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We Can Work It Out - Politics & Philosophy
29 March 2020
10.26pm
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Beatlebug
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*I'm PWT and trying to make this post as solid and consistent as I can, but I'm also researching and arguing against myself as I write it, so if I contradict myself, it's probably because I changed my mind in the ten minutes since I wrote the other thing and I'm too tired to catch it, I really need to stop debating at bedtime paul-mccartney-facepalm_gif*

@QuarryMan said

Is the distinction between a platform and a publisher a legal one? I'm really not very educated on how the law works on this, particularly in the US, so I don't really have any answers when it comes to this.

Yes. That's what I was trying to explain in my post when I said:

platforms legally cannot be held accountable for anything that is published on them and therefore must be free and open, while publishers can freely edit and choose what they want published and therefore must be held liable for libel, false information, etc. They [big tech companies such as Twitter, YouTube, etc.] seem to be trying to have their cake and eat it too, which isn't fair [snip]

Those are legal distinctions as I understand it (I'm not a lawyer, obviously).

In this matter, it's not so much a case of what I'd like the situation to be (I don't like the fact that a private corporation has such a monopoly over the media we consume, either, obviously) as much as what the reality of the situation is right now. The fact is that the way the law in the US works, tech companies are not legally barred from discriminating against political viewpoints in either legislation nor legislative intent. Also, if we were to accept PragerU's argument that YouTube is a public service, and that therefore there shouldn't be any limitations on what you can say on there as per the first amendment, what happens then? Does YouTube have to be nationalised? How would that work internationally?

Understood.

I think a possible situation would be for YouTube and other big tech companies to work something like phone companies, where they simply exist to provide a communication service but by law cannot have responsibility for or control over what's said on them. I don't know how practical that would be or how it would work internationally, though. It's just an idea I've heard floated a few times.

Also, as it turns out, the online 'conservative censorship' narrative is false and unsubstantiated by the data (studies have shown that right wing pages generally outperform left wing ones in terms of engagement and it's clear to anyone who goes on YouTube that the biggest right wing channels there dwarf even the biggest left wing ones), and I would even go as far as to say that left wing voices actually struggle far more than right wing ones, since they generally do not have the financial backing and access to advertising that their counterparts do.

That's primarily because YouTube is overwhelmingly populated by more right-leaning content creators and audiences, as opposed to a platform like Twitter which is quite left-wing. Also, I don't know where the financial backing and access to advertising you speak of is, because everyone I know on YouTube is getting demonetized left, right, and center (metaphorically as well as literally). Now, I'm not sure I'd necessarily say they're biased against conservatives across the board, but they definitely have it out for certain creators and often those figures are right-leaning, conservative, or libertarian, although again, that may have something to do with the fact that they don't like political commentary/hard topics in general and political commentary on YouTube does skew right.

Minor bone to pick, you say "studies have shown right wing pages generally outperform left wing ones" and yet you linked to one study, singular, regarding Facebook... I'm just saying it's not as convincing an argument as it could be ahdn_george_06 It seems to me that there just isn't enough data on this subject and everyone wants to spin it some way to benefit them.

as @Dark Overlord said

I don't think big tech censorship has much to do with political alignment but instead has to do with independent voices vs corporate voices. Many independent leftists like The Amazing Atheist and Destiny have to deal with big tech censorship as well, while corporate Republican voices like Fox News never have to worry about it.

Fox News is basically the only right-wing mainstream/corporate media outlet*, as far as I know...

Anyway, yeah, that's closer to the reality of the situation, but I was just talking about the narrative and its responses.

Not to mention, some of those right wingers who got banned said things that aren't protected by the 1st amendment, such as Alex Jones who regularly makes baseless slanderous accusations about people he doesn't like and Chuck Johnson who was banned from Twitter for threatening to take out civil rights activist DeRay McKesson.

According to a five minute's google, Alex Jones was banned for "hate speech," while Chuck Johnson's "threat" seems to me like it might not necessarily have been an actual direct threat of violence, depending on if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt or not ("take out" could mean a lot of things, including "take out" politically, not just "HUNT DOWN AND KILL"), which I understand many people don't. (I know nothing about this guy, I only heard of him five minutes ago, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.)

At least one of Twitter's hate speech policies is in itself biased against the right, or at least certain factions of the right: their misgendering policy. Left-wing ideology holds that it is hate speech to misgender someone, or not to refer to someone by the pronoun they prefer. Certain conservative ideologies hold that it is misgendering someone to call them by anything other than the pronouns that correspond to their biological sex. Now, you can disagree with them on this, and I don't necessarily follow either policy in my own conduct as I'm somewhere between the extremes, but it's worth noting.

Again, private platforms and all that, but there is some anecdotal evidence to believe that Twitter and YouTube apply their banhammers unevenly, at the very least.

Former employees of Facebook have admitted that they suppressed conservative news: https://gizmodo.com/former-facebook-workers-we-routinely-suppressed-conser-1775461006
and Google employees have been caught on record talking about how they plan to make sure Donald Trump doesn't get re-elected: https://www.projectveritas.com/news/insider-blows-whistle-exec-reveals-google-plan-to-prevent-trump-situation-in-2020-on-hidden-cam/
Twitter engineer admits they shadow-bans conservatives: https://www.projectveritas.com/news/undercover-video-twitter-engineers-to-ban-a-way-of-talking-through-shadow-banning-algorithms-to-censor-opposing-political-opinions/

I'm not saying that proves or disproves anything, but I'm just putting it out there. Seems to me that, cumulatively, all these things put together could indeed constitute some kind of bias against the right. But at the end of the day, the real problem here is that big tech is not being held accountable on many metrics and I, with my substantial (and paid subscription-supported) YouTube habit, am definitely part of the problem. a-hard-days-night-paul-7

AHHHHH I'VE BEEN TYPING FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF AND LOOK AT THIS GIANT FECKING NOVEL I WROTE INSTEAD OF SLEEPING OR DRAWING OR PLAYING MUSIC OR EATING FOOD OR INTERACTING WITH HUMANS (IRL) why am I like this a-hard-days-night-ringo-13

*The Wall Street Journal's editorial section is conservative but we're talking about YouTube, not newspapers

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30 March 2020
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That's primarily because YouTube is overwhelmingly populated by more right-leaning content creators and audiences, as opposed to a platform like Twitter which is quite left-wing.

Hmmm, I don't know about that. It really depends which circles you're in on each given website. I know personally my Twitter feed is a bit of a left wing bubble given my friends and the public figures I've chosen to follow, but right wing Twitter is also pretty huge as well, and I find that if you go in the replies of tweets by public figures of either persuasion, you will find similarly huge numbers of people criticising them. Basically, I'd have to see data first to consider any given platform to have a leaning in either direction, because it seems to me that our perception will otherwise ultimately be decided by our subjective experience.

Also, I don't know where the financial backing and access to advertising you speak of is, because everyone I know on YouTube is getting demonetized left, right, and center (metaphorically as well as literally).

I think the key to understanding this is making a distinction between the mainstream conservatives that dominate the platform and do the best in terms of raw numbers (PragerU, Steven Crowder, Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson etc) and the less mainstream right wing voices which tend to be DIY oriented and independent. I'm not saying that your average right wing channel in the second camp necessarily has big institutional backing, but the four I mentioned and others in the first camp most definitely do, and additionally have access to huge advertising budgets, particularly PragerU. PragerU has a $10 million annual budget, and in 2018 it spent 40% of that on advertising. No prizes for guessing where the money comes from - it's primarily funded by donations, and its biggest donors are hydraulic fracturing billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks, with other big names being the infamous Bradley Foundation (which gives more than $30 million to conservative causes yearly), the Koch Brother funded Donor's Trust, and the Sid and Carol Verdoorn Foundation, which is run by the former CEO of C.H. Robinson.

If you look into who is funding the activity of these figures, both online and offline, you'll discover there's a clear pattern - billionaires at the top funnel money into right wing think tanks and organisations, which then can then pay conservative public figures to be highly effective mouthpieces for the movement, usually through advertising to push their online content, or through funding in-person events. For example, Ben Shapiro's college speaking tours are funded and advertised for by conservative youth organisation Young America's Foundation, which in turn is primarily funded by the Koch Brothers and the DeVos family. His media outlet The Daily Wire, which publishes much of his content on YouTube, is funded (even according to Shapiro's own admission) by the Koch Brothers, DeVos family, Rauner Foundation, amongst others. Turning Point USA, the conservative youth group which regularly hosts and promotes figures such as Peterson, Shapiro and Crowder, is primarily funded by the Bradley Foundation, the DeVos Family, the foundation of Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus and Mike Leven, former CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, amongst others. Steven Crowder's show is part of Blaze Media, which is funded by Cary Katz, billionaire and former CEO of the College Loan Corporation. Dave Rubin's show the Rubin Report is partnered financially with Learn Liberty, a think tank started by the Institute for Humane Studies, which is funded by... you guessed it, the Koch Brothers, and in fact Charles Koch himself sits on its board.

Basically, there's a huge web of money behind all these figures, and it goes aaaaalllll the way up to the oligarchs right at the top of the US economic system. Given this enormous backing that they receive, their complaints about demonetisation seem rather petty and inconsequential. It's almost as if they have a vested interest in presenting a politically expedient victim narrative.... a-hard-days-night-john-7

Minor bone to pick, you say "studies have shown right wing pages generally outperform left wing ones" and yet you linked to one study, singular, regarding Facebook... I'm just saying it's not as convincing an argument as it could be ahdn_george_06 It seems to me that there just isn't enough data on this subject and everyone wants to spin it some way to benefit them.

Well, I didn't specify that I was talking about YouTube... you don't need a study to confirm what I'm saying with regards to that platform either, given that with the exception of the Young Turks, which is funded by paying subscribers, most of the big conservative channels on YouTube dwarf any of the left wing ones, and pretty much all the notable left wing ones, such as Breadtube creators, are independent and funded through channels such as Patreon.

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31 March 2020
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Something new (this may not be the right thread, but I'm like 70% sure this was where the original discussion was):

A long while back, a law was passed in California that prevented pet stores from selling non-rescue animals, which led to a long debate about plastic straws and personal freedoms. At the time I was fully in favor of the law, and I still support it somewhat, but I recently found out that the local feed store doesn't sell rabbits anymore because of that law. This means that breeders have fewer outlets for their non-show-quality rabbits, and the unfortunate truth is that they will probably now kill them instead. I hate puppy mills and I appreciate that this law fights them, but I feel that the law is flawed if it has this sort of nasty side effect.

Mods can feel free to move this post if they feel that it is better suited somewhere else. I wasn't sure where the right place was.

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31 March 2020
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How many people buy pets from pet stores? Here, they're not popular at all and I've haven't been in a pet shop since I was about 7, that actually sold hamsters etc. The only things I see being sold in pet shops nowadays are fish and even then, not very often.

If you want to buy pets here, you either find a reputable breeder, ask a friend whose pet has recently had babies, go to a shelter or go on donedeal.ie and see what kind of (hopefully not) puppy farm pet you can buy (here is the current donedeal listing for rabbits, for example).

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31 March 2020
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Years ago my parents bought me two tiny terrapins from a pet store. They grew up to be large evil buggers and it was getting cruel to keep them so I gave them away to another pet store which said they would ensure they were looked after.

Only animals I've seen recently on sale in a pet store is fish, would be weird walking in and seeing dogs, rabbits etc in small cages. I'd hope there would be an outcry and the animals given a better living. Go thru the homes and good breeders if you wish a pet.

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31 March 2020
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There are very few pet stores that sell pets (besides pocket pets like fish and hamsters and birds and lizards and the like) but it was not at all unusual for a feed store to sell chicks and bunnies (although I don't think the law affects chicks as the feed store still sells those sometimes). Buying a feed store rabbit was more or less like buying a rescue as they were rescued from the breeder's freezer. I got my bunny at the feed store and I just think it's sad.

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31 March 2020
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To me, it seems like a clear example of how laws often have unintended consequences and end up causing more problems than they solve. I feel like it would be better to just make sure no one buys from inhumane puppy mills through public campaigns and requiring puppy mills to be humane/transparent about their practices, like can't you just regulate the mills themselves or??? I don't know a whole lot about the subject, though... mccartney-shrug_01_gif

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31 March 2020
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The very concept of a 'puppy mill' is inhumane, you can't have a humanely-run "factory" of breeding dogs as you have to give dogs (understandably) periods of rest before you make them pregnant again. That makes a non-pregnant dog not money-making. Not very desirable for the scum who run those hell on earth pits. No person can manage 40+ dogs and their puppies and ensure each one is happy and healthy, it's impossible.

You'd never be able to regulate them and to ban them outright will also do nothing as nobody advertises that they run a puppy farm. They simply sell puppies at fairs/in car parks etc. and the new owner never gets to see the mother or the conditions they were raised in (and oftentimes the new owner doesn't care and just has to have a maltipoo because they'll look so cute on their insta!).

Ireland essentially supplies the UK with these puppy mill born designer breeds that are often incredibly sick, have health problems due to inbreeding, poor conditions, neglection during the first few weeks. It disgusts me.

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31 March 2020
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I guess I meant humane breeders vs. puppy mills, because some people are going to want purebred animals, which had better be a thing or I'm going to Mars ahdn_paul_01 Anyway, sounds to me like we have to brainwash everyone harder to "Adopt, don't shop!"

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31 March 2020
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A problem with breeders is because they're responsible and care for their animals, you're put on a waiting list when you request for a puppy- this could range from a few weeks to years depending on how well-established and desirable those breeders' dogs are. The person who wants instant gratification is going to go to the person who has the pug* now and will let them buy it now. The puppy mill/backyard breeder will always be there to facilitate this.

*Pugs are just a terrible breed in general for health reasons, never get a pug or a British bulldog or a German Shepherd that's parents don't have hip scores that you can verify with a vet.

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31 March 2020
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^That sounds like a benefit rather than a problem. People who aren't willing to wait for a purebred pet should just adopt or shouldn't get a pet.

People should also not lie, cheat, or steal, but we all know how that goes. ahdn_paul_01

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31 March 2020
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A problem for the people who want their new puppy and want it now dammit!!

Basically what I'm saying is, the breeding and selling of pets (particularly dogs but cats and rabbits are also involved) is bloody difficult to effectively regulate and it will never be completed eradicated. Once you shut down one mill and save 600 dogs, another one will spring up to take its territory.

As much as we say, 'shelter is best', 'give an old dog a new home' blah blah, there will always be a large amount who want a posh designer dog and are totally willing to either dump it or kill it, once it becomes too troublesome or outgrows its cuteness or use (look at poor greyhounds as an example, absolutely lovely dogs that get thrown away by their owners when they can no longer race).

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31 March 2020
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Sometimes humanity makes me sad.

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31 March 2020
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Unfortunately the lighter side of human nature is usually seen in far smaller, seemingly insignificant ways that would never make the evening news.

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1 April 2020
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Who has seen Tiger King on Netflix?

lots of discussion about breeding and holding on to wild animals. Absolutely insane documentary

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1 April 2020
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After randomly joining the 200k-strong Facebook group 'New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens', I've become quite interested in urban planning. Here's my hot take - cars suck, and if I had my way they wouldn't go anywhere near any city centre. We should remodel our cities around innovative, efficient and free public transport systems, preferably ones which aren't horrible for the environment. Thoughts?

There is no final victory, as there is no final defeat. There is just the same battle to be fought, over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.” - Tony Benn
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1 April 2020
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Speaking as somebody who grew up in Atlanta with the worst public transit in the country, I would love to see what effect a new innovative system would have.

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1 April 2020
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That sounds like it would be good, except public transit involves people and is scary- I'm not sure about the "banning cars" thing :/

Public transit could definitely use improvements, though. It's so confusing.

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1 April 2020
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Well, my point is that cars in city centres are horrible. They're loud, they pollute, they take up loads of space in terms of parking and they can be dangerous with lots of pedestrians about. In addition to this, being able to drive through a city centre isn't of much advantage to the driver either, since they will inevitably have a slow journey filled with traffic. I'd much rather keep the space in city centres open for things that make it a more enjoyable place to be, like markets, outdoor art exhibitions, musical and drama performers, stalls etc. When I go and visit a city, I'd much rather be able to walk around and see the sights in an open space or square than have to constantly cross roads and use traffic lights.

The most obvious example of public transport is the metro systems that we have in many cities round the globe. They're generally pretty good, but they do suffer from issues of overcrowding and being expensive + unclean. These are problems that can be tackled by investing more, and smarter. Some countries, like Luxembourg, are working toward making their public transport completely free at the point of use, which is a great idea in my opinion, since having free and high quality public transport incentivises people not to drive, thereby cutting emissions.

Here are some examples of cool public transport systems in place around the world:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.....%C3%A9rico - A cablecar system in La Paz, Bolivia, which has won an award for sustainable development and mobility.

https://www.tpg.ch/en - Disability friendly public transport in Geneva, which in addition to the ramps and such you'd expect, also includes buttons users can press to disable the automatic door system so they have more time to embark and disembark.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.....r_Hochbahn - Hamburg's bus system is now partially electrically powered, with really futuristic looking recharging stations..

A charging station that works for electric buses across manufacturers keeps Hamburg, Germany’s transit system flexible and efficient.Image Enlarger

https://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/ - The Adelaide Metro system, of which most journeys are undertaken by bus, now has battery-efficient, solar-powered and free  'Tindo' buses. 'Tindo' means 'sun' in the aboriginal language, apparently.

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2 April 2020
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QuarryMan said
After randomly joining the 200k-strong Facebook group 'New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens', I've become quite interested in urban planning. Here's my hot take - cars suck, and if I had my way they wouldn't go anywhere near any city centre. We should remodel our cities around innovative, efficient and free public transport systems, preferably ones which aren't horrible for the environment. Thoughts?

Haha, my best bandmate is an urbanist obsessive. I usually agree with him that suburbs are soulless and public transit is pretty fun (we live in a place with an excess of suburbs and a dearth of public transit, so that might have something to do with it), but I'm not sure that public transit is necessarily the way forward. It depends on what technology becomes available to us. I would personally like to see a world that combines pedestrian/cycling-friendly city centers for people who dig that sort of lifestyle with the less urban-inclined being able to get around in flying hydrogen-powered personal vehicles and efficient ways for them to get around and land. I wish suburbs would disappear, but I don't know how to reform the concept and still satisfy people's desire for their own bit of earth without necessarily wanting a farm, or to live in the middle of nowhere... more green architecture in cities (with rooftop/balcony gardens and trees lining the streets) would be cool, I guess. The more trees and plants a city has, the better I like it.

Just my rudimentary thoughts on the matter... I'm still working on how I feel/what I think about the situation. The fact of the matter is that, as much as I enjoy public transit, I also really enjoy the liberty and self-sovereignty that driving gives me (I really like driving), and I think many people would agree. But I also won't deny that our current society's car habit is a bit unhealthy and we need to find ways to move technology forward while still retaining the best things about cars, which is the ability to go where you want, when you want, while solving the problems that cars create/contribute to (pollution, crowding, suburban sprawl). I'm not against public transit, I just think that its applications are limited to places with high-density populations that move in predictable timetables, and I wonder if that might become a thing of the past as we see a decentralizing of the economy with the Internet and people working remotely more and more.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, or rather what tomorrow should bring? mccartney-shrug_01_gif

The following people thank Beatlebug for this post:

lovelyritametermaid, QuarryMan

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