There are times when Libertarians are like a pulling guard for the far Left’s Backfield. The entire recent debate over social media is one example. Rightists sign up for Twitter or Faceberg out of benign ignorance. They expect to engage in high-minded debate and banter with fellow Amerikans across the political spectrum. Maybe they also expect to get a pony for Christmas.
Instead they get shadow-banned, censored, doxxed, and otherwise harassed by Leftists online. The frequency with which these leftists are actually employees or contractors for the social media platforms themselves increases. The Righties raise condign complaints and get told by the Libertarians that social media platforms are the private property of the companies and therefore they can act any way they feel.
If this were just involving political debate, that would probably be dubious but true. Anyone can put a “Two Mikes, Moore/Avanetti 2020” sign on their own lawn. If you put it on mine, don’t expect me to leave it there two minutes after I notice it. Righties should just get on Gab and use DuckDuckGo. But what happens when Twitter/Faceborg/Google et al. get used for evil purposes with the complete cooperation and assistance of the corporation? Or, more obviously the Hail Satan Faceberg Page should get to yell “Hail Satan!” if that’s what they want to do with their money and immaturity. Perhaps they also get to peddle snuff films and kiddie porn as a form of freedom of expression?
“No!” you yell in wild moral indignation. Get rid of those stupid and restrictive Ten Commandments, and kiddie porn and snuff films could be logically construed as just the kiddoes having some fun. Who am I to put my values in some other dude’s bedroom, Man!? But this is just abstraction. The country as a whole still enjoys hanging, shooting, and occasionally dismembering people who make or get off on snuff films. You can forget about the whole Harvard Med School thing if anyone even seriously thinks you ever made a snuff film.
But what say the Libertarians about using social media to perform more mundane forms of evil. Let’s just say some sadistic jerk in Australia trolls Black Lives Matter by bilking about $100K out of their sympathizers with a phony website.
The page, titled simply “Black Lives Matter,” had almost 700,000 followers on Facebook, more than twice as many as the official Black Lives Matter page. It was tied to online fundraisers that brought in at least $100,000 that supposedly went to Black Lives Matter causes in the U.S. At least some of the money, however, was transferred to Australian bank accounts, CNN has learned. Fundraising campaigns associated with the Facebook page were suspended by PayPal and Patreon after CNN contacted each of the companies for comment. Donorbox and Classy had already removed the campaigns.
So eventually, the industry policed itself. The free market conquers all at the End of History, the Stonertarian chortles. No need to worry about corruption when Ayn Rand is charge. OK, let’s see Ayn Rand pimp-slap Elon Musk. That won’t happen because it can’t. We still have an SEC because we need one. Daddy has decided to give Elon Musk a good, hard spanking.
U.S. securities regulators on Thursday sought to force Tesla Inc. TSLA -11.29% Chief Executive Elon Musk out of the company he helped get off the ground about 15 years ago, alleging he misled shareholders when he tweeted he had funding for what would have been the largest-ever corporate buyout. The complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission came after a last-minute decision by Mr. Musk and his lawyers to fight the case rather than settle the charges. The filing by the SEC in federal court in Manhattan threatens to deal a severe blow to the Palo Alto, Calif., electric car maker. Its brand and Mr. Musk are closely intertwined, and analysts have said the company’s roughly $50 billion market value is driven by Wall Street’s appreciation for Mr. Musk’s vision and skill as an innovator.
People who assumed that Elon Musk wasn’t drunk posting bit hard and bought lots of Tesla. They got sucked in believing it would go to $420 per share. The stock is currently at $277. If you kept score at home, there are at least a few buyers who got hosed to the tune of 33%. “So what?” A logical realist could ask. “Do really trust that jerk-off at the dealership trying to sell you a Toyota Highlander? If lying were illegal, Cory Booker would be living under a bridge in Newark with his good buddy T-Bone.” In a philosophical sense, we should perhaps let Charles Darwin sort out the people stupid enough to buy wooden nutmegs in Connecticut. In reality, that’s not how American law reads as it pertains to NBC, CNN or The New York Times.
The hard Libertarian may or may not think this good law. Ken Lay is unavailable for comment and the attorney representing Elizabeth Holmes told her to shut her yap, get back in the kitchen, and fetch him up a sammich and a beer. Only Jon Corzine knows enough powerful Democrats to avoid having to obey the law. The law quite simply states that you cannot lie about how great your company is over a large, public form of media.
Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey are far more intelligent than law-abiding. They clearly hire the type of government regulators and lawyers that lampreys won’t eat out of professional courtesy. I admire the devious trap-door they’ve given themselves to get out of this mess.
The SEC’s position on the use of social media to make corporate disclosures has evolved as those technologies have become more mainstream. The regulator in April 2013 approved using social media to announce key information, so long as companies tell investors which channels will be used. The SEC filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk for securities fraud over a market-moving tweet in August about possibly taking Tesla private. The news is just the latest development in a tumultuous year for the CEO. Tesla told investors in a November 2013 filing to follow Mr. Musk’s personal Twitter feed for “additional information” about the company. According to the complaint, Tesla’s chief financial officer described Mr. Musk’s Twitter statements as a “strong channel of marketing,” with Mr. Musk acting as a “spokesman” for Tesla.
This is exquisite blame-shifting. Jack Dorsey didn’t say Twitter was a relevant media source. Elon Musk did. Twitter didn’t ask for this. You can’t go around being mean and blaming them or anything. Best damn government money can buy! I actually feel for the SEC on this one. They stopped fapping to the internet porn, came out of their regulatory coma, and attempted to protect vulnerable consumers in a complex market. Whether you believe this to be noble virtue or toxic, economic White Knighting can be left aside. These pathetic, out-gunned GS-13 shlubs are trying to do their jobs. Trying to do them with guys like Zuckerberg and Dorsey wargaming against them from ‘Frisco to DC is the equivalent of being the Lead Fecal Engineers over at The Augean Stables.
So the government will take the easy route. They will beat the crap out of Elon Musk. That has entertainment value and isn’t the worst possible outcome here. That still leaves the real problem. Social media is able to play the clown-mask game here. They offer a big enough pipe to handle the mass dissemination of information, but currently bear the responsibility that would come with being a recreational forum. Any smart social media boss would like this to remain the case.
Important major media events increasingly do occur on platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter. This should, by United States Code, make them fall under all the legal provisos that weigh on Fox, CBS and CNN. Social media would obviously still appreciate being regulated as if they were the place average people went to get drunk and shit post under someone else’s cat pictures and insane political opinions. That will no longer work. Elon Musk is not an average guy and he’s using the socials the same way General Electric would use The Wall Street Journal. This begs the question, just how seriously should we all be taking Facebook and Twitter?