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Monday, June 03, 2019

Be very afraid

Big Tech is about to experience its Cersei moment, when it learns the difference between influence and power:
This is the moment the U.S. technology superpowers surely knew was coming: The U.S. government is preparing to crawl all over Google to figure out whether it is an abusive monopolist. Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and the other tech giants should be quaking in their fleece vests.

Bloomberg News and other news organizations reported late Friday that the U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to open an investigation into Google’s compliance with antitrust laws. If it goes forward, an investigation will no doubt be broad, lengthy, messy, and impossible for Google and its investors to predict.

That should terrify Google and every other big technology company — because there’s no guarantee that the antitrust Klieg light will turn on one company alone.

This isn’t Google’s first antitrust rodeo. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2013 closed without further action its own antitrust investigation into whether Google wielded its dominant web search engine like a cudgel to disadvantage rivals, drive up prices for advertisers and ultimately harm consumers. (Google did agree to some voluntary changes.)

And in recent years, the European Union antitrust watchdog imposed billions of dollars in fines after finding antitrust violations, including over how Google conducted business with its Android smartphone software and its internet shopping service. In the U.S. and elsewhere, politicians from all party stripes have sought to attack Google or other tech giants for various perceived sins, including being too big for the good of industry and consumers. Being Google has meant dealing with perennial regulatory and political nightmares.

This latest chapter of “As Google Turns” may have started in January on Capitol Hill. “I don’t think big is necessarily bad, but I think a lot of people wonder how such huge behemoths that now exist in Silicon Valley have taken shape under the nose of the antitrust enforcers,” Bill Barr, now the U.S. attorney general, said to U.S. senators during a confirmation hearing. The DOJ’s chief antitrust enforcer, who represented Google during a merger more than a decade ago, has expressed similar views.

Antitrust investigations are difficult to predict, of course. Once the U.S. government pores over every internal email and business development contract, there’s no telling what it will turn up. If the DOJ moves ahead, it will also be an open invitation for every company or individual with a gripe against Google to pile on, and an investigation will embolden critics of Facebook, Amazon and other tech giants as well.
I've certainly got a complaint or two to register against Twitter, just to name one of the Big Tech companies that will be investigated, as do dozens of other individuals of my acquaintance. I think it might even be a good time to sign up for a few of these converged companies specifically in order to get deplatformed. Several of them are clearly dumb enough to continue the very activities that have put them in the DOJ's sights.

By the way, it will be interesting to see if this serious problem with Google Cloud may have been the cause of everyone's recent streaming issues. It's not necessarily SJW action:
Google experienced several major technical problems Sunday that left YouTube down for many users in the US, South America and Europe. The Alphabet-owned search engine company said its tech troubles began at 12.25pm on Sunday. YouTube's was first reported down at 2.50pm, according to downdetector.com. YouTube, Google Cloud and G Suite services including Gmail were affected, but Google said it believes it has identified the cause of the issue in its cloud network. Some users also said they were having issues with third-party sites and applications including Snapchat, Pokemon Go, Uber, Uber Eats, Vimeo and Discord.  

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51 Comments:

Blogger xavier June 03, 2019 5:16 AM  

Will this investigation spur other countries to do the same?

One possibility I see is that the broken up parts in each country will be separate companies complying fully with local laws.
No more behemoths

Blogger Brett baker June 03, 2019 5:38 AM  

Que the Wagner!

Blogger OGRE June 03, 2019 6:22 AM  

Its about damn time.

This is what government is for.

Blogger John Rockwell June 03, 2019 6:37 AM  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C_BubeBU8E

0:54


DOJ: "Do you feel in charge?"

Tech: "I have monopoly power over all tech"

DOJ: "And you think this gives you power over me?"
Tech:

DOJ: Your money and infrastructure has been important to us.

Tech: "What is this?"

DOJ: "I am your reckoning"

Tech: Breathes heavily*

Tech: Screams in pain* as it is torn apart.

Blogger Steb June 03, 2019 6:47 AM  

@1 I doubt the US government is going to transfer ownership of the biggest companies on earth to non US interests.

Given that youtube loses so much money I can't see how they could force them to sell it either. Who would buy it?

My bet would be that they'll have to start selling ad space to resellers, instead of selling it directly. That way they lose a lot of their editorial control. Also they could be forced to open up their API, so that other companies could offer YouTube-like front pages with their own trending sections but still using the same video hosting and structure.

Blogger Cataline Sergius June 03, 2019 6:55 AM  

Forget monopoly malpractices.

The problem that needs a BIG spotlight is the public mental health crisis that big tech has openly encouraged.

Twitter and Facebook have taken the massively delusional and put them in the driver's seat.

Instapundit is right, social media is driving us crazy.

Blogger dienw June 03, 2019 6:56 AM  

If Google, Facebook,etc. really are partially funded behind the scenes by the CIA and other intelligence agencies, then those hidden actors are going to obstruct the investigation.

Blogger Stilicho June 03, 2019 7:07 AM  

I miss Netscape

Blogger BastionHarm June 03, 2019 7:12 AM  

Cataline Sergius wrote:Forget monopoly malpractices.

The problem that needs a BIG spotlight is the public mental health crisis that big tech has openly encouraged.

Twitter and Facebook have taken the massively delusional and put them in the driver's seat.

Instapundit is right, social media is driving us crazy.


Highly recommended reading in that regard:

http://www.holytrinitypublications.com/Book/398/The_New_Media_Epidemic.html

If we realize how gravely sick is our civilization, we may gain strength to resist.

Philosopher and patrologist Dr Jean-Claude Larchet, renowned for his examinations of patristic writings on the causes and consequences of spiritual and physical illness, here diagnoses the pathologies of new media in a society that is eager for speed, proximity and immediacy. Writing in an accessible and straightforward manner he examines the harm and illusion brought by the invasion of digital devices—from radio to networked smart phones and beyond. He analyzes their all-encompassing impact on society and personal life.


An article with excerpt:

https://orthodoxlife.org/contemporary-issues/larchet-new-media-spiritual-life/

Blogger Stilicho June 03, 2019 7:16 AM  

@dienw they don't call it Alphabet for no reason. Nothing else explains it's meteoric rise on the back of an indistinguishable search engine. Playing con games with advertisers helped, but wasn't enough to explain it either.

One Site to rule them all
One Site to find them
One Site to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them!

Imagine what a universal backdoor to all of Google's illicitly collected Data would do for CIA or NSA.

Blogger Gregory the Tall June 03, 2019 7:26 AM  

Listening to yesterday's Darkstream I started reflecting on "algorithm decay", a term I first came across in your deplatformed book "The Corroding Empire". What I was thinking is this:
Whilst algorithms may not decay by themselves as long as the hardware and the software steering them are stable, they might become almost unfixable by human intervention once they have reached a certain degree of complexity. Take the term "white supremacy" for example. If you establish algorithms that will suppress all results from websites that "promote", "accept" or "excuse" "white supremacy" (or regard it as a fact of history), how do you at the same time not suppress websites bashing "white supremacy"? It is obvious that these things are complicated, especially if a guy from India creates the first set of algorithms regarding this topic and a year later another software genius from the Congo tries to "improve" on it. After a few such fixes Google might ban from its search results all websites that say "Whatever you choose from our range of beverages - milk or cocoa - both are equally good."

Blogger RedJack June 03, 2019 7:51 AM  

That may be the goal. The Alphabet soup agencies do not play well together

Blogger Cataline Sergius June 03, 2019 8:15 AM  

Imagine what a universal backdoor to all of Google's illicitly collected Data would do for CIA or NSA

Big Brother and an American NKVD pounding on your door in the middle of the night because your name is on Tonight's List, is the Model T political oppression.

Hari Seldon and Psychohistory is the new hotness.

And I really, wish I was even half joking.

Data science is the all and the everything now.

Have you ever noticed that if you go on Amazon to buy something specific it can be a pain to find it?

That's because the A9 algorithm doesn't really care about showing you what YOU think you WANT, it wants to show you what IT thinks you will BUY. And it's got a great track record for doing just that.

The A9 knows everything you've ever looked at on Amazon, it knows everything you've ever bought, it knows where you live, it knows who you think will buy you stuff on your wishlist and it knows who has actually done so. And it knows all of the above about those people as well.

Amazon's business isn't being an online department store. It's business is the A9 algorithm and Amazon just sells stuff to support that AI.

Data science and the gathering of meta-data is the new Holy Grail that everyone is pursuing relentlessly.

I used to think that psychohistory was an impossibility. Maybe, you could predict major trends in the short term but you can't predict the actions of individuals.

Wrong call. I'm beginning to suspect that in the next twenty years there won't be anything easier.

So forget about Room 101 and all that tedious screwing around with face-rats. It's much more efficient to get people to Thought Police themselves into loving Big Brother.

Blogger Gregory the Tall June 03, 2019 8:27 AM  

@13 "Big Brother and an American NKVD pounding on your door in the middle of the night"...
Actually it will be a robot hound from Boston Mechanics guided by Google Streetview.

Blogger Damelon Brinn June 03, 2019 8:27 AM  

It's fun to watch the shilling on this. One consistent narrative since 2016 has been, "No one can beat the entire US government establishment, not Trump and not you commoners. It's just too powerful, so give it up." But now when USGov goes up against Big Tech, it switches to, "No one can take down Big Tech, not the US government and not you pitiful users. They have too much money and power, just give it up." I guess it depends on who's paying for the narrative.

Blogger Stilicho June 03, 2019 8:28 AM  

@Cataline Amazon's algorithm (when did we stop calling them computer "programs" btw?) really sucks ass at predicting what I will buy or want to see. Every time I find myself forcing searches for specific items until I eventually track it down.

For example, let's say I bought the first three Dresden books from amazon. Next time I log on and search for "dresden files" or "Jim butcher" you would think amazon would suggest book 4, d, 6, etc. No. Amazon might suggest book 10, some other series by Butcher, and mostly a bunch of crap by authors I've never heard of and will never read.

Blogger Mystic On Main June 03, 2019 8:32 AM  

I've only known one person personally who was deplatformed for writing their views (on Facebook). It was a particularly nasty and on point comment about a college professor. However, what I don't know is the part of the law that might prohibit a private company from enforcing its ideology on the content it hosts.

There may be lots of talk of deplatforming the Right, but the only way to actually stope this via government regulation is be declaring a company a public utility. But that's not going to happen, especially to Facebook or Google. Doing so would essentially grant these companies an official status that necessarily leads to monopoly status and the GOP is a lot of things, as is Trump, one thing they are not is willing to grant official monopoly status to Facebook and Twitter.

The far more likely outcome is an anti-trust challenge to the likes fo Google and Facebook.

Oddly, it's Amazon that really needs looking at as a monopolist, yet there seems to be no interest in bringing Amazon to the congressional table.

Blogger Gregory the Tall June 03, 2019 8:46 AM  

@15 another part of the shilling is: the government investigates Google not to break it up (which would be good), but only to get access to all of Google's data (which would be evil, and we should all be very pessimistic and depressed about it).

Blogger Damelon Brinn June 03, 2019 9:17 AM  

I've only known one person personally who was deplatformed for writing their views (on Facebook).

You must not know many people to the right of Jeb Bush. FB is currently handing out 7- and 30-day bans like candy, for comments that are years old. While those aren't complete deletions, it effectively deplatforms anyone who was using it to promote an organization or project.

Blogger Cataline Sergius June 03, 2019 9:27 AM  

@16 Stilicho

Granted the A9 terrible at predicting specifics you're hot to buy.

However, I can't be the only one to have gone on Amazon looking for something and it suggested something else. And my I admittedly rather worrying reaction was, "oh, that will work even better than what I was looking for."

Blogger Mystic On Main June 03, 2019 9:39 AM  

"You must not know many people to the right of Jeb Bush. FB is currently handing out 7- and 30-day bans like candy, for comments that are years old. While those aren't complete deletions, it effectively deplatforms anyone who was using it to promote an organization or project."

It's more a matter of not knowing many people who care to use Facebook to communicate or make their views public.

Blogger Damelon Brinn June 03, 2019 10:26 AM  

@21, Ah, so when you clearly implied that FB isn't really deplatforming that many right-wingers, and then probably when they are "particularly nasty," you were basing that on a lack of information. Got it.

Blogger Gregory the Tall June 03, 2019 10:40 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Brian Niemeier June 03, 2019 10:44 AM  

Speaking of Amazon, they're next.
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-06-03/google-amazon-face-new-pressure-after-revamp-us-antitrust-agencies

Blogger Tom Bridgeland June 03, 2019 10:53 AM  

The US Gov is leaving lots of money on the table while Euro govs are skimming billions from Google. I can see the US gov wanting to get in on the action.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd June 03, 2019 10:59 AM  

Stilicho wrote:@Cataline Amazon's algorithm (when did we stop calling them computer "programs" btw?)

The program is an implementation of the algorithm. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between m-expressions and s-expressions.

Blogger binks webelf June 03, 2019 11:04 AM  

"I've only known one person personally who was deplatformed for writing their views (on Facebook)."

Well, here's another one.. I've been banned 14 weeks in 2019 for wrong think. The latest one was negatively quoting Goebbels, which makes me a Nazi, you see. Another friend of mine has been tossed repeatedly into FB-jail for links & language criticizing tr@nssexu@ls, and the LGBT2QIP+ mafia.

https://steynian.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/the-simple-new-math/
The Simple New Math

https://steynian.wordpress.com/2019/04/25/my-own-most-grievous-fault/
My Own Most Grievous Fault…

https://steynian.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/booted-off-facebook-3rd-time-lucky/
Booted Off Facebook.. 3rd Time Lucky?

Blogger Gregory the Tall June 03, 2019 11:14 AM  

@22 Actually I, too, do not know any deplatformed Facebooker personally, but I have no problem believing the very numerous reports about this happening. Also there is nothing I would put past Zuckerberg and his minions.

Blogger Avalanche June 03, 2019 11:28 AM  

@14 "Actually it will be a robot hound from Boston Mechanics guided by Google Streetview."

Then maybe if you offer "nice doggie!" some nuts-and-bolts drenched in motor oil, doggie will curl up in the corner and go to sleep?

Blogger Avalanche June 03, 2019 11:31 AM  

@16 "let's say I bought the first three Dresden books from amazon. ... Amazon offers ... mostly a bunch of crap"

Of course, because you have already identified yourself as a hater, so they're trying to woo you away to the "light"-headed side! Or, since that's never going to happen, they are taking malicious pleasure in making you work harder to give them your money!

Blogger Solon June 03, 2019 11:52 AM  

Off topic, but I really enjoy the Dresden Files series, and hate everything else by Jim Butcher.

He really nailed the "White Knight Secret King Gary Stu" thing with Dresden, and I think it resonates with my own recovering-gamma self, although the last time I read through the series, I found myself rolling my eyes a whole lot more than I remember on the first read-through.

Blogger Solon June 03, 2019 11:58 AM  

@Tom Bridgeland

If the US government wanted to skim money off of Amazon and Google, all it has to do is revoke their many (MANY) tax exemptions.

The reason they have not done so can only be concluded that they're putting money INTO Big Tech, and they never really expected anyone to dig into it too closely (she was never supposed to lose!)

That Trump's team is now putting them in their sights has got to have a LOT of people in both California and D.C. VERY worried. (Inb4 "BOOM," "PANIC," etc.)

Blogger Zander Stander June 03, 2019 12:24 PM  

I can almost believe google is just another private company that grew too big for its britches and now needs some discipline. In no way can it be an organ for the deep state three letter agencies, can it, if the state itself is administering the discipline?

Blogger Gregory the Tall June 03, 2019 12:30 PM  

@29 a really good jamming device might be more useful, once you have got that running the robot hound will good-naturedly roll onto its back begging you to tickle it.

Blogger James Dixon June 03, 2019 2:11 PM  

Hmm...: https://www.wsj.com/articles/ftc-to-examine-how-facebook-s-practices-affect-digital-competition-11559576731

Behind a paywall, but the headline gives the gist of the matter.

Then there's this: https://seekingalpha.com/news/3468678-doj-heading-apple-antitrust-probe-reuters

Things do appear to be heating up.

And speaking of legal proceedings, Neon makes the mistake of going with IndieGoGo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/revolution-q#/

What's the over/under on how soon they cancel it?

Blogger DonReynolds June 03, 2019 2:16 PM  

Men make decisions, like placing bets at the gambling wheel. When those decisions turn out to be bad, there are penalties. A single bad decision can mark a man for life, even it was not considered a bad decision until decades later. Good ones are expected, and sometimes rewarded.

Women are held to no such expectation. They are free to change their mind, as often and dramatically as they need or want to, without penalty. Fallen women can be retread and rehabilitated. Clean them up and fresh clothes and the past mistakes are nothing more than a family secret.

Google and the other Tech Giants think and behave like women. That does not mean that women do all the thinking. It just means that whomever is running the store is thinking and acting like a woman. Change your mind, change your ways, change your past decisions, and all will be forgiven. It would even be rude of anyone to bring up the past. There are no penalties only the inconvenience of being yelled at.

Blogger Dave June 03, 2019 2:57 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger S1AL June 03, 2019 3:06 PM  

'However, I can't be the only one to have gone on Amazon looking for something and it suggested something else. And my I admittedly rather worrying reaction was, "oh, that will work even better than what I was looking for."'

The big difference between A and FNG is that A is still (primarily) in the business of selling you things, rather than selling you.

And they're really quite good at it.

Blogger SirHamster June 03, 2019 3:35 PM  

Zander Stander wrote:In no way can it be an organ for the deep state three letter agencies, can it, if the state itself is administering the discipline?

It is a mistake to treat the government as a monolithic entity.

Blogger Dave June 03, 2019 4:17 PM  

Interesting gab re-post by Neon Revolt. Were the recent technical problems Google was facing related to this? An Anon claiming to work at Google says Q team involved in thwarting Google's attempt to destroy evidence. Q was onto something about Google and NK. People are legitimately panicked right now. People are going to prison.

Too crazy even for Alt Hero: Q? Would make a hell of a story, either way.

Correct link:
https://gab.com/NeonRevolt/posts/QkF6MTBtYis1RTNQREYyTEhpSTFwZz09

Blogger JG June 03, 2019 6:56 PM  

The cynic in me wonders if all this anti-trust action is just a ploy to increase campaign contributions from tech companies.

Blogger Mystic On Main June 03, 2019 7:09 PM  

"@21, Ah, so when you clearly implied that FB isn't really deplatforming that many right-wingers, and then probably when they are "particularly nasty," you were basing that on a lack of information. Got it."

Not what I meant to imply at all. It's pretty clear platforming is going on regularly. I was just passing on my own personal experience and suggesting that in order to stop the deplatforming via government intervention, there may need to be a declaration that social media firms are public utilities.

Blogger MichaelJMaier June 03, 2019 7:19 PM  

I have no sympathy for the de-platformers being ripped apart. And I don't care who does it. They declared themselves my enemy, for nothing more than my expressing my opinions.

Yet.... Why do I suspect they will beg for help from "free speechers"?

Blogger Snidely Whiplash June 03, 2019 7:46 PM  

MichaelJMaier wrote:Yet.... Why do I suspect they will beg for help from "free speechers"?
And the Conservatives and Libertarians will line up to tell you why and how you must feel pity for your corporate masters. If the government tells a corporation what to do, it's the last step before the extermination camps, boys!

Blogger Dirk Manly June 03, 2019 9:04 PM  

@33

"I can almost believe google is just another private company that grew too big for its britches and now needs some discipline. In no way can it be an organ for the deep state three letter agencies, can it, if the state itself is administering the discipline?"

If Google and Facebook are working for the CIA, and President Trump was recruited by those who side with the NSA, then it's not only conceivable, it's almost inevitable.

There's nothing new about this:

Reporter: "How's the war going?"

Commander Crewson: "Which one? The one between the army and the navy, the one between the navy and the marines, or the one between the army and the marines?"

Reporter: "Why, the one against the Japs, of course!"

Cmdr Crewson: "Awww, nobody cares about them!"

--From "Kiss them for Me" (1957).

Blogger Silly but True June 03, 2019 10:42 PM  

Google should have tipped.

Now it's getting a rake.

Blogger Damelon Brinn June 04, 2019 8:14 AM  

In no way can it be an organ for the deep state three letter agencies, can it, if the state itself is administering the discipline?

The state of 2019 isn't identical to the state of 2015. It took two years of firing and replacing people, but organs like the FBI, FTC, and DoJ are finally starting to do their jobs again, at least at times in some cases. This is causing some confusion for people who have seen them do nothing but cover up crimes and enforce political patronage for 30 years or more.

Blogger James Dixon June 04, 2019 8:46 AM  

In yet more news: https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/03/antitrust-tech-industry-google-facebook-1352388

Apparently they're not banning wrong thinkers fast enough to suit the House dems.

And Zuckerberg may be feeling the heat: https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-investors-vote-to-fire-mark-zuckerberg-as-chairman-2019-6

Blogger Ominous Cowherd June 04, 2019 12:42 PM  

JG wrote:The cynic in me wonders if all this anti-trust action is just a ploy to increase campaign contributions from tech companies.

Whatever the intent, it will surely have that effect.

Blogger eclecticme June 04, 2019 6:56 PM  

@49. Ominous Cowherd June 04, 2019 12:42 PM

JG wrote:
The cynic in me wonders if all this anti-trust action is just a ploy to increase campaign contributions from tech companies.

Whatever the intent, it will surely have that effect.

The book Extortion goes into detail on proposed changes to the Internet/copyright laws. It was Silicon Valley vs. Hollywood. Congress milked both sides dry then dropped the proposed law.

Blogger eclecticme June 04, 2019 7:02 PM  

Big tech certainly does suck up to power though.
Styxhexenhammer666 reported that Twitter suspended lots of accounts critical of China on the anniversary of Tienanmen Square. Oops.
https://youtu.be/f6hw8HaiD5M

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