EU ANTITRUST: HOT TOPICS & NEXT STEPS
EU ANTITRUST: HOT TOPICS & NEXT STEPS 2022
Platforms and Protocols: can Competition Law Help the Decentralisation of Social Media Platforms?
Tomáš Ochodek Charles University
Faculty of Law, Department of European Law náměstí Curieových 901/7, Prague, 116 40 Czechia e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract Social media platforms have been criticised for their approach in moderating harmful content online and their power over online speech. It has been suggested that one solution could lie in opening platforms to a new layer of services that would provide better content moderation and user experience. Such efforts have already started, with one spearheaded by Twitter itself. The paper discusses whether such efforts correspond to the goals of EU competition law and whether the current competition toolbox could be used to achieve such de-centralisation. Following the Competition for the Digital Era strategy, it discusses the opening of social media platforms to a new type of services or turning current platforms into “protocols” with corresponding “applications”. It will also look at competition law as an aid in maintaining such proposed regimes. It will argue that the latter option may be feasible with current tools; conversely the former could require a bold reimagining of competition law as well as ex-ante regulation. Keywords: competition law, content moderation, de-centralisation of social media platforms, online platforms, protocol interoperability. JEL Classification: K210 1. Introduction The paper aims to connect two areas in which large online platforms are subject to criticism: their role in hosting, spreading, and moderating online content, and their positions as undertakings under EU competition law and their corresponding market power. Concerning the former, the success of large online platforms has created a situation in which online speech is increasingly centralised on several largest platforms. Through the space provided by limited liability for content hosted by platforms, as well as internal and external pressures to create a decent online environment, platforms have gradually developed systems for moderating online content,
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