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"Big Tech"—generally meaning those major technology companies that have huge influences on almost all aspects of society—and social media—at core, the electronic interactive websites and applications that allow users to create and share content, form networks among users, and otherwise exchange information—present legal and other challenges all-but-unknown ten years ago. The actions of leading Big Tech and social media companies including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter have come under increasing scrutiny for a variety of reasons, such as their overwhelming dominance in their respective spheres, their financial resources, their ubiquity across all areas of culture and society, tendency to swallow up smaller competitors, and their acquisition, manipulation, and sale of data. Almost all business, political, legal, and social sectors agree that the current legal landscape is inadequate for dealing with the challenges presented by Big Tech and social media companies. There is little agreement on how to deal with the challenges and many different criticisms and proposals coming from the various sectors.
This legal research guide provides select information resources on the regulation of Big Tech and social media, with an emphasis on events in and resources of United States jurisdictions. The guide is divided into four sections covering broad issues: (i) antitrust, (ii) privacy, (iii) U.S. elections, and (iv) content moderation, noting especially the role of Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. Each section includes a brief summary of what the issue encompasses, some search terms that researchers can use to find more information on the issue, and a selective list of books, academic articles, popular press pieces, reports, and other resources about the issue. This research guide is not intended to be exhaustive, but the selected resources can help guide the researcher to additional materials.
There is overlap among these four topics. Resources are listed under the issue(s) that seemed most appropriate; in some instances, a resource is listed under more than one issue. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback about this guide, please email the guide's creators, Alisa Holahan, Dan Radthorne, and Lei Zhang.