‘Brick wall’: Deadlocked efforts to control Fb

Issued on: 10.06.2021 – 01:00Changed: 06/10/2021 – 00:59

San Francisco (AFP)

U.S. Senators again vowed Tuesday to curb Facebook’s power, this time fueled by devastating whistleblower revelations backed up by the company’s own research.

Efforts to better regulate the tech giant’s platforms, which have billions of users, have so far been slow and ineffective.

Here are the efforts to regulate Facebook:

– Little progress in Congress –

Reducing Facebook’s economic power and overseeing its moderation policies are the two main topics for Americans interested in technology regulation.

U.S. lawmakers pushed blockbuster laws in June paving the way for the potential dismantling of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon.

The proposed law would prohibit the largest corporations from acquiring competitors.

A voting date has not yet been set, and compatibility with applicable competition law is not guaranteed.

“Without significant legislative changes, we believe that this antitrust dynamic will hit a wall,” said independent analyst Dan Ives.

In addition, elected officials are divided, especially on issues of freedom of expression in the networks.

Many want to reform Section 230, a 1996 law that protects Internet hosts from lawsuits related to content posted by third parties, a cornerstone of social networking.

It seems almost impossible to find common ground between Democrats, who advocate stricter rules against misinformation, and Republicans, who cite concerns about censorship.

Republican-controlled states like Florida and Texas are trying to pass laws to keep networks from blocking political content or candidates.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly spoken out in favor of changing Section 230.

However, authorities have succeeded in pressuring the platform to stop efforts to develop a version of the Instagram photo-sharing app for children under the age of 13.

– Mess in antitrust lawsuits –

The US Federal Trade Commission regulators, as well as an alliance of states, have filed lawsuits accusing Facebook of being a social media monopoly that needs to be smashed.

The lawyers argued that the tech titan is not only dominating online social networking, but also “buying or burying” startups that he sees as a growing threat.

“Facebook has monopoly power in the personal social networking market in the United States for nearly a decade,” alleged a lawsuit filed by US state attorneys general late last year.

“Facebook illegally maintains this monopoly power by using a buy-or-bury strategy that thwarts competition.”

These lawsuits, however, failed a priori when a federal judge ruled that they lacked facts and did not clarify exactly which market they believed Facebook was wrongly dominating.

Facebook on Monday urged a federal judge to dismiss an amended version of the FTC lawsuit, arguing that it was weak and that the regulator behind it had “an ax to grind.”

FTC chairman Lina Khan gave the casting vote in a decision to change the case and try a second time, and should have backed out because of bias against the company, Facebook said in the filing.

– European probes launched –

The European Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation in June to investigate whether Facebook had abused its powers to collect advertising data from advertisers and its classified ads service.

“Facebook collects huge amounts of data about the activities of the users of its social network and beyond,” said Margrethe Vestager, vice-chair of the commission, in a press release.

“We will examine in detail whether this data gives Facebook an unjustified competitive advantage.”

At the same time, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority announced an investigation into whether Facebook has an unfair advantage in online classified ads and online dating services by collecting and using certain data.

“We will work closely with the European Commission to investigate these issues and continue our coordination with other agencies to address these global issues,” said CMA chief Andrea Coscelli in a press release.

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