14 votes

Facebook and Google will be punished with giant fines in the UK if they fail to rid their platforms of toxic content

12 comments

  1. [2]
    annadane
    Link
    I'm sorry, but why all the focus on harmful content? Why not make more meaningful changes? Like how Facebook isn't allowed to have ownership of both Instagram and Whatsapp and monetize both in...

    I'm sorry, but why all the focus on harmful content? Why not make more meaningful changes? Like how Facebook isn't allowed to have ownership of both Instagram and Whatsapp and monetize both in increasingly creepy ways? Or allow Facebook users to have fine grained privacy controls? They have "privacy settings" but they're laughable. If you choose to bite, bite hard and know how to.

    7 votes
    1. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      They're incorporated in the US so that's outside of the UK's jurisdiction I would think. This sort of anti-trust is definitely something we should do on this side of the pond, but our anti-trust...

      Like how Facebook isn't allowed to have ownership of both Instagram and Whatsapp and monetize both in increasingly creepy ways?

      They're incorporated in the US so that's outside of the UK's jurisdiction I would think. This sort of anti-trust is definitely something we should do on this side of the pond, but our anti-trust laws aren't really set up very well to address it.

      In fact, our anti-trust laws are set up very poorly to address modern business in general. Right now the way things are structured the courts basically just look at monopoly effects on prices to determine if a trust needs busting. If the courts decide you're using market power to raise prices unfairly they'll come down against you (jk we don't enforce laws that inconvenience big business in this country), but if you're consciously keeping prices cheap to block off other entrants to the market they don't really care.

      7 votes
  2. [8]
    masochist
    Link
    With fines of this level--quite possibly unprecedented--where would the money from the fines go? The ~ 7 billion pounds these fines represent could do a LOT of good for any government, or could...

    With fines of this level--quite possibly unprecedented--where would the money from the fines go? The ~ 7 billion pounds these fines represent could do a LOT of good for any government, or could fund a lot of corruption.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Like most other fines of their type, I imagine they would go into the Treasury's Consolidated Fund which has pretty significant oversight, auditing and public transparency laws attached to its...

      Like most other fines of their type, I imagine they would go into the Treasury's Consolidated Fund which has pretty significant oversight, auditing and public transparency laws attached to its management.

      That's not to say the system is incorruptible... but IMO it's far less likely than you're suggesting and £7B in additional income from fines is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount the CF already deals with annually (£547.8 billion in 2017-2018).

      8 votes
      1. masochist
        Link Parent
        Thank you for the explanation and the note about the scale of the CF. I have learned something tonight that I wasn't expecting to. :)

        Thank you for the explanation and the note about the scale of the CF. I have learned something tonight that I wasn't expecting to. :)

        1 vote
    2. [4]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      This reflects a misunderstanding of how governments finance themselves. Money is fungible. You don't need to earmark sources for specific outlays. You just create a budget at the start of the...

      With fines of this level--quite possibly unprecedented--where would the money from the fines go?

      This reflects a misunderstanding of how governments finance themselves. Money is fungible. You don't need to earmark sources for specific outlays. You just create a budget at the start of the fiscal year and make your payments based on that, with bonds being floated in between to meet any shortfalls. Any savings (money unspent) from one year can just go into the pot to be allocated in next year's budget. And those funds are typically subject to tons of oversight. It's literally the pot of money on which everything in the government runs. EVERYONE is looking at it.

      And if you want to get more avant garde with your economic theory, consider that governments aren't like households where you have to collect an income and pay for specific services. They functionally just print money for the stuff they do. Collecting taxes, fees, and fines is just a process of absorbing money back out of the economy to prevent the outlays from causing inflation.

      Also, in a government's budget 7 Billion Pounds isn't THAT much. They'd probably put them on a payment schedule instead of expecting it as a lump sum. Compared against financing budget deficits, servicing debt, and providing social services you can burn through that kind of money pretty quickly. I'm too lazy to look it up, but I would wager the British government is probably spending somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 Billion pounds a year.

      8 votes
      1. [3]
        masochist
        Link Parent
        You are absolutely right. It does. Thank you for the clarifications. :) Economics has always been voodoo to me, so I appreciate the thorough response. Most especially, I appreciate the point about...

        This reflects a misunderstanding of how governments finance themselves.

        You are absolutely right. It does. Thank you for the clarifications. :) Economics has always been voodoo to me, so I appreciate the thorough response. Most especially, I appreciate the point about absorbing money to address inflation. Both you and cfabbro also mentioned that it's not very much money compared to the amount the government already works with, slightly more than a whopping 1%. I hadn't any idea that it was on that kind of scale. Wow.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          NaraVara
          Link Parent
          I just want to clarify this part: This is called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). It's a fairly newish way of thinking about how government spending and taxes work and it's still pretty controversial...

          I just want to clarify this part:

          And if you want to get more avant garde with your economic theory, consider that governments aren't like households where you have to collect an income and pay for specific services. They functionally just print money for the stuff they do. Collecting taxes, fees, and fines is just a process of absorbing money back out of the economy to prevent the outlays from causing inflation.

          This is called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). It's a fairly newish way of thinking about how government spending and taxes work and it's still pretty controversial among economists.

          2 votes
          1. masochist
            Link Parent
            This is why I consider economics to be voodoo: the thing that seems like common sense is considered controversial. Thank you, again, for all the information you've provided.

            This is why I consider economics to be voodoo: the thing that seems like common sense is considered controversial. Thank you, again, for all the information you've provided.

            3 votes
    3. retiredrugger
      Link Parent
      That's a great question; I think investing into local communities would be the best use of these funds. You can never go wrong with too much schooling.

      That's a great question; I think investing into local communities would be the best use of these funds. You can never go wrong with too much schooling.

      2 votes
  3. retiredrugger
    Link
    It will be interesting how they determine what is child grooming and what isn't. Furthermore I wonder how far they will dig into social media to find these examples. While I have nothing to hide I...

    It will be interesting how they determine what is child grooming and what isn't. Furthermore I wonder how far they will dig into social media to find these examples. While I have nothing to hide I personally am against the idea of any entity being able to pour through all my messages and I imagine a lot of predatory grooming tactics are via private messages.

    4 votes
  4. dubteedub
    (edited )
    Link
    I could see this abused very much, particularly by how overly broad this initial announcement is. It will be interesting to see how much detail the final report coming out will supply, but as it...

    I could see this abused very much, particularly by how overly broad this initial announcement is. It will be interesting to see how much detail the final report coming out will supply, but as it stands, this is super vague.

    The UK's new regulator will examine everything from illegal hate speech, such as terrorist recruitment videos or racism, to abuse that is more difficult to detect, such as online child grooming or problematic content around suicide and self-harm. Misinformation will also fall under the remit of the regulator.

    On the other hand, I am hopeful that this level of scrutiny will trickle down to slightly smaller dogs like Reddit. It would be fantastic to me if a law like this forced Reddit to actually take a stand against hate speech or face a loss of 4% of their revenue.

    4 votes