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Musk Offers Twitter $41 Billion, Exciting Free Speech Advocates

Will Musk succeed in his effort to "unlock" Twitter's free speech potential?

News has moved fast since it was revealed last week that Elon Musk purchased a 9.2% stake in Twitter. Since then, Musk was offered a seat on Twitter’s board, an offer he at first accepted, and then declined. Now, Musk has upped the ante by offering to buy Twitter for $41 billion. In his letter to the board, Musk referenced his desire to make Twitter “the platform for free speech around the globe,” and stated that he has the ability to “unlock” Twitter’s “extraordinary potential.” Here’s his full letter: Bret TaylorChairman of the Board, I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is…

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Pinterest Bans Climate Change “Misinformation”

Pinterest might be the first company to implement such a strict ban, but what if it's not the last?

Last week, Pinterest banned climate change misinformation from its platform, becoming the first major social media company to do so outright. The policy raises free speech concerns. Since not all scientists agree on the nature of climate change, what causes it, and what the solutions are, how is the issue to be discussed if alternate points of view are banned from public platforms? Pinterest is an image-sharing social media site, where users share ideas that they can “pin” to their own boards on everything from recipes to interior design to fashion. On April 6, Pinterest announced their new climate misinformation policy, aimed at “remov[ing] content that may harm the public’s well-being, safety or trust.” As of the policy announcement, any…

Apple iPhone 8 with Twitter Logotype on a Screen

Dorsey Talks Decentralization and Musk Buys Twitter Share

Will this be the upset many free speech advocates hope it could be?

Last week, I wrote about the buzz around internet decentralization, especially as there appears to be talk at Twitter of moving in such a direction. The buzz continues, this time with vocal support from former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, coinciding with a bold financial move from Elon Musk. On April 2, Dorsey reminisced on Twitter about the early, decentralized days of the Internet, and said that centralization “really damaged the internet. I realize I’m partially to blame, and regret it.” The problems of social media platforms have been made clear in the past few years, specifically when it comes to data privacy and how to handle (or even define) harmful content while also respecting free speech. But there isn’t as much…

Web3 - Web3.0 - Semantic Web - New Iteration of the World Wide Web Through Decentralization Based on Blockchains

Could Decentralization Fix Twitter’s Censorship Problems?

Decentralization is not an automatic guarantee of internet freedom, but it may be a good first step

Twitter is considering decentralization according to a recent report from The New York Times. But what does decentralization mean, and how would it impact our experience with social media? Is this a solution to all the problems around censorship standards that Big Tech companies have faced in recent years? According to The New York Times, Twitter is following the early vision of a former employee named Blaine Cook by “funding an independent effort to build a so-called open protocol for social media. It is also weaving cryptocurrency into its app, and opening up to developers who want to build custom features for Twitter.” Kate Conger reports: Some skeptics believe Twitter is jumping on the web3 bandwagon, joining a trendy movement in tech to shift many…

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Trump Releases Truth Social, Users Run Into Errors

The jury is out on whether this will stand as a true rival to Twitter

Last week, former President Trump unveiled his new social media app: Truth Social, a free-speech alternative to Twitter. It immediately became the number one free app on Apple’s App Store and boasted half a million users within its first forty-eight hours. But hiccups soon followed, including error messages and long wait times for access to the platform. The app went live on February 21, which was (perhaps not coincidentally) President’s Day. But those who signed up to join were automatically placed on a waitlist, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. When a Post reporter tried to sign up for a Truth social account on Tuesday morning, he was told that he was number 387,392 on a waitlist. “We love you, and you’re…

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Social media concept.

New York Senate Tries To Shut Down Misinformation on Social Media

The introduction of the bill raises concerns about government's intrusion into the freedom of speech online

In December, a bill was presented in the New York State Senate that would attempt to hold social media companies responsible for their role in circulating incitements to violence, incitements to self-harm, and misinformation.  Introduced by Democratic/Working Families Party Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, the legislation would empower the state’s Attorney General to bring an action against any social media company that allows for the circulation of content that incites violence or that “includes a false statement of fact or fraudulent medical theory…”. No person, by conduct either unlawful in itself or unreasonable under all the circumstances, shall knowingly or recklessly create, maintain or contribute to a condition in New York state that endangers the safety or health of the public through…

Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey Resigns from Twitter: “now is the right time”

Some are concerned that his replacement is bad news for free speech

On Monday, Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter CEO, explaining that he has “worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders” and that “now is the right time.” “I want you all to know that this was my decision and I own it,” wrote Dorsey in an email to his colleagues that he then posted to Twitter. “It was a tough one for me, of course. I love this service and company… and all of you so much. I’m really sad… yet really happy. There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there aren’t many founders that choose their company over their own ego. I know we’ll prove this was the right move.”…

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Texas Governor Signs Law Curbing Big Tech Censorship

A similar law in Florida was halted by a federal judge. Will Texas's law face the same legal battle?

Last Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 20 into law, legislation that would prohibit social media companies from banning users for their political beliefs and provide users with a legal remedy for unfair discriminatory behavior. The law is very similar to legislation passed earlier this year in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 into law at the end of May. Within days, technology trade groups had filed a lawsuit, and on June 30, a federal judge stopped the bill in its tracks with a preliminary injunction. For the bill’s proponents, the law’s intention is to protect the free speech rights of state citizens when using social media. “Freedom of speech is under attack in Texas,” said…

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Justice and law concept. Gavel on sounding block in hand's Male judge at a courtroom, working with document law books, report the case on table in modern office.

Section 230: What Is It and Why the Controversy?

Does Section 230 provide Big Tech too much power, or is it necessary for the moderation of misinformation and inappropriate content?

At the center of the controversy between free speech and the rights of private companies lies Section 230, the controversial U.S. code dating back to 1996. Toward the end of his term in 2020, former President Donald Trump famously tweeted that Section 230 should be “completely terminated.” Sen. Josh Hawley, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voiced their support, but by and large, the sentiment was met with fierce resistance. Advocates for the reform (or complete repeal) of Section 230 argue that it shields Big Tech companies from accountability when they engage in politically-motivated censorship and content moderation. Supporters of Section 230 argue that it is essential to keep the internet free of misinformation and vile or obscene material. Section 230…

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Woman hand using smart phone with lock icon graphic at coffee shop. Technology business concept.

Censoring the Censors? Florida’s Anti-Censorship Law

What exactly does the law do, and why is Big Tech sponsoring a lawsuit to halt it?

Originally published by Dr. Karl Stephan at Engineering Ethics On May 24, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill designed to stop social media firms from censoring free speech. At least that’s what the governor’s website claims it does. Two big-tech industry groups, Netchoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), sued the state of Florida in early June over the legislation, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1. What exactly does the law do, and why are organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google sponsoring a lawsuit to halt it? People of certain political persuasions need not look far for motivations to pass such a law. Following the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 of this year,…

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Judge Holding Documents

Big Tech Sues Florida Over New Censorship Law

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are fighting back against a Florida law that seeks to reign them in

Technology trade companies representing Facebook, Twitter, and Google are suing Florida over its new law regulating the editorial and censorship powers of large social media platforms. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 into law on May 24, the first of its kind in the nation to curb the powers of online companies to remove and censor content and users. NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) – technology trade groups that have been vocal about their opposition to the law – filed the lawsuit against Florida the following Thursday in Tallahassee federal court. DeSantis and other supporters of the new law argue that its purpose is to safeguard the First Amendment rights of ordinary Florida citizens…

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YouTube on a phone

Big Tech Scrubs Religious Radio Show From YouTube

This isn't the first time YouTube has infringed on free speech

YouTube removed an entire radio show from its platform this week, hosted by popular Christian author and social commentator Eric Metaxas, citing violations of their community standards. Metaxas – author of biographies on the lives of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther, and William Wilberforce, among many other books – announced the news to his social media pages on Tuesday. “It’s happened,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Despite our going FAR out of our way to comply with their arbitrary ‘community standards’, YouTube decided to remove every single video we’ve ever done on the Eric Metaxas Show off their platform.” The Eric Metaxas Radio Show, humorously called “The Show About Everything”, has featured a host of big name guests, including former…

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Information censorship - Typewriter locked with a chain

Columbia Professor Wants Government to Regulate News Media

The journalism professor argued before a government regulatory committee that "an open market without regulation will always favor bad actors over good"

During a subcommittee hearing on misinformation, disinformation, and extremism in journalism, a Columbia University professor advocated for the regulation of news media to create “a more vibrant, truthful news environment.”  Emily Bell (pictured) is a professor of journalism at Columbia University, and founding director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. Prior to her appointment at Columbia, she was an award-winning writer and editor at Guardian News and Media in London. She offered her comments at a February 24 hearing titled, “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media”, hosted by the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the House’s Committee on Energy and Commerce. Bell testified as a witness. She sees a “policy role” for government to play in…

Seattle, Washington - November 22, 2019: General view of Amazon office building in Seattle, Washington

Little-Known Civil Rights Law Could Bring Big Tech to Its Knees

Many tech giants have considerable assets and many employees in Seattle's jurisdiction

SEATTLE—As state and federal lawmakers consider drafting new legislation to counter big tech censorship of dissenting political voices, few seem to realize that an anti-discrimination law already on the books could spell big trouble for big tech companies that engage in political censorship.  Ironically, the law was enacted by one of the most politically progressive cities in the country: Seattle.  Unlike most political jurisdictions in the United States, Seattle expressly forbids discrimination on the basis of “political ideology.” Seattle defines political ideology expansively as any idea or belief, or coordinated body of ideas or beliefs, relating to the purpose, conduct, organization, function or basis of government and related institutions and activities, whether or not characteristic of any political party or group. This…

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What We Can Do To Prevent More Online Censorship

Encrypted email can be an end-around social media companies' monopoly of free speech

With all the concern about major social media companies deplatforming those they disagree with, there is a concern that these companies’ monopoly on social media will eliminate free speech. New social media platforms such as Gab, Parler and MeWe have popped up to offer freer alternatives. Yet even that is not without peril, as deplatforming can happen lower down the technology stack. Parler was recently kicked off AWS (Amazon Web Services). However, in the midst of all the hubbub we’ve forgotten the original social network: email. Email is still here. The distance between email and modern social media may be smaller than it first appears. Lets make a short list of the perceived differences between social media and email, and…

Adobe Stock Censorship peace cage Adobe Stock 22001967
Adobe Stock Censorship peace cage Adobe Stock 22001967

Jordan Peterson to Found New Free Speech Platform

Thinkspot is being developed as a free speech alternative to Facebook, YouTube, and Patreon

His proposal coincides with several recent Big Social Media decisions that have raised eyebrows.

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