January 5, 2022
Traffic in Twitter posts debating media issues should swell to monumental proportions in 2022. Much will focus on the deeply troubling mayhem of American politics in which the role of Big Tech will feature prominently.
There are several pots boiling on the Big Tech stove in Washington D.C. but Facebook is the biggest. Democrats want Facebook held to account for its enabling of the January 6th Capitol attack. Two former Facebook employees, Frances Haugen and Brandon Silverman, are very publicly making life uncomfortable for CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
On that note you can listen to a great podcast from New York Times Tech columnist Kara Swisher interviewing whistle-blower Haugen who keeps hammering home the message that if Congress would just force Zuckerberg to be more transparent with Facebook’s algorithm and data traffic that would be the straightest line between the political toxicity of today’s Facebook and a healthier platform.
Here in Canada expect a flurry of legislative activity in Ottawa: a reprise of Bill C-10 the Broadcasting Act, legislation to squeeze fair compensation out of Google and Facebook for publishers’ news content, and an Online Harms Bill that will spark a sharp debate over the toxicity of online speech.
Possibly an emerging issue will be whether our federal competition law will prove to be any restraint at all on the rising power and influence of Big Tech or if the Competition Bureau decides to stay out of it. There’s a very good overview in the Toronto Star from Amir Barnea.
Although we don’t think of Rogers or Shaw being in the same league as Facebook or the rest of “Big Tech,” if their $26 billion merger is approved by the CRTC and the Competition Bureau that will certainly stir up the big-is-bad conversation. Rogers is pushing for a decision before mid-March.