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'It's a Worry That Big Tech Companies Have So Much Power Over the Information We Consume' - Analyst

© AP Photo / Matt RourkeIn this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile device in Philadelphia
In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile device in Philadelphia - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.02.2021
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Facebook’s decision to ghost Australia was met with global condemnation. Proposed legislation from the Australian government that would force Facebook to pay news publishers for content resulted in Mark Zuckerberg unfriending, blocking and deleting a sovereign nation.

 

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled Facebook's behaviour as "arrogant" adding that “they may be changing the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it.”

The actions of the social network strengthened arguments for the need to challenge the monopoly power of tech giants and subject them to regulations.

Sputnik spoke with Anjana Susarla, Omura-Saxena Professor of Responsible AI at Michigan State University, to hear her thoughts on government concerns over big tech monopolisation and if it is possible for social media giants like Facebook to self-regulate.

Sputnik: Are people and governments right to be concerned about the monopoly of Big Tech companies?

Susarla: It just shows how much control and monopoly power that the Big Tech companies have. In a sense, they seem to have more governmental power than some of the big governments themselves.

A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen placed on a keyboard in this illustration, taken 25 March 2020.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.02.2021
Sweden, Denmark Preparing 'Australian-Style' Laws That Will Press Facebook to Pay for News Content
Sputnik: Should more governments be trying to follow Australia's lead and look to regulate these big tech companies?

Susarla: I think we are kind of at that point, because there were some early efforts at trying to have some cooperative arrangements regarding internet protocols. This is a bit messy, it's not easy. We have to worry about the fact that Big Tech companies have so much control over the information that we consume, and they can micro target us. There's so much misinformation that's on technology platforms that we do have to worry about it.

Sputnik: Is there an opportunity perhaps for Big Tech companies to engage in responsible self-regulation?

Susarla: Yes, I think that's one of the things that they could probably do a little bit more, to have some internal mechanisms. Facebook has an oversight board, but they have not been very transparent with what the oversight board is supposed to do.

Sputnik: What roles do companies like Facebook play in society, and just how big an influence do they have in shaping public opinion?

Susarla: Big Tech companies are essentially shaping a lot of information that you see about the world. The news feeds that we see have been algorithmically curated, to maximise our engagement, or what they believe will keep you on the site. That's basically kind of kept us in these kinds of echo chambers. That's the danger, you know, this can be disastrous for some of our democratic processes.

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