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Saturday, June 04, 2022

Does the Social Media Law in Texas affect theory bloggers?

A new law in Texas states that any social media sites that has at least 50 million subscribers a month cannot ban anyone (its more nuanced than that, but that's the drift). 

(I wrote this before the Supreme courts blocked the law, which you can read about here. This is a temporary block so the issue is not settled.) 

Here is an article about the law: here

My random thoughts

1) How can any internet law be local to Texas or to any state? I wonder the same thing about the EU's law about right-to-be-forgotten and other restrictions. 

2) Does the law apply to blogs? If Scott had over 50 million readers... Hold that thought. Imagine if that many people cared about quantum computing, complexity theory,  the Busy Beaver function,  and Scott's political and social views. That would be an awesome world! However, back to the point- if he did have that many readers would he not be allowed to ban anyone?

3) If Lance and I had over 50 million readers... Hold that thought. Imagine if that many people cared about Complexity Theory, Ramsey Theory, Betty White and Bill and Lance's political and social views. Would that be an awesome world? I leave that as an open question. However, back to the point- would they be able to block posts like: 

                      Great Post. Good point about SAT. Click here for a good deal on tuxedos. 

Either the poster thinks that Lance will win a Turing award and wants him to look good for the ceremony, or its a bot. 

4) If Lipton and Regan's GLL blog had over 50 million readers.... Hold that thought. Imagine if that many people cared about Complexity theory, open-mindedness towards P=NP, catching people who cheat at chess, nice things about everyone they mention, and their political and social views. That would be a very polite world! However, back to the point- would they be able to block posts? Block people? 

5) arxiv recently rejected a paper by Doron Zeilberger. This rejection was idiotic, though Doron can argue the case better than I can, so see here for his version of events (one sign  that he can argue better than I can: he does not use any negative terms like idiot.)  Under the moronic Texas law, can arxiv ban Doron for life? (of course, the question arises, do they have at least 50 million subscribers?)

6) Given who is proposing the law its intent is things like you can't kick Donald Trump off Twitter. I  wonder if Parler or 8-chan or Truth-Social which claim to be free-speech sites, but whose origins are on the right, would block  liberals. Or block anyone? I DO NOT KNOW if they do, but I am curious. If anyone knows please post- no speculation or rumor, I only want solid information. 

7) Republicans default position is to not regulate industry. It is not necessarily  a contradiction to support a regulation; however, they would need  a strong argument why this particular case needs regulation when other issues do not. I have not seen such an argument; however, if you have one then leave a comment. (The argument they are doing it  to please their base is not what I mean- I want a fair objective argument.) 







7 comments:

  1. > Republicans default position is to not regulate industry.

    That is their claimed position. However, they are quite happy to regulate things when it means increased profits for their contributors. For example, Moderna's patents.

    For a sensible approach to social media, see

    https://www.cepr.net/repealing-section-230-to-downsize-facebook-and-twitter/

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    Replies
    1. For those who don't want to read the whole article, it says that sites that sell advertising or personal information should be treated like newspapers. Currently, they are treated more like utilities.

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  2. I am not sure if a single blog would in itself qualify as a social media site, because its "social graph" is a star - one poster with all the rest being (at times active) readers.

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  3. > How can any internet law be local to Texas or to any state? I wonder the same thing about the EU's law about right-to-be-forgotten and other restrictions.

    The latter part is easy. While the EU obviously cannot enforce the law for the website of a mom-and-pop store in Bolivia, in can enforce the laws for any company doing business in the EU/having a presence in the EU. Just witness the billion dollars in fines the EU has given to big tech companies in the past years.

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  4. Would blogger be your social media site as opposed to just your blog on it?

    What would it mean to ban someone from your blog? You moderate posts and have no published policy on which you let through. You can't ban someone from reading it.

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    1. Good question- I meant banning from posting comments. You really COULD ban from reading if you required an account to read it, and determined who was worthy to read it. That would be an even weirder world then the ones I speculated on.

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  5. As far as I can tell:

    1) Enforcement is for business activity within that physical region. For example, the Texas law means no such site could ban any post unless they cease doing any business in Texas (e.g. host no Texas companies). This is why Google et. al. have had to have different versions of their services, websites, etc. for places like the EU or China.

    2-4) This sort of law would apply to the Blogger platform hosting each blog, not the blog itself. Think advertising company vs. specific ad. So the law means they couldn't just shut down your blog page due its content. Similarly, if your blog delegates comment handling to Google, Facebook, etc. then anybody will be able to post (since those sites can't ban people's accounts based on content).

    5) arXiv is legally a private publisher- it accepts submissions and only publishes some of them. So it should be unaffected by this law.

    6) Not sure if left-leaning posts would get banned on the "right wing" hosts like Parlor. It'd be worth an experiment. And they would be subject to the same law.

    7) The GOP's default position is still to avoid regulation. In fact, there is a big, loud, still-ongoing debate over what to do about 'social media censorship' within the party. Before the 2020 election & the incident with Parlor (where it was basically backlisted by web hosting sites like Amazon), the majority consensus was still against regulation. Afterwards, it shifted in favor of regulation due to the perception that these tech companies were openly allying with politicians-such as the Biden campaign- to effectively bypass 1st Amendment prohibitions on things like political censorship. The most cited incident was the total ban on coverage of the "Hunter Biden laptop" story on Twitter right before the election, which included freezing the account of newspaper- the NY Post.

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