Facebook

The New York Times Is Wrong About the 'Myth of Big Tech Competence'

Still, Facebook should not have allowed its VIPs to flout the rules it claimed applied to everyone.

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Facebook has long claimed its standards of conduct apply equally to all users. Documents that surfaced earlier this week, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, indicate otherwise. They show that the social media company has long maintained an "XCheck" ("cross-check") program in which high-profile accounts representing celebrities, journalists, and politicians are exempt from normal enforcement measures, with different rules applying to them than to everyday users.

About 5.8 million out of 2.9 billion monthly active Facebook users have this status, which allows them to sometimes post violating content without receiving sanctions. The types of things that normally get flagged when other users post them—bullying and harassment, revenge porn, so-called hate speech—get more lenient treatment by moderators. Worried about P.R. backlash, Facebook is more choosy with which policies to enforce for VIPs, allowing them to get away with much more, and for much longer, than typical users.

Internal documents showed that many violations by VIP accounts never received review at all, an issue that was noted to the company's Oversight Board, formed to serve as a 20-person accountability body to oversee content moderation decisions and appeals processes. Earlier this year, the Oversight Board made recommendations to the company that it disclose "relative error rates" and "thematic consistency of determinations" between XCheck accounts and typical user accounts. Facebook rejected this suggestion.

"[The documents] show that Facebook knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands," but the company "often lacks the will or the ability to address them," notes the Journal. "Facebook appeared more concerned with avoiding gaffes than mitigating high-profile abuse."

The New York Times' Shira Ovide seized on this in a piece entitled "The Myth of Big Tech Competence." In it, she writes that "V.I.P.s were exempt from the company's rules less out of malicious intent than neglect," and that The Wall Street Journal's "reporting ultimately points to a more fundamental error: A large organization displayed stunning mismanagement, and could not or would not fully fix its problems." She concludes:

"It's not shocking when Congress or the cable company act incompetently. But we see tech giants with gazillion dollars and big brains as special and all-seeing and as being smarter than everyone else. That makes it feel more surprising when tech giants mess up worker pay and won't admit it, as Google did, or fumble for years trying to sell groceries, as Amazon has done.

Tech companies including Google, Facebook and Amazon have seemingly invincible power, but their growing wealth is not stopping these giants from also, at times, being ridiculously inept."

Ovide's critique misses a lot. First, people always have the ability to opt out of Facebook usage—and Amazon, Google, and Twitter usage, too. Some companies have long tentacles that are hard to free yourself from; it would be hard to fully avoid every website that uses Amazon Web Services as a host, but it would not be hard at all to give up your Prime membership and two-day shipping in favor of halcyon jaunts to Target. It would not be hard to default to Bing, which is used for a little more than 4.5 percent of the world's search queries (China's Baidu stands at a little under 15 percent, for contrast) instead of Google. You can have a perfectly rich social life without the use of Facebook, or even Instagram (which is owned by the former); you can choose Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, or Reddit to interact with friends and strangers alike online. You can even try old-fashioned meatspace if you dare.

People do not, however, have the ability to opt out of being governed, to decide they don't like the rules Congress imposes on them, and to say "enough."

Second, Facebook has really strong incentives to self-correct. It may not always choose to do so—for reasons that are often obscured to us—but static, unwieldy bureaucracies rarely feel these same incentives and, even if they did, they would have a much harder time acting on them. The Oversight Board, which admittedly failed in this instance to compel the company to pursue a more transparent approach, was created as a means of revisiting questionable content moderation calls and what precedent gets set. Facebook has shown that it doesn't want to be arbitrary or fickle, but is currently experiencing the fallout from its public struggle to align actions with intent.

Third, Ovide muddles the problems of Facebook malfeasance and Amazon experimenting with different grocery-selling models. The latter isn't an example of wrongdoing or stupidity, it's an example of the process that pretty much every company goes through while trying to innovate: attempting to figure out exactly what consumers need and how to give it to them. Amazon struggling with grocery delivery models—and then beginning to figure it out in impressive ways, including debuting a new checkout-free supermarket in Seattle and checkout-free convenience stores in four major American cities, all while grocery delivery choked a bit at the onset of the pandemic before later steadying (nuggets absent from the Times' analysis)—is not an example of Big Tech incompetence, just as Apple struggling for years with figuring out what niche the tablet serves, or how to use multitouch technology for iPhones, is not an example of its incompetence. These are examples of companies learning what works and what doesn't.

Worse still, the New York Times piece fundamentally excuses government incompetence, accepting it as a given, while skewering tech companies for sometimes making the wrong calls. Why do we write off incompetence on the part of Congress? They're the ones who spend colossal amounts of our money year after year with little eye toward results.

It's not tech companies that have "seemingly invincible power," it's the government that does—the entity that has a monopoly on force and wields it with no real opt-out mechanism for those of us who object.

NEXT: A Win for Devin Nunes in Lawsuit Over Journalist Ryan Lizza's Tweet

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  1. It’s not tech companies that have “seemingly invincible power,” it’s the government that does—the entity that has a monopoly on force and wields it with no real opt-out mechanism for those of us who object.

    Well, duh. You have to be stronger than the Good Samaritan to offer him any meaningful protection.

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  2. The inconsistency of Facebook allowing some users to violate their ToS and not others should be a slam-dunk case against Facebook and force them to abandon their idiotic censoring since they have broken their own rules. Yet our legal system makes it impossible for anyone to hold Facebook accountable. A real justice system would make Facebook as accountable to their users as users are to Facebook.

    This is why I think common carrier status is the next best thing. I don’t like it; but the other alternatives are much worse.

    1. How is the “other alternative” to “common carrier” (that is, the current Section 230) any worse than getting Government Almighty into the content-moderation business? Getting Guv Almighty into that is an unavoidable consequence of “common carrier”… Was your post dumped for being politically wrong, or too many cuss words, and semi-cuss words, or threats of violence? Prepare to pay $35 per word for armies of “compliance” lawyers!

      So… Whose editorial(s) submitted to the NYT or other hardcopy rags gets published? Biden’s? Some random Senator of Congress-Slime, or CEO? Or little ol’ me, peon nobody? And how long has this sort of thing been going on? As long as there have been printing presses, and longer!

      This is a tempest in a teapot! If your post gets taken down, get over it! Is there ANYONE with an internet connection, who can NOT bypass FaceBooooo etc., and access all the lies that they want to access, anyway?

      1. This has nothing to do with Section 230 and everything to do with holding them to their own ToS. Pay attention.

        1. From Facebook’s web page explaining all these kinds of details, very easy to find:
          https://www.facebook.com/terms.php

          We do not control or direct what people and others do or say, and we are not responsible for their actions or conduct (whether online or offline) or any content they share (including offensive, inappropriate, obscene, unlawful, and other objectionable content).

          End Facebook import.

          Facebook likes to be free from being held responsible for the doings of others, AND they clearly say as much, but power pigs don’t want to LET THEM be free of such an obvious injustice!

          From Facebook’s web page explaining all these kinds of details, very easy to find, same page:

          You may not use our Products to do or share anything:
          • That violates these Terms, our Community Standards, and other terms and policies that apply to your use of Facebook… (Etc).

          “Community Standards” then links to…. https://transparency.fb.com/policies/community-standards/?from=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcommunitystandards where there’s lots of blah-blah-blah. NO WHERE does it grant ANYONE (other than Facebook) the right to answer the necessarily “fuzzy” question of, does this content, or does this content, obey our community standard!

          If you want Government Almighty to decide precise “community standards”… Good Luck to you! I would wish you’d not drag me, too, into this much and mire!

        2. Where’s my edit button?

          I meant… “…does this content, or does this content not, obey…”

          and… “…into this muck and mire…” (of having Government Almighty get into the nitty-gritty of moderation judgments, AKA, “community standards”). WHO is really better at judging the “community standards” of FacePoooo, other than FacePoooo (the web site owner) itself? Their house, their house rules!

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        3. They will never understand the contractual issues are 2 sided. The staunch 230 defenders ignore it despite actually having real world examples such as the Megan Murphy lawsuit.

          1. All murder cases are all two-sided as well… Even if millions of TV viewers saw you commit murder on TV, you will STILL have an attorney on YOUR side, in the 2-sided case!

            Anything other than “the web site owner is the web site owner, and will decide the web site’s policies and moderation findings”, per Section 230, is partial ownership by Government Almighty, of YOUR web site! You Marxist you!

            1. Just like if I hire a roofer to come fix a hole in my roof and we sign a contract together defining the terms of our agreement, if I then sue the roofer because he didn’t fix the hole in my roof, that’s partial ownership by Government Almighty of HIS roofing company! You Marxist you!

              Stick to your usual copypasta about eating shit, sarcasmic.

              1. You are free to sue for contract violation, and that’s not Marxism. See the contract at the beginning of the comments, where Reason.com says… “We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time…” Now THAT is the OPPOSITE of Marxism! Reason.com owns the web site, and they call the shots!

                Marxism is where the roofer fixed the hole in your roof, but hurt Your Precious Baby Feelings, by REJECTING the idea that (contrary to the contract, or, not mentioned in the contract) the roofer must use YOUR nail company’s inferior nails, to fix the roof, and then it is HIS fault for NOT using your shitty nails, and hurting Your Precious Baby Feelings! And you can sue and win! THAT is what the Section 230 opponents want!

          2. “They will never understand the contractual issues are 2 sided. The staunch 230 defenders ignore it”

            Who is “they”, Jesse? Do you mean “you” don’t understand it?

        4. “This has nothing to do with Section 230 and everything to do with holding them to their own ToS. Pay attention.”

          The ToS is “this is our stuff, and we’re letting you use it. But we don’t have to keep letting you use it if we don’t want to. Unless you got an easement of some kind.

      2. government doesn’t moderate phone calls or email.

        1. They moderate both. CAN-SPAM and anti-robocall laws exist, even if they’re functionally largely unenforceable.

      3. No, the consequence of common carrier status is no moderation, not government controlled moderation.

        1. In true “common carrier” (think telephone for example) we already have SOME moderation… You can sue me (or have me prosecuted) if I threaten violence, plot and plan violence or slavery or child porn or other crimes, engage in libel or slander, etc. … The same is true with internet-driven “social media”. All the old laws still apply. What is FORBIDDEN by Section 230, is punishing one party for the writings of another party! And frankly, the same should be true for hardcopy rags, etc.

          So WHAT is all the fighting about? “Somebody took down my post”! Even though consumers typically pay ZERO for social media, they STILL want to be power pigs and bosses! And control the property of OTHER PEOPLE! And that stinks to High Heaven, no matter how much lipstick you put on it!

          1. The same is true with internet-driven “social media”. All the old laws still apply. What is FORBIDDEN by Section 230, is punishing one party for the writings of another party!

            No, sarcasmic, section 230 gives specific legal protections to digital web-based advertising companies that are not available to non-web based advertising companies. A newspaper who publishes a letter to the editor that is libelous can be sued along with the person who wrote the letter. A web-based advertising company who publishes a post that is libelous cannot be sued along with the person who wrote the post. None of the same rules apply. Digital web-based advertisers are also allowed to write terms of service that would be dismissed as an unconscionable contract in any other industry because the users pay with their data instead of their money, so courts will not recognize damages.

            1. Sooo… Your “fix” to all of this is to punish “publishers” (web sites) for the content generated by OTHER people? Those who post?
              SOME people here have argued that, since there has been at least one (several?) case(s) of hardcopy rags (newspapers) sued FOR THE WRITINGS OF OTHERS, namely letter-to-the-editor writers (it was all well and good to authoritarians that SOME people got punished for the writings of OTHER people), then the proper fix MUST be to perpetrate / perpetuate this obvious injustice right on over to the internet domain!

              This is like arguing that the “fix” for a cop strangling to death, a black man (Eric Garner) on suspicion of wanting to sell “loosies” is, not to STOP the injustice, but rather, to go and find some White and Hispanic and Asian men as well, and strangle them, as well, on suspicion of wanting to sell “loosies”! THAT will make it all “fair”!

              NY Times can be punished for what someone ELSE wrote in a letter-to-the-editor in their hardcopy rag! An injustice, to be “fixed” by punishing Facebook for the same kind of offenses!

              1. The law for traditional newspapers assumed that the newspaper staff was very much involved in publishing anything, even letters from readers and classified ads. An editor would read the material, decide whether to publish it and in which part of the newspaper, and possibly mark it up and have it typed on a typewriter. A Linotype operator would receive the material and re-type it in the format (line length, font, and text size) specified by the editor. Printing staff would arrange the cast bars of type from the Linotype into frames, fix them into the printers, and finally run the printers to put ink on paper. A big-city newspaper might wear out the cast bars of type and repeat the process starting at the Linotype several times before enough papers had been printed. Magazine and book publishers were similarly deeply involved in the production, and often with far more editorial changes.

                So the law for these publications could assume that the publisher had approved the material and was responsible for it.

                But a platform such as Facebook allows users to directly post material, with no human intervention. The platform staff generally didn’t even read the material and should not be responsible for it – until they start acting like editors and deleting posts, or adding to or changing them.

            2. In 1850, I imagine that perhaps some people in the USA were saying it isn’t fair that white folks hold black folks as slaves. Let’s “fix” it by having a bunch of black folks hold white slaves, too!

              What kind of EVIL person fixes injustice by widening the spread of more injustice of the same kind? HOW does this “fix” ANYTHING?!?!

            3. If those words were too big, or there were too many of them, for your tiny brain…

              Re-stated, instead of spreading the stupid and the evil, how about cutting it BACK? Let’s add a “Section 230 for hardcopy rags”! This will spread justice instead of injustice!

              (Do YOU want to be punished for MY words?)

            4. ” section 230 gives specific legal protections to digital web-based advertising companies that are not available to non-web based advertising companies. A newspaper who publishes a letter to the editor that is libelous can be sued along with the person who wrote the letter.”

              When the newspaper gets sued for that, what they’re being punished for is deciding to publish that letter. Section 230 authorizes Internet-based organization to automate commentary so that they don’t have to examine every comment before allowing it to appear. This is because the newspaper probably has a new edition once per day, and sometimes less than that, which allows plenty of time to review submissions. The Internet is 24/7, with sites that take time for moderation of content disadvantaged vs. the ones who do not.

            5. “Digital web-based advertisers are also allowed to write terms of service that would be dismissed as an unconscionable contract in any other industry because the users pay with their data instead of their money, so courts will not recognize damages.”

              You’re confused as to how the business works. Facebook users are not Facebook’s customers, they are Facebook’s product. What Facebook sells is access to eyeballs.

    2. “Yet our legal system makes it impossible for anyone to hold Facebook accountable.”

      Accountable for what? For being assholes? I know thousands of assholes, and I have no more right to hold them accountable as some legal proceeding than I have to hold Facebook accountable.

      The way you hold Facebook accountable for being assholes is the same way everyone else does: turn them off.

      And yes, I completely agree that Big Tech has the ability to stop us from shifting to other less-asshole platforms. That is where we should be focusing our ire. You will find that the government is largely behind this oligopoly with its regulations that favor large, established platforms and make it difficult for smaller competitors to get a foothold or raise capital. Fix those problems and Facebook won’t matter any more.

      1. No, I mean they need to be held accountable, legally, for breaking their own ToS. That so-called contract, whatever it is called, is not just one way. It applies to them as much as to users. When they violate their ToS, they need to be held responsible. They like to point to the “legally binding” ToS as a reason to ban users, delete accounts, and so on; they don’t get to have it enforceable one way and not the other.

        Now if they want to change their ToS to say it only applies to you and that they make no promises about their own behavior, fine. But they don’t. They yak about controlling misinformation, lies, fraud, etc, yet their own violations of their own ToS break that promise.

        1. I guarantee you that their ToS have little to nothing in them that would be actionable in this case, because the ToS are designed to allow them to remove stuff that they- in their opinion- is objectionable.

          And in the worst case, all this violation of their ToS would lead to is a court order to re-instate whatever post/account they had flagged. If you think that is going to be somehow able to dissuade Facebook, then imagine how big a deal it will be for smaller companies trying to fend off a million lawsuits by crazy liberals who decided they don’t like the conservatives on that site.

          Using the law to solve a problem that can be solved by markets is always going to result in more harm and more concentration of share for cronies. Use the law to reduce burdens on competitors and this problem is fixed in the next decade.

          1. What makes you think any of this matters?

            1. There’s twits in the twitterverse who are fascinated by this crap.

          2. Overt. Are you familiar with case law such as negligence? It is one of the theories now being tested on courts to force silicon valley to uniformly enforce their own rules and regulations. The theory being the company is negligent when they choose to arbitrarily apply rules.

            1. That sounds like an argument made by somebody who doesn’t understand law, doesn’t understand technology, or (very likely) either one.

              The point is that some people are angry that Facebook adds corrections to disinformation postings by some users and not others (because some users post disinformation, and others do not) and also that Facebook cuts off access at its own whim.
              Facebook does not have a contractual requirement to let anybody use the Facebook service, or to use it to spread disinformation. If you want a service that IS contractually obligated to provide service or to allow some users to distributed disinformation using the service, go ahead and build a service that operates in that way.

              1. “some people are angry that Facebook adds corrections to disinformation postings by some users”

                Especially when it’s the Facebook corrections that are lies, not the original post. The way the courts are currently interpreting Section 230, even material created by the platform, such as calling the poster a liar, is protected from libel suits as it it were a user post.

          3. Using the law to solve a problem that can be solved by markets is always going to result in more harm and more concentration of share for cronies. Use the law to reduce burdens on competitors and this problem is fixed in the next decade.

            I agree. But no institution will ever focus on reducing ‘burdens on competitors’ if it is spending all its energy defending the status quo and the currently entrenched in the market. And basically, that’s the tendency of many ‘libertarians’. To wit – this article.

            1. Whining about entrenched technology companies mostly shows that you have no understanding of the history of technology companies. Anyone who’s been around long enough can point out several “entrenched” technology companies that are now known as “also-rans”… For example, Netscape once owned the market for web servers and browsers, Novell once dominated LAN servers, Microsoft took a turn dominating the browser market. Lotus was the dominant spreadsheet application, WordStar was the dominant word processor application, and then WordPerfect was, and a little company named Digital Research once made the dominant business operating system. Those are just some of the biggest upheavals that have happened since I started working in the field. If you go beyond IT to consumer products, there was once a time when Nintendo was the top videogame console maker, rather than third. It was once possible to record over-the-air television signals onto something called a “videotape”, and music came on specially shaped discs made of plastic.

          4. Using the law to solve a problem that can be solved by markets is always going to result in more harm and more concentration of share for cronies.

            You’re so right! Thankfully in our vibrant free market system in which digital web-based advertising companies get a full and complete exemption from generally applicable law, there has been no market concentration and we have plenty of alternative platforms to use!

            Retarded fucking cunt.

            1. The fact that you do not have a platform that is run exactly the way you would want your platform(s) run is directly related to you not building any platforms.

              Here’s what you do. Buy a bnuch of rack-mount servers, and set them up. Now buy a book on programming, and learn how to write programs. OK so far? now, write a program that operates a platform the way you want a platform to run. There you go! Repeat as many times as it takes to get you to STFU.

      2. To their own contracts Overt. What other industries get away with the same contractual behavior Silicon Valley does?

        1. There’s this thing called Google, which can help you find information you are looking for, as long as you know a term that is used on web pages that contains the information you are interested in. In this case, the term you want to search for is “contract of adhesion”, the general legal term for a contract where you get no input as to what the terms of the contract will be, only whether you accept them or not.

    3. “Yet our legal system makes it impossible for anyone to hold Facebook accountable.”

      You can stop visiting Facebook. No need to consult your lawyer.

    4. “The inconsistency of Facebook allowing some users to violate their ToS and not others should be a slam-dunk case against Facebook and force them to abandon their idiotic censoring”

      It’s their stuff. They’re allowed to decide who uses it, and when, and even how. If you don’t like it, don’t use their stuff.

  3. …representing celebrities, journalists, and politicians are exempt from normal enforcement measures

    To be fair, it’s been this way for a long time. The “New Normal” is that there’s no need for them to deny it. Judging solely from the lack of backlash from government Covid hypocrisy alone, I’d say the chimps want their betters held above them.

    1. It’s our version of royalty. They are after all, a vaccinated and sophisticated group.

      1. This is America. Our version of royalty is fat losers retiring to Florida to whine about how they TOTALLY won the election they lost.

  4. “[The documents] show that Facebook knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands,”

    Yeah, “flaws”, that’s the ticket! I’ll have to use that one at my next parole hearing to explain why I beat my mother-in-law to death with a baseball bat. It was an accident, a simple flaw in my reasoning process! It totally wasn’t anything I did purposefully!

    1. You were fed too much misinformation . It’s not your fault!

  5. Make a list of the things the nyt was correct about… I’ll wait

    1. ^This.

      The New York Times.

      LOL

      1. “…a former newspaper…”

    2. To be sure, you DO need to break a few eggs to make an omelet.

      1. No, they have that “egg substitute” product that comes in a little milk-carton-looking box. 0 eggs to break, 0+x omelettes.

    3. They’ve been getting the baseball scores correct for a century and a half. That will continue as long as they hire sportswriters that (unlike reporter Jayson Blair) would rather go to a ball game at company expense than sit in an office and write fiction.

  6. The VIP accounts are the product that Facebook sells. Facebook relies on those accounts for content. OF COURSE they are going to get more leniency than some grandma who is more trouble than she’s worth.

    1. Success has it’s perks.

    2. “The VIP accounts are the product that Facebook sells.”

      Facebook sells eyeballs to advertisers. It is not a requirement that a functioning brain be connected to them. The business model is similar to the way AM radio stations sell ears.

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    1. Or never start.
      I got about halfway through the ToS and left the site.

    2. ^This. Social media is a pox on society.

      1. Yet it exists, and it has an effect on your life whether you want to admit it or not.

        1. It keeps the stupid people busy.

  8. Those companies act as proxies for the government. So yes they are more powerful than you claimed.

    Also the NSA has tapped into their databases and the routers and firewalls across the internet. They are monitoring your data that way too.

    The collusion between big government and big tech is leading to ever more restrictive life for some. Just because you aren’t aware of it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

    1. “Those companies act as proxies for the government.”

      This is a silly claim. These companies, like all the others, act as profit-makers for the shareholders.

  9. Different rules apply to the High and Mighty? Who knew!?!

    Good luck EVER changing that!

    Before we strip away freedom of speech for web site owners (and grow Government Almighty in so doing), how about we FIRST fix the problem of “How much justice do you want? OK then, how much money, power, and fame do you have”? If Government Almighty can’t be trusted to be fair HERE, then HOW will it be fair taking over the moderation of web sites?

    For anyone doubting “justice for sale” is troublesome… See OJ Simpson! OK, the case is old… Does ANYONE believe that the problem has been solved yet? Keep in mind that OJ Simpson got an 11-month criminal trial! And a 4-month civil trial! Does the bum under the bridge get that? EVER?!?!?

    1. Lol. sarcasmic with the “look, a squirrel!” routine.

      1. 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

        1. Lol. sarcasmic with the “look, a squirrel!” routine.

          1. Lewis En-Boogered-The-Brainless-Son has run out of logical or coherent arguments, long ago!

            So I say…

            Hey faggotty faggot homo!
            Poopity poopy poop head!
            Nanny nanny boo boo!
            Is there an adult in the room?

  10. On a related note, how about Zuckerberg “donating” $350 million to a “charity” that gave money to Democratic party operatives in majority Democratic party stronghold urban areas for voter registration and GOTV efforts. Big tech uses its monopoly-like power to reap economic benefits then showers some wealth for the benefit of one political party and gets a tax deduction to boot. If the IRS and FEC did their jobs properly, this type of nonsense would be blocked.

    1. “On a related note, how about Zuckerberg “donating” $350 million to a “charity” that gave money to Democratic party operatives in majority Democratic party stronghold urban areas for voter registration and GOTV efforts.”

      That bastard tried to get people to vote? Off with his head!

  11. Deserves a repeat —

    “It’s not tech companies that have “seemingly invincible power,” it’s the government that does—the entity that has a monopoly on force and wields it with no real opt-out mechanism for those of us who object.”

    Nothing exhibited that better than 5-Democratic congressmen censoring the sitting U.S. President by ‘demand’. As they continue to do more so everyday (recent Warren article)…. Congressmen swore an oath to The People’s law (i.e. The U.S. Constitution) when taking office. They undeniably broke that law by conscience will when they ‘demanded’ abridgment of speech on tech media.

    They should *ALL* be stripped from their positions just like anyone would expect police officers caught in a bank heist job should be stripped of their duties. There has to be a mechanism to hold USA congressman accountable for their actions; be it by the people or their representatives (i.e. Congressional Trial).

    1. There has to be a mechanism to hold USA congressman accountable for their actions.

      “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

      That is the mechanism. We all know what has to be done; eventually there will be no other choice. We all already know. It is just a matter of time.

    2. “It’s not tech companies that have “seemingly invincible power,” it’s the government that does—the entity that has a monopoly on force and wields it with no real opt-out mechanism for those of us who object.”

      Go west until you hit the Pacific Ocean, then keep going.

  12. “[The documents] show that Facebook knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands”

    Bullshit. Anybody who uses Facebook is aware of what Facebook is, and has made a conscious decision to use Facebook anyway.

    1. “This quarter pounder with cheese with large fries are fattening?!?!”
      Caveat emptor

      1. If you choose to get all your mcfood from that source, and didn’t notice any correlation to your belt size, you might be a Republican.

  13. Criticism of Facebook’s management competence is legit, and libertarians shouldn’t necessarily be offended by that. There’s an explanation for it in Facebook’s case: Facebook may be a publicly traded company, but the CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, controls a majority of the voting shares. That’s generally not the way a company of this size operates.

    The CEO is appointed by the board of directors, and he’s held accountable and fired by the board of directors. The board of directors are elected by the shareholders. In Facebook’s case, because Zuckerberg owns a majority of the voting shares, the board of directors are appointed by the CEO, and the CEO is held accountable by a board of directors he can fire at any time.

    There have been several times, over recent years, when Zuckerberg probably wouldn’t have survived as CEO if he’d been in a management structure, where the CEO didn’t control a majority of the voting shares. Notably, Facebook lost about 40% of its value at one point, during an advertiser boycott, which might have been avoided entirely with better management.

    Zuckerberg has done better than a government bureaucrat would have done, but capitalism doesn’t ensure that management will be competent–just that being subject to market forces, private companies with incompetent management are likely to be punished for their incompetence over time.

    Warren Buffet had an old adage that went something like, “I only invest in companies that are so good an idiot could run them because sooner or later one will”. Zuckerberg may be such an idiot, and Facebook may be such a company.

  14. “Facebook has long claimed its standards of conduct apply equally to all users.”

    Facebook has long lied about everything it does.

  15. The Times reporter is telling us the MSM sees the tech giants as being staffed by intellectual elites and assume essentially omniscience and omnicompetence by these organizations. This is incredibly foolish and explains much about the media’s assumptions about what tech companies are capable of doing with regards to the spread of questionable information, which is usually criticized as a lack of will or deliberate malevolence on Big Tech part rather than a lack of competence in knowing what is bad information.

    This just says so much about the ridiculous mindset of the NYT and major news media as a whole.

  16. About 5.8 million out of 2.9 billion monthly active Facebook users have this status, which allows them to sometimes post violating content without receiving sanctions.

    How is this a debate, and why would it require “leaked internal documents”. Just look at who gets banned and for what, then look at those who do the exact same thing don’t, depending on where they fall on the ideological circuit.

    1. Are you implying that Trump got booted for a mostly peaceful protest that started before he finished speaking, and yet the Taliban are still propagandizing the world?

      1. Are you suggesting that it should be up to you to decide who gets to use Facebook?

  17. Ovide’s critique misses a lot. First, people always have the ability to opt out of Facebook usage—and Amazon, Google, and Twitter usage, too. Some companies have long tentacles that are hard to free yourself from; it would be hard to fully avoid every website that uses Amazon Web Services as a host, but it would not be hard at all to give up your Prime membership and two-day shipping in favor of halcyon jaunts to Target.

    These two concepts sit on such totally unequal planes that it’s hard to know where to begin here.

    1. You do know that any web page that has a facebook logo for posting or replies is tracking everyone that hits that page not just those with accounts, right?
      I have never had any “social” media account on any platform, yet I am all over their data bases from tagged pictures or comments of people who happen to know me.

      1. That’s what you get for knowing people!

  18. Second, Facebook has really strong incentives to self-correct. It may not always choose to do so—for reasons that are often obscured to us—but static, unwieldy bureaucracies rarely feel these same incentives and, even if they did, they would have a much harder time acting on them.

    So, Liz Wolf believes that Facebook is not a static, unwieldy bureaucracy. Kay…

  19. Hey, did y’all hear about the most recent FaceBooo posts by famous folks in China? (They get special dispensation to talk dirty poo-talk to you and me!)

    With regards to Hu Flung Poo, last thing that I have seen on their Facebook page is that Hu Flung Poo wants to marry Yu Flung Poo, but Yu Flung Poo insists on a ginormously expensive set of engagement / wedding rings, and Hu Flung Poo can’t spring for them… But they already have a wee little baby named Wee Flung Poo, with another bun in the oven. They are thinking of naming her Fling Flung Poo, when she arrives.

    Hu Flung Poo and Yu Flung Poo are 2nd cousins, so who knows how this-all will pan out… Stay tuned! IF ye can bear it! If ye can bear it, you will be known as the Poo Bearer!

    Latest FacePooooo updates:

    Little Cindy Lou Who Flung Poo gave a talking-to, to the Grunch who Stole Pooh-Bear’s Poo-Lunch…

    Then the Grunch’s heart grew by three sizes!

    And now, all who have run the race, will get prizes!

    But do you know, your prizes, they will be made of… Who?

    You silly Foo-Foo the Snu you! They’ll be made of poo!

    1. There you go sarc, stick to your shit eating routine, it’s quite literally the only thing you are even average at.

      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!

  20. same thing as the credit reports industry. regular citizens and VIPs are not treated the same

  21. “V.I.P.s were exempt from the company’s rules less out of malicious intent than neglect”

    Soon the New York Times will advertise the Brooklyn Bridge in its want ads section, if it still has one.

    1. Yep. No doubt it was total neglect that created the white list and directed every other algorithm to check in before taking actions.
      Totally neglect.

      1. Might be neglect that caused the senior level of management to not pay much attention to what the middle level of management was doing, when they kept hitting their quarterly profit targets.

  22. “Facebook has shown that it doesn’t want to be arbitrary or fickle,”

    Hahahahaha! Thanks Liz, it’s been a busy day, I needed a good laugh.

  23. People do not, however, have the ability to opt out of being governed, to decide they don’t like the rules Congress imposes on them, and to say “enough.”

    Let’s try a more modern, difficult, definition of ‘coercion’.

    Let’s say you have figured out how make a dog salivate by ringing a bell. Did you persuade them to do that? Did you coerce them? Are they only coerced and given no choice in the decision to salivate if the bell-ringer is a govt employee?

    Choice is a very complicated thing if the thing to be decided is not centered in the frontal cortex but is in some other part of the brain. Or should we ignore the fact that we have other parts of the brain?

    1. Is it too complicated for you? If you don’t like the way Facebook goes about its business, don’t use Facebook. Done.

    2. “People do not, however, have the ability to opt out of being governed, to decide they don’t like the rules Congress imposes on them, and to say ‘enough.'”

      They do have exactly that ability. If you don’t like the rules here, you can go anywhere you like the rules better. Used to be, that’s how people ended up here.

  24. First, people always have the ability to opt out of Facebook usage—and Amazon, Google, and Twitter usage, too.

    No, you do not have the ability to opt out of Facebook, Amazon, or Google, if you want to lead a reasonably normal life.

    1. Just when you thought you were out, they dragged you right back in.

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  26. Does anyone else remember when it was just leftists who’d say “oh, dear, this large company won’t run their company the way we want them to run it We should get the government make them do so!”

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