Monday, September 09, 2019
State attorneys-general meet to call more social media regulation to allow more competition
Up to forty state attorneys-general plan to investigate Google (and indirectly YouTube) for anti-competitive behavior, according to a Washington Post front page story by Tony Romm Monday September 9, 2019.
There are smaller efforts in states to investigate Facebook and Amazon, as noted toward the end of the article.
States have also been investigating telecom companies, recently suing Sprint and t-Mobile and sometimes (like California) implementing their own network neutrality laws.
Earlier this year, Lior Leser (YouTuberLaw) had filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over possibly collusive behavior by tech and payment processors in an attempt to shut down some “conservative” media outlets and their owners.
The complaints seem varies. Generally, the business model of allowing users to view content free and upload content without review requires a “clickbait” incentive for advertising to return enough income for a profitable operation. Much of the issue is that the advertising model doesn’t work without harvesting a lot of consumer information and consumption and viewing habits (a huge expansion on the idea of Nielsen ratings perhaps). In some cases, this can put some consumers (most of all in authoritarian or lawless countries) in danger. But moreover, the model tends, however unintentionally, to lead to radicalization (especially toward to alt-right) of some vulnerable users, especially underemployed young men.
While the model has made less educated visitors vulnerable to manipulation (as by “fake news” and intentional gaming of the systems by foreign interests, which Facebook especially has stopped with various purges for bad-faith coordinated behaviors) the models also have allowed independent media to call out legacy media for flawed and biased reporting, as in the Covington kids incident. Legacy media has also had a problem with clickbait, even though it has greatly increased subscription and paywalls in recent years.
NPR has a similar story by Jennifer Liberto and Avie Schneider.