Victor Wynne

Welcome to hell, Elon


Nilay Patel:

Also, everyone crying about “free speech” conveniently ignores that the biggest threat to free speech in America is the fucking government, which seems completely bored of the First Amendment. They’re out here banning books, Elon! President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have identical policy positions on Section 230: they both want to repeal it. Do you know why? Because the First Amendment prohibits them from making explicit speech regulations, so they keep threatening to repeal the law that allows social networks to even exist in order to exert indirect pressure on content policy. It’s not subtle!

State governments are even less subtle: both Texas and Florida have passed speech regulations that overtly tell social media companies how to moderate, in open hostility to the First Amendment. Figuring out how to comply with these laws is not an engineering problem (not least because compliance might be impossible). It is a legal problem because these laws are blatantly unconstitutional, and the only appropriate response to them is to tell the government to shut up and go away. (A big problem here is that the courts are pretty stupid about the internet!) A challenge to these laws, partially funded by Twitter, is headed to the Supreme Court, which is the polar opposite of a predictable system: it is a group of uncool weirdos with lifetime appointments that can radically reshape American life however it wants.

You can’t deploy AI at this problem: you have to go out and defend the actual First Amendment against the bad laws in Texas and Florida, whose taxes you like and whose governors you seem pretty fond of. Are you ready for what that looks like? Are you ready to sit before Congress and politely decline to engage in their content capture sessions for hours on end? Are you ready to do any of this without the incredibly respected policy experts whose leader you first harassed and then fired? This is what you signed up for. It’s way more boring than rockets, cars, and rockets with cars on them.