I have to admit that I too had a damn good laugh at what happened to Alex Jones not because I agree with what happened but rather because of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that unfolded afterwards where Alex Jones insisted that his rights were being violated. Now, I have have some issues with what took place but I laughed primarily because the same ones who complained about Alex Jones so-called rights being taken away were the same ones who claimed that a private business had the right to refuse service for what ever reason when it came to the gay couple wanting to have a wedding cake baked. You can’t have it both ways – claiming to say that private businesses have the right to discriminate and do what they want yet when you’re on the receiving end of a business decision that you suddenly turn around and say, “well, I’m going to carve out an exemption here, here and here because I was negatively impacted so therefore I’m exempted to the philosophical stance I declared before”.
That all being said I’m going to do some numbered observations in no particular order other than it allows me to keep track of what I want to say without it turning into a spaghetti mess:
1) YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook/Instagram constitute what one could classify as a natural monopoly – a monopoly by itself is marketing dominance but there is always a change that a competitor can emerge assuming where as a natural monopoly has barriers to entry that are necessarily the result of the action by the dominant player but because of high barriers to entry because of high start up costs, long periods of losing money before one creates the economy of scale before even the remotest possibility of profitability even appears to be possible. That doesn’t even touch on the inertia associated with getting people to not only look at your platform but to also entice content producers to target your platform such as offering a greater share of advertising revenue. Earlier on it may have been easier on the early days before YouTube gained traction but these days unless you’re aiming for a niche such as Vimeo being for independent films along with Vimeo charging for additional services, storage space, live streaming facilities and other services that YouTube doesn’t offer.
2) Because of that natural monopoly one could compare YouTube (and others) to something akin to say a transmission network which in the case of New Zealand it is Kordia which runs the television transmission network and thus might need to come under some regulation due to its dominance and the natural monopoly like position that it has in the market. Justice Kennedy for example in the case of Packingham vs. North Carolina where he compared Facebook (and by extension social media such as Twitter, YouTube etc) as the public square – where people come to meet and organise in much the same way that 100 years people would meet and form political parties or organise a protest or hold meetings to share ideas.
3) There as been anger focused at YouTube/Google for demonetisation of videos that touch on sensitive subjects but one has to remember that this started originally by those on the crazy left (or as Martyn Bradbury calls them ‘the woke left’) and the crazy right where both sides threatened to boycott companies that advertise on videos that said groups of people find objectionable with the crazy left getting a lot more traction than the far right but the effect has been YouTube just going, “fuck it, I don’t want to have to deal with this shit” and thus putting their algorithm on paranoia level 11 so even the most innocuous videos discussion a sensitive matter is instantly demonetised. The effect has been that it has reduced revenue streams for independent media which has necessitated the rise in the number of outlets now pushing for people to make Patreon contributions just to keep their head above water.
So in a fit of self righteous indignation the extremes have not only hurt the other side they’ve also hurt themselves in the process. The same situation is happening now with some left wing outs crowing and gloating about Alex Jones being kicked off but now it has kicked off a round where left wing groups and activists are also being kicked off as well with claims that they’re ‘bots’ even though such people have been interviewed and said, “yes, this is actually a legitimate group and we actually do have legitimate members”. Jimmy Dore noted this recently on his show:
4) If there are going to be rules then there should be a consistent application of the rules rather than ignoring a problem then only acting when there a spotlight put on is there a knee jerk reaction by said organisations to make it appear as though they actually give a toss. I’ve reported so many scam pages and phishing pages along with spammers on Facebook yet they do nothing – months later (when I used to have a account) those accounts would continue existing, those pages still operating their scams and Facebook doing nothing. If Facebook were serious they could deal with it tomorrow but they don’t in much the same way that Twitter could deal with it but they don’t.
5) There was much opining by some about how algorithms create echo chambers because on what you watch or read on the various platforms by suggesting you more and more content along that line fo thinking thus is speculated by some that it cements extremist views in some peoples minds. If they want to provide Alex Jones with a platform but not elevate him then there is simple solution – STOP CURATING CONTENT. If you stop curating content and users were forced to look for what they wanted then it would slow down the propagation of conspiracy theorist nutcases. For someone like me, if I am interesting in something I will go and find it, I don’t want these platforms second guessing what I want.
6) The situation with the Apple iTunes Podcast is slightly different in that the iTunes Podcast system is merely an aggregation service where the hosting is done by a third party, you open up an account with Apple iTunes then point your podcasting account on Apple to where your podcasts are hosted through the use of RSS feeds. Long story short it is akin to an advertisement platform saying, “no, we won’t advertise your content” so it is slightly different to the situation with Facebook/Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.