Friday, June 18, 2021

Just Shut Up Already, Facebook (aka… Mark Zuckerberg).

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( Everyone grew up with someone who obnoxiously would recount everything you’d just gone through, to the people who were, like they weren’t – “Did you see that chick who started talking to you?” Yeah, I was talking to her. “My God, she just walked right up and started talking to you!” For some reason, Facebook thinks commercials feature people like this is a good way to get Congress to allow them to rewrite Internet regulations.

If you’ve watched cable TV at all in the last month you’ve seen one of those stupid ads from Facebook calling for new Internet regulations. They feature obnoxious 25-year-olds recounting things everyone older than they have lived through – flip phones, dial-up Internet, etc. – like they aren’t addressing people who were not in diapers at the time. “I was born in 1996, the last time Internet regulations were updated.” Actually, that’s the year they, to the extent they exist, were written. Who do they think these brats who brag about their lives are online appeal to?

There are few things more annoying than millennials talking about events they aren’t old enough to remember like they personally played a pivotal role in their creation. That’s the tone of these commercials. Facebook wants new Internet regulations because…of course they do.

Despite the common misconception, giant corporations are not conservative or opposed to government regulations. In fact, they love regulations because the larger the company is, the more likely it is that they’ll be in the room when it comes time to write them. The deeper the pockets, the tighter the grip on the pen that writes the laws.

Facebook 2021

Internet regulations, to the extent that they exist, come from the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Internet was in its infancy at the time and lawmakers, mostly because they didn’t know much about its future, smartly decided to largely leave it alone. Because of that, the Internet was as close to a free market as we have left. Online businesses thrived, even with the 1999 Internet bubble burst.

Most importantly, innovation was allowed to take place. Facebook likely wouldn’t exist if the government had jumped into the regulation game, everyone would be stuck on Friendster or My Space.

Now governments impose sales taxes online, and the feds are looking to get in the game too. And Facebook, along with a lot of other billion dollar companies, want them to. Not because they’ve adopted a “stop me before I kill again” attitude, they don’t live in fear of the cost of compliance with any regulations. They have more money than God, there’s literally nothing they can’t afford.

No, they want regulations to maintain their position on top of the heap. If Twitter or Facebook have to spend an additional million per year to comply with some random regulatory scheme, so what? In the time it took me to type that sentence, they made more than that.

What it will do is make it that much harder for anyone else in their dorm room or garage from being able to create the next social media network. A great idea will only get someone so far, they need more than an idea to get investors. If your first act as a business is scrambling to find a pile of money to hire lawyers to make sure what you’re doing is in line with nebulous, ever-changing regulations and restrictions, most people won’t be able to do that.

Many will still try, and right there will be “nonprofits” funded by the existing tech billionaire class filing lawsuits should they even come close to falling short of those rules. Lawsuits will even be filed if they haven’t fallen short, requiring those up-and-coming companies to pay lawyers even more to defend them from false allegations.

Big companies love big government. The trade-off for occasionally being made to look like a fool in quickly forgotten Congressional hearings is having the power of government make the likelihood that you’ll ever be surpassed by a competitor almost zero.

Those obnoxious Facebook ads would be more honest if they featured Mark Zuckerberg begging Congress to not throw him in the briar patch. Otherwise, as far as Internet regulations go, rewriting section 230 of the Communications Decency Act so companies deciding what isn’t acceptable-speak on their sites are logically held liable for everything they do allow and search engines are forced to be transparent for skewing results for political or monetary biases would be a good place to start. It would also be a good place to end. Adults can handle nasty things online, what they shouldn’t have to handle is snot-nosed, giggly, overpaid, pampered brats having control over what they can and can’t see or say online simply because they learned to write code rather than have real interactions with their fellow human beings and were born in 1996.

Written by Derek Hunter

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