Social media addresses must fall under OPTA

Telephone numbers are issued via OPTA. Why is that not possible with social media addresses, such as those of Facebook?

In 2020 the residents of the Netherlands, and not only they, were reminded in an unpleasant way of the enormous power of Usanese social media companies, when Facebook [1] (followed by Google's Youtube [2]) decided to ban Zwarte Piet. to do or to stop advertisements.

Network effects

Social media networks easily achieve a monopoly because of network effects. A large network is more attractive than a small network because there are more participants. That explains why large networks push away the smaller ones, or reduce them to a niche position. An amount in euros is more useful than that amount in Swiss francs, because in many more places euros are accepted than Swiss francs. Although the Swiss franc is more stable.

Social media more important than the telephone

Social media is increasingly taking over the role of the telephone. Where before the advent of the internet you made a 'call' or posted a letter, nowadays you 'app' (appen is a neologism that refers to the Facebook daughter Whatsapp) and share your family photos on Facebook. About half of the world's population is active on social media. These users spend an average of 2.13 hours on social media [3]. In short: a large part of their lives takes place on it. People find former acquaintances. Therefore, it is better to compare social media with the telephone than with an innocent pastime.

Social media fallout. Indian cartoonist Orijit Sen was banned from Facebook for a month for portraying a woman in high-heeled burqa. He made this cartoon in protest.

Social media dominance is increasingly abused

Social media has been committing more and more censorship lately. For example, the owner of Facebook, followed shortly afterwards by the Google subsidiary YouTube, decided to kill the Dutch folkloric figure Zwarte Piet for alleged racism [1] [2]. For some time now there has been censorship on photos with too much exposure. A photo of a beautiful lady with flaunted breasts rising out of the water, the undersigned was posted on a month's Facebook ban.

Undemocratic intervention in the electoral process

Even more worrying is that social media goes very far in their fight against “fake news”. In their zeal to dissuade US incumbent President Trump from re-election - the Republican president is not very comfortable within "progressive" strongholds like US social media strongholds - they blocked the sharing of a New York Post tabloid's revelation about a corruption case involving the son of presidential candidate Joseph Biden [4]. Parts of this important news, which could have changed the voting preferences of many Biden voters, was deliberately suppressed. Trump's tweets were also increasingly accompanied by so-called “disclaimers”, or tweets even illegible [5]. Although it is known that Trump does not always take the facts very closely, this is an unheard of intervention in the political process by an unelected company.

"Fake news" fight

Also “fake news” regarding the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus - in other words: all news reports that are in conflict with the official WHO and RIVM advice - of which we have already shown that this is incorrect on several points and has only recently been adjusted - underwent this treatment. [6]

In that respect, it might be useful to draw a parallel with media such as letter post or the telephone. Would we find it acceptable for a telephone operator to listen in on our conversations and, as soon as a conversation becomes too sexual, take out our telephone subscription? Or for every politically incorrect comment, have the text "this comment is controversial" heard? Or that all letters we send go through censorship like during World War II, and all unacceptable texts have been removed? That printers would print a white spot every time we printed, say, a Zwarte Piet picture or a student party with a lot of nudity and booze? Yet this is exactly what is happening on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Censorship in a democracy, in peacetime.

No wonder there are more and more voices in both Europe and North America to tackle this totally out of control uncontrolled power.

OPTA for social media profiles

It is very difficult to change phone number. All living persons and agencies that have your phone number must update the new phone number. That is why the issue of telephone numbers in the Netherlands is now linked to an independent telecom authority, OPTA. If you want to change telecom provider, you can keep your number. The transfer of your number from the old to the new telecom provider is done via OPTA. This was not possible before OPTA was established.

Telephone numbers have no memory. This is different with social media profiles. The content on an average Facebook profile is huge. Hundreds of contacts, photos, likes, posts, shares and so on make it very difficult to move from one social networking site to another.

It would therefore be good to develop an open protocol for social media networks, an improved version of OpenSocial for example, and make it mandatory for all social networking sites. In this way, users of different social network sites can communicate with each other, as is already possible with, for example, e-mail or telephone. And also, against payment of a cost-covering amount, move from social media server. For example, someone moving from Facebook to Friendweb or Minds can still communicate with her Facebook friends through this universal protocol,

1. Experts: Banning Zwarte Piet from Facebook and Instagram is going too far, Parool, 2020
2. Google and YouTube are banning advertisements featuring Zwarte Piet, Parool, 2020
3., More than half of all people use now social media, 2020
4. Facebook censors The Post to help Joe Biden's 2020 campaign, New York Post, 2020
5. US Election: Twitter hides Trump tweet about 'disappearing' lead, BBC, 2020
6. Facebook Deleting Coronavirus Posts, Leading To Charges Of Censorship,, 2020

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