Google Goes After Children as Lobbyists: What is to be done?

Our friend and long-time artist rights advocate Karoline Kramer confirms what we’ve been seeing around the world–Google is trying to turn kids into lobbyists for their corporate interests in lobbying against safe harbor reform in Europe.  It was entirely predictable that YouTube’s efforts would come to the US in short order.

While it’s really difficult to understand how pre-teens could find the rebarbative Lyor Cohen to be an appealing influencer, the indiscriminate scare tactics may indicate an even deeper problem–inducing Internet addiction and then manipulating that addiction for profit.  Now where have we seen that business model before?

Andrew Orlowski confirms in the Register that it’s not just happening in the US–YouTube’s campaign drove one German teen to threaten suicide.  This is why nations protect children from all kinds of manipulation by unscrupulous adults who should know better.  It’s also another reminder of just how insidious Internet companies really are.  I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating:

Google, Facebook and their ilk are not in the media business or the music business–they are in the addiction business.  And with this manipulation campaign against children to profit Google and Facebook, these charlatans are starting to reveal themselves for all the world to see.

How do we know this?  Aside from Sean Parker (and other Facebook executives) telling us that Facebook intentionally set about to create massive addiction through manipulating levels of dopamine in the brain chemistry of users, there are an increasing level of studies that demonstrate the behavioral addictions created by social media in particular (see, for example, the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, and also Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.)

YouTube appears to be manipulating trending topics to favor its seeded video messaging against Article 13 like this one.  To state the obvious, none of these manipulation videos are age-protected and YouTube is favoring its own content–exactly what Google is being fined by the European Commission billions of dollars for doing.

You have to ask–surely this children campaign violates some laws?  If we are going to permit Google and Facebook to operate their addiction-producing business, do we want to allow them to target children?  Imagine if an addictive drug company directed a public messaging campaign toward children to get their parents to vote against elected officials who wanted to regulate that company?   Would we not be shocked?

And given what Google and Facebook know about their users, would it come as a shock that they weren’t just targeting all kids, but were specifically targeting specific children because their parents were influencers or elected officials?  And before you scoff, how would we ever know?

Google and Facebook’s sleazy tactics and manipulation of children demonstrate yet again that they need to be regulated and that they think they have grown beyond the power of the nation state to regulate any of them.

What is to be done?  The answer is obvious.