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Letters from House members to cable providers [pdf]

224 points513 comments12 hours agoeshoo.house.gov
by simonh5 hours ago

I’m deeply concerned about disinformation, it’s a major problem. Politics has always had spin, and many issues are complex and it can be easy to state things too emphatically to press your case. Accusations of lying are everyday in politics. But recently flat out knowingly lying with the specific intent of deceiving people has become normalised. It’s a serious threat.

This is precisely the wrong way to tackle it though. We cannot ever allow government to control what can or cannot be said, outside narrow limits such as incitement to violence. Making the case for the truth will just have to be done the hard way.

Fortunately it looks like this is only 2 congresscritters, not “House Democrats” generally. There are at least a handful of utter wing nuts on both party benches so last put this in perspective.

The main problem with social media services is algorithms that drive engagement by turning people’s feeds into an ever more extreme echo chamber. Whether it’s lefties being zombified into SJW snowflakes deplatforming people on campuses, or Qannnon turning people into alt right political flat earthers. That’s what they need to address, picking and choosing opinions to block is a fig leaf move that’s more likely to backfire than improve anything. It’s a hard problem though. What do we do about these engagement algorithms? I’ve no clue.

by Spooky235 hours ago

Take the politics out of it — unaccountable, unquestioned mass communication is almost always bad.

Mass media needs the fairness doctrine back to take the carnival show out of the news. Social media is no exception.

The current model basically neuters editorial discretion and creates a “Team A” vs “Team B” environment that is bad for everyone. These problems started in niche mediums like talk radio and eventually locked in because it’s an easy way to make money. The problem is it’s a race to the bottom, and outlets like OANN, RT, etc are really self-sustaining propaganda outlets. The NY Post has an editorial voice but their news product isn’t fiction.

On the internet, if you give Facebook, Google, etc rules, they will develop algorithms to comply. IMO, regulation in the space would improve the quality of engagement and make them money. P&G won’t buy ads associated with flat earth people, and they pay more than the gold coin, prostate pills, crazy pillow people, etc.

by rayiner4 hours ago

> Mass media needs the fairness doctrine back to take the carnival show out of the news. Social media is no exception.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCC_fairness_doctrine ("The fairness doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented.").

I would love to see MSNBC airing opposing viewpoints on controversial issues. They could have someone on to explain that Obama was putting undocumented immigrant children in cages, defend Hobby Lobby, etc.

by colpabar3 hours ago

> * I would love to see MSNBC airing opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.*

ME TOO.

Something that drives me nuts about the current political climate is that some people are so sure of their views on seemingly every hot topic. I think this is because of a complete lack of discussion of any opposing viewpoints, which I believe is fundamental to actually understanding an issue. If you refuse to consider why people think differently, how can you possibly engage with them? Isn't the goal of any sort of political activism to get more people to vote the way you do?

Unfortunately I don't think it would work out very well, given the current media machinery. I find cable news completely ridiculous as a whole, but the rare cases where they do bring in someone to discuss an opposing viewpoint are really something. (one that comes to mind was Fox having a "union leader" on sporting a full track suit, big cigar, and several giant rings on his hands like he was a Sopranos character.)

+1
by autokad2 hours ago

> Isn't the goal of any sort of political activism to get more people to vote the way you do?

yes, but not THINK. The last thing activism wants is for people to think and consider the alternative.

by PixyMisa4 hours ago

The First Amendment forbids any such legislation.

by pwinnski4 hours ago

And yet the Fairness Doctrine was the rule for 38 years, and the US Supreme Court agreed it was within the purview of the FCC to do so.

It's not about free speech, it's about what's broadcast over public airwaves.

by bhupy3 hours ago

But that was only in the context of radio broadcasting, where there is a scarcity of frequencies. Even while it was active, the Fairness Doctrine never applied to cable television: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/ronald-reagan-fairness-doc...

https://fair.org/extra/the-fairness-doctrine/

"Since cable’s infrastructure is privately owned and cable channels can, in theory, be endlessly multiplied, the FCC does not put public interest requirements on that medium."

In the context of cable news and journalism on the internet (basically infinite supply), there's no version of the Fairness Doctrine that would hold up.

by commandlinefan4 hours ago

And thank god for it.

by srswtf1232 hours ago

We should probably thank the _humans_ that wrote it.

by Spooky234 hours ago

It absolutely does not do any such thing. Speech can be well-regulated, just like other constitutional rights. Your right to speak does not mandate a megaphone.

What I described was the law from the 1930s until the 1980s. Our predecessors saw what happened in fascist and communist states and wisely took measures to avoid that.

by sokoloff3 hours ago

I think there's a legitimate difference whether the Fairness Doctrine was imposed as a condition of licensing the use of a limited, public resource (frequency spectrum allocation) or as an attempt to regulate freedom of the speech or press.

Because of the way it was implemented, I believe it was a condition of the use of public spectrum, not a regulation on speech broadly.

by tiahura4 hours ago

I'd like a cite for Speech can be well-regulated.

First Ammendment caselaw is a little muddled, however, content regulation falls between strict scrutiny and per se invalid depending on which way the wind is blowing. See eg. Simon & Shuster v. NY (invalidating Son of Sam law). See also, RAV (invalidating hate speech law).

by joshuamorton3 hours ago

> Speech can be well-regulated, just like other constitutional rights

Broadly, the opinion of SCOTUS has been that speech cannot be regulated outside of very particular circumstances, and those circumstances have, in general, been shrinking over time (from undefined to "clear and present danger" to "imminent lawless action" to clarify that "imminent lawless action" really means right now, and not just relatively soon)

The Fairness Doctrine isn't a regulation on speech, it's a regulation on use of government licensed airwaves.

by dnissley4 hours ago

What measures?

by NicoJuicy5 hours ago

> But recently flat out knowingly lying with the specific intent of deceiving people has become normalised. It’s a serious threat.

It's literally propaganda. A Russian tactic called the firehose of falsehoods.

The trick is making the truth politically related, so the real truth doesn't matter anymore.

And people can just say it's a "x" opinion to dismiss it. It's unfortunately pretty effective as we've seen...

by pfisch4 hours ago

"That’s what they need to address, picking and choosing opinions to block is a fig leaf move that’s more likely to backfire than improve anything."

Counter point - before social media that is exactly how it worked for the last 100 years. Newspapers, radio stations and tv stations were picking and choosing opinions to block.

This entire problem is actually being caused by the total removal of editorial discretion from sane people.

by Spivak5 hours ago

> outside narrow limits such as incitement to violence

Why can’t those narrow limits include “flat out knowingly lying with the specific intent of deceiving people?” Sure it’s a very human definition but it’s one with built-in limits on its scope. You can’t use it to ban wrongthink because it has to be from people who know that they’re lying.

> turning people’s feeds into an ever more extreme echo chamber

So yes but also this is done voluntarily. Those algorithms are keying on to the fact that I do not want specific kinds of content. If given the option I’ll even explicitly make my preferences known — I’ve blocked probably a thousand subreddits just to make my /r/all tolerable; Twitter is only usable if you confine yourself to niches. It’s #general or barrens chat that’s the cesspool of nonstop screaming.

by noxer4 hours ago

Even if there would be a simple way to define "lying" in this context and a simple 100% effective way to proof it. It would only shift the problem not solve it. You can already "lie" under oath if you formulate something as opinion if there is nothing that contradicts your statement, its that simple. If people can be sentenced for the writing words online if they intentionally lied that just puts a target on normal people an make professional writers team up with lawyers to avoid ever writing anything that could be deemed a lie. That solve no problem at all. People find a way to tell you that the earth is flat anyway. Putting wrong speaking closer to wrongdoings is a very dangerous idea in general. we should want more speak not less and we get that if speech is tolerated.

The "inciting violence" thing is already very very close to breaking the concept of free speech. And it can also be defeated simply by linguistic tricks. "Kill the ...." would incite violence but "I think we should kill the ..." expresses an opinion. Also this very example here used the same words as something that in fact could incites violence but clearly my post isn't. Now do we really want an AI to detect de difference? Or maybe real human? Moderators who are almost certainly not qualified to judge because a content moderator isn't a judge and should not be.

by avesi5 hours ago

Who determines what is true and what's a lie? Why do you trust them to make the right call?

by dnissley4 hours ago

Precisely -- and let's be clear here: the disinformation being discussed here breaks down along partisan lines.

We can barely get republicans and democrats to agree on a budget, what makes anyone think that they could reasonably come to an agreement on objective standards of truth in media? Let alone a process by which those standards are enforced? This is way, wayyyyy outside the realm of reality.

by kelnos2 hours ago

I agree with your point, though I think your example is a bit flawed: I think it's reasonable to disagree on what should be in a budget; there's no one "correct" budget where all other budgets are wrong.

On the other side, facts are facts. Assuming you actually have all the facts (which often we don't), there is only a single truth.

by noxer4 hours ago

Yes, the "fact-checkers" we already have should give us a hint at what "lie-checkers" would do.

+1
by Spivak4 hours ago

Then don’t have them. Having lie checkers on the internet is a moronic idea. This rule is to stop organized coordinated disinformation campaigns. It’s to take down sites who’s whole purpose is to literally make up news stories, present them as fact, and spread them on social media.

by Spivak4 hours ago

Wait no. That’s not how this works. There’s no determination of fact. It doesn’t matter whether what you said is true or false — this isn’t a rule against being wrong. It’s a rule against someone speaking something they know and believe a priori to be false with the intent to mislead people.

Like it’s literally the same ideas as fraud but applied to misinformation. If you believe that climate change is a hoax then you’re fine, tell the world. But if you make up a study and data “disproving” climate change and then circulate it in Facebook then you’re not.

by gizmondo4 hours ago

Unless you have a mind-reading device, there is no way to be sure what somebody believes.

by dragonwriter5 hours ago

> This is precisely the wrong way to tackle it though. We cannot ever allow government to control what can or cannot be said

Can you please point me to a proposal for government to control what can or cannot be said?

Not a speculation about what might, in the future, be proposed based on what some people fear based on the questions in these letters, but an actual concrete proposal?

Otherwise, I don't see how “This is precisely the wrong way to tackle it” follows from “We cannot ever allow...” since the only possible thing “this” can refer to doesn't, at all, involve the thing we “cannot ever allow”.

by dnissley5 hours ago

Are you not able to see the implicit threat in this letter?

by garg5 hours ago

The violent attack on the capitol was the result of fake news media without anyone ever inciting violence. They simply need to repeat over and over that the election was stolen and that caused the violence and people died.

Incorrectly yelling Fire in a crowded theater is illegal and no one is inciting violence in that situation either. There are many commonalities between broadcasting fake news for profit and propaganda, and incorrectly yelling fire in a crowd. Both end up resulting in public safety hazards.

It is a difficult problem to deal with because there is always the possibility of corruption and a reduction in genuine free speech when there is regulation involved. But it is a problem that has to be solved.

It is also no longer social media only, it is Fox, OANN, NewsMax, Sinclair, etc that are increasingly filling up air time with lies solely to make a buck.

by dnissley5 hours ago

> But it is a problem that has to be solved.

Do you think the solution should come from the government? It seems implied here but just checking.

by Retric4 hours ago

Do you have any other options? I don’t care who solves it, but when a company is run for the intent to produce propaganda it’s pointless to ask them to self regulate.

+2
by dnissley4 hours ago

There is always the option to let the issue sort itself out. To allow space and time for a solution to emerge.

We should be careful not to fall into action bias. E.g. the thought that we need to do something, anything, since that can lead to counterproductive solutions.

I've begun to look at information problems like this not too differently than viruses of thought. Right now these viruses are running rampant because we've never had to deal with anything like them before on such a wide scale. It seems perfectly possible to me that over time we will develop social standards that immunize us from these viruses. More and more people will begin to disregard clickbait, outrage-inducing headlines, etc. They will simply become less salient the more and more we experience them.

Reframing the question at hand around this metaphor: What would an effective vaccine look like for these thought viruses? I'm not at all sure, but I can't imagine any kind of partisan response that would work, since these viruses infect left and right alike, and many people will bend over backwards to argue otherwise. Until we can face that fact honestly, I don't see how we could even begin to have a productive conversation about a solution.

by garg4 hours ago

In my previous comment, I am roughly equating incorrectly yelling fire in a crowded theater with broadcasting fake news to millions of people.

If there were a way to clearly differentiate between free speech and fake news, then yes, I would support legal ramifications for spreading blatant intentional fake news created solely as profitable propaganda that causes harm, and treating that as intentionally lying about fire in a crowd.

I don't know what the best organization or process for setting that up would be. After a certain number of complaints, can we transparently look into the owners of the news media, their revenue streams, their involvement with foreign governments, to determine whether a company is a legitimate news source or not? Can we get non-profits and media-freedom watchdogs involved to ensure fairness? Can we get the fairness doctrine running again? I don't see why not.

by PixyMisa4 hours ago

> Incorrectly yelling Fire in a crowded theater is illegal

No it's not. See Brandenburg v. Ohio.

by garg4 hours ago

It was made more specific in Brandenburg v. Ohio but it was not overturned. ie, if someone is falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater which is "speech brigaded with action" then it is a situation where a person could be prosecuted for speech. They used that very example.

Edit:

People can read it themselves: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/395/444

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg_v._Ohio

Fire in a crowded theater is specifically mentioned as the sort of case in which a person could be prosecuted for speech.

by thaumasiotes1 hour ago

Why was this downvoted? garg is quite plainly correct:

> The example usually given by those who would punish speech is the case of one who falsely shouts fire in a crowded theatre.

> This is, however, a classic case where speech is brigaded with action. [...] They are indeed inseparable and a prosecution can be launched for the overt acts actually caused.

> Apart from rare instances of that kind, speech is, I think, immune from prosecution.

This couldn't be more explicit in saying that falsely shouting fire in a crowded theatre is a prosecutable offense. (As long as an injury occurred.)

by InfiniteBeing1 hour ago

Meanwhile the left dominated media was a major enflamer of the violence of BLM and Antifa.

by slowmovintarget4 hours ago

The violent attack on the capitol was the result of the sitting President of the United States claiming the election was stolen and telling them to march on the capitol.

That is decidedly not a social media thing.

Social media gave him the mob, but it was a man with a podium that incited the action.

by thrwaway2day4 hours ago

> The violent attack on the capitol was the result of the sitting President of the United States claiming the election was stolen and telling them to march on the capitol.

If true, this would be much more convincing with a direct quotation and a source, rather than your interpretation.

by rayiner10 hours ago

The letter complains about Fox and OANN's partisan and inflammatory rhetoric, with supporting citations to sources on the left who trade heavily in partisan and inflammatory rhetoric. Just three citations in you get to Karen Attiah, Washington Post's Global Opinions Editor: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jun/29/karen-attia...

> “White women are lucky that we are just calling them ‘Karen’s,’ and not calling for revenge,” Ms. Attiah tweeted to her 185,000 followers Sunday evening.

> “Non, je ne regrette rien,” she wrote in another tweet, making it clear she had no regrets.

Regarding misinformation, Rachel Maddow has suffered no negative consequences for jumping on every Trump-related conspiracy theory to pop up in the last four years: https://taibbi.substack.com/p/why-rachel-maddow-is-on-the-co...

> From there, the floodgates opened. “Commentary television is not news,” snapped David Cay Johnston of the New York Times, himself just days removed from saying on Democracy Now! that “I think [Trump] is a Russian agent.”

> He added: “Rachel Maddow in particular has certainly pushed the Mueller matter,” doing so in conjunction with “the facts at the time.” However, he said, her work was “driven by the commercial values of television.”

It's fair to say that Maddow has an opinion show, not a news show. But that distinction doesn't seem to matter to the Congresspeople who wrote the letter here--they suggest censoring Fox News, which accurately reported the election results and Supreme Court developments. The conspiracy theories, such as they were, came from some of the opinion hosts.

Make no mistake. Whether it's "inflammatory" speech or "misinformation"--these rules will not be applied even-handedly. Such rules are not even amenable to even-handed application.

by jolux10 hours ago

>I don't really care what inflammatory things people post in their free time. But make no mistake that there will be double standards in how these rules will be applied.

This seems like a red herring though? These letters are talking about the statements that news sources make as official outlets, to which you're comparing statements an individual makes (presumably) on her own time. I don't deny that there's a potential for double standards here, but I think you would have to show that misinformation in the Washington Post is comparable to misinformation on OANN or Newsmax to show that one is being applied in this instance.

by rayiner9 hours ago

I absolutely agree there is a distinction in general. However, I don't think that distinction applies to the Twitter posts of a blue-checkmark journalist. The news outlets themselves are heavily involved in Twitter, and Attiah prominently advertises her Washington Post affiliation on her Twitter account.

Her affiliation with a prominent media company is why she has a blue checkmark: https://help.twitter.com/en/managing-your-account/about-twit...

> Notable Your account must represent or otherwise be associated with a prominently recognized individual or brand, in line with the notability criteria described below.

> News organizations and journalists: Any official accounts of qualifying news organizations, as well individual accounts of journalists employed by qualifying organizations may be verified, if the account is public (does not have protected Tweets) and refers directly to the name and official URL of the qualifying organization and otherwise meets the criteria laid out in this policy

by jolux9 hours ago

> While I agree there is a distinction, I don't think that distinction applies to the Twitter posts of a journalist.

We can disagree on this, but it's absolutely a question of current debate and not something that is settled. Some journalists believe themselves to have freedom on Twitter that they do not have in their columns. Some have been fired for assuming as such. Others have not.

by edbob10 hours ago

Honestly, this isn't any more helpful than responding "citation needed" to someone asserting that man-made causes will accelerate climate change. The inevitability of the abuse of political power is not something that has to be debated over and over again in every thread.

by jolux9 hours ago

>The inevitability of the abuse of political power is not something that has to be debated over and over again in every thread.

I don't contest this, what I contest is the idea that there is comparable misinformation on both sides. rayiner has since updated his post with some examples that he thinks constitute misinformation by news sources themselves, but before the only example given was the tweets from the Washington Times link.

+1
by CWuestefeld7 hours ago

what I contest is the idea that there is comparable misinformation on both sides

I don't see that we need to even consider the question of parity. Saying that one side or another is worse, and therefore requires special attention, is wrong: it's false that only the worst offender should be policed.

All sides should be subject to the same rules, whether they're doing it a lot or just a little. My personal philosophy is that for all sides, the remedy is to encourage more information to shine light on the falsehoods, rather than trying to gag any ideas.

+1
by edbob9 hours ago

I responded about the future because the quote you disagreed said "there will be", and I think the general tone of discussion here is around the potential future for abuse. We've seen notable comments by Democratic voters who are legitimately afraid of what their party will become. In this context, I'm not sure if current comparisons of misinformation are very relevant.

Having explained my thinking, I'll make sure to respectfully engage with yours. I do see the point about both sides not being equal in misinformation. But I think that a lot of the apparent difference comes from bias. There are several liberal narratives that are as baseless as anything in QAnon, and others that are partially factually accurate but framed in very misleading ways. But as these are accepted and promulgated in mainstream media, they are not considered fringe misinformation. I think there may still be greater fault on the "right" in misinformation, but it's not nearly as large as it appears to people in a liberal bubble, and, moreover, that disparity can shift overnight. I don't really want to derail this into a debate about those political narratives, so I probably have to leave it at that.

by cwkoss7 hours ago

MSNBC is just as partisan and loose with the truth as fox news, but with a centrist liberal perspective. CNN seems slightly better, but they have a lot of questionable reporting and analysis as well.

by e405 hours ago

I think the magnitude of the lies on the Fox side is far larger than those on the CNBC side.

Magnitude matters in this case and painting them with "both sides" arguments is a huge disservice.

by drak0n1c5 hours ago

MSNBC has a history of misinformation contributing to the highly polarized environment today.

Here is a video showing how MSNBC purposefully cropped footage of an armed protester at an Obama townhall to hide his race (he was black), and used the clip to immediately launch into a discussion claiming that town hall protesters were motivated by racism. Soon after that media cycle my peers in college started assuming that most criticism of Obama is motivated by racism. These kinds of attitudes directly contributed to the current culture war of bad faith ostracism and tribalism.

https://youtu.be/fvBQDHqdCck?t=130

Remember, a left wing activist also took violent action and shot up Congressmen at a baseball field. The argument of a "sufficient level" of misinformation and/or butterfly-effect-violence can be used to justify arbitrary intimidation and censorship against any outlet.

by rayiner5 hours ago

> think the magnitude of the lies on the Fox side is far larger than those on the CNBC side.

It’s not a scaler. There is the overt-ness of the lie, as well as the significance of the lie. Fox gives air to some significant and bald-faced lies. MSNBC gives air to a lot of misconceptions that are monumental in scope but less bald-faced. On the flip side, the journalism side of Fox stood up to the bald-faced lie about the election. Nobody at MSNBC never stands up to the less bald-faced misconceptions aired on that network.

With respect to elections. Trump made up a big lie about one election that Fox’s news side pushed back on, and which some opinion commenters face air too. MSNBC has given air to less bold lies about election integrity ever since 2000. How many people know from watching left-leaning media that 7 of 9 justices, with two Democrats agreeing with five Republicans, thought the Florida recount was unconstitutional?

In other examples, look at COVID response. Do you think people watching CNN have an accurate idea of where US COVID deaths stands in comparison to similar countries?

by cwkoss4 hours ago

I don't watch MSNBC (or any TV news for that matter), but I'm curious how their reporting has changed since Biden was sworn in. It's easier to report facts that 'speak truth to power' when your bias is opposed to who currently holds power.

Biden has delayed, compromised on, or walked back nearly every campaign promise he made. Has MSNBC been calling out these discrepancies between campaign rhetoric and implementation? I would be surprised if they were making substantive criticism of the Biden administration.

by tiahura4 hours ago

What Ever Happened to Daniel Dale? CNN Fact-Checker Has Disappeared From Air Post-Trump

https://www.mediaite.com/news/what-ever-happened-to-daniel-d...

Since joining CNN in June of 2019, Dale has appeared or been mentioned on the network more than once every other day on average, according to the Internet Archive.

That exposure dropped sharply after November 4, and according to the TV Eyes media monitoring database, since President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, Dale has only appeared on the network once. And that appearance, last Friday, was to fact-check Donald Trump’s lawyers.

by duck4 hours ago

One important question related to this is if a news org doesn't cover a valid story? Is that lying by omission? Probably not, but from an audience standpoint is there really a difference?

by dragonwriter5 hours ago

> It's fair to say that Maddow has an opinion show, not a news show.

The general format (it is varied from occasionally) is a commentary/interview show that uses news stories, generally presented as straight news and to journalistic standards, to provide context for the interviews and commentary.

> these rules

Who has proposed rules?

by bradford8 hours ago

> Whether it's "inflammatory" speech or "misinformation"--these rules will not be applied even-handedly.

When one source of disinformation has a contribution to negative outcomes, It's going to draw more scrutiny. As long as that happens regardless of content-origin, it's the kind of even-handedness that I'd hope for.

You mention Maddow, and, while I don't watch her, If her show's content possibly contributed to a putsch, I'd hope that someone would look into it.

Media has been full of crazy for decades now and authorities typically look the other way until some significant event occurs. January 6th was very significant, and if Fox/oann/newsmax had a role in it, I'd like to know. Bringing up Maddow and other opinion sources seem like whataboutism here.

by scythe7 hours ago

>The letter complains about Fox and OANN's partisan and inflammatory rhetoric,

>they suggest censoring Fox News, which accurately reported the election results and Supreme Court developments. The conspiracy theories, such as they were, came from some of the opinion hosts.

It's hard to believe we're at this point, but Fox is on a different level from OANN. You can find counterpoints on Fox News. OANN/Breitbart/the Mercer family media empire are a new, more vicious and fantasy-driven right-populism.

If the right would keep its own house in order, you'd see less appetite for restrictions on the left. You need a boogeyman to sell this kind of thing. I can see your WaPo editor (in the private sector) and raise you plenty of Republican Congressmembers posing with rifles and Lindsey Graham trying to employ Brad Raffensperger. The worst left-wing "counterpart" is probably Maxine Waters's mean words.

by rayiner5 hours ago

What’s wrong with posing with rifles in response to a President that’s making noise about gun control?

by gist6 hours ago

> It's fair to say that Maddow has an opinion show, not a news show.

With many of these shows is they are a bit of 'looks like a duck quacks like a duck'. By that I mean the format and the presentation look as if they are not opinion but possibly fact and/or news. This can be manipulated by both the format, graphics, presentation of 'experts' and so on.

CNN does this as well with some opinion shows, Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper, Erin Burnett. Many people will take them as authoritative typically because it's a professional presentation on a 'major' network. Most when I have spot watched do not even present an opposing or counter view a topic being discussed. And they often present a well credentialed person to support the pov they are taking.

by tarboreus10 hours ago

Is anyone finding this terrifying? When did democrafts, the party I vote for, become the people calling for tight censorship in every sector? Weren't the last people to make this move (more more ineffectively, thankfully) the Christian right? Is there something we can do to stand up for speech?

by rayiner10 hours ago

Democrats were proponents of free speech when Republicans controlled the media, culture, and institutions. Increasingly, the media, culture, and institutions are controlled by progressive Democrats (and I think there is a growing schism between liberals and progressives on this front), and traditional liberal ideas of the free exchange of information have no more value.

by blacktriangle10 hours ago

Which is exactly why no matter where you land politically, you should be 100% in favor of fighting for free speech for yourself and the other side.

by PTOB7 hours ago

This human has read his history.

by Spivak5 hours ago

I think there’s a disconnect here. Does free speech have to include someone knowingly purposely spreading misinformation with the intent to deceive people? Or someone speaking with the explicit intent to harm another person?

Because I think nobody should be able to silence your thoughts, ideas or opinions but those things don’t encompass all speech.

by offby37years7 hours ago

If you're convinced fascism has arrived in America, you'll excuse any means necessary to topple the dictator and to prevent a reoccurrence. The issue is in doing so, they've become the tyrannical force they propose to oppose.

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear." — Harry S. Truman

by TrispusAttucks1 hour ago

I like your quote. It inspired me to share another.

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

by nyczomg2 hours ago

Not only that, but the people gladly handing over more and more power to the government now that Trump is out will be in for a terrible surprise when they learn that someday someone like Trump might win another election and will assume those additional powers.

by maerF0x07 hours ago

> When did democrafts, the party I vote for

Probably around the same time as it became socially unacceptable not to vote for them? Note how you had to qualify yourself as a democrat voter as some kind of proof point of the validity of your claims?

by ntsplnkv27 hours ago

~75 million people voted for Donald Trump - it is hardly socially unacceptable to vote for a republican and you have a secret vote anyway.

by jimbokun5 hours ago

For the most part, it is socially unacceptable to vote Republican if you live in a large US city, and it is socially unacceptable to vote Democrat if you live in a rural area.

+1
by jancsika3 hours ago

I've never seen any evidence that it's "socially unacceptable" in any meaningful sense of the term to vote Democrat in a rural area. Where are you getting this?

by skynet-90007 hours ago

> it is hardly socially unacceptable to vote for a republican and you have a secret vote anyway.

Those two things are not in conflict with each other: a sizable percentage of Trump voters may have been counting on the fact that they could secretly vote in order to protect themselves and even their jobs.

It seems that, today, some vocal people arguing for censorship immediately assume that anyone on the side of free speech and liberal thought is secretly a Trump apologist.

+1
by ntsplnkv26 hours ago

> Those two things are not in conflict with each other: a sizable percentage of Trump voters may have been counting on the fact that they could secretly vote in order to protect themselves and even their jobs.

Black people have lost their jobs for years for being black (See, Kaepernick.) many mad about this post didn't care then. It's all fake, using free speech to coverup blatantly partisan items.

They can't actually be on the side of free speech and be a Trump apologist. He was extremely anti-media, one of the most anti-press presidents we have had.

by TrispusAttucks1 hour ago

Long-time democrat here. I am terrified of what my party is becoming!

I'm more critical of my own party because I hold them to a higher standard. I'm getting very disillusioned with them at this point. All the behaviors I decried of the right so many years ago are now in full swing on the left side. The difference now is the consolidatation of control and power makes it an even greater threat. I fear a point of no return.

by BitwiseFool10 hours ago

I've noticed that there is a common belief amongst Democrats and Progressives that people are duped into holding conservative viewpoints because of Fox News. Whenever I have asked people on the left why they think Republicans and Conservatives believe what they believe, the conversation always includes references to Fox News and the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. So in that sense I can understand why so many Democrats want Fox News dismantled.

by rayiner10 hours ago

I agree that many people think that, but it gets the chronology precisely backwards. CNN has been on the air since 1980. Fox News didn't even exist until 1996, and didn't become popular until 2000. Fox News is a response to media bias,[1] not the other way around.

[1] And by "bias" I don't necessarily mean open bias. CNN wasn't partisan in the 1990s like it is today. But it still provided news filtered through a liberal ideology. For example, 71% of republicans say religion "does more good than harm in American society" versus 44% of democrats: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/11/15/republicans.... If you limit the analysis to white Democrats (the people who run newsrooms) the disparity is even starker: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/05/23/religiously... ("Religiously, nonwhite Democrats are more similar to Republicans than to white Democrats").

Do you think that someone who believes religion is an negative force in society, maybe jokes about religious people to friends after work will report on COVID-related church closings the same way as someone who believes religious practice is important to societal health? Even if they are acting utterly in good faith, their ideology can't help but influence their choice of stories, the gloss they put on developments, etc.

by maxerickson8 hours ago

You've misquoted the survey, inverting the result. Republicans think religion does more good than harm at that rate, and the other way around for the other guys.

That it was a typo is clear enough from the rest of your comment.

CNN isn't partisan though, they are just sensationalists.

Like I think you could treat Ron Johnson like a jackass and not be partisan, and they don't even do that, they act like he is a straight shooter and play out the kayfabe.

by rayiner8 hours ago

Thanks corrected.

by zug_zug8 hours ago

The truth is, we don't know the causality. Nobody has a good explanation of what makes an otherwise normal, intelligent person believe Q-anon, for example. We have some ham-fisted theories about how Hitler riled his country to exterminate Jews, but it's not really a nuanced enough explanation to say when/if something like it could happen again [nor assure us it won't].

I'd like to pretend that we're all rational agents, but I know that there are certain "emotional backdoors" that people like Hitler have exploited in the past to get people to do horrible things against everybody's interest.

For those of us who live in a country controlled by the will of the majority, obviously the education of the average person is a priority.

If the shoe was on other foot, and I had a mainstream news channel that had 40% of the population angry and believing demonstrably false things (e.g. Aliens were running the country and I could point out the aliens for you), and I was hinting/insinuating a revolution was necessary, how hard would you defend my cable TV show?

[Edit - Lol, I know I've got a pretty solid argument when nobody can answer the question but only give a pouty downvote]

+1
by arminiusreturns7 hours ago

>Nobody has a good explanation of what makes an otherwise normal, intelligent person believe Q-anon, for example.

It's easily explainable, on the contrary, it was an intelligence psyop using half-truths that was setup to perform the two fold-function of honeypotting and distracting the "conspiracy theorists" who might look into the Trump admin and understand it's real dark underbelly, which is completely different from the one the MSM pushed for four years, and then to be used as most limited hangout psyops are; as a tool to discredit genuine conspiracies as crazy by association.

So now people like you who are probably fairly intelligent, but probably not keeping up with the underlying truths in the "half-truths" side of the phenomenon that was Q, can easily just discredit those who believe it as uneducated (usually the nicest term used), without understanding how they got there, and that you also lack education, at least in that department.

So thats the sort of high level overview, but I can give you a few examples about how psyops manipulate otherwise intelligent people to buy into that sort of thing.

1. Hope and belief: After the war, I ended up becoming an atheist and started to notice in my studies on that topic, more specifically in conversations with old christian friends, that much of their belief system stemmed not from the truth of the matter, but from the hope it gave them. Further, from the need for hope, and need for belief it provided. Q-Anon exposes to some limited degree that the elites are up to some very shady shit, and then said: "Don't worry, it's being taken care of! Trump is a good guy, antiestablishment revolutionary who is going to take them down from the inside, and drain the swamp!" And for a certain amount of intelligent people who know the elite are indeed up to nefarious things, that's so tempting to want to believe! Having been on the Q-board from more or less day one, I do want to make a point that the first few months were full of very original and deep "bread" (research postings), by the more intelligent from the conspiracy and chan community. After a few months when the game became increasingly obvious to those people, but as it gained more noteriety and more normies showed up, the demographics shifted noticeably, primarily towards the religious right... a group who have already demonstrated their ability to suspend critical thinking when it comes to belief. The vast majority if not all of the people (besides the q psyop group themselves) that did the best work left knowning what the intent was (this was max a few months into the forced switchover to 8chan)

2. Real truths: I'll just come out and say what most of it really is: the multi-national, multi-intelligence agency compromise operations are completely out of control, and target most if not all high level politicians and businessmen. There is a myriad of evidence, buth deductive and inductive, to support this claim. Epstein was just a disposable middle manager in a blackmail network, for example. When analyzing this issue it quickly gets to the darker stuff people don't want to think about or talk about. My usual summary of how it works is that the order of operations for compromise/control go like this; idealogical - at a lower level , say a freshman state congressperson, having idealogical alignment is enough to get them to do what is wanted, no real overt control need be exerted, but lets go to the next level; bribery. This is standard congressional fare. Lunches, parties, pac donations, kickbacks of various kinds to both the campaign and to causes the campaign wants pushed, cushy jobs and kickbacks for relatives and friends of the congressperson, etc. All mostly legal, with a few outliers like Jack Abramoff pushing the edges of that level. What happens when you get a congress person who doesn't play ball though? This is where you start to run into the higher levels, such as pure blackmail. Cameras are setup, and it starts with the after-after-party, usually just drugs at first. Then it's hookers. Then it's underage hookers... and it gets worse. Human trafficking, and worse. If for some reason the rare person with integrety survives all this, that is when the threats begin (and they are not empty!). This is all true stuff. But no one is actually doing anything about it, because most of the people in a position to do so are already compromised are at the very least afraid.

What Q did was exploit that these things really happen, by creating a false narrative that tended to only focus on the democrats participation in this system (both parties are completely compromised in this way, anybody remember Dennis Hastert?), and then pretended to offer a (false) hope by saying Trump was an anti-establishment savior, despite his many connections to this very system! For example, his mentor Roy Cohn was a CIA and Lansky-gang (who blackmailed Hoover) connected pedo-blackmailer very much in the vein of Epstein! Then creating other false narratives to distance the more obvious connections between him and that world (for example, pushing the narrative that he didn't like Epstein because of his pedo-tendencies, but in reality their spat was over a real-estate deal that went sour, and had nothing to do with Trump having a higher moral compass (laugh) than Epstein). Then taking all these things and promising there was always some action going to be taken around the corner, next week, next month, next year, stay tuned, etc... and none of it ever materialized.

So for a people who find so much value in the need for hope and belief, mixing real truths with half-lies and then pretending something would be done was a recipe made in heaven for the people behind Qanon. The media, who didn't want to address any of this just lied through their teeth about the Russian narrative, created a reinforcement mechanism that they weren't to be trusted, which pushed even more "normies" over into Q-territory.

Now, as you see the push for censorship and castigation of all things Q-anon, remember all nuggets of truth inside the half-truths are going to be thrown out baby and bathwater style... and I argue that this was the main intention all along (along with the cries of "domestic terrorism" being used to push all kinds of horrible things). Cass Sunsteins cognitive infiltration system is at play and is the modern evolution of COINTELPRO.

PS. For just one example in a myriad, look up the Dutroux Affair, aka Belgiums X-Files sometime, if you think that darker stuff isn't true/doesn't happen. (warning, not for the faint of heart)

by lftl8 hours ago

I believe you've transposed "harm" and "good" in your quote. The linked Pew article lists the question as "Do more good than harm."

by jackson14422 hours ago

Agreed. Fortunately this appears to be only two house members sending this. If McNerney or Eshoo are your representatives, it might be a good idea to reach out and make your case.

by sneak7 hours ago

The dirty secret of American hyperpartisan battle is that the two parties in the US are fundamentally identical where it counts: pro-surveillance, authoritarian war machines.

by Clubber7 hours ago

And don't forget pro-corporate, which has been historically the norm, to the point of overthrowing other governments to protect crop yields / revenue.

There was a study that came out a few years ago, and I can't find it, but the point was that any laws passed that the general citizenry want were purely incidental. All the laws passed over the last 20 years or so directly benefited corporate and special interest groups.

Another person described the spectrum of the various forms of democracy as a highway. The went on to describe the two US political parties as the two parallel lines dividing the highway.

/rant

by macspoofing9 hours ago

>When did democrafts, the party I vote for, become the people calling for tight censorship in every sector?

When Trump got elected and it broke people's brains. At that point, everything became permissible in order to fight Trump. Now that Trump is gone, you can't put the genie back in the bottle.

Since Trump, the Democratic establishment has effectively captured Mainstream Media, Big Tech and Social Media (with Academia being already firmly in the Democratic tent). Mainstream media and Big Tech isn't even pretending to be objective anymore. There is now an incestuous pipeline between executive leadership in those institutions and the Democratic establishment. And I say 'establishment' because it isn't just the Conservatives, Republicans and Libertarians that are getting censored. I don't like the anti-war, anti-American, class-focused Left, but those groups also get targeted, as are Progressives that focus on class (as opposed to cultural) issues.

>Weren't the last people to make this move (more more ineffectively, thankfully) the Christian right?

Apt analogy. This is the 'Christian Evangelical Right' from the 90s, with similar level of puritanism ... and with the backing of media companies and big tech. So much much worse.

by BitwiseFool7 hours ago

I can't help but think 'puritanism' is a personality trait and there has always been a sizable portion of the American public dedicated to policing the thoughts and behavior of others. The underlying ideology may have changed, but the archetype sure hasn't. Maybe the so-called SJWs of today would have been Temperance activists 100 years ago.

by hntrader7 hours ago

It's an authoritarian personality type which exists on both the left and the right. It's remarkable that when we look at the many personality subtraits of authoritarian types on the left and the right, they align extremely closely with one another.

by reducesuffering29 minutes ago
by mnouquet7 hours ago

> When Trump got elected

Gamergate pre-dates Trump, and was the exact same mentality, which you can probably trace back to the 1970's if not before.

by citilife7 hours ago

To be frank, the democrats have been directly calling for increasing amounts of censorship for years... In 2016-2018 it was slow at first: de-platforming people, refusing to let conservatives on media, etc.

Since, 2018-2020 has been almost a militant level of censorship being pushed.

There's a boatload of examples, but generally I recommend trying to join / visit different communities. While the right has been targeted to an extreme you can still see their points of view on gab.com or patriots.win pretty much uncensored.

by njharman10 hours ago

Judging what is and is not misinformation must always be in the hands of the people. Never the hands of authorities whether those be government or corporate.

Why must fight all censorship. Because once you allow "a thing" to be censored, it becomes possible to censor "any thing".

Things in the past which were labeled misinformation and would have been suppressed for even longer (or forever) under current social attitudes of censoring anything that might make us feel bad.

  - Leaded gasoline poisoning all of the country.
  - Tobacco is addicting and gives you cancer.
  - Agent Orange caused US military health problems.
  - PTSD is a mental health issue (denied since at least WWI).
Remember all the power/leeway you give to the "left" (or right) will also be misused when the "right" (or left) take power again.
by kryogen1c8 hours ago

> Things in the past which were labeled misinformation

I know that item-level thinking like this is necessary to gain emotional traction with people, but this issue is just so obvious at a systems-level.

the idea that we, right now the instant youre reading this, have discovered 100% of what there is to learn and 0% of what we know is wrong is so painfully, horrifically, obviously stupid (we've had computers for thirty years now, we're probably good for ETERNITY, right?). we both WANT and NEED a mechanism for dissenters and disinformation. misinformation is combat with MORE discussion, not less!

scientific consensus is not arrived at when every scientific paper says the same thing. this is a fundamentally wrong view of science and also reality. on any given topic, the corpus includes opposing conclusions. eventually we figure out why and discern the underlying principles.

to say anything but this is to make the existential case that people are not to be trusted with their own free will.

by shakezula7 hours ago

> misinformation is combat with MORE discussion, not less!

I wholeheartedly agree, but how do you get the other side to listen?

The saying goes something like "You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into."

by colpabar7 hours ago

> How do you get the other side to listen?

Pretend you think like them, and make arguments that go against that thinking. Unfortunately, the way the media exists today this never happens, and both sides just attack strawmen in ways that get people to click their headlines and listen to their talking heads.

I think it's disingenuous to paint the entire "other side" as unreasonable, but I may be misinterpreting what you mean by "other side" here. There will always be unreasonable people, and I don't have a solution for them. However, I think _a lot_ of people are very tired of being demonized for disagreeing. Not every republican is a rabid tea partier, and not every democrat supports antifa.

by kbenson5 hours ago

> Pretend you think like them, and make arguments that go against that thinking.

Both sides have attacked the trustworthiness of the other. You can't convince someone of something when they think you're lying, or will lie and dissemble to get what you want, and nothing you say can be taken at face value because it's all a con to get some other goal which you claim to not want.

There has been such a concerted effort to so malign the other side that's it's less about clear communication than it is trust. It's got more in common with soldiers inpast wars being encouraged to use terms like krauts, gooks and chinks and those being used as stereotypes to explain the behavior and motivations of the other side than anything else, IMO.

by kaibee6 hours ago

> I think it's disingenuous to paint the entire "other side" as unreasonable, but I may be misinterpreting what you mean by "other side" here. There will always be unreasonable people, and I don't have a solution for them. However, I think _a lot_ of people are very tired of being demonized for disagreeing. Not every republican is a rabid tea partier, and not every democrat supports antifa.

There's a lot of fundamental issues that are just not limited to "rabid tea partiers", global warming and the pandemic/masks just to pick two.

by rayiner7 hours ago

The purpose isn’t to get “the other side to listen.” Its to get moderate to listen, and to make sure the other side feels heard. That procedural aspect of free speech is at least as important, if not more so, than the truth-finding aspect of free speech.

by leesalminen7 hours ago

It basically doesn’t matter if you get the other side to listen or not. Open and free discussion is out there for those who want to partake. There will always be zealots who choose not to.

Censoring opposition in order to be heard more loudly doesn’t work. In an IRL discussion, if you start talking over someone forcing them to stop talking, they’re going to shut down and never listen to anything you have to say.

+1
by shakezula5 hours ago

It matters very much when that other side has the control of your government.

by nitsky7 hours ago

I have heard this expression rephrased as "Logic is useless against those who reject it".

However, in my experience, both sides are logical, they just start from different axioms.

by shakezula5 hours ago

This is my experience as well, but I've also noticed that both sides do not adhere to their base axioms with the same tenacity, and the issues can be a spectrum of adherence to their claimed base beliefs.

by s1artibartfast6 hours ago

Assume good intentions, respect them as individuals, and listen to what they have to say even if you disagree.

These are basic tenants of productive debate.

+1
by lotsofpulp6 hours ago

Sometimes. I know people who only care to maximize for themselves and their immediate tribe, and could not care less what happens to others not useful for them.

It is naive to play the game as if others aren't interested in capturing an outsized share of the winnings. And obviously they're not going to officially state their motives.

+1
by shakezula6 hours ago

I completely agree with these points - but that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying what do you do when your partner in debate completely ignores all of those things, but has equal say in the outcomes?

by markkanof6 hours ago

There is also a problem with approaching this type of dialog as one side vs. the other. People are all over the spectrum with their opinions on various issues. You might have a disagreement on one particular issue, but it's likely that you also have some common ground on other things. Use that to relate to people and try to influence their thinking to your point of view. It's not a war where you are trying to destroy "the other side".

by alsetmusic3 hours ago

>> misinformation is combat with MORE discussion, not less!

> I wholeheartedly agree, but how do you get the other side to listen?

I don’t think there’s any winning some people over.

My mother had a very problematic stat about police violence and racism last summer. I was able prove it wrong by getting the real stat in five seconds with a Google search. The source is well known and reputable. She refused to stop clinging to her source.

by lurquer6 hours ago

> I wholeheartedly agree, but how do you get the other side to listen?

Re-education camps seem to be the go-to solution for many totalitarian regimes.

I’m not being a smart-ass... the desire some have for others to agree with them can itself be a pernicious thing.

by shakezula6 hours ago

Maybe "agreement" isn't what I meant as the goal - only progress. Fair point to address that they're not equal.

by ajwin6 hours ago

> I wholeheartedly agree, but how do you get the other side to listen?

The only way is to stop preaching and listen to them. Really listen. This is how Daryl Davis converted the KKK according to his own accounts?

by asdfasgasdgasdg6 hours ago

For me, a good start would be to provide evidence that people have had their minds changed because information gets discussed more. E.g. you could demonstrate that the qanon phenomenon became less popular, not more, after it began getting wide media attention. (Unfortunately in this instance the opposite is the case. You have an uphill battle ahead trying to demonstrate your position empirically.)

+1
by shakezula6 hours ago

Q is a really interesting conspiracy theory to bring up. It seems to be at the other end of the "valley" of conspiracy theories - it's almost like the most brazenly unbelievable ones are the ones that somehow gain the most traction.

by ihsw4 hours ago

Reconciliation among people is usually governed by the reframing of sacred issues, eg:

> Scientific advancement is an effort to grow closer to God as God created an infinitely complex universe, it is not an effort to grow further away from God. Additionally, hard work is a sign of having the grace of God, and as such vaccinations are provided by the grace of God and it is our duty to receive them.

It doesn't take much to meet people halfway and communicate in a language that they understand, and naturally that will involve cooperation, dialogue, and compromise.

"Get the other side to listen" is the wrong point of view to have, it should be "which of my ideas are appealing and which are not."

by ardy427 hours ago

> misinformation is combat with MORE discussion, not less!

The problem with that idea is that it takes more effort to debunk a lie than to tell one. It also takes more effort to absorb a debunking than a lie. That's why disinformation works.

Here's an example: JFK ate babies occasionally, and the media hushed it up. Oswald was actually a secret high-level CIA operative, and was so outraged by this that he assassinated JFK for it.

It took me two seconds to write that. How much effort would it take you to debunk it?

It's just not practical to put all the burden of combating misinformation on each individual's shoulders. It's also necessary to stop the spread of misinformation. That doesn't need to be done by a central authority, but people who've been convinced by a lie will perceive that as "censorship" by one.

> scientific consensus is not arrived at when every scientific paper says the same thing. this is a fundamentally wrong view of science and also reality. on any given topic, the corpus includes opposing conclusions. eventually we figure out why and discern the underlying principles.

Scientific consensus is also not arrived at by publishing literally every crackpot idea, and answering each with "more discussion." Science has several mechanisms for "censoring" bullshit and misinformation (e.g. peer review), and it couldn't function without it. "More discussion" is saved for cases where those mechanisms failed.

by rayiner6 hours ago

> Scientific consensus also not arrived at by publishing literally every crackpot idea, and answering each with "more discussion." Science has several mechanisms for "censoring" bullshit and misinformation (e.g. peer review), and it couldn't function without it.

What counts as a "crackpot idea?" We don't have to dabble in hypotheticals about JFK eating babies. We have real examples from current political events that show we're not talking about "slippery slopes" here. We have rolled down the slope with stunning speed.

In March 2020, the Surgeon General suggested that wearing masks was effective to prevent spread of COVID was a crackpot idea: https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/485332-surgeon-general... ("Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus[.]").

10 months later, the Surgeon General is calling that same assertion a "myth": https://twitter.com/surgeon_general/status/13189727242078986... ("There is a currently circulating MYTH suggesting masks don’t work to prevent spread of COVID-19.").

I have a degree in aerospace engineering--I totally get that scientific understanding evolves. But it doesn't evolve like that. The truth is that the Surgeon General's March 2020 statement was ill-advised and overly-certain, and so was the October 2020 statement. Whether masks are effective at limiting the spread of COVID is quite uncertain. Mask-wearing rates vary quite dramatically between countries with similar COVID death rates: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/07/08/face-off.... By June 2020, the U.S. had mask-wearing rates of 75%. Denmark, Sweden, and Norway were under 20%. Out of those, Sweden and the U.S. have death rates (per population) 5-10 times higher than Denmark and Norway.

Despite that uncertainty, I think most people worried about "misinformation" would use mask-denialism as a motivating example for why restrictions are needed. So what are the restrictionists really advocating for here?

by NortySpock6 hours ago

And it was damned foolish to say "masks don't work" if what they wanted the public to understand was "please leave surgical and N95 masks for healthcare workers. We are exploring the effectiveness of cloth masks".

THAT would have been honesty, it would have explained the reason they didn't want the general public using masks, and it would have hinted at an alternative while not directly confirming masks work (or don't work).

NOT TO MENTION that the CDC probably could have asked South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, or any other country where mask usage was common, "How well do masks work?" and been pointed at a few relevant studies, right? But no, they make a very fishy statement to the public claiming masks don't work for normal people.

/rant Sorry. You hit a nerve. Pretty frustrated that the CDC would throw away its credibility like that.

by pen2l6 hours ago

> The issue is actually pretty uncertain, and government bodies are making categorical statements for political reasons

I think it's more complicated than just politics, as I was saying elsewhere (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26139732), public health officials advised against mask-wearing for general public initially for a very particular reason (possible shortages for medical frontline workers). As far as public healthy policy is concerned, where you cannot pass a certain threshold of complexity in communicating best practices to grandmas around the nation, masks work is a good enough message and it stands on pretty solid science: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.31.20166116v...

by CivBase6 hours ago

> It took me two seconds to write that. How much effort would it take you to debunk it?

How long would it take you to establish enough credibility to be able to make an accusation like that and have people actually take your word for it? There might be a few nutters out there who are so predisposed to hate JFK that they'll believe anything negative about him, but most people - even those who dislike him - would rightfully question such an outlandish statement made by someone with no credentials.

Dishonest people retain credibility when their supporters are trapped in echo chambers designed to keep the truth out. Censorship is a powerful tool for establishing and maintaining echo chambers. We need to fight echo chambers, not promote censorship.

+1
by ardy426 hours ago

> How long would it take you to establish enough credibility to be able to make an accusation like that and have people actually take your word for it?

Keep this in mind: Q is literally some dude on 4chan/8chan with a tripcode.

> There might be a few nutters out there who are so predisposed to hate JFK that they'll believe anything negative about him, but most people - even those who dislike him - would rightfully question such an outlandish statement made by someone with no credentials.

I make no claim that my example lie is a good example of misinformation/disinformation. It was only meant to show the asymmetry of effort implicit in "more discussion."

The key thing about getting a lie to stick is to hitting the right emotional buttons with it. And it's so easy broadcast lies nowadays that you can even discover those buttons stochastically, by just throwing random lies out there and seeing what sticks.

Furthermore, if your goal is not to convince anyone of anything in particular, but to just to gum up a society (which is the goal of disinformation, properly understood), you don't event need to find particular lies with a broad appeal across society. You just need enough lies that enough people fall for one or two.

by cassalian5 hours ago

So you'd like to make lying illegal...? I have an amendment to show you, it's actually the very first one!

by temp89647 hours ago

Your example actually tells something. Nobody would believe your JFK baby eating story. It is easy to write a fake story, but it is not easy to have lots of people believe your fake story. "Misinformation" can spread because they seem plausible to enough people, not because they are "bullshit" like your example.

by parineum6 hours ago

> "Misinformation" can spread because they seem plausible to enough people

Conspiracy theories are only believed by those who already mistrust the target. If there's a lot of conspiracies revolving around something/someone, you have a trust problem.

by mcguire5 hours ago

How about Jewish space lasers?

by drwiggly6 hours ago

The problem with your calling this example out, is that people will believe this stuff if down the rabbit hole enough.

Jan 20th Biden and Harris were supposed to be arrested and their pedo evidence was suppose to be shown to all, along with evidence of election fraud.

The next one is what March 7th?

A lot of people think an ancient all powerful being will re-appear and lift up adherents on high, and punish "bad" non believers.

by JKCalhoun6 hours ago

> It is easy to write a fake story, but it is not easy to have lots of people believe your fake story.

I thought so too before Pizzagate, Q-Anon....

by josephorjoe6 hours ago

I wish you were right, but you are not. It is very easy to have lots of people believe a fake story.

QAnon conspiracy theories are incoherent and absurd yet are embraced by thousands and cause needless harm to many.

by jesseryoung6 hours ago

Perhaps a better example: Jewish people are telling you the earth is round so that way they can distract you from the fact they're kidnapping children and drinking their blood.

A fantastic video on the topic of difficult to debunk, but easy to produce content https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTfhYyTuT44.

by beowulfey8 hours ago

Can you explain this a bit more? At least for the first two, that information was disseminated by government bans or government-mandated labeling. I am not as familiar with Agent Orange but it was first studied by the New Jersey Agent Orange Commission in 1980 and found to be toxic — it helped lead to the Agent Orange Act. PTSD was first recognized by the APA in 1980 as well. These are all positions of authority making these decisions and claims.

I guess I am just confused what your point is here. Can you explain how the voices of the people were involved in the above examples?

by tetrahedr0n7 hours ago

I believe the OP's point was that those things (Agent orange, tobacco <> cancer, etc) which our society almost universally agree upon were once, themselves, targeted by dis/misinformation campaigns.

And that if we are to allow censorship, we are allowing the potential for disinformation campaigns.

IMO, the flaws in this argument are that it assumes a disinformation campaign is something the censor entity is controlling (specifically the US military, in the Agent Orange example). It also assumes disinformation is the only tactic available to a bad actor to manipulate the public.

To the spirit of the OP's point, though, I think we need to be wary of any corporation pledging to make the world a safer place by monitoring our communications.

Of course the situation is not binary; there are things that should be censored. I would like our law enforcement to use any tool at their disposal to stop human trafficking. Murder is not cool, AT&T should help LE look into those as well. Politician Y is trolling the internet with lies; we actually have a toolset for that and it's called journalism. Understanding that journalism/media is actually part of the problem here doesn't mean AT&T can do a better job.

by cool_dude858 hours ago

Hard disagree. We can censor, for example, child pornography, bomb-building tutorials, and revenge porn. I'm not going to fight against censoring them on the grounds that allowing them to be censored will allow anything else to be censored too.

by LanceH7 hours ago

For all of those, they passed a law which has to stand up to judicial scrutiny.

Leaning on a company to eliminate speech is censorship without review.

edit: removed extra word

by amadeuspagel8 hours ago

> child pornography, bomb-building tutorials, and revenge porn

None of these things are misinformation.

by swirepe7 hours ago

Technically true, but try building a bomb from one of those tutorials

by dddddhf7 hours ago

I have as a teenager made acetone peroxide and ammonium nitrate pipe bombs from instructions printed at the library. They worked ;)

by mjevans8 hours ago

Incorrect. We can __prosecute__ against those who break the law. We __must not__ censor, because that is the slippery slope; all the more so when it is done without judicial oversight in an adversarial review system.

by leesalminen8 hours ago

Agreed. If something is explicitly illegal, then that’s grounds for censorship. If something isn’t explicitly illegal, then it shouldn’t be censored. The First Amendment in the US provides for nearly limitless free speech, with very few exceptions. That’s how we should police speech online.

by betterunix28 hours ago

That is a distinction without a difference. You are talking about the mechanics of censorship.

by AnthonyMouse8 hours ago

It isn't. There are two differences.

The first is that prosecutions are retrospective. If something is true and you can't stop anyone from saying it, only punish them after, then people who are willing to sacrifice their freedom for the truth can't be silenced. There is also less incentive to punish them because the cat is already out of the bag, and people are more willing to push back against a prosecution for speaking a truth that they've seen survive an adversarial public debate.

The second is that prosecutions happen in courts bound (in the US) by the First Amendment, and the prosecution fails if the defendant was engaged in protected speech. Facebook or Comcast/MSNBC (note: the same company) deciding what constitutes "misinformation" with no accountability for over-censoring is not that.

by jefft2558 hours ago

If I understand correctly, you're claiming that we __must not__ censor child pornography? Isn't prosecution a form of censorship anyways? I think what you're saying is a textbook example of a slippery slope fallacy.

+1
by leesalminen8 hours ago

Following the law is a slippery slope? I’m pretty sure the parent is saying that because child pornography is explicitly illegal, it can (and should) be censored.

by Vaslo6 hours ago

Except the items you cite are done on a fringe. Almost half of America is conservative, hardly some fringe.

by sneak8 hours ago

See, even these descriptions which you presumably think are clear distinctions are not objective categories of information.

Do drawings count? How about deepfakes? Pyrotechnic display textbooks?

You're going to need a judge, and that judge is going to wield power.

by goatcode8 hours ago

>Judging what is and is not misinformation must always be in the hands of the people

You disagree with letting censorship be decided on democratically?

by vkou8 hours ago

The thing about democracy is that there are so many levels of government - and quite literally any decision made by a democratically elected government can be condemned as undemocratic (Because some other layer of government - or better yet, a Joe on the street - does not agree with it.)

This is how you get people shouting about how a democratically elected president, who was given, by a democratically elected congress, powers to operate a regulatory department, is acting undemocratic-ally [1], when he appoints someone those people don't like to head that department.

What those people forget is that in a democracy, you can't in good faith cherrypick outcomes as 'undemocratic'. You can only ensure that the process for making changes is democratic. If the people you elect decided to turn your country into a police state, well, that sucks, but that's a democratic decision that they've made - and as long as you can vote them out, it can be democratically reversed. Prohibition was reversed, after all, communist witch hunts eventually ended, it's no longer illegal to ride in a train car while black, people in the US are no longer jailed for writing pro-German newspaper articles, and we no longer round up entire ethnic groups, and concentrate them in a camp (Which are all hallmarks of a police state. They are no longer present in our society, thanks in part to a democratic process. Other hallmarks still are, but if enough people care, we'll eventually get around to them.)

[1] Despite neither the constitution, the law that brought that department into existence, the judiciary, nor years of precedent requiring that the department must be ran by an elected official, or that the department's every decision [2] must be voted on by Congress.

[2] As it turns out, it's quite democratic for an elected official to defer decision-making to an un-elected underling. That's fine. What makes this democratic, is that you can punish the elected official, if the underling behaves poorly, by voting them out. As long as all power flows from an elected office, this thing works. What is not fine is if the un-elected underling is not appointed, or fire-able by an elected office, or by an agent of an elected office. That's where the difference between democratic, and undemocratic lies.

by goatcode7 hours ago

> democracy

> democratically elected president

That's not really what I was talking about.

by trey-jones7 hours ago

I agree with this:

> Never the hands of authorities whether those be government or corporate.

But I'm not sure about this:

> Judging what is and is not misinformation must always be in the hands of the people.

It's definitely a very difficult problem. I like to think that I personally can distinguish decently well between information and mis/dis-information, but I look around and see plenty of people who simply cannot. And I could also be wrong about myself. The pandemic itself has at least had the effect of showing me that I can't always figure out what's true by intuition.

So I guess I believe that people in general are not good at making the distinction. We're too emotional. I'm inclined to say that a digital solution has the best chance of defeating this digital problem. A computer for President, I guess.

by offby37years7 hours ago

If you don't trust your fellow citizens to discern misinformation from truth, you don't trust them to vote.

by trey-jones7 hours ago

I don't, do you? It's the slipperiest slope around, however. For instance:

In my state there was an executive order from the governor allowing mask mandates, but polling places were specifically excluded, because you simply cannot disallow people from voting.

Another very difficult problem. How can you enforce voter education without enabling voter suppression? I don't have an answer. I'm mainly here to point out that problems are hard.

by statstutor6 hours ago

That doesn't follow.

I would still rather have voting citizens trying to discern the truth (and hope for some wisdom of the crowds), rather than have the agents of misinformation permanently in charge.

by Clubber7 hours ago

People certainly aren't perfect about judging the validity of information, but the danger is just too great to have a corporation and especially a government decide what's valid information.

by trey-jones7 hours ago

I am in complete agreement.

by specialist7 hours ago

Garbage in, garbage out.

Solution is real simple: share your data, cite your sources, sign your name.

Without provenance, accountability, transparency, it doesn't matter who is judging.

by shakezula7 hours ago

The problem is there's a non-trivial amount of people who consider their ignorance equal to your research, your facts, your studies, your anything.

by munk-a7 hours ago

That isn't a problem unless you're discussing something where anonymity is key - or it wouldn't be if the internet didn't make anonymity the rule by default. Anonymity is really great for private citizens, but people trying to spread information need to be held to a higher standard since their words shouldn't be preemptively censored but must be held to account after the fact.

Oh also, taking away anonymity is quite dangerous as well - there isn't an easy answer here.

+2
by shakezula6 hours ago

I'm not sure I'm convinced that taking away anonymity fixes the problem. We have very prominent politicians who are driving entire political campaigns around this strategy of ignoring all fact.

by specialist3 hours ago

aka Authentic speech. Anything less is gossip, or worse.

One can only guess at the motives of Freedom Speeches™ partisans who conflate trolls, bots and sockpuppets with IRL people.

by dfxm125 hours ago

Judging what is and is not misinformation must always be in the hands of the people. Never the hands of authorities whether those be government or corporate.

The government is the people, no? In any case, by the time the country elects a majority federal politicians who are all unified in spreading the same misinformation, we were in trouble long before that...

Also, if you think these letters represent censorship, I think you should take a look at the definition of that word. At best, you're crying wolf and at worst, you're spreading misinformation yourself.

by protonfish9 hours ago

"The People" believe whatever information has been promoted the most. To claim that we should do nothing to stop malevolent organizations from radicalizing vulnerable citizens is reckless. To lay the blame on individuals to fight this is victim-blaming. We need to battle this industrialized con artistry with whatever power we have - including police, courts, and laws.

Throwing up our hands because "censorship bad!" is sick and wrong.

by pfortuny9 hours ago

Yes but we have made the judiciary the judge of what goes further than free speech, not the legislative.

And that is key.

PREEMPTIVE censorship is always a mistake because it only relies on power ideologies.

by protonfish9 hours ago

Remember when we all agreed Nazis were bad? Good times.

+1
by pfortuny8 hours ago

What does that even mean? Did I agree to that?

by medicineman8 hours ago

Despite your attempt to be funny, I don't think that time ever existed.

by minikites8 hours ago

Exactly, the current strain of Conservative "thought" is to attack all forms of authority in order to muddle the truth and introduce doubt that any subject is knowable or provable. Allowing misinformation to spread serves that goal nicely and all they have to do is sit back and do nothing.

Their entire goal is to create a society where their gut opinions are just as good as knowledge from experts, because experts hurt their feelings (e.g. the Conservative reaction to the 1619 Project: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1776_Commission).

by dragonwriter8 hours ago

> Exactly, the current strain of Conservative "thought" is to attack all forms of authority in order to muddle the truth and introduce doubt that any subject is knowable or provable.

Which is kind of a weird whiplash, because it was not all that long ago that that was the standard attack of the Right against the “postmodern” Left.

by skynet-90007 hours ago

This is a strikingly illiberal stance. Attacking free speech is precisely the opposite of what civil liberties has traditionally all been about.

by minikites6 hours ago

Why is it worth protecting speech that is knowingly false and inflammatory? Think about the paradox of tolerance. True free speech is under threat by the torrent of misinformation and from the constant assault on the very idea of expertise. We as a society have to be active agents to counter misinformation, we can't just sit by and hope it works itself out in "the marketplace of ideas" because that's not how misinformation functions. This is not a new problem, but the internet gives it a new scale which we have yet to reckon with.

by linuxftw8 hours ago

Who is 'we'? I don't wish to be included in 'we' and I prefer that the group of 'we' not be in charge of much of anything.

by whydoibother6 hours ago

Does the concept of a collective confuse you?

by linuxftw6 hours ago

As long as someone can adequately explain who the collective is, and what they perceive legitimizes their ability to make decisions for others.

by PTOB7 hours ago

"Leaded gasoline poisoning all of the [world]." FTFY

by apostacy8 hours ago

Lets of course also not forget the biggest one, COVID.

COVID was fake news, until it wasn't. Previous weeks (months?) were spent suppressing warnings about it.

I specifically remember being banned for saying that people should wear face coverings. In February I tried saying that people should think twice before taking the subway or going to Lunar New Year.

January 2020, there was overwhelming evidence that something bad was coming, even though independent and citizen journalists didn't know the exact scope of it.

But their narrative was that COVID may exist but it isn't dangerous, and wearing a mask is alarmist and probably sinophobic racist Russian propaganda; continue having public gatherings and stop asking questions.

Within 48 hours, big tech decided that the truth is that we had always been at war with Eurasia and that anyone who had any doubts about lockdown strategy was basically a white supremacist and needed to be censored with extreme prejudice.

In my mind, that should have been it. After so many lives lost, that is when we should have decided that corporate america should not set up a de-facto ministry of truth, but I guess most people don't agree with me.

by Terretta8 hours ago

To be fair, that wasn’t “corporate America”, that was the Minister of Unhealth, usually called the Surgeon General:

"Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"

https://www.snopes.com/tachyon/2020/05/Screen-Shot-2020-05-1...

The tweet made no sense: if you’re a member of the public, COVID cleverly renders masks ineffective, so leave them for healthcare providers where COVID magically can’t bypass the masks?

The only things more annoying than pretending COVID could discriminate by profession were (a) the additional six to nine months of pretending it wasn’t airborne, and (b) company annoyance with remote work and individual boredom with staying home overriding caution even as the spread hits rates not seen since March/April 2020.

And this is where Corporate America comes in — they are by and large refusing to acknowledge the revision in guidance around it being airborne, since this would require more investment to make safe the butts-in-seats management preferred by non-practitioners in middle and senior levels of firms.

by devwastaken7 hours ago

We either allow foreign influence to undo our democracy or we allow current and future governments to suppress our democracy.

We should isolate western internet lines from russia/china/israel and any cooperating countries that are apart of these significant bot campaigns that generate fake news targeting our elections.

We're still at war, and information is the weapons of that war. We are currently allowing fascist governments to take advantage of the inherent flaws to democracy - belief and choice.

by adamcstephens7 hours ago

Eliminate the foreign influence, and you will still have a corrupt system filled with fascist information. At the same time you will have undermined American companies since every other country will wonder when they're next.

I know it's easy to blame the other, but democracy rots from within.

by omgwtfbyobbq10 hours ago

It's so far been in the hands of the courts, and like you said, they don't determine what's free speech based on whether something makes us feel bad.

Per bhupy, their specific criteria is whether the speech is "directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action".

If the misinformation on certain media outlets is considered by the courts to have incited the insurrection , then it may not be considered free speech.

by jcranmer8 hours ago

> If the misinformation on certain media outlets is considered by the courts to have incited the insurrection

The courts will not consider it to be incitement. If you think the courts even might, you are woefully deficient in your understanding of case law. A key word in the Brandenburg standard is "imminent", and that makes the Brandenburg bar very high. Taking a crowd of antisemites to a Jewish neighborhood and telling them antisemitic creeds and how all Jews need to die doesn't meet that bar--but pointing to a Jew and saying "there's a Jew, get him" does.

Thinking SCOTUS might take a narrower view of free speech than its established precedent holds is not a winning bet. I'm not aware of a single case in my lifetime where SCOTUS ruled for more government restriction of speech rather than less, and this approach means taking a broader view of free speech than perhaps most people are willing to stomach (e.g., Citizens United).

by rayiner10 hours ago

> If the misinformation on certain media outlets is considered by the courts to have incited the insurrection , then it may not be considered free speech.

The legal standard for "inciting or producing imminent lawless action" is given by Brandenburg v. Ohio. In that case, which upheld speech openly advocating for violence against specific groups to be protected speech. It overturned an Ohio law that had been directed against communists who "advocated the duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform." Brandenburg was a 9-0 Warren court decision.

Courts will not uphold anything that has been said about the election as outside the boundaries of free speech, under Brandenburg.

by omgwtfbyobbq9 hours ago

It is, but I'm not certain the courts will interpret it the same way when applied to a large media corporation making many statements over a long period of time.

Like rayiner said, the courts have been protective of media corporation's free speech, but those were cases involving defamation or intentional infliction of emotional distress, not an insurrection with the intent to detain and possibly murder elected officials.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hustler_Magazine_v._Falwell https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Times_Co._v._Sullivan

+1
by tiahura9 hours ago

Both of those cases were unanimous decisions upholding free speech. Moreover, they were civil, not criminal cases.

by InfiniteBeing1 hour ago

Meanwhile the major Democrat leaning/voting news outlets peddled russian collusion conspiracy nonsense for years and then stoked the flames of racial and anti-police violence last year. And I see we have people here clinging to misinformation and melodramatic interpretations by the major liberal news outlets on events of january 6th, and these people don't know that they are living in unreality themselves and yet want to censor their political opponents under the guises of "misinformation" and "inciting."

by noahtallen21 minutes ago

You may find the Mueller report enlightening, then. [1] The claims are hardly nonsense: it’s a bipartisan fact that Russians made a big effort to influence at least the 2016 election, and succeeded. [2] Rather than taking a hard stance against Russia because of this, Trump officials have been convicted related to their lies about the situation. [3] Alleging or assuming that trump knew about this and/or encouraged it is not a huge stretch given his history. [4]

You seem to be saying the entire thing is conspiracy nonsense, but the reality is that some very deeply concerning things happened. Things not just rumored about, but proven in a court of law [5], or investigated by even Republican committees [2]. Even if you assume that Trump did not specifically ask Russia to do anything (see [4] again), his response to the situation was extremely damning.

1. https://www.justice.gov/storage/report.pdf

2. https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/docu...

3. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Links_between_Trump_associat...

4. Trump welcomes Russia to hack Hilary at 13:30 in this video: https://www.c-span.org/video/?413263-1/donald-trump-urges-ru...

5. https://apnews.com/article/ad355d2c983e4a7c85bc17e86d8c563f

by qntty10 hours ago

Is anyone else confused at how this is legal? I have no expertise in law, but my understanding is that the Supreme Court has agreed with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama that.

> Racial discrimination in state-operated schools is barred by the Constitution and "[i]t is also axiomatic that a state may not induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish." Lee v. Macon County Board of Education, 267 F. Supp. 458, 475-476 (MD Ala. 1967).

Isn't this promoting a private person to accomplish what the federal government is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish? And wouldn't this also apply to the federal government as well as states?

https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/108851/norwood-v-harri...

by macspoofing9 hours ago

>Is anyone else confused at how this is legal? I

They can't legally force the companies to comply and they know that but it doesn't matter. This is a threat: "If you don't do what we tell you to do, we'll make your life miserable". If the companies don't willingly comply, then they can launch a FUD PR campaign through activist non-profits orgs and claim that these companies are hosting hate speech. Too cynical?

by hcurtiss8 hours ago

Not sure why you're being downvoted. That's precisely how it works.

by noodles_nomore10 hours ago

Yes, Greenwald pointed out the same thing in a recent article:

https://greenwald.substack.com/p/congress-escalates-pressure...

Edit: Another article just went up about exactly this.

https://greenwald.substack.com/p/house-democrats-targeting-r...

by qntty10 hours ago

Yes that's were I originally saw the reference

by korethr8 hours ago

I'm not confused as to how it's legal. I'm quite sure it's not. However, it seems to me that except in rare cases, no matter the color of the tie worn by the politician, nominal legality is not an impediment. There's an ideological opponent out there who must be publicly punished for his wrongness as an example to anyone else who might dare be wrong, and while the Constitution forbids various explicit means of doing so, there are myriad implicit ways of approaching the same goal.

by kodah10 hours ago

There was nothing about race in this entire document.

by finnthehuman3 hours ago

Court precedents are about the legal principals. When the supreme court rules on forth amendment matters in a murder case, the precedent also applies to drug cases.

by qntty10 hours ago

Ignore the part about race.

by tgflynn6 hours ago

As far as I can tell these letters were signed by only 2 members of Congress. As such the title "Letters from House Democrats" seems misleading. That title suggests to me that some substantially representative fraction of the House Democratic delegation is behind these letters. That does not appear to be the case.

by dang5 hours ago

Ok, we've tweaked the wording to address that. Thanks!

by kodah11 hours ago

It's a letter to AT&T that encourages them to do something about Fox and OANN. I'd say sure, do something about them, but let's also look inward.

There was a lot of misinformation abound after the Capitol Riots that was simply there to stir up Democrats and a lot of this information was very racially angled. Though Democrats play up the death of the Capital police officer now, their constituents were absolutely promoting conspiracy theories about the Capitol police doing nothing or the FBI intentionally not showing up. I won't begin to assess why conspiracy theories were abound when literal conspiracy theorists were invading the Capital, that's probably worth its own discussion. Put these concepts (racialized rhetoric and anti-police conspiracy theories) together and it's no wonder why the country broke for another day or two.

If you want to clean up Fox and OANN, I'm down, but let's make sure you're cleaning up all the grass roots sources of your constituents misinformation too.

by sdenton410 hours ago

It's much more gray than your presenting. There were numerous LEOs amongst the rioters, and many of the early videos people were seeing were cops taking selfies with rioters and cops standing to one side as the rioters walked in. Meanwhile the white House was slow footing any kind of response. The extent of the Capitol police resistance want really clear until things had settled down.

by katmannthree10 hours ago

Would you be able to give specific examples of left-focused misinformation on the capitol riots, that is specific news articles from "trusted partisan" sources (CNN, etc) containing unsupported conspiracy theories?

by opwieurposiu10 hours ago

The fire extinguisher attack turned out to be BS.

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/capitol-police-officers-...

by katmannthree10 hours ago

Does that meet the standard for being an unverified conspiracy theory? It seems that the story came from a source they were keeping anonymous (fairly conventional in journalism, especially when reporting things in real time) and was promptly updated as more news came in.

It's worth noting that there is fairly extensive video of an unhelmeted officer getting hit in the head with a fire extinguisher thrown during a brawl. I don't know if that officer has been identified as Sicknick or not, but that particular event (an officer getting hit in the head with a fire extinguisher) did happen. Separately, we know Sicknick did physically engage with the rioters, as the official US Capitol Police statement cited in the article you linked said "Officer Brian D. Sicknick passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty."

So, _a_ fire extinguisher attack did happen (among many other attacks on officers during the riot). An officer did die as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. An anonymous source linked those two events, a link which now appears to have been incorrect. News sites which covered the events in question have effectively released retractions and calls to wait for more evidence.

What more would you want them to do? They can only report on the facts as known at the time, and release updates if those later change. Both of those things were done.

This is an entirely different situation from Fox and OANN alleging massive conspiracies and voter fraud and continuing to hold that position for political reasons despite a lack of evidence.

by adolph5 hours ago

The update clearly shows that a “fact” was not reported and what was reported was a rumor that could not be verified because it was in no way ever true. I’d expect sober reporting to stick to assertions with real documentation or multiple unrelated attestations of direct knowledge. I’d also expect that a news outlet would treat assertions made by police or any organization as objectively often false and always self-interested. As it stands it is all click-bait manure and the retractions are just legal CYA.

+2
by opwieurposiu8 hours ago

There is plenty of evidence of voting irregularities. An irregularity only becomes fraud when it was done with criminal intent.

The overarching issue with normalization of censorship is that it becomes difficult to tell when evidence does not exist and when it does exist but was censored.

https://hereistheevidence.com/

by FireBeyond7 hours ago

That's a long conclusion to make.

The statement that it had not been determined that blunt force trauma specifically caused Officer Sicknick's death doesn't make the attack BS - there's video footage of him being hit with one. And dying within 24 hours from a hemorrhagic stroke is definitely not enough to rule out the proximal impact of fire extinguishers and other implements used to beat him.

+1
by nyczomg6 hours ago

"there's video footage of him being hit with one."

You should forward that video footage to law enforcement right away, because they don't even have it. I'll even cite CNN, because I assume you believe they are trustworthy.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/02/politics/brian-sicknick-charg...

"Investigators are struggling to build a federal murder case regarding fallen US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, vexed by a lack of evidence that could prove someone caused his death as he defended the Capitol during last month's insurrection. Authorities have reviewed video and photographs that show Sicknick engaging with rioters amid the siege but have yet to identify a moment in which he suffered his fatal injuries, law enforcement officials familiar with the matter said. "

"According to one law enforcement official, medical examiners did not find signs that the officer sustained any blunt force trauma, so investigators believe that early reports that he was fatally struck by a fire extinguisher are not true."

by benjohnson9 hours ago

The "five people died!!" narrative.

Three of them were just people dying because walking around while not in the best of health. One was an unarmed woman shot in the neck by police.

So really.. the rioters can only have rightfully been the cause of one death of someone not involved in the riot or protest.

by opwieurposiu8 hours ago

Greenwald has a good write up regarding left-focused misinformation. Fire extinguisher, zip ties, firearms, etc.

https://greenwald.substack.com/p/the-false-and-exaggerated-c...

by ntsplnkv27 hours ago

This article doesn't disprove much.

Being "pro-trump" doesn't make the death not count. 3 of the five died because of the protests - it doesn't matter which side. You can argue that a stroke/heart attack may not have happened in a non-high pressure environment.

We don't need any more evidence than the mountains of video of people storming the capital. It's bad enough as is, it could have been far, far worse.

+3
by Clubber7 hours ago

The difference between someone dying because of a stroke and someone dying because they were bludgeoned to death with a blunt object over the course of several minutes while thousands of people stood idly by is stark.

by BitwiseFool11 hours ago

"How many of your subscribers tuned in to Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN on U-verse, DirecTV, and AT&T TV for each of the four weeks preceding the November 3, 2020 elections and the January 6, 2021 attacks on the Capitol? Please specify the number of subscribers that tuned in to each channel."

Does this strike anyone else as a nakedly partisan move?

by hpcjoe8 hours ago

Worse than that, it is an attempt at intimidation. Given today's climate, it would not surprise me if it works.

Look at it this way. The capital riot on 6-Jan was planned and discussed on Youtube, facebook, and twitter. Apparently, barely a mention on Parler. Yet Parler was excoriated and deplatformed for it, and for not policing its comment sections. Yet Youtube, facebook, and twitter have faced no consequences for their ... whats the word I heard used about Parler ... complicity?

This is a dystopian future.

by sharklazer8 hours ago

> This is a dystopian future

No, pretty sure it's now. This is a dystopian society we live in today.

by mikece7 hours ago

The question today is "how many" but the question tomorrow will be "what are their names?"

by reilly300037 minutes ago

I think this is a slippery slope fallacy. Asking a media outlet the size of their audience is a common figure, something they include in every ad sales presentation. Its relevant to understand the reach of these messages, especially when they have direct ties to foreign adversaries such as in the case of OANN: https://www.thedailybeast.com/oan-trumps-new-favorite-channe... This is not a censorship dragnet, its a wide-ranging set of inquiries to a diverse set of media (keep scrolling if you just saw the AT&T letter) in response to an attempted insurrection.

by koolba6 hours ago

And they have that information too. Digital cable delivery means that the cable companies have a record of which channel you watch and at what time.

by FireBeyond7 hours ago

Facebook was regularly kicking people off for problematic comments (it certainly didn't get all of them).

That was many people's motivation for going to Parler in the first place - frustrated with what they believed being tagged as "false", frustrated with repeated bouts in Facebook Jail, etc.

There's a dichotomy that one of the major motivations for Parler uptick is because of something you imply never really ever happened on Facebook.

by ABeeSea8 hours ago

Parler was kicked off of AWS for violating AWS’s policies.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you that YouTube and Facebook don’t use AWS.

by _-david-_7 hours ago

Why were they removed from Google and Apple's app stores while Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are still available?

Twitter uses AWS for some of their stuff. Why aren't they removed for violating AWS's policies?

+2
by notional7 hours ago

Do you really need an explanation of why a multibillion dollar company wasn't removed and why a fringe app was?

by surge11 hours ago

It pretty much is and is a chilling attempt at limiting speech. Free press, is free press. CNN and MSNBC both spread their share of misinformation. You need to be able to watch multiple news sources with different takes in a free society, to determine whose wrong or whose omitting key facts in an attempt to frame the news.

by ineptech8 hours ago

How is asking Fox for viewership numbers, "a chilling attempt at limiting speech"?

by LanceH7 hours ago

It's a legislative body which is trying to limit speech not through legislation but through intimidation. They could pass a law and have it struck down nearly immediately, or they could flog CEO's in public for their own amusement.

+1
by Alupis7 hours ago

> It's a legislative body which is trying to limit speech not through legislation but through intimidation

Bingo!

When these CEO's enact new policies that censors "Right-Think", it'll be totally okay because it's not the Government limiting Free Speech - private companies are allowed to limit Free Speech, don't you see!

by ineptech6 hours ago

Huh? How is this intimidation? It's not like spreading information to its viewers is something Fox was doing illegally or surreptitiously; it's their whole business. However many people they reached, I would think they'd be proud of the answer?

by colpabar7 hours ago

Would you feel the same way if house republicans sent letters to twitter asking how many users used the #blm hashtag last summer? It seems to me that we'd get lots of headlines declaring that they were attempting to silence anyone in favor of police reform.

by JustSomeNobody7 hours ago

Look at the list. It's pretty much a right-wing only list.

by jaywalk6 hours ago

Pretty much? The farthest left that list goes is Fox News.

by hogFeast11 hours ago

When you think people disagree with you because they are evil, any action is justfiable (internally).

by TrispusAttucks9 hours ago

It's even worse when you think people are evil simply because they disagree with you!

+2
by wdn9 hours ago

You should see how upset people were when you told them you think Trump is a great president. At my last job, the IT admin was so upset that he told me that he will not do any of my incidents.

No discussion what so ever.

by protonfish9 hours ago

What's even worse is when people are evil and nobody fights against them while they overthrow your government and commit genocide.

by omgwtfbyobbq10 hours ago

It may be. The key is whether the misinformation present directed others to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action, and I think it hinges on how people reacted to the misinformation.

CNN/MSNBC may also have misinformation, but their misinformation may not be in the same class, specifically something that could motivate some subset of their viewers to commit insurrection by attempting to detain and possibly murder elected representatives.

In either case, it'll be interesting to see where this goes.

Edited based on feedback.

by bhupy10 hours ago

> To me, it could also be the modern day version of yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater, and I think it hinges on how people reacted to the misinformation.

That legal argument has been overturned precisely because it has no real limiting principle: https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/11/its-tim...

+2
by omgwtfbyobbq10 hours ago

While it's not the best, people are familiar with it. The replacement is certainly more accurate.

In this case, is the misinformation present directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action?

by zests10 hours ago

You can compare yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre to a lot of speech, for example, speech that is against a military draft. This was the original comparison.

Luckily we (the United States) prevent our government from restricting this type of speech.

by omgwtfbyobbq10 hours ago

Like bhupy pointed out above, is the misinformation present directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action?

If a speech against the draft incites some subset of those who were present to insurrection, with the intent to detain and possibly murder elected officials, then it may not be protected as free speech.

by throwaway858210 hours ago

It's political censorship disguised at fact checking. If they were really concerned about "fake news", they would apply the same standards to the other side. Remember how just a couple years ago almost all of the major media outlets were pushing a conspiracy theory about "Russian Collusion"? Yet nobody is talking about shutting ABC, CBS, NBC, or MSNBC down, kicking them off cable, or banning them from the internet.

by ardy428 hours ago

> It's political censorship disguised at fact checking. If they were really concerned about "fake news", they would apply the same standards to the other side. Remember how just a couple years ago almost all of the major media outlets were pushing a conspiracy theory about "Russian Collusion"? Yet nobody is talking about shutting ABC, CBS, NBC, or MSNBC down, kicking them off cable, or banning them from the internet.

You're misremembering. Russian collusion was an allegation that needed to be investigated because of 1) the actions of Russian intelligence agencies to influence the election in ways advantageous to Trump, and 2) weird things members of the Trump campaign did that were suspicious. However, the major media outlets only reported on that, and it didn't go on to claim that there was actual collusion.

For instance, here's the first page of results from major media outlet search for "Russian collusion" (ending the day before the Mueller report):

https://www.nytimes.com/search?dropmab=true&endDate=20190321...

> BRIEFING Judge Doubles Down on Scrutiny of Roger Stone’s Book

> POLITICS Roger Stone’s New Instagram Post and Book Draw Scrutiny After Gag Order

> POLITICS Trump Lawyer ‘Vehemently’ Denies Russian Collusion

> POLITICS ‘Collusion Delusion’: Trump’s CPAC Speech Mocks Mueller Inquiry

> POLITICS Trump Says There Was ‘No Collusion’ With the Russians

> OPINION The Russians Were Involved. But It Wasn’t About Collusion.

> POLITICS Indictment Details Collusion Between Cyberthief and 2 Russian Spies

> OPINION How Will ‘Collusion’ Play in the Midterms?

> OPINION Can We Please Stop Talking About ‘Collusion’?

> OPINION Oh, Wait. Maybe It Was Collusion.

That last piece sounds like it's the closest to saying there was collusion, lets see what it says:

> What remains to be determined is whether the Russians also attempted to suborn members of the Trump team in an effort to gain their cooperation. This is why the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is so important.

That's not pushing a conspiracy theory.

On the other hand, Fox News, OANN, NewsMax, etc. lied to the extent that they're legitimately worried about the conspiracy theories they were pushing costing them a lot of money from defamation lawsuits:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/19/business/fox-smartmatic-news-...

https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/05/media/lou-dobbs-fox-show-canc...

https://www.cnn.com/videos/business/2021/02/03/newsmax-mike-...

However, I don't fault you too much for this confusion. There are a lot of liars out there who've found a lot of success "arguing" with false equivalencies to keep their followers loyal to the cause.

by ABeeSea7 hours ago

The bi-partisan Senate Intelligence Committee report detailed collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals/intelligence assets.

by unanswered8 hours ago

Careful, most people including most HN readers still believe in the Russian Collusion theory despite it being quietly disavowed by the press.

by axaxs8 hours ago

It is -very- partisan, and equivalent to poking a wasp nest with a stick.

The country is very, very divided, not just between D vs R but also progressive vs...everyone else.

I wish I had the answers(surprise, I don't), but I feel we should find some commonality, some give and take, and get on a path toward a semblance of unity. Trying to silence your opposition is what I'd call the complete opposite of that approach.

by hpcjoe8 hours ago

I think the only way to handle this is to stand up for common sense, and call out those attempting to use 1984 as a playbook. To shine the disinfecting light of day upon things like this. To vote the idiots who push this crap, out.

This could be making sure you primary them, recall them, or elect other persons. Seriously, allegiance to political parties is not what I am looking for in my elected reps. I want them to work on behalf of me. Not their particular party label.

The damage that the two parties fighting for political power have done to this country is ... staggering.

by engineer_228 hours ago

-> I want them to work on behalf of me.

Sorry pal, Citizens United screwed up any chances of that.

by hpcjoe5 hours ago

I agree it had a part in it, but its not the whole story. Its the citizens being unable to elect people not beholden to political parties, with party obligations. These obligations appear to be more important than their obligations to the people who put them there.

This isn't a Citizen's United issue as much as it is a set of political parties that have evolved to control their captive populations. Some people vote D|R precisely to stick it to the others. They don't care about representation. They care about tribalism. The parties foster and encourage that thinking. The various "news" channels have their own opinions and often align with a particular party. Which means they are in the propaganda and red meat business. Not the news business.

CU is a part of this, in terms of providing fuel for the fire, but its been going on much longer than CU, and will continue regardless of whether or not CU gets struck down going forward.

by ntsplnkv27 hours ago

Yep, the partisanship is absolutely insane, far worse than in years past.

The problem is now moderates are getting forced to join sides - which leads to even more polarizing candidates.

by r00fus7 hours ago

Hmm - 4 years of an administration doing exactly what you're describing (silencing opposition viewpoints) and now it's all unity and kumbayah?

Your post is quite ironic.

by axaxs6 hours ago

Why do people get so defensive when 'their side' is questioned? Is your solution to forever go back and forth silencing each other because the other guys did it first?

I am not picking sides. I think it's unprofessional for the president to constantly call things like 'Fake News', but I don't remember them going to cable companies to try and get them canceled. And if they did, I oppose that just the same.

Personally, I got so sick of all news being all Trump all the time, I question any claim that media was in any way silenced.

by mensetmanusman6 hours ago

Actually, 12 years

by a136920999342 minutes ago

More like sixty-some; these tactics date at least back to McCarthy and the Unamerican Activities commitee.

by jaywalk6 hours ago

Obama did far more to silence opposing viewpoints than Trump did. But you probably don't know about what Obama did, because his administration's intimidation and jailing of reporters worked.

How many reporters did the Trump administration throw in jail?

+1
by r00fus6 hours ago

Do you have a cite for the Obama reference? Quick google search says it's BS. Whereas Trump did recently threaten a reporter with jail time.

by pfortuny9 hours ago

From "how many people" to "what people" there is only a single step.

And it is very very very easy to take it.

That a congressperson makes this kind of question speaks volumes about him. Unbelievable.

by hpcjoe8 hours ago

I know I'll be downvoted for this, but fundamentally this definition[1] includes "and forcible suppression of opposition". In what way is this letter not the first step in this direction?

I'm no fan of the previous president. Really didn't like him. But this ... this attempt at shutting down of opposition communication, is the hallmark, the signature of nascent oppression. And a slide into fascism/socialism/etc.

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fascism

by jodrellblank3 hours ago

In what way /is/ this letter the first step in this direction?

> "But this ... this attempt at shutting down of opposition communication"

... is completely imaginary? A member of Congress writing a letter to Tyson Chicken asking what steps they took after the COVID incident of placing bets on how many workers would get infected, is not something you can reasonably turn into "this attempt at shutting down food production". It's not like these are secret backroom letters with threatening content released by whistleblowers to embarrass the senders, these letters were announced by official press release[1].

There is no attempt at shutting down of opposition communication in writing a letter that asks questions to which the media company can reply "we don't censor content". Do Anna Eshoo or Jerry McNerny have any unusual influence over funding or licensing (etc.) decisions for Cox, Alphabet, AT&T, Dish, than any other Congressperson, in a way that would make the letters carry more weight than their content suggests?

[1] https://eshoo.house.gov/media/press-releases/eshoo-mcnerney-...

by pfortuny8 hours ago

Saying that you will be downvoted guarantees it.

You are right but it is best not to mention the beast, in my opinion.

by hpcjoe5 hours ago

Until we confront this, without fabricating fever swamp fiction to frighten captive tribal masses, we are going to be stuck in this dystopia. Teetering on the edge of {fasc,Democratic|National social}ism who all seek to control the narrative and suppress dissent.

by ineptech8 hours ago

"Gosh, that's only one step away from something worse" is true of literally everything anyone has ever done.

by helen___keller7 hours ago

> Does this strike anyone else as a nakedly partisan move?

Of course, this entire letter is published by two democratic representatives from highly liberal districts (silicon valley and stockton) who want to pander to their base. There's nothing actionable or productive about this letter.

Somehow we still have reactions in this thread on the scale of "we're on our way to a one-party state". This is just Congress doing what they do most every day (setting up for reelection)

by HeckFeck10 hours ago

Just elect some honest politicians and they'll be morally capable of fighting 'misinformation'.

Still waiting for a possible world like that to exist.

by bioinformatics10 hours ago

I am surprised that they didn't ask for a list of the subscribers including SSN.

by tanylak11 hours ago

Extremely

by SllX11 hours ago

Yes.

by minikites9 hours ago

Apparently moves like this are only "nakedly partisan" when Democrats do it, but it's fine when Republicans withhold aid from Democratic states.

by dang7 hours ago

Please don't take HN threads further into political flamewar. Admittedly the GP pointed that way, but there's a difference between pointing and going there—and there are other reasons besides outright battle why one might want to talk about partisanship in this context.

The goal of HN threads is to be curious conversation; that tends to require not burning alive. So far this thread is mostly managing to stay on the good side of the line.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

by kogus10 hours ago

This intimidation is veiled as thinly as the skin of those in Congress.

The misinformation and disinformation that is excreted from Fox, NewsMax, etc. is not nearly as repugnant as lawmakers who demand an explanation from private companies as to why they don't shield the innocent ears of voters from the specific version of sanitized truth that they'd prefer.

The first amendment forbids Congress from restricting free speech by law. It doesn't forbid "pressure" of this sort. But it's worth noting that the authors of the first amendment engaged in campaigns that made today's "disinformation" look like a children's sticker book.[1]

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2012/08/20/the-dirtie...

by SMAAART41 minutes ago

Disinformation is bad, but this is of concern to me, the 1st Amendment is still the 1st Amendment; there si a good body of Laws that posed due limits to the 1st Amendment without compromising its spirit.

We should look at acts like this "letters" with more concern than disinformation itself.

by delecti11 hours ago

Is there any difference between the ~12 copies of the same letter in this PDF?

But to the point, this is chilling. The last administration started down a dangerous precedent of claiming some news sources were less entitled to their right to exist. Just because I happen to agree that the channels being targeted here are garbage doesn't mean I think we should allow the government to make that decision.

by protomyth11 hours ago

Its a press release so each representative has to have their own letter so they can distribute it as a press release. It is fairly typical.

Using the government to suppress opposing views is the very definition of tyranny. Anytime people talk about a "reset" the populace suffers.

by AlphaWeaver11 hours ago

Each letter is going to a different provider - for example, one is to AT&T, one it to Amazon.

by jodrellblank2 hours ago

It isn't really a precedent; from [1] "When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence. The FTC enforces these truth-in-advertising laws, and it applies the same standards no matter where an ad appears – in newspapers and magazines, online, in the mail, or on billboards or buses"

There already is a precedent for federal law mandating truth in information carried over media channels in specific situations. "That decision" you reference doesn't have to be a decision to drop/silence the media channel outright. The previous administration made continuous claims about fake news and media lies; if the current administration is talking about media disinformation and lies as well, that sounds like there's scope for a bi-partisan agreement[2] to hold media companies more accountable for "truth in reporting", like there are "truth in advertising" rules.

Your position doesn't have to be "I agree these channels are garbage but in the interests of avoiding Facism all media should be allowed to lie without being held to account in any way".

[1] https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/media-resources/truth-advert...

[2] lol

by cameroncairns8 hours ago

Reading the letters, they are only signed by two Democratic members of the house. They are both on the committee for communications and technology, but they only represent 2 of 28 voting representatives.

This really feels more like a publicity stunt on their part to please their constituents than some sort of concerted effort by the Democratic party, but perhaps someone with more insight on congress could enlighten me.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_Energy_Sub...

by SpicyLemonZest7 hours ago

No, you probably have it right. House members pretty regularly do weird performative things they don't really expect to lead anywhere; it's increasingly seen as part of the job.

by DyslexicAtheist11 hours ago

I suppose they mean disinfo and not misinfo?

seems like a slippery slope when one can't trust their own people to be able to distinguish between facts/non-facts, so much that one needs laws to ban certain types of content and prevent it from being seen. makes me wonder if this will not even cause further conspiracy and drive traffic to alternative (underground e.g. outlawed) information channels

pretty hard to draw a line especially in relation to satire/comedy etc. There is no point of irony/satire if it has to be labeled as such.

by sleepysysadmin10 hours ago

>I suppose they mean disinfo and not misinfo?

misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies

PDF says all of the above. Obviously the democrats are the ones who will define what's a lie. Any Americans here think it's appropriate to allow the democrat party to define what's a lie and then have it censored?

"Right-wing media outlets, like Newsmax, One America News Network (OANN), and Fox News"

It's interesting that the democrat government is pressuring ATT to deplatform their political opponents.

>seems like a slippery slope when one can't trust their own people to be able to distinguish between facts/non-facts, so much that one needs laws to ban certain types of content and prevent it from being seen. makes me wonder if this will not even cause further conspiracy and drive traffic to alternative (underground e.g. outlawed) information channels

I have never in my life seen such a political divide in the USA. It's very much like during the Vietnam war. Afterall the USA has now been at war longer than it ever has been.

by dragonwriter2 hours ago

> Obviously the democrats are the ones who will define what's a lie.

Obviously not, if this would happen through legislation, absent erasure of the filibuster or the inconceivable result, given the structural biases in the US electoral system, of the Democrats securing a Senate supermajority.

> Any Americans here think it's appropriate to allow the democrat party to define what's a lie and then have it censored?

I haven't seen any proposal for any political party or government apparatus to either determine what is a lie or to have it censored, or to take any other concrete action whatsoever.

I've seen an inquiry into what private parties in a regulated industry are doing, which presumably might feed back into how that industry is regulated in any of a number of ways that don't involve government determination of truth or state-directed censorship.

> It's interesting that the democrat government is pressuring ATT to deplatform their political opponents.

The “democrat government”, whatever that is, is doing no such thing. They are asking for information about AT&T has done and metrics AT&T might have about past events, not directing or suggesting any future course of action.

by jodrellblank2 hours ago

> "Obviously the democrats are the ones who will define what's a lie

How can you live through 4 years of President trump calling "fake news" and "lying media" about something at least every week, and then straight faced say "obviously the democrats are the ones who decide what's a lie"?

> "Any Americans here think it's appropriate to allow the democrat party to define what's a lie and then have it censored?"

Remember last year when Twitter fact-checked a tweet by President Trump and "In response, Trump threatened in a set of tweets Wednesday to “strongly regulate or close” down social-media platforms. He followed up by signing an executive order late Thursday that seeks to limit some of the broad liability protection social media companies have under federal law."?[1]

Yeah, any americans think it would be bad if the Democrats did this? Hopefully.

Any Republicans think it was actually bad when Republicans actually did this? People in this thread are saying that two members of Congress sending a letter is "chilling intimidation", compared to the President signing an executive order removing legal protections from social media companies?

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackbrewster/2020/05/27/close-t...

by TrispusAttucks9 hours ago

To determine misinformation you must first determine information.

We would need to setup some government entity to determine true information.

We could call it the "Ministry of Truth".

Unless that name is already taken?

... the cold wind blows...

by zug_zug9 hours ago

If only somehow the government could determine what is true... </sarcasm>

When somebody is accused of a crime we just have to say "Guilty according to whom?" and let them go, because there's no way to know what's true. Sure the DNA says he murdered 3 children, but what are those scientists really after!

If only there were some organized system for appointed people with great track records to somehow listen to both sides of an argument and produce some sort of "judgment" at the end. But that's impossible, because only the TV box knows what's true. Alas...

by stickyricky6 hours ago

> If only somehow the government could determine what is true...

You say this in relation to a criminal trial but two things:

1. The government can not determine guilt or innocence. It determines guilt beyond a reasonable doubt which is a distinction worth considering. There is an implicit admission of uncertainty and unknowability.

2. A panel of judges determining truth is a concept that has existed historically and in fiction. It plays out exactly as you'd expect it would. The powerful control the panel and suppress all those who dissent.

Surely you haven't thought this through. Do you really want the entirety of your life to be a criminal trial where a panel of judges (or citizens) determine what you ought to think and feel?

by decebalus13 hours ago

What about lying to the feds? It's a felony. Who gets to decide was was the truth?

by stickyricky2 hours ago

This section from my previous comment is relevant.

> Do you really want the entirety of your life to be a criminal trial where a panel of judges (or citizens) determine what you ought to think and feel?

I would argue against your point that "lying to the feds" is illegal. I think some cursory research into the subject would temper your opinion (at least to the point where you wouldn't consider it a "gotcha"). But I won't argue it here because it detracts from my larger point: the criminalization of all thought not arbitrated by government censors is a terrible idea and is fundamentally incompatible with the Bill of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and common sense.

by amadeuspagel8 hours ago

This is a red herring because the letter doesn't call for the legal system to determine what's true and false, it tries to pressure cable companies to drop cable channels that the ruling party doesn't like.

Regardless, the legal system does in fact make mistakes. We have the legal system because in some cases final decisions have to be made - who to imprison and who not - not because it's a perfect system. The fact that we need a system for a limited purpose doesn't imply that we should expand it's power indefinitely.

by mnouquet7 hours ago

> If only somehow the government could determine what is true... </sarcasm>

You got the definition backward, Truth is what the Government says it is, not the opposite, cf. historical truth set by law in France and other European countries. Records can always be altered to fit the current narrative.

by SkyBelow8 hours ago

>Sure the DNA says he murdered 3 children

Does it? Enough labs have shown to be unreliable in handling evidence and being able to follow correct procedures. Remember back when the bite marks showed they were the murderer, or the skull shaped showed them to be a killed, or they didn't float so they must've been a witch?

by zug_zug8 hours ago

In a way you're agreeing with me. You're pointing out how hard it is to find what's true, and the obvious answer to me seems - better science.

Have the DNA sent to 3 separate labs to test blindly against a control (blind tests are a huge component of the scientific method), require consensus from all 3 labs.

Modern scientific method also was the solution to "phrenology" (skull shape).

At least I assume you're not arguing all scientific evidence in court should be inadmissible?

by boredumb9 hours ago

I'm old enough to remember when calling private news agencies Fake News was an assault on our Freedom of the Press.

by cassalian6 hours ago

Remember when the left said they wanted to unify the country? I guess squashing all opposing viewpoints is one way to do that... Maybe they should get some help from Russia and China, I hear they have a lot of experience in dealing with 'misinformation'

by curiousllama10 hours ago

2 parts of this are interesting to me.

The first is "House Democrats demand" - the government should not be regulating speech, even if it's false/dangerous/moronic. The letter is dumb and dangerous.

The second is "Cable providers to censor misinformation" - infrastructure providers regulating speech sounds very similar to the whole Parler deplatforming. I wonder what my own reaction would be if cable companies independently kicked off (say) OANN after the Jan 6 riot. Is the private-to-private speech regulation ok?

by garg10 hours ago

The government should be regulating the broadcast of false information that is blatant propaganda. Freedom of speech is not freedom to broadcast blatant lies to millions of people.

by phkahler9 hours ago

In that case, all the media would be shut down.

by eplanit6 hours ago

It's political theater, but is still relevant and noteworthy as this kind of action pierces through the "but this isn't about the 1st Amendment because they're private companies and can de-platform anyone". Once FB, Twitter, or a cable company start censoring due to government pressure, then 1st amendment arguments are indeed applicable.

by molbioguy5 hours ago

These letters are potentially unconstitutional actions. First amendment rights can be violated by entities other than the government. As pointed out in [1], the government can't induce a company to do something that were government to do it would be illegal:

It is “axiomatic,” the Supreme Court held in Norwood v. Harrison (1973), that the government “may not induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.”

[1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/save-the-constitution-from-big-...

Edited for grammar and unnecessary qualifiers.

by dragonwriter5 hours ago

> These letters are are bordering on potentially unconstitutional actions.

“bordering on potentially X” is a very misleading way to say “not even arguably X”.

But that's really all it says.

by molbioguy5 hours ago

Thanks. I removed the unnecessary 'bordering on'. The intent was to say they're unconstitutional in my view.

by saurik10 hours ago

So, one thing that is interesting to me here is that cable companies do choose which companies to allow as channels. Like, they aren't merely a dumb pipe to access the world of television, hopefully having a disregard for what customers watch, but instead take an active role in curating their catalog to choose channels and content that will be accessible to their customer base.

Due to this, while I personally find the premise of this demand chilling, it more argues to me that cable companies almost deserve their fate here: I think it would be entirely fair to try to hold cable companies at least somewhat liable for all of the content broadcast on all of their channels.

Like, arguably, to me, this feels the same as the Section 230 controversy, but since a cable company isn't an "interactive computer service" I guess they are left out in the cold. If you really believe in Section 230, maybe you feel like it should be expanded to cover this scenario. And, if not, maybe you feel like cable companies it's catalogs of channels should either 1) do tons of fine-grained limitations and/or filtering or 2) simply not exist so that people can get their information from an actual platform (which cable companies actually already provide anyway: the Internet).

by 74B57 hours ago

I think many US americans despise the german approach to censorship of speech. Here in germany, we have not freedom speech but freedom of opinion, which makes a very crucial distinction.

There are two kinds of statements, descriptive and normative ones.

Descriptive statements explain "as is" relationships like "this door is blue" or "2 + 2 = 5". It does not matter if the statement is false or not.

Normative statements cover subjective "should be" relationships. These are opinions like "it should be 3 years parental leave" and thus protected in german law as beeing unrestricted. This is, what is needed for free public discourse and not the right to claim falsehoods.

In germany, you cant freely say that "jews are all criminals" and "the holocaust never happend". Over here, you can get penalized for public statements like these because (a) they are not opinions but wrong descriptive statements and (b) explicitly noted as beeing illegal. Whereas in the Us all speech is free (insults and such excluded ofc).

The question is, where do you draw the line. To which point can wrong descriptive public statements still be tolerated and where might they harm society or individuals? From the german perspective, this question is easy to answer and i am considering the storm of the capitol here :)

by bzbarsky5 hours ago

First of all, "insults" are not excluded from free speech protections in the US, except in very narrow circumstances.

Second, the distinction between normative and descriptive statements, as you define them, is not always clear-cut. As a simple example, is which bucket is "I think these doors are the same color" when said about a red and green door? What about (to use your example, but with a slight tweak), "I think all <insert group> are criminals"? Note that the "I think" was implicit in your phrasing, though maybe the implicit vs explicit distinction matters.

Third, even for statements everyone agrees are descriptive there may be widespread disagreement as to whether they are true. Example: "Donald Trump is a criminal." The US approach to this is to generally try to avoid having the government be the arbiter of truth, with some narrow exceptions for libel and the like. The German approach, as you note is different, not least due to different historical experiences. Which approach is better depends a _lot_ on circumstances and culture and norms and so forth. The German one places a lot more trust in the government not abusing it's truth-determination power than the US one does.

by 74B52 hours ago

>Second, the distinction between normative and descriptive statements, as you define them, is not always clear-cut.

True but does not matter. Those statements, that fit into the descriptive/normative categories are the key ones of any text, the rest is either allusion or up for the courts to decide. IMO phrasing like "looks like there might be voter fraud" would not have let to the storm of the capitol.

>"I think all <insert group> are criminals"? Note that the "I think" was implicit in your phrasing

The difference of normative/descriptive statements is the same as subjective/objective ones. "I think ..." already started subjectively and can only have a descriptive component, if its backed up with a statement like "because X is ...".

>"Donald Trump is a criminal."

>The US approach to this is to generally try to avoid having the government be the arbiter of truth

But courts decide who is a criminal or not. And when such a decision is made, you could legally call Trump a criminal. Experts are frequently heard in court to distinguish it, so why not extend it? It does not have to the ministry of truth (political) but we all require the authority, that tells us the way things are, hopefully in an unbiased way.

by croutonwagon9 hours ago
by ncw9610 hours ago

Worth noting that these letters are from two relatively low ranking members of the House Democratic caucus, not from anyone in leadership.

by fullshark7 hours ago

Worth noting that one of these members is the representative for CA-18 (Eshoo) which includes parts of silicon valley:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California%27s_18th_congressio...

by mnouquet7 hours ago

Merely useful pawns, I wonder what's they have been promised.

by yongjik8 hours ago

It feels weird to watch all this outrage, when we had four years of the president calling the media "fake news", and everybody pretty much accepted "Yeah, that's just the way he talks."

Partisanship, partisanship everywhere.

by omgwtfbyobbq7 hours ago

It's heavy handed, but not surprising. My guess is they're trying to collect information to make a case for some sort of fine and/or injunction and/or censorship of specific instances of misinformation that may be related to the recent insurrection.

The courts have held that government can restrict free speech to further national security, so it's not novel. At the same time, proving a relationship between media corporation misinformation and the insurrection would be very difficult.

Periodically, the Supreme Court has examined whether the government can restrict speech to further the compelling interests of national security. In doing so, the Court has recognized that national security, as a governmental interest, does justify restrictions on First Amendment rights. In the landmark free press decision Near v. Minnesota (1931), the Court established a general rule against prior restraints on expression. However, the Court did note that the government could shut down a newspaper if it published military secrets: “No one would question but that a government might prevent actual obstruction to its recruiting service or the publication of the sailing dates of transports or the number and location of troops.”

Nevertheless, the government must provide proof that national security interests really are in play—that is, the government cannot simply use national security as a blank check to sidestep constitutional challenges. In New York Times Co. v. United States (1971), the majority of the Court rejected the government’s national security justifications for attempting to prevent the New York Times and the Washington Post from publishing the Pentagon Papers, the top-secret history of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. In his concurring opinion, Justice Hugo L. Black explained that “the word ‘security’ is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment.”

https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/1134/national-s...

by ldbooth6 hours ago

I think they would do better to solve the business model at the genesis of the issue. The Attention economy brought the conspiracy and outrage machine to each of our phones. There's an addict in my pocket. We need the political willpower to say "Yea you are a rich money making company, but a harm for X, Y reasons, and therefore this is the new regulation for companies profiting on an attention based model." There will be fallout, solutions require it, we must have courage and stop putting companies and money on a pedestal above people.

by helen___keller6 hours ago

> The Attention economy brought the conspiracy and outrage machine to each of our phones.

Speaking of, just take a look around the responses to this very submission

by jspaetzel10 hours ago

This type of messaging only exacerbates any misinformation being spread. The only impact this could have is that right wing groups will have another real world example for fresh conspiracy theories. This pushes the divide wider.

by dd3610 hours ago

So don’t collect data on disinformation?

by tl7 hours ago

Not sure if this qualifies as editorialization, but "Letters from [2 California] House Democrats to [Internet and Smart TV Device] Providers" is a more accurate title.

by citilife9 hours ago

This is such a dangerous game to play.

CNN knowingly misleads the public every single day. It's effectively public knowledge if anyone cares to investigate themselves.

Going after FOX because the ruling party disagrees with them, but leaving CNN alone is the definition of authoritarian, regardless of your views. You can't single out voices.

Further, who owns CNN? (Turner Broadcasting System)

Who owns Turner Broadcasting System? (WarnerMedia)

Who owns WarnerMedia? (AT&T)

Interesting... so AT&T is being lobbied not to carry its competition, while leaving its own broadcasting alone.

by xster6 hours ago

It's also funny looking at sources that they're referencing Comcast (vox.com/NBCUniversal) to tell Comcast (Xfinity TV) to censor certain contents. There is no government.

by ntsplnkv27 hours ago

Trump continually attacked the media, Trump literally said the media was the enemy of the people. He would ignore questions from other agencies, even those without bias.

Until people in their own parties start standing up for principled government it will never change.

Unsurprisingly, downvoted for stating facts once again - people are afraid to call a spade a spade.

by buildbot7 hours ago

Reading these threads has been very depressing lately, Democrats ask OANN and other _extremely_ conservative networks for information, and that's somehow an attack on the First Amendment, where as 4 years of Trump - and the rest of the Republican party - attacking anything he disagreed with as Fake News was totally cool.

Either Hacker news is being heavily astroturfed (there are many throwaway accounts participating here for example) or really that's what this community is now.

I just keep a little personal list of usernames of people who are promoting Fascism and avoid anything they are associated with.

by SpicyLemonZest7 hours ago

Respectfully, I don't really see anyone saying that false accusations of fake news were cool. I'm concerned that you might be stuck in a mindset of partisan battle, where anyone who expresses concerns about this letter is declaring themselves to be on the other team from the people who wrote it.

by buildbot6 hours ago

Expressing concerns is great, and I support those comments. Reflecting on what you said, it’s true that pointing out an issue here does not imply political affiliation to either side, but it’s sorta funny how much more volume there is about this?

In terms of supporting racism, Specifically what I'm referring to are attempts to paint 1/6 as overblown or somehow was an acceptable event. Framing is really important - people here are claiming the only "real" death was "an unarmed protestor", ignoring that the person was shot attempting to break down the door to where the members of the House were actively evacuating from; and that somehow the suicides after the event or the deaths from the stress during the event don't count as real deaths.

by cozuya7 hours ago

When did CNN viewers storm the capitol in attempt to overthrow the elected government, leading to the deaths of 7 people?

by citilife7 hours ago

There's actually a lot of clips of CNN & other reporters helping and pushing protesters into the Capital Building...

https://twitter.com/LaurenWitzkeDE/status/134990457311734169...

Also, only two persons died of wounds confirmed at the Capital (both protestors). The only person who was shot, was recorded by the "reporter" in the video above was egging on the police & protestors at the time.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/01/16/sullivan-vi...

Further, regarding the "7 deaths" two additional people died from a stroke and heart attack going to the Capital.

Yes, there were then three additional fatalities in the _days_ following the event. None of those deaths were linked back to the Capital building in a meaningful way (including the officer). While facts and the evidence can change, the current facts do not support the claims being made.

by FireBeyond7 hours ago

By CNN, you mean an independent (QAnon-pushing) documentary filmmaker, who was egging on an alt-right activist? This one has been debunked.

> Yes, there were then three additional fatalities in the _days_ following the event. None of those deaths were linked back to the Capital building in a meaningful way (including the officer).

Oh, you're going to have to try harder than that. Just because there was no indication that, specifically, "blunt force trauma was the immediate cause of death of [Officer Sicknick]" doesn't mean anything close to "None of those deaths were linked back to the Capital building in a meaningful way".

CPR being performed on him. A hemorrhagic stroke within hours, a ventilator (multiple pepper sprayings), and death within 24 hours. All factors that you say "eh, coincidence" to.

by cozuya7 hours ago

Lauren Witzke is a Q Anon supporter. Do you think Q Anon supporters should be given a voice here on HN?

Also, why does it matter how many people died during the attempt to overthrow our government by far right extremists? How many deaths are acceptable? 1? 7?

+2
by citilife7 hours ago

> Lauren Witzke is a Q Anon supporter. Do you think Q Anon supporters should be given a voice here on HN?

Sure, I believe everyone deserves a voice? Kind of weird to say that.

Further, it's the content of the video that matters. There was nothing Q related in the tweet.

> Also, why does it matter how many people died during the attempt to overthrow our government by far right extremists? How many deaths are acceptable? 1? 7?

(1) The previous post has a video of far left extremist perpetrating the storming of the Capital.

(2) I'm not arguing any fatalities are acceptable. I'm simply pointing out the figures are inaccurate; which is important because we need to have a basis of facts to have discussions. Facts, which are currently being exaggerated for political ends.

by retromario5 hours ago

> None of those deaths were linked back to the Capital building in a meaningful way (including the officer).

That is simply false.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/police-of...

by JamisonM7 hours ago

Jade Sacker doesn't work for CNN. https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-woman-capitol-n...

Feels like you are just getting played and then propagating your problems further here.

+1
by citilife6 hours ago

https://www.jadesacker.com/about

Her client list includes CNN, NBC, etc.

Yes, she's an independent photographer who is often under contract with CNN, NBC, etc. Not clear if she was at the time, tbh.

That wasn't exactly my only point, the way the industry works -- CNN, NBC, etc buy content from people who go into dangerous situations. So these people are in-effect the "journalists". In her case, I don't know if she was credentialed or not, but given her lack of arrest (as far as we can tell), she likely was.

by ak2177 hours ago

Please don't post disinformation here. https://apnews.com/article/fact-checking-9906367046

by citilife6 hours ago

I agree, you should stop posting fact checkers and instead look at the government report linked in the post I linked.

The man recording the video was repeatedly on CNN/NBC/etc sharing his story... also Jade was an independent photo journalist who's clients include: CNN, NBC, etc.

https://www.jadesacker.com/about

This "fact checker" appears to be a bias journalist, I recommend checking the facts yourself. You don't need someone telling you what is real vs not, they dont' provide links in the AP article.

While I think it's fair to say they aren't "CNN journalists", they are employed by CNN as effectively contract workers.

by asterialite10 hours ago

I think the crux of the issue is not freedom of speech, but rather determining what counts as harmful disinformation. I imagine we all agree that disinformation should be curbed; the point of contention is precisely where we should draw the line.

The violent, seditious sentiments present in America today are a direct result of people being permitted to pander dangerous lies with no consequences, lies which have caused deaths, and will cause more. If the GOP had not been able to lie about election fraud, the Capitol attack might not have happened.

At the same time, it's hard to draw the line between a mere falsehood and a dangerous one. In hindsight we can tell that a conspiracy theory claiming that the world is controlled by a cabal of Jewish pædophiles with space lasers is dangerous, but what about when it was new? In a democracy with a variety of views, it is hard for there to be government-sanctioned truths.

Without wanting to be too cynical, it's also worth pointing out that there's lots of precedent for the government stripping minorities of their rights in the name of national security. The only difference here is that the minority being targeted happens to be White.

by macspoofing8 hours ago

>I imagine we all agree that disinformation should be curbed

Who decides what is 'disinformation' or 'misinformation'? You? The Democratic representatives? Jack Dorsey? No thanks. I think I'd like to make up my own mind.

Your politics also shine through your comment which also betrays your biases. Free speech is hard when it's speech you don't like and used by your political opponents .. isn't it.

by asterialite8 hours ago

> Who decides what is 'disinformation' or 'misinformation'? You? The Democratic representatives? Jack Dorsey? No thanks.

You are restating what I said almost word for word — but still disagreeing. Somehow. Everyone probably agrees that disinformation must be curbed; not everyone agrees on what exactly disinformation is.

You seem to think I'm biased against Republicans. This is the case. You seem to be biased against Democrats. That is the point. We have biases, and as such cannot agree on what the objective truth really is. That's why determining whether something is true, misinformation, or disinformation is hard.

by bzbarsky5 hours ago

Not everyone agrees that disinformation should be curbed. And the reason many people, including the authors of the US Constitution, don't agree, is that they feel the risk of false positives is far too high.

That is _because_ I have no confidence that anyone doing the curbing, including myself, will correctly identify "misinformation", I don't want such curbing to be happening, period.

by dragonwriter8 hours ago

> I imagine we all agree that disinformation should be curbed

I think it, and the processes around it, needs to be understood.

Whether it needs to be curbed is another question; it certainly needs not to be systematically advantaged unless avoiding that would have greater adverse costs which means, when it is spreading within a regulated system like Cable TV, it definitely needs to be understood to assure that the spread is not an artifact of, or enhanced unintentionally by, the structure of regulation. Which makes it an important area of legislative inquiry even given the assumption that none of the disinformation covered is outside of the scope of protected speech.

by MarkLowenstein7 hours ago

You've successfully made the opposite side's point. You cite election-fraud misinformation as "leading to deaths", which is misinformation itself: the 5 deaths at the Capitol were 3 rioters having a heart attack, stroke, and apparently trampled; 1 rioter shot by a security person; and 1 Capitol policeman who died the next day of causes unknown to his own family still, yet erroneously trumpeted by NYT etc. as being killed by a fire extinguisher.

And, armed with this disinformation, you propose to abandon one of the core societal principles which has allowed America to succeed beyond anyone's imaginations. Now hopefully you can see why everyone's alarmed about what's going on.

by jimbob458 hours ago

>I imagine we all agree that disinformation should be curbed

I don't agree with that. I think the problem is precisely those who think they get to decide what is and isn't disinformation and who gets to choose to curb it.

by asterialite8 hours ago

That's kind of what I'm saying, though. Disinformation is a problem, but because there is no objective arbiter of truth, curbing free speech to prevent it is impossible. Anyone who can do so (i.e. Jack Dorsey, Amazon, etc.) has immense power, and this is a bad thing.

by maerF0x08 hours ago

While some sources are being chastised for the content they put out, it's equally damaging to negligently not put out content on other stories. Both sides are doing this pick and choose game of politics and bias.

hear about it in the hunter biden case here:https://youtu.be/ZnMMx-i971I?t=2481

by jolux10 hours ago

This title should be changed, it doesn't reflect the content of these letters. They do point in a concerning direction, but this is not a demand for censorship.

by temp896410 hours ago

" 4. What steps did you take prior to, on, and following the November 3, 2020 elections and the January 6, 2021 attacks to monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation, including encouragement or incitement of violence by channels your company disseminates to millions of Americans? Please describe each step that you took and when it was taken.

5. Have you taken any adverse actions against a channel, including Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN, for using your platform to disseminate disinformation related directly or indirectly to the November 3, 2020 elections, the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection, or COVID-19 misinformation? If yes, please describe each action, when it was taken, and the parties involved.

6. Have you ever taken any actions against a channel for using your platform to disseminate any disinformation? If yes, please describe each action and when it was taken.

7. Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN on U-verse, DirecTV, and AT&T TV both now and beyond any contract renewal date? If so, why? "

Not a demand for censorship?

by jolux10 hours ago

>Not a demand for censorship?

No, those look like questions to me. A demand for censorship would be "stop carrying these channels." Such a demand may follow after these questions are answered, but do they not constitute a demand for censorship of themselves.

by RcouF1uZ4gsC7 hours ago

and when the mafia boss says, “You have a beautiful family” he is only complimenting you.

+1
by jolux7 hours ago

That's not an argument.

by andyv6 hours ago

"Nice channel lineup you have here, it would be a shame if something happened to it."

by BooneJS5 hours ago

I was hoping this was a request to carry CSPAN in HD.

by macspoofing9 hours ago

What's new here? This has been a new normal for Democratic establishment over the last 4 yours. Democratic establishment essentially captured major culture institutions, specifically Mainstream Media, Big Tech and Social Media and Academia, and now they are settings their sights on internet providers and cable companies.

by ianai8 hours ago

This discussion does HN a disservice.

Further the comments reflect a prior, thoroughly editorialized title.

by mensetmanusman6 hours ago

I wish the democrats would focus on good governance.

by randmeerkat6 hours ago

You can’t swear on television, you can’t yell fire in a theater, you can’t criticise your company on your device after hours on Twitter, a gay couple can’t have a cake baked, a woman can’t even show her nipples, but that kind of censorship isn’t on the front page of hacker news...

Because what people really care about is that the media outlets that participated in a violent insurrection can continue to spew their hate and lies without consequence.

by hpcjoe8 hours ago

Glad that we aren't deplatforming social/media networks (modern day book burning).

Oh. Wait.

by kirillzubovsky5 hours ago

House Democrats are trying to dictate what is allowed to air by wrapping it into a freedoom-fighting blanket. That's disgusting. If you want the standards to apply to someone else, apply them to yourself first.

This is just political theatre.

by meiji1638 hours ago

ah yes, time to appoint the glorious truth czars.

by cjdrake8 hours ago

This seems like a terrible idea.

by gfodor10 hours ago

Pay attention.

by yters6 hours ago

When men exercise their reason coolly and freely on a variety of distinct questions, they inevitably fall into different opinions on some of them. When they are governed by a common passion, their opinions, if they are so to be called, will be the same.

- Madison, Federalist No. 50

by LatteLazy8 hours ago

Does anyone have any proposals for dealing with mass misinformation other that aren't censorship? I mean specific ideas, not just "people need to be more decerning"?

I ask because I don't like censorship but I feel we're approaching a point where we have censorship and democracy or we don't have democracy anymore. And I like democracy...

* information isn't glamorous, so unless we redesigned the whole media market it won't win by itself.

* educating people is noble, but it will take 80 years for the humans currently alive to be replaced by a new generation of educated people. And that's assuming a high success rate in education to spot fake news etc.

* there are very few ways to reform democracy that might improve this. We could require people to pass simple tests before they can vote, and blackout non-fact-only news for a month before elections. But I already hear how that's not much better than simply censoring fake news.

Any other ideas?

by CivBase10 hours ago

> Experts have noted that the right-wing media ecosystem is “much more susceptible...to disinformation, lies, and half-truths.”

Citation from the PDF: https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/o...

That book does not cite any evidence for that assertion.

Here's the relevant excerpt:

> IN THE PRECEDING three chapters we examined the propaganda feedback loop, how it forms, and how it facilitates disinformation and the manipulation of beliefs of a population. But our observations about the highly asymmetric nature of the American media environment, and the survey-based evidence we described in Chapter 2, which suggests that no more than 30 percent of the American population inhabits the insular, propaganda-rich right-wing media ecosystem, indicate that whatever one thinks of the result of the 2016 election, it could not have been purely the result of right-wing propaganda. Here, we identify two central attributes of mainstream media and professional journalism—balance and the scoop culture—that shaped election coverage, and in some cases made them particularly susceptible to being manipulated into spreading right-wing propaganda.

> As a violent mob was breaching the doors of the Capitol, Newsmax’s coverage called the scene a “sort of a romantic idea.”

That's not misinformation. That's just a dumb opinion.

> Fox News, meanwhile, has spent years spewing misinformation about American politics.

Citation from the PDF: https://www.vox.com/recode/22219026/fox-news-riot-capitol-ma...

That article is all about how Fox News has been talked for months after the election about how it "could have been stolen" (emphasis from Vox). It also speculates about Fox News's strategy going forward. That is not even close to "years spewing misinformation about American politics".

> A media watchdog found over 250 cases of COVID-19 misinformation on Fox News in just one five-day period

Citation from the PDF: https://www.mediamatters.org/coronavirus-covid-19/fox-news-p...

These sorts of counting articles always rub me the wrong way. They count multiple instances of the same misinformation and tend to play fast and loose with the definition of "misinformation" to get the count as high as possible. Of the few cases cited in the article, most of them are dumb opinions and baseless conjectures.

> and economists demonstrated that Fox News had a demonstrable impact on non-compliance with public health guidelines

Citation from the PDF: https://doi.org/10.3386/w27237

From the cited study:

> Meanwhile, Fox News maintained its stance against the lockdown and SD and, in April, a “slew of Fox News opinion hosts and anchors [were] pushing back on public health experts and urging President Donald Trump to abandon its social distancing policies and reopen the economy” (Relman, 2020). Therefore, our Fox News effects arise and persist throughout a period when Fox News repeatedly broadcast anti-SD content that was contrary to the recommendations of the White House.

The study itself attributes Fox News's influence on non-compliance to their disagreements regarding lockdown and social distancing policies. The study accuses Fox News of broadcasting misinformation by virtue of sharing disagreements with the recommendations of health experts.

by rayiner9 hours ago

Maybe you could say that the authors of those sources were pushing misinformation?

by jandrese8 hours ago

> no more than 30 percent of the American population inhabits the insular, propaganda-rich right-wing media ecosystem, indicate that whatever one thinks of the result of the 2016 election, it could not have been purely the result of right-wing propaganda.

30% of the total American population could be 46% of the voting population. But this is a straw man argument, it would only take 1 counter example to disprove a statement like that, and you could certainly find a person like that.

The comment about how Fox News has not spent years spewing misinformation simply because it is only talking about "Stop the Steal" nonsense is missing the forest for the trees. You can find examples of baseless hyperbolic fearmongering on Fox News every year (and indeed every month) going back to its inception. Migrant caravans about to overrun our borders. BLM protestors setting entire cities on fire. Secret pedophiles operating out of fast food restaurants.

by CivBase7 hours ago

> The comment about how Fox News has not spent years spewing misinformation simply because it is only talking about "Stop the Steal" nonsense is missing the forest for the trees.

I rarely watch anything from Fox News, so I wouldn't know. The point is the Vox article cited in the letter does not back up the statement made. If it's as bad as you say, surely there must be a better source to cite.

Regardless of any issues with Fox News, Newsmax, or OANN, this letter was lazily written and obviously partisan. It makes many strong statements but fails to back them up with the given sources. The way it and its sources haphazardly throws around the term "misinformation" are concerning, especially when combined with the discomforting notion that telecom companies should be worried their content isn't meeting the expectations of government officials.

by jandrese7 hours ago
by CivBase7 hours ago

Then it shouldn't have been difficult for professional representatives of the House to find a good source.

by runlevel111 hours ago

There is no such demand in the PDF linked.

EDIT: In case the title gets changed, it is currently "House Democrats Demand Cable Providers to Censor Misinformation [PDF]"

EDIT 2: After all the downvotes, I looked again but still am not seeing it.

by temp896410 hours ago

" 4. What steps did you take prior to, on, and following the November 3, 2020 elections and the January 6, 2021 attacks to monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation, including encouragement or incitement of violence by channels your company disseminates to millions of Americans? Please describe each step that you took and when it was taken.

5. Have you taken any adverse actions against a channel, including Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN, for using your platform to disseminate disinformation related directly or indirectly to the November 3, 2020 elections, the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection, or COVID-19 misinformation? If yes, please describe each action, when it was taken, and the parties involved.

6. Have you ever taken any actions against a channel for using your platform to disseminate any disinformation? If yes, please describe each action and when it was taken.

7. Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN on U-verse, DirecTV, and AT&T TV both now and beyond any contract renewal date? If so, why? "

Not seeing it? Really?

by AnIdiotOnTheNet10 hours ago

This is correct. There is no per-se demand, but there is a strong suggestion of expectation that these networks should be exerting some kind of pressure against the misinformation in shows they carry.

Frankly it still seems pretty ridiculous to me.

by sleepysysadmin10 hours ago

>This is correct. There is no per-se demand, but there is a strong suggestion of expectation that these networks should be exerting some kind of pressure against the misinformation in shows they carry.

It's kind of interesting. In 1 reading you can say there's no demand but when I read it there's multiple demands from the federal government.

It's similar to Trump and inciting violence. In 1 reading you can say Trump never incited violence but when I read Trumps' words he incited violence.

The democrat government absolutely demanded right-wing media be removed from their platform.

by garg10 hours ago

Who do you think should exert pressure against networks that broadcast misinformation and propaganda to millions of people?

by jolux10 hours ago

If anybody, it should be the public, not the government, from the perspective of constitutional law. In an ethical sense, I'm less sure, because I feel pretty certain that the networks named in these letters are harmful to the country and harmful to democracy, but I'm unsure about the relative costs in the long-term of government intervention here. The ruling party attacking opposition media is never a good look, no matter how toxic said media is.

+1
by arrosenberg8 hours ago

This is the United States - the government is the public.

by dd3610 hours ago

Why are you being downvoted? I don’t see it either.

by dang9 hours ago

The submitted title was "House Democrats Demand Cable Providers to Censor Misinformation [pdf]". That broke the site guidelines by editorializing. We've changed it now to something that is hopefully more accurate.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

by temp896410 hours ago

Flagged. Lol. Because the letters didn't use the exact words "demand", "censor". Haha.

by dang9 hours ago

You broke the site guidelines with that title, which was neither accurate nor neutral (see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26240472). Using titles to editorialize isn't "haha", it's against the rules and will cause you to lose submission privileges on HN. That goes double for divisive, inflammatory topics like this one. If you wouldn't mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and taking the intended spirit of the site more to heart, we'd be grateful.

I've changed the title and turned off the flags because (a) this is an interesting new phenomenon in the sense of the HN guidelines, and (b) the thread is fortunately not a huge flamewar, at least not yet.

by temp89647 hours ago

NYT used the title "House Democrats Press Cable Providers on Election Fraud Claims", I don't think it is much different and I think my edit is based on the actual content in the letters. But thank you for unflag the post.

by richardwhiuk8 hours ago

dang: I'm not particularly sure in what way this is a new phenomenon. It's basically just US politics as normal.

by unanswered8 hours ago

You would have changed the title of a hit piece against Hitler himself on the grounds that he didn't call for the genocide of all Jews, just putting them in camps to concentrate.

Disgraceful.

by minikites9 hours ago

Stepping back to a larger discussion about censorship, how exactly is "the marketplace of ideas" supposed to fight blatant falsehoods and other propaganda/misinformation? Ignoring it doesn't have the best track record so far, even Mark Twain figured out that a lie can make it halfway around the world before the truth even starts.

by mudil8 hours ago

Glenn Greenwald specifically discusses these developments in today's writeup.

https://greenwald.substack.com/p/house-democrats-targeting-r...

by gotoeleven8 hours ago

Remember when republicans sent a letter to cable providers asking them how many viewers watched MSNBC for russia conspiracy theories or context-free coverage of the recent police shootings or sympathetic coverage of people burning down police stations and declaring autonomous zones or the breathless reporting about "kids in cages" and everyone thought that was totally cool?

by exabrial8 hours ago

We can't have people thinking those wrong thoughts! Stop them at the source.

by NeonVice8 hours ago

These media companies are regulated by the FCC, so media companies will now feel pressured to effectively regulate free speech on behalf of the political party in power to avoid any negative repercussions in unrelated matters.

It's disturbing that the constitution limits the government from quelling free speech so now the government is pressuring private companies to achieve what they are forbidden to do on their own.

by ApolloFortyNine9 hours ago

Scary stuff, I feel like I'm slowly watching as the U.S turns into a one party state, and enforced by the government itself.

We argue about how it's okay for private companies to censor whatever they feel like, but what if it's the government pressuring them to do so? They themselves in this letter mention that 50% of Americans get their news from TV, and many American's have one choice of Cable provider, and even if they have 2 or 3, that's just 2 or 3 companies you have to pressure into delisting news sources of your choosing to make them essentially unreachable for the vast majority of the population.

The next step I feel is obviously blocking websites, again Americans only have 1 or 2 options of internet providers, and in this case they'd already have pressured them into censoring cable, so why not ask the same companies to censor the internet?

Steps like this just make me think that one side clearly doesn't plan on ever being able to lose an election again, and with actions available such as adding new states, adding 12-20 million new voters (illegal immigrants), I can see why they feel that way. Any authoritarian steps taken in democracy are usually balanced by the fact the other side could do the same when in power. If you simply never lose power, that's not an issue.

by mnouquet7 hours ago

> We argue about how it's okay for private companies to censor whatever they feel like, but what if it's the government pressuring them to do so?

Of course, make no mistake, we're about to see plenty of legislation entrenching big tech positions !

Also, it's well-know NYT and other media conspired to sell the war against Iraq. Even though it was a different administration, the same people were in power behind the scene.

by cozuya7 hours ago

Citation to Democrats "wanting to add 12-20 million illegal immigrant voters". An outrageous claim.

by ApolloFortyNine6 hours ago

Whenever you hear path to citizenship, that does entail voting.

[1]https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/16/politics/biden-immigration-le...

by minikites9 hours ago

Which party is the "one party" here?

by bpodgursky8 hours ago

Probably the one with the presidency, house, senate, most of the media, and social media content moderation.

by minikites7 hours ago

I just don't understand the parent post, the Democrats want MORE people to be able to vote, how is that "planning to never lose an election again"? The Republicans are the only ones who ever fight to suppress votes, most recently the attacks on absentee voting in Georgia, which are a direct result of two Democrats winning there and has absolutely nothing to do with "illegal immigrants" or election security on any level.

Which one sounds more like "planning to never lose an election again", the scheme where more people vote or the scheme where fewer people vote?

+1
by bpodgursky7 hours ago

The point in question is not whether it is justified or moral single-party rule. It is whether there is a shift towards single-party dominance.

by mnouquet7 hours ago

> I just don't understand the parent post, the Democrats want MORE people to be able to vote

Including dead people ? </sarcasm>