Facebook

No, the Government Shouldn't Break Up Facebook

Co-founder Chris Hughes' call for antitrust action is vainglorious and misguided.

|

Mark Zuckerberg's evolution from hoodie-wearing tech nerd to Bond-level supervillain has been nothing short of amazing. Ever since Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election—an outcome her partisans routinely dump squarely at Facebook's feet—Zuck and the world's largest social-media platform have become the force that can't do anything right. We're told that they give away our private data (that we mostly agreed to give away or don't really care about much), they bombard us with so much hate speech and body shaming that young girls are killing themselves in record numbers, they destroy journalism by goading stupid companies to "pivot to video" that nobody watched, they limit the reach of the Trump-loving duo Diamond & Silk, they let Russian trolls dictate the course of even municipal elections, and on and on.

The latest salvo against Zuckerberg and the monster he has created comes from a co-founder of the company, Chris Hughes, last seen driving The New Republic's long-flagging reputation as anything other than a breeding ground for fabulists deeper into the ground. Writing in The New York Times, Hughes (who says he sold off his Facebook shares years ago) claims that his former roommate is the most powerful person on the planet, with

influence…far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government….Mark's power is unprecedented and un-American.

It is time to break up Facebook.

Zuckerberg, writes Hughes, bestrides the modern world like a Colossus. He owns 60 percent of voting shares, and he

alone can decide how to configure Facebook's algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.

This is hyperbole at its most hyperbolic—and timely. Everyone hates Facebook these days, for one reason or another. (I'm pissed at its recent decision to ban such idiots as Louis Farrahkhan and Alex Jones of Infowars.) Conservative Republicans and liberal/progressive Democrats openly talk about breaking it up into smaller companies or regulating it as a public utility or broadcast network. Hughes' testimony will only add fuel to that fire.

New York TimesBut should the government clamp down on Facebook? Not if Hughes' case is the best its critics can muster. Citing Columbia Law professor Tim Wu and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), Hughes argues that Facebook's bigness is inherently dangerous (an argument frequently made by the ideological descendants of Louis Brandeis, who railed against the "curse of bigness" without necessarily ever showing harm to customers). "About 70 percent of American adults use social media," writes Hughes, "and a vast majority are on Facebook products."

Well, so what, exactly? As is often the case with the new trustbusters, claims of ironclad "monopoly" fade into mere frustration that a particular company they find offensive commands a large share of a given market (in this case, social media). Competitors, Hughes says, are either bought up and assimilated into Zuckerberg's empire (this happened to Instagram and WhatsApp) or vanquished by getting ripped off and imitated. (Hughes claims this happened to both Snapchat and Vine, but those comparisons are not particularly illuminating. Snapchat is still a going concern, and Vine was shut down by Twitter for reasons that range far beyond losing its user base to Instagram.) There is still a vibrant and growing market for all sorts of new social media apps and platforms, but it's essential to critics that Zuckerberg appear like Thanos, capable of destroying entire universes with the snap of a finger.

Hughes simultaneously faults Zuckerberg/Facebook for moderating content too much and not moderating it enough, for letting hate speech spill through various filters and for choking off news feeds that go in unwanted directions. Worse still, Hughes finds himself still using Facebook and Instagram despite his insider knowledge that they are akin to pure evil:

Some days, lying on the floor next to my 1-year-old son as he plays with his dinosaurs, I catch myself scrolling through Instagram, waiting to see if the next image will be more beautiful than the last. What am I doing? I know it's not good for me, or for my son, and yet I do it anyway.

The choice is mine, but it doesn't feel like a choice. Facebook seeps into every corner of our lives to capture as much of our attention and data as possible and, without any alternative, we make the trade.

What kind of social critique is this, really? It reads like an early 20th-century confession about masturbating, for god's sake. Facebook, Instagram, and all the rest are not uniquely addictive in any meaningful sense of the word. Worse still is the idea that because well-connected and politically powerful users are embarrassed at the pleasure or utility they divine from certain apps, the full weight of the federal government should quash a "monopoly." This simply isn't serious.

For Hughes, "just breaking up Facebook is not enough." Hughes proposes "a new agency, empowered by Congress to regulate tech companies," that would protect "privacy," ensure "basic interoperability" across platforms, and—wait for it—"create guidelines for acceptable speech on social media." Ironically, this proposal puts him on the same side of the argument as Zuckerberg and other tech titans such as Apple's Tim Cook, Twitter's Jack Dorsey, and Google's Sundar Pichai. They have all explicitly called for regulation of themselves and have even, bless their pointed little heads, offered to help write the regulations. Of course they have, because like the railroad barons before them, they know that whatever fat market shares and profits they have now are likely to thin out over time. This is all basic public-choice economics, playing out in real time.

After acknowledging that having the government decide what speech is legal is deeply troubling, Hughes writes, "There is no constitutional right to harass others or live-stream violence," as if these categories are any more self-evident than "hate speech." Some forms of harassment are already illegal—the First Amendment does not protect "true threats"—but what exactly would count as harassment under Hughes' proposal? Go ask the perpetually aggrieved students at University of the Arts or Seton Hall and get back to me. Facebook acted quickly to take down the livestream of the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooting and was criticized both for taking too long and for censoring the content, which has obvious news value.

Every platform will make these decisions differently, and the last thing anyone should want is the government making that call for all of us. (Sharing video of the shooting and the gunman's manifesto have been prohibited in New Zealand and at least six people are going to trial on such charges.) I personally think Facebook and other platforms have made a major mistake by taking on the Sisyphean task of moderating content beyond very basic decisions limited to obviously criminal speech. But that is Facebook's mistake to make. The only thing worse than Zuckerberg in his spider hole making those decisions is granting any government that authority.

Hughes' argument to break up Facebook rests on this fundamentally false analysis:

Because Facebook so dominates social networking, it faces no market-based accountability. This means that every time Facebook messes up, we repeat an exhausting pattern: first outrage, then disappointment and, finally, resignation.

In fact, as the political scientist John Mueller underscored in his 1999 work Capitalism, Socialism, and Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery, even actual monopolists have to court the buying public. (The only exceptions are government-enforced monopolies.) Doing so makes it "more likely to be able to slide price boosts past a wary public—that is, such moves are less likely to inspire angered customers to use less of the product and/or to engender embittered protest to governmental agencies." And in fact, Facebook's flailing attempts to address criticism over the past year demonstrate not a company that is secure in its position but one desperately seeking to maintain it, even via regulation.

The idea that the government will do a better job at fixing what's "wrong" is risible, especially when the option of individual users simply walking away remains a viable option. In the United States, the number of Facebook users seems to be declining (hence the company's call for regulation). Many leavers do seem to be going to Facebook's sister site, Instagram, where the experience is markedly different and which still proves the basic point that Facebook doesn't have an iron grip on an audience. Roam around cyberspace a bit and you'll see the vast, empty ruins of once-unstoppable empires known as MySpace, AOL, Yahoo…

Hughes speaks of a pattern of outrage, disappointment, and resignation when it comes to Facebook's responses to public and political outcry. Let me suggest another feedback triptych. Not long ago, I interviewed Arthur Brooks, the outgoing president of the American Enterprise Institute and author of the recent book Love Your Enemies. He notes that with new technologies, including social media, society tends to go through three emotional stages. First is the utopian stage, when we're all jazzed up about the possibilities of a new innovation that promises to greatly improve some aspect of our lives. Next comes the dystopian phase, when we attribute all our ills to the new thing—TV, or the Web, or social media. Finally comes the moment when we put the technology in its proper place and begin to use it appropriately in our lives, assuming the thing is worth keeping around. When it comes to social media, which has a mass thing for only a little more than a decade, we're clearly in the second phase and almost certainly heading into the third, as we all tire a bit of these sites' demands on our attention. Facebook, like so many other things before it, has indeed changed our world, but in profound ways it has also disappointed us.

Our relationship to it—whatever it becomes—will almost certainly always be ambivalent, just as relationships to cell phones, TV, and cars are. But that basic reality is obscured when we cast Mark Zuckerberg as the most powerful man on the planet and his company a Death Star that threatens our future.

NEXT: How to Lose a Case Against an Empty Chair

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Mark Zuckerberg’s evolution from hoodie-wearing tech nerd to Bond-level supervillain has been nothing short of amazing.

    He was and is neither.

  2. The correct libertarian, AND conservative, response to the perceived bias against conservatives on Facebook and Twitter is to start a conservative version of Facebook and Twitter. Calling for government to get involved is no different from, say, leftist calls to get government to limit corporate political donations.

    1. How would anyone find out about this competitor, unless they posted about it on Facebook? Apparently you can’t post about minds.com, the competitive flavor of the month…

      1. As if not being able to advertise competitors is a new thing? Should HBO be forced to run commercials for Showtime? As if Facebook were the only way to get the news out about something? There are so many ways to spread the word about something, your comment being a perfect example.

        1. You do know about the ad networks extend beyond Facebook right?

    2. The correct libertarian, AND conservative, response to the perceived bias against conservatives on Facebook and Twitter is to start a conservative version of Facebook and Twitter.

      The problem is that the issue is being falsely framed as just conservative and you’re agreeing with it. It’s not at all difficult to find liberals, libertarians, and centrists bemoaning this same issue and flocking away from FB, Google, and YT.

      Section 230 combined with a lack of enforcement of TOS means that FB (YT, Google, etc.) can effectively reach into its grab-bag of user contributed words, put together any statement it likes, and then say they didn’t generate and therefore aren’t responsible for what was said. Moreover, this “I didn’t say it, I just generated the conditions to make it impossible to avoid it being said.” reaches well beyond speech and their online content. Twitter will ban users for FB content. Google will fire employees for memos that don’t violate any policies while protecting other employees who, in violation of company policy, leaked internal information to the media. Google, Amazon, Paypal, etc. will ban, demonetize, and refuse payment services for disfavored content generated outside their platform(s).

    3. The correct libertarian response is to remove the civil protections these companies enjoy. Why you enjoy favored entities belies your true beliefs.

    4. Unfortunately the utopian vision of libertarianism is just like the utopian vision of any other political ideology, be it socialism, democracy, “benevolent dictatorship”,etc. That is, because of human corruption, greed and self-interest, these utopian visions are always corrupted into something much less palatable, just, fair and benevolent.

      For the two cases you mention, free enterprise capitalism for Facebook, and freedom of speech/expression for wealthy corporations (and individuals or groups of individuals), these libertarian ideals have been corrupted by those who have taken unjust advantage of them, thus subverting the purpose of libertarianism itself.

      Facebook is not just a monopoly, it is a government-supported monopoly. It exists because the technology for such social media transactions was taken from Leader Technologies by individuals in government and given/sold to pubic figures in exchange for stock and for the ability to use the private information collected by Facebook and other social media to further surveil the American citizenry. This is the antithesis of libertarianism, and libertarians should not support it. Libertarianism has always been about prioritizing liberties when they conflict.

      As for freedom of expression, we all agree that some types of expression should be limited or even prohibited when they directly conflict with or destroy higher freedoms. We prohibit screaming “fire” in a public theater because doing so has the potential to do great harm to the well-being and freedoms of many others in the theater. As such, why should libertarians support a policy which enables some citizens, individually or as corporations/unions, etc., to project enormously more power and influence in the very process of governance that affects the freedoms and liberties of us all?

      Money has utterly corrupted the US government as politicians have become totally dependent upon contributions. In turn, they become beholden to those contributors and often make decisions contrary to the well-being of the rest of the citizens, as well as citizens of other nations. In particular, why should libertarians support a concept or policy which gives arms manufacturers the ability to ensure incessant wars through their monetary contributions to corrupted politicians who have become dependent upon them for their election? Again, it is antithesis to the values of libertarians. It has changed this once great Constitutional republic into a quasi-oligarchy. No doubt, those with lots of money love us for our blind, uncritical devotion to the freedom of expression, even though it undermines our very principles. Because of it, millions of non-combatant men, women and children have been killed and will continue to be killed because the wealthy are allowed to express their views to a much greater extent than the average citizen. That was not the intent of the Founders and should not be the policy of libertarians. Conflicting liberties must always be prioritized for the greatest amount of freedom.

      1. Unfortunately the utopian vision of libertarianism is just like the utopian vision of any other political ideology, be it socialism, democracy, “benevolent dictatorship”,etc. That is, because of human corruption, greed and self-interest, these utopian visions are always corrupted into something much less palatable, just, fair and benevolent.
        Can’t agree more. The goal should be a to create institutions that are resistant to human corruption….which, imo, requires diluting power among the citizenry as much as possible. Also agree that money has completely corrupted our political system. The whole system is corrupt at the base but people are fooled to think they have a choice at the top. Not sure what you are advocating in terms of Facebook, but if people are stupid enough to voluntarily give political/personal information to the public (which is what it is) then you can hardly blame what happens with it on the loudspeaker you just belched into. At it’s core, Facebook is nothing more than glorified public email. It’s a fad. It will have it’s day. Regulating a fad is a terrible idea.

      2. Penrose21
        May.9.2019 at 6:58 pm
        “Unfortunately the utopian vision of libertarianism is just like the utopian vision of any other political ideology, be it socialism, democracy, “benevolent dictatorship”,etc. That is, because of human corruption, greed and self-interest, …”
        Bull
        .
        .
        .
        .
        .
        shit.

    5. It would have to be started and run by someone who is already rich because so far Face Book has bought out many of it’s competitors including Instagram. Perhaps we should ask Trump to set up a competitor and ask him to persuade all conservatives to abandon Facebook and You Tube. Even better, if he sets up a Twitter alternative and stops posting on Twitter completely. He does not even have to be heavily involved. He could set up a trust who could do all the heavy lifting just so long as Zuckerberg cannot buy out any of these new alternatives because they will be privately owned by Trump. God know, Facebook and You Tube needs some serious competition. Social media which will not ban a user for their political leanings. Total free speech zones where you are allowed to exercise you first amendment rights.
      I wonder if anyone has ever suggested this to Trump before.

  3. “…Ever since Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election—an outcome her partisans routinely dump squarely at Facebook’s feet…”

    When they’re not screaming “RUSSKIES!!!”.
    Look at that tiresome whine-fest in congress, for pete’s sake.
    The lost and they refuse to grow up and accept it.

    1. Do you mean for Mayor Pete’s sake?

  4. “…Hughes proposes “a new agency, empowered by Congress to regulate tech companies,” that would protect “privacy,”…”

    Yeah, the government is good at protecting privacy. In fact, I think we could call the agency the “NSA”, right?
    This guy is trying to make Tony look smart.

    1. “This guy is trying to make Tony look smart.”

      MICHAEL HIHN DOES A VERY GOOD JOB OF DOING THE IMPOSSIBLE

    2. Yeah, the government is good at protecting privacy.

      This is really what gets me about the “regulate FB” crowd. Do they not think that the same “deep state” against which they rail on an hourly basis will use their newfound regulatory authority to make matters even worse (like preventing any competition)?

  5. It’s amazing how many problems are created by government, how many could be solved by government just getting out of the way, and how many people can’t seem to connect the two simple thoughts and always want the government to fix the things it broke by doing more of the same.

  6. It reads like an early 20th-century confession about masturbating, for god’s sake.

    I’ve never been on Facebook and never been tempted to get on Facebook but I must admit you’ve now piqued my interest.

  7. Conservative Republicans and liberal/progressive Democrats openly talk about breaking it up into smaller companies or regulating it as a public utility or broadcast network.

    That’s several pretty bad conflations rolled into one big false equivalence.

  8. The republicans want to eliminate the liberal social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. because these Big Tech giants censor conservative speech.
    Bad idea.
    If the republicans should start their own social network instead.
    This way, they won’t have anything to whine about.

    1. The republicans want to eliminate the liberal social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. because these Big Tech giants censor conservative speech.
      Bad idea.
      If the republicans should start their own social network instead.
      This way, they won’t have anything to whine about.

      This is a misrepresentation. First, there are lots of conservative sites that vie for Facebook’s attention, especially if you ascribe the Alt-Right as conservative. Second, the more pressing issue is that it’s not only Republicans bemoaning this and the effect is creeping. Lots of exceedingly centrist and liberty-minded individuals as well as republicans note this about FB, Google, etc. and *have* started their own projects, or tried (e.g. minds.com, brave, etc.). Third, they don’t have a problem with these tech giants censoring speech per se. The issue is that these tech giants are simultaneously shielded from responsibility for their speech *and* curating their content to make sure that only certain speech gets allowed. This latter issue is exceedingly pragmatic and should be something all but the most idiotic of post-modern or pie-in-the-sky civil libertarians should get behind.

      If you can’t hold people or organizations accountable for explicit and direct threats of violence then the 1A (not to mention the other 9, as well as the written word in general) is a bit of a moot point. Less dramatically; at what point does a media company become a political advertising company or plain old bought-and-paid advertising/propaganda machine?

      1. “The issue is that these tech giants are simultaneously shielded from responsibility for their speech *and* curating their content to make sure that only certain speech gets allowed”

        User-posted content is not Facebook’s speech. No one would argue that what people post on my 100-member niche vBulletin message board is *my* speech, or that I shouldn’t be able to ban people at my own discretion. Suddenly this basic logic goes out the window because facebook is Too Big.

        1. User-posted content is not Facebook’s speech.

          You’re misunderstanding or misrepresenting the issue to a degree. If you say to me “I absolutely would not murder someone.” and I quote you as saying “I absolutely would murder someone.” I’m not exactly responsible for the content but I am committing a fraud for which I should be culpable. Moreover, if I say I don’t tolerate or wouldn’t propagate violent speech and then ban you for (not) saying “I absolutely would murder someone.” and then allow Louis Farrakhan to say “We should eradicate the Jews, by force is necessary.” I’m abusing the privileges granted in section 230.

          No one would argue that what people post on my 100-member niche vBulletin message board is *my* speech, or that I shouldn’t be able to ban people at my own discretion.

          If no one would argue that then section 230 is redundant and can safely be eliminated.

          1. “I’m abusing the privileges granted in section 230”

            According to who? Let me guess, the government? How about people can run their websites however they want, and if people don’t like it they can go somewhere else? This is a libertarian website right?

            “If no one would argue that then section 230 is redundant and can safely be eliminated.”

            You are making that very argument with regard to Facebook.

            1. According to who? Let me guess, the government?

              A jury of our peers like a normal civil case. Read 230 as it is. The decision is already being made by the government and Facebook. Like NN, section 230 is a regulation that made sense if you assume the government protects free speech, but if you assume the government has no such interest, it’s a special iteration of the 1A that, somehow, only magically applies to the internet because electrons but not radio waves. You said, “I would not murder someone.” if I quote you as saying “Magnitogorsk said he would murder someone.” I’ve quite arguably committed fraud and/or libel and should be accountable to you and/or a jury of peers. Section 230 says that as good Samaritans (paradoxically) acting in good faith (as defined by legislators), such edits are prejudicially beyond civil reproach or redress.

              How about people can run their websites however they want, and if people don’t like it they can go somewhere else?

              You can still run your website however you want, the same way you can run a newspaper however you want or say whatever you want to say over the radio or in public. This has been the case since the 1A was penned and, again, we don’t need a section 230 making special exceptions.

              You are making that very argument with regard to Facebook.

              So someone *would* make that argument and your position, as policy and without evidence, is that Facebook as long as they claim to be acting in good faith, is doing so and should be shielded from civil liability.

              Of course, underlying your mistaken belief is the fact that if Facebook could or did mislead a bunch of people or act in bad faith, you (and Congress) wouldn’t just have effectively infringed on someone’s right to free speech you would ensure that these low-level infringements pile up, invisibly until it was an issue that no one except Congress could solve.

              We didn’t need section 230 to begin with. The 1A was sufficient. The 1A *and* 230 creates a grey area where Congress cannot infringe the 1A except in the grey area where Facebook acts in legislators’ estimation of good faith.

          2. This is exactly the point. Facebook and You Tube are selectively applying their own rules to some whilst ignoring the same infraction of their rules by others. This bias nearly always works against those of a politically right leaning persuasion. Louise Farakhan and Antifa are both examples of this. Farakhan has been spouting hate speech and racism for years and has only recently been banned.
            Facebook and You Tube are now banning ‘conspiracy theorists and yet still allow Rachel Madow videos spouting about Trump/Russia collusion when several investigations have cleared him of such.
            As stated, rules are not being applied across all users equally. I have no actual solutions except social media needs some serious competition, but it is clear that this situation cannot continue.

        2. User generated content is held via contractual terms from the ToS. A user can not currently use for loss of revenue or content creation, nor for loss of reach or viewership, for Facebook violating their side of the TOS. Allowing these entities to use civilly to recoup damages should be the treatment for these companies gross violations.

      2. It is noteworthy that section 203 *allows* for a platform to moderate however it wants, including for viewpoints. If Facebook wants to moderate against conservative voices, that is their right if they consider it “objectionable”. It is only if Facebook employees produce the content themselves (not by moderating, but by writing it) that they lose 203 protection.

        That said, much of what made Facebook “great” was its reputation as a neutral platform. If they were to get a reputation for being a liberals-only club, you would likely see them lose market share.

        The problem we have today is that the government is near to regulating them. If you look at their response to the “Break Up” article, they specifically say (paraphrasing) “The way to fix things is to work with us to change the rules of what is allowed on the internet”.

        THAT is scary. No one should want Facebook helping write the rules of the internet, as that is the best way to ensure that they will survive any market changes.

        1. It is noteworthy that section 203 *allows* for a platform to moderate however it wants, including for viewpoints.

          Again this is a bit misleading. Depending on what part you’re talking about, it allows for it under the auspices of a ‘Good Samaritan’. Which is ironic considering that, in the parable, the Samaritans hated the Jews but the Samaritan helped the traveler anyway.

          IANAL, but the simultaneous, across-the-board deplatforming of Alex Jones was not a ‘Good Samaritan’ moderation.

          1. IANAL, but the simultaneous, across-the-board deplatforming of Alex Jones was not a ‘Good Samaritan’ moderation.

            No, check the am links that were posted yesterday (5.9.2019). There was a link to the discussion there. They can only be held responsible for content they produce- and can moderate however they want. If there were a “Liberal Headbook for liberals only” of “ConservoSpace for conservatives only” they would be perfectly in their rights to moderate for any content they found objectionable, including banning people they felt did not meet the standards (ideological or otherwise) to post on their platform.

            The “203 requires neutrality and fairness” meme is completely wrong.

            1. They are still on violation for moderating against their published terms of use, which is what is happening more often than not. Likewise the arbitrary application of the rules can be considered a targeted harm and should not be exempted to tort by these protections.

            2. The “203 requires neutrality and fairness” meme is completely wrong.

              First, it’s 230. Second, it explicitly says “good faith” and “good Samaritan”. Third, I don’t need a link here’s the letter of the law:

              (2) Civil liabilityNo provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—
              (A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected;

              The above is in direct conflict with:

              Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

              Congress cannot dictate, a priori, what consitutes an individual’s protected free speech and, moreover, cannot dictate the protection or failure to protect to a private entity.

              This all stems from the retarded idea that the internet was a communication medium unlike any other. That, prior to it, people were somehow unable to share and communicate around the globe collaboratively prior to it. Which was untrue since the days of Marconi. It neither deserved nor needed special protection beyond the standard protection of information transfer that already existed and a big part of what made it special was the fact that the government treated and continues to treat it specially.

        2. That said, much of what made Facebook “great” was its reputation as a neutral platform.

          Also, it was never neutral. It started out exclusive to the Harvard student body.

    2. Except then they’ll ban everyone who joins the new network from banking or shopping or what not.

      1. And they’ll do so for distinctly conservative views like “Women perform better in all women environments.”, “A baby born with a penis is a boy.”, and visibly discharging a firearm.

  9. The worst monopolies are the hospital groups. Very often there is no alternative at all for a large region. Hospital groups continue to swallow each other claiming “better patient care”. What they really mean is “higher profits for administrators”.

    1. The worst monopoly is the government. They hold periodic elections to decide who runs it, but they don’t let Democrats or Republicans (or Libertarians, socialists, or Greens) join the government of their own choosing.

      1. The worst monopoly is the star wars edition.

    2. “The worst monopolies are the hospital groups. Very often there is no alternative at all for a large region. Hospital groups continue to swallow each other claiming “better patient care”. What they really mean is “higher profits for administrators”.”

      First, they are no monopolies; quit making up new definitions to suit your idiocy.
      Secondly, in most cases, they have no real choice it they want to stay in business. O-care alone pushed the frictional admin costs to heights which pretty much foreclosed any ‘independent’ medical care operation.
      Don’t bother griping at those running a business for finding a way to stay profitable when the government keeps trying to make it otherwise.

  10. Facebook has no power if you’ve never signed up and never go there.

    1. This is not entirely true. Some organizations/clubs/businesses post updates to their members solely through Facebook groups.

      1. So? Don’t join those clubs or patronize those businesses.

        Facebook use is 100% fucking voluntary.

        And Facebook is 99% trivial. Giving it up is not exactly a hardship.

        1. If anybody you know that has your phone number and/or e-mail address also has a Facebook account, Facebook has a file on you. And if, as I strongly suspect, Facebook and Google share data – Google has your IP address and your browsing history and now so does Facebook.

          My niece and my neighbor and my customers may have volunteered to sign up for Facebook but when Facebook scraped their contacts and noted that the three people named “Uncle Jerry” and “Neighbor Jerry” and “Jerry’s Lawncare” all had the same phone number, I didn’t volunteer that information. It’s like a pointillist painting – a thousand discrete dots of information can build up a pretty precise portrait.

        2. Entities spend tens of thousands of dollars curating content and profiles on Facebook. If that entity loses out on the goods promised by FB by their terms of service in a manner deemed arbitrary, the company is harmed.

      2. “This is not entirely true. Some organizations/clubs/businesses post updates to their members solely through Facebook groups.”

        So what?
        Yes, it is entirely true.

    2. this. haven’t and don’t.

    3. Facebook has no power if you’ve never signed up and never go there.

      That totally explains why I’ve never signed up for Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg is testifying in front of congress begging lawmakers to regulate his competition him.

    4. Facebook has used many documented predatory tactics to dismantle or take over competitors. I doubt those people would say Facebook has no power.

  11. They’re a publisher, regulate them, break them up, or just tax their digital revenues until they cry Uncle.

    1. AD-RtR/OS!
      May.9.2019 at 5:19 pm
      “They’re a publisher, regulate them, break them up, or just tax their digital revenues until they cry Uncle.”
      Fuck off, slaver

  12. I agree. Dont break them up. Remove their cool liability exemptions instead.

  13. “For Hughes, “just breaking up Facebook is not enough.” Hughes proposes “a new agency, empowered by Congress to regulate tech companies,” that would protect “privacy,” ensure “basic interoperability” across platforms, and—wait for it—”create guidelines for acceptable speech on social media.” “

    The same government that oversees the postal service? The same legislators who want to play with our First Amendment rights and call it “net neutrality”? Fuck that noise.

    The interesting thing to me is that these people are looking for the government to fix Facebook even as Facebook itself is reeling from the pressure of market forces. The argument for antitrust would make more sense if Facebook were thriving due to a lack of competition. In fact, the opposite is happening.

    Over the past year, Facebook has traded from a high of about $210 a share to a low of about $125 a share. Do the math, and that means that at one point this year, the market shave 40% off of Facebook’s value.

    Users are spending hours less on the platform than they have in years past, especially the younger demographic that advertisers will pay a premium to reach. Meanwhile, advertisers keep pulling back from social media for fear of their brands being associated with controversial content created by users that Facebook can’t really control.

    In short, Facebook may be seeking rent–through regulation! . . . but if their stock has lost at 40% of its value, at one point, over the course of the last year because their future prospects for growth were so bleak, then they sure as hell aren’t enjoying the benefits of being a trust.

    Facebook is in transition, reacting to market realities and changing preferences of uses, advertisers, et. al. It isn’t clear that they won’t go the way of MySpace before this is over. Personally, I’ve got my friends and family using Slack for Facebook stuff, which has been great. Google, Amazon, and up and comers like Roku can even go head to head with them over targeted advertising. What does Facebook offer that doesn’t have sufficient competition?

    1. Think of the weird shitty argument that needs to be made break up Facebook from an antitrust perspective.

      Is the problem that they charge too much for using their service because they lack competition?

      1) Users don’t generally pay anything. Almost all of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising.

      2) The advertisers have plenty of other targeted advertisers to choose from, with Amazon, Google, Roku, and others being examples.

      By what definition is antitrust a justification to break up any of that?

      1. It comes from selling customer information. Wee recent stories on Facebook illegally tracking users off their site.

        1. That isn’t about antitrust.

          That has nothing to do with competition.

          That’s what the courts are for.

          That is not what legislators or the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division is for.

          Did someone commit criminal fraud, theft, etc? Well, then law enforcement needs to have those individuals indicted.

          The solution to that is not to break up Facebook.

  14. “I personally think Facebook and other platforms have made a major mistake by taking on the Sisyphean task of moderating content beyond very basic decisions limited to obviously criminal speech. But that is Facebook’s mistake to make. The only thing worse than Zuckerberg in his spider hole making those decisions is granting any government that authority.” I agree. I understand that Paul Joseph Watson intends to take legal action based on being labelled as “Dangerous” (shades of Jesus Christ, Superstar!) sans supporting evidence on the world stage is defamatory. That’s the best recourse…

  15. The author says “Every platform will make these decisions differently.” But that is not so when the platforms are concentrated in one enormous entity that makes decisions for all of them. At some point the practice of buying up one’s competitors in the communications sector has to be limited.

    1. skeptic
      May.9.2019 at 11:49 pm
      “The author says “Every platform will make these decisions differently.” But that is not so when the platforms are concentrated in one enormous entity that makes decisions for all of them.”

      Aw, did your mommy tell you the world was against you? That it wasn’t fair that you are a loser? Is that your problem, loser? How sad.
      For someone claiming to be a ‘skeptic’, that is an answer worthy of the worst sort of lefty whiner.
      So, regardless of the claimed allegiance, I’m guessing we have a scumbag lefty hoping for sympathy by claiming a false flag.
      Right, scumbag lefty?

    2. This also applies to individual platforms acting like a conglomerate and collectively deciding to ban individuals across all platforms especially when that person has not actually broken any of the terms and conditions on any of them.
      It is also beyond the pale when financial organisations like Paypal decide unilaterally to withhold payments to individuals because they don’t like the political leanings of that person. This is theft in every sense of the word and it needs to stop. This ‘de-personing’ is being steered by far leftist organisation who themselves have far from clean histories such as the ADF.
      They petition social media sites such as Facebook and Google and Paypal and on their bias advise literally destroy a person’s livelihood without any serious avenue of recourse or appeal. The main question is, why are social media companies using these leftist organisations to police their platforms.
      If anything, the government should set up an independent body to make determinations before someone has their livelihoods destroyed. There should be a standard appeals process and a warning system put in place by this body so the person gets a warning and the post or video is removed. This ‘policing’ cannot be left to these platforms or any other bias organisations.

  16. I’ve never had an account and have somehow managed to live a normal satisfying life. People know I’m not on and, as a result will email me anything they wish to share.

    1. I’ve never had an account and have somehow managed to live a normal satisfying life. People know I’m not on and, as a result will email me anything they wish to share.

      Personally managed email or email curated by Google?

  17. ” Zuckerberg’s evolution from hoodie-wearing tech nerd to Bond-level supervillain has been nothing short of amazing. ”

    What evolution , Nick?

    He’s the same asshole who stole the originalFacebook IP from its inventors, the Winkelvoss brothers, witness the 65 million dollar judgement they won against him for the ripoff.

  18. Hello I am from USA ,I am out here to spread this good news to the entire world on how I got my ex lover back.I was going crazy when my love left me for another girl last month, But when i meet a friend that introduce me to (Robinson.buckler@ yahoo. c o m ) the great messenger to the oracle that he serve,I narrated my problem to Robinson.buckler about how my ex lover left me and also how i needed to get a job in a very big company.He only said to me that i have come to the right place were i will be getting my heart desire without any side effect.He told me what i need to do,After it was been done,In the next 2 days,My ex lover called me on the phone and was saying sorry for living me before now and also in the next one week after my ex lover called me to be pleading for forgiveness,I was called for interview in my desired company were i needed to work as the managing director..I am so happy and overwhelmed that i have to tell this to the entire world to contact Robinson.buckler at the following email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct on:… ……

  19. […] Instead of taking it upon themselves to police more than true threats and instead of calling for government regulation of expression, Facebook and other social media services would treat their platforms as free-speech zones and […]

  20. […] be necessary. Instead of taking it upon themselves to police more than true threats and instead of calling for government regulation of expression, Facebook and other social media services would treat their platforms as free-speech zones and […]

  21. […] be necessary. Instead of taking it upon themselves to police more than true threats and instead of calling for government regulation of expression, Facebook and other social media services would treat their platforms as free-speech zones and […]

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.