Over the past few weeks, the stock market has been in a bit of a frenzy over the mess with GameStop. If you’re not familiar with what’s been going on, this is a good overview.
The problem I’m seeing is a lot of people suggesting “we need to do something“. While perhaps things need to change, quickly making some kind of change could backfire in unexpected ways.
It’s similar to the FOSTA-SESTA legislation passed a few years ago to help fight sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is one of those things that “we need to do something” about, so our leaders did “something”. While that legislation indeed removed sex work from some semi-popular websites, it essentially just moved it further underground and has caused a huge uptick in murders.
Techdirt summed it up well in this article, including:
Within one month of FOSTA’s enactment, thirteen sex workers were reported missing, and two were dead from suicide. Sex workers operating independently faced a tremendous and immediate uptick in unwanted solicitation from individuals offering or demanding to traffic them. Numerous others were raped, assaulted, and rendered homeless or unable to feed their children. These egregious acts of violence and economic devastation are directly attributable to FOSTA’s enactment.
So what to do about GameStop?
I don’t have the answer to fix the GameStop situations, but two things come to mind:
- It may not need to be fixed. A big reason this happened is because a hedge fund got greedy, so this may just be a great lesson for all of them.
- An initial reaction was to take down some of the forums where people gathered to inspire one another to make these purchases and push stock prices higher.
Removing the ability for people to communicate about these things on platforms like Facebook and Reddit may help short-term, but would be awful long term. People won’t stop talking about it; they’ll just move to deeper sites where they’re harder to follow.
It’s like with the FOSTA-SESTA fallout, where police are lamenting that it’s much harder to catch pimps and traffickers now because those conversations have moved to darker corners of the internet.
Backpage was one of the popular sites for those illicit activities, but police were able to use it to catch predators. Now they can’t. Sgt. John Daggy:
“We’ve been a little bit blinded lately because they shut Backpage down. I get the reasoning behind it, and the ethics behind it, however, it has blinded us. We used to look at Backpage as a trap for human traffickers and pimps.”
There may be a good solution to solving the GameStop mess, or maybe there isn’t. Either way, a quick reaction will almost certainly only serve to make things worse.