Adam Ruins Everything (2015) s01e23 Episode Script

Adam Ruins the Internet

1 What's wrong with the internet? Adam, are you downloading movies again? No, I'm downloading old public domain encyclopedias.
Why? Oh, I'm correcting them.
The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica is full of mistakes.
Can you believe they actually thought beriberi was caused by a fungus? A fungus.
(chuckling) (sighs) Fine, I'll go to the coffee shop.
Thank you, kind sir.
(electronic devices chirping, chiming, ringing) Look at them.
Addicted to their phones like giant babies suckling on technology's teat.
You ever notice how nobody talks to each other anymore? We're all too busy staring at the gadgets in our hands.
We call these smart phones? But I call them dumb phones.
Let's face it.
The internet's destroying society, sorry.
I should tweet that.
No, you shouldn't and no, it isn't.
Ahh! Oh, God, they're multiplying.
(laughing) I've seen your show.
This is the guy who tells people why things are bad.
Nope, I'm the guy who tells people why they're wrong.
And you're wrong about the internet.
Mind if I borrow your date for a second? Oh, I don't know him.
I just forgot to put my purse on the seat.
Oh, great.
Hi, I'm Adam Conover.
And this is "Adam Ruins Everything.
" Closed Captions Provided by truTV I thought more of you, Adam.
As a fellow free thinker, I expected you to see that the internet is a murderer.
Its victim? Society.
Mitchell, that complaint is literally as old as society itself.
Every time technology advances, people say it's the end of the world.
After the telephone was invented, newspapers worried it was so addictive, we'd become "a race of left-eared people.
" Watson, come here! I need you.
What, that is crazy though.
But smart phones are different.
They're so invasive.
Like, who needs constant updates all the time? Well, people said the same thing about another disturbingly fast, modern device, the telegraph.
(beeping) Ah! But, Papa, this says that the tornado's only-- Whoa-whoa-whoa! I'll find out when the paper comes next week.
Right, the newspaper.
Those were the good old days.
Instead of isolating ourselves on our phones, we used to read the paper and discuss the affairs of the day.
Sorry, Mitchell, but when your precious newspaper was invented, it was demonized for the exact same reasons.
Ah, remember the good old days? Instead of isolating ourselves in our newspapers, we used to talk to each other and just make up the news.
I happen to understand that fellow.
He's simply longing for an era of refinement and culture.
People used to read books.
No one reads books anymore.
That old cliché is completely false.
More Americans read books today than did in the 1950s.
Huh.
And, by the way, when books were invented, snobs like you hated on them too.
One intellectual even thought that too many books would harm the mind.
Blast this That's ridiculous.
If you don't read books, how will you know how smart and superior you are? Ahh! Ooh! Well, according to Socrates, you aren't.
The father of philosophy himself complained about the ultimate corrupting modern invention, the written word.
The written word creates forgetfulness in the learners' souls.
Back in my day, we memorized and recited our lessons.
Reading is for the lazy and the stupid! No! My personal identity! It's okay, he was wrong.
Just like you're wrong about the internet.
No, no, things are worse now.
I can prove it.
People used to communicate with each other, not like these solipsists! I'm sorry, what do you think people use these devices for? Literally, all they're doing is communicating.
He's keeping in touch with a friend from college.
She's writing an email to a fellow researcher in Poland.
I'm cyberbullying a child.
(Adam) Okay, they're not all winners.
But the point is, we're all communicating more now than we ever were before.
We weren't better people back before we had smart phones or the internet.
We were the same, lazy, curious, social people we've always been.
The only difference is now we have instantaneous access to all knowledge and communication.
I mean, how is that anything other than a tremendous social good? Instead of pining for an imagined past, we should feel immensely lucky to live in the magnificent present.
You-- you You're right.
I love the internet.
I've always loved it.
I just felt too guilty to admit it.
I'm an avid Yelp reviewer.
I moderate three subreddits.
Remember eBaum's World? (chuckling) I was eBaum.
Why have I wasted so many years flagellating myself, pretending to read pretentious books that I don't even understand! But deep down, I knew.
The internet is the greatest invention in American history.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but America actually has some of the worst internet in the developed world.
What? No, come on, man.
I just got on board with this.
Sorry, it's true.
Here, I'll show you.
Ahh! Oh, sorry, wrong way.
Ooh.
Wrong way again, how is that possible? Ahh! Hello? Hello, Bell to eBaum.
Ever wonder why people literally always misuses the word 'literally'? The word 'literally' means 'in a literal manner or sense'.
People often use it to exaggerate for effects.
And this drives some people nuts.
OMG.
I am literally starving.
Are you literally starving? So you haven't had any food for days, you're in the middle of desert, you're about to die.
Or did you mean figuratively? But, sorry grammar nerds.
This usage is not as wrong as you think.
People've been using the word 'literally' to mean figuratively for literally hundreds of years.
In fact, some of the greatest English language writers used it that way.
Mark Twain himself wrote that Tom Sawyer was literally 'crawling in wealth.
' Mark Twain was a hat.
Scott F.
Fitzgerald wrote that Jay Gatsby 'literally glow.
' You may believe in the green light, but I'm seeing red.
And don't forget Vladimir Nabokov, who wrote 'His eyes he literally scoured the corners of the cell.
' Try as you might to resist, the fact is that words change and contain multiple meaning.
'Literally' is just another example of that.
Wait, are you saying it literally is not a big deal? Yes, if you freak out over the misuse of the word 'literally', you are literally dumber than a pile of bricks.
That's not literally jokes.
Yeah, I know I was exaggerating.
Wait, so you spend the first third of your show telling me how great the internet is.
Now you wanna tell me that it's terrible? That's quite a pivot.
Not the entire internet, the American internet.
We actually have slower broadband than almost any other developed nation.
Oh, here we are.
Ah.
What-- are we in South Korea? Did you say Psy? I love Psy! I just got into him.
Oppa Gangnam-- Please don't.
Wait, hold on.
How were we downloaded so quickly? Well, the internet here in Seoul is nearly eight times faster than in America.
Eight times.
No wonder I always get smoked at StarCraft.
Yup, cities in Korea, Japan, Switzerland, France and even Romania have internet fast enough to download an entire High-Def movie in just seven seconds.
But with speeds like that, it's gotta be insanely expensive, so Actually, we pay as low as one-tenth of what many Americans pay.
One-tenth? But, by-- by that math, we would be paying ten times as much for a fraction of the speed.
Yeah, I'm afraid we are.
But America invented the internet.
How is this possible? Because the most hated companies in America are working to keep it that way.
Uh-oh! This hurts so-- Oh! (distorted) much.
Why is this taking so long? Because of those bandwidth blocking bastards, America's cable companies.
Sorry, I'm six hours late.
I just, uh don't care.
(chuckling) Finally, can you make our internet faster? Uh, I could but I won't.
Also, I double-charged you this month, so What? You-- You-- That innocent woman is beset.
Why is he able to treat her that way? Because she can't go anywhere else, moron.
We're a monopoly.
But Adam, I thought the government shuts down monopolies.
Nope, in this case, local governments created them.
In exchange for building new cable lines, early cable companies were handed exclusive contracts by state and local governments.
Ah, come on, Unc, look, I put up all these wires.
Don't make me share 'em.
Well we make phone companies share the phone lines Eh, but cable's just a fad and landlines are here to stay.
What's the harm in making a little "excepciones?" It turns out, a lot of harm.
Those cable lines would go on to become the only viable way to get broadband to your home.
So, now, if you want fast internet, you probably have no choice.
But as an intellectual, I'm intellectually curious.
Why don't other companies just put up new cables and try to compete? That's the real scam.
They all agreed not to.
Years ago, America's cable companies realized that if they clustered themselves by region, they wouldn't really have to compete.
(chatter) (laughing) They hatched their plan in 1997 during what one cable executive called "the summer of love.
" Why we gotta fight? You take Iowa.
And you take Ohio.
Groovy, baby.
(moaning) We have a merger! (laughing) By 2016, America's 40 regional cable companies had consolidated to just three.
(snaps) And without regional competition, these greedy monopolists are free to jack up prices and keep your speeds shockingly slow.
(laughing) Revolting.
And they don't do this in South Korea or "Paree?" Nope, in those places, service providers compete.
In fact, France requires companies to share space on their networks with competitors, which is why some French people have not one, but six high-speed providers to choose from.
(French accent) So, you see, Francois.
I lower my prices, you lower yours.
I raise my speeds, you raise yours.
So shall we live.
And yes so shall we die.
But in our country, these cable jerks have used every tool at their disposal to eradicate competition.
They've even lobbied state governments to make it illegal for America's cities to build their own networks.
I've got it! We can build a municipal high-speed network to compete with cable companies and boost our town's economy.
Okay, that's actually gonna be illegal now, sorry.
Boy, you have soft hands.
And this scheme makes the internet worse for all of us.
We think of ourselves as the most technologically advanced nation in the world.
But when it comes to high-speed internet access, we're at best in the middle of the pack.
Oh, seriously, guys? Oh, sorry, I was using BitTorrent.
Hey, Mitchell, I'm Susan Crawford.
I'm a professor at Harvard law School.
And I teach and write about telecommunications in America.
Oh, Harvard's a good school for people who couldn't teach at Oxford.
Don't nag my expert, man.
It's okay, I deal with a lot of guys like him at Harvard too.
Look, the problem is that these very few companies are controlling American's access to the internet.
And that means that everyday Americans are paying too much for second-class service.
At a time when modern day life requires access to the internet, it's just as important these days as electricity or water.
As important as water? I won't die if I don't see Grumpy Cat.
No, but you might have trouble applying for a job.
The internet is just essential to modern life.
Exactly, the same thing happened with electricity about 100 years ago.
It used to be considered a luxury, not a utility.
And a very few private companies controlled electricity in America.
It took government intervention to make sure that all Americans had electricity.
Uncle Sam needs to do his job and force the cable companies to compete.
Until he does, we're gonna keep getting screwed.
If we don't upgrade the entire country to fiber-optic internet access, we will be behind for the next several decades.
Thank you, Susan.
You know, I have found this a very stimulating tête-à-tête.
Well, you know, this all reminds me of yet another point that Americans Again? Sorry, let me reboot the router and (blowing) Ugh, this is so frustrating! You know what? You know what? I'm gonna post about this on Facebook.
You know, we may be getting gouged by cable companies, but at least the best parts of the internet, like Facebook, are still free.
Oh, no, Facebook isn't free at all.
In fact, you pay for it every day.
Here, I'll show you.
Inside the internet.
No, no, not the ear again.
It works in any hole.
The ear will do nicely, thank you.
(both) Ahh! Ever wonder why? Ever wonder why the standard paper size is 8.
5x11? Who decided that shape and size? It must be the most boring man in the world.
Well, not quite.
It was one of our most boring president.
Herbert Hoover.
In 1921, as Secretary of Commerce, the future president set up The Committe on the Simplification of Paper Sizes.
And the rest is… Somehow, a heated debate broke out over the paper sizes the goverment should use.
People fell into one of two cans.
I think it should be 8x10.
5.
And if you disagree, I will slice you.
I say it should be 8.
5x11.
Because I am a politician, and I have strong opinion about log of dumb stacks.
Finally, after a lot of boring argument that I swear is not worth getting into, the 8x10.
5 won.
And that remains the standard paper size until 1980, when copier became increasingly popular.
You know what I love most about you.
The way you can quickly, efficiently replicate my writing.
So the government went back to the drawing board.
Because, I don't know frankly, I guess nothing better worth going on.
My paper doesn't fit in this copier.
And I'm tired of typing multiple copies of my Anti-Abortion Bill.
8.
5x11.
It is now the law of the man.
Also, you people thought Hoover was boring? And that's how 8.
5x11 became the standard paper size.
I know you did, but hey now you know.
I imagine that right now you're feeling a bit like Alice, hm? Tumbling down the rabbit hole.
Wait, do you still think "Matrix" parodies are cool? Yes.
(clinks to floor) Oh (bleep).
Look around you, Mitchell.
This is the free internet.
We do everything here.
We connect with friends on Facebook.
Search for information on Google.
And all of it's free.
Yeah, free.
Wait, actually, how do these sites make money? I'll tell you.
But you may not like where the rabbit hole goes.
So, do I choose a pill or Oh, no, these are my allergy medications.
This one's for pollen and this one's for lactose.
(loud gulping) Oh.
Where are we? What is this place? This is the internet of the real.
The truth is these services aren't free at all.
You pay for them with your very identity.
When you use Facebook, they log everything you do.
The pages you like, the people you interact with.
Even the words in your status updates.
Then they take that information, analyze it and assemble a detailed profile of who you are.
They know your habits, your preferences.
They can even determine your risk tolerance or sexual orientation.
And then they sell that information to advertisers.
One risk-taking homosexual, please.
It's a pleasure doing business with you.
Wait, how do they know? I'm not even out at work yet.
Hey, I didn't know you were gay.
And so adventurous.
(chuckles) (Adam) That's not hypothetical.
This actually happened to a woman in Tampa.
Hm, that is problematic.
But come on, we all know they're showing us ads.
Yeah, but we don't know how deep Facebook's tentacles really go.
They actually record which ads we see.
Then partner with firms that monitor what we do in the real world.
Jacob like the page Bacon is Bae last week.
We showed him an ad for your double bacon heart attack burger.
He just bought one in Duluth.
Clearly susceptible to the campaign.
Let's pump him full of ads! (message alert) I guess I got room for one more.
This has gotta be one of the most invasive advertising systems ever devised.
Facebook can actually determine who's the most vulnerable to an ad campaign.
Then up their dosage till they buy even more.
Oh, wow, my heart.
Well, I'll simply delete my Facebook account.
I'm gonna miss those ex-girlfriend pictures.
But it's worth it not to be tracked, right? Sure, you can quit Facebook.
But good luck escaping Google.
(clicking, hissing) That's me.
(beeping) But I'm not even on Google.
I'm, I'm on a private website.
Exactly.
Google doesn't just track you when you search.
Their tracking software is also installed on over 10 million websites.
Even medical sites.
So, that health info you think you're looking up in private, Google's got a front row seat.
Mitchell has erectile dysfunction.
I know a drug company that would get rock hard for that information.
(Adam) And that's not all.
Every time you write a Gmail, watch a YouTube video, or use Google Maps, Google collects data about you.
God no! We don't even know the full extent of what Facebook and Google store or what they do with it.
All we know is that they're collecting our data on an unprecedented scale and making billions off of it.
That's their real business model.
They're monetizing us.
When we use these sites, we're not the customer, we're the product.
Why? How?! Hello, Mitchell, I've been waiting for you.
Now you're parodying the second "Matrix" movie? What? It's the best one.
Mitchell, this is Ethan Zuckerman.
He's the Director of the MIT Center for Civic Media.
Mitchell, the fact that the sites are free is the problem.
When the web was created, we the users decided we would rather have free stuff than pay money for the services we use.
As a result, the websites have had to sell ads to make money.
They target ads to us based on our preferences and our behavior online.
And that means we're under constant surveillance in exchange for these services that we get for free.
One in six people on earth now has a Facebook account.
And they make up 20% of all time spent online.
(Ethan) That's 1.
6 billion people whose every move is being tracked by an online big brother that they chose to live under.
Oh, no.
And here's the kicker.
You wanna know how much revenue your personal data is worth to Facebook? For every user they surveil, they make just $12.
No.
Your interests, your personality.
Your relationships, your privacy.
Those things are priceless.
But you gave them all away just to avoid paying $12.
No, that-- That can't be.
That's, that's, that, that's not possible.
Well, there is a bright side.
You wanna hear about it? No, no, just shut up, shut-- Shut up, let me out! He's gonna pop.
Let me out! I wanna get out! (moaning) Oh oh You know, this happens to all my friends.
(sighs) Thank goose, it was just a dream.
Oh, good you're awake.
No, no, get me out of the internet, okay? Google, Facebook, the cable companies.
They all have way too much power.
The internet's ruined, and there's no way to stop it.
Are you kidding? Of course there is.
How? I'm not Keanu, I'm not "The One.
" You don't have to be.
We can all do it together by using the power of the internet itself.
In 2015, the cable companies were trying to do away with net neutrality.
That's the principle that all data on the internet is treated equally.
But instead, they wanted a system where rich sites could pay for faster service while sites without money would get screwed.
That's awful.
That's what a lot of other people thought too.
But instead of staying silent, they used the internet to communicate with the FCC and their politicians and raise their voices.
More than four million Americans wrote in to protect the internet they love.
And as a result of all that political pressure, the FCC changed direction.
All those people made that happen.
When you act collectively to ensure the protection of the internet, things change.
And we can do the same with Facebook and Google.
We can demand more accountability for what these sites do with our data.
And we can vote with our dollars by paying for sites that put our interests first.
Wow, instead of being ashamed or scared of the internet, we should use the internet to raise our voices and fight for a better one.
Exactly.
We don't have to wait around for The One.
We can all be superheroes now.
Thanks, Adam.
Ah! Let me.
Oh.
Ahh! Not you again.
I'm sorry to have bugged you.
I hope you'll accept this as an apology.
I have work to do.
I read this freshman year of college.