A group of powerful tobacco companies are suing the federal government because of the mandatory disgusting images that will be required starting in September 2012 on the top half, front and back, of their packs. Four of the five largest cigarette sellers, including R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard, say the warnings inhibit free speech and are expensive on top of it. (Philip Morris, the largest U.S. cigarette maker, is staying out of it.) “Never before in the United States have producers of a lawful product been required to use their own packaging and advertising to convey an emotionally-charged government message urging adult consumers to shun their products,” says the lawsuit, which contends that the labels are overly manipulative. That dead guy in the warning photo? He’s an actor with fake scar, anyway.
[Facebook’s rationale for leaving up the Pelosi video] is ridiculous. The only thing the incident shows is how expert Facebook has become at blurring the lines between simple mistakes and deliberate deception, thereby abrogating its responsibility as the key distributor of news on the planet.
Would a broadcast network air this? Never. Would a newspaper publish it? Not without serious repercussions. Would a marketing campaign like this ever pass muster? False advertising.
No other media could get away with spreading anything like this because they lack the immunity protection that Facebook and other tech companies enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 was intended to spur innovation and encourage start-ups. Now it’s a shield to protect behemoths from any sensible rules. …
By conflating censorship with the responsible maintenance of its platforms, and by providing “rules” that are really just capricious decisions by a small coterie of the rich and powerful, Facebook and others have created a free-for-all with no consistent philosophy.