Propaganda, censorship, and surveillance are attributes of the same underlying aspect: Monopoly. Centralised control.

All three problems have the same effective solution: Break up the monopolies.

Propaganda is a function of amplification, attention, audience capture, selective promotion, discovery, distraction, stealing the air supply or acquiring of any competion, and coöption of the platform. Propaganda is an inherent property of monopoly control.

Censorship and Gatekeeping are functions of excludability, audience gating, selective exclusion, obfuscation, distraction, stealing the air supply or acquiring of any competion, and, again, coöption of the platform. Censorship is an inherent property of monopoly control.

Surveillance whether of the state, capitalist, or non-state actor varieties, is a function of population and provider capture, coercion or gatekeeping of vendors and pipelines, and, again, coöption of the platform. Surveillance is an inherent property of monopoly control.

Audiences, a public, divided across independent networks, with access to different editorial selection, from different distribution networks, with access to different input message streams, are far less subject to propaganda, censorship, or surveillance.

It's importance to realise that the key is not nominal control but actual control, which may be nonobvious or unapparent to many participants. A system with appearances of decentralisation may well be centralised under the surface. Retail brand labels vs. brand ownership, or Luxottica's stranglehold over the eyeglasses market, for example, give a false sense of "consumer choice" in a case of actual tight corporate control.

And why is this? What's the fundamental connection between monopoly and control? Control is about maximising desired outcome to applied effort. In monopoly, there is a central focus of influence, the monopolist. Even a very partial controlling share can still be effective. In a first-past-the-post majority scenario such as elections or corporate share ownership, the bloc which swings the majority has control, even if it itself is numerically a minority. In markets, networks, organisations, etc., a single place to permit or deny input or output increases control by decreasing effort and increasing effect.

Shout-outs to Cory Doctorow (@pluralistic -- a great profile to follow, and pluralistic.net), Matt Stoller (mattstoller.substack.com/?no_c), Lina Khan (yalelawjournal.org/note/amazon), Zephyr Teachout (bookshop.org/books/break-em-up), and others breaking through some seriously Borked chickenshit thinking on this topic.

news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2

Follow

@pluralistic It turns out that Tim Wu made the surveillance-monopoly connection ... in 2013:

"Why Monopolies Make Spying Easier"

These days, America has one dominant search engine, one dominant social-networking site, and four phone companies. The structure of the information industry often goes unnoticed, but it has an enormous effect on the ease with which the government spies on citizens. The remarkable consolidation of the communications and Web industries into a handful of firms has made spying much simpler and, therefore, more likely to happen. ...

newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-t

Great explanation and examples.

@dredmorbius Yup - Tim and I have known each other since elementary school. He's got a lot of smart things to say.

@pluralistic Right, I know you know him.

And that he's been hitting the beat on monopoly, tech giants, and ills, for ages. Left him off my earlier top-of-mind shout-out, but he's one of the "others" I had in mind.

News is that he beat me to the punch on tying at least one of the ills to monopoly directly, on similar logic to that I'd just stumbled into.

If you can't be the first to an idea, reinventing one earlier suggested by an expert in the field, and extending or expanding it, isn't bad.

Also credit where due, and learn from others.

Apologies for polluting your notifs, but I share your interests and background. Past decade or so has seen a lot of change in my viewpoints.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Toot.Cat

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!