From Above the Law:
It’s kind of a rite of passage for any new social media network. They show up, insist that they’re the “platform for free speech” without quite understanding what that actually means, and then they quickly discover a whole bunch of fairly fundamental ideas, institute a bunch of rapid (often sloppy) changes… and in the end, they basically all end up in the same general vicinity, with just a few small differences on the margin. Look, I went through it myself. In the early days I insisted that sites shouldn’t do any moderation at all, including my own. But I learned. As did Parler, Gettr, Truth Social and lots of others.
Anyway, Elon’s in a bit of a different position, because rather than starting something new, he’s taken over a large platform. I recognize that he, his buddies, and a whole lot of other people think that Twitter is especially bad at this, and that he’s got some special ideas for “bringing free speech back,” but the reality is that Twitter was, by far, the most successful platform at taking a “we support free speech” stance for content, and learned over time the many nuances and tradeoffs involved.
And because I do hope that Musk succeeds and Twitter remains viable, I wanted to see if we might help him (and anyone else) speed run the basics of the content moderation learning curve that most newbies run into. The order of the levels and the seriousness of each can change over time, and how it all fits together may be somewhat different, but, in the end, basically every major social media platform ends up in this same place eventually (the place Twitter was already at when Musk insisted he needed to tear things down and start again).
Level One: “We’re the free speech platform! Anything goes!”
Cool. Cool. The bird is free! Everyone rejoice.
“Excuse me, boss, we’re getting reports that there are child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSAM) images and videos on the site.”
. . . .
Level Two: “We’re the free speech platform! But no CSAM!”
Alright, comedy is now legal on the site. Everyone rejoice. Everyone love me.
“Um, boss. We have a huge stack of emails from Hollywood, saying something about DMCA takedowns?”
Oh right. Copyright infringement is bad. Get another intern and have them take that all down.
Level Three: “We’re the free speech platform! But no CSAM and no infringement!”
Power to the people. Freedom is great!
“Right, boss, apparently because you keep talking about freedom, a large group of people are taking it to mean they have ‘freedom’ to harass people with slurs and all sorts of abuse. People are leaving the site because of it, and advertisers are pulling ads.”
That seems bad. Quick, have someone write up some rules against hate speech.
Level Four: “We’re the free speech platform without CSAM, infringement or hate speech!”
Bringing freedom back is hard work, but this is all going great. Do the people love me yet?
“Hey, so, the FBI is here? Something about 18 USC 2258A and how we were supposed to report all of that CSAM to some operation called NCMEC?”
Ah, right. Grab an intern and make sure they pass along those images. We obey all the laws!
Link to the rest at Above the Law