Twitter too

Big tech must be treated like media: Sims.

ACCC chair Rod Sims has described technology giants Facebook and Google as publishers, who should be regulated in a similar way to traditional media.

Following the release of the ACCC’s final report into the market power of digital platforms, Mr Sims said Google and Facebook should be subject to the same laws as publishers and broadcasters.

And not before time. Moreover, it might even become a bi-partisan issue. At least you can hope. From the US.

Yesterday, presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign sued Google, alleging that the company wrongly suspended the campaign’s Google Ads account during the critical hours following the first Democratic debate. The Complaint is venued in federal court in central California.

Its allegations are explosive. Gabbard accuses Google of trying to sabotage her presidential campaign because she, like Elizabeth Warren, has argued in favor of reining in the tech monopolies, including Google. Here are some of the Complaint’s allegations:

4. In the June 26-27, 2019 Democratic Party presidential debates, tens of millions of Americans got to hear Tulsi Gabbard’s voice for the first time. And people liked what they heard: Gabbard quickly became the most searched-for Democratic presidential candidate on June 27-28. In the crucial post-debate period—a time when presidential candidates receive outsize interest, engagement, and donations—Americans around the country wanted to hear more from Tulsi Gabbard.
***
7. On June 28, 2019—at the height of Gabbard’s popularity among Internet searchers in the immediate hours after the debate ended, and in the thick of the critical post-debate period (when television viewers, radio listeners, newspaper readers, and millions of other Americans are discussing and searching for presidential candidates), Google suspended Tulsi’s Google Ads account without warning.

8. For hours, as millions of Americans searched Google for information about Tulsi, and as Tulsi was trying, through Google, to speak to them, her Google Ads account was arbitrarily and forcibly taken offline. Throughout this period, the Campaign worked frantically to gather more information about the suspension; to get through to someone at Google who could get the Account back online; and to understand and remedy the restraint that had been placed on Tulsi’s speech—at precisely the moment when everyone wanted to hear from her.

Utterly unacceptable. People go onto these platforms because they are suckered in with the promise that they will not be censored and once the network is build up find themselves sandbagged by a bunch of ignorant techies. Let them be sued, and as far as the eye can see.

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59 Responses to Twitter too

  1. Shy Ted

    Like the ABC media or the Murdoch media?

  2. stackja

    Media want to play politics?
    Make them play fair.

  3. As I’ve said previously, the Left don’t know where to draw the line. They keep going too far and eventually it comes to bite them in the arse. The Left may have some clever people in their midst, but by God they are stupid.

  4. Entropy

    Any service provider that is curating or restricting the information it is sending out is not a common carrier, they are a publisher. And should be treated as such.

  5. Bruce of Newcastle

    I predict as the election approaches that Ms Gabbard will drop her action, gracefully accept Google’s apology for the accidental error of one of their employees, then proclaim loudly how Google is such a wonderful American company with all good woke things in their heart.

    The DNC will be exquisitely sensitive given that Google is their most powerful and all-seeing ally.

  6. Sinclair Davidson

    Completely disagree.

    The ACCC exist to sabotage business.

    Do we really want ALP appointee Rod Sims deciding what is “fake news”?

  7. roger

    People go onto these platforms because they are suckered in with the promise that they will not be censored and once the network is build up find themselves sandbagged by a bunch of ignorant techies. Let them be sued, and as far as the eye can see.

    People go onto these platforms because they want to use the services offered by these platforms for free. Can I sue Pornhub for not having porn videos to my liking? Or, for that matter, can I sue this Catallaxy website for not having views to my liking?

    What part of “private companies” don’t you get? Let me know and I can try and help you.

  8. Sinclair Davidson

    There is nothing to stop the whinging conservatives from creating competing social media platforms.

  9. Tim Neilson

    There is nothing to stop the whinging conservatives from creating competing social media platforms.

    I don’t think that Sims or Kates are saying that there is.

    They’re saying that if the internet giants want to edit what’s on their sites they should be treated like any other publisher. Or if they don’t want to be treated like a publisher, stop being a publisher.

    As for Gabbard, if she believes that Google have breached their contract with her by shutting service without contractual cause, why shouldn’t she sue them?

    Though it’s interesting that a Democratic politician believes that harm to her chances of the Presidency will cause her $50 million financial loss (according to a report I saw which says that that’s what she’s asking for). I’d be interested to see the pleadings describing how she would have got the $50 million if she’d made it to the White House.

  10. roger

    There is nothing to stop the whinging conservatives from creating competing social media platforms.

    Bingo.
    How self-proclaimed conservatives are calling for, wait for it, government intervention into Facebook, Google, Twitter etc. never ceases to amaze me.
    These companies may be every bit as evil as you believe them to be, but their respective evil, or, for that matter, their combined evil will be completely dwarfed by the evil of government intervention into the legitimately-private decision making of private companies.
    Don’t like their services? Don’t use them. Simple.

  11. roger

    As for Gabbard, if she believes that Google have breached their contract with her by shutting service without contractual cause, why shouldn’t she sue them?

    Why shouldn’t she sue them? Because this alleged breach of contract, which I see conservatives whinge about endlessly, by companies such as Google is probably the conservative equivalent of the Left’s Man Made Global Warming: complete BS.

  12. Petros

    That’s why gab.com was created.

  13. Jannie

    Google and the Alphabet chain give capitalism a bad name. They are Global Corporations who have no loyalty or even sympathy for the nations and workers who created them, and appear to be acting like a cartel. At any rate they control so much of the market share that they are monopolies, and act like the evil Federal Empire who will control national governments.

    Option one is the socialist approach, subsidise them and watch them die slowly. Option two is the Freemarket approach, break them up into 100 competing companies, and repeat every five years.

  14. roger

    By the way, here is my suggestion to address the problem of political candidates not getting enough public exposure and, in general, to end, once and for all, the public controversies over political donations:
    All approved political candidates will have their own website. The electoral commission will have a website with links to each candidate’s websites. Political candidates will communicate their message to the public via their website.
    No need to spend money on advertising, and, consequently, no need to worry about political donations etc.
    You’re welcome.

  15. Tim Neilson

    Because this alleged breach of contract, which I see conservatives whinge about endlessly, by companies such as Google is probably the conservative equivalent of the Left’s Man Made Global Warming: complete BS.

    Then she’ll lose. But why can’t she bring the action if she believes she’s got a case?

  16. Tim Neilson

    Don’t like their services? Don’t use them. Simple.

    The issue, as stated by Sims and posted by Kates, is whether the internet giants should be subject to the same laws as other publishers. Compare and contrast:

    The ABC decides to put on some things and not put on others. If it lets some ratbag defame someone and does nothing to correct the record, it will be liable in defamation, because the ABC has chosen to publish the defamation.

    Each of the internet giants decides to put on some things and not put on others. If it lets some ratbag defame someone and does nothing to correct the record, it should be liable in defamation, but won’t, because it claims not to be a publisher and gets away with it.

    It’s an utterly useless display of arseclownery to say to the defamed person Don’t like their services? Don’t use them. Simple..

    That’s why the internet giants should be made to decide – are you going to keep banning and shadowbanning people, or are you going to claim immunity for defamation etc. by saying you’re not a “publisher” – but you can no longer do both.

  17. roger

    But why can’t she bring the action if she believes she’s got a case?

    She is free to sue Google for violating its contract if she believes she’s got a case. Anyway, look at how her “case” was framed by the author of this thread:

    People go onto these platforms because they are suckered in with the promise that they will not be censored and once the network is build up find themselves sandbagged by a bunch of ignorant techies. Let them be sued, and as far as the eye can see.

    All this silly mumbo-jumbo suggests to me that the author does not believe a contract was actually breached, just some mystical non-written rules were broken. I would bet London to a brick all this breach of contract is something conservatives pulled out of their arses.

  18. roger

    Each of the internet giants decides to put on some things and not put on others. If

    it lets some ratbag defame someone and does nothing to correct the record

    , it should be liable in defamation, but won’t, because it claims not to be a publisher and gets away with it.

    You wrote these two sentences one after the other as if there is some direct causality, or, for that matter, any other relation between a website which “decides to put on some things and not put on others” and then seeing that the website “lets some ratbag defame someone and does nothing to correct the record”.
    There is no such causality or any relation. You are talking out of your arse.

  19. Mother Lode

    The ACCC will be motivated solely by its limitless instinct to impose regulations.

    To them, an space without regulation is not merely chaos: although bordered by form it has no shape and cannot be measured, although appearing on the backdrop of the coloured universe it has no colour, if you were to reach into it with your hand your hand would simply dissolve into nothingness.

    Theirs is a mental repugnance at this hole in the universe.

    The ACCC is dedicated to freedom and competition – and they if we want it too then we must do as we are told.

  20. Iampeter

    ACCC chair Rod Sims has described technology giants Facebook and Google as publishers, who should be regulated in a similar way to traditional media.

    And not before time.

    Just another rant from a clueless commie?
    Why no, it’s just a “Classic Economist” posting at “Australia’s Leading Libertarian Centre Right Blog.”

  21. Iampeter

    There is nothing to stop the whinging conservatives from creating competing social media platforms.

    This is beside the point. The fact conservatives are basically socialists, but don’t seem to even realize it, is the real story here.

    There is no one even pretending to oppose the left in mainstream politics anymore.

  22. There is nothing to stop the whinging conservatives from creating competing social media platforms.

    What rock have you been living under? This has been attempted numerous times and the sheer power of the likes of Facebook and the Left’s relentless pursuit of controlling speech have destroyed all of those attempts.

    Here’s are two examples:

    https://www.wired.com/story/facebooks-aggressive-moves-on-startups-threaten-innovation/.

    https://promarket.org/google-facebooks-kill-zone-weve-taken-focus-off-rewarding-genius-innovation-rewarding-capital-scale/

    Once you reach a certain level of dominance, it’s very easy to kill any opposition.

  23. Sinclair Davidson
    #3117652, posted on July 28, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    There is nothing to stop the whinging conservatives from creating competing social media platforms.

    And did anyone else find this statement rather telling?

  24. Rtp

    If you put valuables in a safe deposit box in a bank can the bank just decide, at any time, to requisition the contents of your box?

    Of course they can’t.

    They own the architecture surrounding the box just as Facebook and Google own the architecture surrounding your pages. But the contents of your security box, just like your posts, your “likes”, your followers are all yours. If facebook never intended for you to keep such things they should have made it clear that they could and would requisition it at any stage.

    The same people saying Facebook can do whatever they want are (presumably) also saying they have no problem with a bank requisitioning its security deposit box contents or governments nationalising gold mines.

  25. Crossie

    Do we really want ALP appointee Rod Sims deciding what is “fake news”?

    But it’s OK if some unnamed techie does it?

  26. Crossie

    Petros
    #3117668, posted on July 28, 2019 at 10:47 pm
    That’s why gab.com was created.

    And then the entire platform gets taken down as it did recently.

  27. Chris M

    The issue, as stated by Sims and posted by Kates, is whether the internet giants should be subject to the same laws as other publishers

    Very good post Tim. A level playing field is necessary. They are either carriers not responsible for content in any way (eg phone, mail services) or publishers. They have chosen the latter.

  28. roger

    They are either carriers not responsible for content in any way (eg phone, mail services) or publishers.

    Of course they are publishers. Every one of the millions of the Web site authors on the planet is a publisher.
    What’s your point, though?
    Does establishing this obvious fact give the government a right, or a duty, to interfere with the content published and algorithms implemented in each and every website on the planet because of choices made by the website author which you may believe are unfair, yet are, in fact, *not* illegal in any way, shape or form?

  29. What’s your point, though?

    The point is that these companies use the excuse of being a carrier and not being responsible for Leftist posts, but at the same time not allowing conservative posts and manipulating what’s being posted or made visible. So they are not acting as a common carrier, but as a publisher.

    A common carrier, like Telstra does not monitor, manipulate, censors or controls what’s being transmitted on their network. A publisher, like Their ABC, not monitors, manipulates, censors and controls what’s being published and commented on, which is their right. And being a publisher, they can be sued for what’s published, unlike a common carrier. The latter is what the likes of Facebook, Google etc fear.

    So, do you now see the point?

  30. John Brumble

    IamRoger:
    “Of course they are publishers”

    You know there’s a specific law/set of laws in the US, which is/are mirrored in some way or another by almost all jurisdictions globally that places them in a category that is explicitly NOT “publisher”, right?

    And provides an absolute government-backed defence against common-law defamation, right?

    I think perhaps we’re talking at a bit of cross purposes here. Let’s be clear whether we’re discussing a bureaucrat suggesting that bureaucrats interfere with who and what may be published, or a bureaucrat suggesting that a law providing special protection for a certain class be removed if that class takes actions consistent with it being another class.

  31. Tim Neilson


    You wrote these two sentences one after the other as if there is some direct causality, or, for that matter, any other relation between a website which “decides to put on some things and not put on others” and then seeing that the website “lets some ratbag defame someone and does nothing to correct the record”.
    There is no such causality or any relation. You are talking out of your arse.

    Yes there is.

    Don’t bother replying. I’m quite happy to let other commenters decide for themselves which of us is talking out of his arse.

  32. roger

    I think perhaps we’re talking at a bit of cross purposes here.

    Maybe a good starting point to establish what the thread’s author is on about, is to look at the example he provided: A US political candidate feels she was discriminated against by Google, and consequently sued it.
    Now, if I published a website and deliberately discriminated against her, she would probably not sue me, nor, in all probability, have any idea that my website or, for that matter, I, even exist. So, what’s the difference? The difference is that Google is a bit more popular than my hypothetical future website. That’s all. To this I say: so what? Website authors, no matter how popular or not, can still discriminate for and against whomever they want on their own website. Don’t like it, don’t read their websites.
    The problem here is that people look at the power of Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. and think that this power make these private companies different than others. It does not. All these companies started as small companies. They acquired their power through hard work, talent and/or (certainly the case for Facebook) being in the right place at the right time. They haven’t done anything wrong by any of these things. Leave them alone. I used to be on Facebook and quit because I decided I don’t like its services. People can similarly quit using Facebook, Twitter and/or Google.
    It’s called free choice.
    The alternative also has a name. It is Marxism.

  33. Now, if I published a website and deliberately discriminated against her, she would probably not sue me,

    If you run a website where you allow defamatory comment to be published, you can be sued. In fact, you would be considered a publisher.

    Facebook etc have lived off the carrier excuse for too long. It’s about time that they are classified for what they are, publishers.

    No one is attempting to control what they publish and who they allow to publish under their auspices, but simply to be responsible for what is published.

    What is so wrong or Marxist about that?

  34. roger

    No one is attempting to control what they publish and who they allow to publish under their auspices, but simply to be responsible for what is published.

    What is so wrong or Marxist about that?

    Nothing wrong with that.
    What *is* wrong is clowns like yourself or Tim Neilson inventing the straw man of *illegal* defamation and bravely fighting, in a relentlessly fierce war of attrition, against your own straw man invention. Neither me, nor the thread’s author, come close to discussing allowing *illegal* defamation.

  35. NuThink

    Once you reach a certain level of dominance, it’s very easy to kill any opposition.

    So very true.
    Try being a small manufacturer and competing against a giant. Just the compliance costs of certain standards such as EU CE mark are beyond the abilities of small manufacturers to meet. So a Goliath vs David battle. And those standards often appear more to keep out competition than to enhance the product. And many big companies are poor at innovation – they tend to buy out competition – something which I heard about in the 50’s. They swallow up any competition, in the tradition of the Godfather, who makes them an offer they cannot refuse. Also the problems of patent infringement. One large Japanese company I heard about has 200 staff just ensuring that their product does not infringe other peoples’ patents.

    Similar problem happened to my dad in the 50’s or 60’s, who owned a shop which he had started in the 20’s. He branched out and started selling toys as well, and was approached by representatives of the big boys in town to raise his prices. He was reluctant to and was then informed that they will undercut him drastically and he would not be able to sell much. He had very little choice but to comply.

    But it is easy for those in academia and government to not have to face the harsh reality of certain industries.

    Even big companies fail to unseat the dominant player. Bing usurps my desktop and looks very similar to Google, but I often only realize that it has happened when I find the searches are not up to Google results. And so I have to search again under Google. Just my subjective impression.

    I recall a saying attributed to a well known newspaper man who said, paraphrased that
    Monopoly is a terrible thing, unless you have it.

  36. roger

    Once you reach a certain level of dominance, it’s very easy to kill any opposition.

    So very true.

    Yeah, so very true, especially in the field of ICT!
    How foolish were Steve Jobs and that silly guy starting a company in his garage… what his name?.. oh yeah… Bill Gates, to think they stand a chance in starting a company which will even exist, let alone succeed, against the complete dominance of the computing world of the giant IBM.
    Anyone who thinks about creating a start-up in the ICT field: you might as well abandon all hope right now.

  37. Neither me, nor the thread’s author, come close to discussing allowing *illegal* defamation.

    So why are Facebook, Google etc fighting against being classified as publishers?

  38. Tim Neilson

    No one is attempting to control what they publish and who they allow to publish under their auspices, but simply to be responsible for what is published.

    What is so wrong or Marxist about that?

    Nothing wrong with that.
    What *is* wrong is clowns like yourself or Tim Neilson inventing the straw man of *illegal* defamation and bravely fighting, in a relentlessly fierce war of attrition, against your own straw man invention. Neither me, nor the thread’s author, come close to discussing allowing *illegal* defamation.

    Poor old roger.

    Desperately defending an illusory Stalingrad against the evil government interventionists, while on the beaches behind him the real issues of contractual rights and of misuse of pseudo-“common carrier” status get debated.

    Sad really.

  39. dominance of the computing world of the giant IBM.

    You should study that history a little more to understand what happened at the time, rather than pull thoughts from a dark wet place. Your analogy is completely wrong.

  40. roger

    You should study that history a little more

    Feel free to educate me if any of the facts I stated was wrong. I re-iterate for your benefit my point, with different (and less sarcastic) phrasing: hardly ever in the history of mankind has it been easier to challenge dominance of existing companies than now it is in the field of ICT. You can do it with no much more physical resources than are required to comment on the Catallaxy website.

    And as for Tim Neilson:

    Poor old roger.

    Desperately defending an illusory Stalingrad against the evil government interventionists, while on the beaches behind him the real issues of contractual rights and of misuse of pseudo-“common carrier” status get debated.

    Sad really.

    I already referred to the alleged violation by Google of contractual rights earlier in the thread. Look up my earlier contributions. Hint: probably complete BS which, again, the thread’s author never really mentioned himself.
    Please stop, with the drought and all that, you are in danger of creating a national straw crisis.

  41. SocMed giants claim they are like the ink and newsprint suppliers, while their content providers are the actual publishers a la’ Murdoch Press or Fauxfacts.

    However this isn’t about that. Tulsi Gabbard was PURCHASING advertising as she had done previously.
    Without explanation, Google refused her business by suspending her AD BUYING ACCOUNT. The fact that she had AN ACCOUNT is proof of contract.
    Google will need to show that Tulsi violated the contract both entered into, and also show that their instant account suspension – without explanation or cause – was a reasonable step under the circumstances.

    So, this is about RESTRICTING TRADE. Roger and IAmFvckwit have this backassward.

  42. Feel free to educate me if any of the facts I stated was wrong.

    Firstly, IBM and Jobs worked together, so IBM had no incentive to try and kill off what Jobs was doing. Secondly, IBM didn’t see Gates as a threat, so once again didn’t feel any need to challenge what he was doing.

    And thirdly, and far more importantly, the former were simply matters of technology, bland ICT. What is happening with Facebook etc has nothing to do with ICT. Facebook, Google etc are platform and operating system agnostic.

    Facebook, Google etc sell, manage, influence, dominate, control, allocate thoughts, ideas and words etc. But if you don’t see the difference, my God help you.

  43. Chris M

    Does the fact that gross bias manipulations by monopoly organistaions not bothering Libertarians contribute to the situation of no country having a Libertarian government?

    N0 voters discovered the Libertarian candidates on Google, but hey that’s OK.

    There is nothing to stop the whinging conservatives from creating competing social media platforms.

  44. roger

    I will summarise my position, and then probably bail out of this thread, as I am beginning to repeat myself.

    What conservatives anywhere, from some commentators here and the author of this thread, all the way up to someone whom I greatly admire, but have to disagree with in this instance, namely President Donald Trump, claim, is as follows:

    1. Big Tech companies wield a lot of power. (This seems to be what Bemused suggests when he writes, “Facebook, Google etc sell, manage, influence, dominate, control, allocate thoughts, ideas and words etc. But if you don’t see the difference, my (sic) God help you.” Thanks for praying for my soul, by the way.)

    2. These companies (allegedly, but I agree) often have a Left-wing bias which affects their services.

    3. Considering their power, their bias makes their services unfair towards certain private citizens.

    4. The government role is to defend its private citizens.

    5. Therefore, the government has to intervene, by regulating and/or curtailing Big Tech’s power. Contributor Jannie above, for example, says, “Option two is the Freemarket approach, break them up into 100 competing companies, and repeat every five years.” Why that is “Freemarket approach” beats me, but “breaking them up” is a suggestion which I have seen before in conservative blogs.

    My position is that these are private companies. If I asked Catallaxy to allow me to author a thread on the greatness of Carl Marx, it is possible that the website will refuse. Why? Because this website, like any other company/organisation/person, has its own biases. Other websites (such as the ABC) may like the idea of publishing such content about Carl Marx’s greatness. That’s free choice (though the ABC is a travesty that should be abolished, so bad example.)

    The point is that being politically biased should be allowed, as long as it does not break existing laws. The fact that people here mention unlawful conduct such as violation of contracts and defamation, is straw men argumentation BS. Again I point out here that this unlawful conduct straw men were not mentioned by the author of this thread, though he is clearly firmly in their corner. His argument, in my words, was that such conduct is unfair/unethical.

    We may agree that it is unfair towards Ms Gabbard and similarly many others, but we should also distinguish between unfair and illegal. If we cannot, we are on a slippery slope. Who determines what is “unfair”? Catallaxy commentators, as much as we may all agree on Google’s Leftist bias? The courts? Where does it end? It is a slippery slope, which Leftist love, as they can see their totalitarian utopia at its end. (Remember how the Guardian refused to publish anti SSM opinions before the SSM plebicite?) But we should despise and beware of. The only time government should step in is in illegality, not “fairness”.

    Good bye.

  45. Kneel

    “How self-proclaimed conservatives are calling for, wait for it, government intervention into Facebook, Google, Twitter etc. never ceases to amaze me.”

    Let’s see – Telstra decide that you are a “bad” person – a “deplorable”. So they decide to prevent you making phone calls or using the internet when you mention something they don’t like, or simply refusing to allow you to connect to make a comment, post et al, or intercept it first so they can inspect it to make sure you aren’t saying nasty things about them or their mates.
    Would you be asking why this is happening?
    Would you expect government to step in and stop it?
    Would you expect to be able to sue them for failure to meet their contractual obligations?
    Would you expect some significant anti-trust push-back on a company with significantly more than 50% of the market share that is making such decisions based on political ideas?
    If you answered “yes” to any of these questions WRT your phone and internet connection, what makes GoofChookTwitCo any different? Is not Telstra a private company? Why can’t Telstra “just say no” to your access if they don’t like what you have to say? It’s not like they are a monopoly – Optus is available too, you know. Plenty of NBN suppliers too. If you are so deplorable, perhaps no-one will be prepared to give you your access.
    It’s not a simple black and white, good vs bad case here – communication of political ideas cannot be meddled with by anyone, at least not if you want to have something resembling a real democracy.
    That may mean that GoofChookTwitCo has to decide if they are a common carrier or not – something they have deliberately avoided being pinned down on. The sooner the better, IMO.

  46. Kneel

    You know there’s a specific law/set of laws in the US, which is/are mirrored in some way or another by almost all jurisdictions globally that places them in a category that is explicitly NOT “publisher”, right?

    And provides an absolute government-backed defence against common-law defamation, right?

    If they have such protection, then clearly they would need to give up their right to censor content – you can’t be half pregnant.
    So why are they editing content?
    Simple – they know they have enough dosh to law-fare and private-compensate their way out of any problems. That’s monopolistic, anti-trust behaviour and should be discouraged. If they won’t change by themselves, then they can be forced to – that’s sub-optimal, but needs must.

  47. Tim Neilson

    His argument, in my words, was that such conduct is unfair/unethical.

    Poor old roger.
    Why not use his words?
    Answer: because that would show that poor old roger was vigilantly patrolling the libertarian Maginot line while the intellectually competent poster and commenters were sweeping along the coast talking about the things that roger dismisses as straw man BS.

  48. Therefore, the government has to intervene, by regulating and/or curtailing Big Tech’s power.

    You still don’t get it. The intent is to ensure that ‘Big Tech’ abides by the governing rules. Either they are a common carrier and therefore do not interfere in what is transmitted on their carrying platform, or they are publishers and can interfere in what is published on their platform.

    The ability of ‘Big Tech’ to carry on with their business is not being altered. The option of which rules they operate under is being offered to them. If they continue to claim operation under one rule, but actually operate under the other then yes, intervention is required.

  49. Behind Enemy Lines

    roger
    #3118040, posted on July 29, 2019 at 12:18 pm
    The only time government should step in is in illegality, not “fairness”.

    I tend to support this view, although of course the government also determines what’s legal, so there’s a certain circularity to the argument.

    In any case, even if we accept this premise, I want government action because at present the big social media players are successfully hiding behind both sides of the law, and not being held accountable for either. When you’re defamed on their platforms, they aren’t liable because they’re common carriers. At the very same time, when they refuse your ads, censor your posts and shadowban your account, they aren’t liable because they’re ‘responsible’ publishers. I would like to see them firmly pinned down as either common carriers or else publishers. While I have a view as to which makes better sense, I don’t really care that much which standard they’re held to – I just care that they’re held accountable to at least one of those two standards. So the first government action should be to establish legal clarity on that issue. Then we can let the law fall where it may.

    This isn’t purely academic. Leaks from Google have made it clear that they are heavily politically biased, already have a track record of trying to sway elections and plebiscites, and are eager to use their market power to get the extreme left into power and keep them there.

  50. Behind Enemy Lines

    [I see others beat me to the point while I was typing my reply, above.]

  51. Kneel

    The only time government should step in is in illegality, not “fairness”.

    Heh.
    Did you forget that it is government that decides what is illegal and what is not?
    Which means they can make whatever they like illegal at any time – and often do, whether it makes sense or not.
    For instance, why is predatory pricing “bad”? Hey, it gives the consumer a better deal, and it’s just business, right? So, yes, intent matters. Which is hard to regulate. So what happens instead is, we get some rather odd sounding legislation that in essence codifies “intent” into factual, clearly defined and measurable… things (for want of a better word). That this is imperfect and can lead to silly things is understood, a priori. We just try and get it right and modify if and as required. Why is this different?

    As to MS vs IBM – it is amusing that without IBM, MS would not be what it is today. Had IBM refused to license the product and instead insisted on an outright purchase, Bill Gates would still be wealthy enough, he just wouldn’t have the sort of de facto control he now does.

  52. Kneel

    …already have a track record of trying to sway elections…

    Indeed – they have even testified to US congress that they attempted to sway the election in favour of HillBillary, by downplaying “bad” Democrat content and promoting “bad” Republican content.
    The only reason they didn’t get pounded when the R’s had control was because they are enmeshed with the deep state – they are part of the swamp!

  53. Kneel

    While I have a view as to which makes better sense, I don’t really care that much which standard they’re held to – I just care that they’re held accountable to at least one of those two standards.

    +1,000!

    Their current “terms of service” are so vague, and their pockets so deep, that trying to fight them on this results in a simple lawfare punishment – the process is the punishment!

  54. Iampeter

    Of course they are publishers. Every one of the millions of the Web site authors on the planet is a publisher.

    I wouldn’t agree that they are publishers. If I refuse to let you put a sign in my yard, but let others do so, doesn’t mean I’m a publisher. None of this has anything to do with how and why people should be sued anyway and is just a symptom of how clueless today’s conservatives are, as they try to find grounds to punish those they disagree with politically. In other words, they are the very censorious leftists they claim to oppose.

    In all other respects I agree with your posts here, roger.

    Basically today’s conservatives believe that you absolutely can be forced to bake a cake, as long as you are not a Christian business. Only Christians have rights. Religious rights. The rest of us are just meat for the machine.

  55. Tim Neilson

    If I refuse to let you put a sign in my yard, but let others do so, doesn’t mean I’m a publisher.

    What makes you think that?

    Are you seriously suggesting that you couldn’t be held liable for defamation for permitting a defamatory sign to be displayed on your property?

  56. NuThink

    Roger

    Bill Gates, to think they stand a chance in starting a company which will even exist, let alone succeed, against the complete dominance of the computing world of the giant IBM.

    My understanding was that IBM suddenly realized in 1980 that they had to get into personal computing but did not have either hardware or an operating system, so they approached MS and Digital Research. Bill Gates signed up immediately as he realized the importance of IBM coming to him, whereas DR (Digital research) did not and wanted the lawyers to look over the contract. So IBM used the MS operating system which is why MS got so big. If you were aware of the dominance of IBM at the time and their thinking included main frames only and NOT personal computing. So it was IBM which made MS great, and NOT MS competing against IBM. They were in it together. It is also common practise to buy out irritating competitors who have good ideas, as it is quicker than developing your own and running the risk of patent infringement. I also read, but am open to correction, that MS did not have an operating system at the time for PCs, and went out and purchased one for a trivial amount.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS-80

    The Tandy radio Shack personal computer (TRS-80) was released in 1977, but was treated by business as a toy because IBM was not making PCs, and it was only when 3 years later in 1980 that IBM realized the error of their ways and released their PC in 1981, 4 years after Radio Shack.

    IBM’s own Personal Computer (IBM 5150) was introduced in August 1981, only a year after corporate executives gave the go-ahead to Bill Lowe, the lab director in the company’s Boca Raton, Fla., facilities.

    It was also common practice in those days to sell and or licence products from one main frame company and rebadge them to another main frame company. Such as printers, 80 column card punches, tape drives, and many other products. One example was the IBM selectric typewriter golf ball which was also manufactured under licence by other computer manufacturers. It reduced the high development costs in developing all the products one self.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Selectric_typewriter

  57. NuThink

    Tim Neilson

    #3118251, posted on July 29, 2019 at 4:56 pm
    Are you seriously suggesting that you couldn’t be held liable for defamation for permitting a defamatory sign to be displayed on your property?

    Remember too that Tony Abbott was blamed and had to face a lot of relentless negativity for a sign held up behind him that he could not even see at some rally. A sign that he did not even know was behind him.

  58. Kneel

    ” I also read, but am open to correction, that MS did not have an operating system at the time for PCs, and went out and purchased one for a trivial amount.”

    Gates paid $50k for what became MSDOS, then licensed copies to IBM.
    The guy who sold it was more than happy with his 50k sale price, nor is he bitter about how much MS has made from it.

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