first GAFA to be dismantled?

Dismantling Facebook? This question, unthinkable at the beginning of the 21st century, seems today to take shape and gain more and more importance in public, political and media debate. Proposed by Elizabeth Warren during the 2020 Democratic primary, the “abolition” of digital giants nevertheless covers a multitude of issues that touch the very heart of our contemporary societal, cultural and communication systems.

Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook today stands out as the most widely used social network on the planet and as one of the ten most laudable companies in the world, with a market capitalization of 1000 billion dollars. In just eighteen years of existence, Facebook has succeeded in making itself indispensable from a “macro” point of view (by directly supporting the digitization of global economic structures) but also, and above all, from a “macro” point of view. micro”, playing a decisive role in the social and intimate relationships of individuals. Today, not having a Facebook account often represents, for new generations, self-exclusion from class groups or means of keeping in touch. A digital, social, interactional, cognitive revolution in which the Zuckerberg group plays an undeniable role.

Learn more:
Social networks: scroll down, there’s nothing to see

Within the world of social networks, following its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp, Facebook occupies a hegemonic position, thus allowing it to impose its agenda, its practices, even its “philosophy” on triggers and users ( whose number will approach 3 billion at the end of 2020).

While its power of attraction seems to have been strengthened with the health crisis and the implementation of containment measures which have limited the possibilities of “real” interactions between individuals, more and more people are looking to take over the main on the Facebook machine, whose economic and digital power allows it to play an increasingly decisive role within the very functioning of societies.

Public decision-makers are therefore increasingly seeking to understand the real effects of the massive use of social networks on the social life, health and cognitive apparatus of individuals, and in particular the youngest. At the global level, an Internet user spends an average of 2h30 per day on social networks, which makes it possible to become aware of the major anthropological, even civilizational change introduced by Facebook through the efficiency of its algorithm: that of “taking” more two hours of individuals’ available time.

The establishment of Meta (the new name of the parent company), which seems to be moving towards an alignment of the group with virtual reality, and towards this almost dystopian idea of ​​a world where the real and the immaterial merge under the aegis of the digital power and innovation of Facebook .

To read :
The metaverse, from dystopia to reality

The question of the efficiency of its algorithm is also at the heart of the questions surrounding its global economic model, which is therefore based on a subtle entanglement between advertising and information. This model thus reinforces its dominant position in certain markets, and even certain monopolistic tendencies.

Algorithms are not compatible with violent content themselves, especially since moderation on Facebook tries to control this kind of thing as much as possible. What essentially structures the algorithms is the fact that they are integrated around the desire to capture as much user attention as possible so that they remain present on the platform as long as possible, so that Facebook obtains as much information as possible about the personality, habits and consumption tastes of users, so that they can better target their advertising. Advertising is absolutely central, even vital for Facebook, given that it represents 98% of its revenue. The algorithm is therefore built around this dependence on advertising revenue. Eric Brousseau

Faced with this position of social and societal domination on the part of a private group whose economic power exceeds that of certain states, a desire to regulate or even reform Facebook seems to be emerging and becoming more and more structured, at a time when the legislation subject to the GAFA is still in its infancy. The European and American competition authorities are thus considering strengthening the legal, legislative and normative framework relating to the activities of GAFAs.

However, in addition to questions about its economic model and its influence on many social lives, Facebook is also at the heart of many controversies around its management, its relationship to profit or its lack of will manifested around data protection. personal. Moreover, his involvement in the dissemination of hate messages and in the destabilization of the American democratic system during the 2016 presidential elections or the insurrectionary movement which led to the seizure of Congress on January 6, 2021, is now increasingly denounced.

To understand if the dismantling of such an economic giant is possible, we are pleased to receive Irene Bastard, doctor in sociology, guest lecturer at Télécom Paris, Eric Brousseau, Professor of Economics and Management at Dauphine PSL and Scientific Director of the Governance and Regulation Chair and Anne Bellon, lecturer in political science at the Compiègne University of Technology.

Sound references

Musical references

Vague – Angela (2018)

Leave a Comment