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Of Course Zuckerberg’s Calling For Facebook Regulation – Monopolist Incumbents Always Do

It’s being taken as some remarkable sign, that Mark Zuckerberg is calling for regulation of Facebook and social media. It’s not remarkable in the slightest, this is just what monopolist incumbents do and always have done. For any savvy businessman knows – and no one says Zuck isn’t savvy – that regulation protects against new insurgents into the market. Only large and established firms can afford the costs of obeying the regulations, de’ye see?

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Be careful what you wish for: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls for MORE government and outside regulation for social media companies instead of relying on tech firms to police themselves[/perfectpullquote]

Why should he be careful what he wishes for? He’s doing exactly the right thing to protect his own fortune and economic position.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]More regulation over what constitutes harmful content could ‘set a baseline’ for what is prohibited and require companies to ‘build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum’, he continued.[/perfectpullquote]

So, you’re a starting out company hoping to compete with Facebook. Now you’ve got to build one of those systems identifying that harmful content before you can even start. You know, do what Facebook itself hasn’t even done yet and you’ve got to do it before you get going? Nice barrier to market entry that, isn’t it?

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]He said privacy rules such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which took effect in Europe last year, should be adopted elsewhere in the world.[/perfectpullquote]

A number of US media outlets simply don’t bother with the costs of keeping up with GDPR. They just write off the European market by not allowing anyone here to see their content. That is, it’s another barrier to entry. Why wouldn’t a monopolist like such things?

Market incumbents always like things which stop upstarts from disrupting their cosy position. That’s why it’s the large companies that like regulation – they’re the only people with the cashflow to be able to support the overhead of obeying the regulations.

The surprise isn’t that Zuckerberg has said this about Facebook but that anyone will believe this is anything other than a demand that the rest of us protect his company’s position.

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Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
3 years ago

It’s as with the late-early years of the telephone. Multiple companies would refuse to interconnect with each other, resulting in people having to have multiple telephones. (There’s a throw-away line in an early Heinlein about “We’ll get a Bell line for business and a ???? for local calls”). Bell was the biggest and saw the flow of the tide with Congressional investigation into enforced interconnect, and got on the inside to encourage enforced interconnect on their standards, which resulted in Bell’s dominance becoming a monopoly. This history informed the regulators in the early days of mobile telephony – you connect… Read more »

Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
3 years ago

Found it!

My sewing-room became an office and we installed a Bell telephone in
addition to our Home instrument and put them side by side near my

A very common situation before the mid-1910s. And this appears to be the history of the company:

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