Facebook versus Power Ventures revisited

Tim Harford writes as "Undercover Economist" in the current Weekend FT about Facebook's hold on the social media market and a proposal by Luigi Zingales and Guy Rolnik to regulate a kind of social media account portability, allowing users to choose a different social network service provider while keeping their personal network. Although I did not study the details of the proposal, it seems both misguided and unnecessary. Would you want someone who is connected to you on Facebook to necessarily take that connection to a different network? Any regulation that allowed this without your consent would at least be offputting and possibly illegal in many places.

The position of Facebook (especially its T&Cs and relationship with the Communist Party of China) is definitely problematic. There is an obvious solution: social media aggregation where you would provide your social media login details to a third party who could access your data and display it in any way you would wish to view. Unfortunately however US courts decided in favour of Facebook in a suite brought by it against aggregator Power.com, the consequence of which has been to allow Facebook to exclude access by the aggregator though its Terms of Service. As a consequence, it is not possible for you to give a third party access to your Facebook content in order to process and display it as you prefer.

Vague and draconian legislation on "cybercrime" has made this possible and the deeper lesson is that over-criminalisation will inevitably be misused by the already powerful. I am posting this on several social networks. ;-) :-)

The Zingales and Rolnik approach to social network reform by Tyler Cowen

Facebook Gets Decisive Win Against Pseudo-Competitor Power Ventures — Facebook v. Power Ventures by Venkat Balasubramani