Long-time technology reporter/commentator Kara Swisher weighs in on the de-platforming of U.S. president Trump, arguing Trump “was only following the rules set for him and it was entirely the fault of the tech companies for giving him the kind of latitude that allowed him to go that far.”
Like a parent who gives a child endless bowls of sugar and then wonders why their kid is batshit crazy, tech has pretended to be obtuse to the consequences of their products and the choices that have been made about them. For years I have written that these companies have turned themselves into the digital arms dealers of the Internet age, amplifying and weaponizing everything. They might have cleaned up the Trump mess, but they also made the Trump mess possible by architecting systems that thrive on enragement.
Most of all, they have tried to duck responsibility. I have always been amazed by Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg’s statement that he did not want to be an “arbiter of the truth.” My question for him: Why then did he build a platform that requires it?
Even more importantly, we must examine the power that these companies wield and how to deal with that going forward… [W]hile justifiably putting a sock in Trump’s toxic pie-hole, they also showed how swiftly they could end whole businesses, as was the case with the right-fave social media platform Parler…. [T]here is nothing that Parler was doing that companies like Facebook were not guilty of too and in larger measure and for a very long time. While I would not go as far as calling the company a scapegoat, as it did allow its system to be used in dangerous ways, it certainly got a lion’s share of the hurt that rained down on tech and that others probably deserved even more.
This brings us to the issue at hand: Power. Tech companies have too much of it, but it should be looked at through the lens of market concentration that results in the dampening of innovation needed to inevitably upend the leaders. Such a situation demands substantive and bipartisan action to deal with each company differently and with different remedies, which include fines, enforcement of existing laws, new regulation and, yes, antitrust action. That has already started, which is good, as has a series of dopey attempts to repeal Section 230, which provides broad immunity to digital platforms. What it needs is reform…
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