Friday , May 20 2022

Why Amazon is a "bully", and Facebook and Google are "the enemies of independent thinking."


When created by young tech companies leading to corruption of performing arts, journalist Franklin Foer must be rooted for them. Initially

"I can not say that many people were skeptical at the outset," he said in the new section Recode decode with Kara Swisher. "It seemed exciting and novel. We need some time to realize what has happened so horrible or what is the threat.

In the rise of ebook prices by publisher published by Hackett's hacked book by Amazon's nasal tactics, Foer was very interested in companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook should break antitrust laws. The law "bastardized" in the 1960s, limiting the competitive price of regulators to limit competitive prices, but not much else.

"This was my frustration when I went and talked about the Amazon Ministry of Justice," said Foer. "It's like:" Well, consumers are harming the producers in the long run. And they're doing some kind of harassment. "Maybe not for consumers, but for producers, why did not you see the damage in God's name? And they could not see it because they were outside the present paradigm.

And Google's and Facebook's basic products are free, although their concentrated power is still dangerous, he said.

"We are constantly organizing Facebook and Google in this way, we do not know the things we really know, and we have not been aware of it, and most people are not, and our data is being exploited," said Foer. Our data is our internal map of our psyche. They know our weaknesses, and they know things that cause pleasure and anxiety and anger. They use this information to keep them addicted. This makes the company an enemy of autonomous thinking ".

You can hear it Recode Decode including your Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Carnival.

Below we have edited a light transcript that Kara spoke with Franklin.

Kara Swisher: Hello, I'm Kara Swisher, Recode's editor. You can get acquainted with the gaming game nightmare of the well-known CEO – they have always wanted to play Monopoly – but in my spare time I'm talking about technology and you are listening to the Decode Recode from the Vox Media Podcast Network. Nowadays, the red chair is Franklin Foer, the National Atlantic Correspondent and former editor of the Republic. His latest book "The world of the world: the existential threat of Big Tech, "He just did not take out the paperback. Frank, welcome Decode Recode.

Honors to be here.

Washington, DC, in Washington, we met another night.

Someone will go.

What was odd. It was David Gregory. Thanks, David, for us. Beth Wilkinson, with his wife, was a delicious meal. It was really interesting. My first Washington party was great here since living part-time.

You, yes, yes.

It was interesting to listen their own take it

How have things changed?

It's interesting … I feel like I'm in the Hunger Games and I live in the capital, I know what I mean? Nothing, really. I thought it would be different.

I love the point you want to hear about the contrast between Bay Area and Washington DC cultures, D.C.

Well, they only talk about technology and talk about politics here, right?


Many Tech gossip versus political gossip.


Trump is degenerating into. All of them are basically in the trump.


And I want to talk about it with you.

It is a condition of modern life.

Leave it through your story. You have a very surprising history in journalism. You have worked on the new Republic. You are a new republic and have been in Washington, all about politics and issues. Then you are now in the Atlantic, now it's all … how they're making money, with Laurene [Powell Jobs] money?

It is very good. I will tell you the story of time … so that my book was serialized last year and the serialization of the chapter was a chapter that we began with the Silicon Valley journalism and, therefore, galley and printed grain, as you know, has a long lead and has gone to the galleys He bought Laurene Jobs Atlantic.

On the one hand, right?

It seemed to me a part, the Atlantic, and a punk.

Yes, you did, but it's okay, it does not matter. They do not care at all. We'll talk about that too. There are many things to talk to you about. You're working on the Atlantic, you're covered, you've … what you just gave. You were … Where did you start?

Okay, my first job was in Slate, after Microsoft.


So in the summer …

Your whole life is working for tech-savvy people.

Yes, exactly. It can not run away. Yes, Microsoft, you will remember …

Yes, Michael Kinsley.

… They wanted to build it with Michael Kinsley, but they wanted to build a media empire, so they started a new campus called Red West, and it was a kind of architectural paradise, a wonderful cafe, a waterfall through it.

But you have to be pay It's unusual for food.

You did it You did it

Microsoft is a cheap way.

Yes, they gave him drinks, but not food.

Yes Right. Yes, Red West always seemed interesting to me because it was Red West. I really like Bill Gates's 500 million feet and it's just Microsoft.

Yes Well, do you remember … Have a magazine with a woman named UpWire.

Oh, I remember them.

Ask why he failed.

Mungo? Muno was not UpWire? UpWire.


First, in MSN, MSN2 …

Yes Yes.

… he had all, and it was dark and the comic appeared – Oh yeah. I was around. I wrote all this.

Yes, yes, yes.

What was it Have Mungo Park? No, that was Discovery. There is a whole bunch of them. They were all bad.

Right, but they became new middle empire

Oh yes. Yes they were.

But, oh, that did not work.

When I told them I said I had awoke for a long time. "That is, it means". We can do here, but Michael was so talented and there was Jack Shafer.

Yes, exactly.

All there were.

Exactly. They went on their way … The roadside was a rival to the city's paper.

Bend, that's right. Washington Post took a lot of people at that time.

Yes Yes. Well, then, MSNBC, of ​​course, was a big boyfriend of the bride and groom.

And They put a lot of money on it. Now they've come in the cloud, I think they're doing all this now.

Yes, I stayed there for a couple of years.

By the way, Slate was a great product.

Yes it was.

At the same time, it was great … thank you for the money, Bill Gates.

Yes, I think it was a revolutionary magazine and, for some time, one of the great magazines.


And it was really fun. I mean, do you remember it at that time, it probably was much more than that, but at that moment it just made you feel wholehearted?

Yes, absolutely.

And they were not regulated and it was really wonderful. It could be an experiment. I did this and then worked for the New Republic …

The opposite!

Yes it was. It was the magazine. I am the first child. I want to please my dad. My dad read the magazine.

For a long time I was a hot spot when I was very young in journalism.


That was it, if you did what you did.

Yes, yes, I love it. It was a nice place to work for me, although I had to make an incredible personality …

Yes, oh, I know all of them.

… it's very difficult sometimes. I was a writer there, and then I had an editor from 2006 to 2010, and when the financial crisis came in 2008, the new Republic became really difficult. New Republic was a difficult place to work already, but in the digital age.

Did Peretz? Does Marty Peretz owns?

No, he was the owner of the moment, but the arrival of blogs was it Because the magazine's challenge is existential …

That was it.

The magazine was … well, allegedly trafficked and, suddenly, the opinion became everywhere, and we published many things as good as, and in some cases, better. The magazine's challenge became real and how do you fit into such a world?

Then, the financial crisis occurred and we were constantly making better profits. It was harder and harder to look for those who liked such a magazine. Then, at a certain point, I was somewhat ill and I began to write and write some essays. Then, in 2012, the magazine was sold again and owned. And Chris Hughes came with this friend.

Chris, I know a lot.

Who was the kind of mystical savior. It was so smart.

Yes, seriously.

It was so serious.


So I felt the main values ​​of the magazine. I really liked it. He knew him well with him and, actually, I always did, it seemed amazing to me.

He was smart. I was on podcast on UBI. It's the UBI issue.

Yes Yes. The guy It seemed incredible to me because I struggled earlier.

Finish money

Now we had money. He was the owner, we were committed, we had a lot of attention to the owner, because of his satisfaction and espoused type of idealism.

Her husband went to the office. No, it's a great story. Right.

We have had the chance to repeat the whole life repeatedly, to reconstruct the journalism in a democratic way, to make a demonstration project that we have mastered all those things that we have questioned in the past.

You I remember finding him and that, "Oh, no, no, no". It does not matter, but rather. Everyone can not help to confuse.

Well, in my mind …

Pierre Omidyar was doing this too, with Intercept and I will never forget it, I talked to finance some things we talked to him and because he was "like to talk about it." I like "I do not want to fight with you." I do not have any interest … but when it was a matter, people will guide you, if you choose the desk, you think "laugh again. It's a group of people that everyone has money and, therefore, thanks giving, but going, that's not it …

Well, I thought about Chris, and I probably think that I agreed with the bunch, that it was a type of conflict. Not one of the founders.

No, it means well.

It means well and I am a conflicting person and we have had such a great deal of controverted relationship until the relationships are exploded.

Yes, so what happened, from your point of view?

What happened and I'll talk to you about what I've talked about a bit more … I mean, I think that his life was a crisis, his husband went to Congress and was in front of the New York Times page.

Yes, I saw that.

And I think it was just shame. And then the new Republic was it lost … we spent a lot of money, I do not think … in his fortune, he could absorb losses, but nobody likes to absorb losses.

Lost millions of dollars.

Even though ads have the same type of idealists.

"I'm here to take losses".

Certainly it was like that … well, and I also think that it felt anguish level, that it was always a guy who was in that luck.


That is one of the main theses of his new work.

He was there

He was right He wanted to prove himself.

Right on Facebook. Chris made money for Facebook when he was in the room.

He wanted to demonstrate that he wanted to respect Zuckerbergen and others at the beginning of Facebook. He also acknowledged that he had sold ads, when he was the publisher of the magazine.

We started shopping for the CEO and we went with it in all kinds of ways. This surprisingly seemed to my CEO to choose the selected process. I always told the owner beforehand, so that there was no new layer. It was very nice and …

You want to be there That's the meaning.

We most liked the people we interviewed, except the one who wanted to choose, and who it really is … who was named Guy ironically.

Mr. Digital

Yes, Yahoo came.

Oh, I know Guy.

Yes, and I did not fight against recovery, but it was clear to me from the beginning …

What is it for?

The decision was bad, but he did not want to do anything.


In that process, when I opened the Chris conversation process, I was making coffee and talked with all the candidates on the phone, and it was just what I wanted to avoid. It was a bad sign and Chris knew I did not like it. Of course, he chose. It was almost inevitable that the bad things happened there.

This was the first one, it took me for two weeks to make a meeting. When I went to the office, the editorial board of the magazine and the whiteboard began the editorial process and all of these changes began to change, and it was imposed. Then, when we had this editorial meeting, we learned from the staff and the CEO of technology, he wanted to learn all the jokes and he wanted to enter into hobbies, and there was no effort …

Sharing nuggets.

Yes, snack.

Nice nuggets.

Nice content

Adaptable Adaptable

Yes Well, and also a kind … it's the only magazine that's 100 years old.

and you Boys are the worst thing to do. Oh no. I would have to choose a group of people, I would not pull that group. By the way, you are not easy with you. That's it, that you're changing.

Yes Totally

Fully variable.


I talked with a bundle … I liked it, come on. Start some of these things.

Well, to make it fair, I felt over time … because I came here. I understand the world … things change. You need to swallow things you do not want. Some is easy, but it was in this way …

Oh no. It was wrong

No, but also that was the case … In his defense, which is unconscious in this way, you know it's something simple and helpful, you do not want to do it, because it's not signed up.

Right. Exactly. No, but I think it happens in many ways … when technology / journalists are involved, journalism is the only one. This is numbers 1 and 2, here you will not get much money, all of them. That's another … sorry, you can earn money. You will be famous. I think that Bezos is the perfect one. It will not get a lot of money, but it's good. It helps. It has always been improved. These are smaller things, and that's what other people expect they will realize. But journalism is primarily capable. And that's it.

Yes Yes Well, I think exactly what you're talking about. Once you get into the box change plan, and then you are messing with the mission of the organization, you are destroying the value of the company below.

Yes, but there's nothing wrong with people doing tweet and doing things as bad … to get it … they're journalists still resistance I like it, if you do not want to understand it.

Yes I do not know about that, but it was in this way … so one of the gaps in the New Republic, in its modern incarnation, was against the kernel. Then he asked me how he went and what other people did. This was just a bad feeling when signed up to the original, and I liked it, we will take a shortcut called "Day show" and write a certified headline. That is very easy. Right?

And probably the correct thing.

We probably had to do it, but in this way, when people want to do that, they make it much cooler.

Journalists are jerks.

Also, it's New Republic.

You do not pay enough …

Yes If you're wondering … when you're finished with a job you spend a child and you're like you, we're paying $ 35,000 every year or $ 35,000 every year, and you've come to this expectation. .

Write a great essay.

Yes, and then you have to cut and paste the shows all day long.

Now you work for the BuzzFeed farm.

Yes Yes.

Such things.


It was there and then you left it. You have left it very famous.

Right. I decided, but it was also resignation, where I knew I had to shoot.

Right. It was very correct. I liked it

Thank you.

Was it inside

Yes … well, what happened at a certain point, I was just, I finished.

Life is too short.

I was really, I went out. I left and offered the solution conditions, where did I go from there? Look, I'm not going to do it for you. Let's …


You can move with you. I will move with me. We all happy Then I learned … I do not know because I am a reporter. Gawker's editor was telling me that there was another boy who was talking about jobs and told me he was saying: to be the next editor in New Republic. I mean, at that moment it's almost free. It's not as straight as you. The other people who followed the goalkeeper were doing good reasons and because they did not leave a range of employees … Regarding the signage …

It was fantastic! It was a good media.

Well, it was like a teenager that you like, "quit!" And a lot of other people came out, but it's also a terrifying thing, right? In journalism, our owners and the media are awesome …

It's not for me, I love going out.

The media are constantly saying that there are no journalistic works. Right? If that's the case …

Yes, I love going out. It's my favorite thing.

Yes Pretty da …

It's my favorite weapon. "I'll leave now." It's great. It frees you when you do not worry.

It's true.

Do you know

That is so true.

You recover power. It's awful. You must be talented. That's fine. So you have other options. It's very powerful to start, now it's easier because you can do your stuff. If you're an entrepreneur, it's good for you. If you're not yet, it's bad for you. You go to the Atlantic, you have left there. And who owns New Republic now?

Oregon boy, Win McCormack, is the owner of Baffler.

Okay They are more comfortable in this situation.



It was re-invented. And from my psychological peace, I did not look for a long time, but as I was here, there was no copy of Ezra Klein sitting in the mailbox, and I received it. I was glad I did not see this thing for a long time …

Make a copy of it!

"Let me take a look." It really was, I really liked what I saw. It surprised me I mean, much more is left to later.

It should be. Here is Zeitgeist.

I went to the Atlantic and wrote this book. Have you worked or wrote the book first?

I wrote the first book.

What was your question? Chris's experience …?

It really is so well, but I was really …

Yes, so you look at my world, and it's better to say one of them, I'll tell you.

I really started thinking much about Amazon because I was being ravaged with Hachette's e-book price, and so I saw it and it's self-esteem, right? I was a writer … I wrote a book with Hachette and I saw that Amazon was doing. At first, I did not care very much, because the monopoly book oligopoly was published. I get lots of things in Amazon and I have never been anti … I was not particularly anti-Amazon before, but then I saw how the market's power was being abused, the Button buttons removed, the Hachette books, redirecting people's searches. He thought me and turned me on, and yes.

We're here with Frank Foero. He wrote a book called "Mindotu gabeko mundua". It is a threat to great techniques. When you said the beginning, you had the experience of Chris Hughes. You got a bit of a taste for internet people, and then Amazon Hachette was attacking.

Right. I was active, I became actively involved with the Brotherhood of the Author, and I got together with the FTC and the Department of Justice. One thing my father is is the antitrust lawyer …

Oh, even better.

It's like his passion.

This was not … yes.

It's his passion. Another strange thing, right now, is in a building located in Connecticut Avenue, Washington, DC. The building was my grandfather's jewelery shop in the Brooks Brothers space.

Okay Okay Okay

When it was … My father trained as an antitrust lawyer. When my grandfather was dead, he took my father's jewelry store. It seemed like my father, thanks to his passion, Robert Bork apparently proved that he was a small business, and he always enjoyed himself.

At the beginning of the 90s when recession sales increased, my dad was stuck, what did she want to know? I like it, "Hang it out. My passion is competition. I'll start a sensational group / thinktank …"

His passion was anti … Just once.

I know

Okay, all right.

I know, everyone does the same.

I suppose.

You can not believe …

"Antitrust, yes, that will be my interest."

Yes Yes.


I never … as soon as I heard about monopoly dangers. In fact, I did not take it until I began to see it through the technology companies. I almost completely thought about the economic framework and expanded. There is only one problem with dependency. When you build on the platform, the platform will have power over you.

Writers narcissists are incredible. We are in the middle of the narrative. But really, we were in a way, because Amazon was the first …

He started in the world's largest bookstore.

It was a library, yes!


In e-books the monopoly was incredible, a monopoly essential. 70% of all e-books will be sold to Kindle, so they can set terms. The terms were put in a persecuting manner without any concern for the underlying health of this industry. The industry expanded to achieve greater strength. They wanted everything posted directly from Amazon.

Now that's not working, this is really interesting, plateaued with e-book sales.

Right, and Apple came in and others.

Apple came in, but they also started a Kindle singles idea and a publisher, who took advantage of their platform.


That did not work. I think that publishing houses have made great decisions to publish media outlets and, in the retrospective, the decisions that defended their underlying economic value were healthy and valuable.

They took a stand against the platform. They did not meekly adhere [Facebook] Article Instances …

They're still under Amazon.

Oh, obviously. But they also protect their business.

Right. Today, for now, Amazon now sells microwaves and furniture. They will go to all the sectors that enter the entrance.

Of course, but that's not …


What I am getting is that the publishers came to the whole economy. It is there which is happening with the rest of the economy.

Yes Yes.

If you have a flower production in Whole Foods in rural Pennsylvania, Amazon is getting squeezed at some points.

Right, completely "When you are saying" not counting the world "… you have had two experiences: one in the new republic, Hachette and the Amazeta, why" without the world? " You decided to write a book. In my opinion, most of the people were "Tech-Fantastic" when writing this book.

Yes, so it was a definitive adventure. I thought a couple of things. It is one, too … I did not articulate and be exact, when someone like Tristan Harris spoke carefully.

That would be addiction. Right, attention.

But I saw that these devices were an enemy of contemplation, and, of course, I did not first do that. Many people built an economy that was paying attention to this point. But that, to me …

I call a lease machine.

Yes, and for me it was a fundamental piece, and that was really avoiding thinking.

Well, they are addictive, and their dependence was on the way, they were doing the same way.

But when your thinking processes are constantly manipulating …


… invisible force, that is, Facebook and Google are constantly organizing things that are constantly unknown in things, and we have not been aware of it, and most people do not do it and do it. In this way, they are taking advantage of our data.

Our data is our internal map of our psyche. They know our weaknesses, and they know things that cause pleasure and anxiety and anger. They use this information to keep them addicted. This makes companies become enemies of independent thinking.

Right, so you have that addiction. You have the power over advertising, in addition to all kinds of attitudes, in retail trade, to find out how people see things.

When you are not aware of the world, we do not remember more. That's basically it?

Yes I had a couple of things. One was a piece of dependence. I saw them as being devastating for journalism and cultural industries. Not universal because …

Music. Entertainment

Right. Obviously, we've seen some resurrection in recent years on TV …

Partly by these companies.

Certainly, thanks to these companies, definitely. But we could also see other traditional culture industries … These values ​​were an industrial perception.

In journalism, we saw paths … More and more revenue from journalism, such as Facebook and Google, depended on revenue and revenue, in this way … When their algorithms change, they build these systems, they do not have the chance, but rather their standards and values ​​to build up.

They are stuffed for this purpose.


I was talking about that discussion. When I asked Mark Zuckerberg, I said: "These things are badly managed." That is the worst problem. It has power and not ability.

Well, also, when you interviewed …

Mm-hmm. Oh

… and he sank, he could roll the wheels on his head.


… and he did not understand the way … He did not even understand how his platform worked.

I think that in order to face up to the ill-fated challenges, the massive ones are in the front and have the power.

There is a wider cultural problem, that is, these engineers have created these companies, and engineers exceed the highest of these companies.

That's right.

If you have been trained as an engineer, you have been trained in a very intense way of thinking. You want to work on the systems and work on your own to work.

Watching problems is not preparing. You are trained to seek a unique solution.

Yes, that's it. But you too, and you want to train yourself … When you build the system, do you think humans like data cells?

Mm-hmm. Right, right

… not as a man. You can not think of their full dimension.

Or you can not reflect again to reflect what happened. It's sort of like the Challenger accident and going, "We're not going to focus on the O-rings. Let's just build a better rocket. "That's how they answer. You're like, "What about the O-rings? How did that happen? "That's a really interesting problem, and it resulted in tragedy, so let's …

But, if you do not diagnose the problem with the O-rings, you're skipping something fundamental in understanding the way that …

Of course. No. Exactly Which is why in that interview when I kept saying, "How do you feel about this?" He's like, "I'd like to get to the solutions." I'm like, "I'd like to get to the. .. I'd like to get to how you got to the problem. "


I kept saying, "How do you …" That's why I kept asking four or five times, "How do you feel about your invention being misused this way?"

This is the thing that annoys me in these conversations, because I've tried to engage with the tech companies at different times. They can understand, "Okay, we have a fake news problem. Okay, we need to … "

The bot problem.

But they never talk about manipulation, which is the core of the problem. The problem is that they've created these platforms that are based on …


… this idea that they are going to be able to manipulate us to engage us for as long as possible, and that other people are going to come from the outside and take advantage of that, because that's the system they created .

Well, that's, I keep saying that. It's exactly … They did not hack. It was built this way.


It's acting … Remember Jessica Rabbit? "You can not blame me, I was drawn this way. This is the way I was drawn. "

There was a point you were trying to get through when you were talking about this, that we are facing a threat from these companies which was … You were early. I've always been banging at them. But in terms of the public, why has it taken so long for that to happen? Why did it take so long? Then, in our next section, I'd like to talk about where it goes. Because now, everyone's fully aware of these problems.

Look, the United States has not … When we build a competitive sector that becomes a source of national pride, when you have a new …

Which tech is.

You had a new elite emerging, and it’s exciting to have a new elite emerge.

And they’re very wealthy.

They’re very wealthy. They defied a lot of our stereotypes about what captains of industry should look like.

Hoodies and sneakers.

The cult of youth is such a powerful, American thing. You have these people appear on the scene.

At first, I can’t say that I was skeptical of these people right from the start. What they did seemed exciting and novel. It takes a while for us to realize exactly what they’ve done that’s so terrible, or what the threats are that’s posed by them. Media certainly was complicit in concocting a very, very glossy perception of this cohort.

Mm-hmm. In terms of how exciting they were, how interesting, how quirky, how strange, aren’t they refreshing? You’re not your father’s old logo.

That, and also the products that they were creating …

Were great.

… defied a lot of our templates for thinking about some of these problems. If you’re talking about monopoly, well, they give away their products for free. They defy a lot of the problems that we associate with monopoly, which are all about jacking up prices, or … Media was in no position to decry them, because they’d made a devil’s bargain with them many years earlier.

What’s interesting to me about the backlash is how much of it seems based on pent-up emotions. There’s this psychodrama that journalism has had where it’s known a lot of what’s wrong. I’m talking the New York Times, where it was like, every day the New York Times was hammering these companies. It was this pent-up rage that they were suddenly expressing that they hadn’t been allowed to talk about or feel or express for many years. It came out in this everyday hammering.

What tipped it, from your perspective? Because it was going along like, “Look at these cool covers of Fortune, aren’t these interesting?”


Rulers of the world, that kind of stuff, it shifted really quickly.

Well, clearly, the proximate trigger was the election of Donald Trump.


On the surface, the reasons for the backlash were obvious, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Russian interference more generally. But, I think it was also the sense that … and it’s not even expressed that much, because it sounds elitist, and as you know from my book, I’m not afraid to sound elitist.

No, go right ahead, Frank. Really, I am too.

It’s that Facebook produced this garbage ecosystem for news and information. If you give citizens garbage information, they’re going to make garbage decisions.

This is the intangible thing I lay blame at Facebook on, that I can’t prove explicitly. But when so many people are influenced by what they read on Facebook, they deserve blame for creating the environment that created Donald Trump, because it was not … It’s not an environment of reliable information.


It was an environment filled with filter bubbles that weakened our intellectual defenses. It made us really vulnerable to demagoguery.

Right, and Twitter?

And Twitter, yeah.

Same thing, just the handmaiden to Facebook kind of thing.

Yeah, I’m a little bit less hard on Twitter, just because its market share is smaller.

Oh, its influence is massive.

Its influence is clearly massive, yeah. Its influence is on elites as much as …

Right, as anyone else. But look, Donald Trump has used the platform beautifully.

Oh, no, it’s not a virtuous environment.

Right. When you’re talking about this, when we don’t have these … What are your solutions going forward? Because I think the backlash is really continuing. It hasn’t stopped.

I think that we see two types of solutions coming down the pike.

Actually, can I ask you one more thing?


It’s also not all of tech. Can you really blame certain companies for this, others that are not necessarily …

No. I tried to focus mostly on the GAFA companies — Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple — because they have the size and I think that they’re crowding out a lot of innovation in the rest of tech.

Yes, I do too.

It’s a hard position to take where I am … I do have certain Luddite tendencies, but I also think that tech is an incredible thing, that Google is one of the great achievements of human engineering. The iPhone is a pretty spectacular incarnation of human creativity.

Yes, it changed everything.

Yes There are two things that are coming down the pike. One is the possibility of regulation. We’ve seen it already happening.


Sex trafficking is the first place …

Yes. Around Section 230.

Yeah, and then we say, “Okay, you need to take responsibility for foreign political influence on your sites.” Everybody applauds these things, because who could possibly object?

Then there’s governmental pressure to regulate other speech, to curb bullying, to curb bots, and it just doesn’t stop, potentially. I think that there’s a real danger. You look at China, that if we regulate these platforms in the wrong sort of way…

I’m sympathetic to their arguments that regulation could be a way for them to squash competitors. We saw this with AT&T. AT&T cut a deal with the government where they said, “All right, the function we perform is a utility function. You’re going to keep our monopoly, and we’re going to do whatever the hell you say.” That puts us down the road to China. That’s why I … you know, I’m not anti-regulation. I think that we need to have batzuk form of data protection. Maybe there are other, softer steps that we could take that …

Think about those. What would those be? An internet bill of rights, a what?

Yeah, so I think that I’m interested in some of the fiduciary models that are being kicked around.

Explain that for people.

When you’re dealing with, when you’re trafficking in data, when you’re trafficking in news and information, all these public goods, historically, the government says, “Okay, you can traffic in those public goods, but it also comes with responsibilities.” With the environment, there are clear rules that we put on that say, “You can’t degrade this public thing in certain ways.”

If you’re a cigarette manufacturer or a chemical manufacturer.

Yeah, if you’re a factory… We did the same thing with the telecom companies as well. With telecom companies, with the news networks, where they had fairness doctrines.

Fairness doctrines.

We also limited the ability to own too much, yeah.

To own too much. Right.

I think that there are important analogs that we can consider there.

That we consider, do you think that’s going to happen?

I do. I think that, I do. I think that there are changes within the Democratic party right now that make that much more likely to happen.

Oh, yeah.

I just talked to, I just did an interview with Mark Warner that hasn’t been published yet.

Yeah, we did have him at Code this year.

He published this white paper that I think is really sweeping in its criticisms of big tech.

Oh, yeah. Yes

It doesn’t have the silver bullet solution. It’s kind of an all …

No, he’s quite into, I think he’s focused a lot on cybersecurity and things like that, but yes, 100 percent.

But he’s now talking about privacy and he’s talking a lot about news.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, because what was really interesting, because someone from Facebook the other day was saying, “Well, they’re only mad at us because we stopped pushing politicians in the press on Facebook and are focused on family and community and stuff like that.” I go, “I don’t think that’s … I think that’s … Yeah, they’re really mad about that.” I don’t think that’s what they’re really mad about. I think they’re mad about a range of other things.

You’re right. The Democratic party, which was the friend to tech, is now going to turn on it.

You interviewed Cory Booker, right? That was the famous interview where he …

Yes, and we did Mark.

So, when Booker talked about regulation in your interview, I think … I had lunch with somebody from Google soon after, and they said, “Well, that’s the marker that’s been laid down,” that he is kind of the most centrist politician …


That he’s somebody who we thought was an ally.

Not anymore.

And he’s somebody who now is saying that he’s considering taking pretty radical action against us. Well then, everybody else in the Democratic party is gonna be further to the left than him.

Yeah, absolutely. What solutions … When you think about their influence now, obviously everyone can be stopped on some level. Every big company has been brought down ultimately over time, whether it’s U.S. Steel or whatever. These things could have these things, but they do incredible damage along the way. Do you consider tech damaging now?

Yeah, I do. I do. I think that the last election is probably as good evidence as we could look at the ways in which it’s been …


It’s damaging. And I think that the questions … because tech is there everything. It’s almost silly at a certain level to talk about tech anymore, because tech is everything.

It’s the oxygen.

Yes It is the oxygen. When we talk about Amazon, we’re talking about the future of the economy, we’re talking about the future of jobs. When we talk about Facebook and Google, we’re talking about companies that have just, that are so much more than the front-facing obvious part of their platforms. And with Alexa and Google Home, they’re implanting themselves ever deeper into our lives.

And I think anybody who has … people always ask, “Can you imagine life without Google?” And I’m 44 years old. So, of course I can imagine life without Google. And you can see the ways in which the rise of tech has transformed us as individuals.

Yeah, absolutely. I found my maps the other day. I threw them out. I was like, “Oh, look. I used to use these.”


Because they’re well worn.

But good riddance to your maps. I’m totally happy to be done with maps.


But I’m pissed and I’m unhappy with myself and with the platforms that it makes it harder and harder for me to have a conversation with people I love where I’m fully present.

Engaged. Right. Right. Absolutely. And one of the things that’s interesting is if you think about a lot, it ranges from everything. Shopping, mapping, everything you do. So, where do you imagine it’s going now? You wrote about this first more than a year ago and then … Where do you imagine, what do you imagine happening next?

I think that there’s going … You have these debates happening within the Democratic party that seem kind of esoteric, like “what’s the difference between a socialist and a liberal now?” It’s pretty vacuous. I think socialism just means excitement for new ideas. I don’t think it necessarily means nationalizing. But I do think that there are these … I’m saying there’s two different approaches. One is that it takes us kind of away from capitalism, that maybe treats these companies more and more like utilities and that there’s even some … I can imagine us even contemplating nationalizing Google, which I don’t think would be a good idea.

But then there’s this other tradition, which is the anti-monopoly tradition. At our dinner party, we talked about Elizabeth Warren and I said I liked Elizabeth Warren. I think I got death stares from all the establishment figures at the party.

Yeah, they didn’t like it.

They didn’t like it.

I can tell you, tech doesn’t like her either.

But she is thinking about the future of capitalism in a way that I think tech should like. Because … follow …

Okay I’m gonna follow you, because she literally was the most hated speaker we ever had at our conference.

Well, of course, because …

And I thought it was ridiculous. I thought she was incredibly articulate and intelligent about these issues.

Because what she’s talking about is recreating a competitive economy where, if you define concentration as the biggest problem … What’s so bad about Facebook? Well, Facebook wouldn’t be bad if it wasn’t so dominant. So, if you had a smaller Facebook, that’s something I think we could all live with.

I think they think of themselves as smaller. You know that, these people.

I do.

The Googles. They think of themselves as scrappy. I’m like, you guys just got in a private plane and flew to Kilimanjaro to hike. You’re not scrappy.

Right. You have two billion global users.

Nice chef. Badakizu zer esan nahi dudan? But it’s astonishing when you talk to them, because they feel like, “I’m just a regular person.” I’m like, “No you’re not. What are you talking about?”

Yes This is also part of the problem, which is that, and this is separate from the solutions, but when you accumulate great power, you also accumulate great responsibilities.

Right, I say that all the time.

When I was listening to Zuckerberg, when I listened to him on your podcast, it seemed like he was so uncomfortable with his …

He wants to push it away.

… with the idea that he would have any sort of responsibility.

Well, he’s also uncomfortable with the power, but he’s not giving it up. It’s really fascinating. He’s uncomfortable, he wants to push away the power. “It’s the community.” I’m like, “But you control it.” “But it’s the community.” I’m like, “Well, why do you have all the stock that controls the entire board? Every decision is yours.”

Where we’re headed is we’re gonna have a conversation about power.


This is the conversation we should be having. They have too much power and we need to … Our politics and our policy should be shaped around curbing …

But do we have the right policy in place?


Because we’re living in an AT&T-Microsoft world, we can grab them for a monopoly. They’re not clearly, like going back to your dad, the whole concept, and this has been written about quite a lot recently, the whole concept of what antitrust is has to change drastically.

Yes Or it has to just revert back to what it was before the 1960s, when Robert Bork bastardized it. Instead of just focusing … The standard right now is consumer welfare, which means that if they don’t jack up prices, if they don’t do anything to actually …

And they deliver beautifully.

Yes Then there’s nothing we can do about these companies. And that was my frustration when I went and talked to the Justice Department about Amazon. It’s like, “Well, they’re actually hurting consumers over the long run by hurting producers. And they’re behaving in a bullying sort of way.” Maybe not to consumers, but to producers. Why in god’s name can’t you see the harm? And they just couldn’t see it because it was so outside of the current paradigm under which they’re operating. I don’t think it’s that hard to change the paradigm here. It just takes some leadership.

Do you think that’s gonna happen?

I do. I think that we’re moving in that direction. I think it’s interesting when you look at what the Europeans have done.


So, let’s set aside that …

And by the way, Margrethe Vestager is in town this week.

Yes So, you set aside the GDPR and you look at what she’s done.

With Amazon just recently.

Yes And with Google.

And Facebook. All of them.

Right. You stare at it really hard. You can start to see the ways in which …

This is the EU commissioner, just for people who don’t know.

Start to see the ways in which she’s thinking about, “How do I lessen their power? How do I take their advertising business and open it up to third parties?” Which is in a way a form of breaking up the company. It’s not smashing it into a million bits and pieces, but it’s taking critical parts of the company and finding ways to make it more competitive, more welcoming to an ecosystem that supports …


Startups and it’s not just dominated by the platform itself. You look at Amazon. I think there’s this interesting principle that Amazon operates like this bazaar, it’s this marketplace, yet it’s also a competitor in the marketplace. And I think we need to find ways to separate those two functions, to say, “If you’re gonna own the bazaar, you can’t also actively participate in it.” It’s the Google-Yelp case.

Right, right. Exactly. Which has gone on and on and on. What’s interesting is the Republicans are attacking tech on all the wrong reasons than they used to, like bias. That’s not … I’m always like, “No, over here.”


”The crime is over here.”

But there is this core nugget of insight …

That something’s wrong.

That something’s wrong, that these algorithms are a black box, so that if you’re gonna say that you’re not biased, why should I believe you?

Yes, that is true.

And you’re manipulating things in all sorts of invisible sorts of ways. So, how do I know you’re not manipulating them against me? So, they’re just superimposing …

I get that. I just am sitting there like, “No, no. That’s not what they’re doing! They’re over here doing benetan bad things to you that you don’t even see.” But I think it’s the obsession with Trump on bias and things like that.

Well, that’s just like the conventional…

When he’s their best friend. I’m like, “Hey, attack them all you want, but send them a giant embossed thank you note for what they did for you,” which is really interesting on so many levels.

Yes Well, he changed tax policy.

Yes. Well, they like that. They like the repatriated money and everything else.

The bouquet of flowers. This isn’t gonna happen quickly. I think it’s gonna happen, but it’s not gonna happen quickly. With the Zuckerberg hearings, everybody walked away with this great sense of disappointment, like, “Why didn’t the world change the next day?” Because that’s just not what happens in our political system.


Especially when it’s dysfunctional and broken. It takes time for things to turn and to change. And the backlash against these companies has come really quickly. I think much more quickly than I had expected it would. And so that needs to simmer for a little bit. And you need political leaders to emerge to kind of take those sentiments and to corral them towards policy ends that actually might do something.

So, what do you imagine that being?

I don’t think that this is gonna be … I don’t think tech is gonna be a big campaign issue in 2020. I think monopoly is going to become a big issue in 2020 because we have concentration in all these industries and it’s having an effect on the labor market. It has an effect on healthcare. It’s kind of crazy, if you have a kid who has a nut allergy that there’s only one maker … EpiPen’s had this unchallenged monopoly and we’ve just fallen asleep. So, that becomes …

All over the place.

Yes That just becomes an issue, becomes a new framework. But I think that Democratic elites are starting to kind of universally almost think about the perils of big tech. So, once they come into power on this issue of monopoly, they then redirect it towards these companies. And you look at the people who would populate the FTC or the other regulatory agencies that would deal with big tech, they’re thinking about this stuff now.

Finally. They didn’t before, I’ll tell you that.

Even the most conventional center-left neoliberal, whatever you want to call them, Democratic policy wonks I think have arrived at the place where they can see that there’s something, something big needs to be done against these companies.

You think Trump will move against them in any way? Besides his crazy tweets?

I wouldn’t be … I got invited to speak at the Justice Department by Makan Delrahim.

Yeah, I just had him on the podcast. He’s hugely intelligent.

He’s a fascinating guy. He endorsed my book to his division. And it’s this strange thing, walking into the Jeff Sessions Justice Department and I’m kind of delivering my populist indictment of these companies and they’re nodding their heads and you think, “Well, this could go really badly in dangerous directions,” but so much of our world is about pressure. So, what was with Microsoft, Microsoft wasn’t broken into a million pieces, but it felt pressure. And that pressure can strain them.

So when it came to using their power in a bullying sort of way, they thought two and three times about it, to the detriment of the company. But also to the good of the internet. I think Google would have been strangled by Microsoft. I don’t know if you agree with that …

Yes. Yeah, I do. Well, maybe not. Time comes for people, but in this case, they do have these advantages that they don’t even realize they have. They do realize they have them. I do not know Everyone says [today’s tech giants are] more reflective. I know it sounds crazy, but what just happened with Instagram and Facebook tells me no, that they have learned … If that happened there, it’s a big sign that they’re becoming more inflexible.

That’s actually part of the problem, which is that in the end you can apply pressure on them, but you can’t count on them to regulate themselves.


And there was a moment … it took me so long to quit Facebook. It’s not even that I liked using it that much, but I wrote a book, I knew everything that was wrong with Facebook, but I just kept it. And then there was that … there was kind of this spurt of things that Zuckerberg did around the hearings, and just listening to him talk after everything, I thought, “You’re still being therefore, evasive. You’re still dissembling about the core things that your business does. Everything I think that you’re doing wrong, you’re probably doing 100 times worse than I know, and I’m just done with you.”

You broke up with him.

I broke up with him, yeah.

You’re still on Twitter, yeah?


Why? I like Twitter. It’s just a mess.

Yes It’s fun. I can’t actually … I think that there are bad, obviously bad things that come of Twitter, but there’s also a lot of good that comes of Twitter.

Funny names and stuff like that.

But it’s also, as a person who is trying to … you made fun of me for coming in with my paper edition of the New York Times.

Yes, I did.

But I also like Twitter. I think that they’re both pretty good technologies for delivering information.

I agree. I just haven’t picked up a paper newspaper in 100 years.

In my life, I kind of need them to complement one another, because I get lost on Twitter all the time.

Well, that’s good. So, finishing up, what’s your next book, then? What are you gonna focus on?

I’m focusing on work.

Future of work. That’s my big thing. I talk about that a lot. Especially, I’m focusing on the tech company’s responsibility in it, but it’s critical, how we’re gonna work. It’s all affected by tech, AI, automation, robotics.

Totally. I’m not doing this about tech, per se.

Right. [whispers] It’s about tech.

I know it is about tech. But tech is everything.


No, I’m trying to do it about kind of asking the question, “Why is it that we work?”


Work is a source of meaning. It’s something that’s …


But it’s something that we … We work all the time and yet we’re very unreflective about why we do it. So, as a consequence, both as individuals and collectively, we degrade the possibility of gaining meaning from work. And if we focused on that, I think that we could make work a lot better for us as both the choices that we make individually but also …

That’s a great topic. By the way, you’re only gonna work three days a week going forward, just so you know. Your kids are definitely not working more than three.

I’m kind of psyched about that.

Benetan? You’ll be dead by that time.


So, you’re gonna work 365 …

I thought tech was gonna deliver me immortality.

No, it’s not gonna do that for you. Maybe your kids, but not you. Never for you.

I thought the singularity was happening in my lifetime.

No, it’s not. Let’s not even get into that. Frank, it was great talking to you. Thanks for coming on the show.

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