Daily Bread for 6.4.20

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of eighty-seven.  Sunrise is 5:17 AM and sunset 8:29 PM, for 15h 12m 30s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 97.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand three hundred fourth day.

The City of Whitewater will hold a town hall about the COVID-19 pandemic via audiovisual conferencing at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1942, the Battle of Midway begins.

Recommended for reading in full —

  Charles Duan and Jeffrey Westling write Will Trump’s Executive Order Harm Online Speech? It Already Did:

The threat of the order itself, even as wrong as it is, does exactly the damage Trump wants to do: It pressures companies into giving his content preferential treatment.

Over the next few months, Twitter and other platforms must gear up to fight the administration as it tries to twist the language of Section 230. They may be hauled in to FTC investigations over whether a removal didn’t occur in good faith or whether a company acted deceptively. These investigations almost certainly will exonerate the companies, but only after they shell out massive attorney fees. At least Twitter is big enough to afford all this; smaller platforms likely cannot.

And the final catalyst for all of this? Twitter decided to fact-check the president.

This thought will undoubtedly cross the mind of Jack Dorsey and other Silicon Valley CEOs: Wouldn’t it be easier to let him be? To give more leeway to rule-breakers and purveyors of misinformation? To do nothing in the face of campaigns of mistruth that undermine democracy and trust in government? Thus far, it appears that Dorsey will stand firm. The day after Trump issued the executive order, Twitter notably hid a tweet from the president threatening protestors in Minneapolis that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” However, many other platforms may ask themselves these same questions and find the fight is not worth the risks. For his part, Mark Zuckerberg preemptively capitulated to Trump’s executive order with a statement that Facebook “shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.”

The First Amendment allows private companies like Twitter to speak as they see fit and to fact-check leaders. But the executive order’s threats of changes to Section 230 and FTC investigations render the Constitution powerless to stop Trump from using the weight of the federal government to attack companies that criticize him.

Trump claims that he acts in the name of users’ First Amendment rights, that the platforms are the “21st-century equivalent of the public square” and as such must host all content equally. But Twitter, or even Facebook, is not so large as to squeeze out every other venue of online speech. Numerous alternatives exist. And notably, the incident that sparked Trump’s ire, the fact-checking of his vote-by-mail tweet, did not involve any suppression or censorship at all: Trump’s tweet remained up on the platform, with an additional note from Twitter. It is Trump, not Twitter, who is calling for suppression of speech.

  Testing a home antibody kit for tracking Covid-19 transmission:

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