapon. This was proved to be an op instigated by Banon & Guo Wengui.

                      1. codejunky Silver badge

                        Re: Undemocratic group think

                        @AC

                        "Please point to the part in your referenced Forbes piece that supports your above opinion. Thank you."

                        Ok. So read the bits with these headings (too long to quote)- Topline, Key Facts, Crucial Quote, Key Background, Tangent, What To Watch For. In case you dont notice thats the entire friggin article.

                        >The entire frigging article which supports that Trump accused it coming from the lab (referencing a WSJ article that people were ill before the pandemic with seeming to be covid).

                        >That Trump set off an investigation into the origins and if it was the lab.

                        >Biden shut down that investigation.

                        >That there is now a new enquiry into the origins of Covid and if it is from the lab.

                        Now you have added something I didnt say which is 'Trump' allies tried to fabricate a conspiracy theory that Covid-19 was a bioweapon. This was proved to be an op instigated by Banon & Guo Wengui.' so no I didnt say anything about that even though it is an actual possible theory if unlikely.

                        So how dont you think the Forbes article doesnt match what I said? And again whats with the AC? Its not like your saying anything particularly stupid (so far) just disagreeing on the facts?

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Undemocratic group think

                          "TOPLINE President Joe Biden’s administration shut down a clandestine State Department operation intended to prove the lab-based origins of Covid-19 over concerns about the work’s poor quality and its politicized, premature and selective use by Trump and his allies to blame the pandemic on China, according to CNN.

                          KEY FACTS The undisclosed project, run out of the arms control unit and led by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was established in late 2020 to investigate the possibility a Chinese bioweapons lab played a role in the pandemic’s origin, CNN reports, citing sources familiar with the matter.

                          It was swiftly shuttered by Biden’s team after they were briefed in February and March, CNN reports, citing concerns over the quality of the work and being a poor use of resources.

                          One former State Department official familiar with the project told CNN the way the team conducted its work was secretive and “suspicious as hell,” cutting out the Department’s technical experts and the intelligence community, prematurely briefing senior officials before work had concluded and, according to another source, excising experts critical of their science.

                          TANGENT The investigation began a long time after Trump and Pompeo claimed to have substantial evidence supporting the theory, evidence that has still not been produced. Trump has said he is near certain the disease leaked from the lab after referencing the Journal article. "

                          Are we actually reading the same article? Sorry if not so.

                          1. codejunky Silver badge

                            Re: Undemocratic group think

                            @AC

                            "Are we actually reading the same article? Sorry if not so.Are we actually reading the same article? Sorry if not so."

                            You missed a bit. That 'KEY FACTS' quote is a bit short but yes the same article.

                            Seriously go back to my comment you are responding to, read it. Then read it again. Particularly reread the points I made. Look for them in the forbes article. Try to find where you believe they mismatch and come back.

                            I have the feeling your assuming I said something about covid being a bioweapon or something I didnt say because I dont know where you cant match my points to the source.

                            The simple problem which is getting lampooned currently is that Biden and Fauci made out the lab theory was rubbish, and now are increasingly considering it a possibility. The investigation which seemed shockingly on the right track was cancelled and then suddenly started up again.

                            And of course back to topic, the danger of some people trying to 'enforce' the truth is that they can be at best wrong such as labelling lab theories lies until the recent U-turn by the current president.

                            1. Anonymous Coward
                              Anonymous Coward

                              Re: Undemocratic group think

                              "and the investigation was ended because it started under Trump."

                              Where in the article does it say the off-books investigation, into Covid being an engineered bioweapon, was ended because it was started by/under Trump? Apologies again for not finding this part. My understanding, from the article, is that it was stopped because it was a covert investigation trying to come to an unproven conclusion so as to try and support the conspiracy theory put forward by Bannon and Co.

                              1. codejunky Silver badge

                                Re: Undemocratic group think

                                @AC

                                Yeah ok I dont think we are going to get anywhere. For some reason you seem to think it matters if the assumption was bioweapon when its an investigation into the origins of the pandemic which was rejected by the current president and Fauci only to now be the investigation.

                                As for you being hung up on the word bioweapon. Current interest is in the funding of the Wuhan lab which apparently investigates coronaviruses and transmission, might have been working on 'gain of function' (making it easier to transmit in humans) and Fauci might also have been covering his arse about funding toward the lab.

                                Simple fact is Trump called it (right or wrong or premature), set off an investigation into the lab and Biden stopped it then called for the same investigation in a huge U-turn. Which comes back to topic where Facebook tried to tell people what was fact or lie, and as a result was premature and wrong to claim lie for something we dont have the answers to.

                                1. Anonymous Coward
                                  Anonymous Coward

                                  Re: Undemocratic group think

                                  You stated in your post above that the investigation, by the Arms Control & International Security branch at the DoD, was brought to an end because it had been initiated under the Trump administration. (Or have I misunderstood? ) You then referenced the Forbes article that clearly illustrates that your post was false: The investigation was ended because it appeared to have been an off-book op with the goal of cooking up evidence, by any means necessary, to back up the bioweapons conspiracy theory concocted by Bannon and his cohort. Furthermore Biden has already ordered a proper, full, all-agency official investigation into any potential lab leak as the source of the outbreak. Which should report initial findings within the next 90 days.

                                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                                    Re: Undemocratic group think

                                    @AC

                                    "You stated in your post above that the investigation, by the Arms Control & International Security branch at the DoD, was brought to an end because it had been initiated under the Trump administration"

                                    Yes. I dont think there is really any doubt over that. Trump pointed the finger and Fauci and Biden/dems were quick to rubbish the idea. Fauci is particularly in the firing line here (I believe the politicians have even proposed the FIRED (Fauci Incompetence Requires Early Dismissal) act) because he had prior knowledge and played dumb. The investigation into a lab that does work on this type of virus for a living and may have had prior 'accidents'.

                                    After rubbishing the idea that it came from a (the) lab and trying to make it seem like such a stupid fringe idea that facebook labelled it a lie. Now the problem of FB telling people truth from lie has been demonstrated as not a good idea since it could have come from the lab, possibly even modified.

                                    "The investigation was ended because it appeared to have been an off-book op with the goal of cooking up evidence"

                                    Which is an amusing statement of bull since the investigation has now been restarted by Biden. The Chinese are already to blame, that is established fact as they covered it up. By allowing it to become a global pandemic due to their deliberate cover up. Again I dont think there is any question on this?

                                    "Furthermore Biden has already ordered a proper, full, all-agency official investigation into any potential lab leak as the source of the outbreak. Which should report initial findings within the next 90 days."

                                    Which is a very public U-turn which has now resulted in them (Fauci/Biden) being lampooned for trashing Trump for this and now doing the same investigation.

                                    Lets say your worry about some cooked up bioweapon investigation is true. After all the suspicious activity that caused people to think it could have come from the lab in the first place. And the investigation looks into the possibility of the virus coming from the lab and finds maybe it does, and the area of study coincides with there being a new highly infectious coronavirus. And the Chinese covered up the infection as we already know causing a pandemic.

                                    Or the same investigation doesnt find such evidence, only that China caused a global pandemic for their mishandling of the situation and cover up.

                                    Shockingly the point of this investigation by Biden.

                                    1. Anonymous Coward
                                      Anonymous Coward

                                      Re: Undemocratic group think

                                      "Yes. I dont think there is really any doubt over that. "

                                      The article you referenced clearly demonstrates otherwise. Thanks for clarifying that you posted a false statement.

                                      1. codejunky Silver badge

                                        Re: Undemocratic group think

                                        @AC

                                        "The article you referenced clearly demonstrates otherwise. Thanks for clarifying that you posted a false statement."

                                        Nice leap into a stupid statement. The claimed problem with the work was "poor quality and its politicized, premature and selective use" which unfortunately seems to be a poor excuse which caused Biden to do a U turn and call for the same investigation later on.

                                        Those poor excuses to cancel the investigation seem to no longer apply as Biden is calling for the same investigation.

                                        Btw just shouting 'false statement' is no better than 'fake news', do you really want to go down that path? Although FB effectively did shout fake news when they tried to tell people what is and isnt truth. Can I also assume you are not following the ongoing news on the subject? And again whats with the AC? Cmon post as your username.

                                        1. Anonymous Coward
                                          Anonymous Coward

                                          Re: Undemocratic group think

                                          "Nice leap into a stupid statement. "

                                          Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this topic. Even though they did turn out to be fallacious.

    2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

      Re: Undemocratic group think

      Look at the office it comes from. I'm posted a comment suggesting elReg moves the SF office to somewhere lacking a bias. Watch the downvotes commence.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Undemocratic group think

        You are being downvoted because you are assuming that the geographical location of where one is defines ones outlook, politics and biases. If that were true, then there'd be no point in having elections since by definition, every city or state would have a predetermined electoral outcome and no one would ever be able to change it or "steal" it.

      2. Dr_N Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Undemocratic group think

        I'm just downvoting you for fun. Don't care where ElRegTowers(US) is sited.

  15. ThinkingMonkey

    All well and good, but...

    The critics are keen to say that the new law causes racist, sexist, hate speech, etc. to be posted without limitation but the root of the problem here was and is these platforms censoring posts that may not be any of the things listed, only posts that do not keep with that particular platforms ideology. Print newspapers have always done this e.g "Letters to the Editor" will not be printed in the paper if the paper chooses not to but these digital platforms are not just refusing to publicize articles they disagree with, they are removing posts from areas where the general public is allowed to post almost anything without restriction. Only when someone started noticing exactly what it was that they were removing, namely things they personally didn't like, did it become an issue.

  16. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

    I'd like to suggest that elReg's US office be moved out of SF. If findable somewhere without the bias which means I can recognise the source and often the author.

    I'd also like to recommend that we do not continue to adopt the US practice of capitalising black, and the spell check on the comments section accepts English english spellings.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      "elReg's US office be moved out of SF"

      Well yes it would be so much more sensible for a Tech journal's office to be deep in farming country, wouldn't it?

      The "spell checker on the comments section" is the one in your browser, selected by your own settings. Nothing to do with El Reg.

      Now, I know you guys are particularly sensitive to being thought of as thick so can I suggest a handy hint: think for a second before posting. Because otherwise ... hey, do I have to spell it out? (in English spelling of course)

  17. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Politicians, whatever the side, think to begin they are above all laws, and everything should be allowed to them. They don't like when somebody dares to say the opposite. They see them as some feudal lord having all rights on the serfs, only the richest bourgeois may be heard, because money.

    Separation of powers may be a basis of democracy, but cryonism and corruption make it too many times an illusion. Our democracies are too often in reality oligarchies .

  18. naive Silver badge

    suppose one gets this messages when logging into Big_Tech site X

    Dear User,

    Since your name is Aaron Rosenbaum your account is suspended.

    Based on our Terms of Use we are entitled to do so at will.

    With kind regards,

    Heinrich H., web moderator.

    ....

    What is the difference with:

    Since we (our CEO) didn't like you (name/race/color/religion /being displeasing to our CEO) your account is suspended.

    According to the nice democratic senator, this is supposed to be compliant with the constitution of the USA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: suppose one gets this messages when logging into Big_Tech site X

      or this one

      Dear User,

      Since you replied to one of our users "Dear Aaron, the only reason there are any Rosenbaums left is because Hitler didn't gas enough of you" your account is suspended for contravening our Terms of Use.

      I haven't seen any "antisemitic lefties" wearing Camp Auschwitz T-shirts recently, have you?

      Now, when $SocMedCo creates Ts&Cs that say "no Jewish names" let me know. I'm sure there will be protests. I suspect it'll mainly be those lefties tho ... MAGA anti-anti-semitism seems to be confined to ensuring nobody criticises Israel for anything.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: suppose one gets this messages when logging into Big_Tech site X

      The main difference is that race, religion, and national origin are all protected characteristics in civil rights legislation, where as hate speech or "You annoyed me" are not. There is a list for your country. Maybe you should read it.

  19. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Race/color/religion are protected attributes - denying services based on any of them is illegal in the US

    (except when Trump banned Muslims from many countries!!)

    Politics is NOT a protected attribute - it is legal for a website or service to only cater to the speech of most far right nutters (eg Parler) - it is also legal for a website or service to decline to carry such speech.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      Pedantic

      @Duncan Macdonald “(except when Trump banned Muslims from many countries!!)”

      He banned countries the citizens of or all travel from can’t remember which, countries are not race/colour/religion. I know I am being pedantic all those countries were Muslim it feels racist to me.

      But a Nation State is not a protected attribute and should not be equated to Race/colour/religion for instance criticism of Israel is not criticism of Judaism.

      Now I don’t know what is legal and what is not, but you can’t equate “cater to the speech of most far right nutters” to “decline to carry such speech”. Decline is to ban while cater to still allows all.

      So while I feel the same as you about far right nutters banning their speech means you can hardly complain when yours is banned. That does not mean that speech that is illegal such as incitement to cause violence hate speech etc should not be actionable (removed, banned or prosecution).

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