If you can't convert a file into a PDF, maybe you shouldn't be writing laws about technolo...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 29
Not everyone can be trusted with the almighty power of a sudo command in the Terminal. Yet, politicians who know nothing about the inner workings of computers, software, or the internet at large have declared themselves super users, proposing dangerously misinformed policies and laws that could have disastrous effects.



In Washington's latest extended facepalm session, lawmakers have taken issue with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which shields tech companies from lawsuits over the content users post on their sites. In a congressional hearing held last week, politicians on both sides of the aisle made it abundantly clear they have no idea what they are talking about.

During questioning, Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida asked Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg if he had concerns about content posted on YouTube. In case you've been living under a rock, you already know that YouTube is a video hosting platform owned by Google, not Facebook.

"Congressman, are you asking me about YouTube?" Zuckerberg asked, with Bilirakis responding yes, he wanted to talk about YouTube. Perhaps Congress should have Elon Musk, the CEO of electric carmaker Tesla, give his thoughts on the safety of Huffy electric bicycles. Close enough, right?

Make no mistake -- this is not an endorsement of Facebook, YouTube or Twitter, all of which are cesspools of misinformation and hate speech that have served to further sow division in the U.S. and around the world. When asked whether they felt their platforms contributed to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, only Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted his platform played a part, while Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai deflected any blame or accountability.

However, unless politicians ask the right questions and hold these online platforms accountable in appropriate and effective ways, true and effective reform will never happen. And it's hard to ask the right questions when you don't even know what it means to click those like and subscribe buttons on YouTube, let alone who owns YouTube.




It wasn't always this way. From 1972 to 1995, the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment served the United States Congress with objective analysis of complex issues related to technology and science.

And that's the way it should be. Politicians are not expected to cut together their own TikTok dance videos, nor should they be elected because of no-filter Instagram pics of their plated lunch. They have interns to handle that for them.

The OTA was ultimately dismantled because of -- you guessed it -- politics. Republicans in Congress viewed the office as wasteful and counter to their own interests.

Now, nearly three decades later, being baffled by technology is a bipartisan issue. Neither party has shown that it understands complex technology issues well enough to legislate on their own, without some sort of guidance from experts.

The irony of it all is that Congress is indeed on the correct path here -- online platforms should be held accountable for misinformation and dangerous speech from users, particularly when their technology disseminates, promotes, and amplifies such content.




The algorithms of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are designed to increase engagement, encouraging users to spend more time on their pages, thus earning the companies more money. But studies have repeatedly shown that misinformation is among the most engaging content shared on social media. The platforms serve up extremism because visitors consume it, fueling a dangerous cycle that spreads dangerous and outright false claims from groups like QAnon, anti-vaxxers, and white supremacists.

Asking Facebook, Google and Twitter to self-regulate on these issues would be like trusting an alcoholic to captain a booze cruise. And Section 230 is a 26-word law that is older than all three of the companies who have been called to testify before Congress.

Our politicians should absolutely be examining the full complexity of these issues -- but they should also be doing their homework first instead of aimlessly flailing away and posturing for the camera. Instead, the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter were asked last week whether they had seen "The Social Dilemma" documentary on Netflix, and whether they have been vaccinated against Covid-19. Real pressing questions.

At one point, Arizona Representative Tom O'Halleran lobbed out a question for a "Mr. Zuckerman." If they ever find Mr. Zuckerman, perhaps they'll ask him if he's seen the 1998 film "You've Got Mail." Seems relevant enough to a law written in 1996, being critiqued by people who probably only have the ability to read their AOL email addresses.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    normangnormang Posts: 114member
    Find me an unbiased "expert" to guide politicians that don't know tech..   I suspect there aren't any..   you're merely going to wind up with un-elected supposed technical "experts" doing what happens a lot, merely becoming a lobbyist for their position.  
    entropyswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 56
    Bilirakis is a prime example of PEBCAC.
    Dogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 56
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,105administrator
    normang said:
    Find me an unbiased "expert" to guide politicians that don't know tech..   I suspect there aren't any..   you're merely going to wind up with un-elected supposed technical "experts" doing what happens a lot, merely becoming a lobbyist for their position.  
    That's a strange argument, if you're trying to say that the OTA isn't necessary.
    nhugheswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 56
    tylersdadtylersdad Posts: 243member
    Totally agree. Additionally, if you don't know the difference between a fully semi-automatic firearm and a semi-automatic firearm or if you don't know the difference between a clip and a magazine, you have no business creating firearms laws. 
    mobirdkingofsomewherehotOctoMonkeywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 56
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 607member
    While I agree with the editorial content, I’m a bit confused by the title. Nowhere in the article is their any evidence that the politicians cited can’t create PDFs. Since they are mostly lawyers I would expect many of them have used PDFs heavily in their careers. Not that important but the title seems off. 
    edited March 29 applguyctt_zhGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 56
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,103member
    Bilirakis is a prime example of PEBCAC.
    AFAIC you misspelled that acronym.
    llamaFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 56
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 521member
    Ignorance is bliss, but for politicians it is mandatory.
    lavanderfieldsDogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 56
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 607member
    Bilirakis is a prime example of PEBCAC.
    AFAIC you misspelled that acronym.
    Seems right. Problem Exists Between Computer And Chair. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 56
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 639member
    Bilirakis is a prime example of PEBCAC.
    AFAIC you misspelled that acronym.
    OTA, OTC, yeah I know 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 56
    davemcm76davemcm76 Posts: 267member
    jdb8167 said:
    Bilirakis is a prime example of PEBCAC.
    AFAIC you misspelled that acronym.
    Seems right. Problem Exists Between Computer And Chair. 
    It's completely off topic, but I have to say I'm with 22july2013 here... I've heard of PEBKAC (Problem exists between keyboard and chair) and PICNIC (problem in chair, not in computer) but I've never come across PEBCAC before... 
    edited March 29 jdb8167llamaDogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 56
    normangnormang Posts: 114member
    normang said:
    Find me an unbiased "expert" to guide politicians that don't know tech..   I suspect there aren't any..   you're merely going to wind up with un-elected supposed technical "experts" doing what happens a lot, merely becoming a lobbyist for their position.  
    That's a strange argument, if you're trying to say that the OTA isn't necessary.
    Maybe once upon a time, that was a good thing.... however government now is so divided, creating yet another un-elected pile of people to advise lawmakers for things they should go out and learn themselves I don't think accomplishes anything..

     Sure you can say that they cannot figure it out themselves, or they are going to talk to people that tell them what they want to hear, either way you wind up back in the same place, an uninformed lawmaker deciding how things should work....  

    However there is also a random possibility that they may actually figure something out if they actually went out and try to figure it out themselves by perhaps actually trying to listen to both sides.. which is probably rare.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 56
    iadlibiadlib Posts: 43member
    Id.10t errors are riddling gOS, we should zero out the drive and install a fresh copy of the OS #facepalm
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 56
    So anti-vaxxers etc are the misinformation of the month now. We have to control the platform and eliminate anything not good for the people. Only special people can decide what others can digest. This has been proven to be the correct way for society over the ages. It always works: just look at the Spanish Inquisition; the Bible written in modem language was spreading misinformation, kill the printers. The Communists, kill and lock up the Bible sellers, Capitalists ideas must be eliminated too. Kill them or lock them on the other side of the Wall. If the Internet brings freedom to the ppl, lock the Internet down. 

    Stop the idiots from making mistakes. We the Educated know best/s
    OctoMonkeywatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 56
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,105administrator
    So anti-vaxxers etc are the misinformation of the month now. We have to control the platform and eliminate anything not good for the people. Only special people can decide what others can digest. This has been proven to be the correct way for society over the ages. It always works: just look at the Spanish Inquisition; the Bible written in modem language was spreading misinformation, kill the printers. The Communists, kill and lock up the Bible sellers, Capitalists ideas must be eliminated too. Kill them or lock them on the other side of the Wall. If the Internet brings freedom to the ppl, lock the Internet down. 

    Stop the idiots from making mistakes. We the Educated know best/s
    Anti-vaxxers aren't the misinformation of the month -- they're the misinformation of the last two decades, and an early warning sign of what bullshit social media can amplify.
    elijahgnhughesnetroxtokyojimullamachasmDogpersonkurai_kagetenthousandthingswatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 56
    trinkotrinko Posts: 2member
    Aside from Congressional lack of information the basic problem is that Section 230 is being misused.

    The intent was that if FB Twitter et al content neutral platforms, like the phone company, and didn't censor anything other than criminal acts, child porn etc, they couldn't be held liable for the content.

    That makes sense.

    The problem is that FB Twitter etc have become publishers who censor information that disagrees with their ideological agenda.  Given that's the case they should no more be immune to lawsuits about their content than the NYT is.  If the NYT were to publish a letter that said that I was a Nazi I could sue them and collect a fortune. But with the current policy FB can publish a comment calling me a Nazi and face no potential liability.

    I'm more concerned with FB Twitter et al censoring information and using bogus fact checkers than I am about radicals, either Antifa or the Capital rioters, using them.  Hence I want FB and Twitter to face real legal liabilities for their viewpoint based censorship.

    If silencing voices they don't like, but which aren't calling for criminal activity like the Capitol riot, starts to cost the Tech Titans hundreds of millions of dollars we can only hope that they will return to being content neutral platforms that only censor calls for criminal activity.
    ctt_zhkingofsomewherehotFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 56
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,105administrator
    trinko said:
    Aside from Congressional lack of information the basic problem is that Section 230 is being misused.

    The intent was that if FB Twitter et al content neutral platforms, like the phone company, and didn't censor anything other than criminal acts, child porn etc, they couldn't be held liable for the content.

    That makes sense.

    The problem is that FB Twitter etc have become publishers who censor information that disagrees with their ideological agenda.  Given that's the case they should no more be immune to lawsuits about their content than the NYT is.  If the NYT were to publish a letter that said that I was a Nazi I could sue them and collect a fortune. But with the current policy FB can publish a comment calling me a Nazi and face no potential liability.

    I'm more concerned with FB Twitter et al censoring information and using bogus fact checkers than I am about radicals, either Antifa or the Capital rioters, using them.  Hence I want FB and Twitter to face real legal liabilities for their viewpoint based censorship.

    If silencing voices they don't like, but which aren't calling for criminal activity like the Capitol riot, starts to cost the Tech Titans hundreds of millions of dollars we can only hope that they will return to being content neutral platforms that only censor calls for criminal activity.
    The bolded in no way makes a venue a publisher. For instance, AppleInsider is liable for content that we publish under the masthead.

    What you folks say here in the forums, as long as we have a good faith moderation effort, we are not responsible for. If we chose to moderate the forums by an idealogical agenda, that STILL doesn't make us a publisher of what THE USER says in the forums.

    If you want to convince the supreme court that companies don't have first amendment rights and overturn three decades of precedent, hey, go ahead, because that's what it's going to take to force an ideologically neutral standpoint. But until they don't have those rights, they may moderate as they see fit.

    And, the proposals for 230 reform that both parties have put forth? It will mandate MORE moderation, not LESS. Anything even remotely questionable or in the slightest bit untrue will need to be purged. 
    edited March 29 nhughesjdb8167gatorguydewmeFileMakerFellermuthuk_vanalingamchasmkurai_kage
  • Reply 17 of 56
    pairof9pairof9 Posts: 22member
    jdb8167 said:
    While I agree with the editorial content, I’m a bit confused by the title. Nowhere in the article is their any evidence that the politicians sited can’t create PDFs. Since they are mostly lawyers I would expect many of them have used PDFs heavily in their careers. Not that important but the title seems off. 
    It's probably a cultural homage to the recent Progressive commercials about "not being our parents" training and the part where everyone gets squeamish about learning to create a PDF. 
    jdb8167
  • Reply 18 of 56
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 758editor
    pairof9 said:
    jdb8167 said:
    While I agree with the editorial content, I’m a bit confused by the title. Nowhere in the article is their any evidence that the politicians sited can’t create PDFs. Since they are mostly lawyers I would expect many of them have used PDFs heavily in their careers. Not that important but the title seems off. 
    It's probably a cultural homage to the recent Progressive commercials about "not being our parents" training and the part where everyone gets squeamish about learning to create a PDF. 
    Being unable to open/convert a PDF is a well-known meme.


    tenthousandthingswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 56
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 607member
    pairof9 said:
    jdb8167 said:
    While I agree with the editorial content, I’m a bit confused by the title. Nowhere in the article is their any evidence that the politicians sited can’t create PDFs. Since they are mostly lawyers I would expect many of them have used PDFs heavily in their careers. Not that important but the title seems off. 
    It's probably a cultural homage to the recent Progressive commercials about "not being our parents" training and the part where everyone gets squeamish about learning to create a PDF. 
    Got it. Thanks for the info. I don’t watch much TV and I would have never caught that. Makes sense now. 
  • Reply 20 of 56
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,369member
    Is anybody surprised???    We have placed into congress some of the biggest idiots in history.    The are people that had to run for public office because they are too stupid to hold a real job.   I really think it is time for a third party to grow enough to displace the current mess of democrats and republicans that have no business being in office.

    Sadly over the last two decades of voting I really have the feeling that I have to choose based on whom will do the least harm to the country and my personal freedom.    It isn't like we are electing people that inspired with intelligence.
    kingofsomewherehotdewmeFileMakerFellerOctoMonkey
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