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Do we Need to Regulate Google and Facebook



Should I now feel any better after reading what Nord has to say?

I keep reminding myself not to feel guilty refusing all those invitations from friends on ‘Trace-book’, to become one, sorry FB.

I have been inoculated. :roll_eyes:

I’m just not sure if it is enough, not knowing what FB collates about individuals who do not have accounts. I’m sure there will be some tagged and digitally mapped pics of me in their database. Perhaps also a link to other details?

Do I now need to get a booster shot and unfriend in the real world real friends? I feel it is too late?

Of course FB is not the only source of similar content. Australian Border Security know a lot too! However I can pretend I might influence that each time I vote. Reality? :thinking:


If you get a script for your browser which tells you who is storing cookies, you’ll find facebook there, looking at your browsing and shopping habits. They dont give a rats whether you are a member of FB or not. I’m still a member of FB but after the next luncheon for ex employees of the mob I used to work for (which is next month) I’ll be dumping it again, for good. I’ve had it with the BS.


I heard the other day that Facebook employs 30,000 content reviewers. The report went on to say that this was more people than there are reporters in the US! My mind is boggled both at that comparison and at what it says about the stuff people are posting on Facebook.


Many of the posts here reflect the growing distrust of social media, that they cannot be trusted with your data and data about you. The evidence for this is pretty strong.

There is another aspect to their operations that worries me as much or more, that they are not trustworthy mediums of mass communication. Traditional media must be socially and legally responsible for anything that they publish. This keeps a cap on (but does not eliminate) slander, lies and manipulation.

Social media claim that they cannot be held responsible as they are mere facilitators not publishers, that the originator is the only one who is accountable. This is a deflection, newspapers cannot use this defence, if a correspondent produces scandal in the letters to the editor the publisher is responsible not the author. Social media is the same and should be treated the same.

Two defences are often offered. First we have a variation on freedom of speech and the ability of the downtrodden masses to get across their point of view anonymously. In the past if you lived in an oppressive regime you had to go to some lengths to comment anonymously but people managed. To say that FB must provide instant access to the world’s disaffected in nonsense.

The second is that real time editorial control is technically infeasible. My answer to that is tough, find a way or don’t publish.

The whole social media mess is an example of technology outrunning the law and society’s ability to regulate itself. Those who scream “censorship” and “freedom of speech” carefully forget that you never had the freedom to destroy your neighbour or destabilise your country’s politics before FB. Freedom of speech doesn’t give it to you now that technology makes that so much easier.


I am currently listening to the (heavily redacted) Mueller Report into Russian interference in the US 2016 presidential election. It’s quite interesting to hear how much the US government can learn about people in a foreign country - even in the redacted version. (They also made some mistakes in redaction - for instance in one part Hillary Clinton’s personal domain is named but in another it is redacted.)

The report reveals that Russian army intelligence officers (working for the GRU) operating in Russian offices conducted Internet searches for certain English language terms that later that day were used in a blog posting by ‘Guccifer 2.0’. So how does a US investigator learn what searches are performed by Russians located in Russia? There are only two explanations I can think of:

  1. the US has someone inside the GRU; or
  2. the US knows the GRU’s IP addresses and was able to obtain historical search information from the search engine operator - presumably Google.

I would say that if the answer was 1, this information would have been redacted - therefore Google is storing details of all searches made on its platform. This probably shouldn’t be entirely surprising, but that’s a lot of data to retain on every individual who uses your services - especially if you are retaining all the metadata (such as IP address).

No wonder Russia wants to build its own ‘great firewall’!


Regulate Google and Facebook?

Not necessary. They are self regulating, even with their tax obligations.


Slightly off topic but I’ve started using RSS Feeds to get my news and updates to remove some of the power Facebook and Google have over what I see. I’ve found to be a good reader. It’s just unfortunate there isn’t many Australian sources to pick from.


I use Reeder on my iPad, and just add a URL of somewhere I want to read. Reeder looks for the RSS feed and theres often more than one. Pretty sure you can do that with Feedly as well. The problem with sources is that many are behind paywalls so the reading is very limited (eg SMH)


theres a couple of ways to read this, especially if you are a cynic :wink:


I read the SMH regularly and it’s never been behind a paywall


You must only read 10 articles or less. Because I’ve been reading this morning and am now getting banner ads that say I have 5 free articles left, otherwise I have to subscribe.


Maybe. I guess I’ll see if it does. If anyone else has any suggestions let me know. So far I like it a lot better than Facebook/Google because it puts me back in control of exactly what I see.


Crikey! I have never relied on facebook for news. Half the time its just BS. I do post news items but I always check the source first (the source is always secondary, rather than primary, a newspaper or online mag for example) but its better than much of what turns up on fb. I ignore google completely.

Anotehr thing to watch out for is opinion… there are a lot of opinion pieces and some I find very enlightening… but they are opinion as opposed to fact… gotta be careful.


Fact vs Opinion.

Einstein pointed out that what we observe can depend on where we are at any point in space and time. It’s all about our frame of reference.

Fact can be just as misleading as a poorly presented opinion? Fact needs to be complete and the observer clear concerning the circumstance, basis, objective, etc.

In science a statement of assumptions is a fundamental requirement of any proof.

In reporting, and indeed life, it appears at times much of what is served up as fact is incomplete or poorly referenced. Presented as ‘one eyed’, ‘narrow viewed’, ‘opinionated’. Often the receiver/reader is none the wiser due to the lack of alternate information. (Note 1)

In one respect places like ‘Facebook’ (not my preference) and a plethora of other bulletin boards and chat sites provide the only alternative. A more open alternative to crafted and often biased so called news services.

Increased regulation may be a ‘double edged sword’. In respect of content where do you draw the line and who regulates the content? In the extreme regulation of such open environments could serve the aims of politics and media moguls in preference to the public interest.

It is a seriously challenging proposition.

And in particular given the ‘pay for content press’ (Murdoch being just one example) is under zero, nil, absolutely no legal obligation or regulation to be non partisan, thorough, complete, unbiased or even reliable in the facts they present.

Which standard should be applied and should that be universally applied to all sources?

P.S. note 1
This is one of the reasons I both dread and revere posting on Choice. Trepidation, caution, and the reasonable proposition at least one other person has a different frame of reference encourages alternate viewpoints. Whether they are opinions or facts is less relevant than the way they add collectively to understanding. After all, is an opinion simply a fact waiting to be proven?


Having an opinion is when we are open about our assumptions and choice of frames. Having principles is when we hide them.


Not at all. In my opinion, Donald Trump is the absolute worst president in US history. Why is that my opinion? Facts - like him talking about his ability to grab a woman’s genitals, as recorded on video. Like his inability to tell the truth (while this is something shared by all politicians, it is particularly striking in a man who contradicts his own statements on such a regular basis). Like Mexico paying for a wall he plans to build - this could still turn out to be true, but the odds are at least 99% against it - unless there’s some quid pro quo. Then more opinions, like my belief that he’s a racist who went into government to earn money rather than to ‘run the country’ - but has learned he likes the power.

There is a big difference between facts, which can be proven, and opinions - which while strongly corroborated by the evidence are not entirely proven… unless, for instance, Trump openly announces that he is indeed a racist. Note: a poll of any population will show that not a single person believes themselves to be racist, no matter how rabid they are about the foreigners moving in up the street.

It is true that science holds few facts, but talk to a mathematician and they will show you plenty. Most of the sciences are seeking to move ‘towards truth’, but with numbers it is either right or wrong. I have probably posted this elsewhere, but…

Oh, and even in the softer sciences there remain some facts. All species of octopus have eight limbs, for instance - hence the name. That doesn’t mean that every octopus has eight limbs - some have been in fights, been affected by disease or accident and hence lost one or more. Similarly there may be some that are born with less than eight, in the same way that Thalidomide babies were born with missing or shortened limbs.

It is easy to refer to ‘lies, damned lies, and statistics’. It is much harder to look at the basis of those statistics and evaluate whether they are reasonable in their claims based upon the evidence they collect and how they collect and examine it.


For anyone still interested in my little test of RSS feeds, I’ve found The Conversation is a great Australian source of in depth analysis. The articles are written by researchers/experts in their fields, and unusually they put the whole article in RSS format (where most websites give you a snippet then direct you to the site to get ad revenue)


I’ll second that. Unbiased and often fact filled. You won’t necessarily agree with all they say but that is good. At least when opinions are offered it is made clear that is what they are.


The RSS reader that I use on Windows is Newsflow. I love it, and am rather sad that there is no version for MacOS.


Update: I am pleased to say I have removed Facebook as my primary source of news. Not only do RSS feeds interfere less than Facebook, but I’ve found them overall more pleasant to use due to lack of comments, no more ‘endless scroll’ and no more missing posts.