A common current narrative is that tech monopolists are suddenly acting of their own initiative and in concert to deplatform the burgeoning fascist insurgent movement within the US. I approve the...
A common current narrative is that tech monopolists are suddenly acting of their own initiative and in concert to deplatform the burgeoning fascist insurgent movement within the US. I approve the deplatforming strongly, though I suspect an alternative significant motivating and coordfinating factor.
An example of the "tech monopoly abuse" narrative is Glenn Greenwald's more than slightly unhinged "How Silicon Valley, in a Show of Monopolistic Force, Destroyed Parler"
Greenwald's argument hinges on emotion, insinuation, invective, a completely unfounded premise, an absolute absence of evidence, and no consideration of alternative explanations: an overwhelmingly plausible ongoing law enforcement and national security operation, likely under sealed or classified indictments or warrants, in the face of ongoing deadly sedition lead by the President of the United States himself, including against the person of his own vice president and credible threats against the President-Elect and Inauguration.
Such an legal action is, of course, extraordinarily difficult to prove, and I cannot prove it. A critical clue for me, however, is the defection not just of Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Stripe, and other tech firms, but of Parler's legal counsel, who would have to be an exceptionally stealth-mode startup to fit Greenwald's, or other's, "it's the tech monopolists" narrative. I've tempered my degree of assurance and language ("plausible" rather than "probable"). Time will tell. But a keen and critical mind such as Grenwald's should at least be weighing the possibility. He instead seems bent only on piking old sworn enemies, with less evidence or coherence than I offer.
This is the crux of Greenwald's argument. It's all he's got:
On Thursday, Parler was the most popular app in the United States. By Monday, three of the four Silicon Valley monopolies united to destroy it.
I'm no friend of the tech monopolists myself. The power demonstrated here does concern me, greatly. I've long railed against Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple, among other tech monopolists. Largely because as monopolies they are power loci acting through their occupation of a common resource, outside common control, and not serving the common weal. Hell: Facebook, Google (YouTube), Reddit, and Twitter played a massive role in creating the current fascist insurrection in the US, along with even more enthusiastic aid and comfort from traditional media, across the spectrum. Damage that will take decades to repair, if ever.
But, if my hypothesis is correct, the alternative explanation would be the opposite of this: the state asserting power over and through monopolies in the common interest, in support of democratic principles, for the common weal. And that I can support.
I don't know that this is the case. I find it curious that I seem to be the only voice suggesting it. Time should tell.
And after this is over, yes, Silicon Valley, in its metonymic sense standing for the US and global tech industry, has to face its monopoly problem, its free speech problem (in both sincere and insincere senses), its surveillance problem (capitalist, state, criminal, rogue actor), its censorship problem, its propaganda problem (mass and computational), its targeted manipulation adtech problem, its trust problem, its identity problem, its truth and disinformation problems, its tax avoidance problem, its political influence problem.
Virtually all of which are inherent aspects of monopoly: "Propaganda, censorship, and surveillance are all attributes of monopoly" https://joindiaspora.com/posts/7bfcf170eefc013863fa002590d8e506
HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24771470
But, speaking as a space alien cat myself, Greenwald is so far off base here he's exited the Galaxy.
Update: 2h30m after posting, NPR have mentioned sealed indictments and speculated on whether the President might be charged, in special coverage.
Late edits: 2022-1-23 Typos: s/inconcert/in concert/; s/would bet he/would be the/;19 votes
There's a conflict in my mind that I would like others' perspective on. On one hand, I like privacy. For example, I use Signal as my primary messaging service because I like the idea that the...
There's a conflict in my mind that I would like others' perspective on.
On one hand, I like privacy. For example, I use Signal as my primary messaging service because I like the idea that the end-to-end encryption keeps my conversations private. It feels right that someone shouldn't be able to look over my shoulder when I'm communicating one-on-one with friends and family.
On the other hand, I also like deplatforming. I believe strongly in the idea that inhibiting communities that espouse fascist or other anti-social beliefs is a key lever in keeping their ideas from gaining social traction.
Unfortunately, I feel like there's a tension between these two ideals. Private platforms can conceivably allow for the inviolable platforming of hateful groups because they can then exist without social oversight or accountability. But maintaining some sort of oversight also feels wrong to me because it's fundamentally invasive?
I don't know what to make of this, as I do think we should be encouraging greater privacy on an internet where our actions are being scooped up wholesale for the benefit of large tech companies, but I also worry about how increased privacy measures will enable bad actors. Anyone have thoughts on this or want to help me sort this out?9 votes