A tribute to Section 230: “No other sentence in the U.S. Code, I would assert, has been responsible for the creation of more value than that one; if you have other candidates for that honor you think more worthy, please do share them.” — David Post on the fateful, intermediary-immunizing “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” This bar to liability, Post writes, helped make possible “virtually every successful online venture that emerged after 1996 — including all the usual suspects, viz. Google, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, Craigslist, YouTube, Instagram, eBay, Amazon.”
“… RE: Your Request for a Formal Apology.” Seth Barrett Tillman, who teaches law at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth, points out that the specifically lawyerly skills of “learning to see the world as others see it” and adopting “arguments and conduct that are proportionate to the facts” are also valuable when expressing disagreement with others in legal academia. “If mere hurt feelings were a recognized injury, then no one could possibly disagree with anyone else, and all intellectual inquiry, in law and in other fields, would be at an end. You do see that, right?” Whole thing here.
As I’ve noted elsewhere, I too have decided the time has come to demand a formal public apology. After I give thought to what might achieve the most virality on social media, I will settle on from whom and to whom over what.
Can sober correction ever catch up with viral junk about legal cases on the internet? Two new instances, one from the right and one from the left, leave me wondering.
I’ve now updated this 2008 Overlawyered post on a convict’s hand-scrawled, soon-dismissed “ban the Bible” lawsuit to reflect the story’s re-emergence in recent days as a much-shared item at mostly conservative social media outlets, which have passed on the story as if it were a new and significant legal development, typically omitting its date, circumstances, and disposition.
Meanwhile, Raw Story has now corrected a post in which it claimed that Oregon cake bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein were fined for supposedly “doxxing” (maliciously revealing personally identifying information about) their adversaries. (It credits a Eugene Volokh post for flagging the error.) But the source on which Raw Story based its report, blogger “Libby Anne” at Patheos Atheist, still hasn’t corrected her deeply flawed account, which has now had more than 252,000 Facebook shares.
Please think before you share.
Facial recognition technology has advanced rapidly, and its integration into social media provides gee-whiz features to users as well as plenty of opportunities to marketers. It also interests government actors, who already have ways, through subpoenas and otherwise, to harvest both public and non-public information from social media providers without notice to users. [Trevor Timm, The Guardian (“Think it’s cool Facebook can auto-tag you in pics? So does the government”)]
“…claims to telepathically channel an inter-dimensional space alien from the future.” [Daily Dot (“Tumblr’s biggest copyright troll is a guy who says he knows an alien”)]
- Yikes: Granby, Quebec, “moves to fine people insulting police on social media” [CBC]
- “Plaintiffs in foreign ‘hate speech’ lawsuit seeking to subpoena records from U.S. service providers” [Eugene Volokh] Visa for Dutch politician Geert Wilders aside, Reps. Keith Ellison and André Carson imply they’d like to limit speech for Americans too [same]
- “Why The D.C. Circuit’s Anti-SLAPP Ruling Is Important” [Popehat]
- Federal court strikes down Pennsylvania law allowing “re-victimization” suits for “renewed anguish” against convicts who speak about their crimes [Volokh, earlier]
- How different are judges? Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar marks an exception in Court’s preference for speech over regulation in campaign cases [SCOTUSBlog symposium, Elizabeth Price Foley/Instapundit, Daniel Fisher, Ilya Shapiro, our coverage of judicial elections]
- “New Jersey’s Sensitive Victim Bias Crime Unconstitutional” [Scott Greenfield]
- Amazing: Wisconsin John Doe prosecutor suggests criminally charging Gov. Scott Walker over remarks critical of probe [Journal-Sentinel, Volokh; more at Cato, Roger Pilon and Tim Lynch; earlier from me here, etc.]
After suing client over bad Yelp review, lawyer/therapist winds up filing subpoena, and bar complaint, against a legal blogger often linked in this space [Popehat] “Watch Repairman Threatens Lawsuit Over Negative Yelp Review” [Faces of Lawsuit Abuse; New York, N.Y.] “Hadeed Carpet Cleaning’s Quest to Identify Anonymous Yelp Reviewers Is Stymied – at Least for Now” [Paul Alan Levy]
Sorry, class action lawyers, but LinkedIn’s “References Searches” function does not constitute a consumer credit reporting agency [ESRCheck]
Following the furor over RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) legislation in Indiana and Arkansas this week, I’ve got a new piece in today’s New York Daily News on the emergence of American business as the most influential ally of gay rights. Links to follow up some of the quoted sources: Reuters on Walmart, Tony Perkins/FRC on pieces of silver, Dave Weigel on how public opinion in polls tends to side with the small business owners. I wrote last year on the Arizona mini-RFRA bill vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
On the social media pile-on against a small-town Indiana pizzeria, see also the thought-provoking column by Conor Friedersdorf (more, Matt Welch). Also recommended on the general controversy: Roger Pilon, Mike Munger/Bleeding Heart Libertarians, and David Henderson on freedom of association, David Brooks on getting along, and Peter Steinfels on liberal pluralism and religious freedom.
Relatedly, Cato has now posted a podcast with my critical views (earlier) of the “Utah compromise” adding sexual orientation as a protected class while also giving employees new rights to sue employers over curbs on discussion of religion and morality in the workplace (h/t: interviewer Caleb Brown). For a view of that compromise more favorable than mine, see this Brookings panel.
- Departing NPR ombudsman claims U.S. free speech guarantees wouldn’t protect Charlie Hebdo, many on Twitter would like to set him straight on that [Edward Schumacher-Matos] More: Hans Bader.
- Ninth Circuit urged to revisit whether First Amendment protects right to refer to real-world players in fantasy sports [Volokh]
- Multi-party parliamentary panel in Britain proposes banning persons who “spread racial hatred” from Twitter, Facebook, other social media [BBC] Visiting newsagents: “Police from several UK forces seek details of Charlie Hebdo readers” [The Guardian]
- Ecuador regime continues counterattack against social media critics at home and abroad [Adam Steinbaugh (Twitter suspends account “for posting DMCA notice”), The Guardian, earlier] Cartoonist “Bonil” put on trial [Freedom House]
- Burt Neuborne, Robert Corn-Revere debate Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar case: “Should elected judges be allowed to ask for donations?” [National Constitution Center podcast with Jeffrey Rosen via Ronald Collins, Concurring Opinions]
- Second Circuit confirms: law allowing expungement of arrest records doesn’t require media to go back and delete related news stories [AP, Volokh]
- Rakofsky suit against legal bloggers and other defendants (more than 80 in all) sputters toward apparent conclusion [Turkewitz, more (need for stronger protections against speech-chilling suits under New York law)]