‘The Social Dilemma’ — Take #2

Posted by JN: In “More than tools: who is responsible for the social dilemma?”, Microsoft researcher Niall Docherty has an original take on the thinking that underpins the film. If we are to pursue more productive discussions of the issues raised by the film, he argues, we need to re-frame social media as something more…More

A ‘New School’ for geeks?

Posted by JN: Interesting and novel. An online course for techies to get them thinking about the kind of world they are creating. Runs for twelve weeks from March 8 through May 31, 2021. Its theme of “creative protest”covers issues of justice in tech through a multitude of approaches — whether it’s organizing in the…More

Trust in/distrust of public sector data repositories

Posted by JN My eye was caught by an ad for a PhD internship in the Social Media Collective, an interesting group of scholars in Microsoft Research’s NYC lab.  What’s significant is the background they cite to the project. Microsoft Research NYC is looking for an advanced PhD student to conduct an original research project…More

‘The Social Dilemma’ – Take #1

The Social Dilemma is an interesting — and much-discussed — docudrama about the impact of social media on society.  We thought it’d be interesting to have a series in which we gather different takes on the film.  Here’s Take#1… Spool forward a couple of centuries. A small group of social historians drawn from the survivors…More

Davids can sometimes really upset tech Goliaths

John Naughton The leading David at the moment is Max Schrems, the Austrian activist and founder of the most formidable data-privacy campaigning organisation outside of the US.  As a student, he launched the campaign that eventually led to the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling that the ‘Safe Harbour’ agreement negotiated between the…More

The political arguments against digital monopolies in the House Judiciary Report

Alina Utrata          The House Judiciary Committee’s report on digital monopolies (all 449 pages) was a meticulously-researched dossier of why the Big Four tech companies—Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook—should be considered monopolies. However, leaving the nitty-gritty details aside, it’s worth examining how the report frames the political arguments for why monopolies are bad.           It’s important to distinguish economic…More

The European Commission launches Amazon probe

John Naughton The European commission has opened an antitrust investigation of Amazon, on the grounds that the company has breached EU antitrust rules against distorting competition in online retail markets. Amazon, says the commission, has been using its privileged access to non-public data of independent sellers who sell on its marketplace to benefit the parts…More

Should you have a right to a Facebook account?

Alina Utrata Now that the 2020 US presidential election has concluded, the post-mortem evaluation of how well social media platforms performed will begin. Since the content moderation debate has mostly focused on platforms’ willing or unwillingness to remove content or accounts, the post-election coverage will almost inevitably center around who and what was removed or…More

Democratizing digital sovereignty: an impossible task?

Julia Rone The concept of digital sovereignty has increasingly gained traction in the last decade. A study by the Canadian scholars Stephan Couture and Sophie Toupin in the ProQuest database has shown that while the term appeared only 6 times in general publications before 2008, it was used almost 240 times between 2015-2018. As every…More

Market definitions and tech monopolies

John Naughton The tech analyst Ben Evans has an interesting essay on his Blog about the difficulties of defining ‘monopoly’ in the context of the industry. This is one of his hobby-horses, but he’s always provocative. For example: One of the basic building blocks of any competition case is market definition. If you’re claiming that…More