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[liberationtech] Independent UK Critic of NBC has Twitter account suspended after network complains

Yosem Companys companys at stanford.edu
Wed Aug 1 13:47:08 PDT 2012


>
> *Bernard* - I get where you're coming from, I just do truly believe (and
> perhaps because I know and trust a lot of their staff) that Twitter is
> "different."  Their track record has been pretty great too - standing up
> for users in court, etc. (see:
> https://www.eff.org/pages/who-has-your-back/)


Agreed. But as I explain in yesterday's post <http://is.gd/nV16Y2>, you're
still relying on a for-profit firm's good will to provide a public good,
and such a firm will only do so as long as they deem it profitable.  It's
the definition of being a for-profit firm.

For-profit firms are a legal system that creates external pressure from
shareholders for firms to perform in a reliable and accountable fashion to
maximize profits.  This means making a product as cheaply as possible and
selling it for the highest price possible.  That is, revenue maximimization
plus cost minimization.  That external pressure only grows when a
for-profit firm goes public.

For the system to work, the name of the game is customers, not users,
because users don't pay the rent.  (At least for now.
VRM<http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/projectvrm/Main_Page> is
trying to change that.)  One large corporate account can net you millions
of dollars in a reliable and time-efficient manner.  You may need
thousands, if not millions, of users to attain the same feat.  (And this is
irrevelant when you decide to give away your service for free in order to
get as many users as possible for corporate data trafficking/advertising
purposes.)

With Twitter, you're relying on the leaders' and shareholders' good will.
 But this can change at any moment.  History in numerous scientific fields
shows that while leaders (and good will) can die, systems are virtually
eternal.

History suggests that if you want tech companies to do the right thing, you
need to help them build their systems in such a way as to promote those
things.  And this is something EFF could help with, by assisting young
promising startups on their legal formation before they become the Googles,
Facebooks, and Twitters of the world.  Otherwise, the typical for-profit
incorporation papers will create a governance structure whose sole
accountability is to making money.

Yosem
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