* “Why was it a good idea to set up a handful of zillionaire monopolists as the intermediaries between individuals and web content they want to access?”
The problem got its start a long time ago however, when people decided they wanted to use corporate chats like AOL Instant Messenger over IRC, web message boards and reddit over nntp/usenet, etc.
Facebook just took that trend and made it worse. And of course now people are moving from blogs to twitter, from e-mail to facebook messages.
The sad truth is, people want the zillionaire intermediaries. For one thing, they do a better job at blocking spam than e-mail and usenet.
People also seem to like “smart feeds” where they follow/friend 500 people, and the zillionaire’s algo picks and chooses for them what to display.
Finally there’s ease of use.
* Notice that the way the First Amendment is worded does not enumerate freedom of speech, assembly, press or religion as positive rights that people possess, but rather as activities which the Legislative branch of the national government may not regulate. If Bill of Rights author James Madison had meant to stipulate them as positive “rights” belonging to the citizenry all he had to do was write it that way, but he chose not to. In the next clause of the amendment, peaceful assembly and petitioning the government are clearly stated in Madison’s deliberate and careful legal language as rights (presumably inalienable) of the people.
In any case the first sentence of the amendment imposes no restrictions on the Judicial or Executive branches or on state governments or non-governmental entities concerning the stated “freedoms.”
* I’m a trial lawyer in NYC and pick juries all the time. I always ask prospective jurors where they like to get their news as a way to determine potential bias.
In the last 4-5 years, I was amazed at how many people respond that they get their news from Facebook. I have a Facebook account but rarely go on it. So was initially confused by these responses.
But the reality is that Facebook is the largest purveyor of news content in America now. To treat it as something different than a publisher is insanity.