The European Copyright Directive (aka “Article 13”) has passed the European Parliament by a vote of 348 to 274, a substantial majority in favor of artist rights.
Silicon Valley interests embarrassed themselves as expected. Throughout the legislative process, Google in particular demonstrated a yearning for mob rule and fielded well-financed fakery both online and offline as confirmed by The Times of London (“Google funds website that spams for its causes”), several articles in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, research by David Lowery and Volker Rieck, and on MTP.
YouTube was caught red-handed by FAZ funding YouTubers who created messaging adhering to the party line against Article 13 and actually managed to create a backlash by YouTubers who thought the Google tactics reeked, such as the French group Tatou:
And it must be said that in the middle of all of this mess over the Copyright Directive, Google was fined not once but twice by the European Commission for a total of over $2 billion for blatant competition law violations. So not only was Google improperly exploiting its monopoly position commercially for which it was fined heavily, it was simultaneously exploiting its monopoly position to manipulate users for which it has yet to be punished.
Punishing Google for message manipulation is not an idle thought–Google was intentionally directing its lobbying message at children–we know this because the children of MEPs and artists told their parents that copyright was evil courtesy of YouTube.
Another part of the disinformation campaign was Google’s flood the zone strategy using bots on social media–which is not yet proven conclusively, but is the kind of thing that people with badges are good at tracking down. Here’s a little taste of what this bot campaign looked like.
As one journalist noted, “I’ve concluded that there are only three people in Europe objecting to Article 13, but one of them draws the avatar for 500 trillion bots.”
The typical criteria for discovering bots are attributes like follower/following totals out of sync with number of likes, such as this:
In the words of that great philosopher Chico Marx, ya gonna believe me or your lying eyes? If you really believe that this bot activity sprang up all by itself and had nothing to do with Google even though the bots parroted the Google line, I’m sorry–I just can’t help you. Try searching Twitter for #article13 and see what comes back.
And then there were the coordinated attacks on MEPs through spam and telephone. Millions of emails over the last year, the overwhelming majority of which probably did not come from Europe. Not just mere fakery, but fakery created by a multinational corporation to further its commercial interests through a massive disinformation campaign.
And of course the main reason that the disinformation campaign was so massive is because of Google’s monopoly position in Europe–the very thing that the European Commission is fining them billions for abusing.
This is not mere speculation–Google and Facebook told MEP Helga Truepel to her face that they intended to interfere in the European legislative process, and faster than you can say Internet Research Agency, they did.
It also must be said that the election campaigning by Google against the MEPs who dared to vote against Silicon Valley suggests that the EU election transparency laws may well have been violated perhaps by sitting MEPs. These were not spontaneous actions, they were part of a calculated campaign.
The question now remains–what is the European Parliament prepared to do about it? Someone needs to do something because one thing is clear, they will be back. The illegal tactics will be even worse next time because Goliath never learns.