Opinion | American leadership could save what is left of the global Internet

Even in many open democratic societies, there is talk of “data sovereignty” and moves to clamp down on U.S. companies and the sharing of data. In Europe, regulators and courts have thrown into doubt the free flow of data between the European Union and the United States. Many other countries are actively working on plans to impose “data localization,” requiring citizens’ data to be stored domestically and placing significant limits on the flow of data across borders.

This desire for greater sovereignty is natural and understandable. Policymakers are grappling with legitimate concerns about the rules that govern content and the use of data at scale. They are also debating the proper size and power of global tech companies. Hovering above these issues is a fundamental question: What do we want the Internet to be?

This is where the Biden administration comes in. An opportunity exists for U.S. leadership to create

Read More

Opinion | What Biden needs to do to regulate the Internet both at home and worldwide

There is ample room for regulating the online realm domestically, though doing so may first require cooperating with a divided Congress. Reinstalling some form of the net neutrality regulations rolled back by the current Federal Communications Commission promises to prove controversial; expanding broadband access to low-income and rural households, on the other hand, should appeal to legislators mid-pandemic regardless of party. Just as high on the agenda ought to be forging a federal privacy framework at long last: A stalled-out effort in both legislative chambers could benefit from a jolt of jump-starting executive leadership. And then there’s the matter of reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields websites from lawsuits for hosting illegal content.

These last two issues are obviously significant to American companies and civilians alike: What information can social media sites hoover up to serve targeted advertisements, and what should be off-limits? What forms of

Read More

My golden rule for social media: talk trash to your heart’s content, but do it in private | James Greig | Opinion

Some friends of mine, a couple working from home together, have reacted to the boredom of lockdown by turning their hairless cat into a workplace antagonist, muttering darkly about his behaviour from the other side of the room. The impulse to invent enemies runs deep. And now that our entire social lives have been reduced to the domestic and online spheres, there’s a lot of dark energy going around. And it has to find an outlet somewhere.

For the most part, this has taken the form of being unpleasant to people on social media. Twitter, especially now that there’s a new feature that allows you to see if you’ve been retweeted by a private account, has never felt more rancorous and fogged in paranoia. This is fuelled by a lack of real-world gossip, as well as the way in which social media functions as a kind of public-private forum

Read More

Opinion | Social media may have contributed to record voter turnout in the 2020 election

Beyond their role as a comforting escape from the horrors of traditional election coverage, there’s a case to be made that such posts may have contributed to the election’s record turnout. It’s one way in which social media — rightly criticized for its part in increasing polarization and spreading disinformation — may have helped democracy.

At first glance, this claim probably seems counterintuitive. The 2020 turnout was undoubtedly bolstered by strong feelings on both sides. One would think that the pandemic-driven expansion of mail-in voting also contributed to turnout by making it easier to vote — a plausible explanation that has nothing to do with social media. The problem with this reasoning is that there’s plenty of evidence — for example, from the United States and Switzerland — that mail-in voting has historically had a very limited impact on turnout.

This phenomenon is elucidated in a remarkable 2010 paper by

Read More

Opinion | Parler and other alternative social media look likely to host the battle over truth

Twitter-analog Parler saw a short-term surge in popularity when the original Twitter labeled a tweet of President Trump’s for the first time this summer; following the election Parler’s user base has ballooned again, along with a rise in audience for MeWe (a little more like Facebook) and Rumble (more like YouTube). The upside of the shift in Twitter’s and Facebook’s tactics is, of course, that the most harmful lies on the Internet can no longer spread unchecked to billions of users who never sought them out. The downside is that those who do seek them out by leaving for an edgier alternative are far less likely to be exposed to counterclaims — and more likely to fall forever down the rabbit hole.

Whether these alternative platforms can really replace their inspirations is dubious. The bigger sites still have the alluring advantage of being, well, bigger. And radicalism on the Internet

Read More

China’s “mother river” Yangtze to lead high-quality development, bring certainty to world – Opinion

Aerial photo taken on Nov 13, 2020 shows the scenery of Langshan Mountain along the Yangtze River in Nantong city, East China’s Jiangsu province. [Photo/Xinhua]

China is set to build the Yangtze River Economic Belt into a powerful engine of the country’s high-quality development, bringing more certainty to the development of the world economy.

Efforts should be made to promote the high-quality development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, said Chinese President Xi Jinping at a symposium he chaired on comprehensively advancing the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt on Saturday in Nanjing, after an inspection tour in Jiangsu Province that started on Thursday.

The tour in the economic belt was the first inspection trip by Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, outside Beijing after the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee,

Read More

Opinion | Facebook and Twitter Can’t Fix Our Elections

The blockbuster earnings reinforce tech leaders’ belief that their products bring far more good to the world than bad. Their critics — journalists, activists, politicians — are being unfair, they contend. How could social media be all that terrible if so many people are willing to participate in it, and so many advertisers willing to pay for it?

“We compete hard. We compete fairly. We try to be the best,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, told the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee this summer.

A similar attitude colors the social media giants’ relationship with Washington. Tech companies are a more visible presence in the capital than ever before, having assembled formidable lobbying operations to stave off regulation or shape it to their liking. In that way, they are similar to any other big and powerful company. Because of their enormous revenue, they are able to outspend nearly all the

Read More