Why you can't transfer social media followers from one account to another
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
When a mobile phone user decides to change carriers, they get to keep the phone number. If you switch from T-Mobile to Verizon, for example, the number belongs to you, not the company. It wasn't always this way. It became so in recent decades by a change in the law. The law says something different, though, when it comes to people's lives online. In recent months, many people have switched social media platforms but had to leave their followers behind, and the same can be true with other kinds of data. So let's discuss this with Shane Tews, who's a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and has studied data portability, as it's called, for years. Good morning.
SHANE TEWS: Good morning, Steve. Thanks for having me.
INSKEEP: This came up in conversation because a lot of people, of course, are abandoning Twitter. They're unhappy with what's happening at Twitter. But they find it hard to switch to some other platform. How would data portability change that, at least in theory?
TEWS: Well, there's a couple things you brought up in your intro. One is - what you're talking about is local number portability. It's known as LNP. And they worked the kinks out in that process about 15, 20 years ago. We don't have a version of that for social media platforms yet, but there is a definite drive, by specifically the European Union in their Digital Markets Act, to try to find a way for citizens to be able to port more of their information along.
INSKEEP: We give information to all kinds of companies online, and those companies may well sell our information to other companies to profit off of it. So they are able to move our information around, but we can't necessarily choose to move our information around or to hold it to ourselves.
INSKEEP: What would you like to see in the United States?
INSKEEP: Shane Tews of the American Enterprise Institute, thanks so much.
TEWS: Thanks, Steve.
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