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Ten Problems for Facebook in the 2020s

A number of booklets not making the cut or still at the draft stage are presented in the form of single posts to test waters. These replicate the structure of any official post from this website: an introduction + five general references + the list of ten problems for the 2020s.

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Literature Review: Facebook Problems for the 2020s

American competition policy has four big problems: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. These companies each reign over a sector of the digital marketplace, controlling both the consumer experience and the possibility of competitive entry. Swayed by prevailing utopic views about digital markets in the early 2000s—that they were uniquely dynamic, innovative, and competitive—these courts carved out special exceptions to antitrust rules about tying and the duty to deal with competitors [1]. The tech companies have used this blank check to entrench their market power and keep start-ups from becoming what they themselves once were: the next big thing.

Issues related to ethics are expanding along with the new technologies, as happens with artificial narrow intelligence, which is “machine intelligence that equals or exceeds people’s abilities or efficiency at a specific task,” as found in Google search and Facebook social mapping [2]. Ethical concerns extend to a wide variety of circumstances; for instance, data protection and algorithm-based decision in the administration of justice is one of the many areas where individuals may be unprotected to pervasive technology.

Internet regulation in the European Union (EU) is receiving significant attention and criticism in the United States. The European Court of Jus- tice’s (ECJ) judgment in the case Glawischnig-Piesczek v. Facebook Ireland, in which the ECJ found a take-down order against Facebook for defamatory content with global effect permissible under EU law, was closely scrutinized in the United States [3].

There are many and varied troubles bearing down on Facebook in 2021. The United States government has officially filed a lawsuit claiming Facebook used abusive monopoly power to place unfair pressure on competitors, in some cases buying the companies before they could grow sufficiently to challenge the overwhelmingly dominant social media company. The goal of the US government may be to break up Facebook into smaller companies, potentially splitting Instagram and WhatsApp into separate entities [4]. Another major threat to Facebook comes from Apple, which has been boasting about its privacy focus for the last few years.

Facebook was one of the most hated tech companies of 2020. It was pilloried by various groups for its failure to halt the spread of hate speech, violent content, and fake news, and some of those missteps actually sparked an advertising boycott. But amid all that chaos and a pandemic-induced slowdown in ad sales, Facebook marched on. Its revenue rose 17% year over year in the first nine months of 2020, its net income surged 61%, and its stock price has risen 33% over the past year [5].

(Starting from such general references, this booklet identifies ten relevant areas from very recent contributions put forward at academic level in the form journal articles, conference proceedings and students theses. Ten freely accessible internet references have been selected for each area and direct links are provided at the end of each chapter for own consultation. Our selected references do not intend to mirror ranking indexes nor establish novel classifications. On the contrary, they are meant to represent peer-reviewed, diverse and scientifically-sound case studies for vertical dissemination aimed at non-specialist readers. They will also be able to scoop even more references through the bibliography that is reported at the end of each selected reference.)

Without further ado, these are the “Ten Problems for Facebook in the 2020s” that we might be going to introduce in a coming booklet: 

  1. psychological effects, 
  2. monopoly, 
  3. terms of use, 
  4. privacy, 
  5. censorship, 
  6. personnel, 
  7. copyright, 
  8. criminal uses,
  9. tax avoidance, 
  10. frauds. 

(Each problem has its own dedicated chapter made of an introductory section, a short presentation of the ten selected references and a conclusions section. The final chapter of this booklet will report the conclusions from each chapter again in order to provide a complete executive summary.)

GENERAL REFERENCES CITED

[1] R.H. Allensworth, “Antitrust’s High-Tech Exceptionalism”, 18 Jan 2021, 130 Yale L.J. F. 588 (2020-2021), online at https://www.yalelawjournal.org/pdf/AllensworthEssay_en4r12b8.pdf

[2] E. Olier et al., “Algorithms Shaping the Future”, 2021, in: The Palgrave Handbook of Corporate Sustainability in the Digital Era, Springer 2021, online at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Beatrice-Re/publication/344861036_The_future_of_sustainability_Value_co-creation_processes_in_the_circular_economy/links/5feb275f45851553a0020da2/The-future-of-sustainability-Value-co-creation-processes-in-the-circular-economy.pdf#page63

[3] L. von Danwitz, “The Contribution of EU Law to the Regulation of Online Speech”, 2021, 27 MICH. TECH. L. REV. 167, online at https://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1025&=&context=mtlr&=&sei-redir=1

[4] A. Truly, “Why Facebook Enters 2021 In A Worse Place Than Other Smartphone Apps”, 28 Dec 2020, Screenrant, online at https://screenrant.com/facebook-facing-difficult-year-2021/ , accessed on 9 Mar 2021

[5] L. Sun, “3 Catalysts for Facebook in 2021”, 22 Dec 2020, The Motley Fool, online at https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/12/22/3-catalysts-for-facebook-in-2021/ , accessed on 8 Mar 2021