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The World Wide Web as we know it may be ending




In announcing the deal, however, Facebook hinted at the possibility of similar clashes in the future. “We will continue to invest in news globally and resist the efforts of media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take into account the exchange of real value between publishers and platforms like Facebook,” said Campbell Brown, Vice President of Global Partnerships of Facebook News in a declaration Tuesday

But if such territorial arrangements become more common, the globally connected internet, we know it will become more like what some have called the “splinternet”, or a collection of different internet, whose boundaries are defined by boundaries national or regional.

A combination of growing nationalism, trade disputes, and concerns about the market dominance of some global tech companies has sparked threats of regulatory shocks worldwide. In the process, these forces are using not only technology companies that built massive businesses with the promise of a global internet, but also the very idea of ​​building platforms that can be accessed and used in the same way by anyone anywhere in the world.

The year the world gave up waiting for Big Tech to fix itself

And the cracks just seem to be deepening.

“I think there’s a global trend toward much more internet fragmentation than has been fragmented in the past,” Daphne Keller, director of the platform adjustment program at Stanford University’s Center for Cyber ​​Policy, told CNN Business.

As recent events have shown, a platform does not need to be stopped or completely shut down for that fragmentation to occur. In response to Australia’s attempt to make it pay publishers, When Facebook stopped displaying media links to its Australian users, users abroad also could no longer access Australian media content. The temporary movement was contrary to the premise of the internet serving as a means for the free flow of information globally.
In India, when he was warned he was “welcome to do business” but “must also abide by Indian laws”, Tweet (TWTR) sought a middle way from maintaining several accounts who were using what the government called hashtags “flammable and unfounded” meaning that those accounts were not visible inside the country but could still be accessed abroad. (The South Asian nation has also shown a greater willingness to pursue foreign technology companies, proposing major restrictions on their operations and, amid a diplomatic dispute with China, banning TikTok and dozens of other owned applications of China.)
Twitter is stuck between a rock and a difficult place in India

It is a very different landscape from the one that allowed American tech firms to amass great wealth and power. With notable exceptions like China and North Korea, Facebook and its peers were able to launch their products worldwide with little backlash. Now that opening may no longer be given.

“What is legal in Sweden is not legal in Pakistan, and so we need to find a way to reconcile it with the way the internet works,” Keller said. The result is that “either voluntary platforms or governments are forcibly raising geographical barriers in order to see things differently in one country than in another.”

Great attraction

While Facebook is not the only tech company between governments across the globe, it is perhaps more iconic than any other Silicon Valley business of promising a global internet that goes against the laws of different countries.

Five years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was talking about his purpose reaching 5 billion users, or most of the world’s population. Already, the company has more than 3 billion monthly active users across its various applications, in a testament to its rapid expansion worldwide.
“We want to make it so that anyone, wherever a child growing up in rural India, who has never had a computer can go to a store, pick up a phone, get online, and have access. “in all the same things that you and I value about the Internet,” Zuckerberg told a 2013 interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
Even in China, where the government’s Internet censorship apparatus known as the Great Firewall has shut down Western tech companies for decades, Facebook and Google both Wanted to make concessions to be allowed (albeit with little success).

Now, Facebook is turning to what has become an increasingly proven reading book for the tech industry: threatening to pull its products out of the markets in the face of adverse regulation.

In 2014, Google (GOOGL) shut down its Google News service in Spain after the country passed a law similar to what Australia is thinking now. In Australia, too, she threatened to withdraw her search engine from the country over the same media law before submitting and signing deals with some of the country’s best publishers.

This time, at least, the game book seemed to work somewhat for Facebook. But there are signs that countries around the world, including the United States, are more willing to play hard and follow each other’s directions to brake on Big Tech. These companies ultimately depend on constant access to billions of users worldwide, and governments have shown that they are willing to cut off that access in the name of protecting citizens and their sovereignty online.

Facebook faces a global backlash over its attempt to 'harass' Australia

The stakes will only increase if more governments are thrown into the gang.

“It’s kind of a chicken game,” said Sinan Aral, a professor at MIT Sloan Business School and author of “Hype Machinery: How Social Media Disrupts Our Choices, Our Economy, and Our Health.”

Aral says companies such as Facebook and Google will face a slippery slope if they start coming out of any marketplace that requires them to pay for its news, which would “severely limit” the content they can access. serve their global user base.

“They have a vested interest in trying to force any market not to impose such regulations by threatening to withdraw,” he said. “The other party is basically saying, ‘If you do not pay for the content, you will not have access to our customer market or the content in that market.’ ”

As internet fractures, global regulators come together

A fight for news in Australia is a relatively small part of the clash between technology and governments, which has mainly focused on issues such as censorship, privacy and competition. But the response to Facebook’s move to Australia has shown that a more international effort to curb Big Tech may be gaining momentum – and with it, the potential for additional Internet service outages from one country to another.

As his government tackled Facebook last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a warning to the social media giant: what you do here may turn out to hurt you in other countries.

“These actions will only confirm the concerns that a growing number of countries are expressing about the behavior of Big Tech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that rules should not apply to them,” he said in a statement. Facebook post. “They may be changing the world, but that does not mean they run it.”
Tuesday, Morrison said Facebook’s decision to restore the news was “welcome”, adding that the government remained committed to continuing with its legislation to ensure that “Australian journalists and news organizations are fairly compensated for the original content they produce” .
Several other countries, including the UK and Canada are now considering similar legislation against social media companies and many of those countries are talking to each other about the best way to do it.

“It would be extremely useful if governments were to come together in some kind of transnational process and come up with a treaty or some kind of standard about who can extend and influence content and information outside their national territory,” he said. Keller, “because that’s what a lot of them are trying to do but haven’t done, and so as a result you get this very fragmented plot of land.”

If that added fragmentation is allowed to reach its natural end, however, the consequences can be dire.

“If the end result of this is that we have social media platforms in every country or large market that are segregated, then what we will have is an information ecosystem that is completely duplicated or fragmented across the globe.” tha Aral. “What he warns is a citizen who has completely different sets of information about local events, about world events and perhaps a very fragmented worldview of reality.”

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