back to article Congress vs Facebook: Great soap opera TV, but don't expect big results

The images from Mark Zuckerberg's recent appearances before two US Congressional hearings (here and here) tell a story about the drama of such occasions. The first shows a nervous-looking Zuckerberg surrounded by US lawmakers and the second a seated and still Zuckerberg surrounded on all sides by photographers. The easy …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We appear doomed to repeat mistakes from history

    Its hard to remember what the 90's Microsoft antitrust case was really about. Browser wars and API lock-out issues? What did it achieve? Look at MS' monopoly today. It is excruciatingly difficult to find a high-street retailer that sells laptops / pc's without Windows, anywhere in the world.

    So if you extrapolate back from that and project onto Facebook.... Breaking the company up is the only valid option. Unless we all want to be sitting here in 20 years lamenting the lack of action. Lets not forget Google too.

    Change has to come from somewhere but the political will is simply not there! So its probably not going to happen. Big tech is just so entrenched and holds all the cards and lobbyists. But its kind of ironic though because Facebook and Google's grip is really the softest in history. Quitting Facebook or Google is effortless. Try it! Yet here we are with this report:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44023381

    1. Stork Silver badge

      Re: We appear doomed to repeat mistakes from history

      Most places around here you can get something fruitflavoured, but otherwise right

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You look at it the wrong way...

      ... MS achieved dominance with DOS already - Win 3.1 strengthened it. In the early 1990s, MS was already on most PCs - for lack of real alternatives already (and I tried to use OS/2, but IBM mismanaged it fully). And Apple was in a dire situation (it needed MS money to stay afloat...)

      But there was a difference. Under DOS and Win 3.x, MS didn't dominate the application market. There were far more competition, more office suites than today. More graphic applications (Corel, Micrografx) than today. More development tools (Watcom, Borland), more databases (dBase, Clipper)

      It was from Windows 95 onward that MS achieved "full domination" - but in sector it wasn't interested in, just they were fully dominated by other companies (i.e. Adobe).

      So if you look at the OS only, as Linux punters has brainwashed people to think, you miss the point. The real issue was MS had been able to crush any competitor on its platform - a mistake Linux also is doing with its insistence on the "purity of open source" - which just keeps away many commercial companies form the platform - and ending to deliver mostly a single application in any area - exactly like Windows. The fact they are free is irrelevant.

      A Linux monopoly would be just as bad as a MS one - only healthy competition keeps innovation alive, and delivers better software to users.

    3. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: We appear doomed to repeat mistakes from history

      "Look at MS' monopoly today. It is excruciatingly difficult to find a high-street retailer that sells laptops / pc's without Windows, anywhere in the world."

      A contestable monopoly. Proven by the fact that they are contested and as a technology company they are taking a kicking. This is not an anti nor pro MS post but a simple statement that they do not have monopoly power. In the PC world they are being hit by apple, a more expensive product. With the rise of windows 10 (and 8 for some) there has been an increase in linux users. The zune hit the wall, in the mobile sphere they are all but dead and in the tablet market they are beaten back by google and apple. MS bing seems to be an amusing joke for IT people while google is well known.

      How long has this 'big tech' existed? FB has already been contested with google and twitter etc and FB was the more popular choice. Before that was MySpace wasnt it?

      "But its kind of ironic though because Facebook and Google's grip is really the softest in history. Quitting Facebook or Google is effortless."

      This is the 100% fact that people need to accept. Why are google and facebook popular? Because people choose to use them. They have a choice not to use them and so it is not a monopoly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        'This is not an anti nor pro MS post but a simple statement that they do not have monopoly'

        Definitions of monopoly aside for a moment. The point is retailers / oem's should unbundle themselves from Windows and sell OS-free laptops. Why? Users shouldn't have to resort to this:

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/09/12/microsoft_hp_italy_windows/

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: 'This is not an anti nor pro MS post but a simple statement that they do not have monopoly'

          The point is retailers / oem's should unbundle themselves from Windows and sell OS-free laptops.

          In an ideal world, spot on. The reality is MS did dark and dirty things way back when like "exclusive contracts" where all PC's made by a manufacturer had to be sold with Windows or they lost to right to sell any PCs with windows. There were a lot of strong arm tactics in use in the early days that pretty much killed off the competition. Programs.. the release of incomplete API's with hidden functions killed off Wordperfect. There were others also, like Borland that got caught in the MS mis-information era.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It isn't feasible to break up Facebook

      There was at least a potential path to do for Microsoft, by breaking up along desktop/server lines. How would you do so for Facebook? There's not really anywhere you can split it that wouldn't turn it into two or more islands, which wouldn't accomplish anything unless you could somehow bar people from joining more than one to prevent one from eventually getting enough critical mass it becomes dominant and the others fall aside like Myspace and Google+.

      Facebook will have to be regulated, just like you regulate other monopolies. Regulation is against the republican religion the last few decades, but many of them also believe Facebook has a bias against conservatives so there might be enough people on both sides who want to regulate them - even if not for the same reasons - to enforce something that might help. The problem is the only ones qualified to write the regulation are people with deep knowledge of how Facebook operates. Maybe they could get some former employees, who have divested their stock, to do it because having congress do it would be a disaster since 90% of them understand less about tech than the average five year old.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It isn't feasible to break up Facebook

        "There was at least a potential path to do for Microsoft, by breaking up along desktop/server lines. How would you do so for Facebook? There's not really anywhere you can split it that wouldn't turn it into two or more islands, "

        Here's some options.... Facebook could also be broken up geographically or wherever there's wide language barriers...

        https://www.irishtimes.com/business/media-and-marketing/can-social-media-be-saved-1.3444444

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This insidious Facebook / Google problem - What value do Politicians bring in all honesty?

    Its their kids and grand-kids that will feel the greatest hurt and injustice from this withering deliberation and complete lack of action. I've heard enough, its time to get out / move country. Is there any utopia on this rock where:

    #1. Facebook is banned (setup Tor/VPN if you want this cesspit)

    #2. The default Search-Page on every Browser is Startpage.com

    #3. Every phone comes Google-free with only 1 app installed: Signal

    #4. Hosts Ad filters+Adblockers come pre-installed on every device

    #5. The default OS installed on every new PC is Linux not Win-10

    #6. Your new Car doesn't Spy / Track you / Phone Home / Play Ads

    #7. IoT comes first with utility / security / privacy, not 'Slurp n Track'

    #8. Email is locally hosted, @gmail / @outlook / @yahoo is shunned.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "#5. The default OS installed on every new PC is Linux not Win-10"

      Which distro, RedHat? From one quasi-monopoly to another?

      PC should come OS-free, and users should buy or obtain the OS of their choice.

      "#3. Every phone comes Google-free with only 1 app installed: Signal"

      You mean Android should be banned? After all on phones it's in the same quasi-monopoly position of Windows on desktops - and Google achieved that integration that MS failed with Win95 and IE - especially among those who can't afford the Apple tax - I may agree, but it looks a bit difficult...

      "#8. Email is locally hosted, @gmail / @outlook / @yahoo is shunned"

      I see a business to sell mail servers, but how many users could manage them?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "#5. The default OS installed on every new PC is Linux not Win-10"

        LDS: "PC should come OS-free / users buy OS of their choice."

        -

        Most could live with that! But that's not on offer at most retailers / oem's worldwide.An example of Microsoft's ridiculous dominance:

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/09/12/microsoft_hp_italy_windows/

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        LDS: "You mean Android should be banned?"

        -

        No! An option to pay-more for a rooted Phone w/o Google-slurp!

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "No! An option to pay-more for a rooted Phone w/o Google-slurp!"

          Why pay more? Would you be OK to pay more for a PC without Windows? I guess many would cry out loud their indignation.

          And do you believe Google will keep on investing in Android if that would become mandatory? The only reason Android exists is to support Google slurping.

          The bad thing of open source is the money have to come from other businesses - university students and support sales may not be enough for big, complex projects.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: "#5. The default OS installed on every new PC is Linux not Win-10"

        Which distro, RedHat? From one quasi-monopoly to another?

        You know, "monopoly" actually has a well-defined meaning. You cannot just randomly shove it into a phrase to signal disagreement with Red Hat distro.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          WTF?

          Some people need to rejoin the real world

          Seriously, selling PCs without an OS installed? How many times have you tried to install an OS from scratch and ran into some issues that you had to work around? You think the average person is capable of diagnosing the problem and performing those workarounds? Are you dim enough to believe the average person even WANTS to install an OS from scratch?

          While we're at it why don't we sell wireless routers without an OS installed, and so buyers have to open it up and connect to JTAG and load U-Boot via Xmodem protocol?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            'Seriously, selling PCs without an OS installed?'

            Its about having options, we're talking about choice here, that's all. At the moment there is none (Dell offers Linux in some cities)!

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does Anyone (Non Reg) Care ???

      In essence, no one has left facebook - they are still used by the masses.

      My asshole brother deleted all of his social media accounts after the CA revelations the day after CH4 exposed it. He left social media behind with a series of fanfares and posts explaining why. (he's a bit warped up in his own self importance.)

      Bit it was noted this weekend that his Facebook account is back along with grumblings about needs to keep in touch with some people.

  4. Avatar of They
    Thumb Up

    But wait.

    Its also irrelevant because the EU will have the same round of conversations so for UK based people they will mean far more than US rules, regs and appeals.

    That I expect to be very different and with EU GDPR I expect popcorn moments. Might take a few years and a few billions in fines but worth a watch.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not sure I care

    Now I don’t what my account stolen and my credit cards used by others. However, Facebook is key to my business. I couldn’t have setup a side business turning over £50k this year without Facebook. I don’t post outside of private groups more than 5 or six times a year. Yes my apple phone and car know where I am. My gmail account is useful but so what

    What exactly does using windows 10 and google actually cost me. I have add blocker and ignore most advert

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Not sure I care

      What exactly does using windows 10 and google actually cost me.

      What does any of this cost you? Your privacy and dignity? You're selling yourself (and all your juicy info) cheap. FB might be worth it for your business and I get it. But minimizing as many data leaks/slurps as possible is or should be the goal.

      How pissed off will you be when, not if, some group of crims gets your data, say a bank account access, because one of the slurpers had it was careless? Catch is, they probably already have the info with the major credit reporter slurp not too long ago. Just too much info and that will take them awhile to get to every one's accounts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not sure I care

        What does any of this cost you? Your privacy and dignity? You're selling yourself (and all your juicy info) cheap.

        if you are selling yourself cheap, does that mean you have a value in mind that they could pay you for your data?

        I am unsure how you get that it will cost you dignity, not unless you post things in the Interweb you don't want in the public domain, in which case, you just don't put it on the web.

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