Facebook and regulating the digital economy


Sir, – Facebook’s business model is simple. It has users and it sells user information to advertisers. If Facebook loses the trust of its users, it will not generate any income and this will be the greatest corporate collapse in history. Without user trust, Facebook has no revenues. It sells user information to companies. It assumes these companies are angels and that these companies won’t do anything bad with this information. But to quote James Madison (1751–1836), fourth American president and author of the first drafts of the US constitution and the Bill of Rights, “If all men were angels, no government would be necessary”.

Facebook has the power to manipulate the world’s political and economic order but has no democratic accountability.

Internet companies have had 20 years of self-regulation and are abusing their monopoly power. In the interest of shareholders and democracy, it is time for regulators in the EU and elsewhere to legislate to correct for this market failure. – Yours, etc,


Dublin Institute

of Technology, Dublin 1.

Sir, – Ten years after the financial crisis, Karlin Lillington reminds us that the role and effectiveness of Irish regulations and regulators is again in the spotlight (“Cambridge Analytica: the Irish angle”, Opinion & Analysis, March 21st).

Ireland did not generate many “likes” for how we regulated our financial services industry. When it comes to regulating the “gold” from data mining, particularly in the context of current debates around taxation of tech companies based here, let us see what “emojis” our European friends seek to use. – Yours, etc,


Tubber, Co Clare.

Sir, – It would make it easier for me to understand, if not quite to defend, the practice of mining personal data for commercial or political purposes if just once in my life I received a message from a “data miner” that in any way suggested they had reviewed my interests and needs creatively and sympathetically, and were now providing me with an option which I could regard as being entirely beneficial, sensible and appropriate to choose in my personal circumstances. – Yours, etc,


Tavira, Portugal.