Interoperability of interpersonal communications services – A consumer perspective

This is a fascinating new article on interoperability (by René Arnold, Anna Schneider, and Jonathan Lennartz), benefitting from deep analysis of the relevant psychology and computer-mediated communication literature 👏🏻 However, more consideration of the policy literature might have led to more nuanced conclusions:

1. I don’t think even Graef (2015) argues that Instant Messaging (IM) platforms are full substitutes. Clearly, given multi-homing, they are partial substitutes.

2. The fact users today often take advantage of a lack of IM interoperability to maintain social boundaries with different groups of partners/friends/family/colleagues doesn’t tell us how their usage would change with greater interoperability…

3. And as briefly mentioned in the article, there are many types of platform controls that could give users of existing IM (and social media) better control of their contacts — which would be beneficial for all users for platforms to develop further. (Interoperability would incentivise them…)

As the recent @cmagovuk online platforms and digital advertising market study says:

“We are conscious that there are potential risks associated with the privacy of users’ data, if users lose control over their data, and automatic ‘spamming’. However, as long as the decision to post content across platforms is user-initiated and well-informed, including full clarity over permissions, it should be possible to address those concerns. Indeed, we note that users are currently able to cross post content from Instagram to other platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, which indicates Facebook can design this functionality in a manner that protects against those concerns.” (p.W13).

So, I disagree (quite strongly) with the article conclusion: “An interoperability obligation for IM does not align with consumer interests.”