Antitrust

The Bipartisan Antitrust Crusade Against Big Tech

How reactionary politicians are using monopoly concerns as cover to pursue pre-existing political agendas

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Is Facebook a monopoly? Should Amazon be forced to do business with the new social media platform Parler? Is Apple harming its customers—and maybe democracy—by installing the Safari web browser on iPhones? Did Google bully people into using its search engine?

All of these questions have been raised in recent U.S. antitrust probes and lawsuits. The queries are unlikely to result in widespread improvements to the welfare of tech consumers—which, these days, includes just about everyone. Yet some of the country's top prosecutors, pundits, bureaucrats, and elected officials have made them a priority, often in open defiance of a longstanding principle that says ordinary customers should be at the center of conversations about antitrust.

Under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, a bipartisan brigade of policy makers, attorneys general, and activist experts has become committed to excoriating America's most popular tech companies as evil monopolists, launching complicated claims against them in court, and working to change laws to make these endeavors go down more smoothly.

The motivation for this bipartisan push can be found in partisan politics. For progressive Democrats, it isn't really about tech companies. For populist Republicans, it's not really about monopoly power. Instead, in both cases, antitrust has become a broad cover for pursuing pre-existing political agendas. Antitrust law—long understood as a blunt instrument to be used sparingly in cases where consumer interests are in serious danger—is being revived and reimagined by today's antitrust crusaders as a multitool for prosecuting the public case against Big Tech and taking big or influential companies down a peg.

The new antitrust push is an attempt to expand the control that federal overseers wield over the U.S. business landscape, with little attention paid to what's good for average Americans. Yet if history is any indication, consumers are the ones who stand to lose.

The GOP War on Big Tech

Parler was the last straw, some said.

A Twitter-esque social network for the MAGA right, it was supposed to be an antidote to the waning culture of free-speech permissiveness on other popular digital platforms and the overwhelmingly liberal bent many conservatives perceived on them. Parler "gets what free speech is all about," tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) last June. It's "built on respect for privacy and personal data, free speech, free markets, and ethical, transparent corporate policy," the Parler website claims.

But after Trump fans stormed the Capitol on January 6, tech companies took a beating for supposedly allowing the extremism and disinformation that sparked the riot to flourish. Right-leaning platforms like Parler bore the brunt of the blame.

That blame was both deserved and undeserved, depending on how you look at it. Yes, Parler provided a forum for posts planning the January 6 protest that would take a dark turn, as well as for content livestreamed from rioters, threats against Democrats, and promises of further action. But Parler was far from alone in this, and it may not even have been home to the worst of it.

Still, the site's high visibility as a safe space for Trump supporters made it an easy target. Soon, Apple and Google stopped making Parler downloads available in their respective app stores. (Apple has since let Parler return.) Amazon Web Services (AWS)—the branch of the retail giant that provides cloud computing services—suspended Parler's account, effectively disappearing it from the internet temporarily.

In response, Parler sued. Among its allegations was that Amazon had violated Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The decision was "designed to reduce competition in the microblogging services market to the benefit of Twitter," according to Parler's January 2021 complaint. (Why Amazon would want to boost Twitter is unclear.)

Many Republicans cheered the lawsuit on. Parler, the story went, had been taken down by the left-leaning forces of Big Tech, which feared Parler's power as a conservative competitor. The site was deployed as a case study in the dangerous power that technology companies allegedly can wield over private speech.

Yet the story wasn't so simple. Before long, Parler found a new web hosting provider, Epik, which also hosts the right-leaning network Gab. In the end, Parler wasn't disappeared by jealous competitors with absolute power over online speech. And it didn't need the government to force Amazon into a business relationship with it. It simply found a new online home, one better aligned with its values.

Republicans held up Parler's lawsuit against Amazon as an illustration of why antitrust is a useful corrective to the power of tech behemoths. Instead, it showed that competition is alive and well in the tech sector. But it was also a telling indicator of the way that the politics of antitrust have evolved.

Not long ago, it would have been odd to find Republicans backing Parler's dubious antitrust claims. After all, Parler's argument was that the government should order Amazon to do business with a company it didn't want to associate with. It was an argument for government force—not a free market but one engineered by authorities to achieve a specific desired outcome.

Historically, Republicans have been reluctant to support such action. Consider the fights put up in recent years over mandates that businesses provide services for same-sex weddings or employee health insurance plans that cover contraception. But tech companies have come to occupy a central place in the culture wars, with many users convinced that Twitter, Google, Facebook, and their ilk are biased against conservatives. In response, they have come to support legislative and regulatory solutions that are both wildly out of proportion and poorly targeted to the particular problems they claim to have identified. In addition, many calls for antitrust action against Big Tech are premised on notions about the law that are simply wrong.

One misguided proposal from the right is to overhaul or demolish the liability shield law Section 230, which says the law shouldn't treat computer service providers as the speakers of user-created content. But using antitrust law against tech companies has also become a popular play. And in conservative anti-tech discourse, the two have often become intertwined. Tucker Carlson, for example, has wrongly claimed on his Fox News show that antitrust regulators have the power to change Section 230.

The conservative case against Big Tech frequently seems to be divorced from any meaningful sense of how antitrust law works. While grilling tech CEOs during a congressional hearing last summer, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.) admonished YouTube for taking down a video about hydroxychloroquine curing COVID-19. Rep. David Cicilline (D–R.I.), notably, criticized the company for not doing so more quickly. But the First Amendment—not antitrust law—governs decisions about speech (and means that with some broad exceptions, private actors can allow or suppress whatever types of speech they like on their own web property).

Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.), Big Tech's loudest critic on the right, has defended antitrust action to break up Google and Facebook and wondered in 2019 whether platforms like Facebook should "exist at all." He has suggested that Facebook choosing to block a link to a specific article of questionable veracity—in this case, a 2020 New York Post story alleging a scandal involving Hunter Biden—is an abuse of monopoly power, instead of a legal, if perhaps misguided, exercise of First Amendment rights. He has argued that Facebook effectively holds a monopoly on online speech, saying in October 2020 that the social media service is "a lot like a supermarket…except there's only ONE supermarket in town, and they decide who can and can't shop." (He said this on Twitter.) In April he introduced both the Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act, which would heavily restrict large corporate mergers, and the Bust Up Big Tech Act, a bill aimed primarily at splitting Amazon and Google into smaller companies.

Hawley's lament is indicative of the larger movement: Republican lawmakers have proposed using antitrust action as an all-purpose cure for all manner of alleged tech industry sins. But under Trump, their complaints coalesced most around these companies' supposed suppression of conservative speech.

The Trump administration broke from Obama administration policy to embrace a vision of expanded antitrust enforcement. "Every week you see [European regulators] going after Facebook and Apple and all of these companies," Trump said in 2019. "Well, we should be doing this. They're our companies."

In October 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) brought a lawsuit accusing Google of anti-competitive behavior; 10 states with Republican attorneys general (Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas) joined immediately. The DOJ and state prosecutors say Google is guilty of violating the Sherman Act, which bans unreasonable "restraint of trade" and "monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy" to monopolize. Companies found guilty can be fined up to $100 million.

That same month, Trump signed a continuing resolution that not only reauthorized the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Permanent Extension Act but repealed its sunset provision. "Since the fall of 2019 alone," the DOJ bragged in a press release, "the division obtained four criminal fines and penalties at or above the Sherman Act's $100 million statutory maximum."

And in December 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Facebook, seeking (among other things) to require the divestiture of Instagram and WhatsApp.

Democrats' Big Tech Wish List

The Trump-era GOP paved the way for Biden-era Democrats to take the anti-tech antitrust crusade even further. Republicans and Democrats might not agree on much right now. But they have both been upset by decisions from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, and they would both like to pry more control over online content from private actors—or at least knock these companies down a peg.

In March, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) responded to an Amazon tweet about her tax plans by saying she would "fight to break up Big Tech so [Amazon is] not powerful enough to heckle senators with snotty tweets."

Warren has been looking for an excuse to go after tech companies for years. During her 2020 presidential primary campaign, she pledged to "unwind" existing mergers—including Amazon's with Whole Foods, Facebook's with WhatsApp and Instagram, and Google's with Nest and Waze—despite the fact that the FTC previously had sanctioned these unions. She also wants to ban Amazon (and every other "platform utility") from selling its own goods on its own site: No more Amazon brand batteries, toilet paper, T-shirts, vitamins, or disinfectant wipes.

Warren is joined in these desires by both leftist and centrist Democrats. Breaking up tech companies is not "a radical idea" but a "part of competition," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) in March. "Facebook is absolutely an out-of-control monopoly," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) posted on Facebook rival Twitter last December. "The only thing that will stop Facebook is to…break it up," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) has opined.

Given all this, it's hardly surprising that Republicans' antitrust suit against Google was later joined by the Democratic attorneys general of California, Michigan, and Wisconsin, with many national Democrats cheering them on. Or that the FTC suit against Facebook was joined by 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.

Members of both parties have grown adept at slotting their desire for censorship and economic control into an antitrust framework, no matter how ill-fitting that framework might be. But while Republicans at least tend to tie their antitrust designs to the consumer-friendly (if not actually antitrust actionable) cause of fighting political "bias," Democrats seldom bother to connect the dots between breaking up popular tech companies and making consumers better off. Instead, they offer standard lefty agitprop: Big is bad. The solution to big? Antitrust action to chop up large companies into smaller ones.

Last year, the House Committee on the Judiciary, which is controlled by Democrats, opened a yearlong investigation into competition in digital markets that included six public hearings on "Online Platforms and Market Power." Members presented the results of this investigation on October 1, 2020—a 450-page report that was confused in its diagnoses, contradictory in its desires, sweeping in its scope, and radical in its recommendations.

The report alleges at one point that Facebook is too beholden to advertisers, giving it "an incentive to prioritize content that is addictive or exploitative." But a few paragraphs later, it complains that Facebook wouldn't change content policies based on an advertiser boycott.

It claims that news aggregation by platforms such as Google and Facebook can "cause reputational harm to news publishers, such as when highly credible reporting appears alongside an opinion-based news source," and that this "may increase the likelihood that people are exposed to disinformation or untrustworthy sources of news online." Then it complains about Google and Facebook suggesting they could stop displaying news.

For big tech firms, the committee members propose myriad changes, including disallowing these companies from operating in multiple lines of business and from prioritizing their own products or content. They also suggest letting news publishers and broadcasters collectively negotiate with tech platforms, an idea that became the premise of a bill sponsored by Klobuchar.

The House report doesn't stop at recommending new rules for Big Tech. It calls for revising rules for mergers and acquisitions more generally, shifting the burden of proof in all antitrust cases away from the government, and more. The document, suggested The American Prospect's David Dayen, uses "tech as simply a case study on what an invigorated legislative body can do to rein in the corporate power of any type."

IBM and Microsoft Paved the Way

Many of the complaints about today's tech giants echo earlier claims made against IBM and Microsoft. Then, as now, the government seemed more invested in breaking up companies just for being big—or in giving a leg up to specific competitors—than in doing what was best for users of computer technology. Then, as now, authorities took aim at a moment in technological time that would not have lasted regardless.

The first big case antitrust enforcers filed against a computing company came in 1969, when the DOJ sued IBM for allegedly monopolizing the "general-purpose digital computers" market in an anti-competitive way.

The case sprawled out across more than a decade, with discovery alone taking six years and the trial nearly seven. During that time, 87 live witnesses were called and more than 1.1 million pages of transcript produced. The federal government later reported that it spent $16.8 million on the case, not including fees for expert witnesses, note law professors William H. Page and John E. Lopatka in the 2007 book The Microsoft Case. "The total annual cost to all parties was between $50 million and $100 million, in addition to the incalculable indirect costs of litigation," they write. "In 1982, the government voluntarily dismissed the case. It was a miserable defeat that led Robert Bork to describe the experience as 'the Antitrust Division's Vietnam.'" Looking back, Page and Lopatka call the case "a study in breathtaking excess."

The federal war against IBM was doomed in part by its expanse and duration: By the time the case was dismissed, technology and market changes had already made the whole thing obsolete. IBM's market power dwindled on its own as conditions evolved and new competitors emerged—no regulatory intervention needed.

The IBM boondoggle coincided with the rise of new economic theories driven by the work of economists at the University of Chicago. The so-called Chicago School proposed that anti-competitive behavior should not be understood merely as conduct that thwarted a business's competitors. Antitrust action was appropriate only if consumers were actually being harmed. From the Reagan era through the Clinton administration, this was the measure that mattered.

Then came the online era. Competitors of dominant early internet companies—and lefties who had always disliked the shift toward Chicago school theories—insisted that the World Wide Web changed the way we should understand competition and harm.

It was in this environment that the next major anti-tech antitrust suit sprung up, this time against Microsoft. The FTC first started investigating the company in 1990, with the DOJ taking over the probe in August 1993. The following summer, the parties reached a settlement, with Microsoft promising not to try to use its popularity to quash competition in the operating system sphere.

Nevertheless, the DOJ spent the next several years crying antitrust at Microsoft's every move. In 1997, it filed a complaint against the company for violating Microsoft's earlier consent decree by bundling the Internet Explorer web browser with its Windows 95 software—a move similar to Google and Apple preloading smartphones with their preferred mobile browsers today. In a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson told Microsoft it had to stop. But, in 1998, an appeals court said the injunction didn't apply to Microsoft's Windows 98 software.

Days later, the Department of Justice brought what would become the primary antitrust suit against Microsoft, alleging—along with the attorneys general of 19 states and the District of Columbia—that it was "engaging in anticompetitive and exclusionary practices designed to maintain its monopoly in personal computer operating systems and to extend that monopoly to internet browsing software."

At the heart of this case was, again, the charge that Microsoft had given itself an unfair advantage in the nascent browser wars by pre-installing its own internet browser, Internet Explorer, on Microsoft's Windows operating system. Attorney General Janet Reno claimed Microsoft had given itself "a chokehold on the browser software needed to access the Internet"—despite the fact that computer manufacturers could also give users other browser software and Windows users could install them. Since Explorer was included as the default option (and could never be fully deleted) and Windows was the most widely used operating system at the time, the feds claimed that consumers were trapped or tricked into using Microsoft's portal to the web. The DOJ sought to force Microsoft to either unbundle the Internet Explorer browser or to include the browser of its competitor, Netscape, in its operating system.

Microsoft pointed out that Netscape had ample market share and millions of users without the government intervening, and argued that intervention wasn't meant to spur competition but to aid Netscape. "Demands that Microsoft completely hide its Windows user interface and its Internet technology from PC users, and that we ship Netscape's competing software in every copy of Windows, all appear to benefit a single competitor at the expense of consumers," Microsoft founder Bill Gates told CNN's Lou Dobbs at the time.

"Based on the facts and the recent appeals court decision, we believe the case should be dismissed now, without a long and costly trial," William H. Neukom, then Microsoft's executive vice president for law and corporate affairs, said in a September 1998 statement. "Nothing shown at trial can change the fact that customers benefit from Microsoft's efforts to make Windows work well with the Internet."

Page and Lopatka call Microsoft "a quintessential post-Chicago case because it drew on a novel economic theory" to suggest that otherwise efficient and legal conduct becomes unfair and illegal in cases when "network effects" are present. The term network effects refers to a phenomenon by which a business or product becomes more useful as more people adopt it, thereby prompting even more people to adopt it while also making it less sensible for current users to flee to new networks. In the case of social media, for instance, platforms with larger user bases allow people to reach the widest and most diverse audience or to stay in touch with the greatest numbers of their family members and friends.

Network effects invariably turn on consumer choices; operating systems and social networks become dominant only if large numbers of consumers choose to use them. But anti–Chicago School theorists argue that these effects can be so powerful—and so hard for a new entrant into the market to replicate—that they can effectively block competition and lock in users.

In this case, the more people who used Microsoft's operating system and browser, they said, the more developers would want to write their programs to be compatible with it, creating a snowball effect that would entice even more consumers to Microsoft.

Microsoft's competitors—and later, government prosecutors parroting those competitors' arguments—alleged that while the company's attempts to gain market share might normally be OK, the presence of network effects placed them on the illegally anti-competitive side.

The initial judge on the case, Thomas Penfield Jackson, agreed with the government about Microsoft and issued sweeping penalties that would have broken up the company into two parts. But Jackson was later cited for misconduct for having made statements to the media before the trial even began that suggested bias. Echoing complaints about today's tech companies, the judge had objected to what he perceived as Microsoft founder Bill Gates' "hubris," calling him a "smart-mouthed young kid who…needs a little discipline."

In 2001, an appeals court found that Jackson had violated the code of conduct for federal judges in three separate ways and removed him from the case. It also disagreed with many of Jackson's conclusions and remedies. While finding that Microsoft had maintained its computer operating system dominance through anti-competitive licensing agreements, it disagreed that it had attempted to monopolize the browser market, and it found Jackson's remedies overly broad and punitive. Sending questions about whether browsers and operating systems can be packaged together back to a different lower court, it reversed Jackson's order saying Microsoft must be broken up.

The DOJ accepted this decision, perhaps because, by this point, shifts in the tech landscape had made many of the premises of the government's case obsolete. Within a few years, Microsoft's dominant position in the computer industry would be displaced—not by government action but by changes in the market. Smartphones supplemented and replaced desktop and laptop computers; social media and messaging apps gained on email; and Apple's iPhone, Google's Android operating system, and platforms such as Facebook and Twitter began to dethrone Microsoft.

The DOJ's case had rested on the assumption that -Microsoft had given itself an unfair advantage over competitors that made it the permanent king of the tech industry. This argument assumed that the market was static and that change could come only from the heavy hand of the government. Yet as with IBM, Microsoft lost market power because a host of nimble upstart competitors found ways to meet consumer needs in unexpected ways.

Now, the DOJ is giving those same companies the IBM and Microsoft treatment. Once again, its case is based on the flawed assumption that the current state of the market can change only with government prodding. Yet if the Microsoft and IBM cases show us anything, it's the futility of trying to use antitrust law to pick winners and losers in the tech sector.

In the 1960s, IBM dominated the mainframe computer business; the government went after IBM just as personal computers replaced mainframes. As Virginia Postrel wrote in Reason back in 1998, "whatever quasi-monopoly IBM had was broken not by government enforcers but by obscure innovators, working on computer visions neither IBM nor the Justice Department's legions of lawyers had imagined."

Similarly, in the 1990s, Microsoft dominated personal computers and their operating systems; the government went after Microsoft just as web-based applications won out over operating system–based applications and mobile operating systems won out over desktop computing.

In 2021, Facebook may dominate social media, and Apple and Android may dominate among mobile operating systems. But it's highly unlikely the situation in 2021 will hold forever.

Sovereign Influencers

Today's focus on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube may prove just as ill-timed and ill-fated as yesteryear's targeting of IBM and Microsoft. In just the past few years, for instance, we've seen the rise of YouTube competitor TikTok. Meanwhile, Facebook is bleeding active users in the United States and Canada.

But the challenges may go deeper. It's not just politicians and regulators who complain about online platforms being too powerful. Users across the political spectrum grumble about these companies' often inscrutable content moderation decisions and their ability to suppress, demonetize, or boot users who have built up significant followings, without the "canceled" having any real recourse.

At the same time, new entities such as the newsletter service Substack, which gives writers access to their subscribers' email addresses and therefore a way to reach them independent of the platform itself, and Clubhouse, an invite-only social media network built around impromptu audio discussions, are rising in influence while giving individual creators more power than ever to both build and monetize their followings online.

Mike Solana, vice president of the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Founders Fund, sees this as the dawn of a new dynamic—one that will largely solve the problems of so-called cancel culture and social media censorship without any new legislation or regulation. "Cancel-proof" platforms will lure more and more high-volume, high-profile creators away from the dominant platforms, he predicts. And as high-profile creators decamp, average users will follow, as the same network effects that helped Facebook become huge work in reverse.

"We're approaching a world of something new: the sovereign influencer," Solana wrote in March. "Companies focused on the dominance of sovereign influencers are riding the most important trend in media, while social media incumbents are almost incapable of capitalizing on the trend without disrupting their own dominance."

Solana was partaking in this trend even as he described it: He published his prediction of online sovereigns in Pirate Wires—a newsletter on Substack.

Modern Monopolies?

Even as the online content creation and attention economies are seeing massive and ongoing changes, many in government are obsessively looking backward, often repeating the same sorts of errors that drove the IBM and Microsoft boondoggles. As in the Microsoft case, the House report's interpretations of tech activity are uncharitable, are arguably misleading, and assume consumers have little agency.

For example, the report faults Google for increasing promotion of its video-chat app, Google Meet, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. "Google introduced a new widget for Meet inside Gmail," the report points out. "A similar message could be found inside Google Calendar, which prompted users to 'Add Google Meet video conferencing' to their appointments." Some might see this as merely a sensible business response to the rise in remote work and social distancing. The subcommittee calls it an attempt "to manipulate users into using its Google Meet videoconferencing tool instead of upstart competitor Zoom."

Similarly uncharitable interpretations abound, from the way the report characterizes product innovations to the way it defines relevant markets (a key factor in determining whether a business is a monopoly). Instead of considering Amazon a part of a retail ecosystem that includes physical stores, for instance, it assumes the relevant market is e-commerce alone—a category of which it admits it does not know Amazon's share. It then further segments the relevant market to online marketplaces (that is, platforms "where a wide variety of brands and products from different sellers are sold in one place") in order to conclude that Amazon has a "65 percent to 70 percent of all U.S. online marketplace sales."

The report determines that Facebook has monopoly power because many people have downloaded the company's apps onto their phones. "As a standalone product, the Facebook app had the third highest reach of all mobile apps, with 200.3 million users in the United States, reaching 74 percent of smartphone users as of December 2019," it notes. "In contrast, Snapchat, the mobile app with the seventh highest reach, had 106.5 million users in the United States, reaching 31.4 percent of smartphone users." Of course, many people have a multitude of apps on their phones; downloading Facebook doesn't stop them from using Twitter, TikTok, Clubhouse, and more obscure apps, too.

Sometimes, the report portrays consumer preferences themselves as an obstacle to competition. One barrier to people abandoning Apple, it notes, is "brand loyalty."

With echoes of the Microsoft case, the report also claims Google is acting anti-competitively by making its own browser (Google Chrome) the default option on Android smartphones. It notes that "while Google does allow users to change default browsers on Android, in practice users rarely do." But there are plenty of other browser options available, and if Chrome wasn't satisfactory to users, they could abandon it. So how exactly is this a matter for federal government involvement?

Alas, authorities seem extremely concerned for the business prospects of competitors to successful tech companies and for hypothetical future market entrants. They seem much less concerned for users of big tech services and the consumers who will be buying goods or finding content on them.

"Google has maintained [search engine] dominance for more than a decade, a period during which its lead over its most significant competitors has only increased," the House report says. It points out that Google's "search algorithm has been refined through trillions upon trillions of queries" and that the company has invested in the huge number of "servers needed for crawling and indexing the entire web."

One might surmise that these things make Google good at serving up relevant results—and indeed, the report admits as much. It just thinks that's a problem, since "even an upstart that was able to secure the necessary capital to invest heavily in computing infrastructure would find itself at a considerable disadvantage." But what is the alternative—consumers being forced to use search engines that have indexed fewer web pages and are able to return less useful information?

Similarly, the report presents changes to Google's algorithms as if they are somehow nefarious. "An update to Google's search algorithm in June 2019 decreased a major news publisher's online traffic 'by close to 50 percent' even as their referrals from other sources—such as their home page and apps—grew during the same period," it complains.

Yet "constant discrimination among search results is the key to keeping up with consumer preferences and returning the most relevant results," noted Robert D. Atkinson in an October 2020 report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C. "Consequently, discrimination is the very essence of competition on the merits for search results. Restricting a search engine from changing results, even in ways that might negatively harm some businesses, would limit competition and run precisely counter to antitrust laws."

Again and again, the House report objects to features and services that provide value to consumers. A better product, after all, is a competitive advantage.

The idea that consumers choose to use products not because they're useful but because Big Tech companies have somehow tricked or pressured them into it is deeply embedded in the report—and in the new antitrust crusade more generally. It's a form of consumer false consciousness in which end users don't know what they want (but members of Congress, of course, do). There's no sense that people might someday choose different products and services on their own, as they did with both IBM and Microsoft; the new antitrust worldview is one in which users are either trapped or brainwashed by corporate power and need the government to save them from using the wrong search engines, browsers, and online shopping platforms.

Consider the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act, sponsored this year by Klobuchar. The bill proposes hiking FTC and DOJ antitrust budgets by $600 million in total, raising the cap on civil penalties for antitrust violations, and banning "exclusionary conduct" that poses an "appreciable risk of harming competition." Big companies accused of such conduct would be assumed to be acting anti-competitively unless they could prove otherwise.

All of this represents a stark departure from antitrust law as we've known it for the past half-century. But it's also at odds with the original antitrust vision. "Even the original drafters of the major U.S. antitrust statutes never saw competition as the goal; rather, they saw fair competition as a means to an end," Atkinson writes. "The goal was to increase economic welfare, and sometimes more competition serves that goal and sometimes it doesn't."

The left's new antitrust crusaders want to change this. The goal is no longer to protect consumer welfare; it's to tip the playing field to benefit newer or smaller businesses.

"Our position is that any enforcer must reject the consumer welfare ideology," Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project—which argues for expanded antitrust action—told The Intercept in January. Instead, enforcers should "embrace the historic recommendations for reforming antitrust that were published by the House Antitrust Committee over the summer."

Those recommendations align closely with the preferences of a rising school of antitrust activists that includes lawyer Lina Khan, who served as counsel for the House antitrust investigation, and Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor and author of 2018's The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age (Columbia Global Reports).

Both Wu and Khan see antitrust as an all-purpose tool for reining in perceived corporate malfeasance and correcting marketplace outcomes they don't like. Some of Wu's proposals "would represent a return to an earlier era of American trustbusting," noted Quartz tech reporter Nicolás Rivero in March, "while others would expand federal oversight further than it ever stretched before."

This movement seeks a total overhaul of modern antitrust theory. And it may well see its visions enacted. Having won control of Congress and the White House, Democrats have made clear that antitrust will be a major priority in coming years. In March, Biden appointed Wu to the National Economic Council, the president's economic policy braintrust, and Khan to the FTC, which oversees antitrust regulation.

The implication of the two appointments is clear: Under Biden, Big Tech will be a prime target, and the party's new antitrust crusaders will be in the driver's seat.

Reactionary Regulation

Today's antitrust movement is neither progressive nor conservative. Perhaps the best descriptor for it is reactionary. It's a series of hostile, emotional, populist-friendly proposals intended to stand athwart technological progress, and the disruptions such progress causes, using historically progressive tactics to advance historically conservative ends.

It's no wonder, then, that the new antitrust crusade has captured the hearts of both Democrats and Republicans. In keeping with the illiberal economic shift of both parties, it flows from the bipartisan realization that online activity of all kinds is the next big front in the culture wars. Most of all, it advances the preexisting partisan goals of both Democrats and Republicans, even if these goals themselves don't coalesce with each other.

The new antitrust push allows Republicans to tap into their base's techno-panic, to peddle a narrative of victimization at the hands of cultural elites, and to throw a bone to the populist component of the GOP coalition. Meanwhile, antitrust allows Democrats to tap into long-harbored fears about corporations, to appear to be sticking up for the little guy in a way that pleases the party's left wing (without having to accomplish more politically difficult tasks, such as passing Medicare for All), and to lay the groundwork for greater government involvement in economic affairs more generally.

The left's new antitrust crusaders essentially want to wield government power to reduce income inequality between businesses, no matter the consumer effects. The right wants to use it as a sort of welfare for cultural cachet, subsidizing speakers and ideas that private market actors would rather not.

The most common refrain among proponents of expanding antitrust law and turning it against Silicon Valley is that tech companies today are just too powerful, too entrenched, too big to fail unless the government steps in. Yet this story runs counter to decades of business history. Time and time again, big players provoked exactly the same sorts of fears before being suddenly supplanted by the competition. Even today, new upstarts—hello, TikTok!—have proven they can gain massive audiences and compete with larger, older players.

What today's tech companies do challenge is the ability of lawmakers and certain legacy media outlets to set the agenda and define the narrative. For all its messiness, the internet today is a serious threat to the establishment's stranglehold on ideas. As long as it exists in its current form, government authorities and their chosen gatekeepers will not be able to control the culture, the political record, or anything else in the way that they once did. Social media platforms, search engines, smart-phones, and the other major components of our modern information ecosystem—like IBM computers and Microsoft software before them—represent alternative power centers. That politicians have invested so much time and effort in drumming up a panic against (frequently free) services that remain incredibly widely used and popular among U.S. consumers should give pause to the idea that this is really about our interests. 

"Schumpeterian 'creative destruction'—the entry of new players based on new innovations—describes the history of many industries," Atkinson noted in his report. "In their day, IBM, AT&T, Microsoft and Intel were all seen as too big, and too powerful, capable of crushing competition before it really emerges."

There's every reason to believe that market and technology changes will likewise come for today's dominant tech players, replacing them with products and services that meet consumer needs in ever better ways. But not if the government decides it knows what's best for private business—and all of us—first.

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Antitrust Monopoly Technology Bipartisanship

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152 responses to “The Bipartisan Antitrust Crusade Against Big Tech

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      2. Then maybe these people ought to be looking at their lifestyle choices and start living more healthily. And while you are at it, explain why it is perfectly OK with you for white people to contract and die from COVID.

        Maybe because you secretly hate white people?

  2. In the word of Ronald Reagan ‘ it’s a shame they can’t both lose ‘.

    1. Forever.

    2. Its a scam. They cry about Goog- hole then the Feds use it ( internet in general) to do spying.

      US Govt complicit in tech monopoly = no one will be prosecuted.

      .As a general proof, see the legal actions in Europe on the topic. They arent afraid to slap Big Tech down across the Pond!

      Trivia Q. What did Goog- hole start out as?

      1. She suggests actions aren’t antitrust violations if they don’t succeed in permanent damage to the competition, but that’s not how the law actually works.

        Antitrust is based on the actions of the party accused, not whether they were sufficient to enough to accomplish whatever final result you think they were after. And it’s in direct relationship to the power of the accused in the marketplace. One pizza restaurant isn’t subject to antitrust scrutiny but someone with a unique position in the marketplace absolutely is. If there’s anyone with that leverage, it’s Amazon.

        The fact that Parler found another source is irrelevant to whether Amazon abused its power to try and destroy them, just as if I shot someone in the head and they were fortunate enough to find a brain surgeon that could save the life.

        One can argue antitrust laws all day long, but based on what they are, Brown seems to be purposely misrepresenting what they are and how they are used.

        1. “One can argue…”? Yes, if one doesn’t define terms and analyze the base of law. Law is based on force, NOT reason, rights, choice. Law was justified as the way to protect rights. It does the opposite. Therefore, law should be replaced by its only option, non-violent, reasoned, voluntary cooperation. Violence is only justified in defense , e.g., against violence. If I advocate a lawless society, under law I may be arrested, tried for inciting a riot, convicted, hanged. It has happened. Yet, my speech was opposing law, i.e., institutionalized violence. Does that make sense? No, but it’s consistent. Those who practice faith in force have only force left when their arguments are refuted by logic.

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    3. I believe that was Henry Kissinger who said that, in reference to the war between Iraq and Iran.

      1. Seems like it wouldn’t be that hard for both sides in a war lose. And Kissinger seem like the kind of Machiavellian guy who could make it happen.

        1. Hey remember how you spent 8 years agitating for wars in Libya, Egypt, Syria and Yemen and then screeched like a histrionic bitch about Trump abandoning our sacred and eternal allies the Kurds when he ended the war your chocolate Jesus started? Remind me again who “won” those ones.

          1. Mike was a uniquely anti trump entry onto this board. His first 6 months here was advertising for quota

  3. “He has suggested that Facebook choosing to block a link to a specific article of questionable veracity—in this case, a 2020 New York Post story alleging a scandal involving Hunter Biden—is an abuse of monopoly power, instead of a legal, if perhaps misguided, exercise of First Amendment rights.”

    LOL

    The intelligence community proved the “Hunter Biden laptop scandal” was actually Russian disinformation. Facebook did exactly the right thing in preventing the Russians from hacking their second consecutive American Presidential election. We Koch / Reason libertarians should be grateful that Big Tech protected our preferred candidate from foreign sabotage.

    #LibertariansForBiden
    #StopSmearingHunterBiden

  4. Oh look… History repeating itself again on the route to stuffing Gov-Guns into every single corner of the market.

    What would one call one Union of States government dictating exactly which type of vehicle everyone has to buy, which type of house everyone has to buy, how much water you use in the shower, what type of energy you can buy, exactly which education you can learn, stealing then holding hostage 70% of the USA landmass, stealing 70% of human labor, exactly which type of doctor you can go see, exactly what type of safety equipment you can buy, etc… etc… etc… etc… etc.. etc… etc.. etc… etc.. etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc… etc…

    Surely that wouldn’t be Anti-Trust?!?!

    Get the US Government away from the Press… Not only do they not have authority for this; they are strictly prohibited from stuffing their Gov-Guns into it. No matter if the right thinks they’re accomplishing anything; The Nazi’s will take this usurped *power* and turn it into an indoctrination state.

    1. “Get the US Government away from the Press”

      Amen! And that includes elected officials of The Party giving orders to big tech on who to cancel and censor, rank corporatist behavior, and special government protections like the Good Samaritan clause.

      1. “…special government protections…” my ass!

        Hey MammaryBahnFuhrer… No matter HOW many times you tell your “Big Lie”, it is NOT true! You’re part of the mob, aren’t you? For a small fee, you tell small businesses that you will “protect” them… From you and your mob! Refute the below, ye greedy authoritarian who wants to shit all over the concept of private property!

        Look, I’ll make it pretty simple for simpletons. A prime argument of enemies of Section 230 is, since the government does such a HUGE favor for owners of web sites, by PROTECTING web site owners from being sued (in the courts of Government Almighty) as a “publisher”, then this is an unfair treatment of web site owners! Who SHOULD (lacking “unfair” section 230 provisions) be able to get SUED for the writings of OTHER PEOPLE! And punished by Government Almighty, for disobeying any and all decrees from Government Almighty’s courts, after getting sued!

        In a nutshell: Government Almighty should be able to boss around your uses of your web site, because, after all, Government Almighty is “protecting” you… From Government Almighty!!!

        Wow, just THINK of what we could do with this logic! Government Almighty is “protecting” you from getting sued in matters concerning who you chose to date or marry… In matters concerning what line of work you chose… What you eat and drink… What you read… What you think… Therefore, Government Almighty should be able to boss you around on ALL of these matters, and more! The only limits are the imaginations and power-lusts of politicians!

        “Nice kneecaps AND over-sized mammaries ya got there, MammaryBahnFuhrer! Be a shame if something happened to them”, says Government Almighty. Ya gonna be OK with THAT, MammaryBahnFuhrer? Depends whose feet the concrete shoes are on, maybe?

        1. Sqrlsy, Democratic party shill and Reason troll-in-chief for the Big Lie. Sqrlsy thinks that elected Party officials ordering big tech to silence political dissent is okay, and magically not a horrific violation of the First Amendment.

          And remember this one folks?
          SQRLSY One
          November.9.2020 at 4:26 pm

          Bimsday, 39 Bemberbember 2020 at 6:66 PM
          I love to LIE my ass off, and suck Satan’s dick! Because I hate humanity! The Evil One is the Father of Lies, just as Der TrumpfenFuhrer is the Stable Genius! So, as the apple falls not far from the tree, I INSIST on telling obvious lies, all day, every day! Butt… Surprise, surprise! Other Evil Ones Junior will fall for my lies… Because they want to!

          1. Mother’s Lament
            Bimsday, 39 Bemberbember 2020 at 6:66 PM
            I love to LIE my ass off, and suck Satan’s dick! Because I hate humanity! The Evil One is the Father of Lies, just as Der TrumpfenFuhrer is the Stable Genius! So, as the apple falls not far from the tree, I INSIST on telling obvious lies, all day, every day! Butt… Surprise, surprise! Other Evil Ones Junior will fall for my lies… Because they want to!

            (Both above and below originally posted by “SQRLSY One”, who does NOT engage in actual ID theft like Expert “Christian” Theologian MammaryBahnFurher!)

            Mother’s Lament
            Bimbosday, 43 Bimbobember 2020 at 6:66 PM
            I lust after being abused by power-mad politicians, because I am power-mad myself! And I suffer under the utterly stupid illusion that power-mad politicians will feed me, like a doggy under the table, a wee few, tiny scraps of their vast powers. Biden came up here to Canoodlestanistanistanistanistan to noodle me and my poodle, and give me nookie, with my Wookie and my bookie, but all that Biden would do, is smell my hair! So I lust after Der TrumpfenFuhrer to come up here and grab my pussy good and hard!

            1. Hard to believe MommySlammer is still a thing.

          2. To be fair. Sqrsly has no form of rationality or reason and is a sock intended to shit up threads where he agrees with an anti libertarian action but can’t reason a way as to defend it with principles. He is no different than Jeff.

            1. Notice that JesseBahnFuhrer can NOT refute ONE SINGLE POINT that I’ve made! What a surprise!

              1. If you’d made a point instead of shitting out the same copypasta you post in literally every thread 90-100 times a day he might.

                1. If JesseBahnFuhrer had any valid counter-points to make, JesseBahnFuhrer might! But JesseBahnFuhrer can’t refute what I say, so JesseBahnFuhrer doesn’t!

            2. Don’t forget, sqrlsy is a sarcasmic sockpuppet that he has outed multiple times in his drunken stupors. He didn’t even bother claiming he was “hacked” like he normally does. It’s a wonder that poor man gets hacked so often, what with being a top netsec expert who needs help using basic HTML.

              1. Hi Tulpa!

                “Dear Abby” is a personal friend of mine. She gets some VERY strange letters! For my amusement, she forwards some of them to me from time to time. Here is a relevant one:

                Dear Abby, Dear Abby,
                My life is a mess,
                Even Bill Clinton won’t stain my dress,
                I whinny seductively for the horses,
                They tell me my picnic is short a few courses,
                My real name is Mary Stack,
                NO ONE wants my hairy crack!
                On disability, I live all alone,
                Spend desperate nights by the phone,
                I found a man named Richard (Dick) Decker,
                But he won’t give me his hairy pecker!
                Dick Decker’s pecker is reserved for farm beasts,
                I am beastly, yes! But my crack’s full of yeasts!

                So Dear Abby, that’s just a poetic summary… You can read about the Love of my Life, Richard Decker, here:
                https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/11/farmers-kept-refusing-let-him-have-sex-with-their-animals-so-he-sought-revenge-authorities-say/#comments-wrapper
                Farmers kept refusing to let him have sex with their animals. So he sought revenge, authorities say.
                Decker the hairy pecker told me a summary of his story as below:
                Decker: “Can I have sex with your horse?”
                Farmer: “Lemme go ask the horse.”
                Pause…
                Farmer: “My horse says ‘neigh’!”
                And THAT was straight from the horse’s mouth! I’m not horsin’ around, here, no mare!

                So Richard Decker the hairy pecker told me that, apparently never even realizing just HOW DEEPLY it hurt me, that he was all interested in farm beasts, while totally ignoring MEEE!!

                So I thought maybe I could at least liven up my lonely-heart social life, by refining my common interests that I share with Richard Decker… I, too, like to have sex with horses!

                But Dear Abby, the horses ALL keep on saying “neigh” to my whinnying sexual advances!
                Some tell me that my whinnying is too whiny… Abby, I don’t know how to fix it!

                Dear Abby, please don’t tell me “get therapy”… I can’t afford it on my disability check!

                Now, along with my crack full of yeasts… I am developing anorexia! Some are calling me a “quarter pounder with cheese”, but they are NOT interested at ALL, in eating me!!! They will NOT snack on my crack!

                What will I DO, Dear Abby?!?!?

                -Desperately Seeking Horses, Men, or ANYTHING, in Fort Worth,
                Yours Truly,
                Mary Stack / Tulpa / Mary’s Period / “.” / Satan

                1. So crazy.

            3. He also eats his own shit.

      2. …get the Press away from hard drugs…

      3. And that includes elected officials of The Party giving orders to big tech on who to cancel and censor,

        Okay, so how would this work in practice? If Senator Huffalumps gives a speech saying “Facebook is harming the country with their editorial decisions and they should stop”, is that considered the government “giving an order” to Facebook? Should that speech be prohibited? What about Senator Huffalumps’ speech rights, or those of anyone else, to criticize Facebook?

        1. Good points chemjeff! Sad to say, realistically or not, Senator Huffalumps speech (unlike the speech of you or me, or bums under the bridge) is perceived, often, to carry threats of new laws… Senator Huffalumps SHOULD SAY “my personal ethical criticism, NOT meaning to threaten laws bossing around YOUR private property”, for clarity, if that’s what Senator Huffalumps means, dammit!!!

        2. Sad to say, Senator Huffalump (R-Hell) will NOT add those kinds of clarifying remarks, because Senator Huffalump (R-Hell) wants to leave the threats implied, to appeal to private-property-disrespecting right-wing Marxists like MammaryBahnFuhrer and JesseBahnFuhrer. That’s a good reason to NOT vote for Senator Huffalump (R-Hell)!

    2. Govt complicit, cant sue the Govt. Perfect scam

  5. “Should Amazon be forced to do business with the new social media platform Parler?”

    Should Amazon break it’s contracts and obligations with Parler, when pressured by elected officials for the sole benefit of the Democratic Party?

    As usual with an ENB piece, the lying begins in the premise.

    1. Being forced to do business with someone you prefer not to has been enshrined in law here since 1964.

      Where you been, ENB?

    2. This is an extremely vexing view by ENB as two markets dominate the app market and often work collusively together.

      Defending market collusion at this level is anti libertarian as an initial premise.

      1. And, as always, we aren’t just talking about one market. The two app market places collude with or just openly intimidate phone manufacturers, network providers, and payment service handlers…

    3. Attacking the Messenger, Troll?

      So lame.

      1. His first sentence declares his issue to the piece. Did you miss that, troll?

        1. daveca is yet another really old shreek sock that he took out of retirement after January along with his QueenAmalthea, dajjal and AddictionMyth socks. Just FYI.

      2. Shreek’s pulling out all the old sockpuppets just to white knight for ENB.

        She’ll never fuck you Shreek.

        1. Doesn’t he prefer prepubescent boys?

  6. https://twitter.com/AntifaWatch2/status/1401170403129757697?s=19

    Here’s another clip that appears to be from that bloody assault last night in #Minneapolis

    You can see 3 individuals punching and stomping him while he is on the ground.
    [Video]

    1. Other tribe’s violence bad, your tribe’s violence good, right, Nadless Nardless the Nasty NAZI?

      READ the below and hang your tiny brainless, power-lusting shit-head in SHAME for always taking the side of Trumpanzees, power-luster-pig!
      https://www.jpost.com/international/kill-him-with-his-own-gun-dc-cop-talks-about-the-riot-655709
      ‘Kill him with his own gun’ – DC cop talks about Capitol riot
      DC Police officer Michael Fanone: I had a choice to make: Use deadly force, which would likely result with the mob ending his life, or trying something else.
      “Pro-law-and-order” Trumpturds take the side of trumpanzees going apeshit, making cops beg for their lives! For trying to defend democracy against mobocracy! Can you slime-wads sink ANY lower?!?!

      1. Google needs a translator option for “Crazy Spastic”.

        I imagine Sqrlsy is saying that “Melvin loves poop”.

      2. So… the total absence of violence is actually just like violence.

        As fucking stupid as you are it’s a miracle you could even find your underage daughter’s pussy to stick your shriveled old clit-dick in you alcoholic pedophile piece of shit.

        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!

  7. OT:
    “Federal judge overturns California’s ban on assault weapons”
    […]
    “In his 94-page ruling, the judge spoke favorably of modern weapons, said they were overwhelmingly used for legal reasons.
    “Like the Swiss Army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle,” the judge said in his ruling’s introduction…”
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-assault-weapons-ban-overturned/

    Reading the Chron article, it seems like you have to wipe Newsom’s spittle off you face; the man is apoplectic. Says he knows better since his father was a judge.

  8. “But after Trump fans stormed the Capitol on January 6, tech companies took a beating for supposedly allowing the extremism and disinformation that sparked the riot to flourish. Right-leaning platforms like Parler bore the brunt of the blame.

    That blame was both deserved and undeserved, depending on how you look at it. Yes, Parler provided a forum for posts planning the January 6 protest that would take a dark turn, as well as for content livestreamed from rioters, threats against Democrats, and promises of further action. But Parler was far from alone in this, and it may not even have been home to the worst of it.

    —-Elizabeth Nolan Brown

    ENB is right about a lot of this. If there’s anything sort of wrong, here, it’s mostly about not emphasizing certain things strongly enough and not linking to sources that could really emphasize them. That being said, this is better than what you’ll get from most media outlets, and she deserves a lot of credit for that. Don’t think so? Find other journalists who aren’t Trump fans and are willing to go on record saying that blaming Parler for January 6 may be undeserved or that Parler probably wasn’t the biggest culprit. I’ll link to some original sources suggesting that Parler wasn’t the biggest culprit in the Capitol riot and probably doesn’t deserve the blame below.

    If there is one big flaw in this account, it’s that ENB, like a lot of other people, fails to understand or even acknowledge the most significant event that drove the behavior of Amazon, Facebook, Google and others towards Parler after January 6–which was NOT the Capitol Riot. Given that the Democratic Party had published a plan to break up Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and others in October of 2020, and campaigned on that plan, the thing that drove Big Tech’s behavior towards Parler was that the outcomes of the Senate runoff elections in George, which became public in the wee hours of January 6. It wasn’t the Capitol Riot. It was the results of the Senate runoffs in Georgia.

    Once it became clear that the Democratic Party and the U.S. government were to be one in the same thing, Big Tech had no choice but to do whatever the Democratic Party wanted–whether it was deplatforming Parler or deplatforming President Trump. The Capitol riot was just an excuse, not the driving force behind those decisions. Understanding the role that the Democratic Party played in the deplatforming of Parler, President Trump, and others is essential because it informs our opinions about whether freedom of association, freedom of the press, or freedom of speech are the appropriate considerations here.

    1. If the reason Apple, Amazon, and Google deplatformed Parler was because those three companies were afraid that the Democratic Party, which now effectively had total control of the U.S. government, would break their companies up into dozens of pieces and severely restrict their ability to make future acquisitions, then that is not an excellent example of Apple, Amazon, and Google exercising their freedom of association rights. That is an example of rank intimidation by the United State government. If the ultimate reason Facebook deplatformed President Trump is because the Democrats published a plan to break their company up into three competing pieces–because of their tolerance for “misinformation”, then that is not a good example of Facebook exercising their freedom of speech.

      In short, the Democratic party published a plan to break up Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google in October of 2020, for tolerating “misinformation” on their platforms, among other reasons. Facebook and Google are already facing antitrust actions over this by the FTC and the Justice Department respectively. Once it became clear, on January 6, that the Democratic Party and the U.S. government would be one in the same, they had no choice but to deplatform Parler, Donald Trump, and others. In other words, their actions were a function of intimidation by the Democratic Party and their one-party government.

      Freedom of speech, under those circumstances, is about as appropriate here as it is in the case of a forced confession. If the defendant was threatened with being beaten to bits by the police if he didn’t confess, standing up for the defendant’s right to freedom of speech–even if he decided to incriminate himself–is entirely inappropriate. The question isn’t whether Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have the rights to freedom of association and freedom of speech. The question is whether their deplatforming behavior was driven by rank intimidation and public threats–made by a one party-government regarding what would happen to them if they continued to tolerate “misinformation”.

      And the answer is “yes”.

      1. And yet we have the simultaneous narrative that these companies are full of liberal-leaning employees, so they would naturally side with the Democratic Party, anyway.

        1. Pile of lefty shit Mike says the guy with the gun behind the curtain doesn’t matter.
          Left shits are stupid that way.

          1. Here’s JesseBahnFuhrer posting away on the usual JesseBahnFuhrer hyper-partisan “R” far-right-wing propaganda FREE OF CHARGE, but that’s not good enough for JesseBahnFuhrer!

            Also, so what if many Google employees are liberal? Is this not a free nation any more? They can even vote (as is their right) COMMUNIST if they want to! Until such time, at least, as JesseBahnFuhrer and allies turn the USA into a 1-party “R” state, of course.

            Meanwhile, largely politically NEUTRAL Google algorithms allow me to say whatever I want, and rank my web site per the traffic it generates!

            Hey whining crybaby… I pay (PAY! With MY money! I OWN!) 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!

            WHERE is your respect for property rights?! I learned to respect the property rights of others, before I was in the 1st grade! Didn’t your Momma raise you right?

            1. The bias of Google employees doesn’t matter if Google management and ownership is under threat of a break up and not being free to make future acquisitions.

              Like I said below, if JesseAZ doesn’t like progressives, that’s one thing. It’s a bias. If his boss threatens to fire him if he doesn’t start deplatforming progressives, bias becomes an insignificant factor in his decision process.

              1. I’ve openly stated i think the left is the biggest harm to freedom we’ve seen on 100 years. I dont hide it. Sqrsly is just mad I call out others who pretend they are neutral and claim no bias.

                But you are wrong here as bias of an employee can also be bad. The workers doing live moderation decisions will bias neutral rules, as an example. We see this all the time such as leftist claims of 2000 or 2016 or the ga governor in 2018 being stolen.

                Likewise algorithms and AI can be conditioned to moderate on biased especially when AI is being developed to follow subjective rules.

              2. This is one of those moments where Ken is going to try to dictate to everyone how they must think about a topic.

                Meanwhile, an alternative view to Ken’s is that (a) big social media companies probably do have some liberal bias, (b) that’s not good, but any government cure for the bias would be worse than the original problem, (c) they are under pressure from both the Left and the Right, although the Left currently has more power, (d) they are multinational corporations so they are subject to these types of pressures from several governments, not just the U.S. government.

                1. This is one of those moments where sarcasmic frantically throws out red herrings hoping to derail the conversation because he is a retarded piece of bootlicking Marxist shit who can’t figure out any possible argument to support his bootlicking Marxism that wouldn’t make him look like an even bigger retarded asshole than he already is.

                  1. I’m soooo sorry that your Great Whitish-Orangish Pumpkin-Father has been CHEATED out of His Office by evil Demoncrats! I suggest that you might be able to retreat to your safe space… I hear they have laid in a large supply of Teddy Bears. Maybe one of the Teddy Bears will agree to lay with you, and snuggle your wuggle for a while! There, there!

                    In a mere few more years, as you are still jonesing for Great White Father, I bet you could persuade Alex Jones to be your Next Savior! Slogan: Jonesing for Jones!

                2. This is where Mike adds nothing to a conversation.

            2. Meanwhile, largely politically NEUTRAL Google algorithms allow me to say whatever I want

              Here, sarcasmic the programming and netsec expert who needs help underlining text in HTML discusses how a search ranking algorithm somehow allows him to say whatever he wants.

              In addition to your technological illiteracy, nobody visits your shitty blog you child raping drunken retard.

              1. Wow, what literary talent and rapier wit! Let’s see if I can match or exceed it, with some OTHER brilliantly smart comments that I have created just now!

                Fuck off, spaz!
                You eat shit, you said so yourself!
                You’re a racist Hitler-lover!
                Take your meds!
                That’s so retarded!
                You’re a Marxist!
                Your feet stink and you don’t love Trump!
                Your source is leftist, so it must be false!
                Trump rules and leftists drool!
                You are SOOO icky-poo!
                But Goo-Goo-Gah-Gah!

                Wow, I am now 11 times as smart and original as you are!

                1. You forgot to add you voted for Jeb! Bush.

                  1. I did! Guilty as charged! (Better choice than Trumpster-to-the-Dumpster).

                    (Slightly dated by now, below).

                    Trumpty Dumpty, He’s quite off-the-wall,
                    Trumpty Dumpty won’t stay in His toilet stall
                    He just goes ahead and takes His shits,
                    Totally regardless of whereever He sits
                    Whenever He simply, no way, can sleep,
                    He Twits us His thoughts, they’re all SOOO deep!
                    He simply must, He MUST, Twit us His bird,
                    No matter the words, however absurd!
                    He sits and snorts His coke with a spoon,
                    Then He brazenly shoots us His moon!
                    They say He’ll be impeached by June,
                    Man, oh man, June cannot come too soon!
                    So He sits and jiggles His balls,
                    Then He Twitters upon the walls
                    “Some come here to sit and think,
                    Some come here to shit and stink
                    But I come here to scratch my balls,
                    And read the writings on the walls
                    Here I sit, My cheeks a-flexin’
                    Giving birth to another Texan!
                    Here I sit, upon the pooper,
                    Giving birth to another state trooper!
                    He who writes these lines of wit,
                    Wraps His Trump in little balls,
                    He who reads these lines of wit,
                    Eats those loser’s balls of shit!”

          2. The trolls are here to distract.

            We should probably mute them.

            1. I like simply giving them no reaction and letting their comments mire in open ignorance.

            2. LOL, JesseAz _is_ a troll, and I have muted him.

              1. That’s odd since you literally replied to one of his posts IN THIS FUCKING THREAD. LMFAO. Christ on a crutch, sarcasmic. You really are fucking dumb. Seriously, get fucking help for your alcoholism.

                1. Hi Tulpa!

                  You resent the hell out of the fact that many other people are flat-out, better, more honest people than you are, right? More “live and let live”, and WAAAY less authoritarian?
                  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-love-and-war/201706/why-some-people-resent-do-gooders
                  From the conclusion to the above…
                  These findings suggest that we don’t need to downplay personal triumphs to avoid negative social consequences, as long as we make it clear that we don’t look down on others as a result.

                  SQRLSY back here now… So, I do NOT want you to feel BAD about YOU being an authoritarian asshole, and me NOT being one! PLEASE feel GOOD about you being an authoritarian asshole! You do NOT need to push me (or other REAL lovers of personal liberty) down, so that you can feel better about being an asshole! EVERYONE ADORES you for being that authoritarian asshole that you are, because, well, because you are YOU! FEEL that self-esteem, now!

              2. Lol. White Mike got destroyed for months and pretends he is sanctimonious.

                Tell us more about fire extinguishers white Mike.

              3. No one gives a fuck what your prog ass does or doesn’t do,

    2. ^^^This 100000++++ ; Election Fraud was indeed the very root-cause of Democratic Politicians calling for censorship.

      If there wasn’t fraud there wouldn’t be any need for the massive censorship and compulsive blockage of any massive investigation into the election. Truth would’ve been ‘able’ to surface one way or the other.

      1. There isn’t any need to prove election fraud when the Democrats have publicly and actively advocated the breakup of Big Tech companies for tolerating “misinformation”–both before and after January 6.

        Democrats can deny election fraud.

        Democrats can’t deny that they’ve actively threatened to break Big Tech companies up over “misinformation”. They can’t deny that they released a plan to break up Big Tech companies over “misinformation” either. Here’s the link:

        “In the absence of competition, Facebook’s quality has deteriorated over time, resulting in worse privacy protections for its users and a dramatic rise in misinformation on its platform.”

        —-House Democrat plan to break up Big Tech companies, detailed on a company by company basis, from October of 2020

        Page 14 of 450

        https://judiciary.house.gov/uploadedfiles/competition_in_digital_markets.pdf

        They can’t deny that the primary author of that plan to break up Big Tech, Lina Khan, was recently appointed by President Biden to be commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, and they can’t deny that the FTC has an ongoing antitrust against Facebook alleging that Facebook should be broken up.

        They can’t deny all the public statements they’ve made that have threatened to break up Big Tech companies, over misinformation, since then and before then, and they can’t deny that the Big Tech companies have acted on the Democrats’ behalf in this way since the results of the Georgia Senate runoffs became public in the wee hours of January 6.

        So, the question is, why would we make a case on something the Democrats can deny, like widescale election fraud, when we can make our case on the basis of publicly available and independently verifiable facts that can’t be denied by the Democrats or anyone else?

        Did they try to intimidate Big Tech over their tolerance of “misinformation”?

        The correct answer is “yes”–based on the facts.

        If Big Tech is responding to intimidation by a one party government under the threat of breaking them up, then why are we talking about Big Tech’s freedom of speech as if they aren’t under imminent threat of a break up if they don’t do what the one part government wants them to do?

        1. Facebook suddenly changes its policy on the theory that covid-19 originated from a lab in Wuhan–the moment President Biden decided that it was a plausible theory and should be investigated.

          Are we supposed to pretend–with a straight face–that Facebook’s decision to change course had nothing to do with the Biden administration’s statements on the issue?

          Are we supposed to pretend that Facebook would have blocked Biden’s account or deplatformed Biden over “misinformation”–if Facebook’s fact checkers hadn’t suddenly decided to reverse course on that question–independently of the Biden Administration’s public statements?

          The gullibility necessary to believe that, genuinely, is beyond me. Suffice it to say, that policy reversal is consistent with Facebook jumping when the Democratic party/U.S. government says “jump”.

          1. So, stop using Facebook. Problem solved.

            Or maybe you aren’t on Facebook. Then there isn’t even a problem.

            1. “Just don’t buy shares in Enron. Problem solved.”

              1. I did not and if anyone did not see that tsunami happening. Well the stock market has risks.

    3. Study after study regarding the jan 6th riots shows facebook and Twitter were used far more widely by the people in D.C. than was parler. The companies which were used more collided with each other to use the narrative of Jan 6th to shut out a competitor who was growing quite quickly. It was a collusive action to harm a competitor that’s what it was. Nobody should defend Apple or Google on this case in regards to parler.

      And if you noticed the solution Apple required for pair is to now have a live staff of moderators who have the same moderation requirements as Twitter, essentially forcing parler to lose the advantage it had to Twitter in it was more unbiased in moderation.

      No libertarian should ever defend these actions. They are a direct violation of principles of a free market.

      1. “It was a collusive action to harm a competitor that’s what it was. Nobody should defend Apple or Google on this case in regards to parler.”

        I’m not willing to pretend that Apple and Google feared the threat Parler represented to their business models so much that they were willing to deplatform Parler for that reason alone–especially in spite of a cases pending against both of them for using their app stores to harm competition.

        I’m not sure Parler is a serious threat to Google’s YouTube or any other communication product of theirs, and I’m not sure Apple has a competing product in any way. There may be some open questions about advertising, but both of those companies (and Facebook) have problems with advertisers not wanting their ads to appear anywhere near conservative opinions on controversial topics.

        They’re probably not very afraid of conservatives and free speech people moving away from their platforms. Facebook has suffered advertising boycotts over tolerating the speech of conservatives–at one point losing 40% of their stock price because of it. Getting rid of conservatives might actually be better for their advertising delivery business, which is what they’re all about.

        Their primary concerns are about not being broken up into little pieces and not having the government place any restrictions against them making future acquisitions–which is what the antitrust cases against them are seeking to do. That is a far bigger, more imminent, and longer term threat to their business models than Parler rising up to challenge YouTube or Apple.

        1. Just prior to be removed from the apple and Google stores parler was on a meteoric rise.

          https://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/nov/10/parler-says-its-gained-45-million-users-just-elect/

          The deplatforming from those stores as well as Amazon kicking them off their AWS servers basically ended the growth they had been seeing. Since finding new hosts and being allowed back om that growth is essentially gone.

          Likewise parler is now being forced into the same content moderation policies of Twitter in order to remain in the two stores.

          This wasn’t done out of the goodness of silicon valleys hearts. They know full well what even a 2 week delay in a companies growth can do. These companies survive on addiction. The 2 weeks to a month deplatforming is a way to stop the growth and addiction to a given platform. Silicon valley knows full well what they did.

          1. Yeah, they were #1 in the app stores for a while there, because Republicans and conservatives, everywhere, were upset with the media over the coverage of the election and the vote recounts.

            People were even mad at Fox. NewsMax was way up near the top of the app stores for a while there, too.

            I still believe that competitors for Google, Facebook, and other social media companies could still emerge, but Parler wasn’t the imminent threat or the biggest threat or even the bigger long term threat–when you consider what being broken up or not being able to make future acquisitions might mean. I mean, if Parler (or something else like it) did gain wide mainstream appeal, Apple, Facebook, or Google would want to buy it, right? The antitrust cases will try to make it so they can’t do that in the future.

            In other words, I’m not denying that cancer is a serious problem, but I think Big Tech is more preoccupied with the Democrats holding a gun to their heads and threatening to pull the trigger–especially bad on January 6, when it was safe to assume that the filibuster would already be gone by now, that we would add Puerto Rico at least, that the Supreme Court might be packed with progressives, etc. Antitrust is the big threat. That’s what’s driving their thinking right now.

            That’s why they do what they’re told, and that’s why it’s ridiculous to think about this in terms of Big Tech’s free speech rights. They’re under threat, so they do what they’re told. That’s the way Putin deals with news outlets. He doesn’t need to censor them directly. He’s imprisoned CEOs on trumped up charges. The media outlets more or less follow his lead, and he leaves them alone.

            In the Democrats’ case of intimidation, they spelled it all out. They’re promising to break up Big Tech for “misinformation”. Why wouldn’t Big Tech take the Democrats seriously after January 6, when they took complete control of the U.S. government? They spelled it all out and put the primary author of the plan to break them up in charge of antitrust at the FTC. How can we ignore that when we’re talking about Facebook or some other Big Tech companies’ freedom of association?

          2. Ai hope Parler takes them for billions in court. 5;@5 would be wonderful. Even better if they can make the DNC a defendant.

        2. And by the way Ken. The growth wasn’t just conservatives. It was also many feminists that are routinely attacked as terfs, classical liberals, libertarians, and others against woke culture.

  9. I promised a link to original sources showing that blaming Parler’s platform for the Capitol riot was probably undeserved and that they probably weren’t the biggest culprit.

    The link at the bottom of this comment is to the Democrat House Committee that was investigating Parler from Parler’s attorneys to answer questions on Parler’s behalf about their policies and practices ahead of the Capitol riot. It quotes the FBI in a number of emails that demonstrate Parler’s behavior ahead of the Capitol riot.

    Suffice it to say that Parler was working with the FBI long before the Capitol riot–and warned the FBI that the January 6 protest was not really a simple or peaceful protest. In fact, Parler forwarded violent content from users to the FBI more than 50 times before the Capitol riot (and we should remember that you couldn’t get a Parler account without a phone number).

    Was the FBI impressed?

    The correct answer is “yes”.

    As recently as January 10th, the FBI sent an email to Parler thanking them for doing so much to help the FBI. Yes, that’s four days after the riot.

    In regards to Parler’s culpability in terms of how much of an impact Parler was on the planning and execution of the Capitol riot, there’s this information in the letter:

    “An independent analysis by Forbes found that in over 200 charging documents filed by the Department of Justice in connection with the Capitol riot, Facebook was far and away the most utilized social media platform by rioters on January 6th. Of the charging documents analyzed, 73 included references to posts on Facebook, 24 referenced YouTube, and 20 referenced Instagram. In contrast, there were only eight referencing Parler. Our updated review and analysis of 270 charging documents collected by the George Washington University’s Program on Extremism reveals that over 54% of the charging documents reference Facebook, 13% reference Twitter, and nearly 13% reference Instagram, yet only about 5% reference Parler.

    If I’m reading this correctly, they’re saying that as law enforcement went after people who participated in the riot, when they charged these people in court, Parler was a relatively tiny portion of the coordinating activity on social media cited by prosecutors as evidence against rioters and those who planned the riot.

    So why was Parler treated differently by Apple, Amazon, and Google? Why weren’t Facebook’s and Twitter’ s apps deplatformed by Apple and Google for having their platforms used to plan and execute the Capitol riot like what happened to Parler?

    Maybe it was because deplatforming Parler was relatively trivial to their businesses since Parler is a very small company with a very small userbase. But why would Google use its Play Store to undermine a relatively tiny rival, when it’s accused of doing exactly that by the Justice Department in a pending antitrust case?

    Maybe Apple, Amazon, and Google treated Parler differently for other reasons, or maybe the reason Apple, Amazon, and Google treated Parler differently is because the Democratic Party wanted Parler deplatformed–and the party took almost total control of the government on January 6. Maybe it’s because the Democratic party promised to break their companies into tiny pieces in their published report from October of 2020 if they didn’t start cracking down on what the Democrats call “misinformation”.

    Read the letter, the FBI emails, and get the links to the original sources yourself, here:

    https://republicans-oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Parler-Letter-to-Chairwoman-Maloney.pdf

    P.S. We all know the media is full of shit. Why do so few us look at the source materials for ourselves?

    1. For more on the “media is full of shit” meme, see Matt Taibbi.

    2. Apple has been known to make decisions that displease very large companies with very popular App Store apps. Facebook hates, hates, hates Apple’s recent privacy initiatives. Apple was willing to kick Fortnite off the App Store.

      If you have ever developed apps for the App Store you would be familiar with how nit picky Apple is about following their every last rule about app development. They are quite willing to reject app submissions for major products from major companies.

      1. Mike:
        “Here’s a pile of irrelevant crap to distract you!!!!!”

      2. Apple never even made a pretense that they pulled Parler because of quality or TOS violations you disingenuous retarded cunt.

        In case anybody was under any misapprehension that this wasn’t yet another sarcasmic sock, bear in mind that he’s been holding himself out as a “programmer” for the last year or so as well. Apparently he went from self-confessed homeless drug addict alcoholic to a netsec and low-level programming expert who needs help underlining text in HTML. LMFAO

      1. So the question is: Why were they singled out circa January 6?

        And the answer is: Because the Democrats wanted them gone, and the Democrats controlled the government to whatever extent they wanted.

        The Democrats could add states. The Democrats could kill the filibuster. The Democrats could pack the Supreme Court. They could do anything they want–including breaking Big Tech up into little tiny pieces.

        Why would we pretend that didn’t make any difference to them?

        If you’re in charge of policing content on the company Slack app, you might be tempted to get rid of everything progressives say in favor of socialism–because you’re not a progressive and you don’t like their opinions. On the other hand, if your boss threatens to fire you if you don’t get rid of everything progressives say on the Slack app, and you’ve got payments to make on your dream house, I suspect you’re far more likely to start deplatforming progressives.

        1. It was partially that but also a pretext to an upstart that didn’t sgare the same morality if the other social media companies as well as one of the prime competitors to the old guard. They pulled the dame behavior against Gab. It isnt all political but anti market collusion as well.

        2. Why were they singled out? Parler was/is home to virtually exclusively right-wing users. They marketed themselves that way, and worked to attract such users.

          Of course the social media site that was synonymous with “right wing hangout” was the first to be scrutinized after the MAGA riots.

          1. Just like Twitter, which was/is home to virtually exclusively left-wing users was the first to be scrutinized after the D.C. riots that took place all summer, right you inbred pedophile?

          2. Lop. The ignorance of Mike is so pervasive.

          3. I mean mike… you understand you posted this stupidity right after I gave a link showing most of the Capitol protesters were using Facebook, not parler right?

            Have you ever let a fact get in way of your beliefs?

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  11. I guess someone who funds your foundation must really have a large position in these stocks of tech cos. I suppose the social corrosion and illiberal behavior of such corporations is acceptable as long as it benefits you huh?

  12. Facebook is now deleting and suspending people for posting screen shots of the emails Fauci made that were released under the FOIA.

    https://thefederalist.com/2021/06/04/facebook-instagram-using-fake-fact-checks-to-curb-reporting-on-fauci-emails/

    Now I’m sure that ENB can tell us which clause in the terms of service allow Facebook to censor objectively true information. Or is ENB arguing that since FB is a private company they somehow are not beholden to standard contractual obligations?

    Reason has absolutely been om the wrong side of this discussion. Libertarian ideals don’t stop at the door of legality or government power nexus. They can still criticize private actions of individuals and corporations. They can also continue to hold up their belief in contractual arrangements that they completely ignore on cases around silicon valley.

    It is a stunning capitulation to these industries who violate free market practices and openly flaunt contractual law.

    1. You can always choose not to use Facebook (I don’t), and to criticize their decisions. Nothing anti-libertarian about those options.

      But demanding the government investigate them or break them up is as anti-libertarian as it comes. Nothing is as uniquely bad as government power.

      No one’s defending Facebook’s behavior by arguing that the government is being a bad actor with respect to them. Your having liberty means the liberty to make choices i disagree with. That applies just as much for Facebook as any other business or private citizen.

      And if they’re violating contractual agreements, by all means, sue them.

      1. No one’s defending Facebook’s behavior

        Other than Elizabeth Nolan Brown. Nick Gillespie. Match Welch. Peter Suderman…

        And if they’re violating contractual agreements, by all means, sue them.

        Well that’s sort of the problem you stupid bootlicking piece of shit: you can’t.

      2. And if they’re violating contractual agreements, by all means, sue them.

        People have tried. The clauses in the ToS sends the courts to Silicon Valley judges who have declared contract issues also fall under 230 guidance. See the Meagan Murphy lawsuit.

        Youre acting like people haven’t already attempted to sue.

    2. flout

      But maybe by now “flaunt” has been used so much with that meaning that it’s stuck.

    3. What contractual obligations? Facebook is free; there is no contract when there is no exchange. And I say this as someone who deleted his FB account months ago and doesn’t miss it at all.

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  14. Gofundme shuts down fundraiser created to repair AOCs grandmothers house under the guise the beneficiary stated she would refuse the funds. However the person who stated they would not accept the funds is not the grandmother but someone else in the family. Gofundme has not responded to a question asking if someone like aoc could shut down a fund benefitting her grandmother.

    https://www.dailywire.com/news/matt-walsh-raises-100k-for-ocasio-cortezs-grandmother-gofundme-shuts-down-account

    1. Who would be dumb enough to donate to something like that?

      Such smells of laundering political donations.

      AOCs rich, why doesnt she fix Grannys roof?

      Liberals..wallowing in misery and self pity and expecting others to pay for it!

      1. Look at who started the account. It was done because aoc claimed it wasn’t her responsibility to help her grandmother, but trumps fault.

        1. So…… a parody account?

          Not good optics for the barmaid cum congresscritter, I guess. I got a dollar for that.

        2. Matt Walsh started it. The twitter feed is hilarious all the progs came out condemning him but wouldn’t contribute a dime to help poor Abuela, who has apparently been living in Florida anyway.

          https://twitter.com/MattWalshBlog

  15. Monopoly is anti Free Market competition.

    Thats business.

    The root problem is not money, its Radical Left Wing Subversives using such to undermine US Law and society.

    When NBCCBSABCPMSLSD are in political lock step and spreading propaganda always on the Left, we see the problem.

    They hide behind Free Speech, where Free Speech DOES NOT belong to Corporations.

    Rights in the US are INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS. Not corporate or government.

    The FCC is the place to bring reform.

    Content producers ( such as See BS) can lie all they want.

    The BROADCAST STATIONS OR CABLE SYSTEMS ARE NOT PERMITTED TO BROADCAST SUCH TRASH.

    They are REQUIRED to act in the Public Interest and Total Partisan Bias and spin are not in the Public interest. Their operating License depends on it.

    FCC cant act against “See BS”. They can drop Thors Hammer on your local TV station for airing such garbage.

    Broadcast Stations live in fear and trembling of complaints against them.

    Im licensed to run broadcast stations….so dont you Trolls try any misinformation or spin with me.

    Had enough of lies from your TV or cable operator?

    .FCC Consumer Complaint. On Line

    1. A corporation is a group of people using their 1st amendment right to peaceably assemble. They don’t lose their other rights for utilizing a right.

      1. lying is not a comment.

        Neither is denial

        1. ..and you are lying.

          a corp is NOT just a group of people.

          LAW says its a legal fiction created to isolate the principals from legal liability.

          Free speech is not a group right.

          1. ..interesting to see liars like you attempt to twist words.

            If you dont understand the definitions of ” individual” and ” group” then youre no one to lecture me!

            Free Speech is not a COMMune-ist right, Commie.

            1. So youre just a really bad attempted parody. Got it. You seem quite ignorant to basically every topic.

          2. Free speech is not a group right.

            CONGRESS SHALL PASS NO LAW. I’m beginning to think you’re a Mizek sock.

  16. PS for you < age 40, watch the program Through the Decades especially where they replay old TV news broadcasts.

    Notice back then they had REPORTERS ( not fake Journalists playing reporter) , were on the scene and on topic.

    Compare that to now.
    And beware of the T t D program.its loaded with political spin also.

  17. Twitter Public Policy
    @Policy
    We are deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria. Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society.

    We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world. #KeepitOn

    Kind of flies on the face of their moderation policies. Contradictory even.

    1. Holding Twitter to its public statements and terms of service is Nazism.

  18. Good article, which evenhandedly lays out both sides’ arguments.
    It didn’t however cover what I think should trigger anti-trust action: namely when the tech giants act in concert to throttle sites that espouse a certain idea or opinion. The fact that all of these guys effectively ‘deplatformed’ Parler earlier this year was just wrong.

    1. It’s called “restraint of trade” and Reason decided that tort law should be thrown out along with publishing liability for tech companies because they are very very special and deserve complete legal impunity. Don’t you know that we LITERALLY would not have freedom of speech if not for section 230?

      1. “Before long, Parler found a new web hosting provider, Epik…”

        1. You really don’t understand business.

  19. I think it’s cool that Reason put a woman whose educational background consists of a BFA in theater and whose career up until she sucked off emo fonzie for a job at Reason consisted of writing blog posts at Refinery29 about which shade of lipstick to wear on a date and why the government should be able to force nuns to pay for abortions on the “complex antitrust and first amendment jurisprudence” beat. I usually have to go to a public restroom for that type of analysis. And coincidentally, you can pick up her number while you’re there.

    1. Tulpa, your jaw-droppingly awesome literary talents are going to GREAT shameful waste! Get off you arse as below, pronto, and STOP wasting your MOST awesome talents!

      Do you recall the awesome enchanter named “Tim”, in “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”? The one who could “summon fire without flint or tinder”? Well, you remind me of Tim… You are an enchanter who can summon persuasion without facts or logic!

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

      Reason staff has asked me to convey the following message to you:

      Hi Fantastically Talented Author:

      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

  20. Amazon Web Services (AWS)—the branch of the retail giant that provides cloud computing services—suspended Parler’s account, effectively disappearing it from the internet temporarily.

    Since when did Amazon buy the Internet? If I missed the story, then shame on Reason for not covering this a bit more.

    1. Just admit you don’t understand how servers work and scale for large user services.

    2. It seems like an accurate statement. They can’t just take services written for AWS and run them on another platform without significant porting, so they were effectively off the Internet.

  21. So, Ken presents the hypothesis that the reason why Facebook, Google, etc., behave the way they do is because they are cowering in fear of government reprisal and obeying every command that Democrats issue to them, because Democrats currently run the government. Based on this hypothesis, Facebook doesn’t really have freedom of speech, they are instead mere intermediaries for government edicts.

    Here’s an alternative hypothesis: Facebook, Google, etc., behave the way they do because *their management affirmatively chooses those actions*. They have agency to decide how to run their companies, and are not mere automatons obeying Nancy Pelosi’s edicts. So if Facebook chooses to censor Donald Trump, it’s because *they want to censor Donald Trump*, regardless of whether or not Democrats want them to censor Donald Trump.

    So, which hypothesis better explains our observations? Well, let’s go all the way back in time to 2017-19, when Republicans ran the government. Did Facebook, Google, etc., cower in fear of the government then? Did Facebook, Google, etc., decide “hey, you Republicans, go ahead and say anything you want on our platforms, because if we don’t permit Republicans to do whatever they want, Trump and his Department of Justice might come down hard on us”? Were they cowering in fear then? The answer, largely, is no. In fact, they EXPANDED their rules! Here is just one example, from 2017:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-42376546

    “If an account’s profile information includes a violent threat or multiple slurs, epithets, racist or sexist tropes, incites fear, or reduces someone to less than human, it will be permanently suspended,” she explained.

    We all know that it’s right-wingers who are more likely to get caught up in these rules on “hate speech”. And Big Tech was expanding them and enforcing them stronger, even though they knew Republicans were in charge and could use the power of the state to go after them.

    So why, then, do Big Tech and Democrats (broadly) tend to agree on concepts like censoring “hate speech”? It’s not because Democrats are ordering Big Tech to comply against their will. It’s because *they all share the same cultural milieu*. They come to the same conclusions because they share the same premises. One does not need the government to order you to brush your teeth in order for you to brush your teeth every night, because it’s broadly understood that brushing your teeth is a good idea.

    Does anyone seriously think that a politician, doing nothing else but making demands and threats against a company, somehow nationalizes that company and takes away the rights of its owners to run the company?

    1. You can’t beat feelings with facts. Choose a different battle.

    2. I think Ken is partially correct, and that Democratic Party pressure is probably taken into account when big social media companies make decisions about content moderation.

      Where I think Ken goes wrong is that he leaves a bunch of other influential factors out:
      – As chemjeff points out, they probably would have made the same decisions without external pressures.
      – They are also under pressure from the Republican Party. Even when the Republican Party is not currently in power in D.C., they know the pendulum can swing back in the Republican direction. Also, plenty of states have Republican dominated governments.
      – These companies are all international, so they are also pressured by China, the EU, India, and a long list of other governments.
      – Biggest of all, they are thinking about their advertisers, which are their actual customers, not us mere users, who pay them nothing.

    3. “They have agency to decide how to run their companies, and are not mere automatons obeying Nancy Pelosi’s edicts.”

      If Nazi sympathizers ran twitter, then they’re still Nazis, even if they don’t directly take orders from Hitler.

      Big tech is ran by white liberal elites. They think and act just like Nancy Pelosi, and their decisions will be influenced by their left wing world view and pressures from the woke crowd. Notice how Twitter censored “learn to code” but allows antifa accounts to stand.

      Ken’s claim that big tech fears a democrat government is essentially true. Had Twitter stuck with Trump in the name of free speech, they would have been hounded by the left. Random inquiries and investigations might have been launched, and antifa action can’t be counted out. Last minutes accusation of sexual assault also tend to materialize.

      Obviously Dorsey is a flaming liberal and he had no problem with blocking Trump or NY post (the latter incident blew up in his face). But he knows he can’t deviate from party ideology lest he invites witch hunts, and he knows it. He won’t similarly fear republicans for obvious reasons.

      Do you honestly believe these “agencies” make decisions grounded in reason and fairness, unaffected by their own dogma and deference to their party establishment?

    4. “So if Democrats at Facebook choose to censor Donald Trump, it’s because *Democrats at Facebook want to censor Donald Trump*, regardless of whether or not other Democrats in government want the Democrats at Facebook to censor Donald Trump.”

  22. If you agree with this post the rational thing for Big Tech is to throw their lot in with the GOP not the Democrats who are more of an threat to them. The GOP just wants them to allow free speech..the Dems want them broken up. Yet they don’t..and I think old Jeff is right..they share the same cultural views..most of the big wigs/content VPs at social media are basically part of the elites in the democratic party. Ivy League NYC wealthy folks whose friends, relative, class mates work on Wall Street and helped them get into leadership positions at say FB or Google or Twitter as part of the finding of these companies. Far left folks who hate and I mean hate ethnic Americans (Google seems to have a special issue with Italian Americans) of European background (who are Christian). It just is what is it…look at their boards..I’m sure CRT is their world view.

    The GOP should strive to cut off all govt funding of these woke firms until they submit to free speech…

  23. So, Republicans have a ‘war’ with big tech, and Democrats have a ‘wish list.

  24. Let’s not conflate the partisan impulses behind antitrust enforcement with the merits of specific cases. For the last century, the general public has NEVER understood antitrust law, and it has always been a tool in the popular imagination to deal with “evil, too-big, too-powerful corporations.” This is to some degree understandable, not only because antitrust is complicated, but because even the legislators who enacted the Sherman Act weren’t entirely sure what they were creating. But the courts in the twentieth century did an admirable job of giving the Sherman Act life by crafting administrable doctrines grounded in sound economics. And as it turns out, many of the “excesses of antitrust enforcement” cited in this article are actually cases where there was very strong evidence of anticompetitive behavior under existing doctrine, even if the political rhetoric surrounded the cases was unhinged.

    Also, the fact that enforcement is difficult, expensive, and has only a mixed record of success in particular cases doesn’t mean that these cases should never be brought. There is a significant deterrent effect to enforcement. I know, because I’ve counseled big tech companies not to do things due to the risk of antitrust enforcement, and they generally listened. Even when I think that there’s a strong argument that a particular course of action is legal, it’s small comfort to say that “you have a 75% chance of winning after a decade of litigation and a trip to the Supreme Court.”

    1. Do you really believe the questions asked here aren’t in the average Americans/consumers best interest? Or is it just you don’t believe anything will really change by asking?

  25. If emergence of any competition means there can be no monopoly, then there can never be any monopoly, or effective monopoly. And as far social media competition is concerned, TikTok is an exception, not norm.

    Walmart and Target are not monopolies. But if one day they decide not to sell food to black people or republicans (a notion supported by some OG libertarians) it’ll be harder to buy food for lots of people. At that point either the free market exists and get to work or the government has to shovel tons of money to the competition so they can meet demand and run Walmart out of business.

    That doesn’t describe the American economy at the point. So the big tech that processes most of the information can block or filter anything on their whim. Alternatives that need hosts can get delisted by Apple or Amazon. Exactly why libertarians here are unconcerned about giant oligarchies being able to operate with no restraint is a mystery. Make no mistake that FB / Twitter blocking Hunter Biden story and lab leak theory benefitted the current ruling class.

    1. Well put. Thank you

  26. “But not if the government decides it knows what’s best for private business—and all of us—first”. But the government is us; the politicians, attorneys-general, and policy makers the authors decry have been elected by us. As Pogo declared, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” I humbly suggest that verbal, and verbose, snipers run for office and become that despised government.

  27. yes we’re all sure ENB is shocked, shocked to find progressive censorship in social media

    “Today’s antitrust movement is neither progressive nor conservative.”

    lol right like Facebook or Twitter is ever going to ban the Democrat presidential candidate

    at least do a better job of faking it

  28. Thanks ENB, but color me schadenfreude. What I see is The Kleptocracy giving entrenched tech cartels the initiation of force they financed and voted for. Bwaaaa ha ha ha ha!

  29. OK, so what then is the REASON plan for dealing with IT monopolies? Sit back, do nothing, and let some magic market take care of the situation?

    All I see in this article is the shopworn list of platitudes which got us into this situation in the first place.

  30. Section 230 applies to platforms. An example of a platform is the phone company. They allow you to use their wires to transfer calls, whether they be to order a pizza, or human traffic some young girl. They have no responsibility for the content because they take no responsibility for the content. They will cooperate with law enforcement when presented with a legitimate subpoena.

    Facebook, Twitter, etc, call themselves “platforms” and they might have been in the beginning while they were building up their massive user-base to crank the internet advertising money machine. But now they cloak their agenda in “community standards” and enforce editorial control over everything that hits their servers. This makes them a publisher. And as a publisher, it makes them responsible for anything they leave on their servers for someone else to see.

  31. Oligarchs: Those of such great wealth they think they can create their own realities to conform with their personal world views true or not.

    Oligarchs wish only to impose their own world views upon everyone else. At no place in their lives have they acquired the knowledge or wisdom to do so in anything or any way of a constructive manner. These people have wealth greater than that is conceivable by those of us who work for a living and suffer their manipulations of culture that is seldom to our benefit and almost always to our detriment.

    Thus is the nature of big tech!

    It is big tech that has platformed and presented the greatest percentage of information available on the internet. They have not presented the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They present information in a biased way to benefit themselves and increase their wealth. Oligarchs come into influence only by wealth and not by knowledge or wisdom. They know nothing of the Christian Ethos. The Christian Ethos lead western civilization to dominate the world. Losing their vision of the Christian Ethos, western political leaders are sending us into decline and poverty. This will soon become a tyranny of the worst that there have ever been. It is leftism. Leftism has destroyed all that it has ever touched. Be aware. Avoid the danger.

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