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Tighter Regulation Would Probably Make Facebook More Profitable ^ | April 13, 2018 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 04/13/2018 11:27:03 AM PDT by Kaslin

Here's a bet: Congress will end up "cracking down" on Facebook with "tough" regulations that Facebook will probably protest quite vigorously.

And then Facebook profits will go up.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, withstood two days of questioning in Congress this week. You could tell Zuckerberg took it very seriously, not least because he shed his traditional T-shirt and hoodie in favor of a grown-up suit.

Again and again, he was asked whether he was opposed to regulation.

"You embrace regulation?" asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

"I think the real question, as the internet becomes more important in people's lives, is what is the right regulation, not whether there should be or not," Zuckerberg responded.

Many are focusing (understandably) on Zuckerberg's stance on the countless and complex free-speech issues raised by Facebook's dominance and reach. Zuckerberg kept suggesting that artificial intelligence could soon solve most of these problems by policing "hate speech" and perhaps "fake news" faster than human monitors ever could.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) had a brilliant line of questioning that exposed at least some of the problems with handing over these responsibilities to the real-world equivalent of HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey" or Skynet from the "Terminator" movies.

"Can you define hate speech?" Sasse asked.

Zuckerberg admitted that beyond calls for violence, he couldn't come up with a definition of the sort of speech that should be banned by an algorithm.

Added Zuckerberg: "I do generally agree with the point that ... as we're able to technologically shift toward especially having AI proactively look at content, I think that that's going to create massive questions for society about what kinds of obligations we want to require companies to fulfill."

That is both an impressive understatement and a topic we'll all be returning to often in the years to come.

But let's assume Zuckerberg is correct. In the future, much of our speech will be policed by our robot overlords.

As Zuckerberg hinted more than a few times, political leaders will need to get involved in the regulation and administration of how these AI systems will work. We'll probably set up some new agency or a new division of the FCC to provide oversight.

And which company will have the loudest voice in the drafting of these new rules? If history is any guide, the obvious answer is ... Facebook.

The standard story of the Progressive Era, taught to high school kids and college students alike, is that the government has come to the rescue time and again to curtail the excesses of irresponsible, selfish or otherwise dastardly big businesses. Upton Sinclair, in his book "The Jungle," famously exposed the abuses of the meat-packing industry, prompting the government to impose new regulations on it.

Left out of this tale of enlightened regulation is that the meat-packing industry wanted to be regulated -- something even Sinclair admitted.

"The Federal inspection of meat was, historically, established at the packers' request," Sinclair wrote in 1906. "It is maintained and paid for by the people of the United States for the benefit of the packers."

The famous trusts were no different. In 1909, Andrew Carnegie wrote a letter to the New York Times suggesting "government control" of the steel industry. The chairman of U.S. Steel, Judge Elbert Gary, lobbied for the same thing.

The story repeated itself during the New Deal. The "malefactors of great wealth" that FDR demonized welcomed government regulation. Famed lawyer Clarence Darrow issued a report on the New Deal's industrial "codes" and found that in "virtually all the codes we have examined, one condition has been persistent. ... In Industry after Industry, the larger units ... have for their own advantage written the codes, and then, in effect and for their own advantage, assumed the administration of the code they have framed."

Why would the titans of capitalism welcome regulation? Because regulation is the best protection against competition. It stabilizes prices, eliminates uncertainty and writes profits into law -- which is why AT&T convinced Congress at the beginning of the 20th century to give it a monopoly over phone services.

I don't know what the regulation of Facebook will look like. But I suspect one reason Zuckerberg wants AI to be essential is that Facebook can afford to make AI essential while potential competitors can't.

Regardless, I have confidence that when all is said and done, Facebook will look more like the 21st century AT&T of social media.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: cronycapitalism; facebook; govregulations; internet; markzuckerberg; regulations; rico

1 posted on 04/13/2018 11:27:03 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Hear hear! More regulations are what make American bidness grow!

2 posted on 04/13/2018 11:29:46 AM PDT by null and void ("We don't let them have ideas. Why would we let them have guns?" ~ Joseph Stalin)
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To: Kaslin

Just what we need...govt making more outlaws out of law abiding folks

3 posted on 04/13/2018 11:31:52 AM PDT by TomServo
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To: Kaslin
Social media companies that are transitioning from calling themselves "neutral" to openly functioning as a one-sided political weapon will have to make trade-offs between pushing the agenda they want vs. sacrificing their profits by blowing off half their users. (Notice that I said "users", and not "customers". Their "customers" are marketroids, identity thieves, governments, etc.)
4 posted on 04/13/2018 11:54:31 AM PDT by snarkpup (Fake news is one-half of the problem. Fake education is the other half.)
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To: All
Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse's brilliant line of questioning exposed some of the problems with handing over these responsibilities to Zuckerburg------the realtime HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey"..... "Can you define hate speech?" Sasse asked. Zuckerberg admitted that beyond calls for violence, he couldn't come up with a definition of the sort of speech that should be banned by an algorithm.

Say what? Zuck can't define hate speech? Bullhockey. Not for the cameras, he cant. Little lyin' POS.

Let me help Zuck with that. Herewith is uber-liberal Facebook’s censorship up close....and its not very pretty.

A Michigan House of Representatives and state lottery commissioner submitted his reelection announcement to Facebook........but the Facebook Nazis rejected his ad “because it doesn’t follow Facebook Advertising Policies.” “Facebook does not allow ads that contain shocking, disrespectful or sensational content, including ads that depict violence or threats of violence.”

So what was the reelections ad’s content that made Facebook go ballistic?

In its entirety: “I’m proud to announce my candidacy for State Senate. Lansing needs conservative, West Michigan values, and as our next State Senator, I will work to strengthen our economy, limit government, lower our auto insurance rates, balance the budget, stop sanctuary cities, pay down government debt and be a Pro-Life, Pro-Second Amendment leader for the people. Find out more at”

(hat tip

5 posted on 04/13/2018 12:06:19 PM PDT by Liz ((Our side has 8 trillion bullets;the other side doesn't know which bathroom to use.))
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To: TomServo

Any regulation in the US would only apply to companies that had a physical presence there. Anyone in the whole rest of the world, in a competition-friendly environment, could field something better and suddenly, Facebook is Myspace 2.0

6 posted on 04/13/2018 12:42:43 PM PDT by coydog (Time to feed the pigs!)
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To: Kaslin

AI must be open sourced or treated as a state secret (i.e. a combination of the two). It should not be patentable.

It is going to be weaponized and will be more powerful and destructive than nuclear weapons.

7 posted on 04/13/2018 2:19:18 PM PDT by unlearner (A war is coming.)
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To: Kaslin

How does Facebook make any money...everything is free. No annual fee.

8 posted on 04/13/2018 2:24:58 PM PDT by Cowboy Bob ("Other People's Money" = The life blood of Liberalism)
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