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2021 | Book

Digital and Social Media Regulation

A Comparative Perspective of the US and Europe

Editors: Sorin Adam Matei, Franck Rebillard, Fabrice Rochelandet

Publisher: Springer International Publishing


About this book

Digital and social media companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook grip the globe with market, civic, and political strength akin to large, sovereign states. Yet, these corporations are private entities. How should states and communities protect the individual rights of their citizens – or their national and local interests – while keeping pace with globalized digital companies? This scholarly compendium examines regulatory solutions which encourage content diversity and protect fundamental rights. The volume compares European and US regulatory approaches, including closer focus on topics such as privacy, copyright, and freedom of expression. Further, we propose pedagogical models for educating students on possible regulatory regimes of the future. Our final chapter invites readers to consider social and digital media regulation for both this generation and the ones to come.

Table of Contents


Open Access

Introduction: New Paradigms of Media Regulation in a Transatlantic Perspective
To claim that communication technology and practices have undergone a tremendous shift over the past 30 years is a self-evident understatement. However, the same cannot be said about our regulatory framework—the product of political and economic ideas several centuries old. Thus, the worlds of communication practice and communication policy-making often are at odds. While it would be easy to claim new material forces demand new laws, the reality is our traditional media customs and laws are rooted in values, needs, and long-term projects that cannot be changed without impacting our entire way of life. Many facets of everyday life rely on this existing framework: individual autonomy, creativity, rule-based interactions, and fairness. A core challenge for technologists, legislators, and policymakers is to integrate new ways of communicating within the existing framework of values and practices in such a way that current values are preserved while specific regulatory practices are updated to match today’s technological, economic, and cultural norms.
Sorin Adam Matei, Franck Rebillard, Fabrice Rochelandet
The Audiovisual Industry Facing the Digital Revolution: Plunging the Predigital Fishbowl into the Digital Ocean
The transformations at work in the audiovisual industry and its regulation are part of a more global process, namely the digital transition. Once we emphasize this inclusive framework, we aim to identify what the collective invention of a desirable digital audiovisual future could look like. In a first step, we discuss the main features of the digital transition, especially in terms of unpredictability and pervasiveness across all industrial and cognitive human activities. In a second step, we consider the particular case of the audiovisual industry, underlining the increasing influence of online platforms in the distribution and consumption of audiovisual content. In a third and final step, we claim that, in the digital era, the future must be proactively invented rather than passively predicted. It is indeed up to us, through relevant present decisions, to make a desirable audiovisual digital future happen, made of a symbiotic relationship and a fair sharing of value between historical publishers and pure players.
Nicolas Curien
Revisiting the Rationales for Media Regulation: The Quid Pro Quo Rationale and the Case for Aggregate Social Media User Data as Public Resource
In this chapter, we explore the rationales that have traditionally justified media regulation in the United States and argue that the quid pro quo rationale, which has accompanied the treatment of the spectrum as a public resource in broadcast regulation, may have applicability to the social media context. Specifically, we argue that aggregations of social media user data may merit treatment as a public resource. We develop this argument through an exploration of the conceptual and policy debates surrounding the appropriate treatment of aggregate user data. We then argue that treating aggregate user data as a public resource may provide grounds for the application of a public interest regulatory framework to social media that is similar to the public interest regulatory framework that has traditionally been applied to broadcasting.
Philip M. Napoli, Fabienne Graf
GDPR and New Media Regulation: The Data Metaphor and the EU Privacy Protection Strategy
Data is a key concept in EU privacy policies. Imposing one interpretation of the definition of data (or information) over another can threaten the protection of privacy. This chapter seeks to answer the following question: How do several interpretations of the data metaphor compete to redefine data in privacy policies? The theory of the metaphor suggests that several interpretations coexist in the definition of data, which is embedded in a context (i.e., privacy policies). These interpretations stem from different semantic fields, i.e., technological, economic, and human rights. CDS permits to analyze the metaphor of data in light of these different interpretations. The material analyzed encompasses the privacy policies of the GAFAM, the laws of the EU regulatory framework for privacy that concern telecommunications and data directly, and 14 interviews of lobbyists and EU policymakers. Findings suggest that there are prominent technological and economic interpretations in the redefinition of the metaphor of data in privacy policies, while the human rights interpretation does not have much space left.
Maud Bernisson
Regulating Beyond Media to Protect Media Pluralism: The EU Media Policies as Seen Through the Lens of the Media Pluralism Monitor
Media pluralism can and must be preserved in the EU, but day-by-day the task grows more difficult. Only a fine-tuned combination of complementary legal measures can secure a diverse, safe social media sphere where fundamental rights of expression are protected within online platforms. The EU faces both internal challenges (disparity between national legislatures, for example) and external barriers (the most powerful social media companies are foreign based) preventing simple, clear-cut solutions from emerging. Our chapter suggests a concrete path forward based on the intersection of two popular, relevant measures: an synthesized network of regulators and legislators, and wide regulatory framework which permits direct intervention on national levels. It is the task of this essay, now, and the Media Pluralism Monitor in future instances to regularly consider and rethink the realities surrounding an evolving media sphere.
Iva Nenadić, Marko Milosavljević

Open Access

From News Diversity to News Quality: New Media Regulation Theoretical Issues
Media pluralism has been traditionally seen as threatened by market and ownership concentration of media outlets, negatively impacting their editorial independence and, hence, their diversity of opinions. We argue that, due to the structuring role of digital platforms in the current media ecosystem, the conditions of the production, distribution, selection, and consumption of news have become crucial issues of pluralism. Through this rethinking, we consider the pluralism issue requires us to re-examine the issue of news quality and its coupling with the concept of diversity. Beyond issues of ‘fake news,’ building new quantifiable measures of news quality proves necessary and meaningful in the today’s context. For that, we elaborate a theoretical framework based on a vertical/horizontal differentiation perspective, which permits direct evaluation of news quality in the current context of platformization. We apply this framework by depicting the existent editorial strategies of the French news providers in connection with their economic models and any other characteristics that regulation may potentially target.
Inna Lyubareva, Fabrice Rochelandet

Open Access

The Stakes and Threats of the Convergence Between Media and Telecommunication Industries
Convergence between media (TV and press industry) and telecoms is growing in the USA and in Europe (especially France). Streaming video services and the use of smartphones to watch TV require efficient connections and explain this growth pattern, despite early failure to establish causality. New business models based on contents and personal data emerge. Companies want to expand their subscriber bases, which questions the economic power on gatekeeping content and Internet access. Regulators should adapt their tools and objectives to new challenges as afforded by convergence.
Françoise Benhamou
Linking Theory and Pedagogy in the Comparative Study of US–French Media Regulatory Regimes
Modes of education regarding social media regulation vary, but pedagogical insight suggests two conclusions: privacy and degree of regulation—as opposed to the nature of regulation—should be matters of central concern. This chapter explores the contrast between French and U.S. regulation practices to reveal the fundamental nature of modern privacy, intellectual property, and freedom of expression. The chapter also proposes a fundamental shift in education practices which emphasizes the idea of co-regulation.
Sorin Adam Matei, Larry Kilman
Instead of Conclusions: Short- and Long-Term Scenarios for Media Regulation
Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it, but much the same can be said of those who fail to prepare for the future. In this chapter, both the long and short view of the future are taken by our panel of contributors: short term outlooks often revolve around the media titans of today—GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook. Amazon, Microsoft), which according to Benhamou, cannot be ignored. Long term outlooks include both positivity—Curien—and pessimism, via Bernisson. Of course, these forecasting exercises will  only meet reality halfway. The future is as unpredictable as the past is unbelievable.
Sorin Adam Matei, Françoise Benhamou, Maud Bernisson, Nicolas Curien, Larry Kilman, Marko Milosavljević, Iva Nenadić, Franck Rebillard

Open Access

Correction to: Digital and Social Media Regulation
Sorin Adam Matei, Franck Rebillard, Fabrice Rochelandet

Open Access

Correction to: Digital and Social Media Regulation
Sorin Adam Matei, Franck Rebillard, Fabrice Rochelandet
Digital and Social Media Regulation
Sorin Adam Matei
Franck Rebillard
Fabrice Rochelandet
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