, 13 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
I think these things can all be true:
1) There are legitimate competition arguments for breaking up FB.

2) Breaking up FB does not magically solve the underlying problems.

3) This issue highlights fundamental contradictions in left-ish criticism of tech.
On 1) Silicon Valley used to be a place where the dinosaurs of the past were eaten by the faster, smarter competitors. Huge access to capital and, more importantly, data, has disrupted this for GAFA.
The ability to know what users want is incredibly powerful and is the basis of FB making acquisitions that are widely questioned contemporaneously but later seen as obvious.

The fact that FB-IG or GOOG-YT would never be approved today is already a big pro-competition change.
2) You can undo some of these acquisitions, but that doesn't eliminate the need to make some very hard trade-offs. You just have more companies making the decisions (and perhaps coming to different outcomes).

I discussed some of the trade-offs last year:
The biggest two trade-offs facing countries around the world right now are:

- The desire for privacy and anonymity versus the safety benefits of active policing by social networks.

- Free expression versus safety and control.
3) This topic brings focus to two fundamental contradictions in critiques of tech:

"These companies are too powerful, and I want that power used to squash others' speech."

"These companies should protect our data, but also share it to allow for competition."
Hughes' thoughtful and well-written NYT piece echoes complaints from the conservative-libertarian sphere, that MZ has too much personal control over the speech of billions. I agree.

nytimes.com/2019/05/09/opi…
But many of the people celebrating Hughes' piece have centered Zuckerberg's unwillingness to crack down on speech they consider harmful as a key complaint.

"Tech platforms should censor speech exactly how I personally want" is not a reasonable, adult approach to this problem.
Any increase in censorship increases the power these platforms have over our lives, the number of decisions made in California that define the Overton window for political discourse globally, and the number of mistakes that will unintentionally silence voices.
I had this thought when Sen. Warren released her tech competition piece: the same analysis that demands that Apple or Amazon treat sellers on their platforms fairly is incompatible with the speech control desires of many of her supporters.
Likewise with the contradictions on data portability. Critics are right that ownership of the relationship graph is a massive competitive moat to Facebook. Opening said graph to others to build on has inevitable risks, as it requires allowing other apps to see friend data.
GDPR contains this contradiction: it both calls for data protection while also requiring companies to allow users to automatically move data to competitors.

FB built this once. It was called the GraphAPI v1 and was the root cause of Cambridge Analytica.
Hopefully Hughes' piece sparks some good conversations around balancing these equities.

Lawmakers should use competition policy to create room for more competition. Using it to magically solve fundamental trade-offs is bound to leave them and their constituents disappointed.
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