Issue of Big Tech’s increasing power 

  • Recently, sitting US President Mr. Trump’s account was removed from online platforms like Twitter, Facebook. 
  • This has divided the world with two contrasting views.  
  • Few people say that the social media companies were right to suspend Trump’s accounts.  
  • While others are concerned about the enormous power that these platforms wield over the public discourse, and their impact on democracy. 

Issue of Parler app removal from tech giant platforms 

    • Parler is a social networking site that remained as an alternative to Twitter.  
    • Recently, Amazon removed it from its cloud hosting service Amazon Web Services (AWS). (AWS). Similarly, Apple and Google removed Parler from their app stores. 
    • This incident demonstrated the enormous power that Amazon wields as a web infrastructure service provider. 
    •  This has also raised concerns about how the bigger tech players can destroy new competition due to their stronghold over the cloud infrastructure. For example,  
    • AWS controlled 45 per cent of the cloud infrastructure in 2019, while Google and Microsoft control much of the rest.  

Issues in action against Trump  

In many instances, the tech giants have responded with inconsistency in their actions.it has been discussed below with examples. 

    • First, In March 2020, Facebook and Twitter deleted posts by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro for Covid19 misinformation. 
      • But no action was taken against Trump, who was also propagating misinformation about the Pandemic. 
    • Second, during the Black Lives Matter protests Trump tweeted “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”. This was an act of glorifying violence. However, Twitter responded very lately to remove the tweet.  
    • Third, the action against Trump was only taken after he lost his political leverage. Congress had ratified the victory of President-elect Joe Biden before that. 
    • Fourth, Digital platforms are for-profit corporations. Over the years, digital platforms have never been neutral arbiters and are acting in the nexus with the state governments. 
      •  For instance, these platforms have repeatedly blocked the ability of Wikileaks to accept donations on PayPal and other payment intermediaries. 
    • Fifth, after a 2018 court order, Trump was forced to unblock several dozen followers. The argument was put forward by petitioners that they were entitled to follow the official announcements and comment on public affairs of the handle.  
      • If the same logic is applied in the case of Trump ban, he cannot be stopped from making public announcements by a social media company.   

What is the way forward? 

    • Experts agree that the rules and guidelines of social networks are not being consistently applied throughout the world.  
    • The issue should be resolved by setting up a common global rule for social networks. 
    • EU countries are the pioneers in regulating the tech giant with investigations, fines, and legislation. They have taught the world how to control these giants without expelling them from the country’s economy.  
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