There’s been much noise this last few weeks about the privacy policies of Google and the censorship policies of Twitter. Essentially, Google has decided that it can do whatever it wants with your information, because, by playing with your information like it is lego pieces, Google can make your life better. And Twitter? Because Twitter wants to move to other countries, and because other countries have some strict censorship rules, then Twitter needs to have the technology to censorship your messages and tell you, without beating around bushes, that it can and probably will one day censor your tweets. This is, of course, appalling! How can any one do such a thing? Man-handle your data like it’s a the 1990s all over again! And censorship, the horrible ‘C’ word that make the total sum of the internet scream in terror and scream blood murder! The horror! The horror!
Let me explain how this works.
Corporations are created to make money. Apple makes computers to make money. Starbucks brews horrible coffee in order to make money. Exxon drills into the ground to dig up oil to put in your car to make money. Threadless, the clothing place, exists to make money. Amazon makes it easy for you to buy pretty much anything you want in order to make money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Facebook does not exist in order to make your social life better. Facebook exists so that it can gather your data and sell it to advertisers so that they understand you better and sell you crap. Google was created with the same purpose. So was Twitter. It amazes me how quickly people forget that. A great example of this was the battle a couple of weeks ago over SOPA/PIPA. This wasn’t “the people” versus the mega-movie and mega-record corporations. This was a group of mega-corporations versus other mega-corporations. Let’s use Google for example. Google didn’t fight SOPA/PIPA to defend the American dream and stand up to censorship. Google fought SOPA/PIPA because it threatened their business model. Did Google shut down or say anything when Megaupload was shut down? No. Why? Because Google doesn’t care about Megaupload. What does Google care about? Remember the sentences at the beginning of this paragraph? Very good. Google cares about making money.
Governments have to respect our privacy and they can’t censor us, specifically our government. We have a Constitution that says that the United States government can dig into our private matters and they can’t censor us. That makes our country really awesome. I can get a permit, go out into the sidewalk and spend two hours talking about the aliens from the third dimension have tried to get me to marry coconuts since I was four. I can do this and no one can stop me. Twitter and Google don’t have this. They have these things called “User agreements.” User agreements are those long things that you never read but that you sign off on. The User agreements are their Constitution. If you want to use Twitter, you have to agree to their constitution. If you don’t, you can’t use it. This confuses people because most of the population believes that Google and Twitter are there because it is our right to have them and how dare they tell us what to do! It doesn’t work like that. If Twitter wanted to make it mandatory that you twit about how much you love “Darkwing Duck,” there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s a private corporation playing in the public sphere. If Twitter wants to take it’s ball and go home, it is within it’s rights.
Is Twitter doing itself a disservice by implementing a censorship policy? Will the public rebel and stop using Twitter? Maybe. Will less people use Google because of their “Privacy policies”? Maybe. But Twitter and Google have no obligation to change for the public. And most people don’t care. The people who do care are a vocal minority. Please don’t mistake this post as me apologizing or defending a Google or Twitter. I think, especially for Twitter, this is dangerous. Let’s be real, though. It is important to understand where business is coming from. There is but on thing on their collective minds. Don’t think, even for a second, that corporations owe you anything or that they have any sort of moral standards. The only rule they have to follow is the rule of economics. Get money-money, take money-money, uh. Everything or anything besides that hard and fast rule is not only silly for them to think about, but is so below them that they haven’t even pondered it.