Abstract: The success of tech firms rests on their ownership of the algorithms for operating new platforms for the interactions among five groups of stakeholders in the markets of news, ads, and chats: stakeholders from the spheres of politics, journalism, the citizenry, the tech firms themselves, and other firms. Recent regulations that touch on property rights such as the German Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz and the European Directive on Copyright in the Digital Market have turned ownership of algorithms into exclusive ownership. Thereby tech firms obtain also the right to censor and the exclusive right to micro-target clients for advertisers. Coase’s theorem is used to discuss alternative allocations of property rights that could improve the quality of news, ads, and chats.
Keywords: algorithms; networks; property rights; social media; tech industry