“And that’s a big problem when the president of the United States cannot have a presence on social media,” Manzella said. “So what do we do about it? We know we’ve got a big problem. We need a big solution.”
Randy Pinocci, a Republican Public Service Commission member from Sunburst, said the five-member commission had decided it was time to take on social media for de-platformed Montana. The plan was to investigate claims by Montanans booted from internet forums. The state would keep the number of cases down by requiring anyone with a complaint to pay a $500 filing fee, a rate Pinocci said would discourage frivolous claims.
The PSC, which regulates monopoly utilities, garbage services, taxis and the like would add the internet to its collection of businesses with captive customers unable to get the same services from someone else. Social media has turned into one of the monopoly businesses for which there is no alternative, Pinocci said.
“When I think about it, we probably should have been doing this about five years ago, because problems have been developing. More people use social media than natural gas and electricity combined,” Pinocci said. He paused to let the sheer number of computers and mobile devices, all plugged into the internet, humming with electricity from somewhere, sink in.
There would be sideboards, Pinocci explained. Montanans wanting to appear before the PSC would have to try to work out their issues with social media in writing before approaching the commission. And, to prevent Big Tech from tying everything in knots, the loser would have to pay all court costs. And there would be fines, 1% of the company’s gross income, half going to the state of general fund, half to the victim.
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