Inaction is a Form of Action

The story of the no-politics diner.

And why "don't discuss politics" and tone-policing *is* political. Most especially when it limits minority and disenfranchised voices.

(This also isn't an argument for free-for-all speech. It's complicated, Peeps.)

...since the Reagan years, big business and its advocates in the US government and judiciary have been steadily “reforming” antitrust law on lines proposed by the disgraced economist Robert Bork.... Bork argued that the only time the US should wield its antitrust authority was when there was clear evidence of “consumer harms” in the form of higher prices in the immediate aftermath of an anti-competitive action.

@dredmorbius For the record, #RobertBork was not an economist and he wasn't disgraced -- though he was slurred by Senator Kennedy.

@mpjgregoire Fair points, though:

1. The language is Doctorow's not mine. Might dropy Cory a note.

2. Bork's work has had an outsized impact on economic doctrines of monopoly, despite his legal background.

@dredmorbius Yes, I read the original article, and I know that's where the claim originated.

If you do decide to contact Cory Doctorow, you could ask him why he omitted the Fediverse from his article. His recommendations for the government may be worthwhile, but he could also suggest something simple for individuals to do.

uspol, big tech 

@dredmorbius I think this is conflating two, maybe three, very different issues. And in all of them, is stopping short of the inevitable conclusion to make a detour into "free market utopia".

uspol, big tech 

@dredmorbius The central issue is about centralization of power and multinational conglomerates. It asks the question "what if some entities are as powerful as governments, do they still count as normal people?"

It isn't about free speech in particular, or about big tech. And making it only about monopoly law and competition is laughably short-sighted. Having more "competition" won't just dissolve all power structures and fix everything.

uspol, big tech 

@dredmorbius The secondary issue is about how bad actors or "trolls" abuse rules. There is something about how complex rules are bad, but not much of a solution is given. I guess the conclusion is that creating more rules won't fix the issue in such a big organization?

And again, the conclusion should be about empowering the individuals themselves, but it plays it safe and merely accuses "big tech".

uspol, big tech 

@dredmorbius There is also the title and final paragraph about the role of the government, which is related to the first point but not completely. Again, not about free speech, and it avoids questioning the status quo too hard.

uspol, big tech 

@eldaking Fair points, and certainly some agreement.

A key point for me is noting that there are a few tired arguments which really don't fly.

"If you don't like Facebook, don't use it" doesn't get around the fact that 1) this is often practically difficult -- there are organisations which _only_ organise on FB, 2) what happens on FB has real-world consequences despite non-use, and 3) your info ends up there regardless.


uspol, big tech 

@eldaking The other is the notion that private enterprises are entirely within their rights to establish and police rules. Reality is that there's both an obligation to do so (because of the exernalities) and limits on what can be removed (because of the monopoly status). Enabling bigots and censoring critics are *both* bad.

Navigating that path is a challenge.

And if that challenge isn't surmountable, then the scale of operations is simply too big.


@dl @dredmorbius Good points. #Reddit is the "no politics diner" in my experience. You get a dozen moderators and it becomes a race to the bottom with #censorship coupled with #shadowbanning to hide the censorship.

@resist1984 Subreddit quality varies greatly.

No moderation and bad moderation are *both* bad. The truth about any regulation is that it has to be all of effective, competent, principled, and equitable.

That's not something that you can achieve by a simple formula.


@dredmorbius @dl i would not say they are equally bad. Poor moderation results in corruption, injustice, and abuse of power. Lack of moderation is only bad in the sense that everyone has to do their own janitorial work but at least views get equal representation.

@resist1984 Lack of moderation entirely tends to drive off both clue and minority / oppressed viewpoints. It also kills virtually all intelligent conversation, or sincere attempts to bridge deep divides in beliefs, experience, or goals.

The result is an environment in which *only* the obnoxious, toxic, or idiotic can survive. And do.


@dredmorbius @dl you're describing lack of moderation coupled with poor tooling. A vast majority of moderators are corrupt, as they want their own view of the world to have an edge. Voting systems enable collective moderation - and they can be implemented in a way that nothing is censored (just folded or quarantined).

@dl @dredmorbius I think we need to evolve to a point were not only are posts scored based on reader feedback, but every post could have a per-reader score based on others who vote similarly.

@resist1984 Again: some parts of Reddit work, some don't. On a whole, I've found it no longer suits my own purposes, and have long criticised elements:

There's the problem that subs can be *and are encouraged to be* taken over:

And that its conversational dynamic is simply broken:


@dredmorbius @dl "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." -- Desmond Tutu. Bans on political chatter effectively favor oppressors.

@resist1984 Thanks, excellent quote.

I've been reasoning my way to that belief myself over the past few years. Tutu's agreement and formulation are validation and well put.


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