2018 was a busy year in digital media: We weathered everything from data breaches to fake news to the official rollout of GDPR. We’ve seen intense bidding wars as big media further consolidates and watched Amazon elbow its way into the digital ad space. And we've watched "Stories" take over social media, vacuuming up users from feeds and driving investment in vertical video. Meanwhile, more familiar trends — like cord-cutting and the explosion of esports — continue to present new challenges and opportunities as companies navigate their digital transformations. 2019 promises to be just as busy, and below are our top predictions for the digital media industry across the next year:
1. Tech platforms will face proposed regulation from all angles, with the US clamping down on privacy and transparency, and the EU leading the way on antitrust. Through 2018, lawmakers around the world have battered tech companies — mainly Facebook and Google — for their monopolistic tendencies and self-regulation shortfalls. In 2019, we expect that criticism will translate to ramping up of proposed regulations. In the US, we think the immediate push will be around standing up a federal data privacy law in the wake of the EU-derived GDPR, with a long-term eye on antitrust. After all, Trump recently told Axios that his administration is looking at “all of them,” meaning tech platforms ranging from Apple to Amazon, on antitrust grounds. But we expect any actual action around antitrust in 2019 to come from the EU, which has been most aggressive/defensive in its pushback against tech giants. The EU will also continue extracting cash from platforms in the form of fines for data privacy infractions and anticompetitive practices and new taxes that target tech platforms' ad revenues. It’s also increasingly possible the nations that have disproportionately suffered from tech could stonewall companies from operating altogether, as societal risks outweigh rewards. For example, Facebook has been especially disruptive to social structures in developing nations, like Myanmar, where the social site was used by members of the military to spread genocide-fueling propaganda targeting the country's Rohingya minority.
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