While Facebook remains the biggest platform, Google and Twitter are facing similar pressure from governments in the U.S. and in Europe. Germany enacted a law requiring the social networks to remove hate speech promptly or face fines. In the U.S., the activities of a Russian troll farm during the 2016 election campaign prompted scrutiny of Facebook’s ad selling practices and a (rather ham-handed) legislative attempt to force some transparency.
The government has an incentive for fostering the growth and continued success of big social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, because they operate essentially as large data warehouses on social thought, connections and behavior — supplying information that might be difficult or illegal to collect otherwise. Because of the monopoly these companies have on online self expression, and the potentially large and instantaneous impact of that form of expression, they serve as easy chokepoints for controlling the dissemination of ideas.
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