Net Neutrality

Silly Young Person Wants "Social Network Neutrality"

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I have a MonopoLOLy

From Jake Levine, "an Internet-lover and Entrepreneur in Residence at betaworks": 

What happens when Facebook or Twitter decide that it is too 'confusing' for users to see photos from Instagram posted to their network, instead of through Facebook Photos? What happens when Facebook decides that Foursquare check-ins next to Facebook Places check-ins are detrimental to the user experience? Or that Groupon's daily deals shared through the Facebook platform are confusing for users who are most eager to find Facebook's deals?

As these networks settle on and begin to expand their business models, the definition of "competitor" will expand commensurately. Monopoly power of these large networks, as owners of our now primary channels for distribution and communication, will only increase as they become an ever larger part of our lives.

It's time to stop seeing these companies as mere applications. They are the 21st century version of AT&T, of RCA, of the Motion Picture Patents Company. The infrastructure of the social web has been consolidated into the hands of a few. With consolidation comes control, and with control comes an incentive to wield it over those deemed competitive threats to the ultimate prerogative: preservation of control.

Government agencies responsible for policing antitrust clearly have these companies on their radar, but history has shown that government is as capable of enabling information monopolies as it is of squashing them. Users must stand and be counted. We must demand portability, and we should vote with our attention when it is not delivered.

At stake is the future of the Internet, and if the Internet is social, then there is no less at stake than the future of social.

Levine is not the first person to suggest that the government should treat Facebook like a public utility. Read insightful responses to such batty proposals at Technology Liberation Front.

NEXT: Federal Caterer Crackdown Grabs Pre-Cut Carrots from Tiny Children's Hands

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  1. Myspace needs a fucking bailout!

    1. I wonder if GE owned it instead of Newscorp, it very well might’ve received one.

  2. I miss Myspace, actually.

    1. *looks at Achtung with pursed lips and “Really? REALLY?” look*

      1. Dude, have you seen it lately. The fucking interface is a mess. Goddamn…I SAID GODDAMN!

    2. You had better be joking.

      1. Go smack Achtung or something Epi!!

        /instigator

    3. Without myspace, millions – nay, billions – of kids would never have been introduced to rudimentary html coding involving shitty, seizure-inducing animated gifs, and what kind of society would we be without that? Not one I’d want to ever live in, that’s certain.

      1. Thanks to MySpace, thousands of teens learned how to write HTML that was worse than Geocities pages from 10 years earlier. That’s quite an accomplishment.

        1. This.

  3. You know, the government has a monopoly on governing. I think it needs to bust itself. I have reams of evidence to demonstrate its monopolistic and anti-competitive practices.

    At work, some of our marketing and tech people have been calling Facebook the new Internet. I’ve rolled my eyes at that enough to power the Internet for a day.

  4. If you use Facebook, you are scum. Human garbage. That’s all there is to it.

    1. Also, is Google+ as intolerable as Facebook? I got an invite to it, but I haven’t wanted to try it.

      1. I think Google+ is fine. It’s in an early period right now, so there’s not much to do…So, yeah, it actually pretty cool.

      2. Google plus is different because you can separate who sees what by putting them in certain circles. Neat, but not different.

        1. You know who else used circles to separate people into groups?

          That’s right, Satan!

          1. Just cause he’s evil doesn’t mean he can’t have good ideas.

      3. It’s alright so far.

      4. Google+ is a passive-aggressive solution to a self-created problem. Once it becomes obligatory, it will destroy itself. Once all the teentards friends their moms and aunts and grandmothers, + will have the same faux privacy concerns as Facebook.

        So far, it pretty OK, but then I never had Facebooks friends that I didn’t want.

        Its biggest selling point? 100% FARMVILLE FREE.

        1. Is that guaranteed somewhere? Or is it just a matter of time?

          1. Just matter of time. People love to grow digital corn, yo.

            1. I just don’t get it. It’s like all of that crafting stuff in MMOs. Why? Isn’t life boring enough without making the entertainment (more) dull, too?

          2. It’s true, it will destroy itself, but only because there’s no Farmville. No culture can sustain itself without a healthy agriculture presence.

            1. What do you have against synthetic food?

              1. Google itself is like UrbanSprawlVille, and you’re all playing it.

      5. No idea, since my only contact there is my wife. But at least I was able to use social networking as a carrot to get her to open up a google acct, so now we can share documents and calendars and whatnot, which is convenient for coordination.

      6. After avoiding Facebook entirely, I decided to test out Google+. The security and privacy settings are really good. There’s still some interface things that are a bit clunky, and I’m sure there’s going to be at least one big ugly bug that’s going to pop up in the next couple of months. For me the biggest difference is that Google sells audiences (Males 25-28 who like video games), Facebook sells people (John Doe; Male – 28; Cleveland OH, likes these games: xxx). An added feature of the current beta is no one under 18 is allowed to join.

        1. No one under 18 is allowed to join Facebook.

          Both enforce it by making you click on a EULA.

          😐

    2. Yeah, Facebook is crap. I made up a fake profile so I could see what everyone was talking about and I found out that it is just about as crap as I had thought.

      1. Agree facebook, myspace all that social junk is crap. I mean come on, if i want you to know something i will perwsonally tell you, and since when does everyone have to know WTF everyone else is doing. Its total shite. plus, by staying off, as an activist, i can keep plausible denyabilty.

        1. When the revolution comes, Spnge will be plausibly denying his ass out the firing line.

    3. I deleted my FB account a few months ago after being on it since late-2008!

      I was hit up for money by three ‘friends’ and gettin’ bitched at by my aunts for missing my fat cousin’s confirmation or something like that.

      The main reason: my employer started a heavy presence on it and much of my profile’s content could’ve been grounds for a shit-canning.

      1. Mongo Status Update:

        My boss is a cunt!

        Mongo’s boss likes this

        1. You know, the main value of Facebook is seeing screenshots of idiots leaving stuff like this as their status and getting fired over it. You know, like this.

          1. Wow, that’s painful.

            1. there have been tons of cops disciplined for shit they post on facebook.

              some people are their own worst enemies.

              otoh, as public employees, they have more protection in criticism of their employer than employees of private co’s

              but posting shit like “my job is the same as a garbageman” gets them in trouble

              1. Let me guess, your profile pic is a boot and a tongue?

                1. god no. facebook is NOT the place for that kind of crap. like i said, officers get disciplined for that shit all the time.

      2. I deleted mine in 2008. It seems to have gotten even more intolerable in the years since I left.

      3. I joined FB in 2005, back when you needed a .edu email address to join. It was pretty useful, you could list the classes you were in and see the other people who were enrolled. Since then it has lost its college-specific functionality and been flooded with grandma’s and farmville teens; however I have stayed and have a tightly controlled friends list and privacy settings. It provides a nice, casual way to keep in touch with people who live far away without having to call them on the devil-phone once a week or something (though i do that sometimes too). That’s my facebook story.

    4. I have never seen my own thoughts so succinctly expressed. Kudos sir.

    5. I signed up for a facebook back at the end of Highschool, and I keep it around to find hard to reach people who I have yet to exchange emails with.

      I actually spent some time today finally going through and updating the things I like and shit on facebook, because I’m going to be dating soon, and women may facebook me to check on shit, so I figured it should have SOMETHING there.

      But honestly, Google+ is sounding increasingly appealing, and I may take down a bunch of Facebook info and switch to goolge, and just use Facebook as basically a second version of email.

  5. Well, look what happened when we didn’t regulate GM in time! They gradually engulfed every other carmaker,and now control TEH WHOLE MARKUT!!

    Same with IBM, yeah? Now they own the PC market. And Microsoft is just basically a subsidiary of IBM, because hardware matters more than software, right??

    So, I think this dickwad kid clearly is on the right track.

  6. How could a free service amount to a monopoly?

    This is even more stupid than Fat Rush – who claimed Net Neutrality was a plot to return “liberal links to search queries”.

    1. claimed Net Neutrality was a plot to return “liberal links to search queries”

      You mean it’s NOT?

      /derp

    2. I think the larger concern with Net Neutrality (for those of us who don’t work for telecoms) was placing the Internet under a federal bureaucracy that has been plenty willing to interfere in content either in the name of “community standards/obscenity” or in the name of “fairness”.

      1. Not to mention the inconvenient fact that the companies who own the network should have the right to run it how they see fit.

    3. was a plot to return “liberal links to search queries”.

      We already got that shit covered.

  7. Whoops – wrong name. I was having fun with the idiot of the day earlier.

    1. Plus, I hate non-liberal black people.

      1. Plus, I hate non-liberal black people.

        Don’t forget you also hate MLK and all Southern Baptists.

  8. Facebook neutrality will be useless in Zombieland.

  9. “Levine is not the first person to suggest that the government should treat Facebook like a public utility.”

    I would contend that the government should not be treating utilities like public utilities.

    Your electricity would be a shit-ton cheaper were it not for regulation.

    1. ROADZ.

      1. Drink!

  10. where do they make these people, is there a factory or something? Between this and story about light bulbs, I have smoke coming out of my ears.

  11. “Monopoly power of these large networks”

    This word Monopoly….I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  12. Monopoly power of these large networks, as owners of our now primary channels for distribution and communication, will only increase as they become an ever larger part of our lives.

    And so obviously we need the Government to step in and protect these monopolies before they crumble under the weight of their own dickishness just like every other unprotected monopoly ever.

  13. If you want twitter service universality why not campaign for an open protocol compatible with their API and called it Short Internet Message Protocol (SIMP) or something? That’d have a better chance of success than some regulation crusade.

    1. People must be compelled to comply!

  14. Yep, pretty soon Facebook will use up all of the internet and no one will ever be able to come up with another way to communicate again.
    How dare these monsters give people a free service without letting the users dictate the terms on which the free service is delivered.

  15. What happens when Facebook or Twitter decide that it is too ‘confusing’ for users to see photos from Instagram posted to their network, instead of through Facebook Photos? What happens when Facebook decides that Foursquare check-ins next to Facebook Places check-ins are detrimental to the user experience? Or that Groupon’s daily deals shared through the Facebook platform are confusing for users who are most eager to find Facebook’s deals?

    The answer to this is pretty easy:

    If Facebook restricts access to its network to the discomfort of its users then Facebook will lose its users.

  16. Jake, you ignorant slut, your beloved government is at the front and center of the fight to make sure these markets are captured by a handful of actors they can control.

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hard…..uble/13714

    (pertinent info buried in the last paragraph)

  17. OT: This is gold. I got to the episode of Jericho where they reveal who the terrorists that are planning to nuke 23 major cities are, and I quote: “A mix of domestic militia, anarchists, and religious fanatics.”

    Wow.

    1. Well, I’m all three of those things. Aren’t you?

      1. And they’ve spent the last several episodes wasting time on some emotional and ethical dilemma — because a girl shot somebody who was trying to kill them all. So much for a respect for self-defense. And guns. Every time a gun appears on the screen, BUD-UM BUD-UM ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  18. So, it appears Facebook has now reached stage ten:

    1) Some dreamer considers the possibility.
    2) Someone writes a “gee whiz” science fiction story about it, usually with really bad science.
    3) Someone else writes a “ohmygod” science fiction horror story about it, invariably using really bad science.
    4) Someone makes a movie of the book in item #3, with added explosions.
    5) A lab develops a process that opens the possibility.
    6) Congress holds hearings with NIMBYs regurgitating the story from #3.
    7) Another lab moves the process forward to a viable stage.
    8) Public outrage against the new process from NIMBYs, luddites and most preachers. Also from the left because it is “for the rich” and the right because it is “obscene.”
    9) It becomes routine and people stop worrying about it. Awards are given to the developers.
    10) The left demands that governments make it available to everyone as a “basic right” at no charge. The right demands it be banned as “an affront to God/Human Dignity/Decency/Sacred Something.”

    1. I remember when you first posted this, good times:

      https://reason.com/archives/201…..nt_1936441

    2. Well played, sir. Well played.

  19. Since this guy says Facebook is the internet, and I have never used Facebook, then what network have I been on all these years ?

    1. The same one I have been using apparently.

      What is wrong with e-mail? I can keep in contact with those of whom I actually want to share thoughts without every crazed nympho I ever sat in a classroom twenty years ago trying to get my attention. Actually, if I wasn’t taken, I would probably like that.

      1. Crazed nymphos chase you on Facebook ?, at least now I understand why some many people are sucked into it.

        1. Not Facebook. Learned my lesson a long many years ago. Remember LiveJournal? Feel a little ashamed to admit to that bit of vanity, but I dedicated the site to posting a friend’s cartoons. Cartoons where the anti-protagonist was based on me. Shit, that’s actually more vain than most.

          1. I remember Friendster.

      2. actually want to share thoughts without every crazed nympho I ever sat in a classroom twenty years ago trying to get my attention.

        Wait a minute, you just made Facebook appealing.

    2. Since this guy says Facebook is the internet, and I have never used Facebook, then what network have I been on all these years ?

      I don’t know, but clearly you and I aren’t Facebook Friends, and never will be.

  20. What happens when Prodigy decides that Compuserve check-ins next to AOL check-ins are detrimental to the user experience?

    1. The political hipster is never aware of how fleeting his moment may be, hence, the superficial economic policy pov.

  21. This is just as stupid as Cory Doctorow, new media douche extraordinare, declaring that Google (and other search engines) should be regulated like a public utility because they were so central to the Internet and controlled the flow of information.

    Some folks just can’t see somebody doing something without thinking “That should be regulated.” One of the few things that slows them down is people this dumb think a lot of things are regulated that aren’t.

    1. Statism seems to fulfill the same need infants have for a security blanket.

      1. no need for “seems to”

        1. Indeed!

    2. You also forgot to add that they think a lot of things aren’t regulated nearly enough that are among the most highly regulated industries in the history of man (modern banking and financial services for example)

    3. You also forgot to add that they think a lot of things aren’t regulated nearly enough that are among the most highly regulated industries in the history of man (modern banking and financial services for example)

      1. It’s a pretty lenient system where private actors are allowed to make decisions. Until the banking industry is nationalized* we will never be safe enough from the onslaught of capitalist run-amok. When cops take one hoodlum off the street, but leave his pack, are the streets really that much more safe?

        *btw, the preferred solution of a person on this board who also takes umbrage at being called a socialist.

    4. That’s what I find so disturbing. This guy finds doing ‘check-ins’ inconvenient on 2 platforms, so he thinks the government needs to step in and solve this problem.

      I can’t even be snide about this story. It is so fucking disturbing to me.

  22. Levine is not the first person to suggest that the government should treat Facebook like a public utility

    Then he isn’t the only idiot, either.

    I have an FB presence if only to check up on my daughter. I have to keep telling her to take shit off. “Honey, that is called ‘evidence.'”

    1. lol.

      it’s amusing how many people commit crimes then brag about it and/or post pictures of it on their facebook/myspace pages.

      1. Right up there with videotaping yourself committing crimes. When I was a youth that was what the dumb kids were doing: taping themrselves blowing up mailboxes.

  23. i saw a libtard claiming that facebook should have to accept advertisements for google+ ON facebook, since to do otherwise was monopolistic.

  24. Off-topic, but I just realized you can’t spell “tickle” without “clit”.

  25. Also, as an aside, the way you keep Facebook tolerable is not friending every single jackass that asks you. I don’t go around searching out people I used to know to friend them, and I keep my friend list limited to people I actually know (with a few exceptions). As a result, my friend list is 76 people.

    The other thing is to ruthlessly block applications. Facebook was on the verge of intolerable until I started blocking Mafia Wars, Farmville, and all the rest of that crap.

    1. I use a Facebook name that isn’t mine and only use it to communicate with just a handful of people who know it’s me.

    2. I have less than 20 FB friends, and I could do without 5 or 6 of those.

      One day, I amazed my student workers by naming them all off the top of my head.

      1. Were they amazed that you knew them all or that you had 20 friends?

        1. Both. Duh.

        2. That there were only 20. They think you have to be locked up in a mental asylum in Antarctica to have fewer than 300.

          1. ?The whole world is festering with unhappy souls;
            The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles;
            Italians hate Yugoslave; South Africans hate the Dutch;
            And I don’t like anybody very much.?

            – The Kingston Trio, “The Merry Minuette”

  26. I never understood the appeal. I well and truly do not care what you are doing right now or this coming weekend, what mood you are in, what you’re reading, what you’re listening to, or what happened to you at work today. I…don’t…care. And I don’t understand why so many other people seem to.

    1. That’s the way I look at cell phones. I look at all of these people and wonder – who the fuck are you talking too?

      1. The same here. I feel it to be a matter of social status and privilege Not to be bothered with a phone. Unfortunately, I have to have one, but I spend as little time possible getting necessary business or talking to the mum on it, and I never do so in public. People look like lunatics doing that, and changes in social conventions have not eased that one whit.

        1. Hey, you damn kids, get off my lawn.

    2. No matter how antisocial and rude I may be, it does my shriveled cold heart good to come here and know somebody is ruder and more anti-social, and damn proud of it.

      1. Misanthropes disUnite!

        And get off my lawn!

      2. So the suspicion that some people have that all Reason commenters are friendless shut-ins whose only human interaction is to yell at the skateboarding kids in the street and whose only time spent outside is putting barbed wire around their garden of overgrown, enemic roses is actually confirmed.

        1. Not all of us. I have 76 friends on Facebook!

          Of course, my dog (account not managed by me) has more friends than me on Facebook. It stands to reason, he’s friendlier and cuter.

        2. You make it sound as if that is a bad thing.

        3. Quite the opposite, Greer. It’s because I have actual friends in the real world, and prefer to interact with them in person, that I don’t use facebook or any of the other popular social media.

        4. My wife and I actually lead a pretty active life, even with me having been in grad school for the last 8 years. To be fair though, I don’t post nearly as much as others here.

      3. Haha, touche, T. I don’t consider my lack of interest in everyone’s personal lives “rude”, but glad I could brighten your day : )

  27. All these separate fiefdoms are like email before the “@” symbol was added – they only allow access to one network/domain.

  28. If I ever do get a Facebook account [probably only when it becomes compulsory], I intend to “Unfriend”* the world.

    *This may be out of date jargon. IDGAF.

  29. “Monopoly power of these large networks, as owners of our now primary channels for distribution and communication, will only increase as they become an ever larger part of our lives.”

    So how exactly is a free service being monopolistic when more people choose it than it’s competitors? It doesn’t have a monopoly on communication (I hear people still talk on the phone and send electronic mail), just a dominate presence on one particular form of communication.

    But at least we can sleep soundly knowing that Levine makes money by writing solutions in search of a problem.

  30. Breaking news! Shatner banned by Google+!

    Well, banned may be a strong term. Temporarily exiled?

    1. The new social media site doesn’t allow pseudonyms and makes very certain that those on the site are who they say they are on the site, unlike other social networks.

      If you’re a celebrity, sure. But for regular folks? There’s no fucking way.

      1. Even a temporary ban of the Shat is disturbing. Google could find itself out of business if it loses Shatner.

        1. Once you lose Shatner you lose the country.

  31. Use diaspora. Problem solved.

  32. an Internet-lover and Entrepreneur in Residence at betaworks

    He sounds like more of a government-lover and Rent-seeker in Residence, to me.

  33. It’s time to stop seeing these companies as mere applications. They are the 21st century version of AT&T

    They’re nothing like AT&T. Yes, I was alive and coherent when everyone had a phone bolted to the wall and paid a phone bill to AT&T.

    The difference is I don’t use Facebook or Twitter. Get it?

  34. Monopoly power of these large networks, as owners of our now primary channels for distribution and communication, will only increase as they become an ever larger part of our lives.

    so what the fuck is this guy going on about?

  35. Holy fucking shit. Did you guys catch this unintentionally telling section of his article:

    First, like all institutions they follow a law of self-preservation. If the ferry owner senses a threat to his monopoly in an innovation outside of his control, he will do everything in his power to acquire or squash it.

    See:

    AT&T blocking third party innovations like Carterfone and Hush-A-Phone
    RCA blocking the emergence of FM Radio
    NBC and the FCC blocking the emergence of television

    So apparently his answer, like so many Net Neutrality supporters is to put the FCC in charge.

    The entire pro-net neutrality argument has become so intellectually bankrupt, it’s almost not worth debating anymore.

  36. It costs less than $7 a month to host your own website. If someone values his independence too cheaply to spend that much, then he deserves to suffer through all the restrictions that come with a Facebook free account.

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