Commentary: Platform Transparency Can Help Build Antitrust Cases

There is growing bipartisan concern over the power Silicon Valley’s oligopolies wield over American society. Amazon alone controls 72% of U.S. adult book sales, Airbnb accounts for a fifth of domestic lodging expenditures and Facebook accounts for almost three-quarters of social media visits. Just two companies, Apple and Google, act as gatekeepers to 99% of smartphones, while two others, Uber and Lyft, control 98% of the ride-share market in the U.S. Yet, for government to take robust antitrust action against Silicon Valley requires the kind of data it currently lacks: documenting the harm this market consolidation inflicts on consumers. A new RealClearFoundation report offers a look at how amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to require platform transparency could aid such antitrust efforts.

When it comes to Silicon Valley’s social media platforms, they have long argued that antitrust laws don’t apply to them because their services are provided free of charge. In reality, users do pay for their services: with their data rather than their money. Companies today harvest vast amounts of private information about their users every day, using that data to invisibly nudge their users toward purchases and consuming ads, or the companies simply sell that data outright.

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Airbnb Offers Free Temporary Housing Across the World to 20,000 Afghan Refugees

Airbnb, a vacation home rental site, is offering free temporary housing to around 20,000 Afghan refugees across the world, the company announced Tuesday.

“As tens of thousands of Afghan refugees resettle around the world, where they stay will be the first chapter in their new lives,” Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said in a statement. “For these 20,000 refugees, my hope is that the Airbnb community will provide them with not only a safe place to rest and start over, but also a warm welcome home.”

Around 3.5 million people living in Afghanistan have been displaced, including around 270,000 due to Taliban advances since January, the U.N. reported on July 13. Around 10,400 people were evacuated by U.S. military flights from Afghanistan Sunday and another 6,660 were taken Monday, according to the Associated Press.

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Facebook Gave Data on Users’ Friends to Some Firms While Barring Others

Facebook privacy concerns

Facebook Inc let some companies, including Netflix and Airbnb, access users’ lists of friends after it cut off that data for most other apps around 2015, according to documents released on Wednesday by a British lawmaker investigating fake news and social media. The 223 pages of internal communication from 2012…

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Airbnb ‘Blacklists’ Israeli Apartments in the West Bank

by Brad Sylvester   Michael Oren, a deputy minister in the Israeli prime minister’s office and the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., claimed on Twitter that the property rental company Airbnb “blacklists” Israeli apartments in the West Bank, while continuing to allow listings in other disputed territories. Airbnb blacklists Jewish…

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Property Owners in Tennessee Can Bypass Airbnb Restrictions and Place Refugees in Their Communities

Tennessee Star

  Airbnb, the online service that helps people “monetize their extra space” with short-term rental agreements, has launched a new platform called “Open Homes” that lets homeowners donate that “extra space” and host refugees, saving the federal contractors time and money in meeting the terms of their agreements with the U.S.…

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