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  • Do the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop Approve?

    Posted by David Foster on May 28th, 2020 (All posts by )

    YouTube is run by a woman named Susan Wojcicki.  She has indicated that videos peddling fake or unproven coronavirus remedies will be banned, and also suggested that video that “goes against” WHO guidance on the pandemic will be blocked.

    So Ms Wojcicki has established WHO as the ultimate worldwide authority on Covid-19, the  imprimatur of said authority being required for dissemination of any relevant information or opinions within Wojcicki’s domains.  One might remind her that on January 23 of this year, WHO decided not to declare that Covid-19 was a global health emergency…hence, had Wojcicki’s present rule been in effect then, any videos asserting that C-19 was, in fact, such an emergency would have been taken down!

    What is the thinking behind this sort of effort to clamp down on information flow?  One can certainly understand and sympathize with a desire to avoid the dissemination of quack cures.  But how does this morph into a justification for shutting down discussion of causes, risk levels, and public-policy responses to the epidemic?

    If I try to take as sympathetic a view as possible to Ms Wojcicki and those like her, I might view their actions as being motivated by a feeling of responsibility for consumer protection.  But Americans are more that just consumers: we are also (and much more importantly) citizens, participants in the public dialog and political process.  (And an interesting argument has been made that in the American system, citizens are officers of the state.)  And citizens, in order to fulfill their public responsibilities, need unfettered access to information and discussion.

    In the case of Twitter’s ‘fact checking’ of President Trump’s tweet about vote-by-mail, I’d say that the raw political bias is pretty evident.  Is vote-by-mail more susceptible to fraud than is conventional voting?  Considerable evidence can be amassed to suggest that it is indeed so susceptible, counter-evidence and arguments can also be presented. It is a legitimate topic for public discussion, yet Twitter chooses to treat is as if it is a matter of absolute black-and-white truth-versus-falsity on which they have to weigh in, as if it were a question of the spherical vs flat shape of the earth or the value of the acceleration of gravity.  (Although I see there are some flat-earth tweets up on Twitter right now.)  And I haven’t seen any Twitter fact-checking of the feed from the People’s Daily of China, or the official Twitter account of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran…or, for that matter, of the statements of Joe Biden.

    We are reaching a state at which the ability to publish information and have it reach certain very large audiences is dependent on the approval of certain individuals at Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook…somewhat similar to the way in which publication of a book in England, prior to 1692, required the imprimatur of the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or one of certain other specified officials.  The analogy is not perfect, of course, and it will be argued that it isn’t very relevant at all, because today, if Twitter won’t distribute your content, you can always try Facebook, and if that doesn’t work either, there’s always Gab or other relatively-minor platforms, or you can just put up your own website or blog…or start your own social media platform.  But, still, a very small number of entities and their officials are exercising a very high degree of control over information flow in America today.

    What, if anything, can/should be done about this situation?  One argument is that nothing can be or needs to be done that Twitter etc are private property, and if they discriminate excessively, other platforms will supplant them.  Another argument is that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act should be modified/limited…this is the provision which insulates on-line service providers such as social media companies—not only pure internet service providers or hosting companies—from certain forms of liability which are applicable to traditional publishers.  This is the direction in which President Trump’s thinking seems to be going.

    There is also an interesting ‘public square’ argument which has been made, specifically by Prager University in connection with the ‘restricted’ status assigned to its videos by YouTube.  This is based on a 1945 Supreme Court decision in the case of Marsh v Alabama, in which the court ruled that Gulf Shipbuilding Company could not prohibit a Jehovah’s Witness from distributing literature in the the town of Chickasaw, Alabama, even though that town was Gulf Shipbuilding’s private property.  The argument is that the precedent also applies to on-line communities, even though these do not involve physical presence…this argument  was rejected, though, by both the district court and the Ninth Circuit…not sure whether there will be an appeal to the Supremes. (The Federalist has proposed that social media companies could be required to provide specific ‘due process’ protections for content creators, in exchange for retaining their Section 230 immunities.)

    So what are your thoughts on this topic?

     

    37 Responses to “Do the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop Approve?”

    1. David Foster Says:

      Any discussion of Section 230 needs to mention the case Stratton Oakmont Inc vs Prodigy Service Co., which provided part of the rationale for that 1996 legislation.

      In October 1994, an unidentified user of Prodigy’s ‘Money Talk’ bulletin board asserted that Stratton Oakmont and its president committed fraudulent acts in connection with an initial public offering. Stratton sued Prodigy, as well as the unidentified user, and argued that Prodigy was acting as a publisher. Prodigy claimed it was not liable, based on the precedent of an earlier case, Cubby v CompuServe Inc.

      The Stratton court held that Prodigy was liable as the publisher of the content created by its users because it exercised editorial control over the messages on their bulletin boards in three ways: 1) by posting Content Guidelines for users, 2) by enforcing those guidelines with “Board Leaders”, and 3) by utilizing screening software designed to remove offensive language. The court’s general argument for holding Prodigy liable, in the face of the CompuServe case, was that “Prodigy’s conscious choice, to gain the benefits of editorial control, has opened it up to a greater liability (than) CompuServe and other computer networks that make no such choice.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratton_Oakmont,_Inc._v._Prodigy_Services_Co.

      (A nonvirtual-world analogy for this case might be a job printer which normally prints whatever its customers might request, but occasionally refuses certain jobs on grounds of offensive language, etc…not sure whether there have been any such actual cases.) In any event, the Stratton case outcome was intimidating to online service providers, suggesting that any discretion whatsoever as to customers/content could get them sued for a lot of money…the cloud was removed by Section 230, passed in 1996.

    2. Mike K Says:

      No good Althouse discussion of this issue but Volkh has one.

      But the general pre-§ 230 tradition was that platforms were entities that didn’t screen the material posted on them, and indeed were generally (except in Lunney) legally forbidden from screening such materials. Phone companies are common carriers. Cities are generally barred by the First Amendment from controlling what demonstrators said. Federal law requires broadcasters to carry candidate ads unedited.

      Does that “fact check” amount to editing ?

      How about this ?

      Between 2012 and 2018, 28.3 million mail-in ballots remain unaccounted for, according to data from the federal Election Assistance Commission. The missing ballots amount to nearly one in five of all absentee ballots and ballots mailed to voters residing in states that do elections exclusively by mail.

      States and local authorities simply have no idea what happened to these ballots since they were mailed – and the figure of 28 million missing ballots is likely even higher because some areas in the country, notably Chicago, did not respond to the federal agency’s survey questions. This figure does not include ballots that were spoiled, undeliverable, or came back for any reason.

      I think they might just have bought “a pup,” as the English say.

    3. David Foster Says:

      The Volokh post that Mike linked above is very useful; recommended reading for all interesting in this subject.

      We need to be very careful that we don’t implement a cure which is worse than the disease. If Chicago Boyz (for example) were to become liable for user comments, then that would probably be the end of the comments section; if the hosting provider were to become liable for all blog content hosted, that would probably be the end of all blogs except for a few carefully-vetted ones and those able/willing to self-host.

      Here’s Trump’s draft executive order, which I haven’t yet reviewed in any depth:

      https://cryptome.org/2020/05/DRAFT-EO-Preventing-Online-Censorship.pdf

    4. Grurray Says:

      So if Congress created these current internet monsters with Section 230, the solution is that when platforms reach a certain size they need to be recognized for what they are, and that is monopolies. If Twitter really is a modern day version of the phone company then they need to be broken up like the phone company.

      Split the company into a content spinoff and a platform spinoff. Allow regional varieties and rivals to piggyback on their platform and share it with the content company in order to introduce competition, innovation, and a balance of power. Jack Dorsey will probably become even richer than he is now, and he’ll have more time for meditating on his favorite rock in Burma.

    5. Mike K Says:

      The White House, via the new spokeslady, is hitting back hard.

      “It’s aimed at the movie ‘Unplanned’ as Twitter suspended their accounts and came up with an excuse in the aftermath. Just another example, that liberals are allowed to incite violence against the Covington kids who were in the end proven right, and their video was taken out of context and yet these individuals were allowed by Twitter to incite violence. It’s very disturbing,” she added.

      Sounds like war to me. Maybe that Scarborough tweet was bait. If so, it seems to have worked.

      I assume this is a spoiling attack, as Napoleon would put it. Still plenty of time before November.

    6. David Foster Says:

      Specifically regarding vote-by-mail and fraud: one point that hasn’t been addressed much is that of *voter intimidation*. When voting is done at home and by mail, the more thuggish/obnoxious of the spouses may be able to pressure the other into voting in a way (s)he wouldn’t have done in the privacy of a voting booth. Similarly, a ‘helpful’ minister or ‘activist’ might stop by and, while helping, observe that the voting is done ‘correctly.’

    7. Kirk Parker Says:

      Twitter delanda est

    8. MCS Says:

      Facebook, Twitter and YouTube find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Section 230 only applies in the U.S. Even if they were inclined to some sort of no-hold-bared platform, they can’t operate in most of the rest of the world if they don’t police whatever the local government deems objectionable. They could operate a U.S. only platform but that would mean foregoing any revenue from Europe and Asia.

      None of them seem to notice that the audience of the legacy media has been slashed by their partisan coverage. The math is simple, by declaring a side they cut their potential audience in half. Fox did pretty well for a while by offering the only alternative to the other view point that was split nearly a dozen ways, but they seem unable to resist the desire to be invited to all the good parties.

      The advertisers are starting to realize they’re probably paying for three clicks for every one that is actually made by a real person. For now, they haven’t figured out an alternative.

      The platform’s existential enemy is privacy. Every time someone starts using a VPN, they loose revenue. Browsers are becoming harder to track. Ad blockers are mandatory for safety. And now they’re having to hire tens of thousands of people to try to monitor hundreds of millions of posters. Every time they try to automate moderation, it takes around 15 minutes for someone to find a way around it.

      If I was really brave and rich, I might be tempted to make a short bet. I’m confident I’ve seen the direction things are going but I’m pretty sure that it will take longer than I could hold out.

    9. Mike K Says:

      None of them seem to notice that the audience of the legacy media has been slashed by their partisan coverage. The math is simple, by declaring a side they cut their potential audience in half. Fox did pretty well for a while by offering the only alternative to the other view point that was split nearly a dozen ways, but they seem unable to resist the desire to be invited to all the good parties.

      This is certainly happening at Fox. The Murdoch boys are determined to prove the Chinese proverb:

      First generation coolie,
      Second generation merchant,
      Third generation rich man,
      Fourth generation coolie.

      I know that I no longer watch TV news and do not use Twitter.

      I realize this makes me an old fart but I still remember Chet Huntley and David Brinkley who did a reasonable TV news.

      Brinkley kept ABC honest until he died.

    10. Kirk Says:

      What struck me as I watched all this was how obtuse and unaware the media “giants” are–Did they not realize what Trump was doing with that whole Scarborough thing? How stupid are these people, not to recognize that he was setting up a trap?

      What he’s doing to the media figures like Scarborough is exactly what they’ve been doing to him, all along. Watch what happens next, because it’s going to be one of the greatest feats of political ju-jitsu seen in recent times.

      You just have to shake your head… This has been telegraphed for a long damn time, and none of these lackwits recognize it.

      The public will, though.

    11. OBloodyHell Says:

      }}} What, if anything, can/should be done about this situation? One argument is that nothing can be or needs to be done that Twitter etc are private property,

      No REGULATION is required. Legislation, yes, in the form of removal of the liability protections of any organization which is actually NOT acting as a neutral purveyor of information.

      This immunity, already in existence, is sensible and rational for an entity which makes no effort to control content excepting that required by law (i.e., child porn, etc.) or simple financial funding.

      This is what FB WAS. This is what Twitter WAS. This is what Youtube WAS.

      None of those three are neutral purveyors any longer, and this is a self-evident fact. So their protection from liability for false content needs to be removed, or acked as nonexistent.

      Some shyster needs to initiate a class action suit against the three for providing false content (which they obviously do, and anyone can go out and find it if they look, and the courts need to fast-track it through to the SCotUS…

      Let’s see how long they keep censoring shit after THAT warning happens.

    12. tomw Says:

      Given they have at least one political party and a compliant media behind them, this is an apparent attempt to move the line. Also known as the ‘ratchet’ effect, just tighten and advance your agenda one small step at a time. If you are denounced for doing so, claim innocence, it is ‘for the children’, racism, bigotry, and any other false bias that can be hammered to fit the situation.
      A similar distorting to meet desired objectives is the conflating Wuflu with unfunded pension problems. States are seeking to use a pandemic as an excuse to seek funds to remedy problems caused by their poor fiduciary abilities. Maybe not abilities, as the votes cast by the newly enriched, soon-to-be pensioners were cast in the desired column. History now, and the bill won’t come due for years… Whoopeee!

    13. David Foster Says:

      WSJ editorial today says, in essence, leave ’em alone:

      https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-twitter-fairness-doctrine-11590708199?mod=opinion_lead_pos1

    14. Mike K Says:

      That WSJ op-ed reminds me why I dropped my subscription after 40 years.

      The revealing quotes from the Twitter “Integrity czar” are enough to dispute the WSJ opinion,.

      Twitter’s head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, has posted multiple tweets deriding people who voted for President Trump, his staff, and other Republicans.

      Roth’s responsibilities at Twitter include “election security and misinformation,” a role he has held since 2018. Roth compared Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, and likened the Trump administration to Nazis. He also attacked people who live in “fly over” states, saying, “we fly over those states that voted for a racist tangerine for a reason.” The Twitter executive also used his timeline to attack Sen. Mitch McConnell, referring to him as a “bag of farts.”

      Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 8.29.28 PM.png

      Yup, sure sounds unbiased to me.

    15. David Foster Says:

      Mike K…I don’t see the WSJ piece as asserting that Twitter is unbiased, but rather as arguing that the proposed cure is worse than the disease.

      An interesting question: What would be the impact on Twitter if President Trump were to move his feed to another platform?…how many of his supporters would (a) follow him, and (b) drop their other use of Twitter?

    16. CapitalistRoader Says:

      Big $$$ conservatives need to get together and build their own platform(s).

      Orson Scott Card predicted online political discussion in his book Ender’s Game back in 1985, although I don’t recall him touching on censorship of those “nets” other than keeping kids from participating.

      Conservatives could go the route of regulating/breaking up Twitter, etc. but it would be a losing battle. Let the market work. Give the left some competition.

    17. David Foster Says:

      In addition to bias & regulatory issues, I think the *structure* of Facebook, and especially Twitter, is un-conducive to rational political discourse. A very high % of the political posts I see on FB are simply sharing of memes or somebody’s else’s posts. Rarely are there links to supportive data sources, or anything resembling a syllogism. The structure of the Newsfeed, with people scrolling from political post to cat pictures to to baby pictures back to another political post, is hardly conducive to coherent thought.

      What might a social media network look like to minimize these problems, while still gaining broad popularity? Is such a thing even possible?

    18. Mike K Says:

      Meanwhile, the blacks and Bernie bros are burning down Minneapolis. Lileks has a post today showing what the city looked like yesterday. Lots of burned businesses and white rioters in Bernie tee shirts.

      The list of burned structures is astonishing.

      Hundreds of businesses.

      Over at Althouse somebody commented that the blacks would move to the suburbs now that they have burned down their own neighborhoods. The reply was that was where the gun owners lived. Another good reason to live in a red state or a suburb in a blue state.

      Twitter is irrelevant when your city is being destroyed. How many Democrats are now thinking that Trump needs to send in the Army before the city burns down?

      I’m glad I am a thousand miles from Milwaukee this summer.

    19. Grurray Says:

      The sack of the police station was probably the last straw. The local authorities have surrendered to the mob, and with that have surrendered the civil order. Since it’s in every American’s interest to see civil order maintained in the country, we all now have a stake in seeing civil order restored in Minneapolis.

      Similarly at stake is the civil order in what is becoming the most important public utility, and that is the internet. We now have bipartisan support to break up the monopolistic social media giants. We should take advantage of this rare unity behind conservative values in order to reshape them so they protect communities rather than tear them down like rioters and ballot harvesters.

    20. Xennady Says:

      I don’t see the WSJ piece as asserting that Twitter is unbiased, but rather as arguing that the proposed cure is worse than the disease.

      The WSJ can go pound sand.

      It is incandescently obvious that the leftists who control American media are discriminating against conservatives, including the leftists who control Big Tech.

      To be blunt, I don’t care what the law says now. If this isn’t presently illegal, then I want my political representatives to change the ******* law to make it illegal.

      McDonalds doesn’t get to exclude customers based on a nebulous and ever-changing code of conduct that somehow only excludes people that management doesn’t like, even though it’s a private company. Starbucks couldn’t even exclude homeless drug addicts from their stores, even though there were obvious health issues involved and even though plenty of other customers didn’t want to share a coffee with a passed-out junkie.

      Know why? Because the left represents its constituents, be they homeless drug addicts or black rioters, the Law and the Constitution be damned.

      The so-called right? Well, we get a WSJ editorial telling us nothing should be done, and we should shut up and enjoy our silence.

      We’ve pretty much reached the Dredd Scott point in present American governance, in that conservatives have no rights leftists feel bound to respect. They can silence us with near impunity, challenged only by Donald Trump, apparently. They can burn cities for any reason, or no reason, without fear of arrest or other consequence, except perhaps a strained back caused by carrying away a heavy, stolen TV set. There doesn’t even seem to be a lie so vile or stupid that they won’t sling it at anyone they think is an opponent, because they simply can’t imagine they’ll ever face any consequences, even though they sometimes do, as in the Covington case.

      I had quite enough of this nonsense, thank you.

    21. MCS Says:

      Probably the Army could put a lid on it for now but the only people that can keep Minneapolis from turning into the next Detroit or Baltimore are the ones that live there. From the quality of their local and state leaders, there doesn’t seem to be enough that want it to do the job.

    22. Kirk H Parker Says:

      Xennady,

      McDonalds doesn’t get to exclude customers based on a nebulous and ever-changing code of conduct …

      That last phrase brings up something that really annoys me about FB/Twit et al: the completely fraudulent use of the phrase “community standards”. There is of course no such thing on those platforms; they have, instead, dictatorial standards imposed from above. And it’s just icing on the cake that those “community standards” are entirely Kafka-esque; just try to find a written version and someone willing to point out exactly which item within those standards was the one one you transgressed.

    23. Richard Says:

      It is impossible to reform or regulate the tech companies. They are too rich and powerful. The only way to deal with them is to destroy their business model. Require permission and payment for each use of a person’s data. No blanket approval via abusive TOS. Each separate use.

    24. Pat Says:

      I think social media companies need individually to make a choice. If they choose to curate content then they become publishers, and are liable for content. If they choose to accept content from anonymous sources then they are liable for that content. If they neither curate content nor accept content from anonymous sources then they are neutral carriers, the sources themselves accepting liability for the content they provide.
      What must end is them evading any liability for content and at the same time curating it.
      A reduction in anonymous postings would be a bonus.

    25. David Foster Says:

      Pat…”If they choose to accept content from anonymous sources then they are liable for that content.”

      Wouldn’t that imply that a blog (like this one) would be liable for all comments by anonymous commenters (like many of those here) and that the author of the post (me, in this case) would also be liable for any comment by an anonymous commenter?

      Would depend on the exact wording of the law/regulation, but the above seems a likely outcome.

      There is so much politicization and political fear in America today that a lot of people are afraid to speak their minds for fear of professional retaliation, social ostracism, etc.

    26. Mike K Says:

      There is so much politicization and political fear in America today that a lot of people are afraid to speak their minds for fear of professional retaliation, social ostracism, etc.

      Hence, so many of us bloggers and commenters are retired or use nom de blogs.

    27. David Foster Says:

      Also, the definition of “curating” in a social media environment is a little tricky. If someone has 200-500 Facebook friends, as many people do, it really isn’t feasible to include *all* updates from friends in their ‘newsfeed”….some kind of selective algorithm is involved. It seems to be based in part on how often the individual has interacted with each of those friends, but I think there are other factors as well. Which kinds of factors would and would not potentially qualify them as a ‘publisher’?

    28. Karen Loves You Comrade Says:

      Corona is a religious cult now. These tech monopolists aren’t going away as they laugh out loud at TRumpstein’s feckless EO. The drooling lumpen teevee proles think that it was set up for their convenience as they submit all private date for free and someone else makes a profit off of it.
      BRB-I’m putting some pretty pink panties on my head to go the people’s food distribution collective or grocery.

    29. Brandon Wark Says:

      Allowing any govt entity to interfere with the operation of a business, is a recipe for tyranny and economic destruction.

      Regardless of political motives, any advocate for small govt, and economic liberty should vehemently reject govt interference with social media organizations.

      What the Feds can do to Twitter, they can do to any of our blogs or websites.

    30. CK Says:

      So the real questions are, can Susan be executed easily and how many security guards does she have?

    31. Anonymous Says:

      “The only way to deal with them is to destroy their business model. Require permission and payment for each use of a person’s data. No blanket approval via abusive TOS. Each separate use.”

      Their business model involves theft by obfuscation of undisclosed (to the owner) private information and selling it to third parties. This should require individual consent for each sale and disclosure of the exact information is being conveyed.

      Since this blog does not operate by this monetary model, such a requirement would have no effect here. The liability law could remain as it is since the big tech social media empires would collapse.

      Death6

    32. Mike-SMO Says:

      There does not seem to be a need for “heavy handed” government involvement. Either the soc. media plays profitably as a sort of “common carrier” or they spend their lives, and profits, in court while the competition eats their lunch.

      The “true believers” in the soc. media management have gotten into their own cool aid and think that they can do whatever they please with a corporation. Maybe if the King of Chicago, Hillary or Slow Joe was in the White House…..

      They seem so frustrated. Avery (GA) is looking like a messy case of self defence, President Trump came up with a decent response to Winnie the Flu without acting like a dictator, and Floyd (MN) is looking like theft and a drug overdose. The Leftie corruptocrats have to work extra hard for the November election to keep the rabble in line. I am sure that burning down the Democratis cities will help their cause…..

    33. SDN Says:

      “A nonvirtual-world analogy for this case might be a job printer which normally prints whatever its customers might request, but occasionally refuses certain jobs on grounds of offensive language, etc…not sure whether there have been any such actual cases.”

      Oh, there have been quite a few.

      https://www.foxnews.com/us/supreme-court-decides-colorado-gay-wedding-cake-case-a-timeline-of-events

      https://firstliberty.org/cases/kleins/

      There have been others where the government has taken the position that if you operate a business you must deal with anyone who walks through the door.

    34. GWB Says:

      But how does this morph into a justification for shutting down discussion
      It doesn’t. It’s simply a way to control information so that your lies are the only available “facts”.

    35. Dav Says:

      SDN…the Cake cases dealt with a business owner’s responsibility to provide services for anyone…but didn’t say anything, as far as I know, about any *liability for defamation* that the business owner might incur as a consequence of providing said services.

      The job printer example I had in mind would be that someone comes to David’s Printing Shop requesting 10,000 copies of a certain flyer…which the proprietor of the shop does *not* decline to print…and the flyer is later found defamatory. Is the owner of the print shop liable for defamation?

      Sub-categories of the above…(1) if he did not read the flyer & had no idea that it was potentially libelous, (2) if he did read it & saw the potential for libel but printed it anyhow, and (3) was specifically informed by the target of the assertions that he (the target) considered it defamatory

    36. mrsizer Says:

      As I understand the Volokh summary, what most of us want is a return to the status quo ante. The CDA explicitly erases the old categories and creates a new one for “gee whiz, I can has computerz!” which spares them from liability regardless of how their behavior would have changed things under the old categories.

      In other words, pre-CDA, editing stuff makes one a publisher and potentially libel (as opposed to a distributor and not libel), but post-CDA, editing stuff on a computer may or may not make one a publisher but it doesn’t make any difference because computer so not libel.

      Obviously INAL and that is drastically oversimplified.

      Regardless, even pre-CDA there is no ability to go after a publisher for what they do not publish. Yanking a Tweet is equivalent (in my mind) to not publishing a Letter to the Editor. WHY it was not published doesn’t really matter (fear of libel may be one reason).

      I prefer the libertarian solution (move to Gab, Mr. President!), but I do think a regulatory distinction between distributor/platform and publisher/moderator is a legitimate issue to address – regardless of what particular regulation applies to which. It would be nice to have a bright line between the two.

    37. David Foster Says:

      Mrsizer…”Regardless, even pre-CDA there is no ability to go after a publisher for what they do not publish.”

      The (pre-CDA) Stratton Oakmont decision implied that there was a weird sort of *indirect* potential liability for things-not-published. The decision was read by at least some Internet hosting providers to imply that if they turned away *any* customers (that were legal and paid their bills), then that could class them as publishers and make them liable for *everything* that was hosted on their site.