POSTED 21 May 2019 - 10:03

Should Facebook (and other Big Tech giants) be split up?

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How (if at all) should they be regulated?
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Top Response

Chris Burton, MD, South East Asia Vistra Group

Monopolies are generally subject to challenge where a firm is the sole seller of a product or it has no close substitutes, so that firm can unfairly influence market prices. Facebook is not a monopoly in an economic sense. It is a platform, upon which content and ideas are shared by the hundreds...

Responses

Jayaprakash Jagateesan, Chief Executive Officer, RHT Holdings Pte Ltd
21 May 2019 - 10:05

The aggregation of social media networks and the emergence of a monopoly in the hands of a single large shareholder leaves a lot to be desired in terms of governance. The concentration of power and influence held by a single shareholder not only lacks checks and balances, but also hinders competition and stifles innovation.

With no significant alternatives for users to switch to, the authorities need to step in to prevent users from being subjected to manipulative practices and malicious exploitation. However, government agencies will need to look beyond 20th century regulatory concepts designed for railroads and oil companies to police the latest technology platforms, products and services.

John Bittleston, Founder and Chair, Terrific Mentors International Pte Ltd
21 May 2019 - 10:05

Splitting up a big business is not as easy as it sounds. Shared services including information is a foundation cost for many. Divided, you double costs and seriously affect the profits of both. Public companies' shareholders will be angry. Internal staff hates it too. Forcing the downsizing of a business is not clever. Thus regulation is all the more important. Free speech is being badly abused. I don't like limiting what people can say but the impact of words is today greater than when I was born. It needs reining in, sensitively, with a careful watch that the regulations don't become a source of abuse.

Allan Tan, Managing Partner, Ying Communications
21 May 2019 - 10:04

The challenge for regulators with Facebook or any social media platform is that knowledge is never evenly distributed: there will always exist the few who know how to use - and game - the platform to their advantage. These include the Kardashians, dictatorships, politicians, activists, Cambridge Analytica, the Myanmar military, communications agencies with the right skills, and Facebook itself.

Breaking up Facebook wouldn't address this root problem. Governments need a two-prong approach: first, make the platform responsible for the content its users put up, ie treat Facebook like a media company. Second, put in place laws that restrict the type of content that people can put up: opinions ok, hate speech not ok. These rules aren't new; we just need to bring Facebook under their ambit.

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