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
President Donald Trump issued a pair of executive orders that will impose new limits on Chinese social-media apps TikTok and WeChat, effectively setting a 45-day deadline for an American company to purchase TikTok’s US operations. The orders bar people in the US or subject to US jurisdiction from transactions with the China-based owners of the apps, effective 45 days from Aug 6. That raises the possibility that US citizens would be prevented from downloading the apps in the Apple or Google app stores.
The Federal Trade Commission lacks the authority to oversee how social media companies curate political speech, Chairman Joe Simons told the Senate Commerce Committee Aug 5. “Our authority focuses on commercial speech, not political content curation,” Chairman Simons told Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) at an oversight hearing.
President Donald Trump has sent a message to the Federal Communications Commission: Cross me for misusing my powers in this way, and you’ll be punished, too. The president wants Mike O’Rielly, his fellow FCC commissioners, and appointees across agencies to know what happens when they dare to put the rule of law first, just as the president wants Twitter, and Facebook, and all influential companies on the Internet or off to know how carefully they must tread with him in charge.
Companies like Apple, Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon provide consumers with a wider array of goods and services than ever and at remarkably low prices. But there’s a catch: The same companies that have improved consumer access to cheap products are increasingly limiting options in the marketplace of ideas and raising the cost of ideological dissent.
Twenty state attorneys general called on Facebook to better prevent messages of hate, bias and disinformation from spreading, and said the company needed to provide more help to users facing online abuse. In a letter to the social media giant, the officials said they regularly encountered people facing online intimidation and harassment on Facebook. They outlined seven steps the company should take, including allowing third-party audits of hate content and offering real-time assistance to users.
Michael O’Rielly has done yeoman work as a member of the Federal Communications Commission, but the White House abruptly pulled his renomination for another five-year term. The decision speaks better of Commissioner O’Rielly than of the President. Commissioner O’Rielly was scuttled for remarks about regulating speech.
Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) says President Donald Trump’s recent handling of Federal Communications Commission nominations is a “disaster.” The Trump administration withdrew the nomination of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, shortly after O’Rielly criticized an executive order demanding that the agency unilaterally revise Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Sen Wyden, one of the coauthors of Section 230, said the move called the agency’s independence into question.
The Federal Communications Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau will invite public input on the Petition for Rulemaking recently filed by the Department of Commerce regarding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Longstanding rules require the agency to put such petitions out for public comment ‘promptly,’ and we will follow that requirement here. I strongly disagree with those who demand that we ignore the law and deny the public and all stakeholders the opportunity to weigh in on this important issue. We should welcome vigorous debate—not foreclose it.
The July tech antitrust hearing in the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee stands to be historic. With the CEOs of Silicon Valley’s four most important firms — Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Google’s Sundar Pichai — all testifying, this may be the moment Americans finally get answers about what makes Big Tech tick and the implications the industry holds for competition in an increasingly digital world.
A sizable disconnect appears to exist between the technology Americans are using and depending on in their daily lives and the knowledge base of people with the power and responsibility to decide its future and regulation.