The senators who are regulating social media show, once again, that they don't understand it

Originally published at: The senators who are regulating social media show, once again, that they don't understand it | Boing Boing


This isn’t that big a deal. When they understand what we are talking about, that is the time to get worried.


This is one of the reasons why Facebook will ultimately win this battle. Might not be today, but it will be sometime in the near future. Just like how a bunch of old people on the hill tried to scare parents with Night Trap in the 90’s and the video game biz ultimately won that battle too. It’s a safe bet that Zuck is using that same playbook.

I’m sure a ton of 4th and 5th graders already have these accounts minus the parental checks but what the company wants is legitimization of those accounts to advertise and target. Facebook is definitely evil because they know how media illiterate people are including lawmakers and they wargamed a ton of scenarios like this one out a bunch of times.


This is to be expected. Our Lords and Masters are, after all, the creators of reality – it’s for others to adapt. Therefore, ‘finsta’ is a real thing Facebook provides, and must drop when commanded to do so.

You can observe this if you ever watch “hearings” on C-SPAN. The Committee members do all the talking, including long speeches during their “question” time. The “witnesses” often get no chance at all to reply.


Yep, the fact that he can read the definition that has been already been provided to him but gets it entirely wrong in normal conversation is proof that he has no clue of what he is talking about. He has talking points and pre-planned statements to speak into the record, and that’s all that’s important to him. Understanding it? Not his goal.


Facebook is actually perfectly happy with this institutional incompetence. They will simply create a “Finsta” program, and then end it, and provide documentation of it to the Senate Committee. Then go on biz as usual.


That this 1990s-vintage “I’m above this nerdy kid stuff and don’t need to know about it” Beltway attitude toward not only the technical but also the business architecture of digital companies persists into the 21st century is not only vexxing but also now endangers the republic.

With the Internet being such a critical and integral aspect of every citizen’s life, by this time we should have a dedicated cabinet secretary for it in the White House and also its own, more expansive, Congressional committees (not just the existing sub-committees under Energy and Commerce). Instead, I’m willing to bet that some senior members of Congress (and certainly The Former Guy) from both parties still insist that their aides print out their daily e-mails on paper for their perusal and hand-written annotation.

Not “perfectly”, since he also insists on characterising them as an official company product instead of a kids’ workaround for FB/Instagram’s weak-by-design verification process. That error allows the slimy company’s exec to undermine his credibility with people (like most Happy Mutants here) who actually do understand these basic facts.

Or at least with making a pretense of it [warning: TVTropes link]. Which is a favourite tactic amongst the smartest evil geniuses.


It’s designed for the specific purpose, that way the internet of shit never get the much needed work over it needs, someday the internet will end regardless.


Don’t these high-powered (low-wattage for sure, but technically high-powered) people have staff?

Don’t they realise they need some technically high-wattage staff who can sit them down and explain things to them and/or carefully script the well-crafted questions that do need asking, as opposed to this random misunderstood cruft?


They purposely hire underlings that know much less then themselves, some call it the circle of life, I call it the death march.


I don’t know if you recall/heard this one:

AOC’s plan to pay her lower-paid staff living wages made news because it was unusual. I get the idea most congressional staffers don’t get paid a living wage (DC has a high cost of living) and those that do are just patronage/nepotism appointments. It doesn’t produce the best advice.

But of course this whole discussion is moot unless they listen to advice when they get it, and that feels pretty uncertain.


They have staff, but as @MonkeyT12 notes above actual understanding of the issues is a priority far behind reading off the talking points and questions the aides script for them.

If Blumenthal had truly understood what he was talking about he would have at least questioned the aide about the contention when he reviewed the briefing sheet. But he didn’t understand, probably didn’t even care to, so he ends up looking like a fool.


That’s the mindset I don’t get. Maybe these guys are simply into grandstanding (probably the actual explanation) but if they really wanted to try and skewer some of these witnesses, you’d think they’d ask for and listen to some advice.

Of course the people that would actually give the right advice (EFF, ORG - or its US equivalent) do not lobby with money, so the the deal is probably “we’ll pretend to ask you tough questions in public but as long as the money flows, it’s all just for effect”.

The aides are not writing very good questions, assuming their low-wattage bosses can actually read a script. (Dangerous assumption.)


The takeaway here shouldn’t be that our legislators don’t understand social media, but that our legislators don’t understand what they are legislating. It is a much broader indictment.


I’m actually a little surprised that instagram doesn’t seem to have as much of Facebook’s push for using real identities. I always thought it was Zuckerberg’s thing that he wanted to get rid on anonymity.

Staff allowances got whacked along with the Congressional Research Service back in ~1993 (Gingrich). Since then keeping Congress dependent on lobbyists has been a low-key Republican priority. Democrats haven’t made reversing and rebuilding a priority since then.


The average senator is too geriatric to understand modern issues, too corrupt to care, and either too entrenched in the party machinery to vote out or likely to be primaried by a red-hatted fuckwit who is orders of magnitude worse. It is a shitty and endless struggle and we are slowly choking to death on our own idiocy.


Isn’t this the Finsta you’re referring to?


Okay, so… I didn’t know what “Finsta” meant either. However if I was going to be doing a congressional hearing about it, I would take the five minutes required to go google it and understand what it means. Why wouldn’t someone in his position do that? I really don’t get it.