The U.S. government made a number of important announcements last week that could ultimately have a major impact on the operation of social media platforms, including potential restrictions and limitations on what digital platforms can do with the purchase of other platforms, the managing their advertising businesses, using user data and more.
On Friday, four separate accounts was proposed to the House of Representatives all aiming at different elements of major technological monopolies.
As reported by Reuters, can possibly see those four accounts:
- A law against platforms that prefer their own products on their platforms. For example, Google would no longer be able to promote its own products on search, but Apple may not prefer Apple Music over Spotify, etc.
- A restriction on mergers in the technology sector unless the acquirer can demonstrate that the acquirer is not competing with any product or service already offered by the platform. Facebook would not be able to access WhatsApp or Instagram under this provision.
- A ban on digital platforms owned by subsidiaries operating on their platform if the subsidiaries compete with other businesses. It is aimed at reducing preference behavior and could potentially force the sale of certain elements.
- Improved portability of user data, with platforms under legal obligation to allow users to transfer their data elsewhere if they prefer, also to a competitive enterprise.
A separate bill will also address the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice a significant boost in funding, to help enforce antitrust cases, as is currently going on against both Facebook and Google.
There are always antitrust cases against the technical giants going on, and the funding increase will help address these outstanding issues and fund further investigations.
If these bills are passed, or even if some of them pass, it will impose a new set of restrictions on the operation of the technical giants, while further investigations are underway in Europe and other regions. data sharing restrictions, due to concerns about possible abuse by foreign governments.
It also comes as the US government continues investigate the implications of data sharing with China, which includes Chinese-owned digital platforms that could affect TikTok at some point, as well as WeChat. While TikTok was able to avoid a ban in the US last year, after the Trump administration tried to force it into U.S. ownership, it could still experience a potential shutdown in America, depending on the provocative tensions between America and China.
Taken together, these elements can force major shifts in the digital marketing landscape, and it will be important for everyone working in the sector to take note and prepare them for change.
Although these moves are actually no great surprise.
Given the rise of social media and the key role it now plays in our everyday interactive process, it seems somewhat inevitable that at some point new rules will be introduced to govern in the power of Facebook and Co, especially as the platforms become increasingly asked to consider things like political censorship, and their networks are being used to influence massive global shifts.
The last note may seem like an exaggeration, but government-funded foreign groups want to do so influences voters’ reaction outside their own borders via social apps, and politicians are increasingly relying on Facebook and Twitter in particular as a direct line to their constituents, which enables them to question, among other things, the mainstream media coverage, it is very clear that social media is indeed causing seismic shifts in the political landscape.
If the rise of former US President Donald Trump shows us anything, it is that social media is now the main platform for engaging with the public on a large scale and in real time – and with 71% of the people now getting at least a portion of their news input from social media platforms, and rising, it’s only going to get more important.
It has already spurred several government officials and lawmakers, while Trump has also recently been banned from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube raised further concerns about political censorship, and the fact that decisions about who may and may not become a public platform are now being made by technical executives in Silicon Valley. It gives private companies direct control over an element of politics, which, whether you agree with the Trump ban or not, is an important issue.
That’s why Facebook asked external regulation, and even formed his own third party regulatory group, composed of a diverse group of experts, to address such concerns. Facebook’s hope is that by showing how its independent supervisory board can help make such decisions, it can pave the way for broader regulation, and take such decisions out of its hands.
In essence, Facebook and other platforms prefer that the rules not be set by their internal teams either – but within the current process, they have little choice. As such, these new bills could be a step forward, but at the same time, they would also limit Facebook’s chances of growth and expand even further through acquisition.
Which actually just means we will see more Facebook cloning features, like Stories and Reels, and less attempts to buy opposing platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram.
Would that be a better scenario? I mean, probably. Clones of Facebook have traditionally not fared as well as the original, leaving more room for competition in the sector.
Either way, the implications here are significant and could cause major change in the industry. There is still a long way to go, but it’s worth keeping an eye on every element within this shift.