This post is an offshoot from yesterday's. The Ayn Rand Institute’s (ARI) digital publication New Ideal has an article about free speech and regulation featuring John Stossel and ARI’s chairman Yaron Brook. It includes a video of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook testifying before Congress that he is willing to work with regulators for what he regards as rightful regulation. Brook and Stossel Scrutinize Facebook’s Regulatory Bid.
Stossel appears before Brook and argues that Facebook is only trying to use regulations to erect a protective wall against competitors, a frequent argument made against government regulation by free markets advocates. Then Brook argues instead that Facebook is acting in self-defense, to protect itself against government meddling and/or control. Finally, Stossel begrudgingly accepts Brook's argument, according to the author of the article.
A business such as Facebook may face two fronts -- competitors and government. Stossel focuses on the first and Brook the second. Zuckerberg welcomes government regulation if he can shape it to (1) legally support Facebook’s own practices or desires, and (2) make it easier for Facebook to comply with future regulation. He doesn't express any desire about wanting to make compliance more difficult for Facebook's competitors. He may have this desire in the back of his mind to thwart competition like Stossel says, but thwarting competition is not mentioned in the video with Zuckerberg.
I agree with Brook's idea that Zuckerberg is trying to defend himself or Facebook from government controls. However, Brook and I differ at least some on the kind of controls. He uses Microsoft as an example to explain why it's self-defense. However, in Microsoft's case, the government's concern was monopoly. There might be some concern about monopoly in Facebook's case, but it is not mentioned in the video with Zuckerberg. Instead his concern is bad regulation -- bad in his view. He welcomes government regulation about censoring content that users put on Facebook as long as the regulation is shaped to suit Facebook. Using the new terms I introduced in my previous post, Zuckerberg is comfortable with turning Facebook's quasi-censorship or extra-legal censorship into legal censorship. Opposing bad regulation is a form of self-defense. On the other hand, Zuckerberg wanting "good regulation" -- good in his view -- is a form of offense.