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10/27/2018 8:28 am  #21

Re: Liberty and regulation

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

Personally, I think Twitter is useless and wouldn't care at all about it, except left-liberal media, including those with important social influence, often take it as representative of the community.

That said, it isstill biased, and you don't respond to those links.

Same as left and right as political terms are useless, also conservative and liberal as political terms are useless. I do not respond to those links because I do not know those people. Milo has come up enough so I know about him, Farrakhan sounds as if I heard before, the rest I cannot place, so it would be too much work to go through to determine whether they are really conservative or liberal, particularly given that, as said, conservative and liberal are useless terms.

As such, I am honestly unable to detect any anti-conservative bias. From US (and perhaps also UK) point of view, the world is divided into two parties. This is not the case in the rest of the world. There are many more parties than that.

So the first hurdle would be to define "conservative" in a way that "anti-conservative" could be a thing. Moreover, "anti-conservative" should somehow be the more powerful party.

Yes, there are statements and expressions attacked in public and deleted on Twitter, but I do not see how those statements or expressions are somehow conservative instead of inflammatory or offensive, and I do not see how the attacks are due to any sort of bias instead of due to general lack of tough skin.

Okay, I am making an attempt with one of your links

"It’s no secret Twitter and Facebook — run by left-wing activists who despise President Trump and conservative values — are abusing their power and stifling conservative voices. Not only is that un-American, it’s also a gross violation of Americans’ constitutional right to free speech."

Wait, since when does Trump represent conservative values? Which values specifically? And, if Twitter and Facebook literally abuse power, stifle conservative voices, and are un-American in gross violation of Americans' constitutional right to free speech, then why is Trump, the defender of conservative values, sitting there doing nothing? And why is Trump, apparently a conservative voice, not himself getting stifled? Can you prove all those abuses are taking place or is it just hyperbole?

If hyperbole, then I question your conservatism. If not hyperbole, then of course you have evidence and, in a free country defined by rule of law, you can tackle the issue by legal means. Go ahead and do it.

The article is alarmist drivel. It also supports the problematic premise that I already pointed out: Somehow Twitter and Facebook are things that give you free speech and when you get banned, this means your free speech has been taken away. Both sides seem to share this premise. So much about that.

Last edited by seigneur (10/27/2018 8:34 am)


10/27/2018 6:26 pm  #22

Re: Liberty and regulation

You're splitting hairs, unsurprisingly. All we need to know is Twitter has a history of targeting those on the right for action, whether conservatives, Republicans, etc. It has operated from a bias shaped by a left-liberal frame of reference. Farrakhan is not your normal left-liberal, but he's a black racialist and anti-Semite, which, in trendy identity politics is looked on indulgently, so he was let off, whereas Yiannopoulos, etc. weren't (for far less). Twitter isn't going around deciding the exact definition of conservative they will use. What they're doing is, firstly, being harsher to those who are identified as from the right, such as being publicly well-known conservatives or associated with conservative parties, outlets, or organisations, than their left-liberal counterparts, or any looked on indulgently by the contemporary left. Secondly, they are harsher on views commonly associated with the right or conservatives, especially social and cultural views, from those on sexuality to those on immigration. We don't need an exact definition, but can just follow the general trends.

To say its inflammatory comments being banned is, firstly, stretching that label to include almost anything at all controversial. For example, Twitter has banned major pro-life organisations from expressing a pro-life message on the site:

It would undermine political debate to consider any such social or political cause inflammatory. Secondly, to talk of inflammatory comments in this context is to leave out the bias in Twitter's action. Even if we say it is okay for Twitter to ban anything but the most anodyne, least controversial positions, Twitter aren't applying this standard consistently. Planned Parenthood and other organisations can spread their message freely. If you have a message that is respectful, but affirms a social or cultural conservative view on marriage or sexuality, gender, immigration, Islam, and so on, you will have to watch your step, whereas the most full-throated left-liberal advocate doesn't have to fear (unless he crosses the line into open harassment or abuse or something, though he will even then get far more slack).

It seems to me you wish to dismiss the evidence unseen and unheard. Whether it's alarming is an open question. As I said, I don't see why someone would use Twitter anyway. But this is a pattern repeated across social media, which do have important social power and influence today. Personally, I'm half a Luddite, so I think people should be careful relying on these platforms anyway, but there lack of accountability is not to be dismissed lightly. It is true these are private companies, but, aside from the fact I'm not sure corporations are exactly the same as a private firm, I'm not a classical liberal, so I'm not necessarily wedded to the idea that platforms that do have huge social and political import and influence can be considered completely private domains. At the very least, one might consider trust-busting.


10/28/2018 7:49 am  #23

Re: Liberty and regulation

Again, you intently ignore how banning works. This is how it works: A bot detects or a user flags the content. Any topic that inflames some users is inflammatory in the relevant sense. The relevant sense is not the blanket-sense of inflammatory, but inflammatory for those who tend to flag other people's content. And insofar as this is so, there is no conspiracy on the part of Twitter managers themselves, except in the reactive sense: They respond to complaints of those who scream the loudest.

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

For example, Twitter has banned major pro-life organisations from expressing a pro-life message on the site:

Okay, I have read the article, and I maintain that both you and the article are mixing up distinct issues. And I am not splitting hairs here.

The pro-life organisation was not banned. Their offer to promote their message with paid advertisements was rejected. Does it need further clarification that this is a whole different issue than banning of accounts and deleting of messages? Twitter refused a business-relationship with the pro-life organisation.

Let's suppose that Twitter indeed has liberal bias and their advertisement policy is affected with that bias. This brings me back to the analogy with journalism. Does a liberal newspaper have to accept conservative ads or a conservative newspaper liberal ads?

A hundred+ years ago in continental Europe, when a newspaper called itself "(party-politically) independent", it was clear to everyone that it was a business-interest-driven entity, i.e. of bourgeois ideology, and it would not accept ads from workers' unions, it would not accept socialist-leaning writings or writers. What did those unions and writers do in response? They created their own newspapers. There was no other way.

Paid advertisements, i.e. the company's revenue source, adds a whole new dimension to the discussion. I would still say that Twitter as a company is politically neutral. However, paid advertisements tend to do their thing (as has always been maintained by all sociologists, not only Marxist ones). Once they already accepted pro-abortion ads, they would be disinclined to litter their pages with the exact opposite message at the same time. Pro-lifers may look at it like an ideological bias, but there is a business profile element to it, just like in case of "independent" newspapers a century ago.

All in all, let's say that I agree with sociologists that business profile translates into ideological profile. However, I do not agree with alarmists that there is a conspiracy against them due to ideological bias. It is more like a market tide which is against them and there is an ideological element to the market tide.

Of course it would be clearer if Twitter, FB, etc. profiled themselves openly in terms of ideology, but first, such clarity does not serve business interests and, second, the business element is more powerful and it may override the ideology element any time. Third, such clarity is not required in any other business sector either, e.g. banks are not required to openly declare their pro-rich bias. So let's try to deal with the world the way it actually is, instead of according to our wishes and prejudices.

Edit: This current conservative uproar reminds me of the whining about anti-conservative bias of Wikipedia over ten years ago. As a result, Conservapedia was created. Feel free to take a look at how that went.

Anybody here ready to insist that Wikipedia still has anti-conservative bias or had back then? The debate around Wikipedia can be focused on ideology in a much purer way, because Wikipedia refuses any and all paid ads.

Last edited by seigneur (10/28/2018 8:13 am)


10/28/2018 9:47 am  #24

Re: Liberty and regulation

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

There's also the fact of the misuse of resources. One county police force literally told people to investigate their own burglaries, but many forces have squads dedicated to online hate speech. Then there's the lack of proportionality in the response of the police and justice system. For example, one man threw bacon at a Mosque. He was gaoled, if I recall correctly, for about a year. I'm not necessarily saying what he did should not be an offence, but I would bet that if he'd just punched a random person in the face (assuming he has no record and didn't do lasting damage) he would be unlucky to go to gaol. Peter Hitchens did a column where he compared the year or so sentence, for a first offence, of someone who callously mocked on Twitter a black football player who had had a heart on the pitch, with a heroin addict who was going to prison for the first time after more than two hundred offences, like theft and drug possession. Finally, I recall reading, in the reporting around one of the rape gang cases, that Somerset police had, at one point, been more interested in a racial slur a young abuse victim had made against her abuser than the abuse itself (which they had good evidence for). There is evidence that a disturbing lack of proportionality can accompany the mentality of those who want expansive hate speech prohibitions.

I heard about that as well. The 'Asian' (vast majority Muslim I think) child grooming gangs phenomena is probably a good example of how excessive political correctness and cultural sensitivity can become dangerous and can lead to the authorities facilitating criminality on a large scale. Individual police officers, politicians and experts who tried to draw attention to the problem were silenced/persecuted, victims were pursued for hate offences or anti-social behaviour etc. Then I read in a Times editorial that over a 25 year period there have been an estimated 40,000 victims of these gangs.  

Edit: I happened to stumble on this today, which I thought was timely:

If you read the Scottish government's posters, what will strike you, at least if you've been paying any attention to these issues for the last decade, is how vague and ambiguous it all is. On the one hand, it the posters who refer to people who do things like push transexuals in the street. And who wouldn't think stuff like that should be illegal? But, if you look closely, and read in the context of the identity politics activism and past government actions, it is hard not to think the posters are alluding to a much wider range of behaviours and actions, some that shouldn't be the business of the state.

That is an interesting short article. I think it highlights two important things about the anti-hate offences; the completely subjective criteria for deciding whether a hate incident has taken place and the emphasis on 'third party' reporting of hate incidents. I remember this being introduced into workplaces, employees had a duty to report if they witnessed any 'hate incidents' among fellow staff. This was/is particularly an issue for teachers and people working in councils and other public sector organisations where they are more strict about it.


10/28/2018 3:08 pm  #25

Re: Liberty and regulation


Bots do not make the decisions. They may flag content, but it is employees who decide to ban or take other action. And, as you yourself note, it is often users flagging content that starts things off. There is a pattern of such action being more readily taken against conservatives, and conservative opinions being more likely to be considered inflammatory or otherwise censored. So, I don't see the relevance of your point.

The point about the pro-life groups is that they were stopped from doing what Twitter let Planned Parenthood and other pro-choices do unproblematically.

Social media aren't normal businesses. They are more like phone companies, especially Facebook and Google. It would be bad for phone companies to discriminate against some customers on an ideological basis.

The bias isn't market driven. A few progressives might have a hissy fit if Twitter or Facebook were less biased, but it wouldn't do much harm. The issue is a corporate-culture and just the basic worldview of staff in Silicon Valley.

In the end, you are just ignoring evidence and just stick to your opinion come what may, which isn't surprising. Twitter, Facebook, et al. have a proven track record of anti-conservative bias, and you haven't done anything to show otherwise, no matter how many times you use the word alarmist. And, yes, Wikipedia is almost useless on any political or controversial topic. These topics tend to devolve into bickering, and one side - usually the left-liberal ones where the issue is at all political or cultural - usually wins and skews the content. I would never let my students quote from Wikipedia. It's true that, as with the mainstream media and the creation of Fox News, conservatives have a history of reacting to very real bias by creating just as biased alternatives themselves, but that doesn't change the fact that Wikipedia, the MSM, or Facebook,Twitter, Google, and YouTube each has shown a pattern of left-liberal bias against conservatives.


10/28/2018 3:42 pm  #26

Re: Liberty and regulation


I don't recall the wording of the British laws, but in Australia the hate speech law is known as 18c. It bans not just offensive and insulting speech (as well vilifying and humiliating), but actually says that the standard used is what is offensive or insulting to the average member of the relevant minority community, not the general public. This means, for example, you're judged by the standard Muslim community opinion of whether you've offended or insulted them. Again, I have nothing against Muslims, as you all know, but we all know  they, on average, have quite different opinions about what is offensive or insulting to say about their religion and culture than the average Aussie (or other Westerner). This an extraordinary standard, quite different to the usual Anglo-American legal standards. And, of course, the Human Rights Commission, which oversees the law, like all such bodies I've come across, is an activist outfit. It has even solicited for people to come forward and complain against certain incidents in the past (such as a risqué newspaper cartoon).


10/29/2018 3:45 am  #27

Re: Liberty and regulation

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

Bots do not make the decisions. They may flag content, but it is employees who decide to ban or take other action.

In companies big enough, like FB and Twitter, yes they do. I have ran against bot action personally a few times on FB.

Also, on a much older form of social networking called IRC, bots have been there since day one, decades by now.

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

Social media aren't normal businesses. They are more like phone companies, especially Facebook and Google. It would be bad for phone companies to discriminate against some customers on an ideological basis.

They would be comparable to phone companies assuming that the content is not public. When you talk to anybody on the phone, the assumption is that it's just between you two. When you click Send on Twitter and FB, you *publish.* So journalism is a better analogy, particularly for Twitter. The closest analogy to FB is IRC, except IRC does not support itself with ads.

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

The bias isn't market driven.

So you go against what sociologists theorise and against prior similar experience with "independent" newspapers a century ago. Okay.

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

Twitter, Facebook, et al. have a proven track record of anti-conservative bias, and you haven't done anything to show otherwise, no matter how many times you use the word alarmist. And, yes, Wikipedia is almost useless on any political or controversial topic.

Public opinion sets the tone in the market. It is in the interest of business to stay away from controversial topics, but as more and more topics become controversial, business succeeds in staying away from them less and less. And Wikipedia is not a business.

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

I would never let my students quote from Wikipedia.

I would never let my students quote from any encyclopedia. The way to use encyclopedias is to look at their sources, look up those and quote from the sources directly. It is strongly recommended to do the same even with scientific research articles. Not because I suspect others of bias before the fact, but because I have a habit to verify facts so that I can later tell, based on facts, whether there is any bias.

Last edited by seigneur (10/29/2018 4:12 am)


10/29/2018 4:33 am  #28

Re: Liberty and regulation

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

It's true that, as with the mainstream media and the creation of Fox News, conservatives have a history of reacting to very real bias by creating just as biased alternatives themselves, but that doesn't change the fact that Wikipedia, the MSM, or Facebook,Twitter, Google, and YouTube each has shown a pattern of left-liberal bias against conservatives.

Should you not agree then that journalism is a good analogy here? Over a century ago, "independent" newspapers were not fair and balanced enough for socialists and they were compelled to create their own newspapers. And then police played whackamole with those newspapers because they were associated with leftist terrorism.

Nowadays, so-called conservatives increasingly complain about liberal bias on platforms ostensibly neutral. They go on creating their own conservative counterparts, which get bad business rep due to links to rightist terrorism, such as Gab messaging service right now.

If the analogy with journalism holds true, then social platforms cannot remain neutral for long. Professional news are deemed very often tilted, unprofessional "news" would necessarily be even more so. Consequently, it is silly to accuse social networks of bias: They simply cannot be any more balanced than they are, particularly with business interests involved.

The only way to have true neutrality is to have zero business interests, like on IRC. Political fights occur there among admins, but it's about the power over the resource, not control over the ideology of the regular members. Within given channels, yes, the mods control the content based on their own ideological bias (and presumably based on the topic of the channel), but any dissenting party, sect, or interest group can always instantly diverge into a new channel.

Last edited by seigneur (10/29/2018 4:36 am)


10/29/2018 5:22 am  #29

Re: Liberty and regulation

Your fundamental point is fallacious. It assumes right-wing or conservative views are controversial but left-liberal ones aren't. A platform that censors or marignalises pro-life expression, but takes no such action against the pro-choice, for example, is not simply trying to avoid controversy. The evidence is clear that these companies have a history of discriminating against conservatives, and much of it isn't from bots. It may not be systematic discrimination, though sometimes the algorithms themselves have acted in this way, but it has been widespread enough to be a clear pattern. And, yes, although I do think corporations are mostly motivated by the bottom line, it isn't quite so simplistic that this is all they ever care about or act on. There is a corporate-culture, and this does tend to be left-liberal, especially in Silicon Valley. Sometimes it is deliberate bias, but sometimes it is just the way the people in these corporations see the world - they genuinely see, for example, pro-life positions as controversial but pro-choice as rational and sensible. Sometimes, indeed, they may see business choices through a left-liberal lens, and vice versa. But that doesn't mean that this ideological framework is public opinion or that it actually serves their business interests to be biased in this way. There are some noisy progressives who might make issues, but I think it probably wouldn't hurt these platforms to do more to be unbiased. And, yes, certainly we can't expect any human to be completely unbiased, but these platforms could easily do more. Just about every incident or pattern I have mentioned could easily be stopped without any obvious business or PR issue for these companies, and there are many more such that could be stopped in this way. In fact, I'm not aware of any genuine issue or pattern that these companies likely couldn't easily put an end to, with little fuss. As I said, the only problem might be noisy progressives, but to give in to them when they are calling for political discrimination is not only not right, but it just proves the biased concerns of these platforms.

Social media networks aren't journalistic outlets, so I think they do have an easier job of removing bias. But, still, the mainstream media may be better than many conservative (or more openly leftist) outlets, but it is was far from the best it could realistically be, even before many outlets let the mask drop almost completely in the age of Trump (e.g., CNN now resembles MSNBC). They could have done, and certainly can do, much better. It isn't unavoidable human failing that, for example, means ABC Australia's main current affairs panel show is consistently full of left-liberals or the BBC didn't have Eurosceptics on for a decade because they (the majority of the public) seen as fringe, as the ex-chairman admitted. These are all part of a pattern. Yes, no outlet could be perfect, and, yes, it is a failing of conservative media outlets they tend to be as biased, or more, than the mainstream media, but that doesn't mean the mainstream media are doing all they can, or anywhere near it.

The outlet you take a rather silly shot at appears to be one dedicated to free speech (I'm taking the media description at face value), but even free speech absolutists don't believe in incitement to violence, and this isn't covered by the US first amendment. Other than that, I'm not talking about such absolutism necessarily. What I'm talking about is equitable treatment. If these outlets want to police certain kinds of legal speech, that is one thing, but they shouldn't target conservatives more than left-liberals. And nor should they make their criteria of what can and can't be said too ideological, so, against for example, pro-choice views are fine, no matter how strident, but even relatively moderate pro-life ones are inflammatory and to be restricted or censored.


10/29/2018 6:00 am  #30

Re: Liberty and regulation

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

Your fundamental point is fallacious. It assumes right-wing or conservative views are controversial but left-liberal ones aren't.

Which way is it according to you?

According to my impression, liberal views are trending toward broader acceptance, which is reflected in business behaviour (rules of conduct, terms of condition, and other such policies), resulting in increasing complaints by conservatives.

However, my assumption is not that there is anything inherently controversial in either liberal or conservative, left-wing or right-wing views. The social norm is the way of the world and the way of the world is always a bit off compared to God-given natural law. Due to human-centred focus, both liberal views and conservative views are revealed as off base when driven consistently to their end. Then again, when speaking about wordly issues as we are, we have to observe the ways of the world as they present themselves.

Can you answer: Which way is more controversial, liberal or conservative? In my view, the question itself is malformed at closer inspection. The world cannot do without either liberals or conservatives. Neither can be eliminated. Both must be present. But they do not mix well, which gives us the world the way it is.

Do you suggest that e.g. right is more right than left? Or do you suggest that there is a balance to  be had so that both can live in peace side by side? And the latter can better be had under conservative principles rather than liberal? Care to lay out the corresponding programme in full? In my view, since no such programme ever worked throughout world history, it never will.

Mainstream journalism and academia are as good as it gets in terms of fair and balanced. The world does not deserve any better.

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

I have no idea what point you are trying to say by talking about right-wing outlets and terrorism. You appear to be trying to link mainstream conservative views with terrorists and murderers in some astoundingly strange and silly, to put it politely, jibe. I will give you the benefit of the doubt (though thousands wouldn't) that this isn't what you are saying.

Well, it is in the news right now, so it's a solid part of the public opinion. Whether you like it or not, it weakens the impression that there is such a thing as mainstream conservatism, particularly when conservatives are in uproar against liberal bias in mainstream media, basically touting "mainstream = liberal bias" thus effectively placing themselves out of mainstream!

But okay, let's pretend none of this is going on.

Last edited by seigneur (10/29/2018 6:11 am)


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