Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...


Everything but tech support.

0814, 20 Oct 20

Time to regulate Facebook, Twitter like the publishers they are

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I know what you’re thinking… what the heck did President Hayes do to make the news this week? You’ll have to read and see.

In the 20th century the common carrier that dominated technology for the better part of 70 years was AT& T. In exchange for a monopoly on long-distance lines and the ability to use eminent domain, AT&T agreed to let the government regulate their rates and, what was critical, to not discriminate against what was said on those lines. This was a stark contrast to the great monopoly of the telegraph, Western Union, which might have helped sway the presidential election of 1876 to Rutherford B. Hayes by secretly providing the Hayes campaign the Democrats’ telegrams and suppressing others. AT& T’s great bargain was to agree to be regulated in exchange for a monopoly.


0814, 20 October 2020


  1. dad29


    A local economic Libertarian yammers on and on about ‘private property rights’ while conveniently forgetting the reason for ATT (and electric utilities’) regulation.

    One doesn’t have to love Big Gummint to understand the necessity of regulations.  This has never been a question of “yes/no” to mature adults; rather, it has always been a question of degree.

    FB, Google, Twitter built near-monopolies.  Good for them!!  Not they’ll have to live with what they did to themselves.

  2. jonnyv

    Can this be extrapolated to ISPs? ISPs have a first amendment right to block whatever website they want. If they began to block Democrat of Republican based websites do we have a problem with that? Currently they haven’t blocked individual sites, but there is evidence they have prioritized certain traffic at certain times. How much different are these two scenarios?

  3. Kevin Scheunemann

    Look at Democrats looking to defend big corporate monopolies.. .

    These radical leftists should be voting Trump if they are truly against these big corporate monopolies.

  4. Tuerqas

    Don’t know what you are reading outside of the name of the commenter Kevin, but no one here is defending corporate monopolies.

    This lifelong Libertarian understands that there is need for some regulation and align perfectly with Dad29’s comment, it is a matter of degree.

    It is a good question Jonnyv, it probably has not been publicized precisely because they have not banned one side of any group/argument/commentary, etc. to date.  There are also between 15-20 Tier 1 networks and there are then Tier 2 and Tier 3s.  I don’t know that much about them really, but that many can be argued that there is no monopoly, so I would say it is not in the same class as the Post topic.

  5. Mike

    ISPs, Internet Service Providers, are the gateways to our digital world. They should not be allowed to block sites. Illegal domains are seized by the government and any other sites should be open to everyone.

    How does one make his voice heard in a digital world?

    The traditional cornerstone of free speech is the ability to shout out your views from the street corner or town square. The problem now is that we have a whole digital world, and while the digital streets and sidewalks are public, the gateways to those streets and sidewalks are owned by private entities.

    Facebook and Twitter built their whole business model on being those gateways. Now they want to limit speech to what they approve. Since there is no digital equivalent to walking to the corner or town square they should be limited to only restricting speech as far as what would be limited in the town square.

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