Platforms

Our working definition of a digital platform (with a hat tip to Harold Feld of Public Knowledge) is an online service that operates as a two-sided or multi-sided market with at least one side that is “open” to the mass market

Congress Eyes Antitrust Changes to Counter Big Tech, Consolidation

Congress is considering the most significant changes to antitrust law in decades, including some proposals with bipartisan support. Lawmakers are looking at setting a higher bar for acquisitions by companies that dominate their markets; making it easier for the government to challenge anti-competitive conduct; and potentially forcing some giant technology companies to separate different lines of their businesses.

Learning Digital Literacy Is Key

Digital literacy is the key component of democratizing the internet. A digitally-literate person has the technical skills to navigate the internet. A digitally-literate person is also media literate, with the ability to critically evaluate the content received and consumed online. Unless we train ourselves, and particularly our children, how to understand and use the internet, it can never realize its vast potential to serve the common good. We must be a digitally literate people. We are not that now. We need to be a digitally literate and media literate people.

Reps Cicilline, Buck, DeSaulnier, and Sen Klobuchar Introduce Bill to Save Local News

House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI), Ranking Member Ken Buck (R-CO), Rep Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), and Senate Antitrust Subcommittee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced the introduction of the bipartisan Journalism Competition and Preservation Act that will allow small news outlets to band together to negotiate with large online platforms like Google and Facebook. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act will establish a temporary, 48-month safe harbor that allows small news publishers to negotiate collectively with online platforms to protect Americans’

The Internet Doesn’t Have to Be Awful

With the wholesale transfer of so much entertainment, social interaction, education, commerce, and politics from the real world to the virtual world—a process recently accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic—many Americans have come to live in a nightmarish inversion of the Tocquevillian dream, a new sort of wilderness.

Tech’s Legal Shield Appears Likely to Survive as Congress Focuses on Details

Former President Donald J. Trump called multiple times for repealing the law that shields tech companies from legal responsibility over what people post. President Biden, as a candidate, said the law should be “revoked.” But the lawmakers aiming to weaken the law have started to agree on a different approach. They are increasingly focused on eliminating protections for specific kinds of content rather than making wholesale changes to the law or eliminating it entirely.

Google to Stop Selling Ads Based on Your Specific Web Browsing

Google plans to stop selling ads based on individuals’ browsing across multiple websites, a change that could hasten upheaval in the digital advertising industry. In 2022 Google plans to stop using or investing in tracking technologies that uniquely identify web users as they move from site to site across the internet. The decision, coming from the world’s biggest digital-advertising company, could help push the industry away from the use of such individualized tracking, which has come under increasing criticism from privacy advocates and faces scrutiny from regulators.

What Happens When Facebook Slows the News Flow

The residents of Thursday Island, a speck on the archipelago Torres Strait Islands, have relied for years on Facebook to learn of everything from cyclone warnings to crayfish prices. The platform doesn’t eat up data the way other websites do, a priority for the remote communities, where people often use prepaid phones. Newspapers and radio stations with staffs made up of indigenous reporters publish Facebook updates in local dialects—a critical feature for those for whom English is a third or fourth language. It’s as real-time as the island can get.

House Antitrust Subcommittee's three big ideas to take on tech power

On paper, Feb 25’s House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing was about analyzing how big tech platforms act as gatekeepers and create barriers to entry — but really it was about testing out three new avenues for keeping tech companies in line and seeing which ones might gain support from tech-skeptical Republican representatives. But at the hearing, the subcommittee moved beyond calling out bad behavior and laid out three big areas where Congress could actually take action:

Facebook to Spend $1 Billion on News Content Over Three Years

Facebook said it would spend at least $1 billion to license material from news publishers over the next three years, a pledge that comes as tech giants face scrutiny from governments around the world over paying for news content that appears on their platforms. The spending plans are in addition to $600 million that Facebook paid since 2018 in deals with publishers like the Guardian, Financial Times and others to populate its Facebook News product in some countries.

Facebook to reverse news ban on Australian sites, government to make amendments to media bargaining code

Facebook will walk back its block on Australian users sharing news on its site after the government there agreed to make amendments to the proposed media bargaining laws that would force major tech giants to pay news outlets for their content. The code is structured so that if Facebook and Google do not sign commercial deals with traditional media outlets the Treasurer can "designate" them, and force them to pay for access to news content. The government promised to make further amendments to the code, including giving Facebook more time to strike those deals.