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posted by martyb on Wednesday December 06, @05:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the thorny-questions dept.

The bloom is off the rose:

It was about an hour and a half into a hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee when Sen. Dianne Feinstein laid into Facebook, Google and Twitter.

"I don't think you get it," she began. "You bear this responsibility. You've created these platforms, and now they are being misused. And you have to be the ones to do something about it. Or we will."

The tech giants were being grilled by Congress over Russian trolls abusing their services to meddle in last year's US election, and the California Democratic lawmaker had had it.

It was just one of very public tongue-lashings the Silicon Valley companies received over the course of three marathon congressional panels last month, held over a two-day span. The hearings were anticlimactic, in part because the three companies only sent their general counsels instead of their famous CEOs -- a point several lawmakers bemoaned during the public questioning.

Is it Google, Twitter, and Facebook who don't get it, or Senators like Dianne Feinstein who don't get it?


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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Joe Desertrat on Thursday December 07, @10:16PM (1 child)

    by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Thursday December 07, @10:16PM (#607014)

    That's already done through regulation.

    Why should we rely on regulation, which is only as strong or effective as the government currently in power allows, rather than those who own shares in the company? Right now it appears to be relatively common to hear of effective lawsuits when the most short term profitable path is not taken, it does not appear to be practically possible for a shareholder to sue to prevent or change any such action.

    At this point, the Ben & Jerry approach had failed since they were seeking a buyer.

    They were not selling because the business had failed, they were retiring and no longer wanted to be involved with running a company. They had a buyer lined up who they believed matched their vision, most other shareholders approved, but a tiny minority threatened to sue if they did not accept a higher bid with no guarantees of behavior. If a counter suit supporting a more altruistic path was practically possible, the remaining shareholders might have been able to call that bluff and force the sale to the lower, but more acceptable bid.

    And at a glance, the courts allow a lot of crap such as poison pills and golden parachutes, multiple tiers of share privileges, and greenmail and reverse greenmail (selectively buying or selling shares from certain shareholders, usually in an effort to fend off takeovers).

    Among the sorts of things that it might be possible to prevent if corporate laws were rewritten to encourage behavior other than short term gain.

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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday December 07, @11:28PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @11:28PM (#607042) Journal

    Why should we rely on regulation, which is only as strong or effective as the government currently in power allows, rather than those who own shares in the company?

    Conflict of interest. For example, what's going to happen when the shareholders aren't interested in the common good?

    They were not selling because the business had failed, they were retiring and no longer wanted to be involved with running a company.

    The company had a very deflated stock price. That was driving the sale. The founders otherwise could have appointed replacement leadership and no drama would have ensued.

    Among the sorts of things that it might be possible to prevent if corporate laws were rewritten to encourage behavior other than short term gain.

    Ben & Jerry's used two of those tricks - poison pills and tiered ownership.