Facebook’s value will be lost if it is dissolved by politicians.
One cheeky lesson from Meta’s recent record-breaking one-day share price loss of $250 billion Thursday. This was triggered by the news that Mark Zuckerberg’s social-media colossus, Meta, had experienced a first-time decline in users while also posting a fourth-quarter loss for $10 billion.
The way the largest of Big Business meets Big Politics has been a consistent pattern for many years. First, the company gets big, and then the politicians who are critical of it get elected. After that, there is several years of highly publicized rhetorical conflicts. Executives are almost ready to be whipped by Congress and regulators when they finally reach for the stick. Their market share is already in decline, so some regulatory capture can artificially secure some gains. This spectacle, as usual, is a huge boon for politicians, flacks populists and Georgetown realtors.
For the long decades before former President Donald Trump refashioned Republican Party attitudes toward regulation, antitrust enforcement—especially in the media sphere—was largely in remission. There were equal parts Democratic and Republican fingerprints on the deregulations of 1975–85; conservatives considered economic decontrol a core principle, and “third-way” liberals of the Bill Clinton stripe were eager to be seen as friendly toward corporate America.
These traditions were irritably ignored in the post-2015 illiberal moment. Several administrations have banged on the antitrust drum while a bipartisan coalition comprises of legislators scrambling over each other’s microphones, to louder scapegoat Big Tech.
On Tuesday, in a piece that drew surprisingly few headlines, Yahoo Finance interviewed progressive darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.The interviewer, Yahoo Finance’s progressive darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), reiterated her calls for Facebook to be broken up and also made this exaggerated claim of authority.
There are some things that the United States provides that are welcome….There are also things that we want the United States to stop exporting, and one of those things is disinformation—disinformation through U.S.-founded companies like Facebook that have absolutely slowed and frankly sabotaged the global effort to fight against the coronavirus.
Because of First Amendment limitations and the spread information architecture of internet, Congress will not be able to block the export of misinformation (however poorly defined). However, maximalist hyperbole regarding social media evilness is becoming more popular within the executive branch where Big Tech regulators are still waiting.
The shocking, unsubstantiated claim that social media companies are “killing people” was made by President Joe Biden last year. Vivek Murthy (his surgeon general) launched an “all-of-society campaign to counter COVID-19 lies. It included “appropriate legal, regulatory, and other measures” that addressed health misinformation. Jen Psaki (White House Press Secretary) was asked Tuesday by the White House about Spotify’s decision adding advisory warnings podcasts that discuss pandemic policies. This reinforced the Federal Government’s ongoing and keen interest in the monitoring of comments and coronavirus news.
“Our hope is that all major tech platforms—and all major news sources, for that matter—be responsible and be vigilant to ensure the American people have access to accurate information on something as significant as COVID-19. Psaki stated that Spotify is included. “So, this disclaimer—it’s a positive step. But we want every platform to continue doing more to call out…mis- and disinformation, while also uplifting accurate information….Our view is…it’s a good step, it’s a positive step, but there’s more that can be done.”
Social media companies are more likely to adopt a proactive approach to policing content from users who they consider to be misinformation if government officials, with power to make and enforce rules, repeatedly suggest to them.
As There are reasonsJacob Sullum, a spokesman for’s Jacob Sullum, pointed out that “given Facebook’s ability to make it difficult for them, the line between request and command is blurred.” The same applies to the distinction between government censorship and private content moderation.
Private content moderation options have uncannily mirrored paternalistic Democratic preference with the current federal government and public healthcare apparatus.
YouTube last summer suspended Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) for one week for saying that most cloth masks are ineffective at stopping the spread—a claim that at the time went again the official recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but that has recently become CDC gospel. Facebook had banned for five months anyone promoting the COVID-19 lab leak story. This ban was lifted after officials began taking the hypothesis seriously. Twitter fired Alex Berenson (a prominent anti-vaccine/mitigation advocate), last summer. Berenson claimed that the vaccine was the final straw.
But it doesn’t prevent infection. Transmission. It is not a vaccine. Think of it—at best—as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS. We want it to be mandatory. Insanity.
The omicron-based vaccine would show that it doesn’t “stop”, but does slow down and limit serious infections or transmission.
The commonalities can be seen without needing to see them closely. Outside the tent of political-class (including John Tierney and Bjorn Lomborg) there are many skeptics. You can be ticketed, even bounced, for COVID-19 misinformation that is later accepted at least partly by the people cheering on your ostracization. Even though governmental public health professionals repeatedly misrepresented science about masking, testing and reopening, transmission, as well as many other topics. This is what we see. ReasonRobby Soave of’s argued that last year “No issue exposed the one-sidedness anti-misinformation drives as deeply as the pandemic.”
Journalism and public health messages that are biased can be detrimental to pandemic prevention and degrade trust in neutral experts institutions. It also elevates partisanship to the top or close to the top of predictions about what the public and policymakers will choose. Democratic-heavy polities disproportionately closed schools, restricted businesses, imposed vaccine/mask mandates…and got vaccinated. The most infected areas of the industrialized globe are those where the majority of residents live in Republican-dominated regions. They have a great record for keeping life open, but they also produce some the worst vaccination rates.
However, there is one commonality among the populists who are aiming at Big Tech with their large guns. The problem isn’t with Sens. Mitt Romney (R–Utah) and Kyrsten Sinema (D–Ariz.) aiming their guns at social media companies and Section 230; it’s populist lefties like AOC and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), along with populist righties like Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.). The one side accuses Big Tech of tipping the 2020 election (by suppressing reports about Hunter Biden’s sleaze among other sins); while the other side identifies the same villain in 2016 (in collusion and Russia, Cambridge Analytica or whoever).
Elizabeth Nolan Brown put the following in her words: ReasonCover story from last year
Republicans are able to use the antitrust drive to appeal to their base’s technopanic and create a narrative about cultural elites victimizing them, as well as throw a curve to the GOP coalition’s populist element. The Democrats can use antitrust to exploit long-held concerns about corporations to make the left appear to support the poor in a manner that is pleasing to the party’s left (without needing to achieve more political difficult tasks like passing Medicare for All) and lay the foundation for more government involvement in economic affairs generally.
One more thing the populist and left-leaning sides share is a deep, condescending fear of the actions of the small people who are exposed to all the newfangled information. You think the algorithmic settings or conscious knob twiddling (or a lack thereof) of Menlo Park nerds can influence election-tipping masses in America? Then you portray Zuckerberg as the shepherd while relegating his (now-declining user base) sheep.
Since at least 1938 when Orson Welles proclaimed the alien invasion fiction, this fear has been a solid foundation for communications theory and journalistic navel gazing. The War of the Worldsall over the radio’s new distribution network. Although the famous listener panic that you may have heard about was almost entirely mythical, There are reasonsJesse Walker from details the Paranoid Center in his 2013 classic essay “The. eliteThe panic over sheep manipulation by new media propagandists is real and it has not gone away.
Walter Lippmann, a prominent political commentator and author, took this opportunity to warn about “crowds which drift with all winds that blow and get caught up at the last in the great Hurricanes”, adding that these “masses sans roots” and their “volcanic energy and volcanic heat are the chaos in which new Caesars are made.” As Socolow wrote, the legend of the Mars panic “cemented a growing suspicion that skillful artists—or incendiary demagogues—could use communications technology to capture the consciousness of the nation.”
To capture consciousnessWhat a terrifying image. When dissidents claim that our leaders brainwash us, this is an example of the idea. There is also fear within those leaders who have a history of worrying about how new communication media will affect them. His listeners could be portrayed as mindless mobs easily fooled by master manipulators if Orson Welles were cast as a wizard who can cloud minds.
Such fears were only turbocharged after the devastation wrought by presumed communications wizard Adolf Hitler, a trauma that led directly to an elitist, post-war journalistic/academic revolt against the populist excesses of pre-war media, enshrined in an enduringly influential (if initially mocked) 1947 Commission on Freedom of the Press. Last year’s magazine column was a recounting of my experiences.
It was an expression of a paternalistic dislike that media users were wrongly choosing the right media, that media barons were profiting from base preferences and that this was making the American experiment of self government less viable. Reporters lamented that the media could spread lies more quickly and far faster than what our forefathers had imagined when they protected the First Amendment of our Constitution. The press is susceptible to sensationalism, inflamation, and recklessness. It and its freedom can be inflammatory, sensational, or irresponsible.
My belief is that Americans can be activated through the clever manipulations by profiteering media innovators. It seems to me that Americans are more likely to be hypnotized by a single Oz figure, thanks to the incredible proliferation of media choices, which includes the ability to self-curate and create content. It seems that the idea of “democracy” being under threat by the democratization and mass media use is a serious contradiction.
However, the political purpose of such media theory is incontrovertible: It allows you to single out a large and bad Other for an unfortunate outcome that may have happened under your supervision.
Biden stated that the “unvaccinated” are accountable for making their own decisions in his December speech on the omicron variation. But those decisions were fueled by harmful misinformation via cable television and social media. This is how these people and companies make their money. They spread lies, allow misinformation to be circulated that could kill their clients and supporters. It is illegal and immoral. I urge those who spread lies and misinformation to end it. Stop this now!
Biden should be more concerned about COVID-19 misinformation. He would do better monitoring his mouth and the constantly changing messages from his public health system, than going on to harass Big Tech for censorship through proxy. The rest of us, however, can contribute to informational resilience by waiting at least a few seconds before we cheer on another blatantly partisan deplatforming effort. Be a bit more confident that your countrymen will be somewhere higher than sheep in the evolutionary chain.