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Letters to the editor: Stanford Wedge project; Facebook: The doomsday machine next door

Original post made on Jan 31, 2021

Letters to the editor on the Stanford Wedge housing proposal in Portola Valley and Facebook's role in amplifying lies and conspiracy theories.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, January 31, 2021, 8:57 AM

Comments (7)

Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 31, 2021 at 7:46 pm

Brian is a registered user.

I prefer to support free speech. Tumi Free Speech includes things that I do not agree with and in some cases and completely opposed to. However as the Supreme Court has ruled even hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. Facebook is a platform they do not make the post themselves. Asking them to sensor what people have to say is not right and needs to be avoided at all cost. To paraphrase Voltaire "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend with my life for your right to say it."


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 31, 2021 at 7:55 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Sorry for the typo's above. I tried sending it from my phone.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 1, 2021 at 6:47 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Brian:

the first amendment does not apply to private enterprise, only the government. Private entities are free to censor whatever they want.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 1, 2021 at 11:29 am

Brian is a registered user.

Menlo Voter,

Yes I am well aware of that but the First Amendment is the embodiment of a belief that is pervasive throughout the history of the United States of America. Private companies should not make it a point to stifle freedom of speech or expression just because some people do not like what is being said. In my opinion it is short sighted and small minded to want to stifle opposing points of view. Look at recent US History, speaking out for a woman's right to vote would have been very unpopular 110 years ago. Speaking out for civil rights would not have been popular, especially in southern states, 70 years ago, the same goes for LGBTQ rights as recently as 30 years ago. I would hope that today we can agree that the people who spoke for those rights were correct and applaud what they did. I would rather see Facebook respect and allow all opinions and speech, with certain exceptions, than have them censor anything. I don't agree with a lot os what is said on Facebook but I do respect that the people saying it should be allowed to. I can use my own mind to believe it or not. I think Facebook has made the correct move by labeling posts that contain information that has been proven false. Let people decide from there.

Exceptions being to the First Amendment, per the Supreme Court, being obscenity, fraud, child pornography, speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action, speech that violates intellectual property law, true threats, and commercial speech such as advertising.

Saying the vote was stolen, or claiming the earth is flat does not violate those exceptions. trying to rally people to commit violence does.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 1, 2021 at 1:12 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Brian:

The point is that people are still free to say all of the things you say they should be able to say. You just can force a business to allow those things to be said "in" their business. Should someone be allowed to come into a coffee shop and start shouting at the top of their lungs about whatever they want to? I don't think so and I don't think you do either. Facebook, etc are businesses and shouldn't be forced to allow any speech they don't want to allow. By not allowing it they are not stifling free speech. Those people are still free to say whatever they want, just not on Facebook.


Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 1, 2021 at 2:04 pm

Alan is a registered user.

I wonder if the solution to the Facebook free-speech / viral misinformation problem can be solved by treating them either as a communications utility - such as a phone network - or a publisher - depending on the nature of the communication. Basically, for direct communication between people - they should provide a service similar to the phone service: they would not be liable for what is said between individuals - but they also do not censor. But - as the audience for a message increases - someone needs to be progressively more liable, with appropriate discretion to block those messages - not unlike a publisher or broadcaster is liable for the information they spread. It would tricky to define exactly what communications they should treat like a phone or postal service, and which they would treated like a publisher - but I believe the problem should be thought of in these terms. If Facebook isn't assigned liability for widely broadcast information, the government should force Facebook to identify who has liability before it gets broadcast. That would be their job: to clearly identify who (meaning: physical people) has liability for widely broadcast information. Failure to do so would mean Facebook has liability.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 2, 2021 at 11:08 am

Brian is a registered user.

Menlo Voter,

Maybe I am wrong but it seems we are getting mixed up. The article is an opinion piece that argues that Facebook should restrict free speech and censor people's posts if they contain information that people (one group or another) do not approve of or feel it is wrong. My point is that Facebook should not be forced to do this and should make their own decisions about content. I like the fact that they are allowing opposing point of view and allowing people to have their say. I would say to Mark Tuschman the same thing I said to some of my far right friends. If you don't like the way Facebook is handling their platform there are other options. Several people I know moved to Parlor because they did not like the Facebook "Censorship" and that was their choice.

Alan,
Instead of holding Facebook accountable for information on their site, which is nearly impossible to control given the volume of posts every minute, how about holding the poster accountable? Look at some of the comments that have been posted on this site, there have been some pretty heinous and vitriolic comments here. They were eventually moderated off the site but not immediately and this site is a fraction of a faction of a fraction of the volumn Facebook gets. Should we shutdown all comments on the Almanac site? Maybe hold them liable for what some angry person posts? Better yet, why don't we just ignore it and move on...?


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