Social Media topics overview

The materials cover the following topics:

  • Digital identity and why to regulate
  • What are bots and are they dangerous to democracy? Current challenges for bot-related policy.
  • Regulatory challenges of immersive technologies.
  • Where is the harm in microtargeting and how does it impact democracy?
  • What are social media influencers (influencer marketing) and why / how should they be regulated?
  • Global  suggestions for social media regulation: technology vs. economy – based approaches

A seemingly fundamental difference between the real life identity and digital identity is that within digital identity one can choose more or less exactly how one would like to portray herself (including using real name or partially disguised /avatars, pseudonymity/ or totally concealed /anonymity, identity theft/misappropriation/ and what one decides to share with others.

THREATS POSED:

  • Privacy concerns
  • Cyberbullying
  • Cyber-stalking

POLICY REGULATORY SUGGESTIONS / SOLUTIONS:

Important elements that a proper digital identity must satisfy: fit for purpose, inclusive, useful, offer choice, secure. The GDPR gives EU M.S. users the right to verify their data. Moreover, there is the right to be forgotten in addition to the right to erasure.
However, users can not influence much behavioural monitoring and microtargeting. The only way to regain full control over own profiles is to change policies of platforms.

Bots are responsible for significant proportions of online activity, are used to game algorithms and recommender systems, can stifle or encourage political speech, and can play an important role in the circulation of hyperpartisan “fake news”. Social bots can be used both for commercial and political purposes, as well as for search engine optimization, spamming, and influencer marketing. Bots can contribute to misinterpretation of social data analysis.

LEGAL ISSUES

  • Policies on chatbots
  • Website t&cs and disclaimers
  • Regulated industries/activities
  • Data collection
  • Defamation/abuse/harassment
  • Infringement of third party rights
  • Policy on monitoring/human
  • Intervention trigger

POLICY REGULATORY SUGGESTIONS / SOLUTIONS:

Any regulation on bots would need to distinguish types of bots based on their function in order to formulate clear regulations to address the types of bots that have negative impact, while preserving the bots that are recognized as having a more positive impact.
It may be most useful to develop regulations to address social bots. In general, automation  policies should be made more transparent, or they will appear wholly arbitrary or even purposefully negligent.

VR or Virtual reality – a real or simulated environment in which a perceiver experiences telepresence.
AR or Augmented reality – a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.
MR or Mixed reality is a blend of physical and virtual worlds, an integration of VR and AR.

SECURITY CONCERNS AND ISSUES:

  • Hacking
  • Data breach
  • Information-sharing requirements
  • Data localization
  • Surveillance
  • Deepfakes videos
  • Health safety concerns
  • Fair use and intermediary liability
  • Intellectual property (IP) rights
  • Real property rights
  • Personal Data protection
  • Targeted advertising
  • Liability – Negligence Issues

POLICY REGULATORY SUGGESTIONS / SOLUTIONS:

There are two opposing streams of opinions when discussing whether or not to regulate ImTe. Moreover, there is not even agreement among experts whether VR could or should be regulated.
The ImTe world is still considered a private space. However, as technological innovations progress and AR further blurs the line between reality and fantasy. Discussion on regulation of ImTe must include both lawyers and experts on ImTe technology

Microtargeting is the strategy used to create highly specific advertisements to narrowly-targeted groups or individuals. Microtargeting is more commonly called online behavioural advertising in advertising and marketing studies, sometimes also called profiling or behavioural targeting, “political behavioural targeting” (PBT) in political marketing studies, or news personalisation in journalism.

NEGATIVE ASPECTS:

  • It exploits personal data without previously informed consent.
  • It blurs the boundary between advertis-ing and other forms of online content.
  • It allows for the spreading information disorder and other social media harms.
  • There is a risk of fragmentation of the public sphere, and the strengthening or creation of new digital divides – ideological “bubbles” or echo chambers.
  • It can commercialise political campaigns to the extreme, turning politics into business motivated and emotionally driven exercise.

POLICY REGULATORY SUGGESTIONS / SOLUTIONS:

Cooperation of legal and computer scientific expertise would be required to tackle these issues. GDPR demands that organizations should get user consent to collect data and “implement appropriate technical and organizational measures” to protect personal data of EU residents. However, this does not prevent microtargeting. To defend privacy, perhaps more and stricter rules are needed for online behavioral ads.chnology

Pre-social media influencer is defined as „a third-party who significantly shapes the customer´s purchase decision, but may even be accountable for it“.
Three elementary types of influencers – connectors (the people in a community who know large numbers of people and in the habit of making introductions), maves (“people we rely upon to connect us with new information”) and salesmen (“persuaders”, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills).

CONCERNS AND ISSUES:

  • Influencer marketing is a grey area of advertising, with complex interactions among influencers, peers/customers, agencies/platforms and brands/businesses.
  • It is becoming increasingly difficult for the average social media user to determine when a post showcasing a particular item or product is organic or sponsored.
  • The monetization of content raises legal and ethical concerns.
  • Some smaller companies report that refusing to pay for social media influencers may result in retaliation.
  • Moreover, some brands offer a payment for negative reviews of their competitors.

POLICY REGULATORY SUGGESTIONS / SOLUTIONS:

Regulation in the field of influencer marketing is a relatively new endeavor, subject to changes and improvements. In some cases, the existing regulations produce conflicting interpretations and lead to Court cases that raise new questions on where the line is to be drawn in what qualifies as advertisement and what is not marketing. A special attention is given to ads or posts that can be interpreted as containing medical, health or food advice, or targeting children, which are subject to harsher regulations.

The information is prepared by the team of the COMPACT project.

COMPACT is a Coordination and Support Action funded European Commission under framework Horizon 2020.

The objective of the COMPACT project is to increase awareness (including scientific, political, cultural, legal, economic and technical areas) of the latest technological discoveries among key stakeholders in the context of social media and convergence. The project will offer analyses and road maps of related initiatives. In addition, extensive research on policies and regulatory frameworks in media and content will be developed.

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