Sometimes it seems that Google, Apple, Facebook & Amazon (the GAFAs) are the new trusts.
They control our access to information. They control the news we read. They control the products we buy. They are our communications platforms. They compete with each other and seek to broaden and deepen their influence.
My hunch is that we’re going to see an increasing desire to regulate or curtail their activities. Why? Because that faint sound you hear is the penny is dropping. GAFAs control crucial choke-points in the political economy, much like the oil majors, railway barons and AT&T established oligopolistic positions a century ago. More than half of all online time is spent on a GAFA property.
The Facebook kerfuffle this past week is one such example. Facebook’s trending news feature has a heavy dose of human curation, according to leaked documents. Anyone who has worked in the axis of social media and news aggregation knows this was likely the case. As my former head of data science
used to say: “My job is to devise an algorithm that doesn’t always give the answer Justin Bieber.” As we’ve argued many times before, platform neutrality is a myth.
🌟 A bold proposal to regulate Facebook
. Explores Jonathan Zittrain’s idea of an ‘information fiduciary’ which would close the “disconnect between the level of trust we place in [online services] and the level of trust owed to us.” (See also Morovoz in EV#54