Monopoly of services and Net Neutrality – berries will be ahead

Two or three years ago, in the United States, there was a lot of talk about net neutrality – the principle that a communications provider must provide equal access to all Internet resources (as opposed to limiting the speed of unloved – read, alien and non-dough – resources). Manifestations, demonstrations, requirements for the FCC to leave the network neutral (this was determined by law) and so on – in general, quite a lot of noise.

However, according to the latest news, it seems stronger and stronger that these were flowers. Berries will begin when there comes a mass realization that it’s not the providers, but the monopoly services that receive absolutely colossal and invisible control over public life.

And if any Comcast all of America simply did not like, then it seems that Google and Facebook should be no less afraid than the coronavirus. Well, or, if in our realities, suddenly not Roskomnadzor may be the main threat.

The Markup Edition conducted an experiment: they opened a clean mailbox in Gmail, subscribed to the mailings of American presidential candidates and looked at where these mailings fall.

It turned out that depending on the candidate – in the main mailbox, in the ad box or in spam. Moreover, the difference between the candidates is enormous, from almost two-thirds in the main mailbox to almost 100% in advertising or two-thirds in spam:

You can, of course, stand in the pose of a Google spokesperson and say “The robot decided so, the candidates themselves are to blame, the server is poorly configured, the wrong keywords were written, users like everything“, But there is a small number of such nuances.

Firstly, it is almost impossible to determine whether the robot decided it or someone helped him – algorithmically, by training a fashionable neural network on the correct data set or by manual correction. Only through the court and long persistent interrogations of the employees involved in the process there, in the hope that someone will confess (the practice of interrogations is already there, we note, but this is clearly not a solution that can be applied quickly and effectively).

Secondly, even if the robot itself decided – hello, a brave new world in which the next step the presidents will work with robots more than with voters, because it doesn’t matter what kind of political platform you have if all letters about it fall into spam . When the opposition to the robot does not affect the sales of buzzers from aliexpress, but rather the chances of being elected president, then you will realize that all of the current “search engine optimization” was also flowers. Budgets such as those featured in large election campaigns have not been dreamed of by SEO specialists in happy dreams.

Thirdly, all this epochal battle will take place absolutely imperceptibly for its ultimate goal, that is, the voter. In general, nothing will stir the surface of the water in the pond, in the depths of which there will be all this. This is not even a classic violation of net neutrality, in which you can at least notice that your provider has something that the porn hub slows down, while the neighbor’s does not. No, there will be complete silence.

Fourth, if you are now thinking about scandals involving the formation of news feeds on Facebook, Yandex, etc. aggregator services, the situation here is an order of magnitude worse – because the user not only does not notice anything, but even has no reason to suspect that something may be wrong. A personal mailbox is a priori and intuitively perceived by the user precisely as private, unlike a news feed formed by a third-party service, but the concept that its contents is de facto controlled by someone outsiderscounterintuitive.

In general, it seems that the real problems with the dissemination of socially significant information on the Internet – they are already visible not even on the horizon, but at arm’s length, and this is by no means fake news of Russian hackers on Facebook, not Roskomnadzor and not haters on reddit .

This is much worse – you will see the truth, only the truth, nothing but the truth. Just not the whole truth. The robot decided so. You will be satisfied.

What to do with all of this is not very clear, especially since the Internet is equally cross-border and a threat – who said that Google’s algorithms can only affect US elections? Gmail is used all over the world.

Most likely, in the next decade we will see how the further national fragmentation of the Internet – countries will try to create their own services in order to minimize the possibility of influence external interest on domestic processes, as well as a number of antitrust processes with the division of Internet giants into competing parts. Moreover, in contrast to similar processes over traditional companies, in this case the struggle will be very dirty due to the involvement of political motives in it, because control over information is primarily politics.

P.S. Let’s try to raise this topic. at one of our round tables March 5 at AnalogBytes – at “Fragmentation of the Big Internet” with Artyom Kiryanov, Philip Kulin and Anton Merkurov, and maybe at “Bloggers and Media” with Dmitry Solopov. At a minimum, this will be an unexpected turn of the topic.

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