Antitrust

Sometimes Bigger Is Better

Republicans and Democrats are working together on an antitrust push against big tech. It will backfire big-time.

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Mark Zuckerberg was having one of 2020's worst Zoom meetings. It was July 29, and one of the most influential men in the world was sitting, pale and perspiring, in a sparse white room getting attacked by members of Congress from both parties. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and close ally of President Donald Trump, was scolding the Facebook CEO about the "content moderators that you employ [who] are out there disadvantaging conservative content."

But before Zuckerberg could offer much in the way of a response, he was attacked from the left, as Rhode Island Democrat Rep. David Cicilline castigated Zuckerberg for not taking down the same content. For Cicilline, "the problem is Facebook is profiting off and amplifying disinformation that harms others because it's profitable."

For good measure, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, asked Zuckerberg why Facebook temporarily took down Donald Trump Jr.'s account over a post promoting hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment. Zuckerberg pointed out that the incident happened on Twitter.

The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law was holding a formal hearing with the CEOs of four of the nation's biggest technology companies as witnesses. The purpose of the hearing, as indicated by its title, was "examining the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google." It was the sixth such hearing since last June, out of a series of seven. Ostensibly, Republican and Democratic lawmakers were on opposite sides of the issue. But as the hearing went on, it became clear that although they had very different views about how big tech companies should conduct their business, they shared a conclusion that some tech firms had grown too big and too powerful—and that the federal government must intervene.

The two parties took different routes to their verdicts. The new breed of populist Republicans are mostly concerned with regulating political speech in their party's favor. Democrats tend to be more concerned with the sheer size and power the bigger tech companies wield. But either way, as far as they were concerned, big tech was guilty as charged. And that verdict may coincide with legal consequences, as the Trump administration and state attorneys general begin to wage their own battles against the tech giants in federal courts.

On October 20, the U.S. Justice Department and a group of state A.G.s filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google alleging illegal dominance in online search and advertising. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will likely bring a case against Facebook before the end of the year. Amazon, Uber, Apple, and several other tech companies are all under some kind of regulatory scrutiny. Facebook dominates social media, and conservatives believe it is biased against them. Amazon is being criticized for selling self-branded products and giving them prominent virtual shelf space, even though nearly all major brick-and-mortar retailers and grocers do the same thing. Uber, the largest ride-sharing company before the pandemic, is the largest food delivery service during it. Software developers and regulators are critical of the 30 percent cut Apple typically pockets of App Store purchases.

In October, Democratic lawmakers on the House antitrust subcommittee released a report declaring that the four companies that appeared at the summer hearing were all anti-competitive in some way. "To put it simply," the report says in its opening, "companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons."

The report's nostalgic callback to America's trustbusting yesteryear was not an accident: As technology companies have grown larger and more influential, so too have calls from both the left and the right to exercise more federal oversight over the platforms and services that have become the mortar of everyday life. Unfortunately, the bipartisan move to regulate is based on a series of faulty assumptions about what competition is and how markets should work. And it discounts or ignores the real consumer benefits these companies produce—often as a result of their size. Big tech has become a political target not because it has failed consumers but because it has served them too well.

Progressive Return to the Past

Today's antitrust champions often portray themselves as builders of a better future, one in which the vast power of big tech is tamed by government oversight. In his 2018 book The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age (Columbia Global Reports), Columbia University law professor Timothy Wu, one of the modern antitrust movement's loudest proponents, wrote that antitrust regulations are a way to "give humans a fighting chance against corporations." For Wu, a backlash to the growth of companies like Facebook and Google was almost certain: "Some effort to revive the antitrust laws may be an inevitability in a nation founded on principles of anti-monopoly, equality, and decentralized power." The key word is revive.

Wu, along with other thinkers such as his Columbia colleague Lina Khan, organizations such as the Open Markets Institute and the American Antitrust Institute, and politicians such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), are all influenced by Progressive Era Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who believed that corporations could commit antitrust violations simply by growing too large. In fact, Wu's The Curse of Bigness takes its title from a famous essay in Brandeis' 1914 book Other People's Money and How the Bankers Use It, which argued that large corporations were inherently anti-competitive and "against the public interest."

The neo-Brandeisians' core argument is that for the last half-century, America has been doing antitrust wrong.

In the early 1900s, companies could be prosecuted for antitrust violations simply for being really, really big. Many of those companies grew by offering low prices, which was viewed as anticompetitive behavior. The war on bigness was, in a sense, a war on low prices.

Eventually, however, a group of economists, many associated with the University of Chicago, began to argue that this approach was misguided. Instead of focusing on bigness alone, antitrust should prioritize consumer welfare. Big was OK, as long as consumers benefited from it.

What today's neo-Brandeisians want is to replace the consumer welfare standard with something more akin to the old standard, which relied heavily on discretion and therefore had a lower threshold for enforcement. Rulings were essentially based on whatever judges thought was reasonable. This discretion-based approach is one reason antitrust enforcement has changed so much over the years, despite new legislation rarely being passed. It was helped by the fact that laws such as the Sherman Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act did not define key terms like monopolyrestraint of trade, or unfair or deceptive act or practice. Regulators and judges were left to come up with their own definitions, which could vary from case to case to suit their needs.

This lack of predictability is one reason legal norms gradually shifted to the more stable consumer welfare standard, which requires proof of consumer harm.

The GOP's Internal Antitrust Division

The most prominent neo-Brandeisians hail almost entirely from the political left. Historically, at least, the right has preferred the consumer welfare standard that has prevailed in recent decades. But in recent years, the GOP has developed its own internal split. And the party is likely to become even more divided over time.

In his opening remarks at the July hearing, Sensenbrenner said that "antitrust law and the consumer welfare standard has served this country well for a century" and that "we must ensure our existing antitrust laws are primed to meet the needs of this country and its consumers."

But Sensenbrenner is 77 and retiring after this term, and many of the Republicans who are replacing older members like him don't share his view. Most young Republicans are not as outlandish as the new guard's Gaetz, who despite a short career has a long history of making controversial remarks. But young GOPers are frequently closer to Gaetz's antitrust activism than to Sensenbrenner's restraint, especially when it comes to fighting what many perceive to be an anti-conservative bias baked into the culture of the country's largest tech companies.

Many Republicans, including Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, President Trump, and Attorney General William Barr, also want to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a provision that gives technology companies immunity against being prosecuted for content that users post on their platforms. This is a strange stance for Republicans, who often argue that guns don't kill people; people do. The same logic holds for online platforms: Twitter and Facebook don't produce legally objectionable speech, though sometimes their users do.

Although these issues are wrapped up in antitrust complaints, they are, in a very real sense, attempts to control online expression. This push to regulate political speech shows that Republicans have forgotten a cardinal rule of politics: Do not give yourself powers you do not want your opponent to have. If the GOP succeeds in changing tech companies' content policies in its favor, Democrats will almost certainly use those same powers against Republicans whenever power changes hands.

There are other likely consequences as well. Ironically, if Section 230 were repealed, it would help to lock in the dominance of the very companies Trump-era Republicans want to cut down to size. While Facebook and Twitter can afford to hire armies of content moderators and algorithm designers, the small startups that could potentially turn Facebook into the next MySpace don't have the same resources. They would effectively be shut out of the marketplace by regulatory barriers. Consumers face a very real prospect of losing access to more choices and new products.

The first case to be filed in the Trump era was against Google for its dominance in search and search advertising. A Facebook case may follow by the end of 2020, over Facebook's acquisitions of Instagram, WhatsApp, and other companies. And both Apple and Amazon are under investigation.

Concern about big business is nothing new, of course. Just about every tech company above a certain size can expect some level of antitrust scrutiny. What makes these cases different is that the allegedly small-government Republican Party is behind them.

A More Realistic Antitrust Policy

The bipartisan push to regulate big tech means that almost any election result is likely to produce further investigations and moves to regulate. Yet both Republicans and Democrats are proceeding from faulty premises and mistaken notions about how antitrust should be applied. So as these debates continue, it's worth keeping a few ideas in mind:

Not everything is an antitrust issue: The new antitrust motto appears to be "Ready, Fire, Aim!" Content moderation is certainly not an antitrust issue, but Republicans are trying to turn it into one. And many traditional media companies are upset that they can't charge the same high prices for ads they used to due to online competition. Increased competition is by definition not an antitrust issue—quite the opposite in fact. Newspapers have even asked for an exemption from antitrust laws in their industry so they can combine forces and better compete against Google and Facebook for ad revenue. "I typically would argue that such exemptions are anticompetitive," former USA Today Editor in Chief Joanne Lipman wrote last year. "But the truth is, nothing has been more anticompetitive for the news business in recent years than the digital platforms."

Worse, this focus on antitrust as a blunt cure-all for all sorts of problems distracts from real, more effective policy solutions. Airlines, at least pre-COVID, were indeed becoming more concentrated. But the solution is to lift the regulatory ban on foreign airlines serving domestic routes, not to ratchet up antitrust enforcement. Hospitals and pharmaceutical companies are becoming bigger and more consolidated. The solution is to reduce the massive regulatory and paperwork burdens that keep small startups out of the market. Big agribusinesses are the result of America's mishmash of protectionism, price controls, and farm subsidies. Reform those diseases, rather than treating the symptoms with antitrust cases. Antitrust lawsuits should be a last resort or no resort, not a first resort.

Politicians are no angels: In 1969, economist Harold Demsetz published a famous article about the nirvana fallacy, which arises when comparing real-world shortcomings to an idealized Utopian solution. Today's antitrust discussions are shot through with this error.

Yes, markets are imperfect, but that does not mean that government interventions can produce perfect outcomes, in part because real-world governments are run by flawed people like President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.). Cases get chosen—or not chosen—for political reasons. Trump, for example, has said that Google, Facebook, and Amazon are in a "very antitrust situation," though not because of their size or any alleged consumer harm. He believes Google and Facebook are biased against him, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post, which is often critical of Trump, though Amazon and the Post are separate companies. A few rungs -further down, the lawyers and judges handling high-profile antitrust cases often act with their career path in mind. Rather than pursuing justice, they may be pursuing a lucrative position at a white-shoe law firm, a higher appointment, or even elected office.

Antitrust is driven by cronyism and regulatory capture: Cronyism was baked into antitrust regulation from the start. Before the 1890 Sherman Act was passed, there was a burst of state-level antitrust legislation in the 1880s. Not coincidentally, this was exactly when two new technologies were revolutionizing the food industry: rails and refrigeration. The late Calestous Juma, a Kenyan-born historian of technology who taught at Harvard, observed in his 2016 book Innovation and Its Enemies (Oxford University Press) that fast shipping and reliable preservation helped larger producers get more food to more people more cheaply. Smaller farmers couldn't match the low prices, so they lobbied to block the new technology instead.

This anti-competitive lobbying effort resulted in the very first antitrust laws, as George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux and others have shown. For example, the Missouri branch of the Farmers Alliance convinced 140 out of 174 state senators and representatives to sign a pledge card promising, among other things, to support antitrust legislation. By the time the federal Sherman Act passed in 1890, 17 states had already passed their own antitrust bills. By 1893, 24 states had.

Cronyism continues to be a problem in the modern era. One of the leading boosters of the 1990s antitrust case against Microsoft was its competitor Oracle and that company's home state senator, the Utah Republican Orrin Hatch. Oracle went as far as to hire its own private investigators to assist the prosecution. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, the investigators' tactics included attempting to pay a pro-Microsoft group's janitors to hand over their office trash.

When questioned about this, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said, "All we did is try to take information that was hidden and bring it to light. I don't think that was arrogance. I think it was a public service."

Antitrust is built on uncertainty and incoherence: It's a good thing antitrust laws aren't enforced literally. By the letter of the law, every business transaction is potentially illegal.

If a company charges a higher price than its competitors, it can be charged with abusing monopoly power. If it charges the same price as competitors, it can be charged with collusion. And if it charges lower prices than competitors, it can be charged with predatory pricing.

If a law is enforced essentially by feel or instinct, it is probably not a good law. Yet this is exactly how antitrust law works. Overly broad terms with definitions that can change with each court case are a recipe for politically motivated abuse. Vague laws are also an invitation for increased corporate lobbying to avoid that abuse or, even more troublingly, to weaponize it against competitors.

Relevant markets are often defined too narrowly: This is the "relevant market fallacy," and it is at the heart of the Google case. Regulators and activists very often define a company's relevant market—the market within which the company is competing—too narrowly. This makes big companies look more powerful and more monopolistic than they really are.

When Sirius and XM merged in 2008, for example, critics argued that the combined company would monopolize satellite radio. But this is hardly the entire relevant market. SiriusXM has plenty of competition to this day—from terrestrial radio, on-demand streaming services such as Spotify, podcasts, audiobooks, and more.

At the July antitrust hearing, Cicilline pointed to Google's 85 percent market share of internet searches as evidence of monopoly power. He was almost certainly defining the market too narrowly. The Justice Department's complaint uses the boutique term "general search" in order to exclude other common internet searches people perform every day.

Consider Netflix, which famously hosted an open contest to design an algorithm that would give good movie recommendations to its customers. Google did not win the $1 million prize; instead, the victor was BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos, a seven-programmer collective with a name befitting a pub trivia team. Amazon's product searches do not use Google technology. Neither do eBay's. Online dating services compete with each other based on proprietary search algorithms for matching users. Internet search is much broader than Google—unless, of course, you define it as nothing more than what Google does.

Nor is Google's current market share baked in for good. The privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo has been averaging roughly 30 percent annual traffic growth since 2010, despite Google making its search engine the default for Android phones and paying Apple as much as $12 billion to make Google search the iOS default. In a similar antitrust story that's already been litigated, Microsoft years ago made its Internet Explorer browser the default option in Windows. The strategy did not succeed. Internet Explorer was long ago overtaken by a succession of competitors, from Netscape to Firefox to—for the moment—Google's Chrome. Rebranded as Microsoft Edge, it remains the little-used default Windows browser to this day.

Likewise, Facebook dominates among social media platforms. But again, the relevant market is much wider than just social media companies like Facebook. Social media competes for people's attention against television, music, movies, books, news, and (in non-pandemic times) in-person activities such as restaurants, concerts, sporting events, and more.

At the same time, social media can be a complementary good for many of its competitors. Sports and television shows can be more fun to watch while live-tweeting or chatting with friends and strangers through a Facebook group—especially during lockdown. In an era when many people value experiences over material purchases, people will sometimes choose activities with the intention of sharing them on social media. It is extremely difficult to show consumer harm in these cases, especially when social media is put into its proper wider context.

In fact, the biggest threat to Facebook's long-term dominance is likely its aging user base. Many youngsters would rather go to online spaces where their parents and teachers are not—platforms such as TikTok, which President Trump, in an act of ironic political grandstanding, threatened to hobble through punitive regulation, to Facebook's benefit.

Amazon's 2019 share of online commerce was 37.5 percent. But its share of total retail commerce—a more appropriate relevant market—was about 6 percent. COVID-19 lockdowns increased online shopping, and Amazon sales increased to the point of it hiring 175,000 new employees to keep up with demand. Yet it wasn't the only company to respond to and take advantage of the new conditions. Other retailers such as Walmart and Target now offer online shopping options that they may never have developed if Amazon (and the pandemic) had not forced their competitive hands.

Amazon has also made the grocery industry more competitive. Even before COVID upended grocery shopping, traditional grocers were adapting to the popularity of online grocery delivery through services such as Peapod, Instacart, and others. Had Amazon not jumpstarted this process when it acquired Whole Foods and launched its AmazonFresh service, COVID lockdowns would surely have been even more difficult for everyone.

Big corporations solve complex matching problems: In his book Tomorrow 3.0 (Cambridge University Press), Duke University economist Michael Munger points out that sharing economy companies—and antitrust targets—such as Uber, DoorDash, and Airbnb work by reducing transaction costs. Their business model is to solve complicated three-way problems cheaply and quickly.

Suppose a family wants to order a meal for delivery. First, they need to find a restaurant and place their order. Second, the restaurant needs to prepare the order. Third, the delivery driver needs to know when and where to pick up the order and where to deliver it. And payment needs to be quick and reliable.

Critics say gig economy apps are charging restaurants too much and paying drivers too little for the added conveniences they offer. To that end, New York, San Francisco, and other cities have already limited app fees to 15 percent of the order price, compared to a nationwide average of about 30 percent. California's A.B. 5 "gig worker" legislation was set to require Uber, Grubhub, and other delivery companies to convert most of their drivers from independent contractors to employees with full benefits until voters approved a ballot measure exempting those companies in November.

As the market matures and companies begin to merge, antitrust authorities might decide to get involved. They shouldn't.

Every restaurant has a choice between hiring its own delivery people or outsourcing to a delivery app. Businesses will choose whichever option has greater upsides for them. Moreover, entering and exiting an app service is easy for both restaurants and drivers. If the app company proves more expensive than in-house employees, no one will use the app. This built-in price competition can never go away and makes it very difficult to argue that any sharing economy–style service has a monopoly.

The Evolution of Antitrust

Evolution has wired us to think in binary distinctions. This was useful in our hunter-gatherer days. Protecting the tribal in-group was good for survival. So was wariness of out-groups. But modern life does not work that way. Commerce is based on peaceful exchange among strangers, exemplified by what Ball State University economist Steve Horwitz calls the "double thank-you."

The next time you buy a coffee, notice that the barista and the customer both thank each other, even if they're perfect strangers and may never see each other again. That's because each has made the other a little better off. That's how market economies work: People succeed through cooperation, not conflict. Even the most cutthroat business competition involves people competing for who can cooperate more efficiently. Absent rent-seeking—economists' term for seeking special government treatment—whoever can create more value for others is who wins.

Over the last 20 years, that's what has happened with America's biggest online businesses. Amazon, Google, and the rest of the big tech cohort have succeeded largely by creating value for consumers—often by giving away their most successful products or keeping prices low by building capacity and innovating in both services and technology. They have become important to the lives of millions of Americans because they connect people and provide access to goods and information in ways that are only possible at scale. And they have been targeted by self-interested lawmakers and competitors as a result.

Unlike the market, politics still operates by caveman rules. The secret to success in politics is conflict. That's exactly what's on display in the House Democrats' antitrust report released in October. Although it occasionally attempts to speak in the language of consumer harm, the report buys into the neo-Brand-eisian idea that market power is to be punished and controlled by the political class. The report recommends a variety of measures to leash big tech, including "non-discrimination" rules that would effectively force today's tech companies to become public utilities and acquisition restrictions that would presume any large corporate merger "anticompetitive unless the merging parties could show that the transaction was necessary for serving the public interest."

But what is the "public interest," if it's not lower prices and greater choice for consumers—and how would it be determined? As is so often the case with antitrust, it's a nebulous term that essentially gives Congress and judges free rein to decide. That's a recipe for transforming America's tech economy into a moribund quasi-government industry.

Although the report was written entirely by Democrats, its release served as a reminder that many in the GOP want to burden the tech sector with heavy-handed regulation for different reasons. Several Republicans were reportedly "frustrated that the report didn't address claims of anti-conservative bias from the tech platforms," according to The New York Times. This is the future of antitrust: a debate not about whether it should serve consumers but about whether it should serve political interests, and which ones.

The best option is to get rid of antitrust regulation altogether. Between the relevant market fallacy, inherent cronyism, politicized enforcement, vague legislation, and the shoehorning of unrelated grievances into cases, antitrust is doomed to fail. Even a government of angels could not save it.

But since antitrust laws aren't going anywhere anytime soon, the best we can hope for is that the consumer welfare standard weathers the current populist storm and that the public becomes more skeptical of how antitrust law works in practice.

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  1. “Big was OK, as long as consumers benefited from it.” — Ya; I think the “lack of benefit” is the very reason for the Antitrust. We don’t benefit from lefty-monopolized information all coming out of commie-California…

    It’s undeniable and re-enforced every-time one of the [D] congressmen talks about censoring MORE..

    1. “You are big. Therefor, your property is NOT your property, it is MY property.” This is greedy power-pig, NON-libertarian, NON-property-respecting thinking, and it WILL turn us all into CommieFornia, whether labelled with a “D” or with an “R”!

      “Examining the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.” Look, moronic fuckheads in Congress and elsewhere, a MONOPOLY means the dominance of ONE entity! How long does the list need to get, before “mono” (ONE!) monopoly is an absurd label to be attached?

      Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google aren’t even the only ones! The list is VERY long! Even I, as an humble peon, can put up my own web site!

      To those who whine and cry, because ??? the mere “bigness” of The Google somehow hurts them?

      Hey whining crybaby… I pay for my own web site at Go-Daddy. I say some VERY sarcastic and un-politically-correct, intolerant things about cults like Scientology there (and Government Almighty as well). I am QUITE sure that a LOT of “tolerant” liberal-type folks at Google etc. would NOT be happy with the types of things I wrote! Yet, if you do a search-string “Scienfoology”, Google will take you STRAIGHT to MY web site, top hit! #1!
      https://www.google.com/search?q=scienfoology&nfpr=1&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjPzZqf0dXsAhUCT6wKHez9DNwQvgUoAXoECDEQKg&biw=1920&bih=941
      Your whining and crying is (just about ) UTTERLY without basis!

      1. Sqrlsy dear, take your Adderall… and stop reading Maynard Keynes. It’s rotted Mr. Young’s mind, and you know what is he did to little boys like you.

        1. Google is by and by paying $27485 to $29658 consistently for taking a shot at the web from home. I have joined this action 2 months back and I have earned $31547 in my first month from this action. I can say my life is improved completely! Take a gander at it what I do….. USA ONLINE JOBS

        2. They’ve published a pop up child’s edition of Keyne’s work.

      2. lmao… You’re such a manipulative partisan hack…

        The [D] party is pitching “NOT your property it is MINE” by trying to legally pass authoritarian censorship (control them) laws on Big Tech.

        Filing an Antitrust monopoly suite (whether it succeeds or not) has nothing to do with injecting tyrannical control. It’s about curbing shady business practices for the benefit of free-market functions.

    2. STAY AT HOME & WORK AT HOME FOR USA ►Check it out, Here…Click here.

    3. Who wrote this drivel of an article?
      Conservatives are being censored by anonymous editors at Twitter and Facebook.
      Anyone who questions mask mandates, even if they are a doctor and expert in corona prevention is banned.
      Any doctor who suggests there is a place for hydroxychloroquine treatment is blocked.
      Anyone referring to Hunter Biden’s laptop contents is banned.
      The list goes on and on
      Yet Russian collusion, Hoping Trump dies of Corona, etc, are never censored.
      These social media giants are blocking access to the public town square of the modern age.
      Calls to go to other sites, are the same as calling for Conservatives to comment where no one will hear them.
      The left wing bias of the content moderators is the problem

      1. Indeed. The article wastes inches and feet on theoretical behavior that is or is not anticompetitive — none of which the target companies are committing, or even accused of committing — but never examines nor discusses the actual biased behavior that is giving rise to the proposed legislative sea change, and what should be done to address it.

    1. bUiLd y0uR oWn iNteRnEt.

      1. Your whining and crying is (just about ) UTTERLY without basis!

        See post above…
        SQRLSY One
        December.6.2020 at 8:06 am

        1. I don’t read your gibberish, nutbag.

          1. Don’t ever stoop so low as to let a non-perfect being contaminate Your Perfect Mind, Oh Perfect One!

            1. Least insane thing you’ve ever said.

              1. Momma believing that She has a Perfect Mind is the essence of sanity!

                1. I think we already knew your mom was crazy.

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                    So I discussed your awesome talents with some dear personal friends on the Reason staff… Accordingly…

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                    Obviously, you are a silver-tongued orator, and you also know how to translate your spectacular talents to the written word! We at Reason have need for writers like you, who have near-magical persuasive powers, without having to write at great, tedious length, or resorting to boring facts and citations.

                    At Reason, we pay above-market-band salaries to permanent staff, or above-market-band per-word-based fees to freelancers, at your choice. To both permanent staff, and to free-lancers, we provide excellent health, dental, and vision benefits. We also provide FREE unlimited access to nubile young groupies, although we do firmly stipulate that persuasion, not coercion, MUST be applied when taking advantage of said nubile young groupies.

                    Please send your resume, and another sample of your writings, along with your salary or fee demands, to ReasonNeedsBrilliantlyPersuasiveWriters@Reason.com .

                    Thank You! -Reason Staff

      2. Yeah, that’s pretty absurd, but I and others have made the more realistic statement, if you don’t like Twitter post on Parler — and, you know what, conservatives who feel mistreated on Twitter are actually doing just that. Free market competition is working.

        1. “Free market competition”

          I thought yesterday you said when the government is involved it isn’t free trade.

          1. You expected consistency from him?

  2. “The next time you buy a coffee, notice that the barista and the customer both thank each other, even if they’re perfect strangers and may never see each other again.”

    Lol thank you for that patronizing bullshit example

    Some people who do business are psychopaths who hate you and/or want to hurt you. The idea that all business transactions are automatically beneficial is a fantasty by someone who has probably never been a business owner or in a customer facing job.

    The point of markets is that hopefully you can vote with your dollar because the damage will be on a small scale. Not that every free market scenario will be sparkly unicorns and fluffy kittens.

    Maybe its not a great idea to do business with someone who steals, murders, and enslaves people. Not that the tech companies all do that, but they think its fine to give control over to people who do in exchange for their money

    1. Yes, all voluntary transactions are beneficial to both parties, by definition. Doesn’t matter if the parties hate each other, are psychopaths, as long as the transactions are voluntary and honest.

      Why is that such a difficult concept to understand?

      If you want to argue about asymmetrical information, about fraud, about theft, go ahead, but keep the distinction clear.

      1. “Yes, all voluntary transactions are beneficial to both parties, by definition.”

        That assumes both parties are acting rationally. People make emotional decisions all the time, that are voluntary and honest, and still get burned by it.

        1. What does buyer’s remorse have to do with his complaint? Hindsight is immaterial.

          1. You claimed all transactions are mutually beneficial. That is a false statement.

            1. Even worse, he declared it, stating it was definitional. Unlike saying it is axiomatic, which as you demonstrated, it is not.

              He’s to stupid to know that his declaration was pure ipse dixit.

        2. Too bad. An irrational person who freely indulges their emotions has made a beneficial choice, even if the benefit is imaginary and lasts a few seconds.

          In anything like a free society, the purpose of government is NOT to protect people from themselves.

          1. “even if the benefit is imaginary”

            If the benefit is only imaginary, it is not a real benefit.

            “the purpose of government is NOT to protect people from themselves.”
            I agree and was not claiming they should protect people from themselves.

            The “benefit” from irrational decisions in the marketplace is that it provides the most efficient allocation of resources; with more resources going to the more rational actors while less rational actors are punished with fewer resources. But that is still a punishment to the irrational actor for making a bad decision.

            1. “If the benefit is only imaginary, it is not a real benefit.”

              Have you ever heard of fashion? How about art?*

              Why would I pay an artist thousands of dollars for about ten bucks worth of paint and canvas? Can it be that I imagine some value beyond the mundane? And if my imaginary value pleases me enough to trade something from my effort, do I not get a real benefit?

              *Also music, decorative pillow covers, tittie bars, amusement parks, and just about anything not sold by a lumber yard or feed store.

              1. You are arguing that opinion is always beneficial.

                That is just plain silly.

              2. I understand your point, but you are confusing “imaginary” with “intangible (or subjective)” value. If I get value out of a piece of art, then it is a rational decision.

                Consider a person with bipolar disorder who goes on a shopping spree. They were making voluntary but IRRATIONAL decisions that do not provide a net benefit relative to the cash they were deprived of.

                Sometimes people just plain make stupid decisions. It’s part of human nature, whether it’s because of mental illness or distress, or…they just plain did something stupid. There is no benefit to them in those cases because the value of the thing they got was less than the cash they paid for it.

        3. This “rationality” is merely a way for snobs and intellectuals to look down their nose at people who make different decisions than they would.

          The magnificent paradox modern society has created for us is simple: Even the poorest among us have record amounts of money and time to spend on leisure- those things that bring us joy.

          That is why talk of “rationality” is so incoherent. The “rational” choice for any of us is to spend as much time as possible working, and saving. We’d own a base phone, never watch news or sports, and no one would be here on this site. (Rationally speaking, your vote matters dick-all, so paying attention to politics is more pointless than arguing about the superiority of Apple over Android.)

          The term “rational” merely comes from the root of “with reason” or “having the ability to reason”. People seem to think that people who “reason” about a solution will always come to the same conclusion. Ayn Rand at least understood that it all depends on your starting premise.

          I am being rational when I purchase copious amounts of alcohol- I have consciously considered the alternatives for my money, and have chosen to spend that money on a depressant that tastes good, relaxes me, and eases my social inhibitions. A government apparatchik would never see this as “rational” because he and I have two completely different premises that we reason from. The point of being a libertarian is understanding that both parties can be rational, but only one person has the right to make the decision.

      2. “and honest.”

        So even you don’t think they are all beneficial

  3. Well, it was all well and good to favor Big Business over Big Government, despite the huge overlap in the two categories, back when Trump was running the government and throwing people in concentration camps for disagreeing with him, but now that Joe Biden is our Lord and Savior we are all firmly on the side of Big Government. Business must be brought to heel and made to serve the interest of government for the interest of government is the interest of the people, even if they are too stupid to know what’s for their own good. The essence of free market capitalism lies in government providing a central plan for the common good which businesses must follow and to doubt that Top Men, the experts which guide the decisions of government, are able to manipulate the economy just as easily as they can manipulate the global climate is to doubt in capitalism itself.

    1. “…and to doubt that Top Men, the experts…”

      SOME readers might accuse Jerryskids of sexism, for Jerryskids’s use of “Top Men”, which excludes topless women, and SOME of us are FAR more interested in topless women, than boring old geezer, balding-white-men, fat, fat-cat politicians!

      But me personally? I am NOT one who would accuse Jerryskids of sexism! Instead, I congratulate Jerryskids on his keen perception… He alone, among readers / commenters here, perceives that powerful so-called “female” politicians, the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Camel-Toe, aren’t REALLY women, they are men in disguise! Their constant close shaves, skin treatments, and plastic surgery are NOT good enough to fool Jerryskids! No Sir! Jerryskids is too keen to be fooled by such foolishness!

      1. I’m sorry Mr. Jerryskids, my son isn’t very smart.
        I’m afraid I drank to much while pregnant.

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  5. In a similar antitrust story that’s already been litigated, Microsoft years ago made its Internet Explorer browser the default option in Windows. The strategy did not succeed.

    The anti-trust action worked perfectly – before the suit Microsoft had like 1 part-time lobbyist in Washington who spent a few thousand dollars on lobbying, after the anti-trust suit Microsoft had dozens of lobbyists who spent millions of dollars on lobbying. And that was the whole point of the anti-trust suit, Microsoft was generating tons of revenue and not enough of it was flowing to the political class.

    See, here’s the thing, Big Business and Big Government are not adversaries and politicians are not threatening these companies for anti-competitive actions, politicians just want a bigger slice of the pie. Big Business and Big Government are simply two thieves arguing over how to split up the loot. Whatever “reforms” come out of this, the new regulations are going to be written by Google and Facebook and Twitter, just the same as the rules for Obamacare were written by the insurance companies, and the marketplace is going to wind up even more anti-competitive than it was before.

    It’s not “government” per se that fucks up regulation, it’s politicians. They’re greedy and self-serving and easily-corrupted just like any other human being except they are much more easily convinced that they are noble and selfless and their motives are pure – that’s why they got into politics in the first place. They are psychopathic megalomaniacs with messiah complexes who are so crazy they can’t see how crazy they are.

    1. Jerryskids gets it! Kudos to Jerryskids!

    2. Not just split up the loot, but how to fleece the People for more loot.

    3. ^^ This.

      And these big tech companies have been in on it since the early 2000’s.

      If you want to create the competition that supplants google or facebook, you need to shitcan the tons, and tons of regulations that prevent small companies from accessing the capital to become big companies- usually by going public. Unfortunately, in the wake of the Dot-Com bust, and Enron/World Com/etc, the SEC and Federal Gubmnt enacted regulations and controls that made going public significantly harder. In the 5 years after the passage of Sarbanes Oxley, very few companies went public- Google and Facebook being exceptions. The 2002 – 2007 record stock market saw an average of 129 IPOs per year, compared with the 40 year average of 220. Mind you- this is while the stock market was FLUSH full of capital- more than ever in this nation’s history. And yet fewer companies were trying to access that capital.

      Likewise, federal regulations in the wake of the 2008 financiappocolypse have resulted in more and more small banks and credit unions being forced out of business.

      The overriding theme of regulation is to create barriers for small companies and creative destruction. If people really wanted to kill off Twitter, they would be making it easier for parler and gab and whatnot to tap into the capital they need to scale.

      1. Let’s not overlook the fact that Google and Facebook were the beneficiary of significant angel investment from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s investment arm, and various entities with ties to that organization.

        Google and Facebook got to be as big as they are precisely because the federal government wanted them to be that big. It was by design.

  6. The federal government system our Framers left us with was designed to address these issues, albeit slowly. The biggest impediment I see is the technical ignorance of our lawmakers. Should section 230 be repealed? Probably not. Modified? Oh yeah. The precise distinction (and responsibilities) between platform and publisher needs to be clarified.

    The bigger issue is that our lawmakers don’t know shit about emerging technology, and it is difficult to explain it to them in a way they can fully comprehend. It is not that they are dumb, to me it is that technology innovation velocity is increasing and it is hard for anyone to keep up. So the regulatory process is very slow…by design from the Framers, I think.

    I myself would like to see much less regulation overall; but more meaningful. For instance, do we really need ~75,000 pages to address the tax code? I mean, just 35 years ago, the tax code was only ~25,000 pages. And 75 years ago, the tax code was a mere ~1,000 pages.

    As for the bigger is better argument….not always true. My take is that when you get big, you lose agility and nimbleness. And new entrants disrupt the market all the time.

    1. I don’t see why Section 230 should be federal legislation in the first place.

      1. This.

        Some Reason libertarians are all against special federal laws and government protections until they aren’t.

      2. Because it solved a real problem (how to handle liability for high volumes of user-posted constant) in a lightweight, simple, uniform way. It is the very model of good, liberty-supporting legislation.

        1. There was no liability unless they acted as publishers curating their customers content.
          But they wanted it both ways, so a special little protection was crafted just for them.

          1. I hear this a LOT: Either you’re a publisher, or an impartial conduit of posts; you can NOT be both! Well, this is an authoritarian power-pig stance, no matter if you persuade 51% or 97% of your fellow authoritarians, or not! NO inflexible law of physics, chemistry, or yada-yada prohibits Section 230 to straddle the middle!

            Let me draw an analogy to this black-and-white empty-headedness: Because I (and 51% of the voters) say that your teeth bacteria are either utterly evil, or are pure-white good and have souls, you must either: ‘1) Nuke your mouth once a day with ionizing radiation, or ‘2) you may brush your teeth, but if you do, you MUST find a good home for EVERY bacteria that you put out on the streets!

            Colgate MUST decide, are they ruthless killers of ALL mouth bacteria, or are they enablers of goodness and kindness for good, soul-bearing bacteria! They may NOT straddle the middle, as enablers of free-will choices of the consumers, because I, and 51% or more of the voters, have said so!

            Power-pig authoritarians all of ye!

            1. Take your Adderall dear.

              I’m sorry Mr. Lament, I took a lot of acid and drank when I was pregnant. Forgive Sqrlsy for his insanity, it’s my fault that he isn’t very smart.

              1. He makes a mom pray for crib death, doesn’t he?

    2. As for the bigger is better argument….not always true. My take is that when you get big, you lose agility and nimbleness. And new entrants disrupt the market all the time.

      Unless the new entrants get stymied by onerous regulations and lack of access to basic infrastructure because that infrastructure is run by different big businesses that are themselves protected from competition by different onerous regulations.

      1. ^Well said —

        “Unless the new entrants get stymied by onerous regulations and lack of access to basic infrastructure”

    3. There are certainly unique circumstances regarding technology.

      But I would venture to say that our lawmakers, who are mostly either former lawyers or professional political actors, “don’t know shit” about a great many fields.

  7. the way ofo your writting is so cool keep post that stuff and go to hindilove shayari Birthday shayari

  8. The reason Facebook odd in hot water isn’t it’s size, it’s that they are censoring people. And the remedy isn’t too break them up, the remedy is to remove the special exemption from liability that has allowed them to become this big in the first place.

    Reason for regulatory capture and cronyism! It’s the New Libertarianism!

    1. “The reason Facebook odd (sic; is?) in hot water isn’t it’s size, it’s that they are censoring people.”

      Every church, mosque, temple, etc., that I have ever heard of, practices censorship, in one form or another. The priest-imam-witch-doctor etc., speaks; you listen, by and large. You do NOT get to walk in off the street and make everyone listen to YOU! It is THEIR church, etc.!

      Shall we “fix” this with Government Almighty power? Maybe each and every one of 10,873 churches is a “monopoly”? Maybe THAT will give us the power to PUNISH the BAD people!

      Fuck off, power pigs!

      1. Mr. Sqrlsy’s right.

        That’s why your phone carrier should be allowed to monitor your calls and disconnect you if top management doesn’t like your politics… or at least warn the person on the other end that you’re probably wrong.

        Same for UPS and FedEx and shipping political material that their CEOs don’t agree with.

        In fact we need to expand 230 to protect those companies right to censorship. It’s the libertarian way.

        1. Even Whiter Knight is a blithering idiot! The phone carrier does NOT insert advertising onto your private conversations on the phone, with your other party to the call! The phone carrier is NOT in danger of getting boycotted (by other phone-service buyers, or by advertisers) because of your raunchy or racist conversations! Internet companies (to include Reason.com right here) ARE susceptible to boycotts, due to objectionable user-generated content! So FUCK OFF with your utterly low-brow, stupid arguments, empty-header power-pig asshole!

          “shipping political material” ditto! Any OTHER stupid comparisons you’d care to make?

          1. “Internet companies (to include Reason.com right here) ARE susceptible to boycotts”

            I see, so you’re saying we need to create special protections and regulations, just in case brave warriors of social justice try to stop people from reading Reason because of something in the comments?

            That’s the most libertarian thing I’ve ever heard. You must be very smart.

            1. I see! So you’re saying that the Intergalactic Sub-Smegmonic Boogoidian-Strawmen-Hybrids have deployed booger-beams (Those unspeakable BASTARDS) and have hijacked your tinfoil hat! You have my sympathies, but no more… I have no good advice for you, sorry! Other victims of the Intergalactic Sub-Smegmonic Boogoidian-Strawmen-Hybrids that I have known? They all ended up on Skid Row, and I could NOT help them!

              1. That’s hilarious, he’s completely lost it.

                Hey headcase, orangemanbad!

                1. Ask, and ye shall receive wisdom! Knock, and the doors will be opened wide for ye! The pearls will yea verily be cast even unto the swine! Now it is up to YE, having been led to the water, whether ye will DRINK deeply, or if ye will just horse around!

                  Orange Man bad?!? He BAD, all right! He SOOO BAD, He be GOOD! He be GREAT! He Make America Great Again!

                  We KNOW He can Make America Great Again, because, as a bad-ass businessman, He Made Himself and His Family Great Again! He Pussy Grabber in Chief!

                  See The Atlantic article by using the below search-string in quotes:
                  “The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet” or this one…

                  https://reason.com/2019/09/02/republicans-choose-trumpism-over-property-rights-and-the-rule-of-law/

                  He pussy-grab His creditors in 7 bankruptcies, His illegal sub-human workers ripped off of pay on His building projects, and His “students” in His fake Get-Rich-like-Me realty schools, and so on. So, He has a GREAT record of ripping others off! So SURELY He can rip off other nations, other ethnic groups, etc., in trade wars and border wars, for the benefit of ALL of us!!!

                  All Hail to THE Pussy Grabber in Chief!!!

                  Most of all, HAIL the Chief, for having revoked karma! What comes around, will no longer go around!!! The Donald has figured out that all of the un-Americans are SOOO stupid, that we can pussy-grab them all day, every day, and they will NEVER think of pussy-grabbing us right back!

                  Orange Man Bad-Ass Pussy-Grabber all right!

                  We CAN grab all the pussy, all the time, and NONE will be smart enough to EVER grab our pussies right back!

                  These voters simply cannot or will not recognize the central illusion of politics… You can pussy-grab all of the people some of the time, and you can pussy-grab some of the people all of the time, but you cannot pussy-grab all of the people all of the time! Sooner or later, karma catches up, and the others will pussy-grab you right back!

                  1. Dumbfuck HihnSQRLSo posts his copypasta again.

                    1. And this is the best he can come up with.

                    2. Senile Mackerel Snapper Bad?!? He BAD, all right! He SOOO BAD, He be GOOD! He be GREAT! He “Make America Woke”! MAW! All who are against Senile Mackerel Snapper Bad, are into MAWlessness, chaos, badness, and MAW-breaking! They are out-MAWs! MAKE AMERICA WOKE, I say!!!

                      We KNOW He can Make America Woke again, because, as a bad-ass politician, He PUNISHED all of the MAW-breakers! He Hair Smeller-Feller in Chief!

                      BACK from Beyond the Beyond, Beyond the Grave, it is the MAGA that Wouldn’t Die! MAGA Part II; Make America GREEN Again! The USA flag will now be… Red, White, and GREEN!

                      See https://reason.com/2020/10/16/biden-tries-to-gloss-over-his-long-history-of-supporting-the-drug-war-and-draconian-criminal-penalties/

                      All Hail to THE Hair Smeller in Chief!!! His Punishment Boner is BIGGER than ALL the rest of ours, put together!

                      Most of all, HAIL the Chief, for having revoked karma! What comes around, will no longer go around!!! We CAN smell ALL of THEIR hair, and they will NEVER think of smelling OUR hair, right back!

                      Senile Mackerel Snapper Bad-Ass Hair-Smeller all right!

                      Yes, we can! We CAN smell all the hair, all the time, and NONE will be smart enough to EVER smell our hair right back!

                      These voters simply cannot or will not recognize the central illusion of politics… You can hair-smell all of the people some of the time, and you can hair-smell some of the people all of the time, but you cannot hair-smell all of the people all of the time! Sooner or later, karma catches up, and the others will hair-smell you right back!

                    3. Dumbfuck HihnSQRLSo keeps submitting copypasta.

      2. Correct: churches practice censorship. And Section 230 doesn’t apply to them.

        Likewise, since Facebook practices censorship, Section 230 shouldn’t apply to them either.

        1. And NOYB2 and Government Almighty should punish them ALL, when they do NOT follow The Will of NOYB2!!!

          Section 230 PROTECTS entities for the wrath of Government Almighty! So when you say “Section 230 shouldn’t apply”, you are calling for Government Almighty to punish them, in accordance to your YUUUGE, authoritarian punishment boner! Write plainly and tell us the truth, like I just did!

        2. Section 230 PROTECTS entities FROM the wrath… Sorry for the typo!

          Anyway, there is a HUGE difference between laws that PROTECT us from excessive Government Almighty (as Section 230 does), and those that GROW Government Almighty power! Every once in a blue moon, Government Almighty does something right! Like Section 230! So of course, power pigs everywhere, of ALL stripes, oppose Section 230!

    2. “The reason Facebook odd in hot water isn’t it’s size, it’s that they are censoring people.”

      That is the reason they are in hot water with YOU. But they are in hot water with the other half of the country because they don’t censor “misinformation” enough.

      It boggles the mind that after 4 years of Trump fighting his own administration to get anything done, that you guys think the government can remedy this situation without the Left infiltrating it and taking it over.

      I know you claim to say that you are arguing for the government to force these companies not to moderate content, but that isn’t what is going to happen. These companies MUST moderate. They have to remove Child Porn, threats, classified info, and other information.

      And the liberals are achingly close to saying “misinformation” is also fair game. Think of all the doctors who were silenced by YouTube merely because their medical opinion disagreed with the official CDC guidelines.

      1. Overt gets it! Yay for Overt!

        To repeat from the article:

        “This push to regulate political speech shows that Republicans have forgotten a cardinal rule of politics: Do not give yourself powers you do not want your opponent to have. If the GOP succeeds in changing tech companies’ content policies in its favor, Democrats will almost certainly use those same powers against Republicans whenever power changes hands.”

        Ye who lust after ever-increasing POWER for MY Party, which is the CORRECT party, should be forced to memorize the above! Unless you implement one-party rule for YOUR party, the above will constantly bite you on your arse! And the wise among us, will fight tooth and nail against 1-part states! 1-party state = Dictatorshit! Left minus right = Zorro the Gay Blade!

      2. “These companies MUST moderate. They have to remove Child Porn, threats, classified info, and other information.”

        Why? Leave that to the police and the FBI.

        1. Actually that’s the very reason for Section 230 isn’t it. The landlord cannot be held liable for the renters deeds.. As such; inherently is saying any liability of content is still owned by it’s publishers (the commenters, child porn, threats).

          I’m thinking the companies moderate for product quality. A classifieds ad company wouldn’t stay in business long if all their ad posters were crooks.

          I’m in favor of keeping Section 230; but not in favor of bad-actors keeping a monopolistic market ( ref; AT&T ). The Antitrust case is from my perspective an awesome approach. If they cannot prove Antitrust scenario’s exist; then the case fails. If they can prove it exists it’s time to break them up or halt those scenario’s for free-market functions to work.

  9. Too bad the anti-trust division won’t take on the biggest monopoly of them all, the government.

    1. Amen to that!

      Well, at least a multiparty democracy is less monopolistic than a one-party state!

      Sad to say, the “R” Party, under Der TrumpfenFuhrer, has been overtaken by a bunch of power-hungry madmen who lust after a 1-party “R” state, via endlessly repeated LIES about “stolen elections”! SORE LOSERS, all of them!

      SORE LOSERS is bad enough… Worse is, they are lusters after the 1-party state! Which = dictatorshit!

      1. Sqrlsy dear, take your Adderall… and your father asked me to remind me you that his garden shed is not a toilet.

      2. You’d be utterly WRONG to pretend that Trump fans are after a 1-Party state. They are after a Constitutional Government and the Republican party aren’t (certainly not with Trump – one of his R-Strengths) the one trying to throw that Constitution away for a communist h*llhole.

      3. Your F.U. is your delusions about the USA being a ‘democracy’.

    2. The whole purpose of government is to monopolize Individual Liberty and Justice against competing crooks and tyrants. Specifically in the USA (suppose to be) against UN-Constitutional socialist/communistic policy but ironically the “competition” to it’s very reason for existing is winning.

      [WE] mobs rule!

  10. Democrats tend to be more concerned with the sheer size and power the bigger tech companies wield

    They certainly seem to be concerned with how to help expand big tech’s size and power. And in a country whose electorate is increasingly forgiving for corruption, could it be that the big tech’s are bribing working hand in hand with the legislature to create these disgusting new monopolies?

  11. Does the logic that “anything huge, invasive, and powerful” must be broken up apply to government?

  12. Kudos to Ryan Young. This piece is unequivocally the most insightful expose on the absurdity of U.S. antitrust law I ever encountered and a testimonial to the depth and ubiquity of corruption in our political institutions. Well done, Ryan.

  13. There are two big points that are generally unappreciated and not mentioned in this article.

    1) The threat of progressive minded social media banishing conservative voices from the public square is real.

    There may not be Republican in the country who doesn’t hold one of the following views: anti-abortion, pro-border wall, anti-gay marriage, anti-affirmative action, pro-second amendment as a defense against oppressive government, or that Hunter Biden is corrupt. And yet these views are exactly the ones that progressives want social media to ban under the guise of “hate speech” (misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and racism), “violent threats”, and “conspiracy theories”.

    In other words, the reason conservatives fear that social media is trying to purge conservative voices from the public square is because social media is trying to purge conservative voices from the public square. Until we convince conservatives that this isn’t an issue, they will continue to use antitrust or whatever other means they can find to defend themselves–regardless of whether they should.

    2) The primary cause of social media’s attempt to drive conservative voices from their platforms is driven by the concerns of advertisers.

    Advertisers do not want their advertising to be seen by women in their teens and twenties next to opposition to abortion, support for a border wall, opposition to gay marriage, or opposed to affirmative action. Companies don’t want their brand names associated with that content (and apparently endorsing it) because subconsciously or otherwise it makes it seem as if the company is endorsing such content.

    Incidentally, this is also why you don’t see a lot of full frontal nudity on broadcast television and why we never heard old school punk rock songs about raping corpses on broadcast radio. Libertarians have been arguing for decades that it is unnecessary for the government to censor TV and broadcast radio, and one of the primary reasons for that is because advertisers are so adverse to sponsoring content that might offend people, advertising driven broadcasters are extremely reluctant to broadcast offensive material.

    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that social media is primarily an advertising driven platform, and its policies are primarily driven by the concerns of advertisers. Advertisers pay a premium to pitch themselves to younger viewers, whose preferences for certain products haven’t quite formed yet, and younger audiences tend to skew more to left. If you already know which beer you like and which shaving creme you like, advertisers aren’t that interested in you.

    No matter what the government does by way of regulation, this will always be the case in the future. Advertisers will still not want their advertising to appear next to somebody’s screed against Black Lives Matter, and that will be the driving force in regards to content standards in advertising driven social media platforms forever.

    Conservatives will ultimately be relegated to platforms tailored specifically for them, or they may need to go to a subscription based model like HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax. Those channels can charge a subscription fee and do away with advertising specifically because they show full frontal nudity among other things you can’t see on advertising driven broadcast television.

    FWIW, broadcast television is considered lame because the content is so unoffensive and vanilla. Conservatives may do better in the public square as premium content that isn’t pitched as safe for tween girls to watch with their parents.

    1. “Since an advertising boycott of Facebook Inc. was organized in mid-June, a veritable Who’s Who of major brands have either added their names to the #StopHateForProfit campaign or otherwise pulled their ads.”

      —-Marketwatch

      July 17, 2020

      https://www.marketwatch.com/story/here-are-the-major-brands-that-have-pulled-ads-from-facebook-2020-06-30

      Here are a few of the names on the list:

      Adidas
      Bayer
      Clorox
      Coca-Cola
      Denny’s
      Ford
      Hershey
      Honda
      Hewlett Packard
      Kimberly-Clark
      Levi Stauss
      Microsoft
      Pfizer
      Starbucks
      Unilever
      Verizon

      Those are some of the biggest heavyweights in consumer advertising that are boycotting Facebook for failing to censor hate speech and conspiracy theories conservative views.

      That problem for Facebook is not going away no matter what the Republicans do.

      And please note that I’m not saying it’s right to equate hate speech and conspiracy theories with conservatism. What I’m saying is that both progressives and advertisers consider what average conservatives believe to be hate speech and conspiracy theories–regardless of whether they should.

      1. Now if we could just get them to boycott Democrats and Republicans.

    2. I agree with you Ken, but also note that it is ultimately the mob mentality that is causing this drive. I can pretty much guarantee you that Coca-Cola would see absolutely ZERO marketing impact from their ads showing next to an Anti-Covid or Hunter Biden conspiracy theory. But the 25-something working in their PR department DOES see an impact. And she is the one setting the company’s ad buy decisions. This is exactly the reason Facebook is cheering for government intervention.

      Right now, the outrage culture is fought largely on Twitter. The people piling on in 80 character outbursts are predominantly people falling into 3 classes. The first two of those are people who drive thinking at advertising firms and the news media. Indeed, the first real victim of outrage theater, Justine Sacco was a PR consultant at a media firm- the fact that she was sacrificed so quickly was a testament to how seriously ad companies take Twitter. Once seen as a valuable tool in understanding the zeitgeist of their markets, the employees at advertising firms have adopted it as a tool for DRIVING that zeitgeist.

      And it isn’t just advertising firms. The third class of people driving the zeitgeist on Twitter are also the employees of the big tech companies. Google didn’t fire James Damore for writing an essay skeptical of affirmative action, he was fired because the story leaked and was subsequently blown up on Twitter.

      As an executive running these large social media companies, they need their employees and advertisers happy. And when they say “keep advertisers happy” it is really about keeping the activist employees at the advertising company happy. It would be much, much simpler to Zuckerberg if he could shorten that all to, “keep the government I lobby regularly happy.”

      1. I have no doubt but that the employees of the social media companies and maybe the brand managers at various consumer products companies are further to the left than your average progressive. That being said, the subconscious subtleties of how brands create dopamine bursts with their advertising may be completely destroyed when consumers associate those brands, subconsciously, with their dad’s ideas about BLM, immigration, abortion, etc. That advertising is all about gunning for subconscious positive associations–and if advertisers wanted their brands associated with those more conservative images, they’d use them overtly in their advertising.

        1. oh boy as someone in corporate marketing..you entered a very hot zone with your take. there is a problem in marketing agencies being very far left, and most marketing communications teams send to be lefties too in my experience. Product and brand managers are usually conservative to libertarian…they often have technical BS degrees and MBA’s…not like the “communication” majors in agencies…corporate HR departments are also pretty far left…as much as engineering departments historically were pretty conservative..

    3. And neither concern justifies government intervention. No one’s safety is at risk. At most they are inconvenienced.

      Conservative voices can set up their own website that anyone who wants to can access.

      Content that is too controversial for advertisers can be accessed on a pay per view model, like adult TV channels.

  14. Good read.

    1. The new breed of populist Republicans are mostly concerned with regulating political speech in their party’s favor.

      The Commies at unreason just dont get it.

  15. While the author is at CEI, which has a track record of defending free markets and opposing monopolies (as Reason traditionally did), this article fails to advocate for more free markets, and instead defends the Big Tech monopolies.

    The biggest technology monopoly threat and challenge for free marketers and free minds is Google searches, which are programmed to promote left wing socialist news media views on the first several pages of every search, while burying the objective and factual sources of information (on virtually every controversial issue, including covid research, evidence and policies) to subsequent search pages (that virtually nobody ever scrolls down to read).

    The future of free markets and free minds is clearly threatened by Google searches, which should NOT be allowed to cancel, censor or bury critically important information simply because they disagree with it and don’t want people to read it.

    Perhaps CEI and Reason editors would have different views about Google if they did a search for CEI or Reason, and the first hundred articles that appeared on their search were false criticisms of CEI or Reason.

    1. Simply doing Google searches for Donald Trump and Joe Biden quickly reveals how terribly biased and political Google’s searches have been programmed to respond.

      The first page of results for a Trump search primarily contains left wing propaganda trashing Trump, while the first page of Biden searches results in articles that praise, promote and defend him.

      I just did a Google search for Scott Atlas, which resulted in dozens of left wing media articles trashing Atlas on the first three pages of the search, while the first of Atlas’ writings didn’t appear until the fourth page of the search (which was Atlas’ response to his critics at Stanford who trashed him).

      That’s how Google attacks people and viewpoints they disagree with.

      1. I don’t know if this occurred to you, but there is a lot about Trump that is trashing-worthy. He’s a reprehensible person and a lot of people take note of that.

        1. Yeah he’s a real meany on twitter. Maybe you could go cry with AOC after your double shift.

        2. “He’s a reprehensible person”

          Not really. He just doesn’t put up with the clerisy and the Davos crowd’s sociopathic authoritarian horseshit.

          That’s why you guys hate him, because he doesn’t bend over and ask for another like the GOPe did.

        3. There were two points made, by focusing on your trump hatred, you imply your support of Biden once again.

      2. Google’s algorithms prioritize what people select. If that’s what’s on the top it’s because that’s what people choose to read. Don’t like it? Blame the users, not the search engine.

        In fact this looks like a great business opportunity. Create your own search engine and skew the results to angry conservative views. Advertise on Fox News and talk radio! You’ll get rich!

        1. Thats bullshit because he just said he Bill Godshall was looking for balanced articles about two famous people. There was no balance.

          Furthermore, I helped push the Santorum Google search to the top when that was a thing. I know Google is manipulating results because I helped do it.

          Nobody believes the Lefties are righteous, so you are only fooling yourself. Just admit Lefties push Lefty propaganda and we can move on to the next topic of how that propaganda strategy is costing Lefty businesses billions.

          1. Nobody believes the Lefties are righteous, so you are only fooling yourself.

            When did I say they were? Conservatives aren’t very righteous either, and if you think they are you’re as deluded as the caricature of me you keep in your head.

            Libertarians recognize that nobody is righteous. That’s why we want less government and more markets, because government is control and markets are cooperation.

            Conservatives, like the leftists you hate, want control. The only argument between conservatives and leftists is who and what to control, and how to do it.

        2. It actually doesn’t. It’s why I recommend all my trainees use Bing when making work related searches. Google futzed with their algorithm too much in an attempt to get the results they want, instead of what you’re actually looking for.

    2. The biggest technology monopoly threat and challenge for free marketers and free minds is Google searches, which are programmed to promote left wing socialist news media views on the first several pages of every search, while burying the objective and factual sources of information (on virtually every controversial issue, including covid research, evidence and policies) to subsequent search pages (that virtually nobody ever scrolls down to read).

      Even if that were true, which I doubt, all someone needs to do is refine their searches to find what they want. C’mon. It isn’t that hard.

      Let’s say it’s true. What would you do about it? Require all google search results be approved by conservative moderators? Only return results that fit your politics, fuck everyone else?

      Just admit it. You’re hostile to free minds and free markets. You want everyone and everything to be controlled (by people with politics that you like).

      The only, I repeat only difference between you and a liberal progressive is what parts of our lives you want to control, and who you want to have in charge.

      1. poor unreason and their support bots like sarcasmic.

        He works for booze.

        1. Well there was a thoughtful rebuttal if I’ve ever seen one.

          1. Honest and accurate too.

            1. Let me know when you want to debate a topic instead of throwing out taunts like a child on a playground. I’ll be here.

      2. “You’re hostile to free minds and free markets.”

        Not true. I’m hostile to monopolies, especially those controlled by partisan left wing billionaires.

        1. Monopolies are granted by government. They come from government using force against the competition.

          A company that gets really big by doing something better than anyone else isn’t using force.

          Now you want to user force because you don’t like their politics.

          Tell me how you’re different from a leftist other than how you want to use force on people.

  16. Big government is far more dangerous than big business. So sad that the Republicans forgot this.

    1. Crony businesses working with big government to control people is far worse for Americans. Its the only way for Commies to get Americans to cave to their tyranny.

      Kungflu hysteria is a perfect example. Government dictates masks and social distancing, people all over the USA ignore government. Businesses team up with government to enforce masks or you cannot buy anything, Americans have to cave.

      It’s Fascism at its finest and unreason is supporting it.

      1. Corporations are free to buy back all their stock and give up their public charters to become single proprietorships or partnerships.

        Public Corporations have certain protections and responsibilities based on the government entity that allows that form of business.

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  18. https://twitter.com/jimswiftdc/status/1335260655688052743?s=21

    “Sidney Powell amplified a false claim that 3,000 ballots were ‘floating in Lake Erie.’

    That satirical story was not about the election, but the television show ‘The Voice.’”

    1. Let me guess you sent in your audition tape and they rejected you.

      Maybe go cry in the freezer with AOC.

  19. Sad to see how conservative partisans abandon all free trade principles for political gain.

    1. Poor unreason. Their bots dont know how public corporations are created by law or by whom.

      1. Corporations are nothing more than people pooling resources for a common purpose. Believe it or not, but people have been doing this long before the government legislation. People create corporations, and government recognizes them. Or it doesn’t, depending on where you live. But that doesn’t stop people from voluntary cooperating. Government isn’t a god. It’s just the top gang.

        1. Government creates the ability to form a public corporation. Look at a corporation charter sometime. Look at Delaware state law sometime, since that state is commonly used for business incorporation.

          People like zuckerberg want all the advantages of state and federal law but none of the established responsibilities.

          Its not in the public interest to give government contracts to social media public corporations that censor opinion the company employees disagree with.

          Fb is free to buy back all its stock and become a single proprioritorship.

  20. I think the idea that both sides in an exchange benefit if allowed to do so freely was around way before Steve Horowitz…Rothbard, Hayek, Von MIses (the economists hated by Reason wokes) spoke of this decades and decades ago. The issue with conservatives and social media is the censorship driven by cultural marxist views of the heads of the firms…simply put they can’t be allowed to censor speech if that is the service they are selling. None of this bs about double standards of “marginalized” “historically discriminated” and “at risk” groups being allowed to trash other people/views and then being exempted from response. Or woke content editors (who let’s be brutally honest..are mostly liberal art ivy league left wingers from NYC who are the same as those working at NYT/Wapo except the gloves are off now in terms of fing real Americans they hate. The social media firms should have to publish anything their customer’s post except for personal threats…period…its called liberty

    1. “simply put they can’t be allowed to censor speech if that is the service they are selling”

      They are selling advertising. The users are given free accounts to provide “eyeballs” for the advertisers. They are not selling an unrestricted free speech platform and never claimed to.

      1. Actually they did, all their censorship rules sprang up much, much later. Look at Facebook, Twitter and YouTube’s user agreements from 2012 versus today.
        They changed the deal on everyone later.

  21. “The social media firms should have to publish anything their customer’s post except for personal threats…period…its called liberty

    Force is liberty. Gotcha.

    1. Good ‘ol unreason bots.

      war = peace
      having protections of 230 taken away = force

      1. “having protections of 230 taken away” will not achieve the goal of sites like Twitter and Facebook be less censorious toward conservative speech, or the goal that they will publish almost anything user’s post short of personal threats.

        It will make the big social media sites even more cautious about content they allow, if it doesn’t destroy their business completely.

        A proper role of government in a free market is to provide a lightweight, fair-handed regulatory scaffolding for market activities. Section 230 is an example of well-done regulation.

        1. *Arguing for regulatory measures on an ostensibly libertarian site*

          ~~~ Just White Knight things ~~~

      2. The only reason you want to take away 230 is so you can feel warm and fuzzy when political views you don’t like are suppressed. In principle there is no significant difference between you and those leftists you hate so much. The only difference is in the details.

        1. “you want to take away 230 is so you can feel warm and fuzzy when political views you don’t like are suppressed.

          …meanwhile on planet earth:

          “(230) provides “Good Samaritan” protection from civil liability for operators of interactive computer services in the removal or moderation of third-party material they deem obscene or offensive, even of constitutionally protected speech

          Lol, I can’t even…

          1. Exactly. You want to insert judgement based upon your political views and substitute it for theirs. You want to use force on them because you don’t like their politics.

            Remind me how you’re different from the leftists you hate so much?

            1. I talked to Zorro the Gay Blade again last night…

              He reiterated to me, that left minus right “mox nix”… left minus right = shit sandwich with musty-turds v/s left minus right might sometimes = shit sandwich with extra sand! Either way, left minus right = Zorro the Gay Blade!

              1. You’re seriously losing it dude.

                1. Yeah man, I actually lost my virginity ages ago, truly I say unto ye… Government Almighty fucked me up the ass so hard, you would NEVER believe shit!

                  1. You don’t aid the libertarian cause by being someone to be ridiculed.

                    1. Riddle me this: Would a court jester be allowed to be a libertarian? Or only upon being invited and commissioned to be a court jester, by the King?

          2. Constitutional protections are protections from government, not corporations. Corporations can censor all they want. They’re not government outside the fevered minds of leftists.

            1. Except they are public corporations, they take federal contract money, and operate in interstate commerce.

              I would support completely leaving Fb alone if they didnt take federal contract money, they operated outside the USA, and were not Us public corporations.

              Never happen because American companies have it awesome. They are not even accountable to their shareholders anymore for fraud.

  22. Politicians can be counted on to never ask Zuckerberg if something is objectively true or false.

    1. Mark at the close of the hearing: “Lunch is on me, guys.”

  23. There is no question that Amazon has revolutionized retail and shipping.

    There is also no question that Amazon has supported the antifa/bLM arson-and-loot squads targeting local businesses and brick-and-mortar establishments, and has supported the lock-down decrees issued by mayors and governors — as long as the decrees don’t apply to Amazon.

  24. It shouldn’t be the government’s job to make sure companies do not become too successful. They succeed by providing things customers want at prices they are willing to pay. Get out of the way.

  25. “companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.”

    Doesn’t that describe the U.S. Federal government? Except before oil barons and railroad tycoons.

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