Throwing shit into the wind

So it seems that an American newspaper, the New York Post, has published something very damaging to the Joe Biden presidential campaign. Sure, I know what it is but I don’t have any way to know if it’s all true, partly true, or not true. I don’t have access to the sources. So I’m not going to dwell on it.

I’m not American, I don’t live in America, I have never visited America (one day I’ll be rich enough, maybe) and I’m in Scotland where we have quite enough crap going on with two layers of idiots in government so American politics is of only passing interest to me at the moment.

The New York Post has been going for about 200 years. I doubt they’d deliberately publish something that would land them with massive libel charges. And we are not talking about libelling Jimmy Nobody here, we are talking about a story concerning a presidential candidate, one month before the election. If they are wrong, if they are lying, this could get them wiped off the newspaper map. So I would hope they’ve done their homework on this.

Anyway, none of it matters.

Farcebok and Twatter have gone all out on censorship on this one, to the point of labelling the story in the 200-year-old New York Post as a ‘dangerous link’. They even stopped one of the newspaper’s editors posting that link. They are clearly suppressing any negative news about Biden and trying to distract from it and it has worked – although not as, I suspect, they intended.

They have now made it clear that they are not open platforms for free speech. They are publishers, they edit and censor content according to their own preferences. You only get to see what gets through the editorial process. Anything they don’t like is quashed.

This changes the game for them. They are now subject to publisher regulation and are not merely platforms. It’s a hell of a big change, because a publisher is responsible for what it publishes, while a platform is not.

WordPress, those operating the mechanics of this blog, are a platform. They don’t edit or censor what I say on here. All of this stuff is my responsibility. If I were to send death threats or advocate violence, that would be on me, not on WordPress.

I (as Leg Iron Books) am a publisher. I edit and assess stories before publication. If I get one that is likely to get me in serious trouble, I won’t publish it. Sure, the contracts include things like ‘if you plagiarised this, it’s on you’ but this goes beyond that. I will not publish paedo porn, books that are a clear incitement to violence, fanfiction, that sort of thing. Because I know that accepting that stuff for publication will make me complicit. If I was just passing on anything and everything with no editing or censorship I could claim I was just a platform, but if I did that the quality of books and stories would be atrocious. Fanfiction about Bigfoot as Bigknob would be coming through along with Harry Potter getting reamed by Snape (these things actually exist online). Therefore, as a publisher, I have to watch out for what I publish because I could get bankrupted, even though that wouldn’t take very long at all.

Farcebok and Twatter have now confirmed that they are publishers, not platforms. This means they are responsible for what appears on their sites. There is so much hate, incitement to violence and more on those sites and they have just accepted personal responsibility for all of it.

When you throw shit in the wind, you really need to check which way the wind is blowing.

6 thoughts on “Throwing shit into the wind

  1. This is called Common Carrier Immunity. It is a big thing in Internet circles, because a lot of Internet law rests on it. An analogy is the UK postman: if I receive hate mail by post, I cannot sue my postie for delivering it to me, because he’s just the poor slob who gets to schlep junkmail to other slobs.

    Similarly, Farcebook and their ilk are treading a very, very fine line. They have been tasked by politicians with reducing the amount of idiotic babble on their platforms, such as the morons who link electromagnetic radiation with biological viruses (gibberingly stupid, but strangely compelling as conspiracy theories go). Going further and censoring political speech, especially when politics starts to resemble a shit-slinging contest in a sewer, is a step too far and damages their Common Carrier Immunity.

    Liked by 2 people

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