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Garbage In, Garbage Out

Garbage In, Garbage Out
By Keith Teare • Issue #242 • View online
The Future of the Open Internet
That Was The Week 2021, #5

Garbage In, Garbage Out. The Future of the Open Internet
Garbage In, Garbage Out. The Future of the Open Internet
Another week, another impeachment, and it does not even reach my newsletter. The foregone conclusion of the Senate trial - an acquittal - was overshadowed, at least in my reading list, by thousands of words about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Democrats unveiled their initial “Bill”, supported by Amy Klobuchar. It contained enough of a threat to the way the Internet currently works to provoke a reaction on all sides.
Fred Wilson, on his AVC blog well expresses the core. He quotes the famous “26 words” of the original:
“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
These words basically say that you (the platform I use) cannot be held responsible for what I (the publisher) write or convey on it. That is true even if you editorialise by removing or changing the content of another publisher in other circumstances. He then goes on to quote Jeff Kosseff:
“First, we haven’t agreed on what the problem is. There are very different conceptions of what is wrong. Half of Washington thinks that there should be more moderation and that the platforms should be more restrictive. The other half thinks that the platforms need to be less restrictive, and in many cases say they shouldn’t do any moderation at all.
Also there’s this: If you’re saying that there should be more moderation and less harmful content, the big problem with that is that we still have the First Amendment.”
My point of view is that there is not a problem to solve. Section 230 already provides the right balance. It allows me to publish on your platform without you becoming liable. It allows you to take down what I post if you have a solid enough reason. It does not expect you to scrutinise everything published. It works.
So the drive for change is not rational; it is political and driven by two competing ideologies. One ideology comes from the “left” and seeks to force platforms to remove content it disapproves of. This is generally called de-platforming or “cancel culture”. It is driven by a belief that there is only one “truth” and that all else is “fake” or “lies” and damaging to the civic mindset. Banning it is the goal, and forcing Twitter, Facebook and others to do so is part of the method. Section 203 is a readymade instrument to be changed to facilitate that.
On the other side are those who are angry with Twitter and Facebook for de-platforming Donald Trump and want to force them to act less often. This is mainly the new, “Trumpist” right.
I have no time for either movement. Leave 230 alone and let’s get on with enjoying our Trump-free era. So, as the title says - if the debate is garbage, the proposals are also likely to be. Garbage In, Garbage Out.
Lots more content this week about Clubhouse. The opinions are varied. Philip Greenspun gives an excellent first-timers overview..
Open or Policed Internet?
The Wrong Question
Democrats' New Section 230 Bill Could 'Devastate' the Internet, Experts Say
Empirical Evidence of Over-Removal by Internet Companies Under Intermediary Liability Laws: An Updated List
This is the Democrats’ plan to limit Section 230
Solutions for an Open Internet
Twitter’s Jack Dorsey wants to build an app store for social media algorithms
A Reality Check on Our "National Reality Crisis"
The Clubhouse Phenomenon
First impressions of Clubhouse?
In defense of blocking on Clubhouse
Portrait of a Clubhouse skeptic
Clubhouse Is the Anti-Twitter
Subscriptions and Unicorns
Monthly Recap January 2021: VC Funding, Just Shy Of $40B, Hits All-Time High And Produces A Record Number Of New Unicorns
Top 100 subscription apps grew 34% to $13B in 2020, share of total spend remained the same
Remote Work - The Inevitable is now Happening
Salesforce goes remote
Salesforce Says We’ll Go Back To The Office … 1-3 Days a Week
The End of Retail Banking?
Why Branch Banking is Dying in America
UK Investing
Africa Rising
Tweet of the Week
Gabe Rivera
Every night here people tweet there's something AMAZING happening right now on you-know-what, and then when I reluctantly go to check out that room, it's really boring and I leave a minute later.

So...what is wrong with me? Is there some drug I should be taking to enjoy these?
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Keith Teare

That Was The Week is a editorialized and curated weekly look at developments in tech, startups and investing

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Keith Teare, Palo Alto, California