California Progressives Go Full Authoritarian

I almost titled this article "go full fascist" but the f-word is so used and abused in public discourse that I now try to avoid it.  Presented largely without comment because I would have assumed five years ago that any thinking person in this country would understand why this was a bad idea.  State law proposed by California Senator Richard Pen, SB 1424

Existing law prohibits a person, among others, from making or disseminating in any advertising device, or in any manner or means whatever, including over the Internet, any statement concerning real or personal property or services that is untrue or misleading, as specified.
This bill would require any person who operates a social media, as defined, Internet Web site with a physical presence in California to develop a strategic plan to verify news stories shared on its Web site. The bill would require the plan to include, among other things, a plan to mitigate the spread of false information through news stories, the utilization of fact-checkers to verify news stories, providing outreach to social media users, and placing a warning on a news story containing false information.

Because having the government decide what is and is not true, and what can and cannot be criticized, always works out so well.

Update:  This seems relevant, from China (bold added).  This is what happens when the state "fact-checks" social media:

When does a corporate apology become a political self-confession, or jiantao (检讨), an act of submission not to social mores and concerns, but to those in power? The line can certainly blur in China. But the public apology today from Zhang Yiming (张一鸣), the founder and CEO of one of China’s leading tech-based news and information platforms, crosses deep into the territory of political abjection.

Zhang’s apology, posted to WeChat at around 4 AM Beijing time, addressed recent criticism aired through the state-run China Central Television and other official media of Jinri Toutiao, or “Toutiao” — a platform for content creation and aggregation that makes use of algorithms to customize user experience. Critical official coverage of alleged content violations on the platform was followed by a notice on April 4 from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT), in which the agency said Toutiao and another service providing live-streaming, Kuaishou, would be subject to “rectification measures.”

Read through Zhang’s apology and it is quickly apparent that this is a mea culpa made under extreme political pressure, in which Zhang, an engineer by background, ticks the necessary ideological boxes to signal his intention to fall into line.

At one point, Zhang confesses that the “deep-level causes” of the problems at Toutiao included “a weak [understanding and implementation of] the “four consciousnesses”. This is a unique Xi Jinping buzzword, introduced in January 2016, that refers to 1) “political consciousness” (政治意识), namely primary consideration of political priorities when addressing issues, 2) consciousness of the overall situation (大局意识), or of the overarching priorities of the Party and government, 3) “core consciousness” (核心意识), meaning to follow and protect Xi Jinping as the leadership “core,” and 4) “integrity consciousness” (看齐意识), referring to the need to fall in line with the Party. Next, Zhang mentions the service’s failure to respect “socialist core values,” and its “deviation from public opinion guidance” — this latter term being a Party buzzword (dating back to the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests) synonymous with information and press controls as a means of maintaining Party dominance.

Zhang also explicitly references Xi Jinping’s notion of the “New Era,” and writes: “All along, we have placed excessive emphasis on the role of technology, and we have not acknowledged that technology must be led by the socialist core value system, broadcasting positive energy, suiting the demands of the era, and respecting common convention.”

In the list of the company’s remedies, there is even a mention of the need to promote more content from “authoritative media,” a codeword for Party-controlled media, which suggests once again that the leadership has been unhappy with the idea of algorithms that wall users off from official messaging if they show no interest in such content.




  1. The_Big_W:

    Even lies are free speech. It can be no other way.

    How stupid does someone need to be to not understand "Shall make no law." Strike that, I'm not willing to be gracious here. How EVIL does someone have to be to blithely violate "Shall make no law."

  2. ErikTheRed:

    Is it just me, or is 90+% of the whole "fake news" thing actually just the reaction of people who lack the ability to explain or defend their stance on a position to "stuff I disagree with." This is just based on observations in my personal interactions - most of the people I surround myself with are epistemology and philosophy geeks who are more than happy (and sometimes frighteningly eager) to debate any subject back to its first underlying principles. I've never heard any of them use the term "fake news" with any seriousness (outside of the "fake news" debate itself).. It's been the smaller percentage around me who are the intellectual equivalent of herd animals (sorry, while it's true that using your brain is optional, it's also an option to be called out on it) who keep playing the "fake news" card, and even when I agree with their overall position it just strikes me as the last step from intellectually lazy to intellectually pathetic.

  3. ErikTheRed:

    But think of the children!!!

    Besides, everyone who brings up that "shall make no law" thing? They're spreading fake news! The children!

  4. smilerz:

    the best part of this news is that it won't survive any constitutional challenges.

  5. pbft:

    'Fake News' = 'Anything I disagree with'
    'Hate Speech' = 'Anything that hurts anyone's feelings'

    Both should clearly be outlawed!

    But wait - I disagree with that, and it makes me feel bad.

  6. SamWah:

    Are the local papers everywhere in the state up in arms? If not, why not?

  7. Dan Wendlick:

    Warning:This article contains conclusions believed by the State of California to cause critical thinking and challenge preconceived notions.

  8. Not Sure:

    "The bill would require the plan to include, among other things, a plan to mitigate the spread of false information..."

    This would keep the government busy creating plans for just about forever, if they ever applied the laws they pass to themselves.

  9. The_Big_W:

    Had Hillary won and filled Scalia’s spot, I would not be confident that the Supreme Court would not uphold this law. That is beyond terrifying. There won’t be many options left if the court ever decides our natural rights are void.

  10. cc:

    Ironically, most of the fake news is either generated by legacy media, or is true but legacy media calls it fake. For example, Trump's claim that he was being wiretapped was called fake news, but it wasn't. Reports about Hilary's emails were called fake news, but were true. etc.

  11. CapitalistRoader: defined, Internet Web site with a physical presence in California...

    Are electrons a "physical presence"? That is, if a web site can simply be viewed in CA via the world wide web, the law applies?

  12. Jaedo Drax:

    Out of curiosity, what large company with a website would stay in California if this passed?

  13. ap:

    Better definition: 'Hate Speech" = 'Any speech I hate'

  14. me:

    Pretty much - whataboutism and fake news are debate tactics for the intellectually lazy or incapacitated.

  15. jdgalt:

    Then you're supposed to leap off the cliff, like the troll in Holy Grail.

  16. jdgalt:

    Judges who misread the Constitution are spreading fake olds.