What social media regulation could look like: Think of pipelines, not utilities
Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, and his controversial statements and decisions as its owner, have fueled a new wave of calls for regulating social media companies. Elected officials and policy scholars have argued for years that companies like Twitter and Facebook – now Meta – have immense power over public discussions and can use that power to elevate some views and suppress others. Critics also accuse the companies of failing to protect users’ personal data and downplaying harmful impacts of using social media. As an economist who studies the regulation of utilities such as electricity, gas and water, Theodore Kury, Director of Energy Studies at the University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center, wonders what that regulation would look like. There are many regulatory models in use around the world, but few seem to fit the realities of social media. However, observing how these models work can provide valuable insights.