Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Discussions about serious topics, for serious people
User avatar
Stephanie
After Pie
Posts: 1754
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:38 pm
Location: clinging tenaciously to your buttocks

Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Stephanie » Mon Mar 30, 2020 2:05 pm

Facebook have removed Nick Catone's account for his anti-vaccination posts, so he's attempting to sue them. Write up here: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200 ... ount.shtml

Now the interesting thing to me is about access to Facebook. On the one hand it's easy to say, well Facebook is a private company, as are Twitter, et al. But they are also huge companies, and there aren't many competitors about. I read this piece by Cory Doctorow a while back, and thought it made some interesting points. It's easy to laugh or feel glad about the Nick Catone's but what about everyone else?
"I got a flu virus named after me 'cause I kissed a bat on a dare."

User avatar
Rich Scopie
Clardic Fug
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Rich Scopie » Mon Mar 30, 2020 4:06 pm

It first was a rumour dismissed as a lie, but then came the evidence none could deny:
a double page spread in the Sunday Express — the Russians are running the DHSS!

User avatar
murmur
Snowbonk
Posts: 493
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:09 am
Location: West of the fields

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by murmur » Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:39 pm

No-one is stopping Catone saying anything. He can go stand on his street corner and spout what he wants; he can write to his local paper and they can print it or not; etc, etc...

Facebook have, apparently, as it's hard to tell from what he and his lawyer are saying, stopped him from using their platform. As is their right and responsibility (see Dorit Reiss' piece linked to by Rich).

No-one is required to listen or read what he says.
It's so much more attractive inside the moral kiosk

greyspoke
Fuzzable
Posts: 252
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:36 pm

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by greyspoke » Mon Mar 30, 2020 7:37 pm

It is amusing how Doctorow manages to bring the issue round to his usual axes so he can grind them.
murmur wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:39 pm
No-one is stopping Catone saying anything. He can go stand on his street corner and spout what he wants; he can write to his local paper and they can print it or not; etc, etc...

Facebook have, apparently, as it's hard to tell from what he and his lawyer are saying, stopped him from using their platform. As is their right and responsibility (see Dorit Reiss' piece linked to by Rich).

No-one is required to listen or read what he says.
I agree with Doctorow to the extent that it *is* unfortunately a little more complicated than that. But I wouldn't go much farther down his track.

My take on it is that the big tech businesses have become so enmeshed in how society works that, when they deal with their customers in this way, they are (whatever they say) dispensing justice - they are imposing sanctions on people which have the potential to curtail their ability to enjoy their fundamental rights. Infringing fundamental rights is OK if you are the state - all the conventions provide for this, for example by allowing for imprisonment if imposed by a court when applying the law in a judicial kind of way.

The problem is not so much that rights are being curtailed (it may well be appropriate to do so, most rights are not absolute, they may have to be restricted when there is a clash with other rights or legitimate public policy considerations, as noted above), but that it is not happening as a result of a proper process. The answer, I think, is to enforce a proper process, with the possibility of appeal through the court system, on the tech companies. When faced with the requirement to set up such a system, they may consider changing their policies and their acqusitive tendency (possibly going some way to achieving Doctorow's objectives). With great power comes great whatnot. Or it should.

User avatar
Stephanie
After Pie
Posts: 1754
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:38 pm
Location: clinging tenaciously to your buttocks

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Stephanie » Mon Mar 30, 2020 9:58 pm

Yeah, greyspoke, I think that's semi where I am.

Murmur, I read Dorit's blog, and I understand the free speech argument. I'm just wondering how that fits with a society where Facebook is the dominant social media platform (owning Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger too).

So I guess it's more a justice and big tech argument, the Nick Catone part was just an example that reminded me of the discussion.
"I got a flu virus named after me 'cause I kissed a bat on a dare."

User avatar
Martin_B
Snowbonk
Posts: 590
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:20 pm
Location: Perth, WA

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Martin_B » Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:51 am

How would you feel about it if you considered Facebook to be a newspaper? You are entitled to write whatever you want in a letter to the paper, but they don't have to print it. Facebook and newspapers are private companies; yes Facebook runs a virtual monopoly (other non-Facebook entities are available) but then where I live we only have one daily newspaper, and one Sunday paper, both owned by the same company and very heavily right-oriented in it's editorials. Essentially, I have little freedom of speech to get a letter printed in the paper. Do I jump up and down and threaten to sue the paper? No. Facebook could allow absolutely every post which anyone submits to be available to anyone, just as a newspaper could print every letter it receives (OK, with some issues of quantity of paper and ink used) but has decided to implement some rules. If Nick Catone doesn't like them, either find a way around the rules, or post elsewhere. [/rant]
"My interest is in the future, because I'm going to spend the rest of my life there"

User avatar
Stephanie
After Pie
Posts: 1754
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:38 pm
Location: clinging tenaciously to your buttocks

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Stephanie » Tue Mar 31, 2020 7:36 am

I'm regretting using the Nick Catone thing now tbh, because I think the rest of my point is being missed.

Just to be clear, yes, nick Catone bad, no, I don't agree with his daft lawsuit. No one needs to rant at me.

ETA: I (was) working for a social media startup, and thus I'm interested in the arguments around how existing tech enforce policies (inconsistently, from everything I've seen).
"I got a flu virus named after me 'cause I kissed a bat on a dare."

User avatar
Martin_B
Snowbonk
Posts: 590
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:20 pm
Location: Perth, WA

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Martin_B » Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:57 am

I was aiming more to rant at Nick Catone and his ilk who demand that Facebook, etc, allow him to print absolutely anything they like, but then often shout loudest about anyone posting anything which goes against their personal beliefs.
"My interest is in the future, because I'm going to spend the rest of my life there"

FlammableFlower
Catbabel
Posts: 792
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:22 pm

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by FlammableFlower » Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:37 am

Stephanie wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 7:36 am
I'm regretting using the Nick Catone thing now tbh, because I think the rest of my point is being missed.

Just to be clear, yes, nick Catone bad, no, I don't agree with his daft lawsuit. No one needs to rant at me.

ETA: I (was) working for a social media startup, and thus I'm interested in the arguments around how existing tech enforce policies (inconsistently, from everything I've seen).
Yeah, ignoring the specifics of the person involved, there is an interesting and knotty problem around a few major companies almost being a monopoly in their particular area of social media.

Might this also be an issue around how these are viewed? Some companies and people have been cut off from social media (I'm thinking of the likes of Natural News/Mike Adams) but have a continued presence online - their own websites for example - so could be seen as still having "freedom of speech", but is this sufficient? There's always the issue of the "I don't like what you say, but you should be allowed to say it" - so we definitely need to consider it outside of personalities.

I wonder, as a comparison, how this relates to pre-internet freedom of speech? Before (and still can (to an extent)), people had the option to speak in public (obvs best example Speakers Corner) and could publish their own paper/newsletter etc.

(I haven't got any concrete ideas btw, just spouting off the top of my head).

User avatar
Stephanie
After Pie
Posts: 1754
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:38 pm
Location: clinging tenaciously to your buttocks

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Stephanie » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:08 am

Martin_B wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:57 am
I was aiming more to rant at Nick Catone and his ilk who demand that Facebook, etc, allow him to print absolutely anything they like, but then often shout loudest about anyone posting anything which goes against their personal beliefs.
ah fair enough, understood
"I got a flu virus named after me 'cause I kissed a bat on a dare."

User avatar
Stephanie
After Pie
Posts: 1754
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:38 pm
Location: clinging tenaciously to your buttocks

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Stephanie » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:11 am

FlammableFlower wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:37 am
Stephanie wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 7:36 am
I'm regretting using the Nick Catone thing now tbh, because I think the rest of my point is being missed.

Just to be clear, yes, nick Catone bad, no, I don't agree with his daft lawsuit. No one needs to rant at me.

ETA: I (was) working for a social media startup, and thus I'm interested in the arguments around how existing tech enforce policies (inconsistently, from everything I've seen).
Yeah, ignoring the specifics of the person involved, there is an interesting and knotty problem around a few major companies almost being a monopoly in their particular area of social media.

Might this also be an issue around how these are viewed? Some companies and people have been cut off from social media (I'm thinking of the likes of Natural News/Mike Adams) but have a continued presence online - their own websites for example - so could be seen as still having "freedom of speech", but is this sufficient? There's always the issue of the "I don't like what you say, but you should be allowed to say it" - so we definitely need to consider it outside of personalities.

I wonder, as a comparison, how this relates to pre-internet freedom of speech? Before (and still can (to an extent)), people had the option to speak in public (obvs best example Speakers Corner) and could publish their own paper/newsletter etc.

(I haven't got any concrete ideas btw, just spouting off the top of my head).
I guess it sort of depends what social network sites are used for - are they publishers or communities? i'd say facebook in particular sits uneasily between the two
"I got a flu virus named after me 'cause I kissed a bat on a dare."

greyspoke
Fuzzable
Posts: 252
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:36 pm

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by greyspoke » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:23 am

I find it helpful to think "what would I do to set up a police state?" I would look for ways of getting at people outside of the normal legal process. At one time, in the Soviet Union, they were fond of their equivalent of sectioning under the Mental Health Act. All you need is a couple of compliant doctors (easy to arrange) and you have locked someone up at your pleasure. All apparently legal. Combine that with weak judicial oversight of official decisions and hey presto, there you are. Being able to cut your opponents off from the main way of delivering political messages would be a very valuable tool.

FlammableFlower
Catbabel
Posts: 792
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:22 pm

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by FlammableFlower » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:34 am

Stephanie wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:11 am
I guess it sort of depends what social network sites are used for - are they publishers or communities? i'd say facebook in particular sits uneasily between the two
Yeah, and it's something that has evolved over time as other companies and individuals have used it for (financial) promotion.

User avatar
murmur
Snowbonk
Posts: 493
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:09 am
Location: West of the fields

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by murmur » Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:12 am

Stephanie wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 9:58 pm
Yeah, greyspoke, I think that's semi where I am.

Murmur, I read Dorit's blog, and I understand the free speech argument. I'm just wondering how that fits with a society where Facebook is the dominant social media platform (owning Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger too).

So I guess it's more a justice and big tech argument, the Nick Catone part was just an example that reminded me of the discussion.
As a pretty much non-user of Facebook, I suppose I don't see it as being such a big thing, which is partly why I fall back on a more basic free speech line - I see FB as one of any number of competing media platforms, which one can use or not, so I don't see the FB element as crucial. We come at these things from different positions :)
It's so much more attractive inside the moral kiosk

User avatar
Fishnut
Catbabel
Posts: 649
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:15 pm
Location: UK

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Fishnut » Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:28 pm

I
murmur wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:12 am
As a pretty much non-user of Facebook, I suppose I don't see it as being such a big thing, which is partly why I fall back on a more basic free speech line - I see FB as one of any number of competing media platforms, which one can use or not, so I don't see the FB element as crucial. We come at these things from different positions :)
I don't really use FB that much - it's my happy safe place where I see pictures of friends and their kids/pets and find out what they're up to. I keep politics to a minimum (though I still get a lot due to a lot of my friends being liberal lefty SJWs :D ). But within the space of a week I'd helped create a group that was working with local pharmacies to get prescriptions delivered at a time when they were struggling, that was supporting the foodbank with donations and deliveries at a time when they were being overwhelmed with demand, that was providing direct support to vulnerable people, and that was informing our town in a locally-focused way about everything coronavirus-related. I know that other parts of the country have used WhatsApp to organise themselves at street-level but I don't know that it would have been possible to do what we did in the timeframe we did without a platform like Facebook. And it does make me very nervous that our ability to use it is essentially at the whim of a single company based in another country. If FB decided to pull the plug on everything coronavirus-related out of some "we can't control what's true and what's not so it's easier to ban it all" idea then we'd be totally f.cked.

I have no problem de-platforming people (especially given that people have been de-platformed forever and no-one was bothered, it's just that now it's happening to people who aren't used to being told to shut up so they throw a strop). But when a platform is so large and ubiquitous as Facebook I do worry about the consequences of allowing them to single-handedly decide who does and doesn't get to use it. If a newspaper refuses to print your letter you can try and get it printed somewhere else, or you can boycott that paper in protest and still have the ability to find out what's going on in the world. The same isn't really true for Facebook. It may be a moot point about them specifically as younger people are using platforms like Instagram (also owned by FB) and Tik Tok (also with a disturbing level of authoritarianism at its heart) but there is definitely a wider question of what we can do when a private company holds so much power in its hands and has no clear governance or interest in wielding that power ethically.

User avatar
JQH
Dorkwood
Posts: 1019
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:30 pm
Location: Sar Flandan

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by JQH » Tue Mar 31, 2020 2:46 pm

Stephanie wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 7:36 am
I'm regretting using the Nick Catone thing now tbh, because I think the rest of my point is being missed.

Just to be clear, yes, nick Catone bad, no, I don't agree with his daft lawsuit. No one needs to rant at me.

ETA: I (was) working for a social media startup, and thus I'm interested in the arguments around how existing tech enforce policies (inconsistently, from everything I've seen).
Thinking about the rest of your point:

If you get your news from the TV you have a range of outlets (and in Britain a range of print outlets too). As far as social media is concerned, Facebook is pretty much the only game in town so them having the powers to control discourse is of concern. A lot of my posts show a leftof centre viewpoint which I doubt would meet with Zuckerberg's approval, should he see them. What if FB started removing left-wing posts? How would people feel about that?
And remember that if you botch the exit, the carnival of reaction may be coming to a town near you.

Fintan O'Toole

EACLucifer
Catbabel
Posts: 928
Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:49 am
Location: Behind you

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by EACLucifer » Tue Mar 31, 2020 3:37 pm

Stephanie wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 7:36 am
I'm regretting using the Nick Catone thing now tbh, because I think the rest of my point is being missed.

Just to be clear, yes, nick Catone bad, no, I don't agree with his daft lawsuit. No one needs to rant at me.

ETA: I (was) working for a social media startup, and thus I'm interested in the arguments around how existing tech enforce policies (inconsistently, from everything I've seen).
Oddly enough, I was going to post something very similar.

It's easy to think it's clear cut when it is someone awful like Catone. OTOH, Facebook are also extremely prone to shutting down ex-Muslims and other secularists who tread on the toes of religious fundamentalists. Consider the principles in that situation people?

User avatar
Sciolus
Snowbonk
Posts: 388
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:42 pm

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Sciolus » Tue Mar 31, 2020 6:34 pm

In general, businesses can pick and choose who they provide their services to and who they have as customers entirely at their own with, with the only legal constraint that they can't discriminate on certain specified protected grounds (race, sex etc.). That's the only way it can work, in general.

Where it gets interesting is when the business is a utility providing an essential public service, especially if it's a monopoly. Can Thames Water refuse to supply the BNP? Can Openreach refuse to connect the CPGB? I'm not sure, but I suspect their statutory regulators would have something to say if they tried.

Is Facebook now a public utility? It's certainly close to it. As someone who refuses to use it, I often feel I am excluded from a number of normal societal activities, even though it barely existed a decade ago. Maybe it needs an independent regulator to control its behaviour.

User avatar
Pucksoppet
Snowbonk
Posts: 599
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:13 pm
Location: Girdling the Earth

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Pucksoppet » Tue Mar 31, 2020 6:55 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 6:34 pm
In general, businesses can pick and choose who they provide their services to and who they have as customers entirely at their own with, with the only legal constraint that they can't discriminate on certain specified protected grounds (race, sex etc.). That's the only way it can work, in general.

Where it gets interesting is when the business is a utility providing an essential public service, especially if it's a monopoly. Can Thames Water refuse to supply the BNP? Can Openreach refuse to connect the CPGB? I'm not sure, but I suspect their statutory regulators would have something to say if they tried.

Is Facebook now a public utility? It's certainly close to it. As someone who refuses to use it, I often feel I am excluded from a number of normal societal activities, even though it barely existed a decade ago. Maybe it needs an independent regulator to control its behaviour.
I tend to the view that once a business has more than a certain small percentage of 'the market', it should be regulated as a public utility. 'The market' need not necessarily be national.
I definitely get excluded from certain social activities due to my deliberate lack of Facebook. That is my choice, but I am more pig-headed than most.

noggins
Stargoon
Posts: 92
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:30 pm

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by noggins » Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:40 pm

Nah. Smash Facebook. Its too big.

User avatar
Bird on a Fire
Light of Blast
Posts: 4279
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:05 pm
Location: nadir of brie

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:13 pm

I was going to post something nuanced along the lines of noggins's post. I think theirs is better articulated.

Facebook have a monopoly over a certain kind of social media. It's the only one that's easy for advertising and planning events - there are plenty of gigs where the only way to get in is to reserve a spot on Facebook - for example. And then they also own Instagram (the biggest one for images) and Whatsapp (widely used for group messages). That's a lot of platforms to be banned from.

Social Media Platforms are unusual entities in that they are networks, and a network's value increases exponentially with its number of nodes. They are intrinsically anticompetitive. The same applies to things like transportation networks, telephone networks and (to some extent) power and water grids, all of which are generally nationalised - even in private-sector-worshipping neolibtopias like the USA.

There's a general problem of jurisdiction, of course.

I don't think it's inherently a problem that these are private companies. Electric grids and phone networks and railways started as private companies and were nationalised later, often in steps. But would we inter-nationalise social media, even if we wanted to? Could the UN do it, for instance?

The internet is one of those things, along with freshwater resources, fisheries and the climate (inter alia), that is operating at a scale beyond anything humans have thus far equipped themselves to deal with. Suggestions welcome.
THINK BIG AND UPEND THE SYSTEM

#ShowYourStripes

Millennie Al
Fuzzable
Posts: 300
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:02 am

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Millennie Al » Wed Apr 01, 2020 1:30 am

I think the situation is simpler than most people are claiming. A company like Facebook should have a choice between two alternatives:

1) be like a newspaper - they can freely choose what appears on their website and are held responsible for such content (e.g. they can be sued for libel, be co-consirators in terrorist cases etc).

2) be a mere conduit or common carrier. They must accept all content except for material where they are compelled by law to block it. They are free to await a cour order to block material, or they can block material on their own initiative. However, if they block material on their own initiative, and it turns out that a court judges that the material was not illegal, then they owe compensation to the sender of the material and all potential recipients. They are, of course, free to draw the attention of law enforcement to any material they suspect to be illegal.


In the specific case of Nick Catone, I think he seems to have a legitimate grievance. The explanation he seems to have been given is "we don't allow credible threats to harm others, support for violent organisations, or exceedingly graphic content". None of these seems to me to cover claims that a vaccine killed his child, regardless of how untrue that is. However, I don't know what he actually posted. Maybe there are anti-vax groups that threaten doctors (like there are anti-abortion ones that do) and he posted in support of one, or something else.
Covid-19 - Don't catch it: don't spread it.

noggins
Stargoon
Posts: 92
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:30 pm

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by noggins » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:38 am

Part of solution 1) would be stopping it being used as ID to unlock other stuff.

Part of 2) would be involve taking an axe to their data collection and monetizing of it. A common carrier shouldnt be selling a record of what they carry to me.


I think actually making either work means smashing facebooks commercial basis. So why not just smash then anyway.

Millennie Al
Fuzzable
Posts: 300
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:02 am

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:50 am

noggins wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:38 am
I think actually making either work means smashing facebooks commercial basis. So why not just smash then anyway.
Because lots of people seem to find them useful. If you don't care what people want, you're part of the problem - not part of the solution.
Covid-19 - Don't catch it: don't spread it.

User avatar
Bird on a Fire
Light of Blast
Posts: 4279
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:05 pm
Location: nadir of brie

Re: Nick Catone sues Facebook, and freedom of speech...

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Apr 02, 2020 2:05 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:50 am
noggins wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:38 am
I think actually making either work means smashing facebooks commercial basis. So why not just smash then anyway.
Because lots of people seem to find them useful. If you don't care what people want, you're part of the problem - not part of the solution.
Which people find Facebook's commercial basis useful (other than Facebook investors)?

Or are you intending to suggest that their service (which lots of people find useful) depends upon their (post hoc) commercial basis?
THINK BIG AND UPEND THE SYSTEM

#ShowYourStripes

Post Reply