EU ANTITRUST: HOT TOPICS & NEXT STEPS
EU ANTITRUST: HOT TOPICS & NEXT STEPS 2022
including the removal of illegal or otherwise harmful content (Klonick, 2019, pp. 1631–1635). Content moderation, has, however, come under increasing pressure, both from proponents and opponents of active moderation and removal of harmful content. Platforms have also had to adapt to the COVID -19 pandemic and deploy effective means of containing disinformation and correcting inaccurate information (Douek, 2021, pp. 802–803). Further criticism has also risen against the disparate levels of moderation in different jurisdictions (Tworek, 2021). The criticism has been addressed by platforms and regulators alike. Online platforms are increasingly making their moderation policies more specific and transparent, going as far as creating dedicated dispute resolution bodies (Klonick, 2021, pp. 2470–2471). In EU law, the European Commission (hereinafter “Commission”) aims to address the issue with the Digital Services Act Regulation, a reform of the existing regime of intermediary liability established by the E-Commerce Directive. It lays down several layers of rules aimed at various providers of online services, including online platforms (including a special category of “very large online platforms”). The proposal retains the core of the EU intermediary liability regime established by the E-Commerce Directive (Directive 2000/31/EC) while attempting to create a “Good Samaritan” clause and places content moderation (including the moderation of legal but harmful content) under more scrutiny (European Commission, 2020; Ochodek, 2021, pp. 201– 202). Other attempts, with some being controversial, to reform the existing regime have been launched in the U.S. (Electronic Frontier Foundation, 2021). In light of the persisting issues in content moderation (e.g. the scope of content that is moderated), alternatives to the current regulatory efforts have been presented. Platforms could be opened to a new layer of “middleware” services that could take away content curation from current platforms and provide a wider variety of user experiences (Fukuyama et al. , 2021, p. 5, Keller, 2021, p. 168). Another similar proposal views platforms through the lens of protocols and various applications that build upon them (Masnick, 2019). These proposals would lead to at least a partial decentralisation of what is currently known as social media platforms. 2. Problem Formulation and Methodology The paper deals with the question of whether EU competition law has a role in decentralising social media platforms. Since the process of decentralisation of social media platforms is already underway, but still nascent, the aim of this paper is not to provide an exhausting description of all kinds of social media environments, but primarily to discuss whether the current state of EU competition law creates any role for EU competition law with respect to the process of decentralisation of social media platforms and to identify the limits of its use.
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