Regulatory Approaches to Facebook and Other Social Media Platforms: Towards Platforms Design Accountability
The paper represents a contribution to the ongoing discussion on regulating social media platforms (SMP) and especially Facebook, mostly fueled by a recent series of scandals such as Cambridge Analytica, which highlighted the recognized problem of Facebook’s lack of accountability. In response to the scandal, which coincided with long-expected wide-scale implementation of the EU’s GDPR, Facebook introduced a series of measures on its platform, such as improved traceability of advertisers, or greater power over one’s own data. Besides, Facebook was put under scrutiny of competition law authorities, mainly the German Bundeskartellamt. Taking into consideration all the regulatory approaches, the question remains whether sufficiently effective design for holding the SMPs accountable has been established or not. In the paper, we first outline the accountability issues SMPs currently face, namely the data handling and privacy issue, the platforms’ impact on political processes, or related monopolistic positioning. We ascertain that common denominator of these issues is the platforms’ design, which is created to achieve business objectives, while imposing substantial negative externalities on the society. Alongside, we review the platforms’ reactions, i.e. the self-regulatory measures adopted by the platforms in 2017–2018. We also specifically focus on the evaluation of the competition law as one instrument of regulating certain aspects of the platforms, especially in light of the recent German Bundeskartellamt decision on Facebook. We claim that most of the measures and current instruments, although improving the lack of accountability, fall short of addressing the core issue of Facebook’s status – absence of scrutiny over the platform’s design.
 Act on Unfair Conditions in Commercial Relations with Food as the Object: Zákon o neprimeraných podmienkach v obchodných vztahoch, ktorých predmetom sú potraviny 2013. SI 2012/369. Slovak Republic. In Slovak.
 Allcott, H. and Gentzkow, M. (2017) Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. Journal of Economic Perspectives,31 (2).[online] doi:10.1257/jep.31.2.211 [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.31.2.211
 Bartlett, J. (2018) Big data is watching you – and it wants your vote. The Spectator, 24 March. [online]Available from: https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/03/big-data-is-watching-you-and-it-wants-your-vote/ [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Blažo, O. (2017) Účel zákona o ochrane hospodárskej súťaže ako právno-ekonomické interpretačné pravidlo. In: Mária Patakyová (ed.). Efektívnosť právnej úpravy ochrany hospodárskej súťaže – návrhy de lege ferenda. Bratislava, Slovakia, 25 September. Bratislava: Univerzita Komenského v Bratislave, Právnická fakulta.
 Botta, M. and Wiedemann, K. (2018) EU Competition Law Enforcement vis-à-vis Exploitative Conducts in the Data Economy Exploring the Terra Incognita. Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition Research Paper. 18-08. [online] Available from: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3184119 [Accessed 4 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3184119
 Bovens, M., Schillemans, T. and Goodin, R. E. (2014) Public Accountability. In: Mark Bovens, Robert E. Goodin and Thomas Schillemans (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Public Accountability. Online edition. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199641253.013.0012
 Brian C. Davison v. Loudon County Board of Supervisors et al. (2017) 1:16cv932 (JCC/IDD).
 Bundeskartellamt. (2016) Bundeskartellamt initiates proceeding against Facebook on suspicion of having abused its market power by infringing data protection rules. [press release] 2 March. Available from: https://www.bundeskartellamt.de/SharedDocs/Meldung/EN/Pressemitteilungen/2016/02_03_2016_Facebook.html [Accessed 9 March 2019].
 Bundeskartellamt. (2019) Bundeskartellamt prohibits Facebook from combining user data from different sources. Background information on the Bundeskartellamt’s Facebook proceeding. [press release] 2 March. Available from: https://www.bundeskartellamt.de/SharedDocs/Publikation/EN/Pressemitteilungen/2019/07_02_2019_Facebook_FAQs.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=5 [Accessed 9 March 2019].
 Calvert, C. (2018) Federal judge rules Trump’s Twitter account is a public forum. The Conversation, 24 May. [online]Available from: http://theconversation.com/federal-judge-rules-trumps-twitter-account-is-a-public-forum-97159 [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Ceron, A. (2018) Social Media and Political Accountability Bridging the Gap between Citizens and Politicians. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.
 Civil Code: Občiansky zákonník 2019. SI 1964/40. Slovak Republic. In Slovak.
 Colangelo, G. and Maggiolino, M. (2018) Data Accumulation and the Privacy-Antitrust Interface: Insights from the Facebook Case for the EU and the U.S. SSRN Electronic Journal.[online] doi:10.2139/ssrn.3125490. Available from: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3125490 [Accessed 2 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3125490
 Commercial Code: Obchodný zákonník 2019. SI 1991/513. Slovak Republic. In Slovak
 Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 of 16 December 2002 on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty.
 Cox, J. (2018) Facebook Is Testing a Feature to Tell You If That DM Came from Russia. VICE, 10 July. [online]Available from: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/ne5wgw/facebook-testing-feature-direct-message-from-russia? [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Davilla, M. (2017) Is Big Data a Different Kind of Animal? The Treatment of Big Data Under the EU Competition Rules. Journal of European Competition Law & Practice, 8 (6). [online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.1093/jeclap/lpx039
 Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council. Official Journal of the European Union (2011/L-304/64) 22 November.
 Dreyfuss, E. (2019) German Regulators Just Outlawed Facebook's Whole Ad Business. Wired, 7 February. [online] Available from: https://www.wired.com/story/germany-facebook-antitrust-ruling/ [Accessed 16 February 2019].
 Facebook Newsroom. (2018) How Are We Doing at Enforcing Our Community Standards? [press release] 15 November. Available from: http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/11/enforcing-our-community-standards-2/ [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Facebook Newsroom (2018) Fighting Election Interference in Real Time. [press release] 18 October. Available from: https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/10/war-room/ [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Farrell, H. J. and Schneier, B. (2018) Common-Knowledge Attacks on Democracy. SSRN Electronic Journal. [online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3273111
 Farrell, J. and Klemperer, P. (2006) Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects. SSRN Electronic Journal.[online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.917785
 Ferrara, E. (2017) Disinformation and social bot operations in the run up to the 2017 French presidential election. First Monday, 22 (8). [online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v22i8.8005
 Goel, V. et al. (2018) How WhatsApp Leads Mobs to Murder in India. The New York Times, 18 July. [online] Available from: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/07/18/technology/whatsapp-india-killings.html [Accessed March 15 2019].
 Guess, A., Nagler, J. and Tucker, J. (2019) Less than you think: Prevalence and predictors of fake news dissemination on Facebook. Science Advances, 5 (1). [online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aau4586
 Han, Y. and Demircioglu, M. A. (2016) Accountability, Politics, and Power. Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance.[online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31816-5_2453-1
 Hansen, I. and Lim, D. J. (2018) Doxing democracy: influencing elections via cyber voter interference. Contemporary Politics, 25 (2). [online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.1080/13569775.2018.1493629
 Haucap, J. and Heimeshoff, U. (2013) Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay: Is the internet driving competition or market monopolization? DICE Discussion Paper, (83). [online] Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/68229 [Accessed 9 March 2019].
 Hintze, M. (2018) Viewing the GDPR through a De-Identification Lens: A Tool for Compliance, Clarification, and Consistency. International Data Protection Law, 8 (1). https://doi.org/10.1093/idpl/ipx020
 Hitlin, P. and Rainie, L. (2019) Facebook Algorithms and Personal Data. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 16 January. [online] Available from: http://www.pewinternet.org/2019/01/16/facebook-algorithms-and-personal-data/ [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Isaak, J. and Hanna, M. J. (2018) User Data Privacy: Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and Privacy Protection. Computer, 51 (8). [online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.1109/MC.2018.3191268
 Jeweler, M. G. (2008) The Communications Decency Act of 1996: Why § 230 is Outdated and Publisher Liability for Defamation Should be Reinstated Against Internet Service Providers. Pittsburgh Journal of Technology Law and Policy, 8. [online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.5195/TLP.2008.40
 Jones, A. and Sufrin, B. (2016) EU Competition Law. Text, Cases and Materials. 6th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 Judgment of 23 November 2006, Asnef-Equifax, Servicios de Información sobre Solvencia y Crédito, SL v Asociación de Usuarios de Servicios Bancarios (Ausbanc), C-235/05, ECLI:EU:C:2006:734.
 Judgment of 29 July 2019, Fashion ID GmbH & Co.KG v Verbraucherzentrale NRW eV, C-40/17, ECLI:EU:C:2019:629.
 Kalesná, K. and Patakyová, M. T. (2018) Behavioral vs. Structural Remedies in European and Slovak Competition Law. In: Humberto Ribeiro, Dora Naletina and Ana Lorga da Silva (eds.). Economic and Social Development: 35th International Scientific Conference on Economic and Social Development – "Sustainability from an Economic and Social Perspective", Lisbon, Portugal, 15–16 November. Croatia: Varazdin Development and Entrepreneurship Agency.
 Kerber, W. (2016) Digital Markets, Data, and Privacy: Competition Law, Consumer Law, and Data Protection. SSRN Electronic Journal. [online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2770479
 Langhanke, C. and Schmidt-Kessel, M. (2015) Consumer Data as Consideration. Journal of European Consumer and Market Law, 4 (6).
 Lazer, D. (2015) The rise of the social algorithm. Science, 348 (6239). [online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aab1422
 Lazer, D. et al. (2018) The science of fake news. Science, 359 (6380). [online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aao2998
 Lessig, L. (2006) Code and other laws of cyberspace: version 2.0. New York: Basic Books.
 Müller, K. and Schwarz, C. (2017) Fanning the Flames of Hate: Social Media and Hate Crime. SSRN Electronic Journal.[online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3082972
 Murphy, P. et al. (2019) Public service accountability: rekindling a debate. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93384-9
 Newman, J. M. (2015) Antitrust in Zero-Price Markets: Foundations. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 164 (1). https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2474874
 Newton, C. (2019) The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America. The Verge, 25 February. [online] Available from: https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/25/18229714/cognizant-facebook-content-moderator-interviews-trauma-working-conditions-arizona [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Patakyová, M. and Mazúr, J. (2018) Facebook – Global Issue without (Existing) Solution? In: Tomas Kliestik (ed.). Globalization and Its Socio-Economic Consequences 18th International Scientific Conference, Proceedings, (Part V. – Digital Single Market). Rajecké Teplice, 10–11 October. Žilina: University of Žilina.
 Patakyová, M. T. (2018) How to Assess the Exploitative Practices of Collecting Societies? European Competition and Regulatory Law Review, 1 (4). [online] [Accessed 15 March 2019]. https://doi.org/10.21552/core/2017/4/6
 Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation). Official Journal of the European Union (2016/L-119/1) 4 May.
 Silverman, C. (2017) Facebook Is Getting Rid Of Its Fact-Checking Label And Replacing It With This. BuzzFeed News, 20 December. [online]Available from: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/craigsilverman/facebook-is-getting-rid-of-its-fact-checking-label-and#.vq128VVB1 [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Stewart, E. (2018) Zuckerberg and Facebook are in trouble. Here’s what the government might do about it. Vox, 10 April. [online]Available from: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/10/17208322/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-congress-testimony-regulation [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Stucke, M. E. and Alan, G. P. (2016) Big Data and Competition Policy. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 Senate Judiciary Committee. (2017) Extremist content and Russian disinformation online: Working with tech to find solutions. [online] Available from: www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/extremist-content-and-russian-disinformation-online-working-with-tech-to-find-solutions [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Tucker, C. and Marthews, A. (2012) Social Networks, Advertising, and Antitrust. George Mason Law Review, 19 (5).
 Tufekci, Z. (2018) How social media took us from Tahrir Square to Donald Trump. MIT Technology Review.[online]Available from: http://www.technologyreview.com/s/611806/how-social-media-took-us-from-tahrir-square-to-donald-trump/ [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Wagner, K. (2018) WhatsApp will drastically limit forwarding to stop the spread fake news, following violence in India and Myanmar. Recode, 19 July. [online]Available from: https://www.recode.net/2018/7/19/17594156/whatsapp-limit-forwarding-fake-news-violence-india-myanmar [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Whish, R. and Bailey, D. (2012) Competition Law. 7th ed. Oxford University Press.
 Zuckerberg, M. (2018) A Blueprint for Content Governance and Enforcement. [press release] 15 November. [online]Available from: https://www.facebook.com/notes/mark-zuckerberg/a-blueprint-for-content-governance-and-enforcement/10156443129621634/ [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Zuckerberg, M. (2018) Building Global Community. [press release] 16 February. Available from: https://www.facebook.com/notes/mark-zuckerberg/building-global-community/10154544292806634 [Accessed 15 March 2019].
 Zuckerberg, M. (2018) Note. [press release] 6 April. Available from: https://www.facebook.com/zuck/posts/10104784125525891 [Accessed 15 March 2019].
Copyright (c) 2019 Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology