Is Free Speech All That It is Cracked Up To Be?

Free Speech

  • …should be unlimited without regulation.

    Votes: 1 16.7%
  • …should be regulated to insist upon truth as a required standard.

    Votes: 2 33.3%
  • Other (explain)

    Votes: 1 16.7%
  • Undecide

    Votes: 2 33.3%

  • Total voters
    6
  • Poll closed .

Huntn

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Really good reporting on National Public Radio (NPR) about a new book that examines Facebook policies. Most interesting was Zuckerberg’s hardcore Free Speech stance backing the right of Holicost deniers on FB to express themselves and then being surprised with the increase in denial of the Holicost expressed by Millenials. :unsure:

So it can be said that the idea of free speech does not include a right to lie, but then there is the delimma about who are the arbiters of truth? It seems like a slippery slope, but as usual it all goes back to the basic integrity of the system you are operating. Is there integrity or corruption? Are there standards of truth?

 

Chew Toy McCoy

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I think we need more (or any?) laws about free speech accountability, especially towards those who position themselves as some kind of respected authority and later hide behind “Well, that was just my opinion”. Both Fox and MSNBC have successfully won lawsuits by saying only idiots would believe their hosts.

Just like with the 2nd amendment we need to evolve with the times. When the amendments were written assault rifles and the internet didn’t exist. I understand the slippery slope arguments and how any changes could lead to good or bad results, but leaving things as is certainly isn’t heading in a good direction.
 
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It's odd how other countries that do not have 'freedom of speech' enshrined in their constitutions seem to be doing just fine in allowing their people the ability to speak their mind.

In just the same way I don't think the Founding Fathers envisaged automatic rifles that can kill hundreds of people, I also don't think they believed the utter hatred and vile words that count as privileged speech today.

Sad thing is, I think America's going to be destroyed by the very thing that gave it life - the 19th Century civil war was by its nature limited in its ability to cause death and destruction. Today's armed nutjob has enough firepower, and blind hatred of others, to happily kill women and children in the name of their ideological beliefs.
 

Thomas Veil

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So it can be said that the idea of free speech does not include a right to lie, but then there is the delimma about who are the arbiters of truth?
Exactly so. I don't know how many times my mind has ruminated over what kind of a solution we could come up with to our dilemma. Free speech, as it exists today, is being used as a weapon against us. Yes, there are limitations, but the "fire in a crowded theater" standard is woefully inadequate in a world where incredibly powerful media entities concoct entire alternate realities and sucker people into them.

For a time I considered whether there could be some sort of "arbiters of truth" as you say. It's a nice idea, and I'm still not entirely dismissing it, but who are these arbiters going to be? The best answer I could come up with is some sort of non-governmental board consisting of professional journalists--I mean old school journalists in the molds of Katherine Graham, Bob Woodward, Dean Baquet, Walter Cronkite, etc. Or perhaps tenured members of some of our finest journalism schools, like Columbia.

It's hardly a bulletproof idea. The first and most obvious problem is that you would have the usual suspects screaming that this is Orwellian MSM mind control, and while a system like this might be far better than what we have today, in theory they might be right about that. The second problem would be the fact that Corruption Finds A Way. I would expect the, denied a platform for their delusions, wealthy right wing lunatics would probably mount a takeover of CNN, NBC, and any other media company that is not privately owned.

Where does that leave us? I don't know. I suspect the answer will eventually have something to do with one or more of these things:
  • making prosecutable any reportage and commentary that leads directly or indirectly to insurrection (in which case we would probably try Tucker and Sean for treason)
  • something along the lines of companies like Dominion Voting Systems suing Fox News and its compatriots out of existence
  • allowing politicians to sue people who lie about them.
And of course each of those ideas comes with its own problems.

I do think that this particular thought...
"[Zuckerberg's] view was that even if there were lies [on Facebook] — lies from a politician such as Donald Trump — that the public would respond with their own fact checks of the president and that the fact checks would rise to the top," Frenkel says.
...is something no one can take seriously. Zuckerberg sees a nation of fact checkers. Most of us see the nation that P. T. Barnum was talking about when he said...well, you know.
 

Huntn

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Exactly so. I don't know how many times my mind has ruminated over what kind of a solution we could come up with to our dilemma. Free speech, as it exists today, is being used as a weapon against us. Yes, there are limitations, but the "fire in a crowded theater" standard is woefully inadequate in a world where incredibly powerful media entities concoct entire alternate realities and sucker people into them.

For a time I considered whether there could be some sort of "arbiters of truth" as you say. It's a nice idea, and I'm still not entirely dismissing it, but who are these arbiters going to be? The best answer I could come up with is some sort of non-governmental board consisting of professional journalists--I mean old school journalists in the molds of Katherine Graham, Bob Woodward, Dean Baquet, Walter Cronkite, etc. Or perhaps tenured members of some of our finest journalism schools, like Columbia.

It's hardly a bulletproof idea. The first and most obvious problem is that you would have the usual suspects screaming that this is Orwellian MSM mind control, and while a system like this might be far better than what we have today, in theory they might be right about that. The second problem would be the fact that Corruption Finds A Way. I would expect the, denied a platform for their delusions, wealthy right wing lunatics would probably mount a takeover of CNN, NBC, and any other media company that is not privately owned.

Where does that leave us? I don't know. I suspect the answer will eventually have something to do with one or more of these things:
  • making prosecutable any reportage and commentary that leads directly or indirectly to insurrection (in which case we would probably try Tucker and Sean for treason)
  • something along the lines of companies like Dominion Voting Systems suing Fox News and its compatriots out of existence
  • allowing politicians to sue people who lie about them.
And of course each of those ideas comes with its own problems.

I do think that this particular thought...

...is something no one can take seriously. Zuckerberg sees a nation of fact checkers. Most of us see the nation that P. T. Barnum was talking about when he said...well, you know.
Something about suckers… :unsure: ( a perfect descriptive word)
 

SuperMatt

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Exactly so. I don't know how many times my mind has ruminated over what kind of a solution we could come up with to our dilemma. Free speech, as it exists today, is being used as a weapon against us. Yes, there are limitations, but the "fire in a crowded theater" standard is woefully inadequate in a world where incredibly powerful media entities concoct entire alternate realities and sucker people into them.

For a time I considered whether there could be some sort of "arbiters of truth" as you say. It's a nice idea, and I'm still not entirely dismissing it, but who are these arbiters going to be? The best answer I could come up with is some sort of non-governmental board consisting of professional journalists--I mean old school journalists in the molds of Katherine Graham, Bob Woodward, Dean Baquet, Walter Cronkite, etc. Or perhaps tenured members of some of our finest journalism schools, like Columbia.

It's hardly a bulletproof idea. The first and most obvious problem is that you would have the usual suspects screaming that this is Orwellian MSM mind control, and while a system like this might be far better than what we have today, in theory they might be right about that. The second problem would be the fact that Corruption Finds A Way. I would expect the, denied a platform for their delusions, wealthy right wing lunatics would probably mount a takeover of CNN, NBC, and any other media company that is not privately owned.

Where does that leave us? I don't know. I suspect the answer will eventually have something to do with one or more of these things:
  • making prosecutable any reportage and commentary that leads directly or indirectly to insurrection (in which case we would probably try Tucker and Sean for treason)
  • something along the lines of companies like Dominion Voting Systems suing Fox News and its compatriots out of existence
  • allowing politicians to sue people who lie about them.
And of course each of those ideas comes with its own problems.

I do think that this particular thought...

...is something no one can take seriously. Zuckerberg sees a nation of fact checkers. Most of us see the nation that P. T. Barnum was talking about when he said...well, you know.
Zuckerberg is one of the snake-oil salesmen himself. He mocked the stupidity of his earliest customers, calling them “dumb fucks“ for giving all their personal information to him. It turns out there are billions of people dumb enough to let that asshole have their personal info for free.
 

lizkat

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I don't really think freedom of speech or limits on it are the problem though, or at least not the problem when it comes to spread of misinformation or disinformation, particularly since a lot of what we're talking about occurs in semiprivate venues, e.g. social media platforms and websites.

We do have some longstanding limits on protected speech, plus the more difficult to call but still sometimes deployed "fighting words" doctrine to deal with some of the grey areas, at least in public venues. But dealing with deliberate propaganda or malicious misinformation, those seem like a different category of problem or potential legal issue.

Past speech itself, it's what is behind it: we're living through a time when knee-jerk "oh yeah, says who?!" down-the-bar kind of talk has proliferated into internet conversations, corporate conference rooms and the halls of Congress. Powerful examples are made daily about construction of friends and enemies lists based on the false idea that everything can be boiled down to a binary:

You're with me or against me, your idea is brilliant or stupid (so you're a genius or a moron). There's no room any more for ambiguity, for shades of grey, for nuance.... and no time allowed to consider a statement, an idea, a video, a speech. Reflex action per the tribe is what's called for. Two tribes: righties and lefties. Get with the program.​

It will take time to teach ourselves to think again for a minute outside the rails of those "either or" examples. It's not too soon though to call out congress critters who make everything binary and may well think only one of those choices is legitimate.

As for solutions to the problem of disinformation, misinformation, propaganda: first people have to be taught to care again about what is factual. Trump's pitch was typical of autocrats: you get your truth from him alone. His truth was whatever he decided sounded good to him. Well Trump is a private citizen down in Mar a Lago now, so time to reboot that stuff. We all have to start back at how it's ok not to like what we're reading when we read a fact.

White House press briefings are run differently now. A lot of other things can get shaped up too if people (and customers) insist on it. Social media platforms need to continue trying to clean up their act. I don't know about Facebook but Twitter has at least tried to make their platform a more reliable and authentic place to hang out in.

In the end those platforms probably won't be any better than however we behave as individuals trading information and bothering to ride herd on each other when we see something untrue float by. The problem then does go back to the venue owner and whether facts or revenue matter more when push comes to shove regarding moderation.
 

Huntn

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I don't really think freedom of speech or limits on it are the problem though, or at least not the problem when it comes to spread of misinformation or disinformation, particularly since a lot of what we're talking about occurs in semiprivate venues, e.g. social media platforms and websites.

We do have some longstanding limits on protected speech, plus the more difficult to call but still sometimes deployed "fighting words" doctrine to deal with some of the grey areas, at least in public venues. But dealing with deliberate propaganda or malicious misinformation, those seem like a different category of problem or potential legal issue.

Past speech itself, it's what is behind it: we're living through a time when knee-jerk "oh yeah, says who?!" down-the-bar kind of talk has proliferated into internet conversations, corporate conference rooms and the halls of Congress. Powerful examples are made daily about construction of friends and enemies lists based on the false idea that everything can be boiled down to a binary:

You're with me or against me, your idea is brilliant or stupid (so you're a genius or a moron). There's no room any more for ambiguity, for shades of grey, for nuance.... and no time allowed to consider a statement, an idea, a video, a speech. Reflex action per the tribe is what's called for. Two tribes: righties and lefties. Get with the program.​

It will take time to teach ourselves to think again for a minute outside the rails of those "either or" examples. It's not too soon though to call out congress critters who make everything binary and may well think only one of those choices is legitimate.

As for solutions to the problem of disinformation, misinformation, propaganda: first people have to be taught to care again about what is factual. Trump's pitch was typical of autocrats: you get your truth from him alone. His truth was whatever he decided sounded good to him. Well Trump is a private citizen down in Mar a Lago now, so time to reboot that stuff. We all have to start back at how it's ok not to like what we're reading when we read a fact.

White House press briefings are run differently now. A lot of other things can get shaped up too if people (and customers) insist on it. Social media platforms need to continue trying to clean up their act. I don't know about Facebook but Twitter has at least tried to make their platform a more reliable and authentic place to hang out in.

In the end those platforms probably won't be any better than however we behave as individuals trading information and bothering to ride herd on each other when we see something untrue float by. The problem then does go back to the venue owner and whether facts or revenue matter more when push comes to shove regarding moderation.
There is protected free speech, but imo that protected speech is based on truth, not deliberate misleading, misinformation, deceit, propaganda. But again, it all boils down to the integrity of the system and the people in a position to curtail misinformation. Zuckerberg was fundamentally mistaken that deliberate or ignorant lies should fall under protected status. Free speech is not a license to knowingly fool people.
 
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Huntn

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Someone voted that free speech should be unregulated. Even though I could of made the poll so we know, if you are brave enough tell us in a post (if you have not already) I’d like to know why lies, deceit, propaganda, and agenda driven misinformation should be protected speech? Does truth have so little value?
 

Herdfan

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I don't really think freedom of speech or limits on it are the problem though, or at least not the problem when it comes to spread of misinformation or disinformation, particularly since a lot of what we're talking about occurs in semiprivate venues, e.g. social media platforms and websites.

The question is who gets to decide on what is mis or dis information?

Just because something goes against the popular or accepted narrative does not mean it is wrong.
Someone voted that free speech should be unregulated. Even though I could of made the poll so we know, if you are brave enough tell us in a post (if you have not already) I’d like to know why lies, deceit, propaganda, and agenda driven misinformation should be protected speech? Does truth have so little value?

If someone on FB makes a blanket statement about how harmful the vaccines are, then perhaps. But when a famous rocker says he might never play the guitar again and it corresponds with him getting vaccinated, is that misinformation?
 

SuperMatt

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The question is who gets to decide on what is mis or dis information?

Just because something goes against the popular or accepted narrative does not mean it is wrong.


If someone on FB makes a blanket statement about how harmful the vaccines are, then perhaps. But when a famous rocker says he might never play the guitar again and it corresponds with him getting vaccinated, is that misinformation?
Just because something goes against the popular narrative doesn’t mean it is only an opposing opinion.

Flat-earthers are going against the popular narrative. They’re also absolutely, provably wrong.

Many on the right seem to have this aspect of things confused. Couching falsehoods in political garb doesn’t make them a valid opposing position. They’re still lies. Lies about the election and about COVID are dangerous to society, because if people believe they are true, mass death (600K dead) or rioting (Jan 6) could ensue. Neither Facebook nor YouTube nor Twitter are censoring all right-wing political content. It’s just that some right-wing politicians are posting dangerous lies, which violate the platform terms of service, so they are removed. When somebody repeatedly violates the terms of service, their account is suspended.
 

Edd

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Just because something goes against the popular narrative doesn’t mean it is only an opposing opinion.

Flat-earthers are going against the popular narrative. They’re also absolutely, provably wrong.

Many on the right seem to have this aspect of things confused. Couching falsehoods in political garb doesn’t make them a valid opposing position. They’re still lies. Lies about the election and about COVID are dangerous to society, because if people believe they are true, mass death (600K dead) or rioting (Jan 6) could ensue. Neither Facebook nor YouTube nor Twitter are censoring all right-wing political content. It’s just that some right-wing politicians are posting dangerous lies, which violate the platform terms of service, so they are removed. When somebody repeatedly violates the terms of service, their account is suspended.
This applies to Tucker Carlson, who can say (insert bat-shit crazy thing), and follow up with “We’re just asking questions, is that wrong?”, which he seems to think absolves him of all accountability.
 

Herdfan

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And yet it works (and has worked for many years) in countless scientific journals.

Sure. But those reviews take months. How will that work keeping misinformation off FB? News happens quickly, hence the root of the word. No way to verify every bit of news in that fashion.
 

SuperMatt

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Sure. But those reviews take months. How will that work keeping misinformation off FB? News happens quickly, hence the root of the word. No way to verify every bit of news in that fashion.
Determining the truth of most statements doesn’t take months. And if you knew a bit about journalism, you would know that reputable news outlets verify their stories through multiple sources before publishing... that’s why they are reputable.

Facebook never should have been in the “news” business to begin with. Look, if crazy uncle Ronny posts insane lies, he has a small audience, and most will ignore him; I don’t think Facebook can track down every idiot on the internet.

The problem is you have high-audience news aggregators posting lies on Facebook. If FB had basic standards of journalism applied to those types of accounts, they could actually do something about this.
 

Chew Toy McCoy

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Revisited Jim Jefferies’ bit on the gun problem in the US a few years back and some of it seems pertinent here, especially the constitution fetishists. Possibly important to note he’s Australian but lives in the US.

“Every country has a constitution. Most aren’t any more special than anywhere else. Australia has one. I have no idea what it says. If something goes wrong we’ll check it but we’re doing just fine.”

To people who go up to him and angrily say “You can’t change the 2nd amendment!!” he says “Yes you can. It’s called an amendment. Sounds like you need a dictionary”.
 

Herdfan

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Facebook never should have been in the “news” business to begin with. Look, if crazy uncle Ronny posts insane lies, he has a small audience, and most will ignore him; I don’t think Facebook can track down every idiot on the internet.

That's the problem, FB gives Uncle Ronny an oversized microphone. He may only have a few followers, but all it takes is a couple to share it. Then their like minded friends start sharing it and before you know it, it has been seen by thousands.

I posted a link about a riding area that may be closed. Within an hour it had close to 50 shares. Into groups. No idea how many shares from those groups. It can be in front of many people, very quickly.
 

Herdfan

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Revisited Jim Jefferies’ bit on the gun problem in the US a few years back and some of it seems pertinent here, especially the constitution fetishists. Possibly important to note he’s Australian but lives in the US.

“Every country has a constitution. Most aren’t any more special than anywhere else. Australia has one. I have no idea what it says. If something goes wrong we’ll check it but we’re doing just fine.”

To people who go up to him and angrily say “You can’t change the 2nd amendment!!” he says “Yes you can. It’s called an amendment. Sounds like you need a dictionary”.

Or a copy of the Constitution. Although, given how partisan everything is, I don't think I will ever see another amendment pass. Not sure my daughter will either. :(
 
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