Horizons Newsletter – week 4 // 2021
Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, please contact Investor Relations.
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Counter Fake Content
After numerous misleading tweets on alleged election fraud and following the Capitol insurrection, former president Trump and his supporters lost accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch and other services. The bans are an example of ‘deplatforming’, which is meant to restrict the ability of individuals and communities to communicate with each other and the public. According to research company Zignal Labs – as reported on by Washington Post (see graph) – it works, at least in the short term. The long-term effect, however, is not so clear. Deplatforming can have unintended consequences that can accelerate the problematic behavior that led to deplatforming in the first place. For instance, it can delegitimize authoritative sources of information in the eyes of a movement’s followers, and remaining adherents can become even more ardent. Moving forward, effective approaches will need to take into account the technological and social consequences of addressing the root problem of extremist and violent Web communities. Countering fake content spread through the big tech platforms thus asks for a multi-dimensional approach.
Privacy by Design
This month at a (virtual) CES panel, the heads of privacy at Amazon, Google and Twitter discussed the future of privacy. They said that privacy is of paramount importance as the adoption of new technology is accelerating during the pandemic. Keith Enright, Chief Privacy Officer at Google, explained that users feel more nervous than they have been in the past because they rely on technology more than ever. Moreover, privacy laws are making people more aware and concerned of their privacy. In addition, the E.U. is flexing its regulatory muscles. Last December, Twitter, Google, and Amazon were all fined for breaching GDPR rules. Since GDPR is acting as a blue print for privacy regulation around the globe, its guiding principles will increasingly shape the user experience by changing looks, features and settings of the big tech services. Nevertheless, the tech companies are wary of having to deal with a patchwork of privacy laws, and have been pushing for a federal U.S. privacy law that creates one standard for the country. With privacy-setting laws increasing, more privacy changes and improvements can be expected.
Europe’s Digital Rulebook
The European Digital Strategy is beginning to unfold. The European Commission has recently put forward proposals for new legislation with which Europe hopes to gain more grip on the European digital stack and confront the large tech platforms with far stricter rules concerning their product offering. The Data Governance Act, for instance, seeks to realize a level playing field for the exchange of data, in order to fully utilize the potential of data and at the same time protect citizens’ and companies’ data. In addition, the Digital Services Act (DSA), which replaces the E-Commerce Directive, will address the responsibility and liability of online services. Concurrent with the DSA, the Digital Markets Act, which means to curb the power of (foreign) tech parties, should become operational as well. Combined these rules will confront big tech with far stricter rules concerning the products they offer, which data they are allowed to collect and what they may do with it, and how to deal with local service providers. Moreover, they might also face attempts to dismantle their monopolies, perhaps even more so than in their own countries.