The spirit of Uncle Teddy is being reborn.
It’ll take a minute. America has taken on a much wider set of thoughts, values and beliefs than when he was around, but one thing’s the same.
We still like to see it when Rich Folks face consequences. And so we have the strange intersection of the memory of a time when a racist American president kicked the living shit out of monopolies and the time that a racist American president allows them to flourish.
You can guess which one is which.
Also, any one of you who has a case of the Boo-Fuckin-Hoos because I called Teddy Roosevelt racist can just get the fuck out. Great president, absolutely racist against American Indians. Don’t @ me.
There is one additional problem. Well, two. The first is that social media and tech companies – largely still in the Wild West days because they’ve got the money to stave off regulation – have only grown more powerful and control a larger section of the narrative than they should.
We felt that scan. Fuck you, Google. Anybody shares this on Facebook and we’ll spray paint your pets. Or worse.
The second is that propaganda was legalized for domestic dissemination in 2013, which we’ve talked about before. The fact that both exist at the same time, AND that there is widespread civil and social unrest is not coincidental. For the record, it is not some grand conspiracy. No, it’s just a bunch of vultures circling the beleaguered body of America, finding every opportunity they can to peck away and grab cash, data and power.
Slowly but surely, the world is responding. Remember, the gears of justice grind slow, but they grind fine.
The European Union led the charge with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Right To Be Forgotten. There are entities in the U.S. that have never let down the fight, but with the FCC out of the game for the foreseeable future, it’s going to be ugly for a while. This is a feature, not a bug.
Once again, young people are taking the lead, because they’re fuckin’ sick of oldsters stealin’ the fruits of their labor. As the first generation born entirely into the surveillance state, they’re more aware of it than anyone.
Remember being young. No, do it. Picture your favorite youthful memories. Now, put cameras in everyone’s hands and five dozen sharing platforms that exist as a natural extension to them.
Those born with No Privacy have still heard about it, and they like what they heard. These are the young folks who were raised by parents who inexplicably posted every possible picture of their newborns all while posting none of themselves. Ya know, for privacy reasons. Think about that hypocrisy. So, expect this fight to distinctly be pushed forward by Generation Z. Everyone else will come along as you would expect them to; that is to say, in their own right and manner. The Boomers will be dragged along, like that guy that tried to poison Daenerys Stormborn and got tied behind a Dothraki’s horse until his dick fell off and he died.
And they’re going to go after Facebook first. The youngsters, not the Dothraki. Although I’m willing to put decent money on Z using operational methods that would make the horde proud.
As for Facebook – that site just happens to be the last to fall in public line because it’s constituency and demographic group skews the oldest. They’re also the likeliest to share some complete and utter bullshit.
Youtube, once voted by its graduating class as “Most likely to give the rest of the Internet an incurable case of Nazi Furry AIDs” was faster than Facebook to at least look like it was trying. Getting Alex Jones out was a significant victory, but one whose momentum will be lost if it doesn’t work harder. See: Radicalization within the algorithm.
Sure, there have been public bloodletting’s – the Jones case being of the higher profile. You see, these things are done to show the public – very, ahem, publicly – that the Data Masters are doing things on your behalf, you see? So please sit down over there and honor the sacrifice they’ve made upon the Alter of Public Piety. No, they’re not going to do any more until the next public outcry.
Problem is, Youtube’s owned by Google now, which is owned by Alphabet. Yet, they’re treated in ways as different companies – enough so that four individuals earned these three coveted spaces in a recent trendtag #SiliconSix – as in, six individuals in the Silicon Valley who have far too much power.
So, who’s left? Twitter, which has outright stated that presidents threatening nuclear war through its platform is newsworthy and protected, but when someone – SOMEONE – says that maybe we should regulate white nationalist voices, they get put in Twitter Jail. It’s no wonder, because a ton of revenue comes from Russia via Yuri Milner and by Russians and white supremacists creating armies of bots. How do the bots increase revenue? By increasing the number of page views the ads can be seen by since the user base has now been artificially inflated.
Plus, Twitter head Jack Dorsey’s too busy in Myanmar “finding himself” to give a shit right now anyway (for the most part, more on that later). And whenever a member of the nouveau riche go to “find themselves” it means they’re hunting the most dangerous game. He better hope Ice T don’t get involved.
Regardless, Dorsey at least has the sense it takes to prey on humans outside his homeland, unlike Zuckerberg. He shows this again by saying that Twitter would not be allowing any political ads whatsoever (which we’re still waiting to see the effects of) and most recently by noting that inactive accounts would be purged. This is presumably because bot networks go inactive for a while and then get fired back up. We hope.
That action announced by Dorsey was presumably always available to Twitter. I mean, he created the fuckin site and with help from the top engineers out there can do whatever they want it to do. Meaning if they hadn’t done so yet it’s because they didn’t want to, they didn’t know how, or the platform had gotten away from them. Regardless, Dorsey’s announcement came right after Zuckerberg was faced with widespread criticism for noting that Facebook just couldn’t do anything about it. Again, these folks have the engineers to figure out the problems, which means there’s money to be gained in not doing something.
Until, that is, they can have a public showing that one of them is better than the other. So it’s the perspective of Mean Old Publius Minimus that Dorsey knew how to regulate political ads all the time, but chose to keep that Ace Up His Sleeve until it benefited him the most: In this case, when he could do it to both deflect criticism back toward Facebook and to make Zuck look the fool.
Leaving us back with poor old Mark. Who just got clowned by a peer/rival in the public sphere who basically said “We can regulate things at Twitter, don’t know why Facebook can’t,” leaving the audience with the implicit feeling that Twitter is better than Facebook. Which is as right as it is wrong. But we’re leaving a side-by-side comparison for another day, if ever.
“What’s this all got to do with Trust Busting and Uncle Teddy?” you whimper politely.
“Patience, cricket, your problematic chirping has caused us heartburn!” we courteously yell.
President Teddy Roosevelt, a man of means from a wealthy family, nevertheless felt that the trusts were a heaping pile of monumental shit that was pushing the American public toward revolution simply by hoovering up all the resources.
“What’s wrong with trusts, that word sounds good!” some of you might say. Well that’s how propaganda works. Thanks to our close friend, The Internet, here’s a definition of “Trusts” in the early-20th Century framework that will make you understand it’s not an okay thing.
“An organizational structure that gives control over several business firms, usually in the same industry, to a single board of trustees with the purpose of monopolizing a market.”
So the corporations came up with a term because they wanted to implement monopolies without the public knowing they were implementing monopolies, and the term “trust” was invented. So Uncle Teddy invented a response: “Trust-Busting.”
Who were some of the people that were riling Teddy up at the time? Anyone who abused the system that had been established by Rockefeller’s Standard Oil – that is, corporations that set up monopolies and actively went against the public good. This is arguably the Northern Securities Company run by J.P. Morgan (the famed bankster and crook, but I repeat myself).
See, many motherfuckers forget that for much of America’s life, we may have been business friendly but there was always an eye from the state (Political Masters) against The Church (Religious Masters) and The Corporations (Economic Masters). While each has their devotees, the only one that could be argued to have done more on behalf of the people than the others was the state – it just took time. And even the Founding Fathers knew this.
That’s right, attractive and intelligent reader. The men who founded the United States of America put severe limitations on corporations that specifically noted how they could only exist if they served a public good.
So, by the attitudes of the Founding Fathers and then Uncle Teddy, any corporation that existed outside that framework – which meant existing outside the public good or at harm to it – was susceptible to regulation, including being broken down into smaller more manageable parts.
Why is that necessary against Big Tech? Because as we’ve said above, there are effectively six human beings in charge of more of your data, more communications infrastructure and media than has ever existed before in human history. Six people, whom I’m sure have all our best interests at heart.
Their near-complete and total inability to regulate hate speech (including credible threats and calls for violence), their disdain for the protection of privacy, their open hostility to you as the user, and the commercialization of it all to become among the world’s richest people, is enough for us to get the guillotines out of storage. We just need to find the key. We’ve got a lot of storage units, you understand?
Fortunately, as Uncle Teddy knew, revolutions were only necessary as an extreme response when systems did not correct themselves over time. So, the guillotines can stay in storage for now as a Plan B of sorts.
Plan A is much easier for everyone, and it allows users/consumers to keep their data, violent speech to be punished severely, bots and sock puppet accounts to be banned at the IP address, and tech companies to still make money even while more competition is fostered. It means breaking up Big Tech into smaller, more manageable entities.
Granted, the tech companies would be making less money overall, but let’s not cry too much over the people who only got rich in the first place by selling your data. Once they saw the profit potential for opening up the “Firehose of Falsehood” information model, it was all downhill for common sense, critical thinking and, ya know, democracy. This was a feature, not a bug.
Their adamant refusal to regulate themselves puts us in this position. Don’t like it? Listen to the funny man tell it real.
What are some ways to begin this basic regulatory approach?
Easy. Here’s a basic list format to conclude this topic for today. I have no doubt I will revisit this later, and I’m hopeful it will be when Big Tech chooses the “Regulate Us” route and not to announce that I’ve found my storage unit keys.
- Offer “Section Headers” on social media pages, blog and websites (and might as well add broadcast programs too) in the same way newspapers do it for themselves, such as “News,” “Op/Ed,” “Features,” “Sports,” “Culture,” etc. Placing such headers as a matter of course would also allow information consumers – ie, regular everyday normal motherfuckers – to have a better application of their own time.
- Implement a GDPR-like national policy within the United States.
- Ban botnets and sock puppet accounts at the IP address level. In order to post and interact you have to be a verified person, much in the same way that if you use a phone number, write a letter to the editor or send a piece of mail (all forms of expression), you’re expected to identify yourself.
- Increase the definitions and punitive measures for incitements to violence.
- Define “hate speech.” It can be done, you miserable assholes, and no, it wouldn’t affect you negatively. If it does, then you need to reflect on what you’re saying to begin with.
We’ve regulated the ever-loving shit out of big business before in America, and we did it specifically when that very same Big Business had proved it wasn’t benefiting the people, but actively serving to their detriment. It’s time to channel the Spirit of Uncle Teddy once again.