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Post By
Late Great Donald Blake 
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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,563
In Reply To
Trent Trueheart

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 1,176
Subj: This is kind of a Loki's wager I think.  And other anti-trust, social media thoughts.
Posted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 at 03:10:02 pm EST (Viewed 277 times)
Reply Subj: Re: I agree with this, so long as private companies don't become monopolies.
Posted: Sat Jan 08, 2022 at 11:30:35 pm EST (Viewed 293 times)

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    Quote:
    If we enforce antitrust laws then this wouldn't be an issue to begin with. The internet, and especially SOCIAL MEDIA shouldn't be privately owned or privately controlled anymore than the military or roads should be.



    Quote:

    cheers,
    ---the late great Donald Blake


The internet should be a public utility. I agree with that.

But social media? I don't know. I mean, maybe there is an argument that once a platform hits a certain number of users it could be considered, but where is that line? Like, if a new social media site popped up tomorrow, do you think that shouldn't be privately owned/controlled?

Even if you did come up some number, how can we know if those users are unique? Theoretically, if you said a social media platform couldn't be privately controlled once they reached a certain number of users, anyone could create a bunch of accounts to push the platform over that number. You could have a situation where half the accounts, maybe more, were only created to hit a goal. Would that make it necessary to remove private control?

And if we say it's not about the number of users, but rather how much influence the platform has, how do we judge that? Or should we even judge that? 15 years ago, Myspace was a pretty big deal, but now no one cares about it. Will Facebook or Twitter still be around in 10 years or will people move on to something else?

That said, I do get your point. Banning people from a large public discourse will cause them to seek out their own echo chambers which will only make them more extreme in their beliefs. In theory, hearing discourse from both sides should help to keep people in check so they don't become too extreme in their beliefs. However, even without banning people from these platforms, they tend to seek out echo chambers anyway. You really can't make people honestly listen to both sides or prevent people from becoming extreme in their beliefs.

But social media? I don't know. I mean, maybe there is an argument that once a platform hits a certain number of users it could be considered, but where is that line? Like, if a new social media site popped up tomorrow, do you think that shouldn't be privately owned/controlled?

Even if you did come up some number, how can we know if those users are unique? Theoretically, if you said a social media platform couldn't be privately controlled once they reached a certain number of users, anyone could create a bunch of accounts to push the platform over that number. You could have a situation where half the accounts, maybe more, were only created to hit a goal. Would that make it necessary to remove private control?

LGDB: I don't these details are in principle that hard to evaluate. Can you set a number of followers probably not. But that's not really how antitrust works anyway. There are numbers of ways to evaluate whether a company has undue influence on a market that limits or stultifies competition or gives itself unfair advantage. And obviously it's a thing like any other that would have to be settled in court. Laws by their nature are often set arbitrarily, but in principle these difficulties (e.g. how big is too big, what counts as undo influence) aren't any different that exist with ANY KIND of business. Btw, I'm not introducing some novel suggestion here. This is already a popular sentiment among antitrust activists. I mean hell, Facebook has literally been sued by the federal government for antitrust violations: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/update-facebook-antitrust-lawsuit/ We can of course disagree about the politics of this, but I just want to make it clear I'm not introducing some foreign concept to the larger conversation.  

Now Twitter specifically isn't to my knowledge every been accused of technical antitrust or monopoly, Facebook dwarfs it in terms of market share.  But a few things, my larger argument concerns how concentrated private interests dominate the social media space, there is no public option so to speak.  Also, if the market and the politic climate allows for monopolization the next big company will fill that vacuum, so if Facebook were to go defunct (and a lot of signs do point to a sort of decline there) a company like Twitter is primed to take their place.  

There's also a question of whether Twitter and Facebook are actually in competition in the first place.   They're both online social media companies.   But they certainly seem to function different and are used differently: while Facebook is a platform that allows you to communicate with friends and family, Twitter is more conducive to large form public conversations, especially for the communication of politicians, dignitaries, and influencers and the public at large. 
So while Twitter or Tik Tok or whomever aren't monopolies themselves, the problem remains that the space/industry/infrastructure is still dominated by concentrate private wealth and while they might be competing with each other at some level, they're also aligned in their interests that sets them apart from the public's interests.  





And if we say it's not about the number of users, but rather how much influence the platform has, how do we judge that? Or should we even judge that? 15 years ago, Myspace was a pretty big deal, but now no one cares about it. Will Facebook or Twitter still be around in 10 years or will people move on to something else?

LGDB: I appreciate what you're suggesting here, but I think if we consider it generally or in a legal context, whether or not a monopoly will in a decade or two go away on its own isn't a reasonable standard for whether or not that monopoly ought to be broken up.   I think ultimately antitrust violations are against the law (whether we have the political will often to enforce them or not) and you don't just let big companies violate the law in perpetuity in the hopes that the market won't continue to support their law breaking.  Secondly, the deleterious affects of monopolization exist and we should do something about them because in many cases people suffer under them or because of them, not passively hope they go away when some OTHER monopoly replaces like them like the Romans conquering Greece  And thirdly, it's not as if we know as a fact that these monopolies are going to go away after a decade or two just because that happened in some earlier case.


cheers,
---the late great Donald Blake