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swansont

Free speech and community forums, etc.

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Since the topic comes up every so often, here's a good summary on why internet moderation (among other things, like boycotts) is not a violation of free speech rights

 

free_speech.png

http://xkcd.com/1357/

 

I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.

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Since the topic comes up every so often, here's a good summary on why internet moderation (among other things, like boycotts) is not a violation of free speech rights

 

free_speech.png

http://xkcd.com/1357/

 

I don't even know why we bother even discussing the topic. I think I have talked about this before, but a website is considered private property when it is run on private servers. Therefore, a person has the right to regulate what occurs within that website unless it is against Federal law(and inhibiting free speech on private property is not considered a crime within Federal law).

 

Though I think you posted about this because of the awesome comic. :P

Edited by Unity+

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Though I think you posted about this because of the awesome comic. :P

It's also something we've unfortunately had to explain several times to trolls.

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It's also something we've unfortunately had to explain several times to trolls.

But the whole point of a troll is to completely avoid the rules, isn't it?

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No, but that's really another discussion entirely.

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No, but that's really another discussion entirely.

Well, okay then the whole point of a troll is to annoy other people while on the border of following the rules(meaning they are not breaking the rules, but they are so close to doing so).

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I suspect this thread and the comic were prompted by my recent comment to a poster in the Trolling thread.

 

I don't understand what that means in the context of this thread. While public free speech is codified in some places, this forum is a private enterprise and no such protection granted. While Swan argues that stirring up trouble isn't trolling if the stirrer believes what they say, I argue that trouble makers are as trouble makers do. If folks don't make trouble [here] then no one has to spend time trying to figure out the intent, which frees people to spend that time in decent discussion.

Love the cartoon in any case. :)

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Do you also suspect that your post is what prompted Randall to publish this particular cartoon on this particular day?

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For the record, the topic been brought up by members who are not, in my opinion, trolls. (Trolls and crackpots do raise the issue as well, however)

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A semi-serious point here... even if the first amendment held in principal, many of us are not US citizens and this forum is not hosted in the US.

 

ScienceForums.net is based in the United Kingdom, and all posts must conform to the laws established there. Posts that violate United Kingdom law will be referred to the proper authority, regardless of the legal status of the post in the user's country if different from the United Kingdom.

Taken from Forum Rules.

 

In British law we do not have such a clear statement as the first amendment. The various laws on the subject need to be looked at, including EU human rights laws, and some of these laws may even contradict. A judge then has to see which laws trump the others in the particular circumstances in question and make a ruling. Now, I doubt one would have much of a case if booted off this forum, it is a "members only club" with its own rules.

 

Anyway we have to accept this is an international forum, privately owned outside of the US.

Edited by ajb
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For the record, the topic been brought up by members who are not, in my opinion, trolls. (Trolls and crackpots do raise the issue as well, however)

Correct. >:D

 

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/82809-free-speech-and-community-forums-etc/

A semi-serious point here... even if the first amendment held in principal, many of us are not US citizens and this forum is not hosted in the US.

 

Taken from Forum Rules.

 

In British law we do not have such a clear statement as the first amendment. The various laws on the subject need to be looked at, including EU human rights laws, and some of these laws may even contradict. A judge then has to see which laws trump the others in the particular circumstances in question and make a ruling. Now, I doubt one would have much of a case if booted off this forum, it is a "members only club" with its own rules.

 

Anyway we have to accept this is an international forum, privately owned outside of the US.

Good point.

Why semi-serious?

It reminds me people considering that the Internet is not "real life".

 

And AFAIK there are laws that control what can be stated in private rules and what cannot. Such as private arrangements, work conventions or even things one can and cannot do at his own home. In some countries, the State rules what you can and cannot do under the sheets of your bed. It would be surprising if there were no laws about what one can do and not do over the Internet.

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Why semi-serious?

Maybe a serious point then :)

 

 

It would be surprising if there were no laws about what one can do and not do over the Internet.

I don't think international law has fully caught up with the internet. I am assuming that as this forum is hosted in the UK, British law would apply...but I have no idea what that is specifically.

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Maybe a serious point then :)

 

 

 

I don't think international law has fully caught up with the internet. I am assuming that as this forum is hosted in the UK, British law would apply...but I have no idea what that is specifically.

I am not a lawyer, but I guess that the fact that on one side there are some rules to follow and agree and on the other side there is access granted to a discussion platform, it is in fact a kind of private agreement between the Forum owner and the member, even if no money is involved. If this is so, then there are laws applying, which must be the laws of the U.K.

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In the US, the laws say basically that a site hosting a discussion is not responsible for what is said by the participants (including things like copyright violations or libel) and also that the site can do whatever it wants regarding commentary posted there. (I'll see if I can dig up the cite when I get home) Even though British law is different (especially with regard to libel) I suspect the overall thrust is similar.

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In the US, the laws say basically that a site hosting a discussion is not responsible for what is said by the participants (including things like copyright violations or libel) and also that the site can do whatever it wants regarding commentary posted there. (I'll see if I can dig up the cite when I get home) Even though British law is different (especially with regard to libel) I suspect the overall thrust is similar.

 

 

I think so. Individuals using facebook have been arrested and prosecuted the UK, but as far as I know facebook itself has not been prosecuted. I will have to look up the details, but for sure some existing UK law on liable, copyright, child pornography and similar applies to the internet.

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I think so. Individuals using facebook have been arrested and prosecuted the UK, but as far as I know facebook itself has not been prosecuted. I will have to look up the details, but for sure some existing UK law on liable, copyright, child pornography and similar applies to the internet.

I was assuming the same when speaking of the forum as if it were a product within the United States. Since, technically, the product is hosted in the United States(if I am no mistaken), the laws of the United States apply with the forum. However, even if that is the case the members must oblige by the laws of their own nation.

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I was assuming the same when speaking of the forum as if it were a product within the United States. Since, technically, the product is hosted in the United States(if I am no mistaken), the laws of the United States apply with the forum.

It's not. See post #11 above.

However, even if that is the case the members must oblige by the laws of their own nation.

That's a good point, but even the laws of one's own nation do not give them license to say whatever they want nor that this site has to host or display any and every comment that any and every person makes. I believe that's sort of the point of this thread.

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It's not. See post #11 above.

Wait, I thought this site was IP.Board hosted. Nevermind then.

 

 

 

That's a good point, but even the laws of one's own nation do not give them license to say whatever they want nor that this site has to host or display any and every comment that any and every person makes. I believe that's sort of the point of this thread.

That is true, but I am just giving the point that the laws of the governing nation have some part in it. The administrators can do whatever they want if it is within the laws of their nation.

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Wait, I thought this site was IP.Board hosted. Nevermind then.

 

That is true, but I am just giving the point that the laws of the governing nation have some part in it. The administrators can do whatever they want if it is within the laws of their nation.

 

I believe IP Board is the software rather than the host.

 

I have not spent any real time looking into regulations and laws applicable to online fora - but the initial impression is that nothing is certain. Various jurisdictions are trying to carve out areas of control whilst simultaneously refusing to accept responsibility (no change there then); the discourse is very catastrophe led - by that I mean that public outrage rather than sound planning is dominating the legislative agenda - remember that hard cases make bad law; and that no country wants to hamper their own (ie paying tax to their exchequer) internet businesses but they are all in favour of making foreign internet business accountable and well-regulated.

 

My basic maxim would be to be most aware as a poster of the laws of the country that you are sitting in - they are the guys who can knock on your door.

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