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tv   Firing Line With Margaret Hoover  PBS  October 1, 2021 11:30pm-12:00am PDT

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. the new internet fix? this week on "firing line." >> facebook chooses the growth of its products over the well-being of our children. >> from con concerns about who controls your data. >> your user agreement sucks. >> to misinformation. >> it was a movement. i followed facts and i follow information. >> online buling. >> to censorship. >> you have used this power to silence conservatives. people love to hate their big text social media platforms. but is there a way out? enter real estate mogul, sports team owner and civic entrepreneur frank mccourt. >> we have this incredible opportunity for a reset. we can get it right this time if weove quickly. >> he's using his vast personal fortune and block chain, the technology that powers kr
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cryptocurrency to change the way the internetworks. >> can his vision become a movement? what does frank mccourt say now? this program is made possible by -- >> frank mccourt, welcome to "firing line." >> pleasure to be with you, margaret. >> you are a businessman that made a business for yourself with the l.a. dodgers which you formerly owned, you founded a public policy school like georgetown university and now you're focusing efforts on technology, specifically the architecture of the internet. why the shift? >> well, it's been a bit of a journey for me.
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and i feel that i, like most people growing and learning as life goes on and, yeah, deeply concerned about the stautte of r democracy and capitalism for that matter from a self ush poi ish -- selfish point of view. >> there are billionaires trying to do good. what actu inspires your uncli un inclination to fix this problem? >> i grew up in a big eirish catholic family in boston, seven kids. and, you know, picture our dinner table with nine minimum at the table. maybe i describe it as an unruly board meeting every night. i hear my mom towards of ends of the conversations, okay, that's fine, i understand the problem. but what are you going to do
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about it? i carry that question with me every day. >> why was it technology that became the center of your focus? >> yeah. that's a really interesting question. we came to the conclusion that technology and so-called big tech was a big part of the problem. and maybe even the primary problem. what i mean by big tech is ally social media and it's use and misuse and a sur vauveillan form of capitalism. i think the internet is not the problem. it's the way the untinternet is being used that is the problem. >> there are a lot of politicians that also see problems with the tech giants. listen to. this. >> big tech, i believe, poses the single greatest threat to our country. >> today's big tech companies
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are so giant and powerful that they threaten our economy, our society, and our very democracy. >> they know what we buy, who our friends are, where we live, work and travel and more. in fact, they're very business models, they're very business models were set up around getting that information and then using it to profit. >> the business model of these companies is addiction. it's an attention treadmill. >> they determine who we can communicate with. they have incredible power over the econom plul life of this country in a very dangerous sense. >> free speech, monopoly power, privacy, unhealthy models, which of these are you most concerned about? >> all of the above. the -- regardless of perspective, you know, politically, there is something fundamentally wrong about the current unt net architecture. the current model is broken. and we need to get to the root cause of the problem.
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>> frank, you just launched project liberty which is an initial tough to create a "equitable civic architecture for the next generation of the web." >> there is a shuolution. that is transforming the way internetworks. there are very few, a few, but very few core uinternet plrotoc that's we all adopted. there is no reason whatsoever why we can't have another protocol, another core internet protocol that we all agree that we're going to adopt and use as a universal standard and then the untinternet will work differently. it should be a public utility that is consistent with the thinking behind the internet and those that invented it that this was intended to be a public u tult. a utility. you and i wouldwn our own data.
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>> let's defun ine some terms. when you say protocols, what does that sneen. >> mean? >> dictates how the internet operates. what i'm referring to is core internet protocols. core operating protocols. and the internet 1.0, so-called 1.0 that was used early on, invented by researchers and science scientists, it was a way to transfer large data sets. then web 2.0 came along with the so-called world wide web. and now we all were connected. and i believe that the inventors of the world wide web would believe this would connect us all. what aonderful thing it would be. but that's not what happened. what happened was a few powerful entities now collect and extract
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the data. th monetize the data and now we see it being weaponized and wen we end up manipulating in an unfairway. we need to get back to the base uks. basics. a new protocol that transforms the way it works. rather than having an internet that extracts value from society, we have something that helps society. the core of the problem is the data. who owns it and controls it? and right now big tech, without this is scraping my data and extracting my data not just on social media but also on search and also when i'm in my car or home or walking down a street or when i'm shopping. it's u bu bick 'tis. >> "the wall street journal" published a sear rufz reports
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entitled the facebook files detailing facebook's own failings to address widespread problems, problems like exempting high profile users from the rules, downplaying what it knew to be harmful effects on young users. responding inadeqtely to reports that ma llicious actors are using it for their dealings. were any of the revelations surprise you? >> no. honestli, they didn't. i' never been on social media. i think it's -- it's just -- it's a bad deal for people when they're exposing all of their data and sharing all of their data without any governance model. >> just to be clear, you're not on facebook, twitter, tiktok, any kind of social med yourself? >> i am not personally. you know, however, i am on search. i do use the -- i do use the internet for other convenience that's we all use it for, for shopping and so on and so forth.
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i have devices in my home. i drive an automobile. i don't escape this problem just because i don't use social mea. you focus on social media. i think it is -- we need to fix it first. it's completely destroying trust with no trust there's no democracy w no trust, there is no capitalism and no economy. we need to address that first. this is a broken model that needs to be fixed. >> so 3.5 billion people use soal media. wh why are so many people using something that is broke snn. >> first of all, i don't think people until recently understood how fundamentally broken it was. and how much damage was being done because of this broken model and the abuse of the data.
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and there is not an alternative. now we live in a wonderful moment, actually. and where technology is as it generally does, evolving. and advancing. and we're about to enter the next generation of technology, so-called web 3.0, which will give us an opportunity to reset. to have a do over and get it right this time. imagine now knowing what we do in terms of how powerful the internet is, now imagine getting it rig and imbedding values and principles in the technology. the same vaes and pruninciples we want reflected in our society. >> so project liberty is developing a dsnp which stands for a decentralized social networking protocol. and you have already released an early version of it. last month in september, what is
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a dsnp? >> think of it as a core internet protocol just like http or https is a core protocol. that we all just agreed to adopt. to use. so imagine dsnp sitting on top of that and we all agree to adopt it. to use it. well that would transform the way the uinternetwork because now we would own and control our own data. now we would get permission to who got to see and use o data and for what purposes. if -- in the next pandemic, when we want to find out how the virus is spreading, we can share our data. anonymously. and be automoble to more quickl solve the problem or invent a in you vaccine. in other words, we can give our data for public purposes or we can engage in the commercial activities which will tun. we're not saying the internet is
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bad. we're saying how it's used is bad. we're not saying that connectivity is bad. it's wonderful. it can help us solve the problems at scale. it's just being used the wrong way. but now imagine we make the decision. we have the power. we have the agency. we own and control the data. everything would change. so the protocol, it's open source. we've created it. we donated it to human it you. everybody can use it. >> okay. so your protocol uses block chain technology as a way of storing all of the social connections that users make. this audience is more familiar with the term block chain as it relates to cryptocrencies like bitcoin. so in lay maman's terms, how ma it transform online social networking? >> that's a great question. you'll have the ability to protect your privacy, to share your -- your identity with who you want to, when you want to, or not. it will be anonymous otherwise. you'll only be automobile to be
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one person. bots won't be able to continually contaminate the ecosystem or the social ecosystem. alternative egos, false ids, you being me, you being me gets eliminated. it doesn't solve all the bad behavior. still have bad people doing bad things. but it will solve a great deal of it because we'll have now a trusted environment where at least we know we're dealing with another human bein and that human being will share with theounter party the information they want to share and that information can be verified. that's what block chain enables. >> they're known to be slower than regular transactions. block chaiis a slower processing system. is that something you think about when you think about the scaleability of this protocol? >> i think of this as evolving in the same way the technology in the past evolved.
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we heard about bitcoin and crypto occur enyou ises. those are early adopters of block chain. think of them as use cases not as the technology itself. so block chain will evolve a really smart people that much smarter than i working on this will develop the technology and the scaleability and the use cases will become more and more poll polished, easier to use and that's when migration will really kick in. >> mark zuckerberg, the facebook ceo, he said at one point that he does nothink facebook or internet platforms in general should be our bidders of truth. but you and i both know that facebook and twitter and youtube have all created policies and banned accounts in an effort to curb misinformation. so, frank, internet #.0, who is
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t -- 3.0, who is the arbitor? >> none of us should b the arbitor of truth and all of the other related ush use. web three is here. and it's going to evolve. and like tech, all tech, it's going to move rapidly. we need to bring in now the experts in governance. we now live in dajigital world. we need a new civic architecture for this digital world. >> just this week youtuba announced this he would take down video channels associated with anti-vaccine activists. which broadens a ban they aplud only to misinformation about the vaccine. now it includes misnfction about
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ot misn m m m her solutions if wepproach y . thought way. the same with regulation. regulation alone will not be enough and big tech self governing is not enough. we need an entirely different architecture, a model that put's people first. >> in 1997, they hosted the ceo of netscape, the tech giant of us day, to discuss the new moral d legal challenges of the internet age. listen to this. >> the department of justice is up against areas now, perhaps, where the laws that were written
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50, 100 years ago and so forth are just no longer adequate in a world of cyberspace because of the differences and the speed and change and the difficulty of understanding some of these technologies. >> right. so that gets to the point you just made, right? a quarter of a century ago they were discussing the same thing that you just mentioned, rig? we're still truing to keep up the pace of keep up with the pa of change and government regulators are never going to be able to do that. so how does your solution address that fact? >> well, project liberty has a tech component. we need a tech solution to a problem caused by tech. but it also has a governance component which is bringing together those that understand the tech, with those that understand governance. we're capable of much better than that. and the technology can help us. but it needs this governance
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component. it is as important as the tech. this is a huge moment for this country. because not only are we resetting the technology, we have a chance here to create the democracy that our founding faths wrote about. so i'm very optimistic. because if we can get people involved here and get the proper governance, the tech part is easy. >> if users migrated to this new technology en masse, would that lessen the calls we hear to break up the bug tech giants like facebook and amazon? >> i believe so. as i said earlier, you know, regulation is on part of. this regulation in one sense buys time for the innovation to occur. >> is there a role for government in this project? >> i think those in government, they see the problem. and they're doing their best to reign it in.
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but i -- i would bet if you ask most people in government, honestly, do they think that the regulation alone will solve the problem? i would bet that they would say no. because they know how at the speed of which regulation moves versus the speed after which tech ves. they also have a lot of power though to remove constraints, remove friction to allow un innovation to occur. just luke they did during the telecommunications act. that act enabled a whole revolution to occur in the k telecommunications industry moving from a single monopoly to an oligarchy to now multiple choice. this is a repeat in my opinion. and so government played an important role. but it wasn't government alone at solved the problem. the private sector stepped forwar and unthen inowe vnovate.
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>> it's been reported from bloomberg that you plan to create a consumer product, that's a quote, on tonp of dsnp. sounds like you're developing a competitor. >> we'll have more to saw about what we're -- what we like to see built and, you know, products that we may or may not come out with in the future when we're ready to have that conversation. >> so when can we expect your product? >> well, we'll be -- we're working hard. we'll be getting back to you and others o know, when we're in a position to share something. >> isn't the best way to encourage migration to have a competitive, a direct competitor with the social media tech
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giants but for one that is better, right? isn't the idea to just outcompete them so that people want to use your platform instead of theirs? >> you sound luike a entrepreneur. exactly. this is what this country is best at. this country is best at innovating and theoretically improve people's lives. i believe with what happened wi tech, we lost sight of that. we now build something that is massely disruptive that, is -- sure, it's doing -- it's helping people's lives in certain ways. but the dame far, far outweighs that. and i think we need to recognize that. and we need to -- and we need to fuch fix. that i call on the big platforms to address it. they're in the best position to address this. and they could change this
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immediately. if you zoom out and look at history and look at the development of this country, innovation waves happen over and over and over again. and we're now at the beginning of a next wave of technology and thankfully we have the moment to get it right this time. >> the twitter ceo jack dorsey is working on a block chain internet based infrastructure he announced his in december of 2019. he noted it is aiming to develop a "open and decentral yized socl me media." you call on the tech giants to change the way the u internetworks, so what is the difference between what jack dorsey is talking about and what you're doing? >> i haven't seen jack's protocols. i don't know. but the spirit of what he's saying i completely endorse and agree with. and i'm glad he's working on it.
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i'm glad he has a team working on it. this isn't about who -- who changes things. we all need to contribute to that. it's about changing things. and if jack dorsey has a better product, a better product or a better idea, i'm the first to support . there are many, many smart people out there that are passionate about this issue that have something to offer. we welcome that involvement. we need to get this right. to me, we're at a foun dadation moment. hopefully this time there is a diverse group getting together representing all facets of our society. but getting together and talking about what do we want the ideals to be? what do we want the values to be, the inciples to be in this new community?
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>> you have said several times that this protocol will be gifted to humanity. so is this effort entourly dr -- entirely driven bial true uchl or are there profit motives involved? and if so, is that necessarily bad? >> well, it's definitely both in our case. our entire premise as an enterprise is to integrate financial results and social pact. we never as family looked at those two as at odds with one another. we have a responsibility to society. and to do things that have positive impact on society. that's how we run our buzz. th business, that's how we propera and this is how we think about things. this is a wonderful project to have impact and generate financial results. and i think the financial
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results not only are not a bad thing, without them, i don't think project liberty will work. i don't think it is sustainable. and there is no chance of catching up with big tech. >> you're investing $250 million into this effort. but ultimately, you need to get perhaps billions of people to depart from something that is so deeply entrenched in their daily lives that some even compare it to an addiction. how confident are you that you can do this? >> i'm very confident or i wouldn't be doing it. anybody that knows me knows i'm an optimist. and i'm not always right. project liberty is a solution to a bug problem. if there is a better solution out there, we'll support that solution. and i'm very hopeful. i'm very opt imistic he we can have a positive impact here. it will take many, many others as well. >> frank mccourt, thank you very much for sharing your perspective, ideas, project and your solution for how to fix the
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internet. it's been a pleasure to have you on "firing line." >> thank you, i really appreciate it. >> "firing line" by margaret hoover is made possible by --
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