On Regulating, or Even Nationalizing, Social Media Firms

Wil Wheaton on Google Potentially Linking “Up-Votes” on YouTube to GooglePlus:

“Oh, go fuck yourself, Google. This is just as bad as companies forcing me to “like” something on Facebook before I can view whatever it is they want me to “like.”

Just let me thumbs up something, without forcing me to “upgrade” to G+, you dickheads.

The worst part of this? For a producer like me, I’m going to lose a crapton of potential upvotes for Tabletop, because the core of my audience is tech-savvy and may not want to “upgrade” to yet another fucking social network they don’t want or need.


Those upvotes are incredibly important to us, because we need them to earn another season of our show.

I’m even more grateful now than I was yesterday that we own the IP for Tabletop, because we can produce it ourselves, or crowdfund with Kickstarter, or something like that, if Google keeps doing things like this that will negatively affect how users can interact with us on YouTube.”

Peter Frase via Jacobin:

“Even before Facebook, it always seemed to me that Google’s search engine, for example, was an immensely important and valuable social utility, and one that’s too important to be left in the hands of a single private sector company. So my suggestion, only a bit joking, would be that we ought to nationalize Google and Facebook.


The “stuff” that flows through Facebook’s network—the shares, connections, messages, etc.—is a sort of currency, less like the electricity that you get from the power company and more like the money that’s exchanged between bank customers. An electric company actually creates electricity, but Facebook doesn’t create its content any more than banks create money. (Yes, I know, banks kind of do create money, just bear with my simplification for a moment.) So the paradigm we need is not necessarily a single regulated or nationalized social network, but a tightly regulated social networking system that allows people to communicate across multiple social network institutions.


And to turn this back around again, the way retail banking is currently structured may not even work very well for banking, much less as a model for social networking. As Ashwin Parameswaran has argued, there’s a good case for replacing federally-insured private banks with a public bank to take retail deposits, something like the postal banking system. So maybe we’re back to nationalizing Facebook after all. I certainly wouldn’t be sorry to see Mark Zuckerberg expropriated.”

Image from CafePress

2 thoughts on “On Regulating, or Even Nationalizing, Social Media Firms

  1. seth

    I have had this though myself. In the case of google I don’t see any reason to because there are plenty of other search engines to use.

    The FB arguement may be a bit stronger, because even if there were good alternatives FB basically has a monopoly on users (sure you can move to a different site, but no one will be there.)

    Still, having the gov. control FB doesn’t make me feel much better about it. There is a cool site Zurker that just started that is supposedly owned by the users, features are democratically controlled, and totally private. I think a well structured consumer cooperative like Zurker claims to be would be better than gov. ownership.

  2. Michael ONeil Post author

    From the perspective of treating Google like a utility, search is really the least of it. Having a Gmail address is like having a postal address, at this point. YouTube, Google Docs, Gchat, analytics, and more have created this kind of Google Welfare State that, while not all-encompassing, has a huge impact on how people live online. Citizen-created and owned enterprises are an important piece of the puzzle.

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