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The FCC chairman deletes his Facebook account

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On Tuesday, as part of his crusade against net neutrality, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai went on an offensive
 
November 30 · Issue #37 · View online
The Interface
On Tuesday, as part of his crusade against net neutrality, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai went on an offensive against Twitter. Today, in another speech making the case that social media is bad, he said that he no longer has a Facebook account.  
The FCC chairman said that “happy timelines” on the site “changed dramatically in the lead-up to and aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.”
“Where does America go from here? I certainly don’t have a magic solution,” he said. “But what I do know is that we can’t allow the strident rudeness of an angry few to overwhelm what I continue to believe is the quiet decency of most Americans.”
On one hand, this is a reasonable view, presumably shared by many readers of this newsletter. Social media is strident and partisan and exhausting, and sometimes it inspires real-world violence. 
On the other hand, readers of this newsletter don’t have the power to regulate speech — and Pai does. His immediate aim is to push against (reasonable) fears that telecom providers will use their power, in a non-net-neutral world, to discriminate against different kinds of speech and content. Facebook and Twitter already do, he says; so what if his former employer Verizon does, too? 
“Despite all the talk, and all the fear, that broadband providers could decide what internet content consumers can see, recent experience shows that so-called edge providers are in fact deciding what content they see. These providers routinely block or discriminate against content they don’t like.” 
But even if you crave a return to a more temperate political climate, it can be chilling to hear a leading representative of a notoriously anti-free-speech administration saying "we can’t allow the strident rudeness” of social media users. Strident rudeness is, after all, protected by the First Amendment, however distasteful it may be. And while Pai took time to praise some recent social media trends — including the MeToo movement, believe it or not — his general outlook was dour, in ways that would spook me if I worked at Facebook or Twitter. 
Perhaps this is all partisan bluster meant to defuse critics on the way to the planned execution, on December 14th, of net neutrality. But as Pai begins planning his next initiatives, it bears watching whether his antipathy toward social media leads to new regulations. The idea that social media is a dangerous, destabilizing force has never had more currency — and it holds sway among liberals as well as conservatives.

Democracy
FCC chairman Ajit Pai condemns death threat allegedly sent to congressman over net neutrality
Russian trolls pushed graphic, racist tweets to American voters
Why Twitter didn't delete Britain First videos Trump retweeted
Elsewhere
How 41 People in Lithuania Took Over Your Facebook Feed
Tim Kendall, Pinterest’s top business executive, is leaving the company
Launches
Facebook expands feature letting businesses build Messenger into their websites
Takes
Snapchat’s radical, self-serving, possibly brilliant plan to save us from fake news
Goodbye, Twitter
And finally ..
Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann says he’s working on ‘a follow-up to Vine’
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Bored Panda memes? casey@theverge.com 
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