It’s no surprise to see the populist right agreeing with Democrats on social media regulations – even if they disagree on how the regulations should be drawn up.
Rabble-rouser journalist Laura Loomer is vowing to sue Twitter for suspending her, telling The Washington Times, “The reason I was suspended was simply for telling the truth. I’ve been silenced in America. I’ve been silenced as a journalist for reporting the truth. It’s egregious…I am going to be filing a lawsuit against Twitter for this. Because this is egregious and its gone too far and they’ve done this to too many people” Loomer was removed from Twitter over a tweet condemning Minnesota Representative-elect Ilhan Omar’s Islamic faith. She later advocated for President Donald Trump to “do something about the censorship of his supporters.”
Democrats are aiming their ire at Facebook for their alleged failures to self-regulate. Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline castigated the social media giant November 14th over an article in The New York Times on how it’s attempted to ward off regulation and improve its reputation with the public and politicians. Cicilline’s solution is, of course, more government.
Next January, Congress should get to work enacting new laws to hold concentrated economic power to account, address the corrupting influence of corporate money in our democracy, and restore the rights of Americans.
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) November 14, 2018
However, there’s plenty of evidence Big Tech is running into more problems than people, politicians, or company executives want to admit. Their slow decline to irrelevancy is happening and it’s really more of a question of “when,” not “if.” The Economist went so far as to suggest Facebook is closer to Yahoo’s state of being (i.e an afterthought) than people realized.
[Mark] Zuckerberg, who controls the majority of Facebook’s voting shares, is not leaving, but many top executives are. This year several have announced their departures, including Instagram’s founders; the boss of Oculus, a virtual-reality acquisition; a co-founder of WhatsApp; and Facebook’s general counsel and its chief security officer. “The number of senior people who have left publicly and denounced the company going out the door is unprecedented. This is Yahoo pre-Marissa Mayer,” says a senior digital-advertising executive.
In another echo, the run of negative headlines is harming employee morale. “Horrible” is how one employee describes the atmosphere at Facebook on Blind, an app where people discuss work. That raises two risks. Star performers may leave to work at less controversial companies, and Facebook could end up paying dearly for mediocre employees to stay on (as its share price falls, it has to hand out more in stock-based compensation to keep people).
The Economist also noted people seem more interested in using social media companies which put an emphasis on data privacy (see: Minds.com and MeWe) – meaning Facebook is going to see its reach decline even further. Data breaches and bad press do eventually cause the tide to turn – especially when the government has no stake in the game (even though Facebook has gotten plenty of local and state government money). Cronyism can keep businesses alive, but only so much.
Twitter isn’t looking much better. There have been plenty of rumors of Twitter’s demise since 2016, but the profit they reported earlier this year was mainly due to cost cutting. It’s definitely smart to cut costs when revenue is stagnant, but the question is whether revenue will eventually start growing again – along with its user base. There are plenty of alternatives to Twitter, especially for those who don’t want to go to Gab.
What’s the point of regulation if the companies are starting to fail, and will – eventually – be replaced by better running ones? There isn’t a point and government should be willing to let the decline happen, instead of helping Big Tech by enacting regulations. It’s important to remember Mark Zuckerberg pointed out during congressional testimony bigger companies can navigate regulations much more than smaller companies, especially if they’re the ones helping write the rules.
There’s no need for Big Tech regulations. Twitter and Facebook will eventually be replaced by something else. Patience is what’s needed, not some big government-wielded hammer. The audience also needs to be willing, to paraphrase J.D. Tuccille, to seek out other places to put out opinion.