Former FEC Chair Calls For Crackdown on Internet “Disinformation” In Major Threat To Free Speech

In addition to new rules on paid ads, Ravel wants fake news to be regulated under her proposal titled Fool Me Once: The Case for Government Regulation of ‘Fake News.” If adopted, a “social media user” would be flagged for sharing anything deemed false by regulators:

“after a social media user clicks ‘share’ on a disputed item (if the platforms do not remove them and only label them as disputed), government can require that the user be reminded of the definition of libel against a public figure. Libel of public figures requires ‘actual malice,’ defined as knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth. Sharing an item that has been flagged as untrue might trigger liability under libel laws.”

Without clearly defining “disinformation,” Ravel would give bureaucrats the power to label postings as false and harass those who share such information.  Of course, this would also involve a massive databanks of collections ads and discussions by the government.

The authors of the proposal see greater government regulation as the solution to what they describe as “informational deficits” in the largely free exchanges of the Internet.  There is a far dosage of doublespeak in the article.  Rather than refer to the new regulation as guaranteeing greater government control, the authors insist that “government regulations . . .  improve transparency.” Rather than talk of government controls over speech, the authors talk about the government “nudging” otherwise ignorant readers and commentators.  Here is the worrisome section:

Government regulations to help voters avoid spreading disinformation

Educate social media users. Social media users can unintentionally spread disinformation when they interact with it in their newsfeeds. Depending on their security settings, their entire online social network can see items that they interact with (by “liking” or commenting), even if they are expressing their opposition to the content. Social media users should not interact with disinformation in their feeds at all (aside from flagging it for review by third party fact checkers). Government should require platforms to regularly remind social media users about not interacting with disinformation.

Similarly, after a social media user clicks “share” on a disputed item (if the platforms do not remove them and only label them as disputed), government can require that the user be reminded of the definition of libel against a public figure. Libel of public figures requires “actual malice”, defined as knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth. Sharing an item that has been flagged as untrue might trigger liability under libel laws.

Nudge social media users to not view disputed content. Lawmakers should require platforms to provide an opt-in (or, more weakly, opt-out) system for viewing disputed content and periodically remind users of their options. We think the courts should uphold this as a constitutional regulation of political speech, but we acknowledge that it is a closer question than the more straightforward disclosure regulations above. The most analogous cases are to commercial speech cases (AdChoices and Do Not Call Registry, which was upheld). Commercial speech receives less protection than political speech.

I have been writing about the threat to free speech coming increasingly from the left, including Democratic politicians.  The implications of such controls are being dismissed in the pursuit of new specters of “fake news” or “microaggressions” or “disinformation.”  The result has been a comprehensive assault on free speech from college campuses to the Internet to social media.  What is particularly worrisome is the targeting of the Internet, which remains the single greatest advancement of free speech of our generation.  Not surprisingly, governments see the Internet as a threat while others seeks to control its message.

What Ravel and her co-authors are suggesting is a need to label certain views as “false” while giving not-so-subtle threats of legal action for those who share such information.  Once the non-threatening language of “nudges” and “transparency” are stripped away, the proposal’s true meaning is laid bare as a potentially radical change in government regulation over free speech and association.

 

What do you think?

71 thoughts on “Former FEC Chair Calls For Crackdown on Internet “Disinformation” In Major Threat To Free Speech

  1. Is this woman trying to destroy the MSM???? My goodness, can’t she let those people go on with their lies in peace? What is her problem? I say, let the NYTimes help get us into Iraq! Don’t we need to bomb civilians? Jesus C! She doesn’t like war? She’s probably supporting those kneelers at the NFL!

    The govt. needs a wholesome, trusted place to turn to when they want to help the bankers raid the people’s money or they want to commit war crimes. I question her patriotism. She wants to remove the transmission belt which enables the govt. to commit felonies. If she won’t support the MSM I think she should lose her teaching post immediately! I think she needs more than a nudge. Either support the MSM or leave this country, traitor!!!

    P.S. I notice that her main concern isn’t so much fake news per se, it is “libel” against public figures. That’s interesting.

    • The govt. needs a wholesome, trusted place to turn to when they want to help the bankers raid the people’s money or they want to commit war crimes.

      The bankers received bridge loans, which they serviced and paid back. Nobody raided the people’s money. The losses were incurred (in descending order) in financing the mortgage maws, the auto industry components, and AIG (an insurance company). AIG cost the Treasury and the Federal Reserve the least. It was also the only money sink that was not a Democratic Party client.

      And as always, it needs to be stressed that there are no war crimes to speak of. You have emotional needs which induce you to lie about this and a half a dozen other things.

  2. All that grassroots disinformation is interfering with government disinformation. It must be stopped! Only government disinformation is allowed!

  3. Mostly I think that the DNC and progressivism in general have emerged as the greatest threat to freedom the world has seen in my lifetime, and we all need to be very, very conscious not just about how we vote (and that we vote in every election, no matter how small. I’m talking PTA small), but also in who and what we support through something as simple as our recreational spending of dollars. It’s usually pretty easy these days to see who the extremists are on either side – we need to use our brains if we would like to continue to enjoy the privilege of using them, along with our mouths and our actions, freely and openly as we wish.

  4. Just 6 percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public’s view of other institutions. In this presidential campaign year, Democrats were more likely to trust the news media than Republicans or independents.

    https://apnews.com/28536e4702ac443fb36b991891df1503/poll-just-6-percent-people-say-they-trust-media

    Given this survey, we already have a healthy skepticism of what is published. We don’t need to be under the tutelage of the state protecting us from information.

  5. I say we start with her. Maker her be the first to feel the full weight of what she’s calling for. If this former FEC chair publishes anything (including this piece), it should immediately be censored; not fit for public consumption. Put her on a time-out from the internet as a threat to national security.

  6. This is absolutely no surprise if you begin with the understanding that the culture of the Democratic Party replicates that of the social segments for which it is the electoral vehicle. Their understanding of public life is derived from the social relations of a high school. They – the faculty, the bar, the media, the mental health trade, and the apparat in the non-profit sector – are the school administration. Everyone else is under their tutelage and subject to sanction for being ‘disruptive’. And elected officials have as much discretion as the Student Council.

    Gottfried Dietze hypothesized that the Anglo-American world experiences a diffidatio every 400 years or so, one which restores the liberty of the settled men of the kingdom. If we have such in this country, it is women such as Ann Revel who will be put firmly in their place.

  7. There is no greater threat to the future of this country than the Democrats.

    Inside every Leftist is a tyrant screaming to get out.

    Fascism? The Democrats ARE Fascists.

  8. Historically those who read a lot, perceived themselves as having a much better handle on truth than those who did not read. Also historically, those who read only religious books, considered themselves to be knowledgeable. But what was historically printed in books and otherwise was and is not necessarily accurate. We keep improving on what we previously thought was true. Even stuff that people may generally agree is false, can turn out to be true. The great thing about the internet is that we can judge ideas on their own merit rather than on the perceived merits of whoever said them.

    • I’d like to believe you’re correct. The problem is this – take the most cartoonish (or terrifying, take your pick) prediction of what progressives might do, laugh it up a bit, and within a few years progressives will actually do it.

  9. Ms. Ravel has exactly the wrong idea: Regulate the reader, regulate the information. Do not regulate the reader. And do not regulate the information, either.

    Debunk the disinformation as quickly as possible, then link the debunked information to the original disinformation so that both items can be shared, followed, viewed or ignored by social-media users.

    The debunked information will always be slower than the original disinformation, but the social-media users, themselves, would still have the choice to view, follow and share either or both items. Thus, if social-media users choose to do so, they could favor the debunked information over the original disinformation. And, if they choose otherwise, none of them would ever be threatened with any implied allegation of libel.

    Once upon a time, The FBI hired a Hollywood motion-picture studio to make a certain public-information film that went on to become cult classic. We should do that with a social-media disinformation-debunking service dubbed Twitter Madness. The kids will love it.

  10. An amendment begins with a petition and it is dubious whether an amendment to repeal the 1st amendment would obtain any signatures at all.

    This represents the nascent stage of a conspiracy to bypass the amendment process, to abuse the power of government against the People and to deny constitutional rights.

    Ann Ravel’s conspiracy must be unraveled and she must be charged accordingly, most likely with treason.

  11. The problem is “who” are the gatekeepers of deciding on false information? I am sure the Left wants to control the gatekeepers as they do now with YouTube, Google, etc. Forcing the Right to move to podcasts.

  12. Yah, sure, let’s start with copying Canada and 17 EU nations: anyone who disagrees with the Western definition of “holocaustianity” goes to prison, even 85 year olds close to death.

    /sarc off

    Thank God in heaven Turley is on these stories like white on rice. What the heck part of “protecting speech we hate and disagree with” does this idiot woman not understand? If she hates free speech, please leave and go live in a totalitarian state, now.

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