Mika Brzezinski’s rant on today’s Morning Joe has something for everyone. For the Left, it castigates Facebook and Twitter for allowing insurrectionists to organize on their platforms. For the Right, Mika’s accusation that the social-media platforms are conducting a “suck-up” operation to Joe Biden affirms their view of the anti-conservative bias of the monopolistic platforms.
But maybe the point on which we all can agree is this: “Nobody needs what you have to offer.” We’ve known that all along, but we’ve never had quite this much consensus about it:
Mika insists that the social-media platforms need to be “shut down,” and that they have “destroyed this country,” via Townhall’s Julio Rosas:
“And Mika, the amazing thing is again, I just want to underline this really quickly, the algorithms at Facebook actually promote this extremism. They promote the extremism within,” Joe Scarborough said.
“I know. But to her point about, you know, getting ready for Joe Biden. If this is some sort of last-minute suck up to Joe Biden by Twitter or Facebook, all you’ve done is shown just how impactful everything that you’ve been doing so far has been in terms of spreading disinformation. You have shown how it drops the minute you actually take action. You have shown that you should have done this a long time ago/ And perhaps there wouldn’t be people dead,” Brzezinski said.
“I mean, really honestly, the leadership of Facebook is pathetic. Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg, you guys are pathetic. You have — you make no — you make absolutely no reason about your actions. You could have done this a long time ago, you decided to do it now. ‘Huh? I wonder who is going to be president now? Maybe this will make them happy.’ No, you have just shown him why you need to be shut down. You need to be shut down,” she continued. “Nobody needs what you have to offer. You have destroyed this country. And quite frankly, it’s still happening right now.”
I’m mostly with Mika right up to the point of “you need to be shut down.” First off, there’s no authority to shut down social-media websites on any governmental level. Shutting down speech is the antithesis of America’s constitutional republic, regardless of whether one is defined as a platform or a publisher (and the differences between the two are overblown anyway). Shutting down speech shuts down effective and healthy dissent, and that creates a lot more problems, some of which we may arguably already be seeing.
The solution to the situation Mika rightly laments is to unwind the acquisitions that made these platforms and others de facto monopolies, and to enforce anti-trust law to keep monopolies from forming in the future. People who shrug at that idea as futile may not have experienced the break-up of AT&T, which really was the last of the old-time de facto monopolies. At the time, people couldn’t believe we broke up what was considered the world’s most reliable telecom system, but the benefits of that continue to this day. Demolishing their control over telecommunications allowed for an explosion of innovation and consumer benefits; remember long-distance charges? Only if you’re my age or older. We got smartphones, the commercial Internet, democratized media, and so on. Not all of those are unmitigated good, of course, but they are on balance huge boons.
Anyway, the problems Mika describes are caused by monopolistic control rather than a lack of regulation. More competition would make the marketplace healthier and more responsive, and would allow for better balance in the online speech sphere. Rather than lament the way Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey (and Amazon, and Google) exercise their monopolistic powers, we should fix it so they don’t have them at all.