In the rush to regulate dominant social media platforms, fundamental rights are being overlooked. As Pierre François Docquir and Maria Luisa Stasi write, there is still time to salvage media diversity, but policy makers will need a toolbox of solutions.
Major social media platforms have empowered individuals who were previously unable to make their ideas visible on a large scale. They have dramatically altered the advertising markets by directly serving news to users to the detriment of media brands — thereby diverting an important source of income from news media. They have built users’ profiles through the accumulation of traces of online navigation and drawn them in targeted advertising. And they have accelerated the dissemination of various kinds of harmful content such as hate speech and disinformation. As a result, policy makers everywhere are working in haste to effectively regulate the digital leviathans — but in the rush, the protection of fundamental rights is at risk of being overlooked.
This classic theme of media policy — the protection of pluralism and diversity — warrants exploration in the context of the current media landscape revolution, and it requires a whole toolbox of solutions.
For older Americans, leisure time looks different today than it did a decade agoThe amount of time that Americans ages 60 and older spend on their TVs, computers, tablets or other electronic devices has risen almost half an hour per day over the past decade, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, even as screen time among younger people has more or less held steady.
Those 60 and older – a group increasingly populated by aging Baby Boomers – now spend more than half of their daily leisure time, four hours and 16 minutes, in front of screens, mostly watching TV or videos. Screen time has increased for those in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond, and the rise is apparent across genders and education levels. Meanwhile, the time that these older adults spend on other recreational activities, such as reading or socializing, has ticked down slightly.
One of the most dynamic and exciting developments in information and communications technology is the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT). Although networking technologies have become increasingly ubiquitous over the past two decades, until recently they have largely been restricted to connecting traditional end-user devices, such as mainframes, desktop and laptop computers, and, more recently, smartphones and tablets.
Recent years have witnessed the attachment of a much broader range of devices to the network. These have included vehicles, household appliances, medical devices, electric meters and controls, street lights, traffic controls, smart TVs and digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Industry analysts estimate that there are currently more than eight billion such devices connected to the network and project that this number will expand to more than 25 billion by 2020. The increasing deployment of these devices has enabled new use cases for network technologies. Some experts project that the IoT may generate as much as US$13 trillion in revenue by 2025.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is truly a revolutionary feat of computer science, set to become a core component of all modern software over the coming years and decades. This presents a threat but also an opportunity. AI will be deployed to augment both defensive and offensive cyber operations. Additionally, new means of cyber attack will be invented to take advantage of the particular weaknesses of AI technology. Finally, the importance of data will be amplified by AI’s appetite for large amounts of training data, redefining how we must think about data protection. Prudent governance at the global level will be essential to ensure that this era-defining technology will bring about broadly shared safety and prosperity.
AI and Big Data
In general terms, AI refers to computational tools that are able to substitute for human intelligence in the performance of certain tasks. This technology is currently advancing at a breakneck pace, much like the exponential growth experienced by database technology in the late twentieth century. Databases have grown to become the core infrastructure that drives enterprise-level software. Similarly, most of the new value added from software over the coming decades is expected to be driven, at least in part, by AI.
The OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) undertakes a wide range of activities to better understand how information and communication technologies (ICTs) contribute to sustainable economic growth and social well-being.
The OECD Digital Economy Papers series covers a broad range of ICT-related issues and makes selected studies available to a wider readership. They include policy reports, which are officially declassified by an OECD Committee, and occasional working papers, which are meant to share early knowledge.
Online advertising is now the dominant form of advertising in many OECD countries, and offers businesses the ability to reach consumers in ways that could only have been imagined previously. Online advertising has the potential to benefit consumers through more relevant and timely advertising, and by funding a host of “free” online services.
However, it also raises some new and complex challenges for consumers and consumer protection authorities. This report by the OECD’s Committee on Consumer Policy provides an introduction to the complex landscape that is online advertising. It outlines the potential benefits and risks for consumers, drawing on the behavioural insights literature where relevant.
About half of Facebook users say they are not comfortable when they see how the platform categorizes them, and 27% maintain the site's classifications do not accurately represent them
Most commercial sites, from social media platforms to news outlets to online retailers, collect a wide variety of data about their users’ behaviors. Platforms use this data to deliver content and recommendations based on users’ interests and traits, and to allow advertisers to target ads to relatively precise segments of the public. But how well do Americans understand these algorithm-driven classification systems, and how much do they think their lives line up with what gets reported about them? As a window into this hard-to-study phenomenon, a new Pew Research Center survey asked a representative sample of users of the nation’s most popular social media platform, Facebook, to reflect on the data that had been collected about them.
Many Facebook users say they do not know the platform classifies their interests, and roughly half are not comfortable with being categorizedFacebook makes it relatively easy for users to find out how the site’s algorithm has categorized their interests via a “Your ad preferences” page.1 Overall, however, 74% of Facebook users say they did not know that this list of their traits and interests existed until they were directed to their page as part of this study.
More Americans get news often from social media than print newspapersSocial media sites have surpassed print newspapers as a news source for Americans: One-in-five U.S. adults say they often get news via social media, slightly higher than the share who often do so from print newspapers (16%) for the first time since Pew Research Center began asking these questions. In 2017, the portion who got news via social media was about equal to the portion who got news from print newspapers.
Social media’s small edge over print emerged after years of steady declines in newspaper circulation and modest increases in the portion of Americans who use social media, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted earlier this year.
While digital technologies offer leapfrog opportunities and help empower women, gender-based digital exclusion remains widespread and has many causes. The report Bridging the Digital Divide: Include, Upskill, Innovate is an effort by the OECD, working with the G20, that aims to provide policy directions for consideration by all governments. It analyses a range of drivers at the root of the digital gender divide in order to draw attention to critical areas for policy action.
<http://www.oecd.org/going-digital/bridging-the-digital-gender-divide-key-messages.pdf> – key messages
<http://www.oecd.org/going-digital/bridging-the-digital-gender-divide.pdf> – full report
Abstract: Critical theorists from Scott Lash to Trebor Scholz, software studies adherents such as Alex Galloway, sociologists including Manuel Castells, and science and technology studies (STS) theorist Judy Wajcman — among others — have pointed out that the mobility, speed, responsiveness, and increasingly real-time characteristics of computer and application interfaces have a great deal to do with the social, economic, and political structure of contemporary society.
What these fields leave relatively undertheorized can best be phrased as a question: How is technology is developed in relation to concepts of time and temporality? This paper supplies an answer, derived from interview and document data regarding a real-time videoconferencing application named Flume, which runs on Named Data Networking (NDN), a NSF-funded Future Internet Architecture (FIA) project that is currently underway.