It would be a mistake to split up Facebook

Slate has published an adaptation from my recent book *Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero*, here is one excerpt:

Advocates of splitting up the big tech companies have a utopian vision of what will replace them. Whether you like it or not, we now live in a world where every possible idea (and video) will be put out there in some fashion or another. Don’t confuse your discomfort with reality with your assessment of big tech companies as individual agents. We’re probably better off having major, well-capitalized companies as guardians and gatekeepers of online channels, however imperfect their records, as the relevant alternatives would probably be less able to fend off abuse of their platforms and thus we would all fare worse.

Imagine, for instance, that instead of the current Facebook we had seven smaller companies all performing comparable social networking services, perhaps with some form of interconnectability or data portability. The negative sides of social media, which are indeed real, probably would be worse and harder to control.

It is unlikely that such a setting would result in greater consumer privacy and protection. Instead, we would have more weakly capitalized entities, with less talent on staff and weaker A.I. technologies to take down objectionable material. Probably some of those companies would be more tolerant of irresponsible user behavior as a competitive lure. Fake accounts would proliferate, and social networking sites such as 4chan—often a cesspool of racism and rhetoric that goes beyond the merely offensive—would comprise a larger and more central part of the market.

As for privacy, these smaller Facebook replacements would be more susceptible to hacks, foreign surveillance and infiltration, and external manipulation—the real dangers to our privacy and well-being.

There is much more at the link.

Comments

Doesn't this argument clash with the case for a small state?

One could say "We’re probably better off having major, well-capitalized [governments] as guardians and gatekeepers of online channels, however imperfect their records, as the relevant alternatives would probably be less able to fend off abuse of their platforms and thus we would all fare worse."

I do think one weakness of TC and AT's collective viewpoints is they don't fully appreciate how government-like big business is. There's an increasingly blurry line between the two, at least as it relates to the influence it has on one's life. If an argument works for business but fails for government, or vice versa, it's probably ivory-tower theory, and not applicable to day-to-day life.

>they don't fully appreciate how government-like big business is.

Oh, they appreciate it very much. And they are just fine with it, like all Statists are. Tyler wants a "major" company to be the "guardian" of everything. Small companies are "weak" and "less-talented" and prone to be "irresponsible" because of... the evils of competition, of all things!

Tyler is as lefty as they come. Just read his words.

A few multi-million dollar lawsuits should fix facebook.

Considering that a string of fines totalling beyond hundreds of millions of dollars haven't, no one should be holding their breath. Not to mention this upcoming one - 'The Federal Trade Commission and Facebook are negotiating over a multi-billion dollar fine that would settle the agency’s investigation into the social media giant’s privacy practices, according to two people familiar with the probe.

The fine would be the largest the agency has ever imposed on a technology company, but the two sides have not yet agreed on an exact amount. Facebook has expressed initial concern with the FTC’s demands, one of the people said. If talks break down, the FTC could take the matter to court in what would likely be a bruising legal fight.

Facebook confirmed it is in discussions with the agency but declined to comment further. The FTC declined to comment. The two people familiar with the probe spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the private talks.' https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/02/14/us-government-facebook-are-negotiating-record-multi-billion-dollar-fine-companys-privacy-lapses/?utm_term=.53e3f422f976&noredirect=on

The difference is that once you loose a lawsuit for a specific act you risk loosing additional lawsuits if you continue those acts.

Did you read the article? The multi-billion fine is based on a 2011 consent decree intended to prevent Facebook from violating user privacy in pretty much the same way as it had in the past.

This is always something I have a hard time contemplating. All the arguments from I pencil apply just as much to the firm as to the government. After all, virtually no firms, and certainly not social media companies, are run with internal markets. Why exactly do we expect Zuck to manage an "economy" any better than Envar Hoxa?

Having a few large corporations that use monopoly tactics to extract a percentage off the top of economic transactions between two other parties sounds quite similar to an early stationary bandit.

How exactly do we expect Facebook to get the necessary feedback with clear monopolies in some niches and a controlling founder who can, at any time, change the "command economy" of the firm at will.

'All the arguments from I pencil apply just as much to the firm as to the government. '

Maybe it is time to examine your arguments? No private person or company in the U.S. is required to listen to or distribute any one else's speech, for any reason.

There is no right to be heard, and no way to force private individuals or companies to do so. Which is one of most profound freedoms granted by the 1st Amendment, one absolutely not available to anyone in Albania under Hoxha.

Libertarians favor multifarious competition in all things except government. Thus, they prefer national governments to local governments, and large, supra-national bureaucracies to national governments.

We cannot speak in universals, however - many libertarians probably thought that they preferred competition in all things.... but it turns out that they can ignore a lack of competition quite easily if it's made in terms that claim to extend the size and reach of markets.

Homogenize a bunch of competing regulatory regimes and governments into a single world state? Normally libertarians should be against this. Given claims of concern with the centralization of power and the diminuation of the individual in the face of an ever larger state.

But in the case of the EU we find they're surprisingly easy to flip if one can make the case that a single regulatory regime means a larger market size and more trade and includes more individuals on a "level playing field" with "protectionist" regulatory barriers . One world state and one world regulatory straightjacket is a compromise they're quite willing to make for a world single market.

And with companies, in theory they don't like monopolies and they're against them. But present the argument that monopolies are the simply the natural and optimal outcome of the market, and..... their concerns melt away to thin air.

Of course "libertarian" covers people who think clearly about liberty, but much of what many self profession libertarians believe are vaguely held notions, with the extension and increase in size of markets and trade being the only notion they hold firmly.

Quite the contrary. We libertarians believe that all forms of human associations should be subject to full competition, regardless of whether it is a government, business, or a religion. We believe in the elimination (with extreme prejudice) of monopoly authoritarianism in any form whatsoever.

Lets say that I am a competent, intelligent individual with an IQ of 136. But unlike your typical pointy-head weenie, I am perfectly willing to get my hand dirty and do the real work necessary to sustain my life and those I associate with. Given that this is who I am, why the f**k would I ever even consider for a nano-second taking orders from any other human.

By definition, competent individuals could never have any use for any kind of hierarchy or authority (unless we're at the top, of course).

Where does facebook put a gun in your face?

This is always the difference between Government and Business, and it creeps throughout the organizations.

fb doesn't use the courts, which are backed up by weapon using law enforcement? how about that huh?

and they don't just them when you renege on consensual purchases either...

All good points, but, as a Ukrainian, I feel deep discomfort and dismail at the ability of totalitarian regimes such as Russia and Red China, to weaponize social media against democracies. I think America should do more way, way more to support democracies that dare to stand to Red China and Russia, such as Ukraine and President Captain Bolsonaro's Brazil.

I had forgotten that Thiago uses this name sometimes.

Sorry about your dismail, buddy. Where in Ukraine are you pretending to be from?

I don't know what you are talking about. I am from Nikopol, on the right bank of the Dnieper River.

I too reside on the right banks of the Dnieper. I’m in the district immediately next to the Goddess Nike monument. Shall we meet for a coffee and discuss libertarianism?

Send someone to check on Comrade Rudenko, please. He lives in Nikopol.

I am not a Libertarian. I am a Ukrainian patriot. I oppose the Russian aggressors and their backers.

No, I am not.

In network industries, you will see concentrated clusters with a central node because people want to reduce time needed to connect to others; hence, a hub is attractive and is self-reinforcing, and natural.

But, this does not mean that a lack of competition is inevitable. A few tweeks makes it very possible to have competing hubs.

To be sustainable, a central node or hub needs data to support its business. So, making your own data portable to another hub encourages entry. Portability of data would also force the hub to offer privacy protections in order to keep you.

A hub is susceptible to an aggregator. Just as Microsoft saw a web browser as a long term threat, so also there could be an aggregator site: in this window, you see your Facebook page, in this other window you see a different site; if you want to post to many sites, the aggregator posts to Facebook and whatever other sites you want; and the aggregator notifies you of updated items appearing on Facebook and other sites.

I would divest Twitter from Facebook, as this was an acquisition which should have been better reviewed, and Twitter wa a potential competitor to a dominant firm. And, with a stroke, Facebook can make its own version.

The reason we don't have better privacy protection is not because of weak capitalized firms; its because of a lack of competition with privacy differentiator in the social media space. Ask Apple about using privacy as a differentiator.

Competition can work; and, if it doesn't, there are also third party enforced standards, aka, regulation.

Do you mean "divest Instagram?"

sorry, I meant Instagram. One of the major owners of Twitter are the Saudis, which gives me comfort.

Good analysis btw

Congress all up in arms because FB didn't respect your privacy with that selfie you voluntarily plastered all over the internet, while Equifax exposes personal financial data of over a hundred million people and Congress forgets about it like it never happened. What a joke politicians are.

until the individual is fairly compensated for the use of their data neither scenario will ever be fair. a broad standard needs to be implemented that requires any corporate entity to negotiate for the use use of a users personal/commercial data.

The user necessarily values the use of the platform more than giving up control of their data, so there's no harm to be compensated for, otherwise the user wouldn't use the platform.

The reverse is more likely true, if FB is restricted from using individual data or held to some sort of nebulous fiduciary standard with respect to such data, then they would probably charge its users for the privilege of using the platform.

'then they would probably charge its users for the privilege of using the platform' which would be a valid option. free and we get to use your data. 2.99 per month and we won't use your data.

Ah yes the old "devil we know" argument. The problem with that argument is that it conveniently glosses over the word "devil".

Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon are acting inconsistently, in bad-faith to their clients and suppliers (content), and failing to define what it is that they actually do to fool regulatory authorities NOW. So you're saying that a million acting inconsistently would be worse? Why, because it's a million as opposed to one?

It's just the SSC article earlier "Why are the prices so damn high?". It should be easier and cheaper to simply move to other nodes and hubs of connectivity if one particular market isn't providing enough competition...but it's not. This is because big tech is actively stifling competition, something that has just been witnessed judicially in EU with Google. Textbook anti-trust.

Cowen: "Imagine, for instance, that instead of the current Facebook we had seven smaller companies all performing comparable social networking services, perhaps with some form of interconnectability or data portability. The negative sides of social media, which are indeed real, probably would be worse and harder to control."

Regulation (control) is better than competition. Hmm. I have seen that same argument with regard to consolidation in the health care industry: consolidation makes it easier to regulate (control) prices. At one time balance of power was the policy of the U.S., whether in business (large corporations/large unions) or foreign policy (western bloc/soviet bloc), but that policy fell out of favor as corporations grew larger and more powerful while unions suffered both a decline in numbers and power, and as the western bloc grew larger and more powerful militarily and economically while the Soviet bloc shrank both militarily and economically. I suppose I am someone who, having grown up with the legitimacy and merits of the policy of balance of power, looks favorably on Cowen's view with regard to Facebook. I'm just surprised that Cowen would make the argument.

what use is a counterfactual unless its from the advertiser's POV? The agency has the best knowledge of not "price gouging" but dead weight loss that occurs because of imperfect knowledge. If a Facebook sales rep can get a price of $30 CPM for an ad and because of a return that is weighted on "superficial" metrics, the advertiser will be happy with the results, even though the long run average of that price is going to go down to $10. Is this facebook sales rep, who's paid on sales numbers supposed to lower his CPM? Is the agency supposed to cease all research by price mechanism?

Again, most all media markers we read about facebook is revenue and ad spend and then HUGE fines. Meanwhile, the media publishes skewed reports on privacy. The main subject of study should be the difference between television and internet models for advertising. Certainly there are a lot of broadcasters, but ESPN is clearly a monopoly of sports entertainment. CNN, etc.

advertising works in commutative justice not distributive. “with the clamor and din, an infinite number of huge crows and rooks flew out of it, and there were so many flying so quickly that they knocked Don Quixote to the ground.

The reason FB bought Instagram and WhatsApp wasn't to gain synergies in AI detection of obnoxious posts. It was to stop them becoming competitors to Facebook. That's why they should be split off.

Facebook's customers are their advertisers, not the users. Let's see what's going on with ad prices before asserting Facebook isn't abusing its' monopoly

People forget ... Facebook brought Instagram to stop Google from buying them.

Insta and Whats app wouldnt have been competitors they would have been acquired by someone else. Google or Microsoft probably.

my sentiments also...people I know tend to favour one app for communication and expression...splitting them up makes sense

It’s increasing clear that FB and Google and others are moving from content agnostic platforms to heavily politicized publishers, with the additional feature that they enable or actively support a fine grained and ubiquitous social credit mechanism.

Big Brother is always watching. They are way past the “don’t be evil” days.

There is nothing more libertarian then hoping a social media megacorp institutes censorship to make sure Trump doesn't get elected again.

then? Yu ken spill Enlish reel good.

What could go wrong?

It only costs Google $20 million to control the US government, zero hedge says.

That seems deflationary. Fannie and Freddie paid over $200 in the years running up to the subprime mortgage catastrophe.

Of you don't listen, read, watch the media you are uninformed. If you listen, read, watch the media you are misinformed.

We are living 1984.

Get over it.

Resistance is futile.

Assigning the role of central banker to the tech titans.

We are giving them the sole right to pursue digital bearer assets, other wise known as the right to coin. As long as the techies, the NSA and the Fed agree, so then JPM has no choice but to get in on that deal. Hence JPM now has a top of the line digital bearer asset system, using JPM coin as unit of account and saving wealthy investors a ton of money in faster transaction times.

We better connect the dots on this, but I am not necessarily against it.

Tech titans could not possibly do worse than the Fed did in the past 106 years. Congress surrendered its Constitutional authority to coin money.

I lean to your view, but constitutionally the Fed must be given a chance to adapt.

The better option is just to not use Facebook. Then you don't have to give two ***** what they do.

now I know I'm right.

I’m more concerned about traditional antitrust worries than stuff specific to social media. We should ask—how is the market position of Facebook and Google affecting the prices they charge for ads? (Which ultimately result in higher prices for consumer goods). Are tech companies able to shut down potential competitors by leveraging their dominant market positions? (The US ban on Huawei suggests is illustrative; if Google can severely harm a competitor by denying services in which it has a monopoly, then that is an antitrust problem, regardless of whether Google was commercially motivated or forced to do so by the US government).

Really dumb sentences that provide a taste of what is to come:

"Advocates of splitting up the big tech companies have a utopian vision of what will replace them."

All of Tyler's writing are on point nowadays. #fire

Don’t confuse market power with externalities.

Is this TC's way of announcing his support for Socialism in general and AOC in particular? The idea he supports (and it IS idealogical, non-falsifiable, and may be correct or not (but not having access to many-worlds multiverse data, we'll never know)) is that big monolithic is more capable, more flexible/adaptive than small diverse. There is, of course, no evidence to the contrary; right Tyler? sigh there are none so blind as they who will not see.

Yet 4chan is also the places where memes (innovation) are born because it is relatively unmoderated.

All part and parcel of the new top down libertarianism. Let eccentric plutocrats run the internet because they know what is best for you is a straight line link to earlier in his career when he argued for the National Endowment for the Arts to do grants directly from DC rather than allow state and regional commissions to have any voice because the hicks in the sticks are inferior and have bad taste. He has yet to argue for turning the NEA budget over to the UN but that is no doubt in the works. For today's modern neo-libertarians big brother's big brother knows best and besides you are stupid and selfish.

"Attractive Target" - that's what a social media site with significant market share is. If government doesn't control it, and the owner doesn't control it, you'll find out that loads of people are working in it who got those jobs specifically so _they_ could wield political influence.

I think the first step of working this problem should be putting in place regulations and monitoring so that we can work out who's wielding what, whether it is the Surgeon General getting people to stop smoking, Zuckerberg bad-mouthing the competition, or somebody on the ground floor reckoning that the long march through the institutions means them getting a job where they and their co-workers decide what speech is offensive and what isn't.

The users of FB and Google are not the customers. It's the businesses that buy advertising that support these business. As a digital marketer for multiple businesses, I disagree strongly that small businesses are benefiting from the dominance of FB and Google. The audiences for FB, Google and Amazon differ slightly. My last business was 70% Google. I have friends that are over 50% FB and others that are 80% Amazon. As a business owner, this is terrifying. You are completely beholden to the platform. Changes in their program meant that we had to reallocate marketing and development resources just to keep operating. Changes in the algorithm and platform had deep, significant impacts on revenue. It is extremely stressful to have one company be your primary revenue source. And, it should be noted, Google's revenue is growing faster than their searches. Every year, they get better at pulling the profit out of small businesses. On Amazon - I have a friend currently being threatened with removal, and if that happens, he will shut down. It is not good for businesses to have suppliers with enormous power. This is what we have with FB/Google/Amazon.

small businesses need to find other publishers, local publishers, to advertise on and use word-of-mouth and or find "partnerships." Look at indeed.com or idealist.org as models. It's like any market, if the customers are out there, or the value of the business proposition is valid, then a third party shouldn't be the kernel link.

Look at doctors who prescribe impotence medicine. What if a doctor's revenue was 51% from those prescriptions?

Yes, breaking up Facebook would mean there isn't a centralized global censor subject to pressure from the leadership of a handful major political entities and otherwise unaccountable.

That you see that as a bad thing says very vile things about your character.

Why, exactly, do I want a company easily taking down "objectionable" content? How do I know that I will not be deemed "objectionable". After all YouTube, just blacklisted "objectionable" content about how Twitter was censoring right wing activists for exposing internal documents detailing how Pinterest. Somehow methinks that the remit of "objectionable" will prove quite elastic and the costs of merely complying with the poorly documented, whimsically changing "objectionable" standards will be far more harmful to individuals, the economy, and society than anything "objectionable" ever could be. I guess command economies really are good as long as they have "Big Business" stamped on the door.

Why should I care about "fake accounts"? In a world where accounts are easily faked, people are not going to give them weight. After all, a huge reason why people make bots and all the rest is precisely because there is value derived from making them difficult. If we truly had multiple providers I suspect that we would either develop an ecosystem robust enough to handle fake accounts or we would see some firm build tools that have to actually be viewpoint neutral (because their customers will be of many viewpoints). Again much better than the status quo.

As far as the 4chanification of the internet ... why? Do we think that those around us are raging racists merely held back by corporate diktat? Do with there is a large pent up market for racist online spaces? If there is demand for racism ... why exactly isn't it being met now? Why exactly can tech companies maintain prohibition regimes on things that are literally free to create and can be transported on electromagnetic waves with such a large market for the prohibited goods? So what I'm really hearing is that we should outsource the War on Drugs to Facebook so we can win it quick and cheap.

'Why, exactly, do I want a company easily taking down "objectionable" content?'

And why would I, or a private company, care? Companies, like a home owner, are completely free to decide what is objectionable or not, and to remove what they consider objectionable from their property.

'will be far more harmful to individuals, the economy, and society than anything "objectionable" ever could be'

The 1st Amendment guarantees that there will be no regulation of 'objectionable' content, and that every individual and private company can decide for themselves what is, or is not, objectionable.

'why exactly isn't it being met now'

It is - the problem, which you seem to be unaware of, is that private companies have no obligation to provide any revenue to those promoting, well, anything at all. The people hoping to make a monetary profit from whatever it is they are promoting do not have a right to revenue from anyone.

'Why exactly can tech companies maintain prohibition regimes'

For precisely the same reason that an individual can close their door on a stranger wanting to talk about any subject at all. American citizens have a right to speak - there is no right, or even obligation, for anyone else to listen.

It is always fascinating to see that a certain group of people only measure free speech by the extent that others are forced to listen to or spread what they are saying. This is a deeply, deeply flawed understanding of freedom of speech, which fundamentally rests on the right to completely and utterly ignore anyone else's speech, for any reason at all. The words of the 1st Amendment cover both aspects - Congress can not force an individual or private company to distribute or listen to content they do not want to.

Sometimes, one can actually miss Scalia, who at least was a staunch believer in the 1st Amendment.

prior crushed that one right out of the park

The 1st Amendment guarantees that there will be no regulation of 'objectionable' content, and that every individual and private company can decide for themselves what is, or is not, objectionable.

No, it doesn't. It guarantees the US federal and state governments will not regulate objectionable content.

If, say, the EU passes a global-reach social media censorship rule, backed by billion-euro fines for noncompliance, do you really think Mark Zuckerberg is going to shut down Facebook's EU operations rather than comply?

It's not like foreign states haven't successfully censored the content presented to American audiences before -- remember the remake of Red Dawn getting digitally altered to accommodate Chinese government opinion, because MGM worried their other films would be cut off from the Chinese market if they didn't change what the showed Americans?

Ahh wondered when you would be along with your inability to distinguish between undesired and forbidden.

I think it lamentable that tech companies have these powers; I have seen nothing that suggests to me that they should lose their first amendment rights. Conversely, part of having those responsibilities are being held liable for slander, libel, and incitement. If these companies are private actors exercising their speech, then they should be held accountable for any slanders, libels, or incitements they facilitate.

As far as 4chanification. Again I have to question the demand. It is quite reasonable for the tech companies to prohibit 4chan style communication. Yet I have to wonder, why are there no startups rising to feed this market which Tyler sees being unmet. As you note, corporations are free to endorse whatever speech standards (or lack thereof) they wish ... why is capitalism failing to wring cold hard cash from meeting a large market that is currently untapped? My best guess is that this market is actually small and the actors exercising their speech and association rights to work with them are as big as they would ever get; the market for honest hate is just not that large.

This is a panglossian argument. But internet ads are usually a direct response technique, ie action-oriented. Two images in sequence may indicate "if this, then that" or "despite this, that". Freud thought the dream started with "dream thoughts" which were like logical, verbal sentences. He believed that the dream thought was in the nature of a taboo wish that would awaken the dreamer.

In other words, it creates a connotation that is culturally-bound, and that violates some culture code. Theorists who have studied humor (such as Schopenhauer) suggest that contradiction or incongruity creates absurdity and therefore, humor.

As for fake accounts, it is a securitization issue. If you can fake traffic in real time, you can generate faster internet, design better websites, understand that inequality is both a larger problem and easier to solve than you thought. Discovered by White Ops, a US-based security firm, Methbot was found to be controlled by a Russian criminal group operating under the name Ad Fraud Komanda or AFK13. The fraud was estimated to pull in $3m to $5m from advertising every day, making the programmatic industry bleed cash.

Publicity is not new. But neither is the particled atom. It's the same as the speed of light or that thing feynman said that Maxwell's equations in the longer run would be more important than the Civil War.

Wonder if this will be posted here any time soon?

'The need to regulate online privacy is a truth so universally acknowledged that even Facebook and Google have joined the chorus of voices crying for change.

Writing in the New York Times last month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai argued that it is “vital for companies to give people clear, individual choices around how their data is used.” Like all Times opinion pieces, his editorial included multiple Google tracking scripts served without the reader’s knowledge or consent. Had he wanted to, Mr. Pichai could have learned down to the second when a particular reader had read his assurance that Google “stayed focused on the products and features that make privacy a reality.”

Writing in a similar vein in the Washington Post this March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for Congress to pass privacy laws modeled on the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). That editorial was served to readers with a similar bouquet of non-consensual tracking scripts that violated both the letter and spirit of the law Mr. Zuckerberg wants Congress to enact.

This odd situation recalls the cigarette ads in the 1930’s in which tobacco companies brought out rival doctors to argue over which brand was most soothing to the throat.

No two companies have done more to drag private life into the algorithmic eye than Google and Facebook. Together, they operate the world’s most sophisticated dragnet surveillance operation, a duopoly that rakes in nearly two thirds of the money spent on online ads. You’ll find their tracking scripts on nearly every web page you visit.'

https://idlewords.com/2019/06/the_new_wilderness.htm

Oh, the dreaded "4chan stamping on a anime human face forever!" future!

C'mon, 4chan is about the size its gonna get and its specifically driven by self selection by people who want an unmoderated environment, and that founding ideology. I would not be representative of an fbless world.

In my experience, very smaller fora do not seem worse than facebook in terms of moderation; probably better, since it's easier for them to maintain clear discipline about what the site is for, and they rarely are interested in monetization to the extent facebook is.

So it's unclear to me why intermediary sized entities should be less effective than small fora exactly.

Facebook's problems with moderation are directly because it aims to be universal media, and a universal channel for politics, and this leaves it attractive for exploitative individuals and weirdly powerless.

TC's frame is completely backwards here. These aren't universal, inevitable problems, which fb is able to tackle due to their immense resources; they're exactly the consequences of fb's universalist aspirations and flaws.

(Caveat is whether intermediary balkanized networks are even a viable proposition. They may not be! fb may be inevitable, even if it's not "good")

I am not in favor of breaking up the tech giants as "monopolies".

First, they do not mean the legal definition of monopoly, and I would not prefer that the definition be "stretched" to extend to them.

Secondly, I think there is a much easier approach to take on the tech giants that would be within the context of the 1996 telecoms law. That is, since they engage in censorship, they now fit the legal definition of publishers, rather than platforms, under the definition of that law, and should be subjected to the full consequences of that definition. This would be just as effective at reigning in the tech giants, but in a manner that is much more consistent with free market economics and individual liberty.

Any legislation to break them up is basically throwing the baby out with the bath water.

People who advocate breaking up large tech companies should consider how difficult computer security is. Despite their flaws Google and Facebook are relatively good at security and it's unlikely that smaller companies could achieve the same level of excellence in this area. Putting everyone's data at more risk.

Large tech companies also make significant contributions to the wider computer security ecosystem. It don't forget Google's Project Zero discovered the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities (among others). It's in our interested to have large tech companies who are motivated to improve the state of computer security. If they weren't doing this many of these flaws could be discovered and exploited by less friendly entities (hostile foreign powers, etc).

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