back to article CISA barred from coordinating with social media sites to police misinformation

The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has modified a ruling from last month to add the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to a list of US government entities prohibited from working with social media outfits to curtail the spread of misinformation.  This latest decision [PDF], issued yesterday, modified a …

  1. Sparkus

    Good

    It's worth noting that only people/humans can wield the blunt instruments that these 'banned' agencies represent. The 'agencies' themselves are incapable of doing so without their human masters and staff.

    Time to name the names of those who started and kept up the pace of those First Amendment violations.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: If it's censorship

      how come they didn't take 100% down? Of the goverment notices sent to Twitter about 40% resulted in action being taken. Is it genuinely censorship when Twitter have the final decision, and in more cases than not ignored the governments requests?

      This doesn't sound like a jack boot on the face, more like a polite request in the inbox.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If it's censorship

        It's less about it being censorship as such, and more about the fact that the united states federal government is not allowed to enact laws restricting free speech.Of course, you might then say that they're not enacting a law; they're just making a request to a private company. The problem emerges if those requests are accompanied by the coercive measure of an implicit threat of prosecution, or other punitive measures such as loss of section 230 protections, which would make the "request" an unconstitutional demand.

        If the state is essentially bypassing constitutional restrictions on its activities, by laundering those activities through the front of "private company can do what it wants", then it doesn't matter if Twitter only enacted half of the requests or not. They're still acting on behalf of the state to enforce unconstitutional restrictions on free speech.

  2. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

    I never thought leopards would eat MY face...

    I was both angered and sickened by the huge amount of misinformation that U.S. "conservatives" were spouting about COVID and the 2020 election, but the government has no business telling platforms what is true or false and thus what should be allowed on said platform. Sadly, many on the "liberal" side are fine with this, as long as the government actors who are pressuring platforms have a "D" next to their name. More and more it seems that nobody really values free speech anymore. It's easy to defend speech you agree with...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I never thought leopards would eat MY face...

      It's this thinking that epitomises why the USA is headed for the toilet.

      Best start learning to speak Chinese.

    2. Orv Silver badge

      Re: I never thought leopards would eat MY face...

      I think this is an odd take because disseminating information is what a lot of government agencies DO. What's next, software companies suing to stop CISA from distributing CVEs, because the government shouldn't be telling us whether software is insecure?

    3. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: I never thought leopards would eat MY face...

      It's easy to defend speech you agree with...

      I'm not sure why the government, particularly given the unique access it has to information, particularly in a time of crisis, should uniquely be denied the right of free speech. I would have thought the government was perfectly entitled to argue its case with anyone it may choose. I'm neither American nor a lawyer, but it seems to me that if there is measurably harmful content appearing online the government is not only entitled by also has a duty to call it out. What it does not have is a right to remove or ban that content.

      What we seem to have here is an attempt to suggest that social media companies accepting advice from the government on conspiracy theories is somehow different from conservative cable news channels currying favour by adapting their content and even presenters to suit the whims of a serving president. It would seem to be a distinction without a difference.

      1. Steve Button Silver badge

        Re: I never thought leopards would eat MY face...

        That's such a naïve attitude. The US government wasn't telling the social media companies to shut down "measurably harmful content". It was asking them why people like Alex Berenson were still on the platform because they were saying things which are "inconvenient" and go against their narrative, but were very much true. Saying things like "vaccines don't stop transmission" would get you banned from Facebook / Twitter. The only "measurably harmful content" in that case is measurably harmful to the profits of Pfizer.

        There are many many other examples of the government stepping in (thousands every day) and shutting down narratives which they didn't like. This goes against free speech, at least in the US. Which is why they are being reined in a bit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I never thought leopards would eat MY face...

          why are you mentioning a clown of a journalist who is an antivax nutter, and seemed to be actively trying to get people killed??

          1. Steve Button Silver badge

            Re: I never thought leopards would eat MY face...

            Because he got banned from Twitter after people in the US government essentially said "Why is he still on the platform?". He then sued them and got a settlement which included being allowed back onto the platform, as he'd not said anything untrue.

            You might call him an antivax nutter, but he seems to be mostly against what was an experimental gene therapy, and not even a "vaccine" by the traditional definition. This new therapy seems to have an astronomically bad safety record, so you might say he's trying to get people killed but he probably feels he's trying to save lives. Anyway, we're allowed to have that discussion. You might disagree, that's how free speech works.

            Has he specifically said something that you think is misinformation, and should be taken down, or do you just feel he's a "clown of a journalist"? (even though he used to work for the New York Times)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I never thought leopards would eat MY face...

              don't read much do you? or is it all right wing loons?

              https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/04/pandemics-wrongest-man/618475/

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I never thought leopards would eat MY face...

              just cause he can write shit, doesn't mean he's writing is anything of worth, writing for a "company" is no indication of how stupid they are, just how willing they are of writing for money, kerching

      2. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

        Re: I never thought leopards would eat MY face...

        They were not countering anything; they were demanding it be taken down.

        The government has every right to challenge anything, what they do not have a right to do is forcibly, or through the implied threat of a government "request", have something removed from the public discord.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: I never thought leopards would eat MY face...

          The government, at least in the US, has no legal power to remove content. They can ask, which is what they did, but as the existence of many right-wing social media networks demonstrates there would have been no consequences for refusal other than being asked again.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The 5th Circuit judges are right wing loonies

    See “ The Trumpiest court in America

    The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is where law goes to die”

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/12/27/23496264/supreme-court-fifth-circuit-trump-court-immigration-housing-sexual-harrassment

    1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

      Re: The 5th Circuit judges are right wing loonies

      Indeed they are. Every time I see a headline mentioning a decision out of them, I'm thinking "Oh, crap, what have those backwoods fukwits done now?"

      Even so, a stopped clock is still right twice per day...

  4. sabroni Silver badge

    IS that what you want?

    This law means that if a police force is alerted to CSAM on social media they are not allowed to talk to them about it.

    That's what you want.

    Child porn on Twitter.

    1. Steve Button Silver badge

      Re: IS that what you want?

      No, it doesn't. CISA is not the Police.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: IS that what you want?

        No, it doesn't. CISA is not the Police.

        According to wiki-

        The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for cybersecurity and infrastructure protection across all levels of government, coordinating cybersecurity programs with U.S. states, and improving the government's cybersecurity protections against private and nation-state hackers.

        Is their mission statement. So I.. don't see how censorship fits within their remit. But such is politics, and having created the behemoth that is DHS, it's bureaucrats have expanded to fill any gaps it can. But if someone's posting illegal content on the Internet, LEOs already have the power and remit to deal with that. If something's wrong on the Internet, well, that's just the Internet for you. If I post that you can protect yourself from Covid by smearing yourself in butter, that's just me trolling. It doesn't mean I should be deplatformed and placed on a watchlist. Well, unless the watch list is my OnlyFans account and DHS pays me the sub.

        But such is politics, and the debate around 'free speech'. On which point there's a pending Supreme Court decision on whether or not 'Big Tech' should be allowed to censor and deplatform users. They're arguing that 'Big Tech' are like newspapers and should be allowed First Amendment protections to editorialise, but if so, that blows a large hole through safe harbor protections, and possibly opens them up to more monopoly and anti-competition arguments. The opinion should be worth a read though.

        Bigger challenge is who gets to decide what is, and isn't misinformation, especially when there have been plenty of examples where stuff has previously been declared misinformation and later turned out to be true.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: IS that what you want?

          citations required,

          preferably not from loony conspiracy nutters trying to get people killed.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: IS that what you want?

            citations required

            Not a problem. Here's one from a 'reliable source'-

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Post#Hunter_Biden_laptop_story

            Joan Donovan, the research director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University, said that "This is arguably the most well-known story the New York Post has ever published and it endures as a story because it was initially suppressed by social media companies and jeered by politicians and pundits alike".

            Including Twatter de-platforming the NYP on pretty spurious grounds.

            preferably not from loony conspiracy nutters trying to get people killed

            I could just respond with citation needed because you'd then have to prove intent behind your claim that people were trying to get other people killed. But it's easier to just point back to the laptop. So there were several 'conspiracy theories'. It was 'Russian misinformation', which although a very popular meme turned out to be untrue. How that infamous letter from alledged 'intelligence experts' came to be is a different problem. Or the suppression of the story claiming the laptop was 'hacked'. Also untrue because the laptop was abandoned, and the 'mechanics lien' principle meant the laptop became the property of the repair shop owner. The contents raises maybe more interesting questions around privacy, but those are being tested by the original owner who's litigating for invasion of privacy.. Which also confirms they were the original owner. But actual hacked data has been regularly used by journalists to push stories and sell adverts.. Which includes 'leaked' data.

            But journalists have no obligation to run stories. When they do run stories that turn out to be 'misinformation', then they have to face the consequences. One of which being the loss of trust when 'fake news' gets weaponised.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: IS that what you want?

              your quoting the NYP, your funny as fuck, that's like quoting the "the scum" newspaper.

              I did ask for non loony tunes conspiracy nutters, nice fail.

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: IS that what you want?

                your quoting the NYP, your funny as fuck, that's like quoting the "the scum" newspaper.

                Wiki actually, that bastion of truthiness..

                I did ask for non loony tunes conspiracy nutters, nice fail.

                Well, I cited that one because it was a 'conspiracy theory' or misinformation that actually turned out to be true. Or just an actual conspiracy. It also got a newspaper banned, and had many of the mainstream media like CNN and Gruaniad supporting the conspiracy theory.

        2. garwhale Bronze badge

          Re: IS that what you want?

          I don't think any studies have been done re "does smeering oneself in butter protect from COVID-19?". So there is no reason to assume it's false/trolling or true. Possibly people will avoid you, especially touching, inviting you to their homes etc., so there might be a protective effect. In addition, rancid butter smells terrible, thus enhancing distancing. People may also have doubts about your mental health, which might also be protective.

  5. Steve Button Silver badge

    You made your bed

    The US government have put themselves in this position. They have been put on the naughty step, because they pressured social media companies to silence the free speech of Americans who were making true statements, but statements which were inconvenient to them. They have hugely overstepped their remit, and are getting slapped down for that. They should have thought about the consequences before they started doing this.

    Unfortunately this does mean plenty of outrageous claims are being allowed on these platforms now, but the platforms are still free to police that in their own way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You made your bed

      " making true statements, but statements which were inconvenient to them"

      I'm sure they were....

      And not examples of post-truth construction of a narrative for populist or polarization purposes

      1. Steve Button Silver badge

        Re: You made your bed

        I'm sure there's been plenty of that going on as well. However, in this case there were people saying things that were demonstrably true, but which the government didn't like. As an example, some people who suffered vaccine damage tried to set up support groups on Facebook and had tens of thousands of members. These groups then got shut down for going against "community guidelines", which is 1984 speak. This has all been pretty well documented, and if you can't be bothered to keep up, you should probably keep your opinions to yourself.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You made your bed

          Pulls envelope from coat pocket

          Opens envelope and unfolds sheet of paper, keeping its back to audience

          Turns paper round. On it written in large type "Anti-Vaxxers"

          Bow to audience applause.

          *Note: envelope in other pocket has "election fraud"

  6. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

    Walking blissfully into 1984

    It amazes me now so many of you "young people", seem to be completely OK with having the state trample the rights of people just because you don't agree with "those people's" politics.

    You are eager to support totalitarian fascism just so long as that totalitarian fascism isn't directed at you! What you don't understand is IT WILL be directed at you once all those it is currently targeting are gone! When YOU become inconvenient!

  7. garwhale Bronze badge

    Should spam and malware be given the protection of freedom of speech?

    Imagine an internet where 99.999% of the information available is dubious, incorrect or fantasy. What use would it be then? It's fine if people want to live in a fantasy world or bubble, but making decisions based on conspiracy theories may impact others who don't live in their world.

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