🇺🇸 End of the Internet as We Know It?

Plus, cricket-flavored ice cream.

The Flag

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Good morning, and happy Friday! Why did the seal cross the street? No one knows for sure except this seal pup who stopped traffic in New Jersey.

Plus, would you indulge in this skin-crawling, insect-infused ice cream?  

Also, does your back or body ever hurt? The solution starts at your feet.


FLAG POLLS

🐎 Thursday, March 2, Virginia: Trump vs. Biden: Biden 47, Trump 46 (Roanoke College)

🐘 Thursday, March 2, Virginia: DeSantis vs. Biden: DeSantis 48, Biden 43 (Roanoke College)

🐘 Thursday, March 2, Virginia: Youngkin vs. Biden: Youngkin 55, Biden 39 (Roanoke College)

🐘 Thursday, March 2, Virginia Republican Presidential Primary 2024: Trump 39, DeSantis 28, Youngkin 6, Haley 5, Pence 3, Cruz 2, Rubio 1 (Roanoke College)


TRENDING

Left: White House Slams Republican’s ‘Incredibly Ugly’ Remark About Biden’s Late Son Shruti Rajkumar, HuffPost

Left: Why Republicans are spreading the lie that whales are being killed by wind farms Nicole Karlis, Salon

Left: The Chicago mayor’s race shows Democrats still have a crime problem Christian Paz, Vox

Right: Biden won't veto GOP-led resolution overriding DC crime law, dealing blow to Democrats Cami Mondeaux, Washington Examiner

Right: Biden Is Egregiously Violating the Law, but Whatever Charles C. W. Cooke National Review

Right: Big Pharma Is Unopposed In Its Domination Of Medical Education Adrian Gaty, The Federalist


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QUICK CLICKS

Biden Won't Veto Bill, Ethics Investigation Official, Cop Says I Said "No"

World: Kremlin accuses Ukraine of violent attack in western Russia (WaPo) + Antony Blinken and Sergei Lavrov meet for first time since Ukraine war (BBC)

US: President Biden won’t veto bill blocking the softening of Washington DC's criminal code (Fox News)

US:  House ethics panel is investigating George Santos (CNN)

US: 'I did say no' Tennessee cop who was fired over sex scandal breaks her silence (NY Post)

Sports: Panthers founder Jerry Richardson dies at 86 (ESPN)

US: Mother who lost sons to fentanyl overdose calls for Biden apology (The Independent)

US: Justice Dept says Trump can be sued over Jan. 6 insurrection (CBS News)


INTERNET

End of the Internet as We Know It?

Last week the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Gonzalez v. Google and Twitter v. Taamneh. Broadly speaking, the plaintiffs want social media companies held responsible for content posted on their sites.

Reporting from the Right: Justices 'completely confused' during arguments in Section 230 case against Google that could reshape internet (Fox News)

Reporting from the Left: These 26 words 'created the internet.' Now the Supreme Court may be coming for them (CNN)

From the Flag: Under a 1996 law – specifically Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – service providers and publishers can’t be sued as a result of content shared by users. With these cases, the Supreme Court is considering that premise for the first time. Here’s more from both sides.


LEFT-LEANING SENTIMENT

The Law Needs an Upgrade: Section 230 Can’t Keep Up in 2023

  • It’s fair to say that Section 230 is outdated, and may not be sufficient amid the modern internet and social media websites.
  • Justices Kavanaugh and Kagan made compelling arguments that this issue should be decided by Congress, not SCOTUS.
  • The justices showed a high level of concern regarding how the court’s decision will impact the internet as a whole.

“It’s Time to Tear Up Big Tech’s Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card” Julia Angwin, New York Times Opinion: “The law, created when the number of websites could be counted in the thousands, was designed to protect early internet companies from libel lawsuits when their users inevitably slandered one another on online bulletin boards and chat rooms. But since then, as the technology evolved to billions of websites and services that are essential to our daily lives, courts and corporations have expanded it into an all-purpose legal shield… As a journalist who has been covering the harms inflicted by technology for decades, I have watched how tech companies wield Section 230 to protect themselves against a wide array of allegations, including facilitating deadly drug sales, sexual harassment, illegal arms sales and human trafficking — behavior that they would have likely been held liable for in an offline context.”

“Brett Kavanaugh Just Made the Best Argument for Saving the Internet” Mark Joseph Stern, Slate: “Kavanaugh… delivered a remarkable defense of the law as it’s read today. ‘Congress drafted a broad text… unanimously read by courts of appeals over the years to provide protection in this sort of situation. You want to challenge that consensus,’ but doing so could ‘crash the digital economy… Isn’t it better to keep it the way it is [and] put the burden on Congress to change that?’ … There are, indeed, reasonable arguments that Section 230 needs new exceptions. Nonconsensual pornography (‘revenge porn’) is an especially thorny and horrible problem, as some websites have refused to remove these images after they’ve been identified as nonconsensual. But the justices are not the ones who should be making these decisions. … dump all these quandaries into Congress’ lap where they belong. That’s a far better option than breaking the internet by judicial fiat.”

One more opinion piece from the Left: The Supreme Court appears worried it could break the internet Ian Millhiser, Vox


RIGHT-LEANING SENTIMENT

Algorithms Are a Complicated Consideration When It Comes To Speech

  • Big Tech deserves protection for passive involvement in speech – but its various companies actively push some content, via algorithms.
  • Algorithms are a technological necessity given the sheer volume of content sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook receive.
  • If Section 230 is overturned, conservatives and their viewpoints will actually be even more censored than they are currently.

“The Supreme Court might not want to upend the internet. But Big Tech should.” Henry Olsen, Washington Post Opinion: “... in a sense, what matters is not whether Big Tech wins this fight; it’s whether the industry recognizes how the harms it is causing are increasingly outweighing the benefits it provides. … In plain English, (Section 230) means that websites such as YouTube, Google and Facebook cannot be held legally liable for defamatory or otherwise dangerous content that someone else posts on their sites. That’s clearly right in one sense. No one would reasonably suggest that the US Postal Service or a phone company should be held liable for defamatory letters or phone calls. Internet companies should have similar protections when they act in similarly passive manners. The problem, however, is that many tech companies do not act passively. Instead, they push content to users with algorithms, arguably acting more like a traditional publisher.”

“ISIS, YouTube and Section 230 at the Supreme Court'' Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal Opinion: “... are internet sites liable for the algorithms they use to sort and present content? The petitioners in Gonzalez v. Google say yes. … the family and estate of Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old American student who was killed in a 2015 ISIS attack in Paris… (argue) that YouTube, which is part of Google, aided and abetted the terrorist group, because its algorithms ‘recommended ISIS videos to users,’ which helped spread its message. … (But) if the internet is going to be usable, platforms need some way to sift the deluge created by the online masses. About 720,000 hours of video are posted to YouTube each day. Its algorithms collate relevant videos based on “thousands of inputs’ … The company says this conduct is akin to publishing, and Section 230 says YouTube isn’t legally liable as the publisher of user videos.”

One more opinion piece from the Right: Tech Policy Experts: Conservative Efforts to Narrow Section 230 Will Backfire Bobby Miller, National Review


FLAG THIS

Majority of Republicans and Democrats Support Section 230

A poll completed during the summer of 2021 determined 56% of respondents agree that social media companies should be shielded from lawsuits tied to what users post. Just over 4 in 10 disagreed.

Along party lines, Republicans were slightly more likely (60%) than Democrats (52%) to say people should not be able to sue.

That said, over half of the poll’s respondents said online bullying and harassment would decrease if people were allowed to sue based on content shared (Pew Research).


FLAG FINDS

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WATERCOOLER

A National Anthem Debuts, Parenting One-Liners, Sir Paul Can’t “Read”

The first sheet music publication of The Star Spangled Banner (Thomas Carr, 1814)

On This Day in 1931: President Herbert Hoover signs a congressional act making “The Star-Spangled Banner” the official national anthem of the United States.

Lifehacker: The Powerful One-Liners Every Parent Needs

Vox: How the Great Recession paved the way for influencers to inherit the earth

CNN: A flight attendant’s secrets to surviving long-haul flights

Today I Learned the famous musician Sir Paul McCartney can neither read nor write music. According to McCartney, none of his Beatles bandmates could, either.