When the browser battles began I stuck with Internet Explorer.
I found it to be a very forging browser in term of the code I wrote. As time went on I switched wholeheartedly over to Chrome and have been using it. I try all the latest things to come out but always reject them in favor of chrome. I now use OneDrive for back up and storage and have found that most of what I need connected is now with Microsoft, whereas it had previously been with Google. I hated Bing as well.
That has changed recently as Edge is pretty much Microsoft’s version of Chrome (being based on chromium). Transition was easy as a button push imported all my settings and bookmarks instantly into Edge. The last thing was Bing. I still don’t think it is a great search engine. However, Google isn’t either, not anymore. We’ve talked multiple times on here about how they hide certain information. They aren’t shy about doing this so it’s not a conspiracy theory, it is a fact admitted by the company. So what I have found is that Bing, once not as good, is better because Google has intentionally handicapped itself.
In 1998 the Department of Justice went after Microsoft for anti-competitive practices related to Internet Explorer. At the time I had much the same thoughts as I do now – it was unfounded. Perhaps I was different, but this was a time when I knew I could easily pick a different browser and I tested many of them. All the good old ones were on my machine as well as Internet Explorer. My use of IE wasn’t because Microsoft stuck it on my machine but because I chose it after exploration of the many options available. Now, though, this argument is being placed against Google for search, YouTube and will be pointed at Twitter and Facebook no doubt. I just am not sure this is valid.
I share this because it shows us how capitalism can work.
Microsoft, for their part, swallowed their pride and started using chromium as their foundation. It isn’t an innovation, but it is what the market demands. Google for their part decided that “do no evil” means censorship and once customers become aware that they aren’t actually getting the best (best being what they want) then they go elsewhere. No matter how big Google they can still drop the ball. Many are going over to Parler for their social media. It is said to be a Twitter alternative. Right now the market shares are tiny in comparison, but that doesn’t mean it will stay that way.
Though I dislike what Facebook does, I have still not been given a convincing argument as to why they shouldn’t be allowed to do it.
Or better said why a law should be passed forcing them not to do it, and forcing them to allow content they don’t want.
I’ve had many discussions on publisher vs platform.
But that doesn’t really cover this. The laws there really relate to the liability the business has toward the content. Those laws don’t say that one or the other cannot control the content, only how liable they are if that content turns out to be illegal. If a publishing company, like one of the big ones, Simon and Shuster, for example, publish a book that is full of libelous material, they can be sued. If, however, a forum allows a random person to make a post, they are not (even then within limits). In both cases though each as the right to remove that information, even if they might not be held liable for its consequences. So publisher vs platform isn’t a proper argument.
I have had many talk about the freedom of speech reason.
We know that you and I have a constitutional protection that says the government cannot abridge our speech. But it doesn’t say anything about a private business. Facebook, Twitter, and the like, have no constitutional requirement to allow you to say whatever you want on their platform nor to leave information up that they disagree with as a corporate philosophy.
Then there is the “they are big” argument.
This one has the strongest hold on me. It is the one I have not dismissed yet because there is so much for me to ponder. The argument is simple – new rules apply because there is nothing and has been nothing like Facebook or Twitter in the past. No one in history could apply philosophical rules of rights of speech against something that is so different. Because they are novel we must create new rules and come to terms, as a society – as humanity really – with how such things should be controlled. If they are a danger we must do something about them. I am not sure we can articulate, or quantify, that danger though.
Some dangers are easy. If another country wants to attack us, we can agree to have an army. If people fail to honor the rights of others and they assault and are thieves, we can agree we need a police force. But what is it that we are protecting ourselves from here? Ourselves? Or something else? These are the things that need pondered I think, BEFORE we go ahead and pass laws that result in reduced rights for businesses.
If these laws are passed – freedom is lost.
That is something we must understand. Laws take away freedom or create powerful people. We just have to accept that it is worth it in the end. If we pass laws that say FB and Twitter CANNOT remove content, CANNOT edit, CANNOT block, CANNOT CANNOT – we take away some of their property rights and some of their free speech rights. We take away control from the owners of a business because we feel, as a society, that how we think their business should be run is better than how they want to run it. That’s a big deal.
We do that for other businesses.
It isn’t unheard of to put controls on a business. Of course an eatery goes through a health inspection. We accept that because otherwise we might get sick. Some argue we don’t need health inspections because a business that made people sick would go out of business. That’s not a sound argument because that requires quite a few people to actually get sick and we want to avoid that.
We pass laws that make sure you don’t get electrocuted, trip and fall, and more. We seem to accept these things even though they do indeed reduce the freedom of the owners. They also reduce the freedom of the consumer. I cannot decide to go to a place where I might get electrocuted. Why would I want to? I don’t know, but I couldn’t as the government doesn’t allow them to exist. That is a loss of freedom, just one we say is acceptable.
Why I remain unconvinced
I am not sure that the loss of freedom the business owners would receive is commensurate with the damage they are doing by their actions. This is because the actions they are taking are actions allowed to them under their own rights. They have a right to control their property. Like it or not Facebook and Twitter are businesses, are property. It’s property owned collectively by thousands of people we call shareholders. If they don’t like how the business is being run then they can step forward and fight against it. But why do we have a right to control someone else’s use of their property when that use of property is not against the law or a violation of constitutional rights? That’s the thing, so far, no one has been able to convince me of with a really sound and valid argument. Can you?