Alex Jones Loses Access To Social Media

Facebook, Google, and several other companies have closed down accounts associated with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Alex Jones, who has had a long reputation of spreading conspiracy theories and lies about everything from the September 11th attacks to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has lost access to nearly all the social media and other accounts he used to spread his propaganda:

Top technology companies erased most of the posts and videos on their services from Alex Jones, the internet’s notorious conspiracy theorist, thrusting themselves into a fraught debate over their role in regulating what can be said online.

Apple, Google, Facebook and Spotify severely restricted the reach of Mr. Jones and Infowars, his right-wing site that has been a leading peddler of false information online. Mr. Jones and Infowars have used social media for years to spread dark and bizarre theories, such as that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax and that Democrats run a global child-sex ring. Apple made its move on Sunday and the others followed on Monday.

The actions, one of the tech companies’ most aggressive efforts against misinformation, highlighted a difficult dilemma for their businesses. They have long desired to combat misinformation online, but they have also been reluctant to be arbiters of truth.

But since a rise of misinformation online around elections, such as the 2016 presidential vote, the tech companies have faced increasing calls from lawmakers and the news media to address their role in that spread of false information and a related increase in partisan divisions. The tech companies have recently stepped up enforcement — but that has led to accusations of political bias, largely from conservatives.

The moves over the last two days helped fuel that debate. “Whether you like @RealAlexJones and Infowars or not, he is undeniably the victim today of collusion by the big tech giants,” Nigel Farage, a British conservative politician, said on Twitter. Mr. Farage helped lead the successful campaign for the country to leave the European Union and has been interviewed by Mr. Jones. “What price free speech?”

Apple on Sunday removed five of the six Infowars podcasts on its popular Podcasts app. Commenting on the move, a spokeswoman said, “Apple does not tolerate hate speech.”

Facebook, Spotify and Google’s YouTube site, which removed some Infowars content last week, followed with stronger measures on Monday. Facebook removed four pages belonging to Mr. Jones, including one with nearly 1.7 million followers as of last month, for violating its policies by “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.” Facebook said the violations did not relate to “false news.”

YouTube terminated Mr. Jones’s channel, which had more than 2.4 million subscribers and billions of views on its videos, for repeatedly violating its policies, including its prohibition on hate speech. Spotify cited its own prohibition on hate speech as the reason for removing a podcast by Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones and Infowars are leaders in using the internet to spread right-wing conspiracy theories, an effort that was aided after Donald J. Trump appeared on Mr. Jones’s show during the 2016 presidential campaign and praised Mr. Jones’s reputation as “amazing.” Mr. Jones has repeatedly claimed that the government staged the Oklahoma City bombing, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and numerous other mass shootings and tragedies.

Mr. Jones is facing defamation lawsuits filed by the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting for claiming that the shooting was an elaborate hoax. Most of Mr. Jones’s conspiracies push a theme that a global cabal of political and corporate leaders run the world’s institutions to brainwash citizens and take away their rights. Mr. Jones partly finances his operation by selling expensive nutritional supplements and vitamins between Infowars segments.

“To many, Jones is a bad joke,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. “But the sad reality is that he has millions of followers who listen to his radio show, watch his ‘documentaries’ and read his websites, and some of them, like Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, resort to deadly violence.”

Mr. Jones and Infowars did not respond to requests for comment.

In a message posted on Twitter on Monday, Mr. Jones said: “The censorship of Infowars just vindicates everything we’ve been saying. Now, who will stand against Tyranny and who will stand for free speech? We’re all Alex Jones now.” He railed against the tech companies on his live show on Monday, which was streamed on the Infowars website, saying their moves were part of a leftist agenda in advance of the midterm elections. “I told you this was coming,” he said to viewers.

As a preliminary point, it’s important to point out that this is most emphatically not a First Amendment issue. That Amendment and the rights that it protects is clearly only concerned with government action and action by government officials that impact individual rights regarding speech, the press, religion, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government. It does not and has never been interpreted to, apply to actions by individuals or by non-governmental entities such as corporations, although there may be some circumstances, such as issues dealing with labor unions, where some of the rights covered by the First Amendment are protected in some sense or the other. None of those exceptions applies in this case though. Companies such as Apple, Google, which owns YouTube, Facebook, and the other companies that have decided to remove InfoWars and other Jones-produced content from their sites are free to do so and free to set whatever policies they wish regarding what is and what is not acceptable content. While this distinction between government and non-government action may seem axiomatic, it’s a point that seemingly has to be raised each time something like this happens because, inevitably, there are those who raise the false argument that these companies are somehow violating Jones’s rights by removing his content from their sites. This is simply not true, and the fact that it’s a point that needs to be made time after time is, if nothing else, a depressing indication of just how ignorant some people are when it comes to “free speech” issues.

All that being said, there have been some who have raised concerns about the issue of social media and Internet sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, which to date has not acted to ban Jones or any of his content, banning users based on the content of their speech. In cases where users are engaging in harassment or worse, which is, unfortunately, something that has become much easier in the age of social media, there are few people who object to the extent to which these companies act to remove users when a complaint is appropriately filed. The complaints, though, have come in cases where people are being banned from these sites not because they are engaging in illegal or harassing behavior but because they are saying things that people don’t like or that they find offensive. Jones’s comments on issues ranging from the 9/11 attacks to the Sandy Hook shooting, the second of which have resulted in defamation lawsuits filed by parents of children killed in that massacre in both Connecticut and Jones’s home state of Texas. Some people, including many who have made it clear that they find Jones to basically be an idiot who is spreading paranoid and idiotic conspiracy theories, have argued that banning people based on content like this, while it is not necessarily a First Amendment violation does violate an ethos in favor of free speech that ought to prevail in society.

It’s also worth taking into account this observation that Reason’s Robby Soave made last month when Facebook and other social media giants were being pressured into better policing content on their sites:

Infowars, cited as an example of fake news during the Recodeinterview, might be an example of willful disinformation meant to sell weird stuff. But there are indeed people who naively share Holocaust denial-related content on Facebook without being in on the scam, just as there are gullible people who fall for every other kind of hoax—vaccines causing autism, 9/11 being an inside job, NASA faking the moon landing, etc. Zuckerberg is correct that it’s not always easy to differentiate hucksters from kooks.

In any case, the CEO of Facebook gets to set whatever policies regarding content-sharing on his platform that he likes. As Zuckerberg made clear in the interview, his policy takes its cues from the First Amendment. Facebook users may not advocate violence or plan criminal activities, but merely expressing incorrect opinions is permissible. If Facebook were a public square on public property, it would be obliged to maintain precisely this same approach. (This is actually a good argument for not turning Facebook into some kind of truly public utility, even if you don’t like its fake news policy. A government-run Facebook would be bound by the First Amendment to maintain speech policies that are at least as permissive as its current ones.)

In our modern political discourse, Facebook plays a role very much akin to the public square: a massive one, involving the entire world. The arguments for letting nearly all voices—even deeply evil ones, provided they do not organize direct violence or harassment—be heard on this platform are the same arguments for not taking the European route on hate speech: Policing hate on a very large scale is quite difficult given the frequently subjective nature of offense; we risk de-platforming legitimate viewpoints that are unpopular but deserve to be heard; and ultimately, silencing hate is not the same thing as squelching it.

In several respects, I am sympathetic to this argument. As I’ve generally made clear over the years, I am something of a First Amendment and free speech zealot and I find it troubling when private entities act to punish people, whether they be customers or employees, based on the content of their speech. Even outside of the context of a First Amendment argument, the free and open exchange of ideas and opinions ought to be something that we encourage rather than discourage, and that means that private companies and citizens should refrain from attacking or seeking to ban opinions and points of view they disagree with on the ground that they are “offensive.” At the same time, though, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech. Just as Jones has a right to say what he says, people have a right to speak out against him and to call on social media companies like Facebook to take action against content that appears to violate their Terms of Service. Moreover, the fact that Jones is losing access to some of his social media accounts does not mean he is being prevented from speaking. He still has his Internet network, you can still download the InfoWars app in the Apple Store and on Google Play, and Jones still has access to his personal accounts on Twitter and Facebook. The idea that he’s being completely shut down is simply not true, and the fact that he is facing the consequences for his irresponsible and idiotic conspiracy theory mongering doesn’t mean his rights are being violated in any sense of the word.

 

FILED UNDER: First Amendment, Law and the Courts, Media, U.S. Constitution, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jay L Gischer says:

    And the question of whether ISPs or broadband providers should be common carriers is lurking right around the corner. Brett Kavanaugh thinks that the First Amendment means that an ISP can block Alex Jones, even though a user might have typed ‘infowars.com’ into their browser bar. As much as I despise Jones, I think those users who do that have every right to watch Jones’ show, and buy his crazy stuff.

    FCC Chair Ajit Pai appears to endorse this view, though he probably just wants to allow broadband providers to price differentially, which means shaking down content providers for a piece of the action.

    It’s unlikely that either of them have thought this through beyond the “how do we hack the law to allow my corporate buddies to get what they want?” I don’t see any principled stand here at all.

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  2. Stormy Dragon says:

    This is all a hoax! Info Wars hasn’t been banned from anywhere, and “Alex Jones” is just a crisis actor who was hired to make us think they were.

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  3. george says:

    The phrase that comes to my mind is: two edged sword.

    There’s no way that this isn’t going to be used against people on both sides of the political spectrum, and not only for nutters like Jones. Once a tool is put into the toolbox, it’ll be used whenever it seems useful, whether or not that use fits the original problem it was created to solve.

    There’s a very real choke point in communications controlled by just a few huge companies; its pretty easy to see how this could go wrong, how those companies could apply it to almost every opinion they disagree with (or just find financially inconvenient).

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  4. CSK says:

    I could predict this, but the Trumpkins over at Lucianne.com, which regularly bans posters who criticize Trump, are screeching that Jones is being censored.

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  5. @Jay L Gischer:

    The actions against Jones are being taken by content providers, not ISPs. Net Neutrality would not apply.

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  6. grumpy realist says:

    I’m even more harsh about people like Alex Jones. Get him up on the podium. Tell him that either he has to prove that his theories are true, or get banned from the internet for five years. For each theory. Running sequentially. (I also want the same sort of restriction on pundits–any pundit who waves around his “expertise” and claims that “X will occur” and then it doesn’t, gets banned from public speaking for 5 years.)

    It makes no difference whether Jones actually believes the hogwash he promotes or he’s just a troll–it’s false. And unless our civilization starts really hitting back hard against false statements, we’re going to end up in a wash of them. Gresham’s Law, but applied to information.

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  7. Kylopod says:

    As Zuckerberg made clear in the interview, his policy takes its cues from the First Amendment.

    Bull. Facebook has a policy against “hate speech,” which is in fact protected by the First Amendment. In the site’s words:

    “We do not allow hate speech on Facebook because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion and in some cases may promote real-world violence. We define hate speech as a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.”

    https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/objectionable_content

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  8. CSK says:

    Jones has appealed to Trump to rescue him from being “censored” by “the Democrats [who] are the anti-American globalists allied with the Chicomms, radical Islam, the unelected EU, and others.”

    And don’t forget those “George Soros-funded lawsuits” filed against him by the Sandy Hook parents.

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  9. Dave Schuler says:

    I have no particular sympathy for Mr. Jones and I think that the libertarians and conservatives who have their knickers in a twist over it are reacting outlandishly. Maybe there is one but I have yet to see any argument against FG&A’s move that isn’t fallacious.

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  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    Remember how great it was that we’d have media unfiltered by gatekeepers? Well, they’re b-a-a-a-ack. Silicon Valley libertarianism is taking a beating – from Reddit to Facebook. Turns out we do need editors and publishers in much the same way that we need the Food and Drug Administration. Unregulated capitalism does not work, never has, never will. This is libertarianism’s very costly faceplant. Time perhaps for tech to hire some people who’ve experienced life beyond games and code.

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  11. grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Anyone who thinks that “oooh, we can just leave it to the Internet to police itself” hasn’t read up on Gamergate or what happens to a lot of women on line.

    I detest trolls. I wish that we had a policing mechanism by which threats and enticing of internet mobbing would be severely punished. Maybe if a few of those “hey, I was only joking with the rape threats” guys ended up in the slammer for a few months they would be a bit more polite in their behavior.

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  12. Gustopher says:

    Moreover, the fact that Jones is losing access to some of his social media accounts does not mean he is being prevented from speaking. He still has his Internet network, you can still download the InfoWars app in the Apple Store and on Google Play, and Jones still has access to his personal accounts on Twitter and Facebook. The idea that he’s being completely shut down is simply not true, and the fact that he is facing the consequences for his irresponsible and idiotic conspiracy theory mongering doesn’t mean his rights are being violated in any sense of the word.

    So, we have some work to do. Why is Apple allowing hate speech on their App Store? We need to put some pressure on them. And his hosting company…

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  13. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

    That said, I wish we had better libel laws to address this, rather than bans. As others have noted, if banning becomes common it will become abused.

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  14. Tyrel says:

    @Dave Schuler: I am not a conspiracy fan. I do think that this move by these organizations will add gas to the fire storm of Jones’ conspiracy theories and talk. It will send more people to him and many will think this proves some of his points. I wonder who will be next.
    I also wonder if these organizations will apply the same standards and judgments to some left wing person.

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  15. Gustopher says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: First they came for Alex Jones, and I did nothing because I just don’t like him.
    Then they didn’t come for me, because I don’t claim the parents of school shooting victims are crisis actors.

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  16. TM01 says:

    @Dave Schuler: Knickers in a twist? Over nothing, right?

    Monday, Twitter suspended Scott Horton of antiwar.com & Dan McAdams, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute.

    And, of course, just the other day Twitter suspended Candace Owen for copying the tweets of that new racist New York Times editor Sarah Jeong. Tho Jeong’s account somehow remains fully active.

    Facebook blocked GOP congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng’s campaign ad.

    But no, there’s nothing to worry about.

    @grumpy realist, can we make that same challenge to Van Jones and his 9/11 Trutherism? And Dan Rather certainly shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a computer (talk about election interference).

    “Hate” speech has always been about censoring speech that the left dislikes.

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  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Remember how great it was that we’d have media unfiltered by gatekeepers?

    This is the fascinating piece to me. Way, way back in the early days of the internet I would hear people that were otherwise sensible blather on about how all information would be available freely online and we would have no need for newspapers or journals. And sure, those businesses have been disrupted by the internet (like thousands of others), but what those prognosticators were really saying was that we will no longer need editors. We will no longer need people knowledgable in a specific area or in a general way to sift through the municipal garbage dump of content generated each day and pick out the key pieces for their readership. Instead, search engines and algorithms would magically put the most accurate and relevant info in front of your eyeballs. You know what you are if you let an algorithm pick what you should know? You are on way to being a f*cking moron, that’s what.

    It is absolutely hysterical that two years ago Facebook, one of the highest valued companies in the world, was telling their corporate investors that their future expansion was going to be fueled by becoming the news supplier to the world. They would do this not by hiring editors and understanding and delivering vital information, but by generating algorithms that would automatically place stories on a users home page. Their growth was based on news organizations still doing all the work they did, but Facebook would co-opt a significant portion of, say, the NYTimes or WaPo’s revenue. And if those corporations didn’t play ball, well, the algorithms would be set to deemphasize them and put in someone else instead. The reality was a fiasco. You know what you are if you use Facebook to get your news? You are on your way to being… well, you get the idea.

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  18. MarkedMan says:

    @TM01:

    Dan McAdams, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute.

    I forget. Help me out here. How is the Ron Paul Institute related to the Ron Paul Newsletter, which had League of the South members explaining that blacks were mud people and descended on a separate evolutionary branch from whites?

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  19. Gustopher says:

    Facebook’s policies are still too open — the claim that there are people who innocently deny the holocaust is just bullshit. And, on the off chance that there are people who are just somehow misinformed, perhaps having their hate speech taken down and having their account briefly frozen might cause them to look into it.

    Some speech should be shunned. The slope isn’t that slippery, some people are just pondscum.

    Let the crazy people create their own social network. Hatebook, or something. It will be great.

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  20. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Turns out we do need editors and publishers in much the same way that we need the Food and Drug Administration.

    So you think the YAL industry is a model for how society as whole should work?

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  21. KM says:

    Some people, including many who have made it clear that they find Jones to basically be an idiot who is spreading paranoid and idiotic conspiracy theories, have argued that banning people based on content like this, while it is not necessarily a First Amendment violation does violate an ethos in favor of free speech that ought to prevail in society.

    Luckily for them there’s a free market solution to that issue. Simply start up an competing venue and opening to everyone with the stated rule of no one gets banned for their speech. If people don’t like being censored or feel that the existing venue is too restrictive /immoral/ unethical, they will migrate over and express their free speech there. If it’s a big enough concern, you’d basically bleed the old venue dry by stealing content users and viewers worried about the banning. This is the optimal solution as it creates multiple forums and allows everyone to express themselves with minimal restriction of ethical values.

    Sooooooo…. why aren’t they doing that instead of whining about access? CREATE access, don’t bemoan its loss. Suck it up, invest the money into a decent product because if you build it, they will come. I swear, the alt-right is getting lazier – once upon a time their ideological brethren built FOX, Breitbart, Liberty University and all these other places when they felt their access was restricted and voices weren’t heard. True, they were just carving out niches in existing systems or using time-tested templates to recreate the wheel but they made their safe spaces instead of demanding a corner to curl up in.

    We’re capitalists – at least, they pride themselves on that. Don’t they preach that if you don’t have a seat at the table, you should cobble one together on your own? I got bootstraps if they need them…..

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  22. TM01 says:

    @Gustopher:

    You’re a useless cuck.

    All you’re doing is hoping you aren’t banned by piling on the Jerk de Jour yourself.

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  23. JKB says:

    @grumpy realist: It makes no difference whether Jones actually believes the hogwash he promotes or he’s just a troll–it’s false.

    “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” – Barack Obama, since proven he knew the statement to be untrue. So banned from the internet for 5 years?

    And who does the banning? The government, the monopolist of violence, the men with guns who will lock you in a cage? The entity that is subject to the First Amendment?

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  24. al Ameda says:

    Nice op-piece Doug.

    These are private for profit companies and frankly these business decided that a ‘performance artist’ like Alex Jones just isn’t worth it right now.

    But …. What if the CEO of Apple was Peter Thiel, a founder of Pay Pal and a strong supporter of Trump. What if that type of CEO decided that any number of less toxic but clearly liberal advocacy sites should be denied access? I’m not comfortable with that at all.

    The time has come to rethink the role our digital companies play in our public square. I’ve often wondered when there will be a serious discussion/debate as to whether Google, Facebook, and many of the other social media platforms should be considered ‘public utilities.’

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  25. Stormy Dragon says:

    @KM:

    What Alex Jones and friends are discovering is that they’re not actually Facebook, Youtube, etc. customers, they’re the product. And the actual customers (advertisers) are insistent the Alex Jones product be terminated because they’re not interested in paying for it.

    The only way an internet service will actually care about the user’s ability to express themselves is if it is a service that the users are themselves funding. If Alex Jones and all his listeners were paying $5 a month for Facebook, Facebook would be far less likely to forgo having them as customers because they’d lose significant revenue.

    But “site like facebook, but more expensive”, probably isn’t a big seller right now.

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  26. mattbernius says:

    @TM01:
    Congratulations! You have tapped both “Gish Gallop” and “People not mentioned in the post who are tangentially related to the topic” from your “Alt-right Debate: The Gathering” deck.

    You’ve unlocked level 2 debater! Keep responding with more cards to earn more trolling points.

    Opps… I missed that you subsequently tapped “Name calling.”

    That’s another point towards level 3. Keep on tapping.

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  27. JKB says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Silicon Valley libertarianism is taking a beating – from Reddit to Facebook.

    Silicon valley does not value any liberty but their own. They are feudal.

    An interview from 2016 of Greg Ferenstein , a reporter who covers Silicon Valley at AEI

    I found crucial to what is distinct between libertarians and valley folk that Silicon Valley’s ideology is pro-market but it is not pro-liberty. Liberty is not a value. They are highly, highly, collectivist. They believe that every single person has a positive obligation to society and the government can help people or coerce people or incentive into making a unique contribution.

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  28. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    the claim that there are people who innocently deny the holocaust is just bullshit.

    Some ignorant people get suckered into it. But I wouldn’t use the term “innocent,” as it’s still an anti-Semitic belief, just like the Protocols or the blood libel.

    It’s hard for me to understand why Facebook would bother to have a policy against “hate speech” if it’s going to allow something like Holocaust denial. Apart from outright slurs, just about any bigoted statement could be defined as expressing a belief. People believe that blacks are less intelligent than whites or that gay men are pedophiles or that Jews control the government. Some people come to hold these beliefs because that’s how they were raised, and they aren’t intending to hurt anyone. But they’re still intrinsically hateful beliefs.

    People who favor an open marketplace of ideas get uncomfortable at the thought of censoring people because of their opinions. They imagine it as a slippery slope where once they target extremists it invariably puts them down a path that leads to censoring unpopular but legitimate viewpoints. This is not an unreasonable fear. But once you target “hate speech,” you’re there already: whether you like it or not, you’re drawing the line at certain opinions. So why not just own up to it instead of trying to make a bogus distinction between bigotry and personal beliefs?

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Hah! Unfortunately in YA and kidlit the problem is gatekeepers who don’t know what they believe in and are incapable of resisting any pressure that comes from the Left. Great defenses against the Right, none against the Left.

    It’s not that gatekeepers are always right or wise, rather that someone needs to occupy that spot in order to add value, for example, reliability. Average price of a curated (conventionally published) book is about ten times the value of a self-pubbed book. I pay to subscribe to WaPo, the NYT, the WSJ, The Guardian (voluntary contribution) and I even support OTB – all curated. I pay zip to Facebook and have stopped using it entirely.

    @MarkedMan:
    I keep going back to this unremarkable moment way back in 1972 IIRC. I was working for Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now Wilmer Hale) in the law library where my specialty was obtaining hard-to-locate documents or books. I often biked off to Georgetown or more frequently George Washington U. Law library.

    I recall distinctly that one of the auxiliary libraries I used (may have been DC public or even the LC) had started a switch to digital search in lieu of card catalogs, and I knew right then this would be a problem. The digital system allowed you to find exactly what you were looking for; the card catalog offered discoveries en route to finding the exact thing you were looking for. That was a net loss of data, trading speed for thoroughness, specificity for context.

    Only finding or seeing exactly what you’re looking for is intellectually catastrophic. It creates a self-limiting, self-reinforcing loop which in the nature of things means reinforcing presuppositions. The internet makes it possible to endlessly support your own prejudices and paper over glaring gaps in your knowledge. The greatest information engine in human history has become a tool for perpetuating ignorance. And that, Alanis Morissette, is irony.

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  30. KM says:

    @TM01:

    “Hate” speech has always been about censoring speech that the left dislikes.

    I saw a great post elsewhere that noted free speech covers opinions and facts, not lies. “Hate” speech is often libelous/ slander which has NEVER been acceptable under the laws of this nation. Testable claims – ie “TMo1 is a murderer” – are things you can prove and thus require evidence to back up the claim. Lies and nasty innuedo have always been things you can litigate against – truth is the ultimate defense, after all. Alex Jones straight up LIES and is being taken to court for it, Jeong is saying (admittedly unpleasant) something you don’t like.

    The concept of fighting words is ancient as well, even if SCOTUS didn’t get around to codifying them till the 1940’s. It used to be illegal to swear in public or in front of a lady because it had a tendency to provoke anger, violence and public disruption. “Hate” speech is deliberate in it’s intent to denigrate and provoke. By its very nature, it’s not pleasant, peaceful or proper. Them’s fighting words and you’re surprised you’re getting a fight? Back in the day, you’d get your teeth knocked out for it instead of having your posts taken down so I’m not sure why you think we’re going backwards socially. The right was traditionally the ones censoring speech and are currently the ones with actual Nazi-wannabes and reality denying nutcases making up a good party of their party’s messaging and image. Maybe get that log out of your eye before you comment on the speck in ours, hmmm?

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  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    I think the single biggest problem online is anonymity. It’s anonymity that allows cowards to troll and bully. There is a counter-argument that some groups (transgender, for example) feel this would expose them to more hate, but I don’t think that’s right. It’s not just democracy that dies in darkness, it’s civility and truth.

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  32. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I think there is a lot of truth to this. It’s one of the reasons why I made the choice to always participate under my own name (because I realized that it was too easy to lose civility when I did it under an assumed name).

    I think if it’s a private/closed discussion group, posting under assumed names is ok (for some of the reasons that you lay out). But I think most people should be willing to own their words in public discussion spaces.

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  33. grumpy realist says:

    @JKB: The question is–had the enforcing mechanism been in place, would President Obama have made such a promise? I don’t think so!

    Alex Jones, however, will continue to slander people as long as he can make money off the idiotic doofuses who believe him, regardless of the damage he does.

    I take my “five years of the internet” back. I want him fed to a crocodile instead.

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @TM01:

    You’re a useless cuck.

    That’s harsh. I prefer to think of myself as a cuckold fetishist who is taking time off between jobs.

    All you’re doing is hoping you aren’t banned by piling on the Jerk de Jour yourself.

    No, I am stating that there is a huge gulf between Alex Jones and reasonable political speech, and that any line drawn to exclude Alex Jones is going to mostly land in a spot where more hate speech will be permitted than good speech will be banned.

    There will be a few off cases — every system that relies on humans will be interpreted incorrectly here and there, and every automated process will fail at some point — but there will be significant pushback, and the line will be adjusted.

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  35. MarkedMan says:

    @KM:

    Simply start up an competing venue and opening to everyone with the stated rule of no one gets banned for their speech.

    There’s the rub. 5-6 years ago that was Reddit’s business model. But the owner was surprised to discover that no serious company wanted to buy his site. In an era when Instagram and the like were going for insane amounts, his site was effectively un-sellable. Since that time he has tried to institute some half hearted policies in getting the lunatics off, but the backlash has been horrific. Basic lesson: if your business model is to become a haven for people who feel they are censored elsewhere, don’t be surprised if you become a magnet for people who have been censured because they are hateful despicable people.

    (Does anyone know if he was ever able to sell it or otherwise get his value out?)

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  36. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @JKB:

    And who does the banning?

    Private enterprises, like Apple, Google, Facebook and Spotify.
    Try to keep up.

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  37. MarkedMan says:

    @TM01:

    You’re a useless cuck.

    Really? That’s the bat you’re swinging? You are like a bad parody of the RWNJ….

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  38. KM says:

    @Kylopod :

    So why not just own up to it instead of trying to make a bogus distinction between bigotry and personal beliefs?

    Because we don’t like people questioning “beliefs”. In this country, belief supersedes logic, reason and fact as the de facto authority you should run your life by. Whether religious, social or personal, Americans treasure beliefs and don’t want anything that will make you own up to the fact they can be wrong and literally mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. People understand bigotry and hatred even if they won’t accept they are displaying it. They won’t accept their lives are built on arbitrary rules and whims that nobody gives a damn about.

    It’s like screaming abortion is murder but making exceptions for rape and incest, no? A distinction drawn to satisfy conflicting ethical concerns that doesn’t really hold up when examined logically. Facebook has to have a policy to get rid of scum as their audience demands while simultaneously not calling a huge part of that audience scum. They drew the line at the spot almost everyone agrees on – users being deliberately hateful and abusive in their actions. That’s how we get standards in the first place.

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  39. MarkedMan says:

    @al Ameda:

    Google, Facebook, and many of the other social media platforms should be considered ‘public utilities.’

    I think of those entities as “destinations” or “storefronts” while IPN’s and the other internet infrastructure are more like the roadways. You can ban someone from your establishment for violating reasonable and posted norms, but you shouldn’t be able to stop the jerks from using public roads.

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  40. KM says:

    @MarkedMan:
    You’re assuming whomever is going to run it isn’t a believer themselves. Of course if you’re just trying to make a buck you’re going to have a hard time selling a hellhole. I’d imagine if crack dens were legal they’d have the same issue – the only people interested in buying are the terrible people who have no money because of why they’re there.

    It’s not the market’s fault one can’t afford to fund one’s hate. It’s all about that profit, baby – if you can’t sell, it’s because you’re doing it wrong. Let them take a loss and get to exercise their rights to vent if it’s so damn important to them. No one promised them profits nor universal access for their rage. This is the Invisible Hand bitchslapping them across the economy just as it should. Just like every hater over the ages they will discover only one color truly matters in this life – green.

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  41. al Ameda says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    What Alex Jones and friends are discovering is that they’re not actually Facebook, Youtube, etc. customers, they’re the product. And the actual customers (advertisers) are insistent the Alex Jones product be terminated because they’re not interested in paying for it.

    Exactly right.
    Most people don’t understand that if you’re not directly paying for access and use of a digital social media platform, you are the product, and that company is trying to monetize whatever they can concerning your presence on their platform. You (we) are the product.

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  42. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    There is a counter-argument that some groups (transgender, for example) feel this would expose them to more hate, but I don’t think that’s right.

    Check your privilege, sir!

    And by, “check your privilege”, I mean actually test it. Create a fake identity — even just a white woman, or a black man — and start posting somewhere under that identity. You’re going to find that you get more shit than you expect.

    OTB is a pretty calm and quiet place, despite someone above calling me out for being a useless cuck — I’m very useful, I just don’t happen to be being of use right now! — so try somewhere a bit more active.

    And then, check to see how many of the assholes can be tracked back quickly to actual people — some people behave better under their own name, but a lot don’t (or worse, this is them behaving better). I would recommend pretending to be a woman on a technical forum, if you can pull it off.

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  43. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    That was a net loss of data, trading speed for thoroughness, specificity for context.

    I don’t know, Michael. Or rather, I agree with what you are saying, but am not sure how significant it is. The reality is that when we get better tools we tend to look for things that we can do with those tools.

    I once took a tour of Mammoth Caves in KY and was absolutely fascinated by the techniques and tricks people used to explore the caves in the era before the electric light. You had to understand the caves and their structures in a very deep way to figure out what were the most promising and safest routes when you could only see a few yards around you. And when the electric light was developed, someone could explore those caves without that understanding. But in the end, the tradeoff meant that a lot more of the caves were explored.

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  44. Gustopher says:

    @TM01:

    You’re a useless cuck.

    Ok, fine, I’ll admit it. I can’t even maintain a relationship long enough to be cuckolded.

    I really am a useless cuck!

    I’m just going to go cry now. Can we all just agree never to mention this again?

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  45. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius:

    I think if it’s a private/closed discussion group, posting under assumed names is ok (for some of the reasons that you lay out). But I think most people should be willing to own their words in public discussion spaces.

    In principle I agree. On sites such as Facebook which require you to post under your real name, I do so. But that means I post extremely little. I’ve been a mid-level executive for a while and feel an obligation to keep the interests of my company in mind, even in my personal life. If something I say results in negative publicity for my company, that’s on me. The company becomes associated with things it is not actually associated with and it can lose money for the shareholders and jobs for the workers. Certainly, in professional situations most people don’t express opinions about politics or sports or much else, but I extend that to private situations in which someone googling my name on a professional basis might come across. So if the policy of posting only under your real name were to become wide spread, I would feel obligated to wait until I retired to post such opinions.

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  46. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @mattbernius:

    Eliminating anonymity is great, if you want a society who’s primary value is conformity (and it seems that is what a significant and growing portion of society does want).

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  47. mattbernius says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I appreciate those concerns. I work through them every day as I’m now a somewhat visible part of a non-profit that is working within the larger criminal justice space. Given the complex alliances that are formed in this space (often legitimately going across “the political aisle”), I am very aware of what I post here, on Reddit, on Twitter, and elsewhere and think about how it might have implications for my organization.

    That said, I do not regret my personal choice to post under my name.

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Admittedly, I’m a cis-gendered, straight white male… so I acknowledge that there is some privilege involved here. However, I also have many friends and acquaintances who are decidedly in less privileged positions who are even more fearless when posting under their actual names. If they are willing to put those opinions out into the world and own them, I feel I really need to do my best to do the same as well.

    And to be clear, I didn’t suggest we should eliminate anonymity. I continue to contend that we would be better off if most people posted under their own names. I also understand the reasons some feel unsafe doing so.

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  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Not even Adam Smith believed in unregulated capitalism. Where his mistake came is that he believed that everyone was as Presbyterian as he was and we were capable of regulating ourselves for the most part.

    Adam Smith’s great contribution to economic philosophy was “the impartial observer” guiding your transaction to keep you honest. David Ricardo’s was comparative advantage (used as a macroeconomic principle). Marx’s was observing that in real life people frequently tell the impartial observer to STFU and that holders of capital use comparative advantage to enrich themselves at great cost to society (a microeconomic application of a macro principle).

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  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @TM01: Has anyone here ever advocated for 9/11 trutherism? Has anyone here ever criticized you for being against it?

    Your second post was crass. You should aim higher for the sake of your own honor as Neo-Nazi.

    (I promise I will not feed the troll again this thread.)

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  50. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: Many years ago, when the World Wide Web was young, I was a fine, young man working in the software industry in New York City.

    There was another fine, young man working in the software industry in New York City who happened to share my first and last names. He had a harder life than me, which he posted of often, having been addicted to heroin, and having overcome it with the help of his religion — Scientology.

    He was a real person, not one of my friends or enemies just playing with me (although that would have been an awesome joke), and anyone searching for either of us would assume that we were a single person who happened to have been addicted to heroin, was redeemed by Scientology, and had an inordinate fondness for Transformers. Honestly, I didn’t bring a whole lot to the picture.

    So, for about five years, anyone searching for me thought I was a Scientologist. As cults go, it’s a fine cult, I suppose.

    Later, a prolific CS researcher in his sixties who also had that name discovered the internet and just swamped us completely, although I suspect people think he loved Transformers.

    I don’t want people posting under their real names ever.

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  51. JKB says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Private enterprises, like Apple, Google, Facebook and Spotify.

    That’s not the internet, that’s social media platforms. To ban someone from the internet, you need the threat of government violence to inhibit those who might provide service to the banned. Like how the Democrats did in the Jim Crow South to keep lunch counter operators, bus companies from violating the segregation laws.

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  52. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Michael Reynolds :

    Only finding or seeing exactly what you’re looking for is intellectually catastrophic. It creates a self-limiting, self-reinforcing loop which in the nature of things means reinforcing presuppositions. The internet makes it possible to endlessly support your own prejudices and paper over glaring gaps in your knowledge. The greatest information engine in human history has become a tool for perpetuating ignorance.

    I’m totally stealing that statement. And not just because it reinforces my pre-existing belief, but because it states it better.

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  53. the Q says:

    Its highly ironic that the wingnuts protesting a private company (google, facebook) censoring conservatives has zero problem with the privately run NFL owners doing the same thing to their players.

    Wingnuts cheer on the owners voting to limit the free speech of their business participants but scream bloody murder when the liberal owners of companies do the same thing to Jones.

    In the parlance of the wingnut “grow up snowflakes”.

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  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius: I’m unclear about one thing on how the game works. Do they simply get to leaf through their deck to find the cards they want, do they try to stack the deck in the order that will be most useful in the fight, or are they limited to using the cards they are dealt from a shuffled deck until all those cards are played?

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  55. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Only finding or seeing exactly what you’re looking for is intellectually catastrophic. It creates a self-limiting, self-reinforcing loop which in the nature of things means reinforcing presuppositions. The internet makes it possible to endlessly support your own prejudices and paper over glaring gaps in your knowledge. The greatest information engine in human history has become a tool for perpetuating ignorance.

    I think you’re a little optimistic, actually.

    You don’t just find what you’re looking for on the internet, you find other things that suggest that you are more right than you knew.

    Are you worried that Republicans are overlooking or embracing Trump’s collusion? Well, now we have pictures of a pair of fat white guys in shirts that read “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat” making the rounds of the left wing social media. You’re now adding that to your expectation of mainstream Republicans, even if it was two fat guys joking around (fat guys are jolly, they joke a lot).

    Similarly, search engines will give you what you search for without showing you how rare it is, making you think it is more mainstream than it is.

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  56. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @JKB:

    Democrats did in the Jim Crow South

    You mean the Democrats, who have since become Republicans.
    It amuses when you cultists leave out that minor detail…that destroys your entire point.

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  57. Gustopher says:

    @JKB: Nice! You managed to weasel in ancient history, deftly sidestepping the largest political realignment in the last century.

    Why don’t Democrats address the racist past of their party?

    Oh, wait, we do. We hated the Dixiecrats, and joined with the Northern Republicans to destroy Jim Crow, cast the Dixiecrats out, and then got the better part of the Party of Lincoln in exchange for our racist underbelly.

    Our former racist underbelly is now your base, and we still hate them.

    Anyway, carry on.

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  58. mattbernius says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Like most CTCG, they’ve built their decks and optimized them for combat. So they are full of things like “Gish gallop”, “opt not to respond to argument and change topic”, “selective quoting”, “ignore previously correction”, “slippery slope”, “I’m the real victim”, “Dinesh D’souza’s commitment to historical accuracy”, etc.

    The goal is, of course, to win at all costs by getting someone to waste time trying to respond (or just feel like you’ve pissed someone off) without actually engaging in a substantive discussion (aka, the pigeon playing chess rules).

    Once you play a card you discard it and draw another from the deck. You can stack a lot of the same card in your deck, but you lose style points after a while for playing it over and over again.

    Oh, I forgot, there is also the “ghost and watch the fury of posts that follow” card, but that one is particularly meta and hard to score.

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  59. Tyrell says:

    @KM: I agree with that and social media sites that are aimed at off the wall, outside the box, non-conformist, idiosyncratic, conspiracy fans should have a big following.
    But the actions of Facebook and others could be the start of a disturbing trend. What could we see next? The networks? FCC? Publishing houses? And who would be next? College professors? Writers? Scientists?
    I am not a conspiracy fan as such. I do study the assassinations of the 1960’s and 1865, and some of the UFO incidents.

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  60. Timothy Watson says:

    @MarkedMan:

    It is absolutely hysterical that two years ago Facebook, one of the highest valued companies in the world, was telling their corporate investors that their future expansion was going to be fueled by becoming the news supplier to the world. They would do this not by hiring editors and understanding and delivering vital information, but by generating algorithms that would automatically place stories on a users home page.

    It was just a couple months ago that Zuckerberg was before Congress and was asked what Facebook’s plan was to stop the spread of fake news and hate speech.

    Zuckerberg’s response, completely serious, was that Facebook didn’t have any plans to do that until he got around to creating Artificial Intelligence.

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  61. teve tory says:

    Christopher Meloni’s tweet w/r/t Alex Jones:

    Chris Meloni

    Verified account

    @Chris_Meloni
    Following Following @Chris_Meloni

    “Ich bin ein scumbag fruitcake”

    JFK
    1:37 PM – 7 Aug 2018

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  62. CSK says:

    The point about the Internet is that, prior to its existence, malevolent kooks such as Jones were relegated–if they were lucky–to broadcasting on five-watt radio stations at one a.m. and sending out badly mimeographed “newsletters” to 20 or so equally deranged followers. Now they can command an audience of millions.

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  63. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Check my privilege? Not only do I write here under my own name, but I also make no secret of my pseudonym, and under that name I am extremely political. Unlike just about everyone here, I can be retaliated against.

    Sorry, but the ones with privilege are those who remain anonymous and can take pot-shots at my deliberately exposed flanks. I’m exposed, you’re not.

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  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher:

    You don’t just find what you’re looking for on the internet, you find other things that suggest that you are more right than you knew.

    Well, there’s THAT problem, too, now that you mention it.

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  65. george says:

    @grumpy realist:

    (I also want the same sort of restriction on pundits–any pundit who waves around his “expertise” and claims that “X will occur” and then it doesn’t, gets banned from public speaking for 5 years.)

    That’s pretty harsh, given that for instance science and engineering is full of failed theories. Your restriction would have had every physicist who predicted the existence of the aether drift banned from public speaking for five years, which would have been 99% of physicists in say 1886.

    I’d say a better approach is to confront misinformation with loads of real information. There are those who aren’t going to believe the real information, but they’re the ones who’d see conspiracies in the banning of folks like Jones, so banning the Jones types isn’t going to help with them in any case, whereas banning everyone who gets a prediction wrong is going to shut down science as we know it.

    And if you think you can separate science from other kinds of discourse in such bannings then I’d say you’re naive – tools introduced in one area are quickly expanded to be used in other areas.

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  66. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius: Thanks. That helped a lot. I don’t know much about these games having not played any ever. Up until today, all I knew about this type of game was from watching episodes of the first season of Yugi-oh, which means “[come] over here” in Korean. You shout that in a diner when you’re ready to hand in your order slip. At a nicer restaurant, you can press a call button.

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  67. matt bernius says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Well to be fair, I am kinda making it up asi go along (with a bit of Magic: The Gathering as a basis). But since they are more interested in playing their games, I figure they will (1) appreciate someone recognizing how l33t their skills are, and (2) take time to correct me if I get anything wrong.

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  68. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: How many times has someone threatened to rape you? Are you a hundred pounds lighter than the average rapist?

    Do you want to spend the time evaluating whether the person stalking you online has any interest in making things a bit more real?

    As a gruff but lovable old white man with a criminal past, you get a lot less threats, and are less likely to have someone act on them. I think you underestimate the degree to which others are threaten but you aren’t.

    Nearly every woman I know has had a stalker in real life, of various degrees of seriousness (most just annoying and persistent for a few months). It’s hard to know whether the internet stalker will stay virtual, and whether they will become dangerous.

    I’ve had a grubby boy follow me around with puppy dog eyes and start showing up everywhere I was, but being a foot taller, I found him more annoying than threatening.

    I’ve also had someone track me down over an internet argument, go to my front door and vandalize my house. Well, not me, because they were really bad at tracking me down. But they tried. And they did vandalize someone’s house. (huzzah for pseudonyms) Also, they are bipolar.

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  69. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK:

    The point about the Internet is that, prior to its existence, malevolent kooks such as Jones were relegated–if they were lucky–to broadcasting on five-watt radio stations at one a.m. and sending out badly mimeographed “newsletters” to 20 or so equally deranged followers.

    All things old are new again… Just moments before the blossoming of the internet, Rush Limbaugh was huge and being publicly lauded in a Congressional session. Jerry Falwell managed quite well without it. Joe McCarthy managed to ruin uncounted innocent lives from his Senate forum. Father Coughlin used AM radio to reach 1 in 4 Americans at its height. The Internet has changed things, but it hasn’t created them…

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  70. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    Reynolds is also one of those people who has a job where they’re not completely interchangeable with a million other workers, which helps insulate him from someone going after him through his employment. Most people are easily replaceable, and if random loons on the internet start contacting their boss, they’re likely to be fired immediately just because getting a replacement is easier than the effort required to find out if they’re even at fault.

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  71. One American says:

    I don’t read Alex but sure seems a lot of controversy over on this site about this news which in my short experience has a lot of hate speech and conspiracy stories, not to mention the name calling if one doesn’t think the same as the name caller. Slippery slope!

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  72. One American says:

    I don’t read Alex but sure seems a lot of controversy over on this site about this news

    which in my short experience has a lot of hate speech and conspiracy stories, not to mention the name calling if one doesn’t think the same as the name caller. Slippery slope!

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  73. george says:

    @Gustopher:

    How many times has someone threatened to rape you? Are you a hundred pounds lighter than the average rapist?

    He’s got a far lower chance of being raped than a woman, but a considerably higher chance of being murdered than a woman. And given that the murderer would almost certainly use a weapon (most likely a firearm, but possibly a knife) and will be younger and so stronger and healthier than him, the relative size difference isn’t going to matter.

    I don’t know how many times Reynold’s has been threatened to be killed, but “I’m going to kill you” is a pretty common threat in my experience, so common the police don’t take it seriously, and people following up with a physical attack (albeit typically without a gun or knife handy) is pretty common (when I was younger getting into fights happened at least once a month, now that I’m older I’m far better at avoiding or talking down the confrontations).

    There’s a huge amount of violence out there directed at just about everyone. That’s one of the prime reasons why gun control is needed – if there were no violent impulses there’d be no problem with easy access to guns.

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  74. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: But Reynolds also needs a publisher, who may well decide that his baggage isn’t worth the trouble. It has certainly happened with others. I may not agree with his principles wrt posting anonymously but I certainly respect that he is taking a risk in service to them.

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  75. TM01 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    @JKB:

    And who does the banning?

    Private enterprises, like Apple, Google, Facebook and Spotify.
    Try to keep up.

    It’s pretty obvious that the Nazis who keep commenting here think they’ll be the ones doing all the banning.

    That way they can keep their little bubbles of safe information pure of unclean thoughts.

    Maybe it is indeed time to bring back a version of Net Neutrality. Have the govt monitor these sites to ensure that all their rules are enforced fairly and consistently, and ensure that the first amendment applies to them.

    After all, as Sen. Chris Murphy (Nazi-Conn), says, “The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

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  76. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Unlike just about everyone here, I can be retaliated against.

    No one would dare retaliate against the Insult King.

    This, from Doug, seems laughable.

    Moreover, the fact that Jones is losing access to some of his social media accounts does not mean he is being prevented from speaking.

    The whole point of pressuring these companies to ban Jones –and make no mistake, these companies are bowing to pressure here– is to prevent Jones from speaking. Reducing his audience is the point, so the “no free speech issues here” stuff is whistling past the graveyard.

    In our zeal to root out unpopular speech, which we can’t even conceive of tolerating anymore, we’re relying on corporations to police speech the government wouldn’t dare touch. This is awesome?

    No, it’s pathetic.

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  77. KM says:

    @TM01:

    Maybe it is indeed time to bring back a version of Net Neutrality.

    Except that’s not what Net Neutrality ever meant. It’s not the ban hammer. Troll harder

    Real funny how in reaction to what you deem unfair censorship to an obvious violator of agreed-upon rules, your solution is to essentially violate free speech for everyone in order to “protect” it. The truth is liberals tend to run the tech side of things because they’re the ones who create and maintain it. The crap you’re complaining about – your “unclean thoughts” – don’t tend to be held by the sort of people who create the platforms its spewed on so you’re angry some else essentially holds your leash. Fine, do something about it. I suggested earlier that conservatives get off their asses and make competing systems so they’d have equal access and control. Go save democracy by creating alt-Twitter so you can vent your blackened little heart out or whatever.

    Thing is, that’s been tried and it doesn’t work so well. Even FOX, the most successfully of the bunch by far, needed to lie in order to fit into the existing framework ie they’re “entertainment”, not news. Conservatives didn’t build the internet or cable news or Facebook or Twitter or Youtube or 4chan or Reddit or any other places they’re complaining about being edged out of. They carved themselves little niches, violate the rules of the space then get pissy when those that own and control the spaces call BS on bad behavior. Again, fine – go make your own. We’ll wait.

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  78. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    The whole point of pressuring these companies to ban Jones –and make no mistake, these companies are bowing to pressure here– is to prevent Jones from speaking. Reducing his audience is the point, so the “no free speech issues here” stuff is whistling past the graveyard.

    You are entitled to a voice and the ability to use said voice. You are *not* entitled to a forum nor an audience. Y’all keep confusing the right to speak freely with the right to speak unencumbered. Free speech doesn’t mean there’s not going to be rules.

    From InfoWars own site:

    You will not post anything libelous, defamatory, harmful, threatening, harassing, abusive, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, racially or ethnically objectionable, or otherwise illegal.

    You will not make threats to other users or people not associated with the site.

    If you violate these rules, your posts and/or user name will be deleted.

    Remember: you are a guest here. It is not censorship if you violate the rules and your post is deleted. All civilizations have rules and if you violate them you can expect to be ostracized from the tribe.

    They seem to have been perfectly OK to do to others what happened to them. They are essentially bitching they are being held to their own standards and found wanting. Whistle past that.

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  79. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    You are entitled to a voice and the ability to use said voice. You are *not* entitled to a forum nor an audience.

    I’m not comfortable talking about this in terms of “entitlements” and I really wish the left would give up their love affair with “deplatforming” all the deplorables.

    I’m old enough to remember all the things gay people weren’t “entitled” to –their jobs, their kids, their dignity– and one of the best and most effective ways of making sure they didn’t get the stuff they weren’t entitled to was deplatforming their asses. It’s unjust, even for Alex Jones.

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  80. TM01 says:

    @KM:

    Except that’s not what Net Neutrality ever meant.

    No kidding.
    Net Neutrality isn’t what you think it meant either.

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    1. The same leftists praising kicking off Jones scream about the NFL telling their employees not to protest the national anthem as a violation of the first amendment.
    2. Yet again, when they like the results, we have leftists celebrating a business deciding with whom they do business.

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  81. Tyrell says:

    @Gustopher: Let me add that I know many who are still Democrats down here. They are active in local and state politics, but do not support the extreme policies and views of the Democratic party leadership. They are not racists. They are centrist -conservatives. Not all joined the Republicans back in the 1970’s and ’80’s.

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  82. KM says:

    @ James Pearce:

    I’m not comfortable talking about this in terms of “entitlements”

    That’s only because cons have made “entitlement” a dirty word. The entire concept of “entitled” means you have a right to something, a verified claim. 1A entitles you free speech – whether you have it naturally or otherwise is a different debate but in this conversation, it’s 1A that’s guaranteeing you the right you speak of. The word appears in the Constitution itself so clearly it’s not a bad thing if the Founder chose it to represent the notions they wished to pass on as Law.

    and I really wish the left would give up their love affair with “deplatforming” all the deplorables. I’m old enough to remember all the things gay people weren’t “entitled” to –their jobs, their kids, their dignity– and one of the best and most effective ways of making sure they didn’t get the stuff they weren’t entitled to was deplatforming their asses.

    So am I and that’s an utterly false comparison. This isn’t about kicking out people you don’t agree with. Alex Jones willfully and gleefully violated agreed upon rules to threaten, bully, slander and attempt to stir up violence again and again. He glories in telling lies to deliberately mislead and cause social disruption. He has no problems with making up stories to ruin lives and is willing to be two-faced in court when called out on it.

    That you’re equating people who literally did nothing but exist to offend with a nutcase that’s screaming murdered children didn’t exist so the government can steal your guns is UTTERLY offensive. Gays were the ones being bullied but Jones is the bully you want to back? There are things one can do to get kicked out of polite society justly, James and Jones has done quite a few of them. Are you OK with giving ISIS a platform by any chance? Should they be allowed to post beheadings if the poster happens to an American sympathizer utilizing their right to free speech? What about drug dealers – should they be allowed to post step-by-step instructions for how to make meth because free speech? Criminals don’t get platforms to commit crimes. Jones went above and beyond deplorable into actionable slander and libel repeatedly.

    It’s one thing to defend unpopular opinions as being pushed aside. You’re defending his right to break the law and do it publicly on the platform of his choice. That’s never been an American value no matter how you spin it.

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  83. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    This isn’t about kicking out people you don’t agree with. Alex Jones willfully and gleefully violated agreed upon rules to threaten, bully, slander and attempt to stir up violence again and again.

    I don’t really care about Jones’s terms of service violations. I mean, I’m not about to make it a principle or anything –Terms of Service “agreements” are unjust! — but it’s such a small petty “crime” that I just can’t get too worked up over it.

    What about drug dealers – should they be allowed to post step-by-step instructions for how to make meth because free speech? Criminals don’t get platforms to commit crimes.

    Alex Jones is an ass and I don’t really feel like defending him. But he’s not a criminal.

    And if you feel comfortable deplatforming him because you disagree with his politics and don’t like his style, you should know that the winds will change, and when they do, what will protect you?

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  84. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    Alex Jones is an ass and I don’t really feel like defending him. But he’s not a criminal.

    I can’t tell if you’re defining “criminal” as specific “someone who broke a criminal law” or the more pejorative sense of “someone who committed a terrible crime rather then just perjured or defamed someone”. Either way, it’s goal post moving – you can break the law in civil matters. My point was law breakers shouldn’t get a platform to break laws on without pushback and your quibble is with whether he’s a specific type of lawbreaker ie “criminal”?

    If you want to insist everyone has a right to speak wherever, whenever, however then I repeat my previous stance: go make a platform to help encourage that. Kinda hard to get deplatformed everywhere if new platforms keep popping up to replace the restrictive ones. Yes, the winds will change and yes, I may need protection but you know what? Alex Jones will never go to bat for me and mine. He’d never offer to create a space for us or allow us to do what he does on his platform. I’m really not interested in being told I should be building storm shelters for assholes who’d gladly shove me out of one in my time of need. Let him build his own and be king of his castle.

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  85. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    I can’t tell if you’re defining “criminal” as specific “someone who broke a criminal law”

    Criminal = Someone who was convicted –in court– of breaking a law, as in, a written statute, not some violation of a sub-community’s norms.

    Yes, the winds will change and yes, I may need protection but you know what? Alex Jones will never go to bat for me and mine.

    Well, Alex Jones is an ass, not a liberal. I’m a liberal.

    So I’m going to defend unpopular speech –regardless of how I feel about it– because someone’s gotta do it and it’s not going to be you, or Alex Jones or anyone else, I guess it’s me.

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  86. Tyrel says:

    Ron Paul is being censored. Many of his You Tube videos are gone. E.T. Williams was taken off some months ago.
    This is the first move, people. Next the cell providers will censor texts, all social media, and phone conversations. We will be going back to amateur radio and CB’s.

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  87. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:
    Just curious, how are you defending free speech?
    If bloviating on a blog is what you do to defend free speech I don’t want to ever see you moan about liberals ‘just protesting’ or ‘just changing their facebook status’, you aren’t doing anymore and it’s hypocritical in the extreme to claim you are doing something here and they are not there.

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