A European offensive against the monopoly of Facebook

Facebook stirs up hatred and promotes filter bubbles, Austrian media experts say. Breaking the social media giant's monopoly will require government cooperation across Europe.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
A European offensive against the monopoly of Facebook - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

How do you regulate the fact that Facebook holds a monopoly on social media? We've seen its influence over politics and public opinion. But experts say the way Facebook chooses what people see and what content is promoted may threaten civil discourse.

"The mechanisms behind it are dangerous because they promote polarization -- anything that causes strong reactions is rewarded. They stir up hatred, promote division and rely on filter bubbles," says journalist Corinna Milborn.

If European countries band together and demand a public service contract with Facebook and other social media giants, those companies would have little choice but to change the way they do business. 

Media expert Markus Breitenecker says regulating the US tech monopolies should be based on cooperation rather than competition. It may be the best way to slow, or perhaps stop, the fake news, propaganda and hate speech shared on their platforms.

Details from the story:

  • Austrian political scientist and journalist Corinna Milborn is the Head of Information and Moderator of the private television station PULS 4.
  • Markus Breitenecker is an Austrian media manager who founded the television station ProSiebenSat1, which recently merged with ATV, the most important private television company in Austria.
  • Milborn does not see Facebook and Youtube as independent platforms or as host providers, but as competing media under European law.
  • In order to counter the US social media monopoly, Milborn and Breitenecker propose forming a European cooperation.
  • Breitenecker described his plans for the media world in a book that will come out in June entitled: "Neue Ideen für einen öffentlich-rechtlichen Auftrag gegen US-Tech-Monopole" ("New ideas for a public service contract against US tech monopolies").
  • It would be difficult because of how such services work now, but Breitenecker is convinced that solutions could be found by focusing on sales targets.
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