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Public policy and online social networks: The trillion dollar zombie question

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26th Human Behaviour and the Evolution of Society conference
Workshop on Internet and Evolution of Society
Prof. Chris Marsden
University of Sussex School of Law

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Public policy and online social networks: The trillion dollar zombie question

  1. 1. 26th Human Behaviour and the Evolution of Society conference Workshop on Internet and Evolution of Society Prof. Chris Marsden University of Sussex School of Law
  2. 2. Not a new phenomenon Pen friending via email from 1980s (+ spam) MUDs playing online games 1990 Rise of GeoCities and blogging late 1990s World of Warcraft + MMORPGs 2000 Web2.0 rise of MySpace, SecondLife, Orkut Broadband: Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Google+ See work of Barry Wellman from 1980s But what is different – Ubiquity, big money, wider public policy interest Obama the Facebook President Twitterati?
  3. 3. Facebook (FBK) a billion users Baidu 800,000,000 Skype 600,000,000 Google 2,000,000,000 Mergers: FBK-Instagram FBK-WhatsApp MSFT-Skype Google-many
  4. 4. Avoid AOL, News Corp, Microsoft, Yahoo! decline Tricky task –buying emerging market leaders ‘Curse of AOL’ – eWorld, Netscape, Bebo Yahoo! – GeoCities, Flickr News Corp – MySpace Microsoft – Hotmail, cable firms FBK – Instagram, WhatsApp, 3rd party games Teenage reaction: “I used those apps because they weren’t Stalkbook!” That’s why they move to SnapChat etc…
  5. 5. Why? WhatsApp is ‘free’ 500m users 50bilion daily messages Facebook IM client specific to mobile 1. So why are FBK buying WhatsApp? 2. Is there a market for free messages? 3. Is Facebook a monopoly? Answers: No, No, No – say “experts” Who owns the experts?
  6. 6. Facebook Google Twitter Baidu Vkontakte Skype
  7. 7. US companies Facebook Google Microsoft US privacy policy – no generic law Unlike European Directive(s) European regulation – Ireland, Luxembourg Dublin location – sales tax, regulation, corp. tax Lux – eBay + Skype World’s least competent privacy regulators? Portarlington 30 people, Lux 13
  8. 8. We used to call our undergrads the ‘Napster generation’ 36,000,000 broadband in 2000 Precursor to YouTube/Facebook/ MySpace/Torrent Commonists not communists
  9. 9. To NSA To advertisers To employers To friends To your future
  10. 10. MySpace accounts Hotmail accounts Friendster Bebo SecondLife Orkut? Individuals stop use – accounts are zombies?
  11. 11. Not sufficient to permit data deletion as that only covers the user’s tracks. Interconnection and interoperability, more than transparency and theoretical possibility to switch. Prosumers interoperate to permit social exit Lower entry barriers -> increased consumer welfare
  12. 12. Human rights concerns become more critical, reflecting the mass adoption of the Internet in countries with serious democratic deficits, notably in the Middle East and North Africa concerns far predate the Arab Spring of 2011 Regulatory debate well rehearsed in US & Europe since birth of the commercial Internet.
  13. 13. Balances against other fundamental rights, privacy freedom from racial discrimination or violence threats, rights to private property including copyright torts such as defamation and trespass in private law Boyle (2001) condemned Chinese censorship And US 1st Amendment promiscuous hate speech “new efforts to establish codes of conduct about harmful content on . . . this marvellous medium.”
  14. 14. Information giants cooperate with government to share our data • Legal procedures in place • Snowden & Greenwald told us: • Informal cooperation • UK took 1 day to pass: • DRIP Act 2014!
  15. 15. How does this affect competition policy? Are there 50 ways to leave your online lover? Network effects Silk roads of privacy & anonymity Competition law FBK + Google permanent monopolies? Privacy rules as social exit barriers?
  16. 16. Why do social networks decline? MySpace/Bebo/Orkut/Friends Reunited Is the visceral nature of offline social networking responsible for success online dating sites approximate strong human contact better: Grindr, Tindr – Twitter? Bad coding, European data protection and a more aspirational demographic Facebook v. MySpace/Bebo ASmallWorld was Eurotrash Facebook and failed? Weinstein’s brush with social networking failure: http://gawker.com/5381040/harvey-weinstein-finally-sells- myspace-for-millionaires
  17. 17. Personally identifiable data EU Data Protection Directive EC/95/46 Ethics of personal data collection User informed consent and reuse Proprietary data The unknown unknowns Networks not shy about leaking: Infamous Cornell study
  18. 18. Women (57%), Single (58%) 30% named Maria 33,000,000 single Marias like Shakira! 10% male following are named Jose. Most fans from Mexico City, Cairo, Istanbul. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/shakira- is-facebooks-most-popular-celebrity-with-100million- likes--enough-to-fill-1359-maracana-stadiums- 9618568.html
  19. 19. “Prof. Hancock and Guillory did not participate in data collection [nor] have access to user data. “Their work was limited to: initial discussions, analyzing the research results and working with Facebook to prepare paper “Experimental Evidence of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion through Social Networks,” Proceedings of National Academy of Science-Social Science.
  20. 20. “Because the research was conducted independently by Facebook and Professor Hancock had access only to results not to any individual, identifiable data at any time CU Institutional Review Board concluded that he was not directly engaged in human research and that no review by the Cornell Human Research Protection Program was required.”  http://mediarelations.cornell.edu/2014/06/30/media- statement-on-cornell-universitys-role-in-facebook- emotional-contagion-research/
  21. 21. “Computer scientists are simply not equipped to evaluate the legality of research they perform, “It is important that researchers seek the assistance of qualified legal experts as they design studies. “Program committees should require that the researchers identify the legal expert, and independently contact the named legal expert in order to verify that they do indeed believe that the researchers' study did not violate the law.” EU law often involved – US lawyers competent? Soghoian, C (2012) Enforced Community Standards For Research on Users of the Tor Anonymity Network, Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 7126, pp 146-153
  22. 22. We need new competition analysis visceral durablity and/or temporary elements of human sociality online
  23. 23. Report to UN General Assembly (La Rue 2011) regional HR bodies (Council of Europe) best practices: filtering but no harming free expression  Viviane Reding, European Commission vice president: “Copyright protection can never be a justification for eliminating freedom of expression or information Art.17 (2) v. Art.11(1) EU Charter of Fundamental Rights Blocking the Internet is never an option”