TWIT 785: Vote Before the Asteroid Hits

Beep boop - this is a robot. A new show has been posted to TWiT…

What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!

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Just one point, so far, the Huawei switches are running code which has been scrutinised by many people, including the British secret service for over a decade.

Heck, GCHQ co-run the inspection centre in the UK with Huawei.

Also, the Democrats are eating babies? When I was growing up, it was always the right wingers…

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LOL, damn, every year there are baby eaters!!!


I am with Divindra on whether tech is our savior. It doesn’t require near monopolies. Zoom is tiny compared to Apple. And the other platforms that my son uses at school are tiny compared to Zoom.

Leo, you are making too big a deal about stock prices. Tesla’s market cap is higher than all other car companies combined. But they sell like 1% of the cars on the road. Their P/E ratio is 1000 which is insane. The stock price of Hertz rocketed 600% right after they claimed bankruptcy. Stock prices do not have any relation to the real economy or whether the business is sound.


I enjoy TWIT but to be honest much of this episode sounded like an overwrought dorm room conversation. Much talk of how Zuckerberg is one of the most powerful people in the world with no tangible examples of this power. The Medium article mentioned that Leo liked so much was similarly example free. It actually said Zuckeberg has power comparable to the President of the United States with life and death power foretold millions of people.

This is ridiculous. I share concerns over Facebook’s influence but influence is not the same as power. Zuckerberg can’t order Crimea invaded, launch cruise missiles to kill hundreds of people thousands of miles away, order U.S. businesses to not do business with particular companies, imprison thousands of people for their religious beliefs, or even tell the NBA to not say bad things about him. He can’t knock my door down without knocking and shoot my dog, pull me over for some pretext when I am driving or force me to sell him my house like my local police and city government can.

Sure Facebook has influence but if Mark Zuckerberg is so powerful answer me this: If Mark Zuckerberg wanted to guarantee Donald Trump was re-elected could he do it? If you think think he could, then tell what specifically he would do to make it happen. Saying “modify the Facebook algorithm to make Trump look good” is not an answer.

I understand a bunch of media people thinking media is important but not every problem, not even every serious problem is an existential crisis or going to end civilization as we know it.

Being described as The Simpsons of technology podcasts, at least I think that was it, strikes me as more of an insult than a compliment because, in my opinion, The Simpsons started to go down hill after the first ten years and never really got its mojo back.
Yes - we can, technically, scrutinise the hardware in our phones just as we can look at the source code of open source software which, as evidenced by the Heartbleed bug in OpenSSL, we know people don’t do since the issues probably would have seen spotter before they became a problem

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As Zuckerberg has total control over what Facebook does (60% voting rights, he can veto any decision or force through (almost) anything he wants) and can therefore use it as a tool to track and manipulate over 2 billion people.

In that respect, he has more power than the President, he “only” has control over, what, 329 million?

Could he get Trump elected or make him lose? If he really wanted, yes. We saw the power of the advertising on Facebook during the 2016 elections, the Brexit referendum and the last UK election. He could theoretically put his own ads in, or he could block certain ads from third parties or allow negative ads. If he vetoed all pro-Republican ads and let the Decomcrats bad mouth the Republicans (the reverse of 2016), then, yes, he could influence the election.

I prefer our art of election advertising - only allowed in the 2 months before the election and you can only promote your policies, you cannot bad-mouth any opposition party.

Zuckerberg can affect what 2 billion people see on Facebook; that is quite different from controlling 2 billion people.

By the same token, Facebook ads were used in the 2016 election and in the Brexit campaign but it is not established that they were decisive in either case. The Clinton campaign outspent the Trump campaign almost 2 to 1 and lost.

Zuckerberg could certainly control what Facebook does regarding 2020 election ads; it is absolutely not proven that he could control the results of the election and certainly not that he is one of the most powerful people in the world with life and death control over untold millions.

It was mentioned that it was Thought TWIT was the longest running show on the net. I don’t know The Funday Pawpet show might give you a run for the title. Started in the fall of 1999, using Real Player, ran for 4 hours every Sunday till 2018. Took a break for about a year, and are now back on Sunday nights for 4 hours every other Sunday night.

Since we are talking anti-trust all the time on TWIT and this week felt 2/3rds anti-trust, and platform power I feel it would be a good idea to have an expert on the subject matter to provide insight on the conversation topic.

Can we have an anti-trust economist or anti-trust lawyer on the pod for one of the panel discussions? Someone like Marshall Steinbaum or a different person? I am suggesting Prof. Marshall Steinbaum for he studies monopoly and monopsony power and how big tech companies and other sectors of the economy influence prices, worker compensation, etc. For example he wrote a legal brief about the T-Mobile / Sprint merger but also other subjects. Marshall also does other podcasts so he will be familiar with what to do tech wise.


The reason Zuck is powerful is because he controls what people can see on FB and lets just say, there are tons of very gullible people out there as long as it meets up with their world view.

Or just make up something and tell them xxxxx said it. These same people don’t require any further evidence than this.

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True. But that hardly amounts to the power of life and death over untold millions and does not make him “one of the most powerful people in the world”.

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