Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Facebook or Google When They Come Out Against SOPA

Cares about you, kind of. Not really.
Yet another Important Internet Person has come out against SOPA, the controversial legislation that would put the power of a kill-switch in our totally computer-savvy government’s hands: The Zuck.

You should not listen to him, nor commend him, nor care. Why?

Posting to his public Facebook profile, Mark Zuckerberg writes:

The internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world. We can’t let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet’s development. Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the internet.

The world today needs political leaders who are pro-internet. We have been working with many of these folks for months on better alternatives to these current proposals. I encourage you to learn more about these issues and tell your congressmen that you want them to be pro-internet.

Pro-Internet! That sounds nice. Zuckerberg then links to Facebook’s page detailing all of their political stances on piracy bills.

Just don’t forget: Facebook’s only against this piracy bill because it could affect them in a not-nice way, not because of how it might effect you. If that were the case, they’d be advocating for your rights while policing their own biggest problem, privacy.

Considering the FTC is now probing Facebook over potential privacy violations in the new Timeline feature, and considering that un-tagging one’s self on Facebook is now basically an act of sedition (given how difficult they’ve made it to do), and considering that Zuck himself has noted “The Age of Privacy” as “over”, do you really think Facebook cares about you? Not so much. But they definitely don’t want the government up in their business, which is the actual reason a gigantic, money-making business like that would oppose SOPA, as opposed to the ostensible reason they’re giving: That this is all for You, The User.

Google, pretty much the same deal. At least they’re trying to educate the public on the various ways in which they violate your privacy through a new ad campaign, something—like cigarette companies admitting their products give people cancer—that’s good to have out there, even if it is long overdue on arrival.

When you look at companies opposed to SOPA, simply ask yourself two questions:

Do they stand to lose money?

And then:

What kind of money do they stand to lose?

With a company like Wikipedia—who thrive off of donations and is an essential part of a movement like open-source technology—people with good intentions stand to lose well-intentioned money. If their autonomy and freedom is muted, Wikipedia isn’t just a moot website, it’s a moot idea. If Google (a public company) and Facebook (soon to be a public company) were to be shut down or restricted by the government for SOPA compliance, the inevitable result is a downgrade in your experience, potentially costing their respective businesses some coin. At the very least, compliance with a massive government law like this costs money. Nobody likes spending money that doesn’t make money, especially when it comes to government compliance. It’s a giant pain in the ass (just ask Goldman Sachs!).

In the end, SOPA isn’t great for You, The Internet User. But it’s especially bad for They, The Internet Money Companies.

Remember this as they keep shoving their party lines down your throat.

fkamer@observer.com | @weareyourfek

Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Facebook or Google When They Come Out Against SOPA