So You Want to Nationalize Facebook?

So You Want to Nationalize Facebook? By Tim Worstall.

The latest bright idea from Paul Mason is that Facebook must be regulated or changed in some manner to make darn sure it does what Paul Mason wants Facebook to be doing.

There are lots of problems with the Corbynista columnist’s idea. They include: not understanding how the internet or corporate law works; ignoring how innovation happens; and the political problem of allowing the government to control a social network, real or digital. …

Heavy state regulation of Facebook would be to repeat the mistakes of the 20th century when governments really did try to control the social milieu. As Anne Applebaum points out in Iron Curtain, the first thing every Soviet-imposed government in Eastern Europe did was to make sure that all corners of society were state controlled. The local equivalents of the Womens’ Institute, the chess and jazz clubs, swimming teams, and simply every expression of civil society were brought under the control of the state and Party bureaucracy. People were actually sent to jail for continuing to run Scout troops. …

But there is a deeper reason why we don’t want the British state to have anything to do with the likes of Facebook. The state never does innovate. Even if we accept Mariana Mazzucato’s points about invention—which we shouldn’t—it was still Apple that made the iPhone. There was no state involvement in the creation of MySpace, Twitter, or Facebook. There never is in people using extant inventions to do something new and whizzy, that very definition of innovation. Therefore we just don’t want the state running things in those areas of innovation, do we? For if it did, it would never happen.