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A digital omnipotence?

The Facebook scandal last year demonstrates how negligent social network providers are bypassing the data of their users – and clarifying what enormous challenges "The Big Four" faces in our democracy.

Almost all Internet users take advantage of at least one offer from the leading Internet groups Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook. The market power of these four significant segments of the commercial segment of the Internet has increased significantly in recent years. Consequently, the groups have also gained tremendous social significance. Not only do the users spend most of their internet time on their platforms, but their online behavior is also significantly controlled through standard settings, features and algorithmic sorting and selection functions that are subject to – and hardly manage to avoid.

Public media supervision is needed for the digital age.

An ever more pressing question is how the growing influence of the Internet groups can be limited. The various proposals that have emerged in this debate range from stricter political control and regulation of the groups, to divide them or dissolve them completely. Thus, two points of political influence are the focus: the opportunities to limit their market power, and different starting points for stricter public control of their platforms, which have gradually gained an unparalleled importance for public discourse and processes for forming opinions online.

Economic power

But what exactly does the power of internet corporations consist of? Today, they have significant financial resources at their disposal to keep up with the competition. . .

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dolata@nytid.com
Dolata is a professor of social science at the University of Stuttgart.

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