Techdirt Podcast Episode 190: Should We Break Up Big Tech?

from the pro-tech-anti-trust dept

A few weeks ago, we featured a panel discussion with Mike and others at the Lincoln Network's Reboot conference on the podcast. This week we're doing something a little different and featuring another panel discussion from that conference, but one in which Mike wasn't involved. Instead, it's an interesting — and at times contentious — debate about one big question: do the big tech firms need to be broken up?

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Filed Under: competition, panel discussion, podcast, regulation, technology

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  1. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 27 Nov 2018 @ 4:58pm

    My take:

    Matt is clearly someone who has done a lot of study and nuanced thinking on the subject. He's got a good understanding of the issues involved. I don't agree with all of his conclusions, but he's on the right track most of the time.

    Jeff felt more like a caricature than a real person, a living, breathing example of Poe's Law. Seriously, if I wanted to write a strawman debate character of a Libertarian troll arguing in bad faith, I would have him do exactly what Jeff did:

    • try to reframe everything in terms of economics, reframe the economics in terms of the greatest benefit to the most wealthy and powerful, and assert with no evidence that this state of affairs benefits everyone else
    • asserting that there is actually no evidence of the well-understood harm being discussed, then, when called on it, present a standard of evidence that is literally impossible to meet (as one of the other panelists pointed out, thankfully)
    • gaslight opponents by asserting, after they tear your shoddy assertions apart, that they have proven your point for you
    • interrupt and talk over the top of opponents who are making valid points

    For that last one especially, he should have been unceremoniously tossed out by the moderator about 75% of the way through. But his entire shtick from beginning to end was straight out of the bog-standard Libertarian troll playbook; I could predict the majority of what he said because I've seen it so many times. And it's really getting old.

    And Hal... was there too. And he said some things.

    My take on this: I was happy to hear someone mention the "too big to fail" problem, because it ties into something that's been running around in my mind for a while now. We've seen several Techdirt articles (and podcasts) talking about moderation at scale, and how it's literally impossible for platforms such as Facebook and YouTube to successfully moderate their content.

    Every time, I'm reminded of Bernie Sanders' famous statement that "too big to fail is too big to exist." Might I suggest, in this context, the slightly less controversial proposition that too big to succeed is too big to exist?

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