Terry Gross had Tim Wu on NPR’s Fresh Air this afternoon to discuss his new book on how advertising has ruined the internet. He coined the term “Net Neutrality,” and Congress passed a law forbidding companies from censoring content for their own interests. WordPress does exactly this when they require an extortion fee in exchange for the accessibility to ones website, and otherwise limiting writers to small groups or bubbles. The loophole in the law is that there is nothing I can do about this without money to go to court, and my book has already failed and my economy is already destroyed. It was my last chance, and tuned out to be the last rigged game.
Tim Wu is the second person I have head use the word “fascism” to describe Donald Trump. Wu had some vey enlightening comments on tyranny and propaganda, and the similarity of these to advertising. He points out that Hitler was not only an artist in his pre-political career, but also an add man. That’s Ok, America, after the experience of tyranny, we will just do what Germany did after the war, and shop elsewhere. The free market will surely take care of it, and they’ll see if we hire them to do this to the rest of our children!
What Tim Wu and all others fail to appreciate is the importance of the Fourth Amendment and the disaster of allowing the gathering of information for “marketing” purposes. Congratulations to Facebook for delivering that trove of information to the Russians to use in whatever diabolical way they can imagine. Or to ISIS, or to a future tyrant of America. That was very smart. And we Americans thought is was all a conflict between profit and bashfulness, like the worst problem is the guy with pancreatic cancer getting adds for funeral homes or the girl who found out she was pregnant from Target due to her shopping habits. The very minimum is that if this stuff is allowed, it should be voluntary. But the Big companies have gone to Congress, who has whored our liberty.
Another thing Tim Wu does not appreciate is the huge gulf between voluntary add watching and compulsory shopping. I retreat and boycott, for example, U-tube when they force me to watch an add. Boycotting may indeed be an effective way for the people directly to take back the internet. Another is to sue every time these excesses cause harms that can be compensated. But especially, Congress must be made aware of the problem, you know, by we who work for free to look ahead for the good of their constituents. The citizens must elect a Congress that can step aside the campaign finance problem by recovering integrity. This is possible, and even easy, since these companies are suck ups to the profit principle, and, like Dolphin safe tuna, we just have to make integrity profitable.