The Future of Platform Power: Fixing the Business Model

Issue Date July 2021
Volume 32
Issue 3
Page Numbers 157-62
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Digital platform companies whose business models hinge on the monetization of personal information, notably through targeted advertising, have run roughshod over competitors, communities, and democracy itself in the single-minded pursuit of market dominance and ever-increasing profits. An expert consensus that this business model is responsible for these platforms’ negative externalities has emerged in recent years, yet the nature of the targeted-advertising business model is often poorly understood. It rests on three theoretical pillars: surveillance capitalism, Chicago School neoliberalism, and “technosolutionism.” The “middleware” proposal merely displaces the perverse incentives inherent to the business model. However, policy interventions focused on reforming online advertising, notably through comprehensive privacy reform, are much more promising.

About the Author

Nathalie Maréchal is senior policy and partnerships manager at Ranking Digital Rights.

View all work by Nathalie Maréchal