Hart: Google CEO, the next Silicon Valley oligarch, to be grilled by Congress

Hart: Google CEO, the next Silicon Valley oligarch, to be grilled by Congress

December 7th, 2018 by Ron Hart in Opinion Columns

In this Jan. 24, 2018, file photo, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, speaks during a conversation as part of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Pichai will testify next Tuesday at a congressional hearing on the company's business practices. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Photo by Markus Schreiber

We don't have royal weddings in America; our spectacle is Congress grilling business executives. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg appeared earlier in the year, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai is scheduled this week.

When tiny Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook sat on a cushion to testify on privacy before the Senate, his condescension was palpable. First, the 75-year-old senators had no idea how to even access their iTunes password and should not have been the ones questioning him. Second, by day two, Zuckerberg was so confident he was not going to be punished that he intimidated some senators by mentioning their favorite pets, mothers' maiden names and where they met their spouses.

Ron Hart

Ron Hart

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The concern Americans have is that we let a few leftist companies control the algorithms that determine what information we get. If this outcome is bad for those tech titans, better Google it now while you can.

I am a free-market libertarian, and I never advocate for more regulation — mainly because it doesn't work, especially when it is done by government (which I trust only one-tenth as much as I trust business).

If you study history, you find that our nation's biggest financial problems stemmed from highly regulated areas: the mortgage crisis, bank bailouts, federal deficits, the Great Depression, Smoot-Hawley/tariffs, wars of choice, Dodd-Frank, Obamacare, etc.

All financial calamities happen because government's grifting hands of regulation are on them.

That said, the public must know that companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter (stocks I own) have undermined conservative thought and promoted leftist values in very nefarious ways.

Tucker Carlson, the best anchor on TV, has talked about this issue and tried to square it with his libertarian sensibilities. It's tough. But public shaming and good reporting, not regulation, are the best fix.

When I was young there was no Twitter or Facebook. Someone in Columbia, Tennessee, had to drive out in the country, then a mile down a chert road to my house to call me an idiot to my face.

We live in a world now where Twitter has blurred the difference between the town crier and the town drunk.

Google has a 90 percent market share in search advertising, a virtual monopoly. You know where to hide the body of someone you killed? On the second page of a Bing or Yahoo search page. The #1 search on Bing is "Google."

Google, Twitter, Facebook and now Amazon have inordinate sway over what people see and read, and they manipulate everything to fit their arrogant, left-coast-bubble view of the rest of us.

The "Big Three" control content so well that even when I asked Google, "Is Google or Facebook a monopoly with a leftist agenda?" to research this column, I was directed to some adorable cat videos, which I enjoyed for hours.

It's creepy what Google does with your information. I searched one time for a Porsche online and started getting solicitation emails for Cialis.

The hypocritical thing about all this is that liberal politicians, who are anti-big business, love breaking up monopolies. But because Google, Facebook and Twitter manipulate information to help Democrats, they look the other way. Talk about intellectual dishonesty.

Technology moves fast. Conservatives should fight their instincts to try to regulate or censor the internet. Perhaps the best solution is a Fox News-like business that takes on the left's bias in the free market. If Twitter and Google are censoring content to fit their liberal narratives, it would not be hard to fund a competitor. Peter Thiel or others could do it. I'd invest.

In Europe, citizens can better control their personal information to remain anonymous on Google. Lawyers for Google went to the International Court of Justice to fight this movement. The court said there is a right to be forgotten. Not a bad idea; it has done wonders for Anthony Weiner.

Contact Ron Hart at Ron@RonaldHart.com or Twitter @RonaldHart.

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