Antitrust

Will Antitrust Action Against Big Tech Resolve Anything?

Being a big company is not a crime. What problem are we trying to fix?

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Well, it was bound to happen eventually. After near three years of all-out rhetorical war against tech giants, for politically-shifting sins including bigness, too much censorship, not enough censorship, data hoarding, and being too irresistible, policymakers are ready to move beyond cheap talk and start slapping wrists—or more.

Specifically, regulators and Congress recently announced new antitrust scrutiny against Silicon Valley. The House Judiciary Committee cheerfully launched a "bipartisan investigation into competition into digital markets." Nothing can bring us all together these days quite like hating the online services we use most. No particular firms have been named, but we can expect the usual suspects are due for a thrashing.

Regulators, on the other hand, are dividing and conquering. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sliced up the pig, with DOJ taking on Google and Apple, and the FTC going after Facebook and Amazon. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google and Facebook are the real targets, for now.

Tech companies knew this was coming. How could they not? Presidential hopefuls compete over who wants to break up tech giants the most. New books like The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age by superstar law professor (and father of "net neutrality") Tim Wu warn that lax antitrust enforcement could spawn a new Nazism (really). In February, the FTC set up an antitrust taskforce for the sole purpose of preparing actions against the big guys. It was always a question of when, not if.

Bigness is badness in the minds of most people. But in terms of U.S. law at least, being big is not a crime.

Rather, as an essay by my Mercatus colleagues Adam Thierer and Jennifer Huddleston points out, American antitrust is only intended to be used when "a firm has the ability to monopolize a sector, or it possesses an 'essential facility' that cannot be replicated."

Laws like the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Act give agencies substantial powers to clamp down on monopolies. So antitrust enforcers have developed a robust jurisprudence on what is and is not kosher. Some things, like price fixing, are so "inherently harmful" that they are always illegal.

But in general, the U.S. antitrust approach places the consumer at the center of the analysis. We don't punish businesses because they have been exceptional at meeting consumer demand. Rather, the government steps in if a business engages in anti-competitive activities that harm customers, like obliterating the competition with low prices before jacking them up on consumers that have no other option—classic monopolistic behavior.

Doesn't that just make sense? Consider the alternative. The government could break up or limit any firm that is simply a great competitor. Consumers are actually served well by this giant. But their competitors of course will grumble for their nemesis to be taken down a few pegs.

In this conception of antitrust, the government essentially protects the bottom lines of competitors who can't keep up. Before U.S. courts settled on the economics-grounded consumer welfare standard that has guided U.S. antitrust for decades, trust-busting activities were often little more than handouts to interest groups.

Not only would court cases counterintuitively seek to keep prices high, to the detriment of consumers, judges worked a host of non-antitrust hobbyhorses into their decisions. Maybe one judge had a particular fondness for "social equality." The antitrust decisions he handed down might have aimed for that totally unrelated, arguably impossible outcome.

The European approach to antitrust is more like the muddled U.S. approach before it settled on the consumer welfare standard. Some in the U.S. would like our antitrust posture to be more like Europe's, but at least for now, it is limited to the scribblings of theorists in the land of the free.

With that crash course in antitrust theory under our belt, we can now ask: What will the U.S. do about Facebook and Google?

Some people would like to see the companies broken up. They propose surgical cuts: Facebook must relinquish WhatsApp and Instagram, while parent company Alphabet could spin off feeder products from advertising-funded search.

On what grounds? We know that bigness per se is no crime. Are these companies "essential facilities" that left fewer, more expensive options for consumers?

The problem is that many of these companies' products cost us nothing, at least in terms of dollars. It doesn't look like Facebook or Google have been lowering product quality, either. In general, there's a lot of competition when it comes to social media platforms and search, even if people choose not to use them very much.

Online platforms like Facebook and Google are tricky when it comes to antitrust because they essentially serve two markets: users and advertisers.

When it comes to users, there are plenty of alternatives. Advertisers, too have plenty of alternatives: they can buy spots on television, the radio, billboards, in newspapers, and even via costumed sign-waver on the side of the road.

But for online ads, there are basically two games in town: Facebook and Google. My colleague Brent Skorup pointed out to me that recent precedent could indicate that the courts will consider "the ad market and the social media market as components of a single relevant market." If so, Facebook and Google could be looking at serious antitrust enforcement.

But will this brouhaha end up being irrelevant?

Antitrust actions take a long time, and by the time a remedy—good or bad—is chosen, the market may have already moved on. This is particularly the case in a fast-moving space like tech. Consider the drawn-out cases against IBM and Microsoft. On the other side of the decades-long court cases, the issues that so vexed regulators had long ago become moot. What were the costs to consumers and innovation in the process?

The problem is that regulators have a static mindset. They see a slice of a market in time, deem one actor too powerful, and seek to artificially create "more competition" to freeze this market in time. But that's not how markets progress. As venture capitalist Benedict Evans points out, "Tech anti-trust too often wants to insert a competitor to the winning monopolist, when it's too late. Meanwhile, the monopolist is made irrelevant by something that comes from totally outside the entire conversation and owes nothing to any anti-trust interventions."

In the meantime, antitrust actions are often wasteful, distracting, and can limit consumer choice. We still don't how this new round of trust-busting will shake out. But it's a good chance that by the time we're on the other side, a new class of unassailable giants will have cropped up without regulators noticing. And then we can start the theatrics all over again.

This column has been updated to correct Tim Wu's occupation.

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64 responses to “Will Antitrust Action Against Big Tech Resolve Anything?

  1. Yeah, I see two important questions here:

    1) What are problem are you trying to solve?

    2) What solution are you proposing?

    We may well end up with a situation where both conservatives and progressives believe that something needs to be done about Facebook and Google, and Elizabeth Warren’s solution prevails–where racists, sexists, homophobes, and others are banished from social media forever. Many conservatives understand this kind of bait and switch with global warming so well, they’re reluctant to admit there’s a problem for fear of what the left will do under the pretense of solving the problem. I’ve seen people on the left who were reluctant to admit that WMD was used against civilians in Syria for fear that necons might use it as a pretext for an invasion. Why can’t we seem to get through to either side that the government’s solution to Facebook and Google’s problems may be worse than the problem itself?

    1. I saw a Twitter thread recently where some Trump supporter who runs a website or something was talking about how many of his nationalist friends would be on board with Elizabeth Warren if she were “good” on immigration. It’s funny, isn’t it? The same people who (correctly) condemn the David Frenches of the world for being too trusting of the left are the same people who will gladly partner with them if they get to keep their Twitter accounts.

      1. Cause Twitter is full of true accounts and would never fabricate talking points.

      2. The “alt-right” and the hard left are not so far apart on certain issues.

        1. ctrl-left, please.

          1. oh that’s funny. I like that. I’m stealing that.

    2. One Facebook and WhatsApp are separate… just imagine…the possibilities…

    3. Why can’t we seem to get through to either side that the government’s solution to Facebook and Google’s problems may be worse than the problem itself?

      There’s no mainstream voice, at least that I’m aware of, that is championing this idea. Both sides have always seemed to have voices on these types of issues. While they can’t usually agree on what should be done, they almost always agree that something must be done, and that something must come from government.

      You’re correct, the government’s solution to a real problem almost always has consequences that are bad. I can’t imagine how badly they’ll screw up a “solution” to a non-problem.

    4. Why can’t we seem to get through to either side that the government’s solution to Facebook and Google’s problems will much more likely than not be worse than the problem itself?

      FTFY

  2. I can’t be the only person who first read the byline as “Andrew Sullivan,” right?

    Anyway, the conservative clamoring for government intervention further underscores just how much the very people who (rightfully) scorn neoconservatives are willing to embrace leftist solutions when it suits their needs. That being said, libertarians should absolutely condemn censorship by the major social media platforms. They’re private companies, sure, but you’re allowed to condemn bad ideas regardless of who’s implementing them.

    Of course, many of these companies screwed themselves by taking positions on these sorts of issues. Had Facebook and Twitter stated that they were the equivalent of the major carriers, they wouldn’t have needed to start targeting people for offensive content. Of course, they could have always done the smart thing and told the left-wing mobs to fuck right off. But neither Zuckerberg nor Dorsey have the guts to cross those people.

    1. Since they don’t have the guts to tell the left-wing mobs to fuck off, they’ll have little to whine about getting fucked by the right wing after the 2020 elections.

    2. It is worth noting that the powers that be within Facebook and Twitter would not be too broken up if any solution to this non-problem were administered by the left. European style intervention in the market has always been about protecting state-sponsored enterprises and important vote blocks. Facebook, Twitter and Google will find themselves “Forced” to do the leftist censorship that they have been comfortable with for years.

    3. It’s not that they don’t have the guts to cross them… It’s that they’re on their side. And they don’t have the morals/principles to remain neutral out of principle.

    4. Treating Facebook, Twitter, et. al. as ‘carriers’ and to regulate them as utilities was the entire argument behind Net Neutrality.

      For the record breaking up monopolies is a good thing, as they are a threat to ‘the free market’ on their own

  3. I see three areas of legitimate concern:

    Problem 1: Zuckerberg owns only 30% of Facebook’s stock, but he control 60% of the voting shares.

    If Zuckerberg were subjected to the oversight of an independently elected Chairman, Facebook may have avoided crucial mistakes that, at various times over the past year, have cost their investors hundreds of billions. There was a stockholder proposal a couple of weeks ago to strip the Chairman of the Board title from Zuckerberg and split that role from the his duties as CEO, but because Zuckerberg owns 60% of the voting shares, he voted that proposal down.

    I would oppose the government just stripping Zuckerberg of his votes and redistributing them in line with the shares, but if the Justice Department were to offer Zuckerberg an opportunity to avoid antitrust prosecution if he did that himself voluntarily, then that might not be entirely awful. Subjecting Zuckerberg to independent oversight by a chairman elected by the shareholders is certainly better than subjecting Facebook to the discretion of the Justice Department under President Liz Warren.

    2) Facebook, YouTube, et. al. may be abusing their terms of service agreements.

    Long story short, if there is an item in a contract that says, “YouTube can change the terms of this contract at any time”, the courts generally ignore that statement–because if one party can change the terms of the contract at any time, then there is no enforceable contract.

    A content provider may have invested money, time, their brand name, etc. in your platform–which YouTube profited from. The reason the deplatformed content creator invested all that effort into your platform was because they expected to be able to profit from their investment under the terms of the original agreement. If you came along later and said, “Um . . . we’ve decided to demonetize everybody that’s making content about this, that, and the other thing”, then YouTube has effectively defrauded that content creator of their investment in YouTube’s platform, and that’s unacceptable.

    3) Collusion.

    When Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Patreon, PayPal, and others all deplatform some content creator–all at the same time–there may be some kind of collusion involved. My understanding is that the agreement not to host gun related ads is a full on agreement between some of these platforms. Since when is colluding to lock someone out considered appropriate in a free market? There are other weird things like this. Thiel may not be directly involved in PayPal anymore, but there he is sitting on Facebook’s Board of Directors. I want to know if these guys are sharing lists of content providers or discussing them and basically blackballing them. That needs to be investigated and exposed if it’s happening.

    1. I see three areas of legitimate concern

      Do you see a legitimate role for government in any of these areas beyond the investigations you’ve mentioned for collusion?

      If there is an abuse of terms of service contracts, that’s best handled in civil courts, which is one proper role of government. However, I don’t see any reason to slap on more regulations or to break up these companies based on contract disputes.

      Much like Fox News becoming a voice for the other side in the primary news media as the old media shifted hard to the left, you’ll see new internet content providers popping up to cater to platform political speech that is banned on Facebook and Twitter. And you’ll see the bottom lines on FB and Twitter suffer because of it. The free market and contract laws can regulate this much more effectively than additional actions from the government.

      1. And then the left-wing outrage mobs will pressure the credit card companies to not do business with those new internet content providers,s and your response will be to tell conservatives to start up their own billion-dollar credit card company,

        1. Leo’s point being; the government compelling credit card companies to offer services to people doesn’t fix the problem and creates some rather obvious new ones.

          Conservatives should start their own credit card company (credit unions blink in and out of existence almost daily) or accept the fact that their particular cause will effectively be government owned subsidized.

          1. Bake the cake would seem to be the operative paradigm. Discrimination/interference with the lawful right to commerce and contract being the violation.

      2. Do you see a legitimate role for government in any of these areas beyond the investigations you’ve mentioned for collusion?

        I don’t think Google, FB, YT, Patreon, PayPal, VISA/MC, etc. are quite there yet, but I do think there’s an issue with #3 and “company stores” or debt slavery where waiting for suits to be filed would both be too late and produce retaliatory adjudication if not legislation.

        I’m not all-knowing enough to propose any sort of reasonably defensible regulation (other than the repeal of Section 230) but it would be cool if web 3.0 (internet 6.0?) were more inherently competitive and adversarial rather than collusive.

      3. Where did Ken ask for regulations aside from an investigation into diluted voting shares? Are you just being contrarian to be so?

      4. “If there is an abuse of terms of service contracts, that’s best handled in civil courts”

        I’m with that . . . for the most part.

        There is something to be said for serial abusers who routinely violate their contracts in the same way under the assumption that few of them have the resources or time to sue. I suppose that’s why there are class action lawsuits, which again speaks to the point that the proper role of government in that issue is in the courts–not the Department of Justice, not the FTC, and not Congress.

        1. I suppose that’s why there are class action lawsuits, which again speaks to the point that the proper role of government in that issue is in the courts–not the Department of Justice, not the FTC, and not Congress.

          The only caveat I would add is that, and I’m projecting, a class action lawsuit with 500M-2B users represents a failure (active or *passive*) on the part of the DOJ, FTC, and Congress. I don’t think a summary judgement of 500M EULA violations is necessarily going to make the “Should Congress pursue anti-trust?” question go away.

          1. I don’t like the government interference, but to pretend it’s all pointless and likely bad is somewhat silly.

            Breaking up Bell was a massive net boon for customers. Just not having to rent a phone FOREVER was a terrific change that Bell would NEVER have done.

            Anti-trust isn’t always a bad thing.

            And the collusion thing regarding Alex Jones needs to be heavily investigated. It still reeks to hell but few cared because Alex Jones isn’t likeable. Ignoring that unlikeable is ALWAYS the first target.

            1. Bell was a problem created by the government. Its market dominance was completely a factor of its government mandated monopoly. Government wasn’t breaking up a bad market player, but rather fixing a mistake it had caused with its own policies. This is a totally different situation where companies have excelled based on meeting consumer needs and innovating important discoveries. They should not be punished for that.

              1. But how much did Section 230 benefit these companies? The government gave THEM tons of power and perks. And then they ignored the obligations for those perks…yet kept them.

                We need to correct the far-too-lax enforcement of regulations on them. Why should YouTube, who clearly makes editorial protections, get benefits in regards to slander that media companies, who ALSO make editorial decisions, do not?

                Either act like a phone provider or forego the perks.

        2. Civil courts are fine things.

          But conspiracy to defraud would mean criminal prosecution(s).

    2. but if the Justice Department were to offer Zuckerberg an opportunity to avoid antitrust prosecution if he did that himself voluntarily, then that might not be entirely awful.

      That sounds all full mafia to me. We suggest you buy our protection, for your own safety. Of course most things government does are mafia-esque but this really hit the nail.

      1. FWIW, something can be 50% awful without being entirely awful.

        Meanwhile, prosecutors negotiate with defendants and offer to let them plead guilty to a lesser sentence all the time. That process can be abusive, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily so. There’s a difference between asking someone to do something so you won’t prosecute them–if you really were planning to prosecute them. If Facebook would rather go in front of a court and fight an antitrust case, their rights are still supposed to be respected in court. If they choose to forgo court and the risk of a more egregious–but legal and Constitutional–penalty, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to do that.

        I’m not saying they should go after Zuckerberg for this reason alone. I’m saying that if they’re going after Zuckerberg and Facebook anyway, then offering Facebook this option wouldn’t be entirely awful. It might be the most libertarian outcome–short of doing nothing at all. And if doing nothing is already off the table, . . .

    3. If there is one place where government action would be appropriate, it would be by re-visiting the Sarbanes Oxley law, as well as the many rules put out by the SEC in its wake. These regulations make it significantly harder for burgeoning competitors to get capital because it makes it much harder for them to IPO.

      After SOX regulations were passed, the number of IPOs dropped dramatically, and it was only very large companies that could go public. The smaller companies instead sold out to the Facebooks and Googles, thus leading to their dominance in the market.

      1. This seems like a great argument to me.

  4. Trying to fox the flaunting of contract law and excess legal protections in exchange for being neutral to individual viewpoints.

    First, no libertarian should agree with the right of entities to change policies and contracts at whim, especially ex post facto.

    Second, libertarians should not agree with favored protections for various groups, especially when those groups flaunt bias against various groups.

    Lastly these behemoths get lots of funding of federal dollars. We agree that colleges should be viewpoint neutral to gain federal dollars, why not other entities that reap millions if not billions in federal funds?

  5. Hmmm… who to hate more: Silicon Valley, of Trump?

    1. Statists, always hate on Statists.

  6. […] meantime, check out Nick Gillespie on the question: “Are Google and YouTube evil?” and read Andrea O’Sullivan on what antitrust actions against them would […]

  7. The problem they’re trying to solve is the same problem they’re always trying to solve – people are demanding the government “do something” about a problem and so something must be done because those people are voters. Whether or not there actually is a problem or whether or not there is anything the government can do about the problem or whether or not the proposed solution has any chance of making things better rather than worse has nothing to do with it. Something must be done, this is something, therefore this must be done.

    1. The problem they’re trying to solve is the same problem posed by the invention of the printing press, the invention of the telegraph, the invention of the motion picture, and the invention of radio: namely, there is a means of communication and spreading ideas that the governments of the day do not yet control. And as we saw in response to each of these earlier inventions: that cannot be allowed.

      1. Except in this case a large printing press company bought up and squashed viable competitors and then started instituting biased use rules for all material printed, changing terms of services at a whim and reaping billions in government contracts while doing so.

        1. Are you sure you didn’t confuse whatever large printing press company you’re talking about with Ma Bell?

          1. Ma Bell didn’t try to blacklist certain people because of the content of their phone calls. His point pretty much stands.

  8. […] meantime, check out Nick Gillespie on the question: “Are Google and YouTube evil?” and read Andrea O’Sullivan on what antitrust actions against them would […]

  9. I can–and do–choose not to leak my personal information into the claws of predatory corporations by not participating in the farce that is social media.

    Sadly, I cannot opt out of participating in the farce that is the US Government.

    Which predatory organism is the more dangerous? And what happens to the rest of us if they team up to feast?

    1. That’s what you think. Unless you’re using VPNs and specialized browsers, Google, FB, and others know a TON about you.

      1. I’m a professional network engineer with a specialization in security. I’m pretty good on the not-leaking-metadata front. : )

  10. Will Antitrust Action Against Big Tech Resolve Anything?”

    NO it won’t solve anything, especially once the government makes regulations forcing all companies to act like they are presently acting

    1. “NO it won’t solve anything, especially once the government makes regulations forcing all companies to act like they are presently acting”

      But then they will be absolved of any litigation, since they will be ‘following regulations’.

  11. I’m 100% in favor of this, though I think they should do a little prioritizing. They really shouldn’t address google and facebook until they’ve dealt with AltaVista and MySpace.

    1. Can’t tell the difference between a company that was big for a couple years, and one that has been the dominant player in a market for 2 decades plus huh?

      1. I could have chosen other examples, but I was trying to have some correspondence between companies.

        I’ve been around enough to hear the monopoly band play many times, and usually by the time it has been addressed by our government it’s long past the point where it makes a difference.

        Usually when regulations are written to address a monopoly, it largely cements the monopoly in place and in return grants it some immunity from competition.

        I know you understand all this. I’m just trying to keep myself distracted while I finish off my daily goal on my treadmill.

        1. As I say below, what if a 20 or 40 year monopoly has the potential to do incredible damage? Should it be tolerated for half a lifetime because someday it may go broke? I think this is an important question people who take your angle don’t like to discuss.

  12. We know that the only action needed is to require specific opt in for each piece of data hoovered up by the tech companies. We also know that the federal government will never take that action.
    So we just opt out of social media and watch movies.

    1. Meh. I find most of this “information privacy” stuff with respect to “companies” to be ill thought out, or at least I will until the situation is symmetric and companies are allowed to require that individuals delete all information about that company.

      The point being: when two entities transact, either neither owns the information about that transaction… or they both do. Other than size, I can see no principle by which it belongs to one but not the other.

      So to your point: if you don’t want Facebook to know about your actions on Facebook, then don’t take any actions on Facebook. QED.

  13. Here is the exhaustive list of what anti-trust litigation has accomplished:
    1) Forced Alcoa, the only actual (non-government-sponsored monopoly of which I am familiar) to break up into several smaller companies, resulting in the immediate rise in the cost of aluminum.
    2) Caused a tremendous increase in the number of lobbyists employed by large companies.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9434BoGkNQ

  14. “Will Antitrust Action Against Big Tech Resolve Anything?”

    It will resolve a lot of money from the taxpayers’ pockets to a bunch of anti-trust lawyers pockets real quick.

  15. The plot thickens. This antitrust momentum comes at the exact time the shitstorm is hitting the fan in Hong Kong, with (only) 15% of Hong Kong’s population against the Beijing extradition legal push. Bloomberg front page, Google is moving more hardware production out of China. Read yesterday, Foxconn will do the same. Trump or coincidence, threat or concrete? Stay tuned.

  16. “What problem are we trying to fix?”

    Digital banishment.

    Should your cel phone company be listening in on your conversations and banning you for WrongThink?

    Should ISPs and internet backbones be banning your packets from the networks?

    “Muh free markets”

  17. So a couple things people usually don’t bring up in these discussions.

    People often talk about the time factor, like 100 years from now nobody will give a fuck about Google. That’s cool, and probably totally true. But here’s the thing: Google is not pets.com. It is obviously a massive and established player, and comparing them to Altavista or something is bullshit. As is comparing FB to Myspace.

    They’re waaaay past that point. At best one could assume they may go the Microsoft route, where they will remain massive and powerful businesses, but perhaps fade slightly in relative importance and in how shiny and appealing they are to talk about. But they’re not going anywhere soon, and will be insanely powerful for the foreseeable future.

    So back to the time thing. Let us assume they will go the way of MS, and 100 years from now they will be completely out of business. Cool. What if they maintain massive levels of control and power for the next 20 years, and routinely abuse this power for political ends?

    I think a lot of you morons REALLY don’t appreciate the power Google or FB has. Between them they probably have the power to flip most close elections in the world nowadays if they go all in. With the way they slant stuff, they may well decide who the next president of the United States is.

    Is that something you REALLY want to trust to obviously left leaning institutions?

    The fact is there is a difference between a monopoly in selling milk, or cars, or almost anything else, and controlling information flow. The MSM is every bit as guilty, but is more diffuse hence basically impossible to deal with via antitrust. If Ford owned 90% of the auto market it would be fundamentally less important than controlling information, and hence peoples very thoughts about anything and everything. Like it or not the interwebs is how people get info today most of the time.

    So if Google and FB flip a bunch of elections over the next couple election cycles before they theoretically slide into obscurity… Is that somehow preferable to simply breaking up some stupid companies that really don’t even contribute that much to the economy overall? If we end up with a socialist president in office that rams through national healthcare, doubles federal income taxes, eviscerates the 2nd amendment, etc is that WORTH IT simply to avoid using antitrust on maybe 2-4 massive companies?

    Or maybe not even antitrust, but simply requiring neutrality for a handful of companies by giving them a special status along the lines of common carriers?

    Keep in mind employment from tech is actually pathetically small, especially when one is talking about a couple particular companies and not the industry overall. Nobody wants to break up Pornhub or whatever! Hell, people don’t even really want to break up Apple or Amazon as the businesses they’re in don’t REALLY have the same knock on effects that Google/Youtube and FB do, and people can tell the difference, and don’t really get mad about Apple. So the economic effects will basically not even be felt.

    Even if they do fade eventually, is it really worth it to let them install socialists in office, when they would not be there if neutrality in information existed? I would bet my life that if big tech and the MSM weren’t so slanted Trump would have won the popular vote. But their propaganda game is so strong, and so one sided, that he didn’t given all the spin the use.

    Keep in mind, it isn’t just about Trump… What if in 2024 people have had enough of Rs and Ds 4 realz, and a Libertarian is truly making headway… And big tech and the MSM bury them HARD, even though they would have been competitive in a neutral information world.

    IMO, antitrust MAY be appropriate… But with respect to Google/YouTube and FB I would be happy with a law that simply stated: “No platform for hosting user generated content that has over 1 million users may censor any speech or other forms of communication that are lawful under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

    That’s all that’s really needed. It’s minimally invasive, and with filter options people could choose what things to block on their personal feed. It’s in line with the ideals of free speech… It gives them a way to tell the SJWs to stuff it, the law is the law… And if FB still doesn’t like free speech, they can fuck off.

    1. I’m really not sure how anyone thinks that ‘we should be fine with getting fucked over now because in a hundred years no one’s going to care’ is any kind of valid argument.

      1. It sounds good to them because it lets them keep fucking us.

      2. Right? It’s BS. Almost all human problems are technically limited in time, that doesn’t mean they don’t warrant a response.

        “Ahhh, these pesky Nazis will end up having a revolt someday and lose control of their new empire… Why not let them rule all of Europe and half of Africa?”

        That’s basically their argument

  18. There’s a different aspect to all this privacy stuff that really needs to be looked into.

    Creators on youtube are creating content for their subscribers, and for people who come looking for them. None of their stuff is available in a scattershot manner

    Users of facebook, twitter, Instagram, snapchat, and all the rest of the “chat” platforms are creating content for the people they follow and the people who follow them.

    All the audiences and creators are put together by the person consuming the media.

    There’s no danger of someone accidently seeing anything–even that idiot who claims he got sucked into the alt-right by social media had to CHOOSE what he was going to look at.

    We’re in a situation where nearly every single media stream is functionally an individual creation.

    The platforms don’t really have control, the government doesn’t really have control

    Even worse, a lot of the banned people can still be seen on their own sites.

    And that’s the real issue, just as it was when deregulation hit in the late 80’s.

    When The People(tm) have a choice, they don’t seem to choose what they’re told to choose as much.

    1. “The platforms don’t really have control”

      They don’t produce, but they do gate keep. That’s the control worth having. Let others do the tiresome work of actual production.

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