Q&A of the Day – Will tech execs be held accountable for censorship?
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
Today’s entry: @brianmuddradio Yeah right...that will never happen ya big dummy (Boards of directors and shareholders holding tech execs accountable for censorship activity). And any time a corporation can demonstrate social responsibilities it often helps in the long run with marketability.
Bottom Line: First, this was part of an exchange I had Sunday on Parler. That’s right, an exchange with one of the many people of differing perspectives I encountered on the platform over the weekend. Once again, news reporting of Parler being a “conservative” or like platform is false. Parler is no more a conservative platform than Twitter is a leftist platform inherently. Anyone can sign up and use the service and many people of all political perspectives did.
Yesterday I mentioned while I don’t support boycotts, I do on occasion vote with my wallet. In the context of the big tech censorship underway with Parler being the first shoe to drop, I laid out the actions I’d taken and suggested that if even a quarter of Americans changed their behaviors as a result of the unprecedented threat to free speech brought about via the actions of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter – there would be the potential for real accountability for their actions. That’s because all executives at these publicly traded and held companies are accountable to their shareholders via their board of directors. Everything I shared with you yesterday, I shared first over the weekend on Parler. This was one of the rebuts I received on the platform to my assertions that a meaningful change in consumer behavior could lead to accountability for the executives who’ve chosen censorship over freedom of expression.
As for the specific points addressed by this person... First, I’m 5’6 and 142 pounds. I’m not a “big” anything. Second, you’re incorrect regarding my premise that the way to hold tech execs accountable is best served through their shareholders. This was my exact response to this person on Sunday: The reason why "social responsibly" has worked well from an investment standpoint in recent years, is 1. Due to young portfolio managers seeking out these types of investments for their clients & 2. Because the growth of business persists. The moment business declines, investors don't give a flying crap about the rest of it. Exhibit "A". Watch Twitter's stock price at the open tomorrow.
So, what happened with Twitter’s stock price yesterday? The company lost 6.4% of its value. The day one impact of Dorsey’s decision cost the investors of Twitter $2.6 billion. Now, one day won’t change anything. But that’s an awfully expensive first day of pain for a company of Twitter’s size brought on by Dorsey unnecessarily. If indeed meaningful swaths of customers do decide to take business elsewhere it will have an impact that eventually could lead to a change in leadership. Especially if defections of customers can be attributed to the direct actions of censorship taken by Jack Dorsey and his executive team. This is commonplace with public companies which have underperforming leadership. Dorsey is the most exposed of the tech execs because of the pure play that Twitter is. At a minimum your comments lack any basis in reality if you think widespread user defections by those turned off by Twitter will have a positive impact on their business due to your perceived “social responsibility”. Twitter’s business is quite literally selling advertising to users. If they have fewer users and less engagement by the users they do have to advertise to, they have less revenue than they otherwise would. Period. Twitter’s business model is about the least complicated to understand in technology.
We’ll see what happens from here, but I’ll say again, the best way to hold the big tech companies accountable for their censorship and blatant abuse of power is through the board room. Otherwise, I’ll come back to my overarching question. If you don’t stand for freedom of expression, what do you stand for?
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