finally reading e.warren's proposal to break up big tech and

> [...] requires large tech platforms to be designated as “Platform Utilities” and broken apart from any participant on that platform.

> Platform utilities would not be allowed to transfer or share data with third parties.

so, no ads? by law? great! deprive the bastards of their only real profit mechanism, why not


i think you're going to have a hard time getting tech companies to meaningfully compete when so many of them were never profitable

instagram? whatsapp?

as much as i want to see naive legislation kill surveillance capitalism dead by accident, it seems to miss the nuance of the industry: that monetizing social infrastructure is actually really hard, and the major ways businesses have been able to do so have been really slimy. so what do you do instead? nationalize facebook?

a friend pointed out that this proposal would not block the sale of targeted ads. facebook doesn't sell data, it just collects it. "The problem is 3rd parties selling [...] your data."

fwiw i'm glad this is being discussed. "break them up!" is a pleasantly aggressive first step toward a nuanced solution

@garbados it's also easily shoutable in the "one more song" cadence ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

@garbados I would argue that social infrastructure should be run by social organizations, not by profit-seeking corporations. I would like to see libraries, universities, municipalities and the like provide email & other social collaboration software just like they do roads, public forums and other utilities and social spaces.


I agree but I would underline the fact that just because social networks should be maintained as community resources doesn't mean that they need be centrally controlled by the government.

The problem isn't just in monetizing human communities, it is in believing that human communities can be represented by one hierarchy, one moderation policy and one medium.

The fediverse model of little communities sprouting up is slow, but the only actual solution

@Alonealastalovedalongthe @basus i feel like the municipal route is compatible with a federated approach: just because your local library could run a mastodon instance (for example) wouldn't preclude others from running their own, nor would it impose a unilateral moderation policy

@Alonealastalovedalongthe @garbados I agree. I think email is already the mostly optimal model. You have multiple domains, with multiple users, and anyone can have one or multiple such accounts for whatever purposes. You can also layer on additional functionality at the end points, while keeping to core protocol simple.

@garbados facebook has actually been caught selling bulk access on the side

but yeah, the pattern is collect => exploit

@riking @garbados are you talking about the API stuff like that made its way to Cambridge ? Because thats not sold that was gathered from users who opted im and their friends, terrible in its own way but jot selling bull access

@garbados "let's nationalize this massive private surveillance industry" seems.... Bad. Like you say, these companies shouldn't actually exist and be profitable.

@June @garbados paying with tax-money is still a better, and more trustworthy, business-model than what we have now 🤷

@tethre @garbados i mean. Sure. But also let's just outlaw them.

@tethre @garbados like...ok...”nationalize Facebook” is just as much of a...let’s go with stretch “outlaw Facebook” so

@garbados @nolan If social networking infrastructure is of so little real value to people that they can't pay a buck or two a month for a "pro" version or whatever, it must not be all that important. I've never bought the argument that ads are the only viable monetization scheme.

@jared @nolan all the complexities of expecting people to just have cash for that aside, i think the fediverse shows you can materially support this infrastructure without paywalling it

@garbados @nolan Certainly! So far the fediverse has scaled more reliably than Twitter ever did in its early days, which is damn impressive.

I mean we're billions of users away from having nearly enough test data but in spirit I agree.

A publicly funded server infrastructure available through public libraries would sure be dope!
@jared @nolan

@garbados I'm worried this is the direction things are going. Tech platforms are natural monopolies. Also, governments increasingly see social media as an issue of national security. And as Cory Doctorow has said, they may be "deputized" to fight misinformation campaigns from foreign governments, censor content the government doesn't like, "secure the integrity of elections," etc. But I don't know if I want the government to crown a winner, or for each country to have their own social network.

@garbados It sorta feels like our options are:

- break 'em up
- nationalize 'em
- wait for the tech bubble to pop and realize that the whole thing was unsustainable from the start 🙃

@nolan @garbados instagram without servers could work - how to get from here to there, idk

@reconbot @nolan tell me more about the architecture you're imagining 🤔

@garbados @nolan oh I haven't thought about insta too much, but like SSB powered instagram could work today, no? - That's probably not how I would design it but like.. today that could work and we'd already have a head start on an android client.

@garbados @nolan Things that I don't think we already have solved.
- identity recovery (new phone, etc) but dark crystal / paper keys might be able to help
- easy multidevice setup (qr codes?, "bump" tech?)
- moderation, ssb's propagation method seems to be working but I bet some sort of web of trust could be really powerful if we want global feeds

@garbados @nolan - "servers" to assist mobile devices that go on and off line or keeps you online while you're not or let you not save everything on your phone
- privacy, these are new models of privacy (both in app and network layers) and we have opportunities to set new the norms.

oh fuck I almost forgot
- identiy - my username is ED209DJDFSJHSDFJSDJKSD.sdfkljhsdfkjhsdfkjh doesn't fly

@garbados @nolan I've been using a decentralized craigslist as my "in head" test case when studying designs, but in reading history it seems messaging (email/chat/etc) is the #1 tool that gets adoption by humans

@nolan @garbados

AFAIK the only country that has had anything like a "nationalised facebook" (which turned out to be surprisingly successful) was France with the Minitel network, maybe more a "lucky accident" as other neighbouring countries tried the same (NL, UK, DE) but their Viewdata based services never took off, and plans to allow these services to integrate them across borders were resisted by national governments. Early 90s Internet in Europe was "soft geoblocked" too (at least from UK)

@Alonealastalovedalongthe @nolan @garbados

its not too far off, but AFAIK Tencent isn't directly owned by the Chinese government, unlike the situation in 1980s when in Europe the govt either directly funded the national telecom company (usually a monopoly) and/or had a significant shareholding in it (even today the German govt owns about 30% of Die Telekom)

@nolan i feel like i've been waiting my whole career for the bubble to pop

@nolan a part of me worries we're hurtling toward nation-specific webs, and that any state-driven efforts to provide this desperately needed regulation will only bring us closer to it.

@garbados @nolan

a valid concern, I grew up in the pre-web era where this was the case in my country.

I notice 90% of USA news websites that block Europeans because of GDPR still do so; which suggests they simply do not consider the traffic/bandwidth costs to be worth it without whatever gain they were getting from tracking/advertising stuff (presumably working alongside European companies as it would make no sense to advertise things you could only get in USA?)

Only an international tech workers union would have the interests or capacity to coordinate such a project imo


Really good points! Is it even possible to kill the surveillance without making them not-capitalist-businesses?

@bhaugen not that i can think of 🤷‍♀️ but i really wouldn't mind if social media became primarily a municipal or cooperative effort


We didn't nationalize cigarette companies so I'd like to think we can find an alternative solution here.


Facebook sells access to their data tho. I feel like somehow holding that to a different standard than selling bulk data is somehow a semantic game Facebook will want to play.

@garbados clearly a move that would satisfy all parties

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