Opinion: Platform giants need to meet the public interest standard, just like broadcast media.
The federal government seems increasingly likely to take action on platform giants such as Facebook and Google. Antitrust intervention has emerged as the likely focal point of such efforts. Just listen to Mark Zuckerberg.
But is antitrust enforcement able to address the range of concerns that these platforms present? How does antitrust address the problem of disinformation? Or live-streamed violence? Or hate speech? Or the role that these platforms have played in the implosion of local journalism? Can antitrust extend beyond the economic marketplace and effectively protect the marketplace of ideas? Probably not.
Therefore, even if antitrust enforcement moves forward, as Harvard’s Gene Kimmelman has argued, “social welfare regulations are also required.” This is why there have also been calls for the creation of a new regulatory agency focused on digital platforms. Such an agency would need to be able to address not only concerns about competition but also these broader social welfare concerns. Essentially, then, we need a robust public interest framework for platform regulation…