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Unpacking the Political Ad Battle Between Elizabeth Warren and Mark Zuckerberg

October 16, 2019 Digital Platform Act , Election 2020 , Facebook , Platform Regulation , political advertising

The last few days have highlighted the complete inadequacy of our political advertising rules in an era when even the President of the United States has no hesitation in blasting the world with unproven conspiracy theories about political rivals using both traditional broadcast media and social media. We cannot ignore the urgency of this for […]

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What’s Behind Facebook’s Libra and What We Should Be Concerned About

August 28, 2019 Data Protection , Facebook , Platform Competition , Platform Regulation , Privacy

By this time you may have already read about Libra, Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency, and all the fuss about its relation to Facebook. Many questions have been coming up: Is Libra a payment instrument? Who is behind it? Why should we trust Facebook? Moreover, the European Union may be already investigating a potential anticompetitive behavior related to Libra. Although […]

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Keeping Thumbs Off the Scale: Nondiscrimination on Digital Platforms

Antitrust , Platform Competition , Platform Regulation

In a recent podcast episode, economist Luigi Zingales related a joke familiar in tech circles: “Why did it take police years to find the body?” “It was buried on page two of Google’s search results!” The witticism rings all too true to internet users. We know that our likelihood of selecting a digital pathway is based […]

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Could the FCC Regulate Social Media Under Section 230? No.

August 14, 2019 Content Liability , Content Moderation , FCC , Platform Regulation , Section 230

Last week, Politico reported that the White House was considering a potential “Executive Order” (EO) to address the ongoing-yet-unproven allegations of pro-liberal, anti-conservative bias by giant Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. (To the extent that there is rigorous research by AI experts, it shows that social media sites are more likely to flag posts by self-identified African Americans as “hate speech” than identical wording used by whites.) Subsequent reports by CNN and The Verge have provided more detail. Putting the two together, it appears that the Executive Order would require the Federal Communications Commission to create regulations designed to create rules limiting the ability of digital platforms to “remove or suppress content” as well as prohibit “anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive” practices around content moderation. The EO would also require the Federal Trade Commission to somehow open a docket and take complaints (something it does not, at present, do, or have capacity to do – but I will save that hobby horse for another time) about supposed political bias claims.

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Viewpoint Diversity Requires Media Policy, Not Editorial Regulation

June 19, 2019 Platform Competition , Platform Regulation , Section 230 , Section 230 Series

Many conservatives feel that major online platforms discriminate against them. But their proposed policy solutions, which usually involve modifications to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, cannot have the effect that they want. However, policies adapted from traditional media policy might help ensure that users of all political viewpoints have the ability to freely communicate online.

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