Reason Roundup

'Data Portability' Bill Would Risk User Privacy and Crush Social Media Startups

Plus: Court says scraping social media profiles is not hacking, and more...


ACCESS Act mandates "data portability" and social media platform interoperability. You've got to give it to Sen. Josh Hawley: at least he's consistent. Scarcely a month can go by these days without the Missouri Republican introducing some new, out of touch, detrimental tech policy. The latest—a "data portability" bill co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Mark Warner (Va.)—would burden social media businesses while leaving users more open to scams.

The basic idea behind their "Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act" is that it should be easier for social media users to move their personal data between platforms, and that as a result of this we would see greater competition in this realm. It's one of those ideas that doesn't seem terrible at first, but falls apart upon any examination.

Even if it were technically feasible, most of the market-dominant social media sites these days don't really lend themselves to simply transferring your profile or posts from one to to another. They're designed for different functions. They have different aesthetics. Not everyone you tagged or talked to on one is in the other.

In other words, nobody has been asking for a way to take all their tweets to Instagram.

What people tend to want is a way to easily download all of the content and communications they've put on a platform (something Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and most prominent social platforms already provide) and perhaps an easy way to transfer that to a very, very similar platform. Versions of the existing options without all of their bullshit.

We have seen a lot of these spring up and languish. But the downfall of these upstart competitors isn't because it's too hard to create a new account or because people can't easily populate these new accounts with all their old status updates, college photos, and pokes. It's that the new versions don't, and will never have, all the same networks and audiences one was used to on Facebook, Twitter, and their generation of social media. And so far, no one has built one demonstrably better enough than what they're imitating to convince people to make the switch in big enough numbers. In a way, there's no way they can without making some significant innovations.

TikTok currently provides a good counterargument to those who think there's no way any new social media can break in. Recent history is full of similar stories. But the key is that when new social apps do break through, it's by doing something different. At least different enough that being able to schlepp over your whole Facebook account will be of no use.

Beyond being pointless, however, the Blumenthal-Hawley-Warner bill could also be dangerous. Some tech policy folks warn that it making it quick and painless to transfer whole social media histories and profiles between platforms could make it much easier for scammers and harassers to impersonate people online. Making everything easily portable can conflict with user privacy (and, sometimes, government-imposed privacy rules).

Axios suggests that "allowing users to export their data—like friends lists and profile information—could give rival platforms a chance at competing with Facebook or Google's YouTube." But profile information on most social these days is barely a few bits of basic information; exporting your friend or follower lists only works if your friends or followers are also migrating with you and a lot of the big platforms already give you a way to sync your friend lists or contacts if you want.

One of the only significant effects of this legislation would be the mandate that all sorts of user-generated content platforms be interoperable in specific ways—a technological feat and extra cost that could actually inhibit the development of smaller competitors to what we have now.

Facebook, Google, Apple, and Twitter are already working on a data-sharing venture with each other. It's not "Big Tech" who will suffer most under data-portability mandates.

The new bill would also require big platforms—any with more than 100 million monthly users in the U.S.—to make their interfaces "interoperable."

Axios likens all of this to a 1996 law mandating "number portability":

requiring carriers to allow consumers to keep their phone numbers when switching to a new carrier. It is widely credited with promoting more competition between phone companies and allowing new entrants to compete on price and plan options.

Warner, who spent a large part of his career in the wireless industry, believes data is similar to phone numbers in making consumers feel locked in to a single platform.

Besides this being a technologically silly analogy—it's almost infinitely more complicated to make countless unrelated digital systems interoperable than is is to transfer one number between companies already assigning and reassigning this number all the time—it also ignores the fact that phone numbers started out non-duplicative.

Different people have the same account names at different digital venues all the time. How do you just let someone take their username with them if it already belongs to someone else, or maybe various people, across the internet? What kind of problems could trying to import this data create? Even something as simple as a username poses problems here that phone companies didn't have to grapple with.

"Your data is your property. Period. Consumers should have the flexibility to choose new online platforms without artificial barriers to entry," said Hawley in his statement.

One more time: Consumers can already can download their data from these platforms and do whatever they want with it, including use it to build a new profile elsewhere. They just can't demand that innumerable digital entities somehow find a way to let them take their Facebook profiles everywhere forever. What Hawley is talking about isn't you owning "your data," it's about forcing a vast array of services and platforms to comply with intense-to-impossible government demands—with very little foreseeable benefit to either internet users or tech platform competition.


NEXT: What 'Rights' Do We Have When We're Talking About Our Private Online Data?

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  1. Pres. Trump defends Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in Hillary Clinton spat: “She’s not a Russian agent.”

    He never sees her at the meetings.

    1. “You call that a Russian agent? That’s not a Russian agent. There now, that’s a Russian agent.”

      1. That’s a spoon.

        1. There is no spoon.

          1. Spork?

      2. That’s a chihuahua in a top hat.

    2. It would be beyond awesome if he added, “believe me I would know”.

      1. You win Reason for today.

    3. Reason is just pissed off that their article yesterday agreed with Trump.

      1. If that were true, why would ENB even have mentioned it in this morning’s roundup?

        1. Such a stupid logical assertion you make.

    4. Hello.

      I hate Canadians.

      1. Mencken was right. Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

      2. O Canada!
        Our home and native land!
        True patriot love in all of us command.
        With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
        The True North strong and free!
        From far and wide,
        O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
        God keep our land glorious and free!
        O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
        O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

  2. The American Civil Liberties Union Minnesota is suing to restore voting rights for felons.

    Be careful. They might then vote themselves Second Amendment protections.

    1. As a Michael Hihn-style libertarian, I’m perfectly consistent here. Felons should not be able to own deadly assault weapons, but neither should non-felons.


  3. TikTok currently provides a good counterargument to those who think there’s no way any new social media can break in.

    TikTok operates at a loss and doesn’t even have advertising yet you unimaginably ignorant cunt.

    1. Then there is Gab, which is routinely slandered as “extreme right” for the crime of actually allowing free speech on its platform and has been things to the monopolistic practices of big tech deprived of a reliable platform on which to operate.

      But hey, just go build your own Twitter or Facebook if you don’t like them. It is just so easy.

      1. Still easier then getting legislation that actually does what it says it will do without all the unintended consequences.

        1. Then I guess we are screwed. If that is true, then it is what it is. But, people need to be honest about that instead of pissing down people’s legs and telling them it is raining by pretending that this whole thing will just be magically solved by “the market”. It won’t be.

          1. The grade school version of market economics, which itself is too advanced for most of the writers at Reason, states that monopolies are either natural and beneficial, or impossible in anything but the extreme short term, or both. When reality doesn’t comport with the theory, obviously it is reality that is flawed.

            1. The same people who can when they want to grasp the concept of regulatory capture turn right around and claim a few giant corporations controlling large sections of the economy is nothing to worry about because the market will solve any problem. I will never understand how someone can compartmentalize their thinking like that.

            2. I’ve never heard of monopolies being posited as either natural or beneficial. Which economist has argued that? From Adam Smith to Mises, everyone I have read is against monopolies and argue that they are either mostly or entirely the product of government favoritism and price control.

    2. When you have nothing left but name-calling, it means your stupid is showing. Everything as far back as MySpace operated at a loss for ~years before turning profitable.

      TikTok operates at a loss

      You aren’t even aware of their subsidy from the Chinese Ministry of State Security? Sad.

    3. Why would that make a difference? Every company starts out at a loss. Amazon didn’t turn a profit for a decade.

  4. “The American Civil Liberties Union Minnesota is suing to restore voting rights for felons.”



    1. Why should criminals get voting rights before illegal immigrants? You’re racist.

      1. No, most criminals are black, which trumps (intended pun) brown on the wokeness scale. So YOU are the racist.

        1. Blacks have been passed by almost every other favored group except white feminists and asians.

  5. What people tend to want is a way to easily download all of the content and communications they’ve put on a platform…

    Sounds like someone lost all her AIM chats.

  6. Even if it were technically feasible, most of the market-dominant social media sites these days don’t really lend themselves to simply transferring your profile or posts from one to to another. They’re designed for different functions. They have different aesthetics. Not everyone you tagged or talked to on one is in the other.

    Obviously the solution is a giant comprehensive database run by the government.

    1. There already is one. You just can’t use it unless you are part of the king’s men.

  7. “‘Hate speech’, a short-hand phrase that conventional international law does not define, has a double-edged ambiguity.”

    It’s defined as anything someone would say that I don’t want anyone to hear.

    1. An example of “hate speech” is claiming “assault weapon” is a short-hand phrase that conventional international law does not define.

    2. From the Report’s recommendations:

      … some kinds of expression can cause real harm. It can intimidate vulnerable communities into silence, particularly when it involves advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to hostility, discrimination, or violence. Left unchecked and viral, it can create an environment that undermines public debate and can harm even those who are not users of the subject platform. It is thus important that States and companies address the problems of hate speech with a determination to protect those at risk of being silenced and to promote open and rigorous debate on even the most sensitive issues in the public interest.

      1. “some kinds of expression can cause real harm. ”
        “promote open and rigorous debate on even the most sensitive issues in the public interest.”

        Run for President as the “Have Cake and Eat it too Party” nominee.

        1. I know, right?

        2. 1985 just never seems to get here, does it?

  8. “Your data is your property. Period.” said Hawley in his statement.

    “Your *body*, however — not!”

    1. …and by your property, we mean we can take it through eminent domain and use it publicly.

  9. Besides this being a technologically silly analogy—it’s almost infinitely more complicated to make countless unrelated digital systems interoperable than is is to transfer one number between companies already assigning and reassigning this number all the time—it also ignores the fact that phone numbers started out non-duplicative.

    Yes, imagine the inconceivable technological power that would be required to, say, append a random number to a username upon encountering a duplicate on another platform. Or allowing all of the account data to be transferred to an account with a different screen name owned by the same human being. It’s unfortunate that there is not now and never will be in the future any feasible means to accomplish this.

    1. Hold it Simon, you mean these companies might have to assign multiple user names and identifiers to one person? That is just science fiction talk there.

      1. You guys don’t know shit about software.

        1. I know it is all just a bunch of ones and zeros. How hard can it be?

          1. A bit.

        2. Impress me with your software expertise then and explain why username duplication is an insurmountable obstacle to account portability. I’ve operated file servers and bulletin board systems that were able to handle it with a script.

  10. More bad economic news.

    Charles Koch current net worth: $60.3 billion

    The high-tariff / low-immigration Drumpf economy continues to make life miserable for our billionaire benefactor.


  11. “A new United Nations report on ‘hate speech’ and freedom of opinion is out”

    I highly recommend Reason contributor Noah Berlatsky’s piece Is the First Amendment too broad? The case for regulating hate speech in America.


  12. “Data portability”

    Is that like walking down the street with my social security card, drivers license, and credit cards in my wallet?

    1. No, it’s like carrying an android down the halls of the NCC-1701-D

      1. Lore’s head?

  13. Even more bad economic news.

    As Homelessness Surges in California, So Does a Backlash

    “Tent encampments across California are testing residents’ tolerance and compassion as street conditions deteriorate.”

    You know why there’s a homeless problem in California? Because Drumpf is in the White House. The Koch / Reason policy of unlimited, unrestricted immigration would obviously strengthen the economy to the point that everybody could afford housing. But Drumpf is too blinded by his white nationalist ideology to realize this.


    1. You know why there’s a homeless problem in California?

      Because it’s 72 degrees there, and the government allows you to pitch a tent in the middle of the sidewalk and do drugs out in the open?

      1. Unemployment is the lowest it has been in over 50 years. We are richer than we have ever been. Oddly, we managed not to be overrun with drug addict, homeless bums in the past despite the economy being worse and everyone being poorer than we are today.

        It is almost like maybe Marx was wrong and economics doesn’t explain every human behavior. Who knew?

        1. “Unemployment is the lowest it has been in over 50 years.”

          But remember the wisdom of AOC — sometimes it’s a bad thing if the unemployment rate gets too low. It just means people are working 2 or 3 jobs and barely scraping by.


      2. Nah, I don’t think that’s it. It must be because Orange Hitler won’t implement the Koch / Reason economic agenda.

      3. Hey, stop shitting on California.

        1. I think a ton of people shitting on California and the government encouraging and rewarding them for doing so might be the problem or at least part of it.

        2. I said it’s 72 degrees there. I love going to Windansea beach in La Jolla. California is a great place to visit.

          If I were homeless there is no other place I’d rather be than southern California.

        3. Hey, California is shitting on itself.

      4. “Because it’s 72 degrees there, and the government allows you to pitch a tent in the middle of the sidewalk and do drugs out in the open?”

        If only……..
        “S.F. spends record $241 million on homeless, can’t track results”
        CA PAYS them to come here.

      5. ^This. I always say, the number one cause of homelessness is good weather.

        1. The problem will self correct in 11 years.

      6. Also because most of the homeless are bat-shit crazy?


    Salene Zito explains why “shut up and do what you are told and then die, you racist deplorable” is unlikely to be a winning message against Trump.

  15. MSNBC is still pro hillary. Claims tulsi getting offended is proof that Clinton’s accusations were right.

    1. Yes, officers in the military are supposed to laugh off accusations of being a foreign agent.

      1. With the intel guys, it might not be that much of a stretch.

    2. One media prog claimed that since she hasn’t denied it then she is but who would even bother to acknowledge such a rediculas claim. Responding to Hillary’s claims is like responding to a child sometime you just ignore them and smile

      1. “”Responding to Hillary’s claims is like responding to a child sometime you just ignore them and smile””

        Or a Hihn post.

    3. Member when they claimed that McCarthyism was terrible? It was just a short period between 1954-2027

    1. If only the cost of this incredible bumblefuck could fall directly on the progressive states that led the charge to file baseless accusations …

      And today, only two cases exist: the one from the New York AG’s office, and another from the Massachussets AG — which is on hold and likely dead.

      Ah … tastes like the salty tears of victory …

  16. “California Governor Calls for Probe of ‘Gouge Gap’ in Gas Prices”
    “SACRAMENTO (CN) – With regulators unable to pinpoint the reason for California’s exorbitant gas prices, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday called for the state to investigate whether Big Oil companies such as Shell and Chevron are cheating Californians at the pump.
    Newsom urged Attorney General Xavier Becerra to pry into why Californians pay on average 30 cents per gallon more than other states and find out if a handful of major retailers are “engaging in false advertising or price fixing.”
    “There is no identifiable evidence to justify these premier prices,” Newsom said in a letter to Becerra. “The mystery surcharge adds up, especially for cost-conscious, working families.””

    CA taxes, regulations and higher costs in general can’t have anything to do with it, and that gasbag Becerra obviously has no idea regarding how businesses set prices.

    1. Look Sevo, socialism would work if we could just do something about the hoarders, gougers and saboteurs.

      1. They always do something about them. The gulags are part of phase 2.

    2. But I thought the proggies want fossil fuels to be more expensive. Methinks the politicians are just pretending to care, whilst they work on ways to make gas yet more expensive.

      1. “…Methinks the politicians are just pretending to care,…”

        Might be a tell right here:
        “”[…]especially for cost-conscious, working families.””
        Why not just say ‘it’s for the CHILDREN!!!’ and be done with it?

    3. Yep, Cali has the highest state taxes on gasoline, at 61 cents per gallon, followed closely by Pennsylvania (?) at 58 cents. The US state average is 36 cents.

      Besides that, most gas consumed in California is refined there (and about 1/3 of the crude used is produced there). Differential operating costs in the state might have something to do with higher prices.

      1. Why is California gasoline so expensive?

        1. CA specific gas blends
        2. Disappearing refineries for a state with the largest population of drivers
        3. No interstate pipelines
        4. Few independent retailers
        5. High taxes

  17. “Different people have the same account names at different digital venues all the time. How do you just let someone take their username with them if it already belongs to someone else, or maybe various people, across the internet?”

    There is that whole identity validation that some politicians have suggested. Once you have a verified ID online it would be much easier. Why would you want to do that though?

    It would be much easier to simply not use social media. All the negatives now outweigh the positives and the only thing keeping them alive is CDA 230 so one could argue that the tech companies are in bed with the government. If the government wants a backdoor to encrypted data they can dangle 230 in their faces and just get what they want.

    1. Why don’t we just outlaw selling someone’s date without providing some form of monetary consideration in return? Yes, people are free to sell their data and people are free to buy that data. They just couldn’t take that data under false pretenses or without a legal contract with the person who owns that data. No contract is binding without consideration to both sides.

      Do that and the social media company’s business model is dead and the problem is solved.

      1. Frustrating when these debates don’t define “data”. If I know where someone was born, is that personal data, owned only by that person, and I cannot reveal or “use” that data without permission?

        1. That is a good point. And honestly, I am not sure how you define “data” in a complete and satisfactory way.

        2. It should be data w an expectation of privacy. If I google a disease I was just diagnosed with, I dont want google targeting me with ads trying to sell me related products. Especially since I never consented to being tracked and they do it even when I go private or clear cookies.

          1. I always liked the “Friends of Privacy” in the the “Rainbows End” novel. A group of hackers that automate searching and spamming every possible thing from people subscribed to their service … and everyone else.

            If half of everyone has randomly searched for “Renal Cell Carcinoma” over the past few months, then your search would be untraceable in the noise.

      2. Social media companies already have a legal contract with their users. It’s called the Terms of Use (or sometimes, Terms and Conditions). And that legal contract is binding because the user is getting consideration – he/she is getting the value of the services of the social media platform. “Consideration” includes a lot more than just cash payments.

        Come on, John. You’re better than this. This is Contracts 101.

        What you’re really saying is either:
        1. Whaa, I didn’t read the contract. (No sympathy there.)
        2. I don’t like the terms of the contract. (Not much sympathy there, either.)
        3. The contract deliberately obscured things and I didn’t understand what I was giving up. (Okay, I’ll give you some sympathy here.) or;
        4. The social media company is not abiding by the contract. (I’ll give you a lot of sympathy there – if you can prove it. But if you can prove it, you don’t need sympathy. Just take them to court.)

        1. There are all sorts of likely candidates for social media companies violating their own terms of service, changing the terms of service over time and then kicking people off the service for things that weren’t against policy when the video was made are among them.

          Clauses that say that the social media company can change the terms of service whenever they want are routinely ignored by the courts–because if one part can change the terms of the contract at any time, then there is no enforceable contract.

          Meanwhile, if the social media companies allowed content creators to invest their time, money, name brands, and reputations in building a presence on those social media platforms–and the social media platforms profited from that content–then the social media companies have legal obligations to the content creators associated with that. Even IF IF IF the social media platforms have the right to terminate that content creator’s ability to distribute content on their platform, that doesn’t mean they don’t owe the content creator compensation for the loss of the time, money, name brand, and reputation that the content creator invested in the platform.

          If the content creators made those investments with the understanding that their ability to profit from those investments would continue in the future so long as the content creator abided by the terms of service at the time the content was created, and the service pulled the rug out from under them after using that content creator’s content to sell advertising and drive more users to their platform, then the social media platform in question may be guilty of fraud.

        2. Those contracts are not valid under the common law. Where is the consideration? Moreover, the terms of them are unconscionable. They are totally one sided and written in a situation where the drafting party has all of the power.

          It doesn’t do any good pointing to a contract if that contract isn’t legally valid. And those contracts are not, at least by the traditional rules of contract.

          1. John, did you bother to read? Of course there is consideration. Being allowed to use the platform is the consideration.

            Maybe a simpler example will help. I hire you to be the building manager in my small apartment complex. I allow you to live rent free in exchange for you doing the necessary odd jobs and repairs requested by the other tenants. Are you really trying to argue that contract would not be not valid merely because no cash changed hands? That’s ludicrous and wrong as a matter of law. You know better.

            You are on stronger ground with your argument that the terms are unconscionable and one-sided. Stronger, however, is not strong. No one held a gun to your head or required you to agree to those terms. Despite what my kids think, social media is not on any philosopher’s list of needs. If you thought the terms were unconscionable, you had every right to decline them when you first signed up.

            The bottom line is that those contracts are and have been repeatedly held to be legally valid. Individual clauses have been invalidated (see, for example, Ken’s comment about the unilateral right to change terms) but those clauses were severable. The contracts as a whole are enforceable under any reasonable rules of contract.

            1. The bottom line is that those contracts are and have been repeatedly held to be legally valid.

              So what? That doesn’t mean they should have been. You are just begging the question and appealing to authority.

              Do you ever bother to read? Since when is “the courts said they are okay” the final answer to the question of whether the courts were correct?

              And I don’t buy that use of the platform is consideration. If it were, then name a contract that isn’t consideration. Hey, I might give you use of my platform until I decide not to and I can decide not to for any reason. That is an illusory promise and not consideration.

              1. A contract with no consideration is one where you promise to let me live in the apartment in exchange for nothing. Not only no cash but also no services and no intangibles. No matter how you gussy up the language, that is a promise of a gift and is not a binding contract.

                You may not agree that “use of the platform is consideration” but you are wrong as a matter of law. What you are arguing is imply not the definition of “consideration”.

                Your argument that the unilateral right to terminate the relationship makes the promise of service illusory is also wrong unless the service provider did or said something to give you a legal reliance on a particular duration of service. If they didn’t, though, the company has the unilateral right to kick you off their platform. And you have the equal right to stop using their platform whenever you want.

                This, by the way, is exactly why some of the lawsuits against platforms are succeeding. Plaintiffs are able to show that the company made a promise that they are not keeping. But the promises have to be quite clear and explicit in the contract. Assumptions and misreadings of the terms of use are not sufficient no matter how much you think those terms are “unfair”.

  18. Trump hits one out of the park:

    Referring to Hillary Clinton’s recent disparagement of Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein as Russian assets: “I wish she would have said that earlier because people would have realized she’s crazy.”

  19. “Nobody has been asking for a way to take all their tweets to Instagram.”

    The primary reason people are reluctant to switch social media platforms appears to be the inability to take their contacts with them–which is to say the lack of contact portability is a major barrier to entry. If you leave to another service, how do you reach your contacts?

    If people were able to still communicate with and follow their friends on Facebook from other competing services, that would remove a major barrier to entry. If your Facebook friends could follow your posts on Mastodon or MeWe and you could follow them and they could follow your content there, too, you’re more likely to leave Facebook for Mastodon or MeWe and so are they.

    One of the problems with that approach is that forcing Mastodon and MeWe to open up their services so that people on other platforms like Facebook can follow users without being on the service–that probably defeat the major selling point of those services, which is user level control of what can and can’t be seen by the outside world.

    In the case of Mastodon, too, they already offer this kind of interoperability. Server operators set their own permission and exclusion parameters, and who you exclude is just as important as who you include. On the one hand, Mastodon servers can already allow other social media platforms’ users (like PeerTube and Friendica) to interact with Mastodon like they’re on the service. On the other hand, plenty of Mastodon users are on the service because they don’t want their content to appear on other services like Facebook.

    In short, by forcing social media to make user generated content appear on competing services, you’re kicking the chair out from under services that are competing with Facebook by giving users the ability to keep their content away from Facebook. This idea might well hurt Facebook’s competitors. If they want to design better social media services, they should do so in their free time as private citizens.

    If I move my friends and family to MeWe–so that the content we generate can only be seen by MeWe users we choose–and this politician comes along and makes our social media posts available to everyone on Facebook, then you’ve defeated the purpose of a social media website with MeWe’s set of privacy features.

    1. If everything you say is true Ken, and I think it probably is true, then there is no way for the market to solve these problems. The barriers to entry and the structure of the business is such that there is no way to have real competition without killing the business model.

      If that is the case, then these companies are more like utilities and should be treated as such. If there is now way for these companies to ever face any competition, then you have to regulate their behavior to ensure they don’t abuse the power their market position has given them.

      1. Here’s the example I was talking about:

        The Fediverse . . . is the ensemble of federated (i.e. interconnected) servers that are used for web publishing (i.e. social networking, microblogging, blogging, or websites) and file hosting, but which, while independently hosted can mutually intercommunicate with each-other. On different servers (instances), users can create so called identities. These identities are able to communicate over the boundaries of the instances because the software running on the servers support one or more communication protocols which follow the open standard.[1] As an identity on the fediverse, users are able to post text and other media, or to follow posts by other identities.[2] In some cases, users can even show or share data (video, audio, text and other files) publicly or to a selected group of identities and allow other identities to edit other users’ data (such as a calendar or an address book).

        Not only is this kind of service likely to emerge in the marketplace, it’s already done so. And if you slide down to the bottom of that link, you’ll see that the service already has almost 3 million independent users.

        This is something all the social media platforms on this service do–that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube don’t do. Mastodon, PeerTube, et. al. are competing with those social platforms by differentiating themselves from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in the marketplace in this way–but mandating those changes would destroy that distinction.

        These competing services also compete with the social media giants in other ways–like on a lack of censorship and the ability to control your own privacy–but why erase any of those distinctions with legislation like this? This technology already exists, it’s already available to users, and while plenty of people don’t use this service because they don’t know about it, libertarian capitalists who do have no business trying to get the government to make themselves start using competing services that they could choose to use now.

        Tell your friends and family about Mastodon, PeerTube, etc. Set yourself up an identity, and you can plug in or out of any service you want in the future. I don’t know what’s stopping people who want the government to recreate social media in the way it already exists at Facebook’s, Twitter’s, and YouTube’s competitors rather than just join their competitors, but whatever it is, get over it already.

        I wish Reason would use these services, too. Why can’t they share the same content they already share on Facebook and YouTube on Mastodon, MeWe, and PeerTube, as well? The point that market solutions already provide better alternatives than politicians are proposing may be made best by actually using those competing alternatives.

      2. then there is no way for the market to solve these problems

        What exactly are the “problems” that need to be solved here?

        The difference with traditional utilities is that they use common, physical resources, like pipes and wires which can’t be open to multiple companies for a given region. That’s not the case with social media platforms.

        The government regulating the internet will almost certainly have unintended consequences which are far worse than whatever problem you want to solve. Regulations are actually barriers to entry, and you can bet the biggest social media platforms will be writing the regulations, thus making it even harder for startups to comply/compete.

        1. The problem is having a few companies acting as a cartel and being able to decide who can and who cannot do business or have a voice in society.

          What if the electric companies started refusing to serve anyone who voiced an unpopular or political opinion they objected to? By your logic that isn’t a problem. Hey fuck you. Buy a generator or form your own power company. Every argument you make for youtube being able to do it, applies equally well to the power companies. Sure, they are government regulated monopolies but you don’t think they should be. And getting rid of those regulations isn’t going to make it any easier for me when they decide they won’t sell me power because they don’t like my politics.

          The same is true of these social media companies if something isn’t done. You can’t run a business or get your message out whatever it is to a large number of people without having a presence on these platforms. And these platforms are acting as cartels and kicking anyone off they don’t like.

          Worse than that, they are owned by multinational corporations who are in bed with China and every other authoritarian government. Hey, you don’t like what is going on in Hong Kong and say something about it, fuck you, you can no longer run your business like you wish because you are no longer getting access to social media while your competitors do.

          Can you not understand why that is a problem?

          1. I don’t believe social media is like electricity distribution. The expense involved in getting a competing power distribution company to your property can be more expensive than the cost of the land itself. That isn’t the case with changing from one social media service to another. Getting your friends and family to move with you can be a pain in the ass, but it’s not prohibitively expensive. The problem is persuading other people to change their minds–which isn’t really a barrier at all. If people would rather use a service that treats them like shit for whatever reason, I might find that pathetic and stupid, but rights are the obligation to respect other people’s choices–even when those choices are pathetic and stupid.

            1. One of the reasons that we dont have Microgrids and more individual power systems (solar or whatever new tech) is mostly because of a regulated power industry.

              America moved to a power grid system to provide electricity at low costs to everyone. The key component was that “everyone” had to be on that grid and pay into it.

              Under a free market, electricity would be so prohibitively expensive for many rural customers that they would have sought out alternatives power systems, like solar systems.

              Its really the same thing with FB, google, etc. They have already become so shitty that people are using alternatives. There is something to the companies violating ToS contracts but the true solution is to use alternative social media companies.

          2. sure, they are government regulated monopolies but you don’t think they should be.

            Says who? I explained why they are different in the previous post. If they’re utilizing common, physical resources with physical access limitations then government regulation makes sense. What you’re describing doesn’t meet that standard.

            Social media platforms are more popular than their competition for a lot of reasons. It’s clear because there are multiple platforms which exist. There aren’t multiple electric or water companies in my area, for obvious reasons.

            And these platforms are acting as cartels and kicking anyone off they don’t like.

            My point (and Ken’s too, I think) is that giving them the protection of government regulations will almost certainly ensure that they become cartels, lobbying for regulation which protect the powerful among them. Government regulations shouldn’t be viewed lightly as a solution to every problem. They are a necessary evil in a very small subset of problems where common resources are required for a service (ie traditional utilities).

            1. Social media platforms are more popular than their competition for a lot of reasons. It’s clear because there are multiple platforms which exist. There aren’t multiple electric or water companies in my area, for obvious reasons.

              These companies have combined into monopolies for obvious reasons. The platform is only any good if it has a critical mass of people on it. Once you reach that critical mass, everyone flocks to the platform and no other platform can compete because it can’t get to the critical mass needed to be useful. This is why myspace died and facebook lives. If the market functioned like you think it does, myspace would still exist.

              So, yeah they are a lot like power companies. Both areas end up with natural monopolies which then create impossible barriers to entry for competition.

              Beyond that, all of your “meh principles” bullshit apply just as well to the electric company. If Facebook can kick you off its platform because it doesn’t like your politics, why shouldn’t the electric company be able to refuse service to you for the same reasons? According to your logic they should.

              1. You might be able to argue that social media is a monopoly (although I disagree because I clearly have multiple options) but they are not a natural monopoly by any accepted definition that I’m aware of. You’re grasping at straws to make this fit your narrative.

                1. It is a natural monopoly. It is the only one that exists. The fact that you can expand the definition of the covered market to give it competition doesn’t make it less of a natural monopoly. You can do that with any monopoly.

                  I am not grasping at straws. Answer my question, by your logic what is wrong with the electric company refusing service to anyone whose politics it doesn’t like?

                  1. The electric company is allowed easements on both public and private land to run and service its wires. The electric company is assured a regional monopoly on power service. It came into business with these assumptions clearly spelled out, and chose to operate with the regulations already in place to say that it can’t deny service for any reason it chooses, that it has to maintain it’s part of the grid, etc.

                    In your world you would essentially seize the property of a business like Facebook and force it to host speech it doesn’t like. This wasn’t the original agreement of how Facebook would operate when it started.

                    Not to mention the electric company is not a platform that, under your version of the world at least, would have to host speech it doesn’t like. The electric company has practically nothing to do with speech, let alone political speech.

        2. The problem is John doesn’t like them being able to do what they want with their own property, so needs to reclassify them to make his desire to control them seem virtuous. For the children or something.

          1. John’s criticisms of Facebook, Patreon, PayPal, Twitter, YouTube, etc. are perfectly valid, and the observation that some or all of these companies may be violating all sorts of contractual obligations to their customers on a massive scale is also valid.

            Like I said, rights are the obligation to respect other people’s choices, and that’s true of property rights, as well. However, just because you have the right to own a gun doesn’t mean you have the right to violate other people’s rights with it, and if these social media companies are violating people’s rights, then that problem needs to be addressed–regardless of whether people like John also hate social media for other reasons.

            The only significant difference I see between me and John is the proposed solution. John seems to think that regulation, antitrust actions, etc. are the solution. My solutions are more about the aggrieved parties seeking remedies for violations of their rights in court, and encouraging consumers to use competing, better social media services instead.

          2. The problem is you are a fucking moron who doesn’t understand what is going on.

      3. I’ll say this, if the government forced Facebook to join the Fediverse as part of antitrust settlement–and make all Facebook’s “identities” “portable” with every other social media platform on the Fediverse that way, I suspect plenty of Mastodon server admins would choose to keep Facebook users off of their servers.

        There is no single central server for Mastodon, for instance. Each server administrator gets to set their own moderation policies, terms of service, etc. You can leave a Mastodon server if you don’t like any of those things and find another one or start your own, but the people who set up those servers probably don’t want a bunch of Facebook users. You went to Mastodon to get away from Facebook, why do you want Facebook around?

        It’s like moving from southern California to Boise to get away from all the Californians, and then the government comes along and says that all the Californians have to move to Boise.

    2. the government wants to solve this problem so that it will be easier to hack into everyone. now they have to break all the different platforms so make it a law they have to comply with one. The government is not doing this for our benefit it is for their benefit

      1. Making it easier to do surveillance would be a likely consequence of forcing social media into the same protocol, regardless of whether that was the intention.

    3. “If you leave to another service, how do you reach your contacts?”

      When I deleted social media I messaged all of the people I wanted to remain in contact with and they all gave me either a phone number or an email. I wrote them down. As for everyone else on my contact list, they’re all dead to me. I don’t care about them.
      Very simple process. 10/10 Would suggest this process to others.
      There is no need for a bill to do what took me 10 minutes and I got responses for everyone within 24 hours.
      If you’re a business, well, don’t use social media. 90% or more of the interactions you get are negative and deal with how an employee was rude or there was a pube in the fish sandwich.

      1. The suggestion that people not being able to take their hundreds of friends with them when they leave isn’t a barrier–because you personally got your friends and family to give you their contact info–is a little absurd, though, right? Just because we don’t like this politician’s solution doesn’t mean we have to pretend the problem he’s addressing isn’t real.

        1. “Just because we don’t like this politician’s solution doesn’t mean we have to pretend the problem he’s addressing isn’t real.”

          So if I leave Steam should I also be able to take all of my contacts to the Epic Game Store? What about Xbox Live and PSN? We need a bill for this? We simply can’t post, “Yo! (MTV Raps) I’m outta here bitches! If you want to be friends on MyPinstagramgrindrbooks give me your contact”?
          I think people are relying on social media too much and we are now asking politicians to force companies to do things with what is essentially entertainment.

          If you don’t want to lose your friends then meet them in real life or don’t leave the platform.

  20. Members of the CIA are lawyering up as Durham apparently uncovered something big in the investigation into the origins of the Steele investigation.

    Bonus: intentionally used this link despite quoting NBC news to watch Jeff complain about the link without reading it like the dumbass he is. Still a 50/50 shot he comments even with this disclaimer.

  21. Hunter biden apparently never worked a single day in ukraine despite being paid 3 in to sit on the Burisma board.

    Nothing to see here folks.

      1. Debunked

  22. A video caught white students saying the n-word. Amid outcry, they’ve been criminally charged.

    These young dumb kids don’t realize that the shreds of Constitution still left are all that is holding this Republic together.

    Their right to peacefully assemble is also in the same Amendment as the right to free speech and press.

    1. I recently watched Chappelle’s “Sticks and Stones”. He calls Jussie Smollet a nigger:

      “…That nigger was clearly lying”.

      I doubt he’ll be arrested.

    2. I hope this goes all the way to the Supreme Court.

    3. This wasn’t even guys targeting someone–they were walking around, saying it into a vacuum, and some snitch recorded them as they walked by.

      But, yeah, progressives totally respect privacy rights.

  23. In shocking reversal, Biogen to submit experimental Alzheimer’s drug for approval

    Ironically, the company forgot that drugs can be peddled as wonder drugs to Medicare patients.

    1. The only thing more ironical would be if they repeatedly submitted the drug every 5 minutes.

      1. What drug?

  24. “Trial to begin on whether Exxon kept separate sets of books on climate change”
    “New York’s attorney general is accusing Exxon Mobil of lying to investors about how profitable the company will remain as governments impose stricter regulations to combat global warming.
    The lawsuit, which is set to go to trial Tuesday, claims the Texas energy giant kept two sets of books — one accounting for climate change regulations and the other underestimating the costs — to make the company appear more valuable to investors.
    Exxon denied the allegations, calling them politically motivated, and said the company looks forward to being exonerated in court…”

    Well, if I had to make a choice regarding the relative honesty of an attorney general compared to a for-profit company…

    1. The case relies on Exxon keeping multiple scenarios for future growth. It is one of the dumbest lawsuits of all time.

      1. Imagine the lawsuit if a company planned for only one future scenario.

    2. … I’d pick the company every time.

      I’d be frequently wrong – but less frequently than by blindly trusting the honest of a politician.

  25. U.S. Is Quietly Reducing Its Troop Force in Afghanistan

    While Trump did add ~4000 troops to Afghanistan during his administration, this force reduction is a good trend. Especially with troops withdrawals in Syria too.

    1. If Trump reduces forces gradually, he is a phony who doesn’t mean what he says. If he brings them out immediately like he did in Syria, he is a reckless lunatic who isn’t doing it “smartly”.

    2. The article is pay-walled. Do they give specifics on the withdrawal? Numbers?

      1. It does not show as pay walled to me.

        1. The walls are closing in on me.

  26. A new round of PG&E power outages could put 500,000 Californians in the dark for days

    You barely hear a peep about this. If the power outages affect the Lefty bastions of LA, San Francisco, and Bay Area it would never happen.

    1. It may be where you are looking or your social network. I have been seeing lots of complaints about this.

      1. Google aggregated news barely has any MSM outlets covering this story in depth.

        1. My Google News feed does. Every day. But I used to live in the Bay Area.

    2. This is affecting my son’s in-laws east of Sacramento. Ironically, his FIL is an engineer for… PG&E (and a helluva nice guy). They don’t deserve this BS, but instead of paying high insurance premiums for living in a fire-prone area, the government wants people to be able to sue PG&E because the wind blows hard and corporashuns are the devil.

    3. The great irony here is that the environmentalists who run California should want to take over the company–rather than bail it out for all the money it has to pay the people’s whose lives were ruined. Why wouldn’t environmentalists want to take over power distribution in a state like California?

      The answer is that they don’t want to be responsible to the voters for the economic consequences of what happens when they implement their green agenda. They want the power company to take the blame for the problems they cause. Everything about being a real environmentalist should make them want to take over power distribution in the state, and they might be able to buy PG&E for less than the cost of bailing PG&E out.

      But Sacramento will bail out PG&E anyway–because they don’t want the direct responsibility for what they’re planning to do to energy consuming voters in California.

      1. Just for the record, PG&E’s market cap right now is $4.23 billion.

        Of course, buying them out would cost more than that because the last thousand shares would be more expensive than the first thousand shares.

        Meanwhile, the liabilities for the fires PG&E has already caused are around $30 billion. There’s no way PG&E can pay that, so the money will come from Sacramento. They’ve talked about limiting the total compensation available to the victims to $18 billion.

        It would cost less to take the company over. Why doesn’t the state of California throw in a few billion more and take majority ownership in the company?

        The answer is because they need a fall guy. They need a patsy.

        1. “”Of course, buying them out… “”

          That’s not how socialist do it.

  27. Democrats see impeachment proceedings taking longer than some initially expected

    Just wait until the Lefty despair sets in that Trump will never be removed from office by the US Senate.

    1. Global Warming is stopping Hell from freezing over.

  28. New S&P 500 highs are riding on blockbuster results from Amazon

    Poor Boehm. He has to decide to keep writing “economic sky falling” nonsense or admit that Trump will likely ride a strong economy to victory over Democrats Election 2020.

    1. Another “Red Wave” prediction for 2020?


      Pay more attention to Palin’s Buttplug. He says the economy sucks, and he totally knows what he’s talking about.


      1. Red wave? The tampon articles were yesterday.

      2. Election 2018 caused Lefties to see Red with rage.

        It also caused them to be Blue with despair.

    2. Who was it that was trying to say Trump was bad because the S&P 500 wasn’t doing well?


    The oped by Admiral McRaven is a picture perfect example of the military industrial complex and the threat it can be to the country. The worst part is that it is more than just greed, though I am sure that is a large part of it. The worst part is the desire to transform the world and do good. If it were just greed, you could buy these people off and make them go away. But since it is also power and an almost messianic mission, they are never going to quit and really can’t be bargained with.

    1. It is the end of women’s sports. I find it hard to believe that suburban women in this country are going to go along with seeing their snowflake daughters’ sports dreams destroyed by perverts pretending to be girls, but they don’t seem to be doing much about it.

      1. Well, after all, this is what Title IX was supposedly about.

      2. They painted themselves into a corner with their support of transgender kids.

        In a best-case scenario, the daughters of these suburban virtue-signalers will grow up to despise trannies and work harder to get more of them to commit suicide.

    2. #TransWomenAreWomen
      Women’s sports are for women.
      Therefore transwomen belong in women’s sports.
      It’s basic logic.

    3. That’s worth about 10 million Walk Away votes.

    4. The funniest part is that the threshold for testosterone in transgender athletes is 4x the extreme high side of testosterone found in women.

      They didnt even set the test limits to the 99% coverage of most women, but 4x that coverage.

    5. Before Sunday’s race, McKinnon defended the right of transgenders to compete alongside natural-born women saying that “preventing trans women from competing is denying their human rights.”

      Christ, what a douchebag

      1. This McKinnon dude has way too much white male privilege.

    6. “As she rode across the finish line she wiped the sweat from her beard and let out a huge belch. She then triumphantly poured two beer cans at once into her mouth and smashed the empty cans together while letting out a war cry.”

  30. Anxious Democratic Establishment Asks, ‘Is There Anybody Else?’

    Trump is going down in the history books as being mostly responsible for utterly destroying the Democrat party.

    1. I see your point, but I’d give at least half the credit to the Democrat Party.

      1. +1000

        Yeah, you’re probably more correct.

      2. With a big assist to Russia?

    2. Obama did that

    3. Trump just exposed the filth and rot in the Democratic party for all to see, and got Democrats to reveal their true selves. If they think they can go back to the comfortable, corrupt arrangements they had before Trump, they are fooling themselves.

  31. Over the past few days, I’ve made a couple of points.

    1) Politics in different countries of the developed world are driven by the same economic and social changes. The reasons why populists in France, Italy, Germany, the UK, and the USA triumphed circa 2016 were all more or less the same.

    2) The further away you get from the dominant force in a military alliance, the less complaining you get about hegemony and imperialism, and the closer you get to the alliance’s enemies, the more enthusiastic support there is for the dominant force in the alliance.

    In other words, the closer you get to Athens or the USA, the more people complain about hegemony by Athens or the USA, and the closer you get to Persia or Russia, the more enthusiastic people are about paying their dues to the alliance–see Estonia and Poland, as examples. They don’t need their arms twisted to pay their full share of NATO expenses. They do so enthusiastically.

    I’m seeing both of these forces at work when it comes to Trudeau, but the one about how the closer you get to the United States, the more reluctant people are to embrace the United States dominated this contest.

    Canada didn’t embrace Trudeau because of his life long commitment to racial sensitivity. Canada didn’t embrace Trudeau because of his long term commitment to oppose corruption.
    Trudeau has been exposed for both racial insensitivity and corruption. But Canada has also always embraced distinctions between themselves and the USA, and the drive to do that seems to have driven them not to embrace Trudeau but to be the opposite of Donald Trump.

    I wouldn’t expect other countries to be affected by that cultural attribute in the same way.

    1. I think a lot of that ‘we’re not American’ played into the vote yesterday. Even though, get this, Conservatives won….the popular vote.

      Wonder if the progs will scream for prop. rep. now.

    2. Justin blackface winning just proves how fake the race consciousness of liberals are.

      1. +100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

      2. Absolutely. Black liberals here were saying they weren’t offended.

        Now switch that for Scheer and see what they would have said.

        Everyone’s an asshole but progressives are the biggest assholes of them all. From the wokesters to the fake liberals.

        There is no ‘Democrat’ or ‘Liberal’ parties. There are only PROGRESSIVES.

        Yesterday’s results in Canada made this damn clear.

        Oh. And fuck Ontario.

      3. Also, he dressed up as an Indian acolyte for some reason.

        New age chicks from NorCal don’t dress up like they’re Indian–not even when they go to India. He looks like he just made his family join a new religious movement.

        To me, that’s like a visual Dean scream.

      4. Is he going to serve in blackface? I would if I was him. I figure I’ll never stop hearing about it. Might as well have some fun with it.

  32. ‘Just too much’: Meet the uber-rich who want a wealth tax

    Notice these dipshit liars never give all their money to Uber-poor.

    Its Virtue signalling all the way down.

  33. Former Kentucky GOP candidate for governor endorses Democrat against Republican incumbent

    Poor RINOs are just not taken seriously by GOP voters anymore.

    1. They prefer flake and Amash. They even prefer Romney over Paul.

  34. Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a …

    — Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019

  35. Canadian General Election…
    184 seats, 39.47%
    Seats before 177
    Seats won 157
    Seat change Decrease 20
    Popular vote 5,915,950
    Percentage 33.10% 34.40%

    99 seats, 31.89%
    Seats before 95
    Seats won 121
    Seat change Increase 26
    Popular vote 6,155,662
    Percentage 34.40%

    1. Stolen election! Gerrymandering! Sue!

      1. Will someone please tell me who the Russian assets are?


    Remember when the deep state was just a right wing meme put out by paranoids and Russian bots? Yeah neither does the New York Times. Now, not only is it real, it is a group of brave patriots trying to save America from the evils of representative government.

    1. That’s interesting. Yeah, it looks like we’ve taken the predictable arc.

      1. The Deep State is just right-wing paranoia.
      2. The Deep State exists but isn’t doing what you say it’s doing.
      3. Suck it up, the Deep State is a necessary function in maintaining democracy.

  37. making laws that no one asked for. maybe its time to realize we have enough laws and all politicians can go home

  38. “””Your data is your property. Period.””

    I guess Hawley has never heard of the third party doctrine.

    1. Or the NSA, CIA, FBI, etc…

  39. Well, I’m glad that ENB, technology and business expert par excellence (as evidenced by her BFA in theater), is finally revealing to us peons what is technologically feasible and what isn’t, and what business models are feasible and are infeasible!

    1. “and what business models are feasible and are infeasible!”

      Makes her feel good = feasible
      Makes her feel yucky = infeasible

  40. Northern Ireland is legalizing same-sex marriage and abortion.

    Just in time to fuck with Brexit negotiations on the Emerald Isle. But the EU (including the Republic of Ireland) is awesome, right?

  41. This bill is exactly what I have been advocating for year!

    I can’t take the logic in this article seriously when it says that interoperabilty would be some sort of burden among smaller companies.

    I’m a programmer and interoperability is not only simple, it’s pretty much standard on most websites. Practically every modern application has web API’s that allow information to be used in other people’s applications. If Facebook, etc, and even smaller platforms are not allowing interoperability, it is because they are actively taking steps to block it.

    Since Facebook and YouTube are monopolies, the other option is to force Facebook to be broken up, which would definitely hurt them, and not even give them a fighting chance. Interoperability is the better solution. It would allow conversations to take place on ANY website, so that people don’t need to go to Facebook, Twitter, etc, to have those conversations. I would even support giving the originating site some sort of financial kickback. This would work out fine for everyone.

  42. You’ve got to give it to Sen. Josh Hawley: at least he’s consistent. Scarcely a month can go by these days without the Missouri Republican introducing some new, out of touch, detrimental tech policy. The latest—a “data portability” bill co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Mark Warner (Va.)

    We finally have a Republican not only being willing to, but successfully reaching across the aisle and Reason loses its shit.

    1. “introducing some new, out of touch, detrimental tech policy”

      That’s why. Government giving special exceptions to tech companies in exchange for under the table monetary handjobs helps them because without them they can’t get their news stories shared and only the people that come to this website on their own see them.

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