Social Media: The New Chaos Economy

I was going to do a review today, but the sister group to Futanari Erotic Fiction on Facebook, Genderotica, got disbanded today and I am feeling shocked and stunned. That was a transgender reading and book group around longer then ours, over 6,000 strong, and in a flash it is gone and erased from the largest social media platform in the world.

Six-thousand fans in a group and gone, just like that.

From what I hear the group was taken down by Facebook. If true, and I have little reason to doubt this but I want to be fair to both sides, this is troubling in a larger sense. I have seen this happen before.

So here is my problem.

So the Silicon Valley tech-monarchs want to create "new economies" and regulate them all by themselves? And these are economies, because we pay to have our posts seen by more people, they pay us for the ads people see on videos posted on content we create, and there is an economy there that people make their livings from. This feels like inter-state commerce, at least for people in the country for which I live.

So what is the state of commerce on social media?

I sit here and I imagine a backwards socialist country that regulates commerce by random decree. The postal service in this imaginary country cannot deliver magazines on right-wing politics and hunting, because someone somewhere was upset with an article and got a ban put in place. Magazines covering sex and relationships? Some of them banned from being delivered by this postal service, some of them not. Not because of legality of content, but because someone else doesn't want to see them. They upset some group so they ban anyone from ever delivering them.

The market and the method of delivery here are the same in this backwards social media economy.

If you think the system "you root for" swings right or left? If you are happy when one site or publication gets banned because it is from an opposite side and cheer on the mob? You need to reevaluate your perspective. This is not about one side or the other, this is about the chaos of dictatorial decree versus having a government protect our rights to free expression and commerce.

This is basic 1776 and Boston Tea Party stuff, and not one side or the other. If you were taught history in school you would know what this is all about. And this is not right-wing or left wing, again, try to take off your red-state or blue-state glasses and look at this from a wider perspective.

We, as a society, decided magazines like Guns and Ammo, Hunting, Penthouse, Playboy, and Hustler can exist. Similarly, political magazines, right or left, The New Republic or National Review can exist. They can have websites, can be printed on printers, take subscriptions, and the postal service delivers their printed content without bias or limitation. They can engage in commerce directly with their readers and advertisers freely and without limits (or minimal limits and regulation, things like taxes, customer privacy, and rules that everyone must play by).

The social media economy?

You get demonetized! You get banned! You upset group X, so you are banned! This mob hates that mob, so the agitators all get banned from commerce! You can't make any money on your videos because we don't agree with your politics, your guns, showing your boobs, your language, what you choose to eat, your humor, or because some your fans fell in with the wrong group of people. These games can make money on let's play videos, and those you can't. Let's change the rules arbitrarily, so next month you get half the views or page impressions. It's like if the postal service gets to control your subscriber numbers or gets to say how many people get to see your ads.

Hell, if people hate what you do, or just for kicks, they can form a flash mob, post a bunch of antisemitic or racist comments in your message board or comments area while pretending to support you, and get you shut down.

Dis-empowerment by association fuels "the internet anti-economy."

Honestly, I don't care if you are selling guns, politics, games, veganism, meat-eating, religion, UFOs, or pictures of nude women. Whatever floats your boat. And you can sell boats too.

I believe in free markets.

As long as it is legal, you pay taxes and play by the rules, you should be able to participate in the market.

The social media economy? Pure chaos. It is like that crazy dictatorial republic where every day it is a new ban or a new decree, and it only exists because enough "forget about it" money flows to the people that should be watching out for the interests of the people. Large groups of people that want to participate in the social media economy can't, and you end up with large groups of upset people.

And nobody has that historical 'we as a nation' view and looks out for the consumer. There is no oversight, no watchdog, and it feels like there are no rules except for the arbitrary ones that each platform is free to make up.

This reason is why we have government. To keep idiots from ruining something good. We vote, we discuss rules, we put forward ideas, and we seek to serve the greater good - and yes, that means putting up with the ideas we disagree with. Guns or boobs, they both have a place in our society. We can debate how much and what the limits are, as all societies should, but never to the level of banning the discussion of an idea or the ability to pursue commerce regarding something legal and accepted as a part of normal society.

Not if you agree with it or not, and if you don't you start banning free expression - that is never part of the discussion, nor should it be. I feel those who seek to silence free expression stand on the side of dictators and tyrants, because the logical end to silencing others for the expression of ideas is ultimately violence. If you say something should not be said, then you are saying it is okay to use force (through mob rule and then physical violence) to keep someone for saying it. History proves this through so much wasted blood and tears. This is another reason we have government, to protect the little groups of people with currently unpopular opinions. The civil, LGBT, and women's rights movements started small and unpopular as well.


I don't know. I suppose if I were a student of economics I would say something smart but ultimately meaningless in the hopes someone would listen, such as, "An industry can rarely regulate itself" or "free markets need oversight and accountability."

But we are not there.

We will never be there.

We have lost ourselves in the dazzle of the lights, in the spectacle of this new marketplace so much that we allow monopolists and tyrants to rule over our lives, take our personal data, know things about us that we never authorized them to know about, and run roughshod over hundreds of years of what we learned about capital markets and what worked. We have surrendered our reading materials to one company, our data to another, our security to yet another, and our productivity to yet another.

We have forgotten all the lessons of the past.

How free markets work. What the role of a neutral and impartial government is and why we elect them to look after our interests. Why we keep outside influences outside of governance.

So everyone has a fair playing field.

Now this? This is just selling books, to a niche audience of those interested in transgender fiction of a more prurient nature, but still it is an example of a market people wish to participate in, both producers and consumers, and the social media economies and how they have failed.

And how they self-regulate themselves out of the interest of "less trouble" and how that can actually cause more.

But then again, I don't see regulation here as being an answer because so many special interests and agendas are beholden by those who are supposed to be fair and impartial. I have little faith in the ability for outside forces to be able to come in and effectively regulate because these outside forces of regulation and fair play are so beholden to money and influence by these behemoths.

They would just end up writing regulations that benefited whoever gave them the most money. Continence of power is too reliant on the coffers of wealth. And the coffers of wealth are too reliant on keeping playing fields tilted towards those who hold power.

From Youtube to Facebook you hear the stories, demonetization to the shutting down of interest groups. Banning the ability to make money off anything remotely controversial. Yet I can still subscribe to Playboy. And I can still subscribe to magazines which feature guns prominently on their covers. Of leftist magazine this or right-wing journal that.

And on social media and video sharing sites?

I don't see a future there, yet we are told these places are the future.

And most ironically, print media is way better at the whole freedom of speech thing. The magazines I have to wait for in my mailbox. Instant information, delivered monthly. Yet print is dying.

As is, I feel, freedom of speech online.

I guess my mistake is to believe the same government which protect my right to express myself freely has any control over these online marketplaces and social media markets. I can express myself freely, just not there. And these places, social media, they have become the town square of this day and age.

I miss classical economists. I miss the long, boring diatribes on the notions and lessons of keeping markets fair and free, of lowering barriers to entry, and making sure playing fields are level. I sometimes get the feeling socialist economists create these situations where they advocate flawed capitalist systems that are doomed to fail, just so they can prove a point or get it changed later to a model more in line with socialist ideals.

Social media?

A deeply flawed economic system with loathsome and random self-regulation by mob rule.

I sit here wanting to say, "screw economics, it doesn't affect me."

But today, it does. I sell books. That makes me a capitalist. A left-leaning and sexually progressive capitalist but one that respects the market that blood and treasure has been spent to protect and build. That Boston Tea Party thing? It means something to me. I look at our flag and understand it means both us and those who came before, and that it is also a promise to the future. It also means respecting what made us great, and that includes the work government does to keep things working and running well. Boring stuff. Management stuff. Paperwork stuff. Regulation stuff. Tax stuff to support all this. Market stuff to play fair all this.

I respect government and love them when they give me the freedom to choose what supermarket I can shop at, when a chain of supermarkets cannot come in and make a deal with the city to keep other stores out. They are there to look out for our best interests. They are incredible when they make things work well. They give me the freedom to do this.

But today, things are not working well. Not for this forgettable and small corner of the Internet that sells silly and stupid books, but ones we love to write and others love to read.

One 6,000 strong marketplace is gone to the wind.

And another 10,000 strong marketplace of which I manage sitting on shifting sands.

Perhaps tomorrow, this shall be gone too.