Big Tech Braces for Big Backlash from EU and Others
Following the fallout from whistleblower Frances Haugen and her explosive testimony on how, in particular, Facebook targets users using algorithms and ads, governments are looking for ways to roll back the all-expansive tech giants.
Profit Over Public Safety
In her testimony to the United States Senate Commerce committee, Frances Haugen talked about how Facebook, among others, prioritize profit over the wellbeing of their users. She went on to divulge thousands of internal Facebook documents showing that the company is well aware of the harmful impact it’s platform has on democracy, and young people, among other things. She specifically talked about how Facebook's algorithms are designed to provoke “engagement”, and spread incredibly provocative content that plays on peoples’ most hateful tendencies to go viral. Furthermore, she went on to say that social media platforms like Facebook “harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy”.
Following the public outcry after Haugen’s testimonies, some governments have taken it upon themselves to crack down on these, otherwise unregulated, platforms. The European Union is among the leaders in this movement, drafting legislation that limits the use of certain algorithms, bans certain hate speech content, and even takes steps to crack down on how these giants interact with much smaller competitors.
Although the EU might be the first, it’s becoming more and more likely that they won’t be the last to regulate these tech giants. Some US senators and politicians have even gone as far as to suggest “breaking up” corporations like Facebook and Google.
This isn’t the first time the EU has taken steps to reel in tech giants either, back in 2018 they passed the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, regulating how websites and companies can handle personal data. Wonder why you always get a little pop-up message asking you if you “accept these cookies”? Well, you have the EU to thank for that.
The Future of Digital Interactions
Social media has become an essential and key part of not only our personal interactions, but also professional ones. There’s a huge swath of businesses that rely on platforms like Facebook to reach out and advertise to potential customers. Therefore, any potential regulation seeking to throttle algorithms intended to boost “engagement” and views could have a ripple effect on businesses.
But what do you think? Would your business be affected by any potential regulation?