Bernie Sanders’ Facebook Nightmare Comes True in D.C.

During the 2016 presidential election, Democrats accused the Republicans of keeping the plans of a super-powerful conservative group secret. Now that’s what they’re doing to their own agenda, according to the New York Times, which writes:

Democrats are preparing new legislation that would tighten restrictions on internet companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, by applying stiffer penalties for the collection and use of user data, imposing new political advertisements disclosure rules and requiring companies to make their networks more secure from hackers and foreign cyberwarfare.

Progressives have long fought companies such as Google and Facebook over their growing political power, charging that they have monetized the political process and systematically tilted the balance in the favor of Republicans.

A similar pattern has surfaced in the recent uproar over Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections. Democratic officials fear that the companies’ private-sector practices — they say — show their willingness to make money off of political advertisements and that technology providers now offer ads targeting individual citizens based on their political leanings.

But the Sanders campaign in 2016 accused Google of being behind a “direct hit” on his campaign with bogus emails targeted at voters that were designed to disrupt Bernie’s campaign.

Sanders knew all along that his email campaign had been largely shut down by Google. I know this because a (former) progressive leader contacted me after the campaign and said the same thing happened to his friends. But Sanders never did anything about it. Instead, he treated Google as a foe.

Sanders allowed Google (and Facebook and Twitter) to manage the Russo-like emails on his behalf to make sure they could look like a whistleblower against the Trump administration (and distract from their own Kremlin-like abuses of power)

The New York Times wrote:

Some Democrats said they were eager to get down to work building a new regulatory regime that could deter the companies’ future political investments and corrupt practices, without as much need to drag in Congress. Mr. [Ron]ny Jackson, who served as chief counsel on the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, said Democrats were beginning to have second thoughts about the wisdom of trying to tackle all these issues at once in Congress.

[email protected]: The Schiff bill is a best case scenario for us. It puts new rules in place quickly and gives us leverage. https://t.co/Iy6onDhw16 — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 8, 2019

Over the past year or so, Facebook and Google have stumbled into some sort of dilemma. These companies’ main goal in trying to make money is politics. They make money selling advertising to campaigns, and hoping to win or influence an election. But what if they end up alienating advertisers and voters? That’s what happened in America’s past – the Internet looks a lot like the printing press in the 17th century. It is a large, single stage for content dissemination and creating campaigns from consumers to buyers and sellers. As publishers, though, it is supposed to put all this together and create a marketplace for product and information where you can buy on the basis of truth. This was the concept.

The impact of such a market was to allow for reliable and positive coordination between buyers and sellers, based on marketplaces being created for things like political advertising, free speech and free trade.

Right now, the market is broken.

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