Privately I’d be bleaker about this

It’s possible, but not necessary, to be as cynical as I am about this. Which is to observe that there are those who wish to gain political and economic power and regulating large companies that aren’t doing any harm is sure a cute way of doing that. A support to my bleak view is that those advancing the regulation of the tech giants do tend to insist that this should apply to all actors in the economy. Anyone that is a significant source of near anything must be regulated.

This isn’t really about Google – and nor will the other likely cases be – being detrimental to the consumer. Because there’s pretty much no proof that the company is. It’s about whether the tech giant might be if left unconstrained, if we’re to be charitable about it, and whether a big bad company and source of economic power should remain unregulated by politics, if we’re to be unkind.

Politics is the gaining of power over peeps. The insistence that all large companies must be regulated is just a grab for more power over peeps. Dressed in the perfectly fine and reasonable anti-monopoly arguments that are being stretched out for political gain.

19 thoughts on “Privately I’d be bleaker about this”

  1. It’s a shakedown. Baksheesh.
    The ‘big companies’ aren’t buying enough politicians, of the whining party.

  2. Politics is the gaining of power over peeps.

    Yes. And Google is a very political entity that effectively controls what vast numbers of people can see, hear, share and transact on t’internet.

    I don’t think they should be regulated tho. They should be broken up.

  3. Do you never wonder which side the big tech companies are on? Is there a surer way of competitors being kept out of a market than a regulatory regime only big companies can afford to comply with?

  4. BiS

    Precisely. That was part of the EU issue. Large multi-nationals lobbying in Brussels for ever more regulation that gave them an ever increasing advantage over smaller upstarts. Large business versus small business going back to the referendum.

  5. Correct, PF. It is the fascist model. Corporations learn to quit fighting government and join with them. Companies with limited capital can’t comply, and go out of business. We even got this from Hillary’s mouth when she was attacked over the cost of Hillarycare. “I’m not responsible for companies being under capitalized.”

    Crony capitalism is fascism writ large.

    ‘This isn’t really about Google – and nor will the other likely cases be – being detrimental to the consumer. Because there’s pretty much no proof that the company is.’

    But, Timmer, WHO is the consumer? The person making the posts? Those reading them? Many conservative views are blacklisted from Twitter, FakeBook, and youtube. The posters of such are harmed.

    And it is REGULATION that is causing the current problem. Regulation protects them as platforms, when they are obviously publishers. Senators chatter about doing something about Section 230, but this shit has been going on for YEARS, and the Senate does nothing. That they talk means they know there is a problem. That they don’t do anything means there is something else going on we don’t know about.

  6. Someone please enlighten me: How would making Facebook a publisher be an improvement? If Facebook is liable for what appears on it, it will be 50 times as censorious as it is now. It’ll be puppy photos, recipes and pix of your grandchildren, and nothing else. What am I missing?

  7. Gene, Facebook still has the option of becoming a common carrier, it just has to start acting like one. At the moment it occupies a weird middle-ground where it enjoys the protections of a common carrier, but editorialises like a publisher.

    Imagine if BT cut off your phoneline for two weeks because you said something over the phone that was not illegal, but somebody didn’t like. If BT did that, it would be a scandal, and OFCOM would step in and stop them. Yet Facebook does this as a matter of routine.

    This is the reality of facebook: it positions itself as a neutral utility to connect you with your friends and family and customers, but at any time and for any reason and without even owing an explanation, it can drop the Sword of Damocles on you.

  8. But, Timmer, WHO is the consumer? The person making the posts?

    The consumer of a product is normally the person paying for it. Who’s paying for this?
    The person making the posts is part of the product. If you don’t want to be a product, don’t use the service.

    Beats me why people think they have a right to have their views promulgated on a private company’s property. Pay for your own forum if you feel so strongly.

  9. BT – sort of related: up in North Jockea, they’re going to jail people for hurty words said privately at the dinner table.

    I’m sure the Conservatives and their majority of 80 will swing into action to protect free speech across the UK any minute tho. Any minute now.

  10. Beats me why people think they have a right to have their views promulgated on a private company’s property

    That ship sailed years ago when freedom of association stopped being a thing. Now it’s time for Google and Facebook to bake the cake.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    I think we’re dealing with something that regulators and, if they care, politicians don’t know how to deal with nor do founders and shareholders.

    Twitter, Facebook and Google have been captured by their employees. The first public sign was probably James Damore at Google, he was hounded out by employees, although there’s no doubt many others we haven’t heard of. In the current case of the Hunter Biden laptop the guy who put the block on the story was an ex-DNC staffer now employed by Twitter, it happened within hours and he’s been supported by employees at Facebook who’ve tried to restrict the story and at Google who’ve disappeared it from their search engines as much as they could.

    This isn’t about the founders of those organisations or the shareholders, they’ve lost control. As I’ve said before, listen to Joe Rogan talking to Twitter Jack, the lawyers won’t let him have his own opinion and he was a genuine free speech guy and I’ll bet still want to be. I’ll also put money on Zuch and the Google guys still being more free speech libertarians than their employees.

  12. Interesting concept, BiND.

    I contend that Congress needs to better define Section 230. To say what editing platforms can do, and remain platforms. The original passage didn’t anticipate the pushing of the boundaries.

    “Beats me why people think they have a right to have their views promulgated on a private company’s property. Pay for your own forum if you feel so strongly.”

    bis, Google et al are public accommodations. That’s how. You can’t put something out for the public to use, then discriminate against some members of the public.

  13. This can’t possibly come from Computer Weekly. There is no such thing as “and nor” logic in any programming language.

  14. I’m usually on the side of private companies being allowed to do as they please, but there’s something about – not just Google on their own – but social media companies (Google’s YouTube, Facebook/Instagram and Twitter) having a tribal goal of having their cake and eating it too that doesn’t seem legal. They’ve decided to act as both publishers and platforms simultaneously, while avoiding any liability for either harmful content (remember the ISIS beheading videos?) or for discriminatory practices.

    There’s the purely economic argument, sure, but we aren’t living in a vacuum. Google controls 90% of internet searches. True, they could definitely be overtaken by a competitor, as happened with Apple defeating IBM, but these platforms (not publishers, mind you) provide a service. Imagine a phone company banning someone from using their service not because that person was making death threats or violating a restraining order, but because they disagreed with the recipient of the call, or spread some gossip which may or may not be true. In many regions of the country, if you don’t use a certain phone company, you will have terrible service through a competitor. Regardless of the economics, and I’m sure someone will point out the semantics that make this situation different from Google’s, but something about this just doesn’t feel right.

    We (the U.S.) have companies that are sued because they won’t bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. I personally wouldn’t have a problem providing that service, but the Supreme Court decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission highlighted an important legal principle…

    The reason the Court sided with the bakery, was not solely because it is a private business. There were some additional factors. First, the Civil Rights Commission was found to be acting with prejudice toward religious liberty, rather than looking out for the civil rights of both parties involved (Justice Kennedy cited this as one of his deciding factors). Second, the bakery was only denying the specific service of providing a cake for a specific type of occasion. They were still willing to bake a cake for an LGBTQ couple, as long as it was for a birthday celebration or any other practice acceptable in the business owner’s faith. If they had denied the couple from even setting foot in the bakery, without any practical reason for the discrimination, you can bet the Court would have ruled in favor of the Civil Rights Commission.

    Businesses like Twitter and Google are not acting in such good faith. They are outright banning individuals from their platforms in a discriminatory way (as they are allowing much of the same, and worse, behavior from those with “acceptable” opinions). There is no compromise, only discrimination. The New York Post didn’t just have a single tweet deleted. To this day, they are banned from posting anything at all until they delete a news story that is protected under the First Amendment, specifically Freedom of the Press. Twitter showed absolutely no hostility to completely false stories about the Steele dossier or the propaganda posted by known dictators, or violent threats from groups like AntiFa, because the so-called “terms and conditions” of the site are fraudulent and unequally applied.

    Law is more or less based on precedent, whether it is aligned with economic theory or not. And yes, I usually side with the economists, but if our society has already agreed to enforce other civil rights policies on private businesses (Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII), then it only seems logical to apply the same enforcement to Freedom of Speech, arguably the amendment our country was founded on.

  15. Were Twitter to start censoring the tweets of only Black people say, or only women ( and no – not women with dicks ) then it would be nanoseconds before something legally was done about it.
    Long term censoring of Republicans and non-leftwing folks – perfectly fine.

  16. If they didn’t have double standards they would have none at all. We all know this. This behaviour is expected.

    What I find funny is that (1) everyone acts surprised. Personally I am surprised when bans don’t happen, and (2) not enough people care enough to do something until it is too late.

    I know genuinely understand how totalitarianism gets started as I am living through it’s gestation.

  17. It is decadence, Andrew A. Western Civilization produces prosperity. The prosperous are too comfortable to care, or risk what they have, to resist.

    The West suffers because it is too good.

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