Prague, Czechia

generated by or collected through each of the products or services it provides inside its ecosystem – this is what Meta is trying to achieve by pooling together data from Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp – or even combing its own data with data from third parties. Third, one can also identify in digital markets the increasing permeability between markets and society. This is because the capacity to monitor, target and manipulate users can impact important societal debates and democratic processes. Online tracking and behavioural manipulation can be used to distort the market for ideas, so as to influence citizens’ attitudes towards elections and public debates beyond the remit of economic activities. As highlighted in 2019 by Margrethe Vestager, the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, “it’s important to take a broad view of how the power of platforms is affecting the basic values of our society – values like privacy, freedom, fairness. And if it turns out that those values are under threat, then we need to be ready to act” (Vestager, 2019). The dynamics of digital markets and the rise of tech giants are posing a risk to our society and democracy. The business models of these companies are affecting the way we behave not only as consumers, but also as citizens. One example is the proliferation of “fake new” on social media. While prima facie it does not appear to be a competition problem strico sensu , a more careful analysis reveals a different conclusion. Over the past decade, the market of ideas and information was fundamentally disrupted by the new business model implemented by these large digital platforms who make profits when consumers engage with content that is popular and attractive but misleading – sometimes referred to as “clickbait” – or outright fake. These business practices may not necessarily be a sign of malice or of influence from foreign political actors; they can generally be explained by the platform’s pursuit of profits and disregard for negative externalities and impacts on society as a whole. Multi-sided platforms, zero-price markets, network effects, controlled ecosystems, dark patterns, profit maximisation, all these features have together created a digital environment which may appear on the surface as thriving and dynamic, but below is characterised by increased concentration and increased market power. In this environment, the few major players can dictate the nature and pace of innovation, entry into the market, the expansion of services and the interface with consumers. Many digital or online markets have tipped in favour of the of the dominant platforms because of those characteristics. 2. When to intervene? The market characteristics described above are in constant flux and therefore create a familiar dilemma for competition authorities within and without Europe. Should one trust and hope that market forces alone are sufficient to introduce


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