Free Speech — It’s more than just the words
On Jan 11th, 2021, Parler, the alt right social media platform, found itself turned off and homeless, as Internet giants such as Amazon, Apple and Google, all booted it from their platforms in little more than 24 hours. The decision to eject or turn down Parler was greeted with both relief and alarm, as well as renewed debate. Yet for others the decision reignited debate about free speech, its boundaries, and whether it is government or big tech that ultimately controls it.
In an increasingly digital society, where speech is increasingly manifested in bit and bytes, does it mean that having free speech must then include the infrastructure needed to support it? And if so, then who has the power to generate or stifle free speech?
Leading us through this discussion is Russ White, who began working with computers in the mid 1980s and computer networks in the 1990s. He is a well-known routing and internet transport expert who has coauthored more than 40 software patents participated in the development of several internet standards and internet governance and help develop professional certifications.
Guest: Russ White
Hosted by: Alexa Raad & Leslie Daigle
Transcript (auto-generated by Descript)
Alexa Raad: On January 11th, 2021, Parler, the alt-right social media platform found itself, turned off and homeless as internet giants, such as Amazon, apple, and Google all booted it from the platforms in little more than 24 hours. The impetus for the decision.
Wasn’t the events leading up to and including on January 6th, when the social media platform was reportedly used by many of the capital insurrectionists to communicate, coordinate, and plan the attack on the nation’s capital. These tactical Haemus argued that the small, but by then notorious social media platform had not done enough to moderate or police content that was posted on it and was thus in violation of their various terms of service jettisoning parlor off the apple and Google platforms meant that the app would no longer be available for download at the tech giants respective app stores.
In the last month of 2020 parlor had grown exponentially. Its growth was driven by the Exodus of millions of AltRight and Trump supporters from Facebook and Twitter, where he, as these two companies started to crack down on posts, deemed to spread this information and our insight violence before it went offline in January, 2021 parlor claimed about 15 million total.
On January 9th, apple listed parlor as the number one free app for iPhones. And by Monday morning, it was gone. The decision to eject or turn down parlor was greeted with both relief alarm, as well as renewed debate for those sobered up by the events of January 6th, the decision was welcomed. Yet for others, the decision reignited debate about free speech it’s boundaries and whether it is government or big tech that ultimately controls it in an increasingly digital society where speech is increasingly manifested and bits and bytes.
Does it mean that having free speech must then include the infrastructure needed to support it? And if so, then who has the power to generate or stifle free speech?
Leslie Daigle: Our guest for this episode is Russ white rest began working with computers in the mid 1980s and computer networks. In 1990. He is a well-known routing and internet transport expert who has coauthored more than 40 software patents participated in the development of several internet standards and internet governance and help develop professional certifications.
Russ is a co-host of the history of networking and the hedge podcasts, and is an active member of the IET. His most recent works are computer networking problems and solutions network dis-aggregation fundamentals, video training, and abstraction, and computer networks. Video training. Welcome again, right.
Russ White: Well, I thank you. I’m not really sure who you’re talking about when you
Alexa Raad: time passes
Leslie Daigle: and things just sort of follow along don’t
Russ White: they, they do. As long as you stay engaged, things happen and you end up with a resume that’s longer than you can fit on one page and then it’s just gets embarrassing.
Leslie Daigle: But, but so much fun to talk about.
So let’s dive in. So tell us what is the infrastructure of free speech and why can’t free speech exist independently of infrastructure.
Russ White: So there are two kinds of views about free speech in the world. One of which is that. You know, you have this ability to speak. And as long as you have the ability to speak, even if no one can hear you, then it’s perfectly fine to say that you have free speech.
So you might like in this to, uh, you know, a room sitting someplace in a bar or a crowded venue, and there is a wooden box sitting in the corner and anybody can get up there and stand up there and say whatever they want to say, but no one listens because it’s loud and you know, whatever else, uh, well, that’s not really necessarily.
Free speech within the U S United context of the United States and the American founding kind of means it really means as much about being able to build the infrastructure where people hear you. Now, they may not listen still because they might be busy or whatever, but it’s, you have to be able to build the box that you want to stand on.
You have to be able to be in the venue and build the amplifier. T, uh, you know, whatever it is you’re going to build, uh, the classic example would be a printing press, right? Cause that’s what we had at the founding of America was just printing presses. And when the stamp act came about, I’ll go into jumping a little history here, tobacco.
A bit of what I’m saying when the stamp came about the colonists considered this to be totally horrible for free speech, not just because of monetary perspective, but because of free speech, because what was going on was, is in order to publish a newspaper, you had to have a stamp piece of paper. Well, the government stamp the paper.
So if the government didn’t want you to speak, they just didn’t stamp your paper and you couldn’t speak now, theoretically, they still had free speech. You can still stand on a corner and yell and scream, whatever you want to. Yet the stamp act was considered a push against free speech because you could no longer print newspapers.
So it just didn’t include the free speech itself. It included the means in which you use to speak
Leslie Daigle: at point of clarification there. Was that stem applied to each individual article or to each individual issue of the newspaper or the newspaper as a licensing, the newspaper as a
Alexa Raad: whole,
Russ White: each piece of paper on which the newspaper was printed.
Wow. So, and property transfers and pamphlets and books, and anything you wanted to publish. If you were going to publish, you had to have the stamp on each sheet of paper to show that you had paid tax on that sheet of paper. Taxed to the
Alexa Raad: British government, right?
Russ White: Yes. Tax tax to the British government.
Right. So there were two cries. I get about that. The first was that it was taxation without representation, which is the one everyone remembers. The other one was that this would quell the newspapers that were opposed to British rule in America. And so that was the free speech argument that they were printing pamphlets and stuff to try to convince people that America needed to be independent of Britain.
That’s really not the argument they were making at the time. That’s where it went eventually, but that wasn’t the argument they were making at the time. But, um, so the concern was, well, if the British government doesn’t like what you’re going to say, then they just won’t give you the tax to pay. And you just can’t say it.
Leslie Daigle: already making me feel better about where we are today with the internet, because we’re at least not there yet, I
Alexa Raad: think. But
Leslie Daigle: I understand that you believe that the free speech promise of section two 30 us legislation is not working and it’s time for everyone to insist on reform. So what do you think we need to do?
Russ White: So I’ll start here. I think that the problem with two section two 30 to me is that we have bifurcated the world into publishers and into platforms. And I’m not convinced that that bifurcation works any longer. Um, I just don’t know that that, that split between publisher and platform even make sense, because a platform is supposed to be like a printing press.
Anybody can go to print, whatever they want to and put it out there. The publishers, the person who’s writing it. And so what section two 30 says is if you’re a platform you’re not liable for what publishers are publishing through your platform, the question is, is Facebook really? Either a platinum. Or is it a publisher?
And that’s the argument we get mired in. And I would say that they’re neither, they’re a third thing and we just don’t have regulations for them. And that’s how they’ve gotten large. These social media companies have gotten large and stuff is because they go to court in this situation and they say, oh, no, no, no.
Platform, therefore you can’t argue with me about what other people are publishing on me. And in other places they go to court and they say, no, no, no, I’m a publisher because I’m a publisher. I have the right to filter content. Okay. Got it. But one of, one of those two, like is true or there needs to be a third thing that describes what these companies do.
Right. We’re kind of playing both sides of the game at this time.
Alexa Raad: So, what do you think that third thing is? How would we describe folks like Google and Facebook and Twitter?
Russ White: Yeah. I don’t know that I have a good name for it. Unfortunately
Alexa Raad: we are, um, in the attention economy, right? So attention is a currency and one of the.
The issues with parlor getting so much attention was how amplified that these messages became. Right. So does that point to the fact that there are perhaps three separate things we should think about? One is the free speech itself, the equivalent being that person in the corner of the bar on a soap box with a town crier.
The second is the infrastructure on which they do it. I go on Facebook. I have very few followers, whatever I say, doesn’t really carry that much amplification or attention Trump gets on and he is on Twitter and the amplification is much more massive. So. The problem seems to be in the amplification itself of some of these messages, that that was what the worry was with parlor.
Um, so how do we deal with
Russ White: that? My opinion on that would be. There are that the social media network itself does some of that amplification. And we don’t understand that process from the outside because it’s a black box to us. And then our only amplify, they also filter. So one of the examples I’ve used in the past is that we often, you know, we have this thing there’s even a, uh, an infinite money, infinite monkey transfer protocol.
That’s an RFC that is. That’s out there, uh, where you have the infinite monkeys typing on an infinite number of typewriters and will they produce the works of Shakespeare? And the answer is not what everybody expects to people who say yes or no, but the answer really is, it depends on whether you have a Shakespeare looking filter in front of what the monkeys are typing.
It’s the filter that matters when you get that much random information thrown at you. It’s the filter that matters. And that’s where I think these social media companies have a lot of power. They can shut down message. They can bring message up. And we don’t understand that process from the outside. So they’re neither publishers because they’re not really creating the content.
And they’re not really platforms because they’re doing more than just providing a printing press. They’re actually filtering the content.
Alexa Raad: Are they broadcasters?
Russ White: Yeah.
Leslie Daigle: It’s more than that, right? Because newspapers, friends. Post any, you know, any, they have control over what articles do and do not appear on their pages.
And, you know, depending on what era of newspapers you’re talking about, they do create them themselves, but they might accept them from elsewhere. But I think part of what you’re getting at RAICES, it’s not just that they filter newspapers can filter what goes into the pages and they have a distribution, a circulation list.
So they know sort of how wide their distribution is, but that’s pretty much where it stops. Right? I mean, you might. You might get your story picked up and carried in another, you know, newspaper of, of similar distribution, right? It might get talked about on radio, but it doesn’t have that same kind of amplification that liking something and making a story go viral as they do on a social media platform has, and that’s a level of.
At that I think the difference is that that’s a level of broadcast and circulation. That’s actually under the control of the notional consumer of the platform.
Russ White: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s, I think that’s a very valid point as well, to some degree it’s under the control of the consumer of the platform, but it’s not entirely because.
The social media network can decide where things go on your timeline, they can decide
Leslie Daigle: the infamous algorithm.
Russ White: Right? Exactly. Or they may decide you just, even though they. You think you care about it? They don’t think you should see it, or they don’t think you should care.
Leslie Daigle: All, all fair points, but, but it is still the case that, that is, that is, uh, an aspect of amplification that doesn’t exist in the newspaper
Alexa Raad: exists,
Russ White: correct?
Alexa Raad: Another aspect of amplification, which is not necessarily in the control of the direct control of publishers platforms or thing ex uh, of Twitter and Facebook. Is these bots, increasingly the amplifications are being done by bots, not humans. So in the real context of, let’s say a disinformation campaign, there were probably less humans than there are bots who are spreading this message.
So given that these, you know, Facebook or Twitter really don’t have, they’re not generating bots necessarily, then who’s responsible.
Russ White: Right. And so that is the problem. And I think that’s legally why we need to spread out and have a third thing so that we can think through the issues of that third thing,
Alexa Raad: third classification per se.
Russ White: Right. Exactly. Because I don’t think we understand who should be responsible in these cases. And I think that rather than me saying, oh, I think it should be so-and-so. My my perspective is we don’t actually know the answer that we need to have a debate over that. We need to talk about that and understand it.
And right now we don’t even understand it. We don’t even understand it all because all we’re doing is pushing these companies into publisher versus platform. And we’re not thinking about this third thing that they actually are. Um, so one thing I suggested at one point in an article I wrote is that you could force the companies in order to say that, uh, you know, you’re going to operate in this space.
One thing you need to do is you need to have an open version of your filtering process. And say a researcher can go throw 10,000 tweets in the tweet deck, and it’s never published anywhere. It’s not a matter of ever being published. It’s a matter of then Twitter has to come back and say, that’s a one, that’s a two.
And you might be able to say, well, I need to describe the audience that I’m sending these tweets to, to see whether that’s a one or a 10 with a 10 being we’re going to actively pursue this and try to make it viral. And a one being we’re going to shadow ban this it’s going to be disappeared and you don’t have to know why those decisions are made from the outside as a researcher.
You used to have to know. There’s actually that stuff going on and the more you can quantify it, and the more you can understand it, the more we can have a discussion around what should these companies be allowed to do. And legally who’s responsible for some of this stuff. Right. But we don’t have this information right now.
We’re completely blind to the way these things work.
Leslie Daigle: So it’s, it’s, who’s responsible and it’s also what should they, or should they not be allowed to do? Right. Right. Um, yeah. Right. Not knowing what they’re doing or what the influences are. It’s kind of hard to come up with a list of things that are good behavior versus
Alexa Raad: bad.
Russ White: Exactly. And then there’s the other question of, is it okay to have an alt-right platform and then all left platform? Is that okay? Are we okay with that as a culture or are we more like, we need to have one platform where everybody talks right. I don’t know the answer to that. I mean, my, my, my inclination is to say, it’s okay to have both, let people build what they want to build and have their own discussions.
Um, it’s not much different than having the filter bubble. We already know. And so, you know, maybe that’s okay. Um, and you just have different, everybody knows that this network is this way and that network is that way. Um, maybe that’s the better solution. Um, on the other side, maybe we should have local governments encouraging people to use geographic networks that would bring the geography together.
I think one of the reasons we have problems right now with the splitting that it’s doing in our culture, like the radical divide between people is that we all live in filter bubbles. And they’re based on what we believe, which it’s the self-reinforcing thing that’s going on. And before when we had newspapers, yeah.
You had a democratic newspaper in Raleigh. You also had a Republican one. And if you subscribe to both, you would get the regional news from both perspectives. You could understand, we don’t get that anymore.
Leslie Daigle: Yeah. And that’s, that’s kind of where I wanted to go, which is, you know, you asked whether it’s okay to have an alt-right and, and an alt left or whatever, you know, entirely, um, segregating self segregating groups.
Um, but then where do you go for truth? Right. And, and I, I realized that. I really probably should edit that word right out of this podcast. Um, but where do you, where do you go for, for, for perspectives that are broader than your own perspective? Let me put it that way. I mean, you’re right. Traditionally we’ve sort of gone to newspapers for that and to a certain extent we still can, but what, you know, bubbles are okay, as long as it’s possible to exit them or, or understand that there isn’t outside of the bubble.
And I also understand. We don’t know where the edge of our bubble is these
Russ White: days. Right. Right. And I think that’s a, that’s actually a, more of a human and a philosophical problem. Right. I mean, a cultural issue. Are we actually teaching people to seek out, um, I’ve this is culturally I’ve noticed we have a much stronger attachment to keeping an open mind than we do to learning.
And I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I’m not convinced that, you know, keeping it up in mind is great. But my stepfather was used to say, just don’t have it so open that your brain falls out. But I do, you know, I do worry that we are a little bit, we have gotten ourselves to the point where we’re more concerned about winning arguments or about whatever it is than we are about learning.
Leslie Daigle: And that’s, that’s only. You know, reinforced by the way, social media platforms work and the way amplification works, not just in social media platforms, but in any context where you’re only hearing people that agree with you and you get that amplification, then, then there. Ever less room for any other perspective to, to, to creep in.
And I mean, we live my opinion. We live in a world of such luxury at this point that, um, in, in this particular part of the world that we can dream up just about any, any imaginary world and think that we’re living in it. Right. I mean, um, to the point where somebody on Facebook. Your friend who lives by the sea is actually from Barbados, was pointing out that, you know, how many helium balloon carcasses, he picks up on the beach every morning.
Right? And it’s an astonishing number. And these things are terribly dangerous in the sea because they look like jellyfish to creatures that eat them. And then that die because they’re clogged with, you know, helium balloons. But, but the whole point of this particular story is, you know, people. Helium balloons are fun and people like to release them and let them go.
And they’re gone. Right? There’s there’s your bubble. It’s gone. It just disappears. It’s like, no, no, they don’t disappear. They come down somewhere. Just not somewhere in your bubble.
Alexa Raad: Some consequences. Yeah. I want to go back to the argument that, that you brought up, which is whether we should have this all right.
And left. And in the previous world, perhaps, and they, what is no longer there, the free market, Adam Smith’s free market would basically dictate that, you know, it, things work themselves out, people gravitate and, and, you know, eventually we don’t have just one thing or another, maybe we have the best of all solutions.
However, again, I think that ignores the fact that. We not only have, it’s not just humans that are in the mix. It’s also, uh, bots that amplify, but it’s also nefarious actors who have an interest it’s no longer just the algorithm. It’s nation states who have an interest in manipulation. And part of that manipulation is using technology that is not necessarily human technology that is evolving very sophisticated bots now, deep fakes, and God knows what else.
To manipulate. And so I’m not sure whether these, these Mo I don’t have an answer to this in other words, but I don’t know. I think it’s much more complex.
Russ White: Well, I’ll throw in one more level of complexity. And that is, that is that I don’t know how many, how many people actually understand how social media networks work.
And I don’t just mean, I don’t just mean. Facebook and Twitter. I mean, Google search and Amazon are in my mind forms of social media networks as well, but they are driven by attention. As you said, at the very beginning, we live in an attention driven economy and. They are going to do whatever it takes to get you to be online and engaged as much as possible and as often as possible.
And that’s part of the reason that these attend these bubbles form is because it’s not necessarily that they’re trying to do a bad thing. You know, it’s, it’s that they’re trying to get people to engage so they can get advertisers. And so they can get people to buy and. But to get your engagement, what they want to get your attention and engage you.
They need to give you content. That’s going to get you emotionally. Well. Yeah. Yeah. Because know, and, and I’ll tell you fear sells better than anything else. And then sex sells. That’s the second best thing. It’s fear and sex. Those are the two things that are going to sell. And therefore they’re going to send you the most atrocious.
Stuff, but sexually and fear wise to get you to get emotionally wound up because the more emotionally wound up you are, the more you’ll be engaged. The more you’ll use the platform, the more you’ll buy, the more you click through on ads. So it’s not just bots and stuff. It’s I think it’s actually the structure of what Zuboff would call surveillance capitalism, right?
Alexa Raad: Yeah.
Leslie Daigle: So I don’t know what that says about me that I get Kevin.
Alexa Raad: They’re not fearsome,
Russ White: but yes. Maybe people know you don’t like to get wound up wisely. That must be it. That must be it. Yeah. But I mean, I just noticed that even in the ads that I see now, I don’t have a Facebook account, but even in other places, I noticed it in the ads. In email and everything’s apocalyptic, everything is everything.
Is, this is the last hope. This is the last chance. And I don’t know. I think we, I think we have become so attuned to fear and so driven by fear and sex that we just it’s primal.
Leslie Daigle: So I think that that actually comes back in and you answer your own question about, is it okay to have, you know, an alt-right and an alt left?
And the answer is probably no for the very simple reason that none of them is going to say pure to the original. You know, original drive, they’re going to get owned intentionally or inadvertently by marketing or disinformation campaigns, or just, you know, spun out of control on, on, on overdrive, in, in dunes scrolled
Alexa Raad: memes.
Russ White: Right? Right. Well, I don’t think you see anything different with Facebook today. I just think that we don’t talk to each other on Facebook, even though we have the common space. Okay, exactly. The common spaces is like, there’s like this ditch on one side and ditch on the other side. And everybody lives in those ditches and they climb to the top of the hill to yell at each other.
And that’s pretty much all we do, you know? So I don’t know that.
Leslie Daigle: Yeah, I think that’s, I think that’s largely true, but, but I think that’s a, it’s an end. Right? And it’s like, you don’t want to have separate, completely disparate platforms and we need to address the problem of actually, you know, engaging in discussion with people.
Alexa Raad: we go to the issue of free speech? So what parlor did after, uh, they got kicked off Amazon, AWS. They basically went and launched a lawsuit, arguing that Amazon’s decision had really disenfranchised them because they really did not have any, Amazon was so big that it was really difficult for them to go anywhere else.
And of course they didn’t win. So that lawsuit, you could look at it and say, well, they were arguing that Amazon was effectively controlling free speech because by kicking them off, AWS, Amazon was shutting free speech down and their defeat could potentially argue that. Well, no, uh, Amazon has 30% of the cost.
Market so they could build their own infrastructure. They could go somewhere else. So the question is who actually controls it. If infrastructure of free speech is actually attached to the concept of free speech, then who controls it?
Russ White: Yeah. So I think Amazon’s case is a little bit different because Amazon is not Facebook.
Amazon is not, they’re just literally a hosting company. And I think in some sense they’re closer to a printing press or a platform than Facebook is. And in this case, you know, if Amazon didn’t like what, what parlor was doing, they should have found some other way to me of taking care of that thing, kicking them off the servers.
Um, Now there’s another piece of this that people don’t think about is competition is not just about whether they, whether or not parlor could get someplace else, because obviously they did they’re back up and running. Um, I don’t know what their user count is now or anything like that, but they are back up and running now, but it’s also, there is a time value to information.
And we often forget this, that if Facebook blocks somebody accidentally for 24 hours, You know, if they just happen to block a political candidate for, for the 24 hours before voting takes place and they do it. Oh, sorry. That was the algorithm. That’s really difficult to swallow from my perspective, because you know, there’s time value in that information.
And it’s not just that they’re up or down, it’s that you took them down for X period of time, which costs them X number of users right. Or wrong, you know, that’s an issue that we don’t really deal with a whole lot. So, I mean, I don’t know. I, you know, I understand about parlor when I kind of understand Amazon’s point of view, user service, things like that.
But then you go back to the question of, if you undercut the infrastructure, what does free speech really mean? Like w where do you go from here? If, anytime you set up a service like parlor or on the other side, you know, it could be all left as well as all right. You can undercut them by just taking away their infrastructure.
I mean, where do we go from there? How do we make that work? And again, I think that’s, we don’t delineate very well Dewey. I mean, we’re treating Amazon like a publisher. When they cut down parlor rather than a platform, is that I don’t know, is that valid or the rules or things just squishy enough right now that we really don’t know what to do and companies don’t know what to do.
Do we need better definitions?
Leslie Daigle: And I think part of the problem was the perspective that it wasn’t just about speech at that point. It was about inciting action. Right. And, and I mean, that does take it up a whole different level of. Is this permissible. Um, so I think, I think we can’t fail to, we can’t fail to acknowledge that even as, yes, we don’t want, we certainly don’t want to wind up in a position where like some countries in the world alternative viewpoints are simply involuntarily snuffed out.
Russ White: so much. Okay. Well the last pro independence newspaper was shut down yesterday in Hong Kong. That’s right. That’s right. As an
Alexa Raad: example, I read me right after this capital six, uh, uh, January 6th by its, there was a really good article on free speech. And the line that I remember most was that free speech is not about just free speech.
It’s not about freedom from the consequences of your. I think that’s the point you were making
Leslie Daigle: Leslie. Yeah. Much, much nicer articulation of it. And so given that and moving away from the should, should they have been, you know, should they have been ripped off of AWS? What, what would be the right way to deal with those consequences and, and, you know, attempt to prevent that sort of behavior being fomented?
I mean, the ladder is a little hard to answer because. Yeah, tracking behavior on social media platforms is impossible and, and even, even dicier than free speech, but what would be the right way to pursue consequences in that
Russ White: context? So what would you do if it were a newspaper? That’s my question, right?
Would you have the FBI going in destroy the presses and most of the time the answer would be no, you would stop the distribution of the material in question. And you would tell the newspaper owner, you are going to be taken to jail or whatever it’s going to be for allowing that on, you know, to be printed.
It wouldn’t be, oh, we’ll just send somebody in to destroy the person. I don’t know of any instance where that would be considered a valid response. And so I think that if you just take it out of the virtual world and put it in the physical world, a lot of times these questions kind of, you can start seeing that.
Yeah. You know, maybe we just don’t have the right tools in place or something like that.
Leslie Daigle: Except in this case, parlor didn’t own the printing presses. They were renting them.
Russ White: Right, but even, so would you say it’s okay. Let’s say you convert Amazon into a physical printing company and somebody renting their press for two hours a day to print something.
You don’t agree with it. But
Alexa Raad: I will put it. That’s actually fair comparison because in your own view, you’re saying that we can’t really think of them as publishers. We can’t think of them as platforms, but when you compare them and bring the comparison you just brought, like, will you go to a, to a newspaper and destroy their printing presses?
It’s really not an apples to apples comparison. Your point is we don’t know what this beast is. That’s right.
Russ White: And so, yeah. So in some cases it may be the right thing for Facebook to kick somebody off. Right. I don’t know. Um, is that threshold transparent? Is it something anybody knows is going to happen before it happens or is it random and is that fair?
Is it fair to allow a private company to say no, you’re kicked off without it. Um, outside legal, like legislative things saying, no, they can be kicked off for this. And not for that.
Leslie Daigle: I don’t know. But I do know that there’s a lot of stores I can’t go into even now that wearing a mask. So it’s not, I mean, I think, I think that I do think that companies have some right to say what they are willing to accept, um, in, in, in, on their premises and that, but the, the, the pivot point here is, is the question of, is Facebook so much.
The single platform that everybody has a right to say what they want on it, uh, or, or is it, um, or is it a private company?
Russ White: Right. And Facebook, by the way, has argued in court that people who tell them that they can’t filter are pushing are, um, are damaging. Facebook’s free speech, right? Hmm. So that’s another entire, that’s another entire line of argument that then, you know?
Yeah. So now, so now, so now this is why you say things like, well, maybe it’s okay to have all right. Not left, but maybe on the other hand to counter balance that you need to have local governments having their own services that are apolitical without nothing political is allowed. It’s just locally then.
And where people can talk to each other or something. I don’t know. You know, maybe there’s a way for governments to try to balance the bubbles that are driven, or maybe there are ways of taking the profit out of building the bubble.
Alexa Raad: Ah, well, they tried that with broadcasting. Uh, there was, uh, I forget the folks who were much better at this than me, but there was a rule where almost that the nightly news was supposed to be.
It just providing you with the information and the facts. And I think it was during Reagan’s era that they changed the rules and advertising became so much more prominent, which then has had this long tail consequences, this domino effect of now. You know, these, uh, outlets are owned by money-making media conglomerates.
And the whole premise of the business model is based around advertising and my moneymaking and in an attention economy it’s sometimes becomes toxic.
Russ White: Right? Exactly. So that’s, that’s the question. Can you find ways to make it where these companies aren’t making 80% profit off of for grabbing your attention?
I don’t know. Right. Yeah. But until we define it and try to understand it better, we’re just stuck in a, we’re just stuck in an argument of whether they’re platforms or whether they’re publishers. Yeah.
Alexa Raad: But
Leslie Daigle: I think it’s a really good, it’s a really good opening question of, you know, is it Fisher, is it foul or is there yet another different type of beast and, and, and how do these pieces fit together so that we can better understand.
You know, where we think responsibility lies and what, what does good look like in terms of behavior? Um, so clearly, clearly we don’t have the answers, but it was a fascinating discussion to start exploring more of the problem. So thank you very much for, for joining us today, Russ.
Russ White: Thanks. Um, it’s always great coming on with you guys and you know, you should invite me more often, you know, it’s perfectly
Alexa Raad: fine.
Thank you so much for us. Always great to talk.
Russ White: Yup. Great talking to you.