30 Comments

We all already know that liberals are going to sell out underrepresented groups to be able to say they held hands across parties lines to "accomplish something great". They'll happily throw us under the bus if it gets them bonus points for reelection.

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founding

At this stage I’m just awaiting the dems to offer to staff the camps if it means their pet projects get signed off on.

The othering and dehumanization that has already occurred is absolutely horrifying.

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Not this liberal.

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I think this bill could be salvaged by adding more explicit language about what constitutes as 'harmful' and even more explicitly what does *not*. Then, if Republicans want to kill the bill for actually being helpful instead of a discriminatory tool, that's on them. I'm not sure coming out completely against it is the right move. The mental health crisis among youth as a whole is really reaching a fever pitch and companies like Meta are being WILDLY unethical about how they peddle their drug. This is one of those situations where everyone agrees that something needs to be done, but there are multiple bad actors running around.

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author

Explicitly adding that this will NOT be used to target LGBQT+ content, and that LGBTQ+ content is not considered "detrimental to minors" is the only way, imo.

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I don't have a problem with your point of view - but censorship, even in the name of protecting innocent minors, is beyond a slippery slope. It is a key part of the plan of those, like Blackburn, who want a theocratic dictatorship. I feel safe in saying, none of us will ever let *our* kids grow up in that world - no way, no how. Age restriction is best left to cigarettes and booze, and not what knowledge kids are permitted to possess. Social media is a problem, but the solution can be found, if we empower kids, if we let them actually *grow* up, instead of just getting older, but still sheltered from some of the realities of the world. Let's have faith, hope, optimism - something the right is letting slip away from them. I know it's scary, when one is a parent, but no matter what we do, that will always be there.

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I think I might be confused about what the bill actually does. It looks to me more like a marketing reign-in similar to cigarettes and booze. The content can still be there, just not blasted in your face via algorithm. We're in a really difficult time where the idea of 'censorship' ends up meaning different things for different people. Republicans have changed the word to mean 'if you don't aggressively promote our content, we're being censored'. Or 'if you don't agree with me I'm being censored'. I find that totally absurd, but a lot of scammers, grifters and hate groups have seized on that definition. Is this bill the answer to that? In it's current form, I defer to Erin Reed that the answer is 'definitely not'. But I am hoping that in the future the government can do more to move the scammers, grifters, and hate groups at least a few more clicks away.

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What you're suggesting *is* reasonable, at least in theory - but my view is that by making this a government mandate, we're now regulating the front line of free speech, and big surprise, it's to save the kids from the horrors of the world. If a service like Discord, on its own, makes rules, I trust that more, because the market has control, they can say screw this sorry app, and make a better one. I don't trust what this proposal could do, in terms of government taking that power.

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I thought about it some more and I think what it comes down to for me is- Republicans can already craft overtly harmful legislation on the state level. *We* need more tools on the federal level to combat what social media companies are doing to kids. I'm trying not to be reactionary, but the WaPo article about how quickly you're presented with weight-loss pills and 1200 calorie 'diets' really scared the shit out of me. Poor self-esteem is a huge money-maker and this kind of stuff really hits the LGBTQ+ community right where it hurts.

Marsha Blackburn is a c***, but the only way to sell ANY bill to MAGA is to convince them it'll hurt people they hate. It's literally the only thing they care about.

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author

I think it would be highly irresponsible to give them the tools to go after LGBTQ+ people without putting explicit safeguards.

I'm not willing to sell out the LGBTQ+ community to accomplish what you're calling for here.

This, imo, is like the Patriot Act. We think it will be used to make us safer, when in reality, it's going to be an extremely harmful tool.

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I agree with you. That's essentially what I'm trying to say.

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Obviously it could be abused, but the “consistent with evidence-informed medical information“ part seems like it could actually be used against hate speech easier than lgbtq community. The evidence shows that community and acceptance helps our mental states, and bigotry hurts it. Am I being too hopeful?

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author

They need to make that section stronger before I can even think about supporting it.

There needs to be explicit protections for LGBTQ+ content in the bill.

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Agreed. Also, If we can get that language added, the law might even be used to deplatform hate speech, which evidence shows actually is detrimental to people’s mental well-being.

I won’t hold my breath because I have so little hope left, but there IS an angle there, if evidence and truth count for anything

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Based on how Florida and other states have created medical fictions that exist as "alternative truth," yes, this language exists specifically to be weaponized by folks who understand that power is the power to invent any "evidence" they want in service to their ideology and goals.

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The thing is, if they go off-book in order to use a law to abuse us, the specifics of the law didn’t matter. And if they do prosecute using “alternative truth”, we have a good shot in attacking the improper enforcement in court where we have had some successes, right?

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I won't pretend to be an expert on the courts, but with the 6-3 supermajority on SCOTUS, I kind of look at all of this legal action like a shotgun blast. They know a lot of it is just so messy it will get slapped down, but they're just hoping to get something laddered up to SCOTUS, who will then not give a fuck when they establish a generation or generations defining legal precedent.

Believing is seeing, and there are A LOT of federal judges who will be seeing anything that comes across their desk through their beliefs.

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I have no faith in scotus either. It’s no longer a legitimate institution: it offers rulings for bribes, it ignores precedent, it ignores reality, and it invents entirely new doctrines in order to essentially operate as an un-checked second federal legislative branch.

But, if we already exist in a post-truth society, and if reality and the word of law are entirely meaningless, we have already lost and there’s no point to fighting in the political/legal arenas anymore.

I don’t think we are yet all the way there, but maybe we are

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Agreed.

I remain optimistic, always, despite everything. If I have to be in a fight, I'm not going to assume my own defeat.

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I completely agree, but while they'll try to subvert the language like they are already doing with abortion care, they don't appear to need this bill in order to further their anti-trans agenda anyway. Judges who aren't total religious partisan Federalist society hacks with pre-determined rulings have been seeing right through the bs.

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author

Actually, they need this bill to give a direct avenue to censor LGBTQ+ content online and to threaten social media companies.

Right now, there is no federal law they can use to do so.

This will give them one.

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Ah, ok. I've been looking at it through the lens of Virginia's SB1515 pornography verification law. It's absolutely horrendous and extremely easy to circumvent, but it did force companies to make changes. I admit I have absolutely no idea what the limits of state governments are anymore (looking at you Texas), so I absolutely appreciate your willingness to clarify this stuff.

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Sep 4, 2023·edited Sep 5, 2023

Whose evidence? Courts usually reject conservative nonsense "evidence", but not always, and that only matters when policies are challenged in court. This clause won't prevent right-wing types from going after social media companies, and even if they don't win in court, a lot of damage will already have been done by that point.

If this law passes as-is, it will be used to censor LGBTQ+ content (and encourage self-censorship) until a definitive court challenge makes clear that it does not apply, and that challenge might not be successful anyway. And even then, boneheaded local officials will say that the ruling doesn't apply to them.

Better to foreclose the possibility before the bill passes. Alas, I don't have much hope of that.

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Well what do we know, Sen. Blackburn is going to tell it like it is (in her deluded mind). And our president, the one we cherished so much for beating Trump, as well as several more in "our" party, are OK with it. What the F is this? Did Biden not read the provisions this bill requires, it's censorship, it's putting the onus on the service, to police its content, to an extent that is essentially impossible. This will *bar* minors, even at 17 years 364 days old, from having access to *information* itself. The Democrats better wake the hell up, here.

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I have already faced bans, blocks, and targetted harassment online for being a trans woman and just discussing issues of gender on social media platforms. Knowing this could become backed by legislation is disgusting and terrifying.

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I'm not seeing what the problem is with the actual legislation (in the section you highlighted). Yes, people can interpret it differently and say they're acting "to comply with the law". But they could say that about anything. It could easily be taken the other way to say that platforms are obliged to provide support for LGBTQ+ minors in order to prevent depression etc. At least that's how I read it based on that short excerpt.

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author

A republican AG filing suit in the 5th Circuit will absolutely receive a favorable judgment here.

There needs to be explicit protections for LGBTQ+ content in the bill, stating that it cannot be considered "harmful to minors."

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At a minimum, it needs an overhaul. If we're going to go down this road, it's going to take the same "big government" the right used to decry, and today hallucinates a "deep state" that Trump, by governing terribly, and giving up his measly salary while collecting revenue at his properties from the Secret Service, is standing up to. But consistency has not been the right's strong suit, of late.

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

Erin, I just want to congratulate you on this story being approvingly picked up by Mike Masnick for Techdirt: https://www.techdirt.com/2023/09/06/marsha-blackburn-makes-it-clear-kosa-is-designed-to-silence-trans-people/

Mike Masnick–if you'll remember–was the person who coined the term "Streisand Effect".

(Also, there is a transmisiac in the comments section but he's being flagged and rightfully lambasted by the other commenters (including yours truly) for his genocidal transmisia.)

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founding

It would be nice if Biden and the Dems did wake up and realize the what could be the adverse consequences for our community. Disheartening is the lack of a significant response by our own organizations. Yes, social media is a large problem for our country but what is a bigger problem is the conservative machine subtly undermining the freedoms in this country and the lack of a robust response. Explicit protections for the LGBT+ community in a bill like this could be added but that won't stop the continued assault and hate from the conservative right. The bill itself seems overly broad and just that should cancel it or have it overturned in the courts but given a Scotus and federal bench stuffed with Trump appointees I would be loath to put my trust in them or the legislative branch to do the right thing.

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