Social media networks’ existence depends highly on their success in attracting networks. Facebook now owns Instagram and WhatsApp, both of which have large networks of users.

Students have migrated from Facebook after its hype in 2007 to about 2015, and are spending most of their time on Instagram instead. What about the next wave? There are currently no contenders in sight. A commentator posits that the solution to this social media ‘monopoly’ is antitrust laws, or competition laws. In theory, it would force social media networks to compete and innovate quicker to retain users.

However, the difficulty lies in social media networks being global and complications arise in terms of jurisdiction. To completely split up Facebook’s acquisitions will require the American antitrust authorities to take action. The problem is the narrow definition of what American antitrust laws constitute as lack of competition, a merger that results in high consumer prices, instead of consumer choices. Technically, social media networks do not require users to pay in dollar sense, but consumers ‘pay’ in terms of the personal data that these platforms collect.  

Read the full article on Channel NewsAsia: Commentary: Antitrust law should change Facebook and Instagram’s relationship status

Analysis:

Recent news about Facebook’s data privacy breaches and insufficient response to curb fake news have been eroding users’ impression of the social media platform. Despite its initial do-good mission of connecting the world, it has become unethical in its running. However, there is little to no alternatives that users can migrate to that solves the need for users to connect with their extensive network, form online communities, or obtain and share information. Facebook have grown to become a giant that not many contenders can compete with for users.

It would be too much to ask of consumers and businesses to completely boycott the social media platform as it has no doubt enabled greater connectivity in the online world. Businesses still engage with their communities and potential customers through groups, ads, and active pages. People rely on the massive user base that Facebook has to find communities that they can interact and exchange ideas with. How practical would it be to migrate everyone to a different platform to improve the social interactions?

Questions for further personal evaluation:

  1. Which social media platform(s) are you active on? Why?
  2. If there is a new social media platform, how willing would you be to try it?

Useful vocabulary:

  1. ‘thwart’: prevent (someone) from accomplishing something
  2. ‘jurisdiction’: the official power to make legal decisions and judgements
  3. ‘proliferate’: increase rapidly in number; multiply

Picture credits:https://unsplash.com/photos/7Qh1YLFdlqY

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