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FCC Chairman Keeps Up Assault on Social Media (axios.com) 193

Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is doubling down on his critique of tech companies, asking whether social media is "a net benefit to American society" in remarks at the Media Institute on Wednesday. "Now, I will tell you upfront that I don't have an answer." From a report: What he said: Pai made the case that social media has been key to the politicization of many aspects of American life. "Everything nowadays is political. Everything. ... This view that politics-is-all is often made worse by social media," he said, per his prepared remarks.
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FCC Chairman Keeps Up Assault on Social Media

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  • Also (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @02:34PM (#55645283)

    It is also made worse by his policy ideas, so there's that.

    • I can imagine the the napkin that was used to write down the initial idea...."need a way for people to publish ill considered thoughts and get themselves fired or otherwise ostracized. And do in in less than 140 characters. "

      • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

        I can imagine the the napkin that was used to write down the initial idea...."need a way for people to publish ill considered thoughts and get themselves fired or otherwise ostracized. And do in in less than 140 characters. "

        Social media? Do you mean media used by society? Tv's, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, comics, banners, protest placards, radio, music, and I can imagine. Albert Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge.
        Government: govern - to control, ment - the mind. Imagine that.

    • Re:Also (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @05:07PM (#55646617)

      His policy ideas? I am not sure they are really his. I remember very similar ones from 80's Bulgaria.

      The government had become very interested in "Non-formal social groups", and was looking very hard at which ones were beneficial to Communist society, and which one were not. The leader of 'non-beneficial groups" would find themselves harassed and 'counseled' if they were innocuous enough, or set up, compromised, and possibly expelled/fired/reeducated if they were deemed threatening.

      I did not expect to see the same thing happen again when I made a life for myself in the United States. But on the bright side, I guess the criteria by which targets are judged will be different in Trump's America compared to Communist Bulgaria. Although I bet at least two things will not change. There will be a lot of subjectivity involved and Muslims will be on top of the shit list.

      I'm curious as to which operations will end up having been conducted with more skill and success.

      • by sycodon ( 149926 )

        If actually read what he said about Social Media I don't know how anyone can really disagree with his position on it.

        By all indications it does isolate people, cause political divisions, and is a huge waste of time.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Actually, I just did. And you know what? It is scary how much his language mirror the Communist justifications. Losing touch with the real world, divisiveness, contrary to the national values, the works...

          In the 80s, it was about high school students listening to Heavy Metal instead of Communist songs and people's (folk) music, or about minorities or locals discussing their history and traditions. Now, I guess it is a threat to free speech to have a group where you can discuss whatever interests you, if

          • Actually, I just did. And you know what? It is scary how much his language mirror the Communist justifications. Losing touch with the real world, divisiveness, contrary to the national values, the works...

            I agree 100%, hook, line, and sinker. But, social media also manages to make it incredibly easier to create the same kind of environment that not only delivered us the bane of this planet called communism, but also its three identical genital warts: nazism, fascism, and ISIS.

            This is because social media not only permits, but also encourages, the rise of very dense echo chambers. This isn't to say that social media should be banned, quite the opposite as freedom of speech is the one thing I value the most, e

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          If actually read what he said about Social Media I don't know how anyone can really disagree with his position on it.

          By all indications it does isolate people, cause political divisions, and is a huge waste of time.

          It is not the job of the FCC to decide on whether or not social media should exist. Our constitution pretty much says yes it is allowed. We need ways to validate links to see if the information is true or not, and it needs to be in real time and available to everyone who is viewing the link.

          The Internet is basically a commons, or at least it should be. Letting ISPs allow different companies to win and others to lose, is the same as dedicating entire roads for the elite. We would not put up with it. We

  • He dare not confront his boss directly, so he makes veiled statements whose meaning is clear to the Twitmeister.

  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @02:38PM (#55645325) Homepage
    I might be able to agree that social media is not a net benefit to American society. But for entirely different reasons than Ajit Pai.

    Ajit Pai doesn't like it because people can express opinions -- oh my!

    I think it is simply a huge black hole for time that could be productively used for employment, study, personal enrichment, and trolling slashdot. With the additional benefit of avoiding more ads. Don't get me started about TV.
    • by WheezyJoe ( 1168567 ) <fegg.excite@com> on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @03:24PM (#55645737)

      I think it is simply a huge black hole for time that could be productively used for employment, study, personal enrichment, and trolling slashdot. With the additional benefit of avoiding more ads. Don't get me started about TV.

      True this. But let's not start sounding like our grandparents, blaming the fall of Western Civilization on that blasted idiot box [wikipedia.org]. We survived. So will the kids who grew up with the Internet.

      Big Picture, Mr. Idiot Pai is simply performing a pivot [csmonitor.com]; attempting to duck the controversy about Net-Neutrality with a head-fake toward the boogeyman of mean, mean social media (and the rich, nasty, West-Coast libs who own it). Let your mind go soft and go "Gosh, maybe the Internet would be nicer if ISP's could charge more against nasty social-media sites and newspapers that pick on helpless political hacks like Pai and his sweet dear leader." Think nice thoughts while Pai's FCC junks Net-Neutrality and Title II with a party-line vote to open the floodgates to vast new opportunities for ISP profits. I wonder which of his relatives is flush flush flush with Verizon and Comcast stock, ready to take off once they finally have the right to get a piece of every successful internet business' action.

      Put simple, you wanna stream that Disney movie? Not on Comcast's wires you won't, not unless Disney pays Comcast a little extra for that bandwidth. Money money money that will eventually trickle out of you. Oh, sure, you can just pirate from a torrent... but wait! without Net-Neutrality, your ISP can shut that off, completely. VPN? Now they're calling it a business application, costs extra to carry those packets. The possibilities for new fees are as boundless as the Internet itself, with that silly Net-Neutrality out of the way.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        actually that "blasted idiot box" did untold damage to our social fabric,

        look at what is happening to all your stalwart and upstanding TV anchormen, right now

      • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

        Or if you use VPN, they'll just label you a criminal or a terrorists. After all, if you're doing nothing wrong what are you trying to hide.

        There are dark days ahead my friends.

        • I'll let my company fight that fight. I'm required to use the work VPN to work from home, and some of my colleagues work from home a lot more than I do.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Bryansix ( 761547 )

      Ajit Pai doesn't like it because people can express opinions -- oh my!

      At no point in time did he say this. The problem with social media takes a while to explain and I could do a dissertation on it but I doubt anybody would take the time to read it. However, I'll boil down some quick points.

      1) People have short attention spans on the Internet and never learn about any issue to the level required to make an informed opinion

      2) Because of 1, people jump to conclusions about issues

      3) Social media makes 1 and 2 worse by constantly changing the topic in the feed

      4) A few providers

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

        CGP Grey did a good video on why social media is bad. Basically in a world where clicks and comments and shares is the metric, people create content which makes people angry

        This Video Will Make You Angry [youtube.com]

        Or as Andrew Klavan put it 'outrage is the Devil's cocaine'

        See also

        I can tolerate anything except the outgroup [slatestarcodex.com]

        Add in the fact that most social media platforms have a very strong bias because they are full of young, college educated people and that people who try to derail the continuous Three Minute Hate aga

    • by Falos ( 2905315 )

      Excessive chambering (echo or not) has meant a shift in culture, shift in visibility, events, coverage, and consequently our priorities, values.

      Don't assume I say those in a social sense. I mean fiscal.

      Example: We sometimes point out that media/journalism has vaguely general effects of increased negativity. Good times aren't drama. Drama sells. Events and significance sell. Deviation from peace.

      People remark that Stranger Things (never seen any) is unrealistic because who lets their kids out that long? Don'

    • by thomst ( 1640045 )

      DickBreath argued:

      I might be able to agree that social media is not a net benefit to American society. But for entirely different reasons than Ajit Pai.

      [snip]

      I think it is simply a huge black hole for time that could be productively used for employment, study, personal enrichment, and trolling slashdot. With the additional benefit of avoiding more ads. Don't get me started about TV.

      Err ... don't look now, but /. actually IS "social media". It's more about discussion and less about narcissism than, say, Zuckerbook (although there's certainly no shortage of narcissism here!), but it's about social interaction, all the same. And there are, in fact, ads aplenty - a goodly proportion of which come poorly disguised as "stories" - but I'm guessing you use an adblocker, so you don't see them.

      <snark>I'm also unconvinced that a case can be made for /.

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @06:10PM (#55646995) Journal

      Is anyone really surprised? Did anyone honestly not see the parallels between the Great Orange Hitler and the original?

      One of the keys of Hitler's rise to power was the control of information. We now have the head of the FCC drawing upon "fake news" and "alternative facts" to push an agenda to give absolute control of information to a handful of major corporations. Once given, these corporations will be able to filter and manipulate any information flowing through them to their own gain. They'll be able to favor candidates, block news sites, charge ridiculous amounts of money for services, and it will all be perfectly legal.

      It's the perfect end-around of the first amendment. The government can't do anything in regards to freedom of speech, but no such stipulation exists for companies. And without net neutrality, those neo-fascists pricks that run the big ISPs can censor and filter and push whatever they like. They'll be able to freely block candidates that don't support their agenda. They can censor out videos and information they don't like. And if you try to work around their restrictions they'll label you as a criminal or a terrorist.

      This is what these assholes have been dreaming of for years; corporate fascist control of information ensuring that only their candidates remain in power. You'll see, hear, and read only what they want you to. The US will develop it's own great firewall so that all of those "bad influences" don't get in. It'll be done "for your protection". It will be done "for our freedoms". And just like Hitler's Germany, the people will cheer this on as the last vestiges of democracy are destroyed.

      Anyone want to take any bets when the modern day equivalent of the Reichstag is going to take place?
       

      • Come now, still doing the Hitler thing? It doesn't become you. If Trump is Hitler, why aren't you in a camp yet? Donald Trump is such a terrifying fascist dictator that literally no one fears speaking out against him on literally any platform.
        • Currently, we're at about the equivalent time of the Nazis getting authority. The camps didn't come until later.

          The parallels aren't exact, but they're enough to give a bad feeling to any student of 1930s German history. Trump is much less competent than Hitler was, and the US has more resistance than Weimar Germany did, to name what I see as the bigger differences.

          • Holy crap, you are actually non-ironically still pushing the Hitler thing? Do you or do you not know what Godwin's Law is? Jesus Christ you people are delusional. Trump is going to put Jews into camps...fuck this is much worse than I ever thought. He won, get over it. It's long past time to move to the "acceptance" part of the grieving process.
            • I've read a lot about the Third Reich, and how it came to be. Trump isn't Hitler, but Trump supporters are disturbingly like Hitler supporters, and some of Trump's actions are disturbingly like some of Hitler's. I assume other right-wing dictatorships start out similarly, but I haven't studied them enough to be sure. "Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it", and I really, really don't want to repeat certain history. And, yes, this is apparently much worse than you ever thought.

  • asking whether social media is "a net benefit to American society"

    Arguably, most people's lives would probably be better off without social media creeping in like a drug. However, with that said, it's up to the individual if they cut off facebook or keep using it. The unwritten googolth amendment to the constitution is "the right to be a moron".

  • Irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xbytor ( 215790 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @02:39PM (#55645351) Homepage

    "whether social media is "a net benefit to American society" is irrelevant to any discussion of Net Neutrality.

    Whether Twitter is biased is irrelevant to any discussion of Net Neutrality.

    This is just more deflection. Pai has jumped the shark. Anything he says anymore does nothing to contribute to informed discussion.

    Makes me miss Wheeler: he turned out to be far more reasonable than I ever expected and than Pai ever will be.,

    • As long as the check clears the deflected sharks don't matter. Informed discussion as well as an informed electorate are fond memories. But not as fond as SRAM memories.
    • Re:Irrelevant (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @03:10PM (#55645605)

      This is just more deflection. Pai has jumped the shark. Anything he says anymore does nothing to contribute to informed discussion.

      It's worse than that, and Americans should be alarmed and outraged by this.

      You should be alarmed and outraged because he's pas the point of "informed discussion". He's literally counter-attacking the people who have pointed out his lies about net neutrality.

      This is full on Soviet-era deflection, more or less insinuating that you shouldn't listen to Twitter when they say net neutrality is good, because after all, what Twitter does is evil and sketchy and they're probably enemies of the state.

      He has outright decided that facts and informed discussion are pointless, so he's going straight to trying to portray them as not being "net benefit to American society". He's basically threatening them in public that if they continue to disagree with him, things could get messy as they pursue other options to beat them down.

      This is naked thuggery, and people actively refusing to engage in informed discussion. This is making thinly veiled threats at people who point out you're a lying sack of shit.

      If America has reached this point, we're deeply fucked. Because this administration is pretty much showing it will do anything it wants, and if you oppose them they're going to come at you ... basically he's going at Twitter the same way Trump the idiot attacks everyone else on Twitter.

      This is appalling, and pretty much means civility and reason are dead in America. This is essentially an explicit tactic, it's not just some clown who is making false equivalents ... he is deliberately suggesting that Twitter is a bad entity to then say "so don't listen to them when they point out I'm lying".

      He hasn't jumped the shark, but America is in the middle of doing so.

      • Excellent! The age of American Exceptionalism is finally over. America is now just a country like all the others, nothing special about it. A corrupt government, idiot leaders, ignorant population. Can you imagine we used to think of these morons as world leaders? LMAO. How naive. The world is going to be such a better place without them butting in to every situation. The world can solve its own problems and the Americans can go fuck themselves.
      • This is appalling, and pretty much means civility and reason are dead in America.

        It's bad. Nearly as bad as it's ever been. There was some real nasty politics in the past.

        But let's not forget how bad it could be. We could be in open rebellion with sectarian violence. The reds vs the blues with murder and violence in the streets. Like the failed state of Iraq we created and got ~300,000 civilians killed in religious purges, or Syria whose population peaked in 2010. It's a very low bar, but not murdering each other IS a modicum of civility.

      • by mishehu ( 712452 )
        What I find sadly amusing about all this is that Pai is deflecting by attacking social media, and the POTUS has a Twitter appliance rectally fitted...
    • Re:Irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @04:01PM (#55646055) Journal

      This is just more deflection.

      No, it's worse. Pai asks rhetorically whether social media is "a net benefit to American society" and then dodges his own question by saying "Now, I will tell you upfront that I don't have an answer." By doing this, he manages to imply that the answer to his question is "no" without actually saying so. There's a word for this: innuendo.

      Pai has jumped the shark.

      Alas, he's a presidential appointee. We're stuck with him until his term expires.

  • by cyberchondriac ( 456626 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @02:40PM (#55645363) Journal

    it has squat to do with Net Neutrality. He's conflating issues and handwaving. It does not give the FCC justification to allow the foxes to run amok in the henhouse.

    • by Narcocide ( 102829 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @02:53PM (#55645477) Homepage

      Unfortunately this lame ploy will work on 9 out of 10 regular people.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Social" media appeals the most to narcissists, sycophants, conspiracy nuts, and the just flat out crazy. That, however, has absolutely NOTHING to do with net neutrality.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      ""Social" media appeals the most to narcissists, sycophants, conspiracy nuts, and the just flat out crazy." Yes, and Pai was appointed by which massive user of social media?

  • Fuck you Pai (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I don't see the worth of social media either, but it isn't my place, or yours, to dictate what benefits society.

    • None of us can dictate. But we can have opinions. Yes, really. For example, smoking cigarettes does not benefit society. Unregulated polluting of the air and water for corporate profits is also not a benefit to society.
  • by Idou ( 572394 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @02:49PM (#55645443) Journal
    Why does he even bother? Anyone with any remote interest in the subject knows he is nothing more than a paid Verizon shill with an 8 year-old's buzz cut who has no place being the head of the FCC. . .

    Why does he attempt to argue any kind of point online? He is selling out the future of the U.S. for pennies on the dollar and should go to prison for it. He might as well post "FU, bitche$, im gonna get PAID!" every morning when he wakes up, 'cause that is what we imagine he is thinking every time we see his pompous mouth-breather face. . .
  • He's still right about social media and its effects on society.

  • Change it to something, anything, besides his goal of turning the Internet over to the money-hungry ISPs.
  • Pai is obviously trying to prepare the case for how his actions do not represent the subversion of the wishes of the people he should be serving by trying to make a molehill out of a mountain.

    Its clear who he serves, and it ain't the people*.

    *Oh wait, corporations are people !
  • This must be in response to him no longer being able to see free puppies on Twitter anymore:
    https://www.boredpanda.com/mes... [boredpanda.com]

  • ... asking whether social media is "a net benefit to American society" ...

    I imagine the same can be asked of many of the following words: Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

  • Helps me keep in touch with my family. And buy and sell groups for my local community. Thats about it though. )
  • The issue at hand is NN and Title II regulation of ISPs not social media. This play is really starting to get tiresome /w everyone attempting to justify or deflect from their actions by pointing out what others are doing as if it's at all relevant to issue at hand or in any way justifies their own behavior.

    As a separate matter I more or less agree with his sentiments. The media has basically turned itself into a professional trolling operation caring more about hyperbole and fear than useful information,

  • With an alltime low voter turnout last election it's good that people are more interested in politics.

    And no, cat pictures, TV shows, comic book movies, pop music, snapshots of your food, the vast majority of what people discuss is still not political. I'm not convinced he's able to take proper stock of online discussions.

  • Maybe, this is the time to abolish FCC altogether — and have one fewer federal agency?

    No? Too much to ask for us, crazy Libertarians... The Statists do not mind these agencies — so long as they are in their hands...

  • Gotta agree with Pai on this. Social media is a mixed bag, and probably a lot more bad than good.

    I don't use any social media (unless /. counts?), I just watch videos and use old school MUD games and other gaming. I think Facebook and Twitter are stupid and a monumental waste of time. As a gamer, for me to say something is a waste of time.. it's gotta be pretty inane and worthless.

    Sadly, at the same time, I'm observant enough to realize a lot of your average John Doe's actually think Facebook *IS* the In

  • What does that have to do with anything? I swear these politician assholes these days all keep trying to preach the same repeated sermon to their choir in the hopes none of their followers notices his wrongdoings.

  • Instead of social media overtly controlling content, Pai would prefer the ISPs covertly do it.

    Here's an interesting list of who contributes money to whom. [opensecrets.org] AT&T is predominantly Republican while Comcast is predominantly Democrat.

  • Someone should tell Pai that nobody cares about his opinion about what’s sent over the wires. We just want him to ensure that it gets carried in a way that benefits the public.

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