Facebook, Section 230, and how we all might be affected

Oh!

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Nev_Dull, if you have not read Zucked, I can highly recommend it.

I thoroughly dislike Twitter's lack of control of toxic content. Even so, I would not compare Twitter (and most other medium or large tech companies) to the Facebook's cavalier attitude and its negative effects upon discourse, society, or its anti-competitive practices. The same can be said of Google. I, for one, do make distinctions between these companies. There are networking advantages which come with scale, and that's fine. Except when their scale and/or practices stifles competition. There are laws to protect against these things for very good reason. I just wonder when these laws will enforced.
 
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Nev_Dull

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But is this not also a big part of the American way? The top echelon, be they individuals or corporations, enjoy protections and benefits that those on lower tiers do not. Isn't this exactly what the people want? This is the America you built through your votes to elect governments which provide these protections and benefits (regardless of their political stripes).
 

Pete

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The American dream is not really about anyone actually making it. It’s about the *idea* that anyone could make it if only they worked hard enough because privilege doesn’t exist (yes it does) and you can make your own luck.

Zuckerberg, Bezos, etc. are aberrations, not part of the American dream because the dream is sold to those below the wealthy line as a method to incentivise them to work harder.
 

Oh!

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The American dream is not really about anyone actually making it. It’s about the *idea* that anyone could make it if only they worked hard enough because privilege doesn’t exist (yes it does) and you can make your own luck.

Zuckerberg, Bezos, etc. are aberrations, not part of the American dream because the dream is sold to those below the wealthy line as a method to incentivise them to work harder.
Depends upon what you mean by the American Dream not being reflected in reality. Statistically, there is considerably less class/social mobility in the US compared to most of its major competitors. But, and you seem to imply - and trying to avoid getting into the politics of it - if the American Dream is about a 'can do' attitude and a 'hard work ethos' (or as you imply, class manipulation), I'd say that's real and true - US workers do work hard. They can rightly take some pride in this - but it is a double-edged sword. US workers work longer hours, and receive much fewer vacation days than their counterparts in nearly any other industrialized country (except Japan, I think). And at the risk of getting political about it, I don't think this is healthy. We know that productivity (work done per hour) goes down with longer working hours and less vacation time. For example, I understand that the Iceland four-day week experiment has been a resounding success.


I was incorrect - even in Japan, they work fewer hours per year:


Germany workers, of all the countries studied, work fewest hours per year. But to anyone who knows anything about the country, it is the major industrial powerhouse of Europe.


 
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Pete

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Other countries have also done the 4-day week study and worked out that it still works for them, e.g. New Zealand.

Here's the thing, you talk about the US habit of working more hours - but the rest of the world really doesn't agree. Here in the UK, an employer is required by law, to give you the equivalent of 5.6 working weeks' holiday per year. A full time employee is therefore legally mandated to have a flat minimum of 28 days per year. Of which the 8 national holidays (Christmas, New Year, Easter etc.) are usually included in the 28 days, so most people have a pool of 20 days per year they can choose when to take. But in larger companies, 25+ days is not common; my partner has been at her company for the last 5 years, she's now up to 30 days vacation on top of the 8 bank holidays.

Let's take it, for the moment, on face value: that anyone can achieve wealth if only they put in sufficient effort. That, on paper, the principle - even only - requirement for success is hard work.

Well, that would seem to rule out someone like Bezos, who got started with a quite substantial investment from family (approximately $300,000 in 1993/4), though there were other investors with other funds; it would suggest that someone from a family whose parents can invest a six-figure sum of money is already advantaged in other ways (such as the Princeton education). This is not to suggest that hard work was not involved, he was certainly a hard worker, but I suggest that you have some relative advantages to making something of yourself when you come out of Princeton with a 4.2 GPA.

But then we have to remember the number of stories of Amazon workers being mistreated and the recurrent calls to unionise; these are the people that the American Dream is aimed at, that anyone can become a Bezos if only they work hard enough - and the amount of privilege and backing is carefully obfuscated.

It's very easy to keep workers motivated if you can sell them the notion that if they just work hard enough, they can have what they see around them - but the reality is that no-one in the Amazon warehouse will become the next Bezos, no matter if they work every hour they possibly could.

We live in a time where late-stage capitalism is absolutely the ongoing plan. There are any number of examples of large companies abusing their staff - there are examples, for example, of Activision Blizzard staff being paid so little they can't even afford both rent and lunch in the subsidised staff canteen. These people are never going to be the next Bobby Kotick, Activision's CEO, compensated $30 million or more per year just in salary and bonuses from Activision.

This is why, as far as I'm concerned, the American Dream is simply a means of keeping the workforce motivated. It's all political.
 

Oh!

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Pete Unless I am misreading you, you seem to have misread my post. I am not sure if I (much) deviated from your own point of view on these matters. I know both the US and UK quite well (and Continental Europe to a degree too). Working hours and conditions in the US are pretty poor. Some people receive only 5 days vacation per year. I expect some receive no vacation, since there is not legal obligation for an employers to provide paid vacation. (Or any vacation?)


And it is not uncommon for employees to fail to elect to take their vacations days.

 

Pete

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And I think that supports my contention: that people don't engage in work for the enjoyment of work, but the necessity of it - which also undermines at least in my view the notion that 'one can achieve anything if one simply works hard enough'. Because it's not true and it simply suits the higher-ups to perpetuate the myth because the lower-downs working harder benefits the higher-ups...
 

DigNap15

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This was an interesting discussion until it turned into a class war thread.
Yes but like many things politics comes into it.
And its the very basis of the argument

Do you want to live in a world where companies and governments want to be able to stifle free speech or not.

If you agree with stifling free speech such as
Closing the Instgram account of a mother of one of the American soldiers killed in Kabul.
Removing the web-hosting of a competitive platform such as Parler
Removing the advertsing from a newsite which based its whole buiness model on avertisngs subs fed by Google (The Gateway Pundit)
Removing (and boasting about it) millions of videos talking about Corona Virus (Youtube)

If you have a forum that is aimed at Gaming or Cars or movies etc, then you have nothing to worry about.
If you have a forum that allows discusion of politics then you need to be very worried
 

Oh!

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This was an interesting discussion until it turned into a class war thread.
It has gone a little tangential. Though, I would not describe it as 'a class war debate'. But, I take your point. Facebook and Section 230 is the topic.
 

Pete

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I see it as all related: Big Tech is aberrant, unregulated and a law unto itself. Worse, any attempt to corral it is interpreted as a political statement, with a side order of class warfare attached. When a company has more money than a country, you know something is wrong.

I’m not sure how you fix the Big Tech problem without bringing politics either into it or as a result of it. (Or worse, *both*)

This isn’t helped by the side along problem that these corporations don’t want to pay people but instead trust machines to moderate. What isn’t so obvious is that these algorithms are black boxes fed by inscrutable and biased data sets.

Facial recognition systems are racist and sexist - they are less tuned to recognise people of colour and women, and are proven less reliable about it. The reason: they’re primarily trained and judged on accurately recognising white males, as a reflection of the people building them. It’s not a conscious or intentional bias but it is there. You’ll find any number of examples of unconscious bias in AI based tools where it reflects the creators.

And I think this might influence some of the claims about over zealous moderation - yes, right-leaning material censored (so is left-leaning) but it is quite possible that it leans more than way. We have no way of knowing for sure other than we know both demographics are being censored and that there is an institutional bias that will *likely* skew towards censoring right-leaning material but not *intentionally* because politics really is everywhere. Sucks, don’t it?

The first step to fixing Big Tech has to be to somehow make them less reliant on algorithms. Something notably the GDPR tried but failed at.
 

Nev_Dull

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This is all about class. Facebook is part of the ruling class in America, having the capital to purchase political influence.

While I was being a bit facetious mentioning the "American Dream," it is these very stories (Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc.) that keep that concept alive, even when most people know it isn't really a possibility for them. It's the same thing that keeps people buying lottery tickets. They "dwell in possibility" to quote Emily Dickinson.

The only way to "fix" the Big Tech issue is to change the system so companies cannot buy political influence. This isn't a new problem. At one time it was the tobacco companies that held this sort of power. Not long ago it was the oil companies. Now, it's the tech giants. In a couple of generations it will be someone else.
 

Pete

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The only way to "fix" the Big Tech issue is to change the system so companies cannot buy political influence.
No government is going to legislate out a system that put them into power, and the opposition - obviously - can't do it.
 

Nev_Dull

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Naturally not. However, if the people really want a government that answers to them rather than large corporations, they can choose to vote for candidates who support those ideals. In the end, you get the government you choose.
 

zappaDPJ

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However, if the people really want a government that answers to them rather than large corporations, they can choose to vote for candidates who support those ideals. In the end, you get the government you choose.
I'm not sure about the rest of the world but that doesn't seem likely in the US or UK where the available choices are limited to people who should not be left in charge of a bucket and mop let alone an entire country :(
 

Pete

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I'm not sure about the rest of the world but that doesn't seem likely in the US or UK where the available choices are limited to people who should not be left in charge of a bucket and mop let alone an entire country :(
I give you Dominic Raab and his 'I couldn't have been paddle-boarding, the sea was actually closed'.
 

zappaDPJ

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I give you Dominic Raab and his 'I couldn't have been paddle-boarding, the sea was actually closed'.
But I don't want him :cry:

Which reminds me, another paddle-boarding dim-wit, Boris Johnson is said to have got into trouble during a holiday in Scotland, floating off into oblivion. It's said his protection officer had to swim out and drag him back to safety.

What a ridiculous thing to do, what was he thinking, putting his life in danger like that. Why didn't he just leave him be and sod off home like any sensible protection officer would have done :hopeless:
 

doubt

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Why didn't he just leave him be and sod off home like any sensible protection officer would have done :hopeless:
On 17 December 1967, Harold Holt, the Prime Minister of Australia, disappeared while swimming in the sea near Portsea, Victoria. An enormous search operation was mounted in and around Cheviot Beach, but his body was never recovered.
 

Oh!

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A legal ruling a few hours ago in Australia is very relevant to this debate, as it illustrates the potential social media landscape if there existed no Section 230 in the US. That is to say, all US-based social media companies would need to find another country to register their business to avoid insurmountable legal liabilities. As bad as things might be with how most of these companies manage user data and privacy, the potential for abuse only rises with many of the alternative countries where they might relocate.

https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/social-media-addiction/

Although I disagree with Senator Warner's reasons for 'not breaking up Big Tech' - I doubt the outcome would not be as he fears - the concern that the large social media companies which provide these services to much of the world instead might relocate/register in China or (more likely) some other problematic country is deeply troubling to me. And, relocation surely would happen if Section 230 was repealed and similar jeopardy is created in Europe (which we certainly cannot rule out) and in other (presently safer) jurisdictions.

The only sensible position is that we each are responsible for the words we use and publish in our names (and pseudonyms).
 
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KimmiKat

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What's to stop Freakbook or Google from buying one of the mboard publishers like XF or InvisionBoard? Zuck could make an offer that's hard to refuse to the owners of the forum software companies.
 
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