The Future of Platform Power: Making Middleware Work
From the Journal of Democracy, Johns Hopkins University Press | Volume 32, Number 3, July 2021
Unlike many other proposals to curtail platform power, middleware does not violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In the United States, that makes middleware a path forward in a neighborhood full of dead ends. Before we can execute on the middleware vision, however, at least four problems must be solved. First, how technologically feasible is it for competitors to remotely process massive quantities of platform data? Second, how is everyone going to get paid? Third, who will bear the enormous costs of content curation? And fourth, how does middleware address privacy issues regarding users' friends' data? We have to solve these problems to make middleware work—but this is also what makes the concept so promising.