By: Jeffrey Wernick
In academia there is an expression, “Publish or Perish.” Now it seems that platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter an appropriate expression might be that if we decide not to publish you, you will virtually perish.
The definition of a publisher is the one that serves as an intermediary between the authors the publication and the consumer market. The publisher chooses the content, decides what to publish and monetizes the content. They sell subscriptions and sell advertising. Publishers have the discretion to publish what they want and reject what they do not want. And it is their sole discretion to choose content. They can reject content with or without reason. And what they choose to publish, they are liable for as if they wrote it themselves.
Platforms were given an exemption from this liability because they represented themselves as neutral and agnostic to what was posted and they are only a platform that distributes content. The term social media is a propaganda term. A marketing term. It is not social media. It is not a public forum. They are private companies curating content and monetizing the content they curate. And many pay for access so their monetization model is almost identical to any other publishing company. Only they do not produce physical content. Only online content. And how you submit is different. And how they curate is a different model. But, like a relationship with a publishing company, the author produces the content, the entity decides to distribute it and the publisher monetizes the content. The main difference is that you have some say in who it gets distributed to. But no say in how it gets monetized and no say if it gets distributed. That is retained by the platform/publisher.
This loophole exemptions granted these so-called platforms should be an outrage to all of us.
We have also learned, thanks to whistleblowers, that these entities
activities are not only related to publishing and monetizing content
according to the criteria they choose. A criteria totally opaque and
without due process. Which is their right. There is no law to compel
them to be transparent and should not be worthy of our trust. But,
again, personal choice to submit content to entities for any other
reason than it will get you the largest audience.
The recent disclosures, now from several insiders, plus the work of
Robert Epstein, have me conclude not only that they are publishers
but actively engaged in partisan political activity which, seem to be,
should be subject to oversight of the FEC and be considered in-kind
campaign contributions and PAC activities subject to the necessary
disclosures and would most likely cause them to restate their
financial reports and tax returns. It is unclear to me how much time,
money and resources they spend with an ideological agenda to
influence the political process for the benefit of certain political
candidates, the detriment to others. And to advocate a specific issue
on public policy to the detriment of alternative points of view. And,
again, I am not denying their right to do so. Only to label their
activities correctly and subject them to the requisite laws, rules and
regulations once labeled accurately.
The interview with Zachary Vorhies seems to me to be su cient to
warrant an investigation into Google acting as a Foreign Agent. I
would speculate to say that probably Facebook and Twitter have
removed content and/or possibly vetted content according to
comments made by other state actors. Until we have full disclosure
we have no idea as to whether they should be subject to having them
register as Foreign Agents. Maybe their compensation is some form
of quid pro quo. I believe there is probable cause for the Justice
Department to open up an investigation.
Google. Facebook. Twitter. They are not social media. They are not
public forums. A public forum respects the First Amendment. And
does not monetize content.
They are private companies operating opaquely in the digital
domain exempt from discovery or accountability and with a
Congressional exemption to do whatever they want and be granted
the status of being above the law. I think to focus on the antitrust
perspective is so inadequate.
They are evil. Worse. They are Congressionally mandated evil.
Joseph Goebbels would be envious. As would Leni Riefenstahl. And I
am not accusing them of being Nazis. I am accusing them of
mastering the art of propaganda and with one of the goals to
demonize those who they philosophically disagree with. Demonize
and dehumanize. To virtually exterminate.
By: Jeffrey Wernick