In some corners of the internet, the tired hypothetical of free speech has been turned on its head: There isn’t one person yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, but a theater full of people yelling “Burn it down.” All of which complicates the situation for the big internet companies. Over the past 10 years, free speech has undergone a radical change in practice. Now nearly all significant speech runs through a corporate platform, be it a large hosting provider, WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter. Speech may be free by law, but attention is part of an economy.
A Q&A with Sen Mark Warner (D-VA).
We’re all falling for Alexa, unless we’re falling for Google Assistant, or Siri, or some other genie in a smart speaker. Privacy concerns have not stopped the march of these devices into our homes, however. Amazon, Google, and other tech corporations have grand ambitions. They want to colonize everyday space. The company that succeeds in cornering the smart-speaker market will lock appliance manufacturers, app designers, and consumers into its ecosystem of devices and services, just as Microsoft tethered the personal-computer industry to its operating system in the 1990s.