September 6, 2018

Tech Still Under Fire

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

The U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys general will meet this month to discuss concerns that social media platforms are ‘intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas,’ the department said on Wednesday.” Reuters

On Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testified before Congress. AP News

Background: Last week, President Trump accused Google of bias against conservatives. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left thinks some level of government intervention is necessary given the increasing influence of tech companies in all aspects of our lives.

“The cat-and-mouse game between the Silicon Valley giant and those alleged to be covert officers in Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, illustrates the challenges ahead of Facebook... Facebook’s focus has been on rooting out inauthentic identities, a solution that doesn’t work against an adversary with access to dozens of obscure or fringe websites operated by real people."

The Daily Beast

For example, “Google says it's securing its ad platform against foreign meddlers, but for just $35 researchers posing as Russian trolls were able to run political ads without any hurdles."

Buzzfeed

In addition to foreign threats, “it’s time we started paying attention to the political campaigns and public-relations firms exploiting social media to drive audiences apart online and constituencies against each other at the ballot box... Campaigns will employ social media not to broaden debate through open discussion, but to harden the views of their social media adherents through deliberate information partitioning."

Washington Post

“America needs a clear explanation of what its social media giants expect to become, before legislation forces all manner of regulations on them. Some of these will be decent, like forcing better privacy rules, but others could hinder innovation and growth... These companies are going to have to manage increasingly complex issues, and this is going to require working with the government and accepting some level of regulation."

New York Times

“Just as companies are required to open their books to federal auditors to ensure they are not financially harming the public, tech companies should be required to reveal how their policies and algorithms are impacting our democratic order."

CNN

Regarding the idea that tech companies are biased against conservatives, while it is “probably true that most companies in Silicon Valley – including all the major brand names the president implicated last week – continue to employ many, many more liberals than conservatives within their ranks...

We have to be very careful before ascribing such insidious motivations and behaviors to the technology firms as the president has done. There is a far simpler explanation for all of this: that the companies are simply showing us what they think we’re likeliest to want to see, because that’s what is most in their business interest.”

The Guardian

“‘Social media is biased not to the left or the right... but downward,’ toward an explosive amplification of negativity in human affairs."

Bloomberg

From the Right

The right generally opposes regulating the tech firms.

From the Right

The right generally opposes regulating the tech firms.

“During the 2016 presidential election, Google employees donated almost $1.6 million to Clinton’s campaign but gave only $21,000 to Trump. When a team all thinks the same way politically, that echo chamber can give them a skewed sense of how trustworthy or accurate information from the other side is...

“But the possibility of liberal bias doesn’t mean that we should regulate Google’s search results. Google is a private platform, not a public good... If Google’s bias is, or becomes a problem, then it’s a problem that the free market is well-poised to handle. Google isn’t a monopoly. Competitors like Yahoo and Bing are still around, and there’s also ample room in the market for another new search engine if users become dissatisfied.”

Daily Caller

“Creating [an internet Fairness Doctrine] would demean one of Reagan’s great achievements and give government yet another tool to crack down on its critics... Would supporters of President Trump (or the president himself) want a Democratic president to have the power to police the Internet?”

National Review

“Even assuming benevolent intentions, there is no reason to suppose the government has the technical expertise required to create algorithms that would deliver search results any more ‘neutral’ or ‘unbiased’ than Google‘s...

Second, there is no reason to assume the government would not abuse this power if it had it. Because search results may be manipulated easily by those who design the algorithms, it would be foolish to risk giving government officials control over them.”

Washington Times

“Playing the victim, alleging you lack success because the big bad powers that be are stacked against you, is the progressives’ game... Conservative ideas writ large are not being kept from Americans, and ultimately if 500 people are screaming for one thing and only 100 are screaming for the other, most people will still decide based on the content of the argument, not its volume... just stay strong knowing that conservatives win by having better ideas, not by controlling culture and media.”

The Federalist

Counterpoints:

The time has come for a serious consideration of antitrust actionagainst these companies. They’re just too big now, and therefore too dangerous.”

Fox News

“Right now, the public discourse is being limited and the social media companies are refusing to fairly serve some of their customers. This refusal is dangerous, hindering the ability of people to be informed and act on the information they receive. Let’s hope the Silicon Valley crew decides to take action to make this right.”

Fox News

“The Democrats want to talk to Don McGahn, and maybe they will ultimately prevail in court to get his testimony, but what’s the point? McGahn talked extensively to Mueller, and surely everything remotely damaging is already in the report

“Congress has the report, and now it is up to it to decide. But it doesn’t want to. It’s too painful to admit that the Mueller report was a bust on Russia and that the obstruction material, while damaging to Trump, is hardly a slam dunk; that the public doesn’t support impeachment; that if the House goes through with it anyway, it will end with a whimper in the Senate; and that it’s better for Democrats to focus on beating Trump in 2020 than a forlorn impeachment.”
Rich Lowry, National Review

“Once, the leading sources to which people turned for useful information were newspapers, guidebooks, and encyclopedias. Today, these sources also include search engine results, which people use (along with other sources) to learn about news, local institutions, products, services, and many other matters. Then and now, the First Amendment has protected all these forms of speech from government attempts to regulate what they present or how they present it.”

Volokh Conspiracy

On the bright side...

Astronauts onboard the ISS plug a "micro-fracture" with their thumbs.

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