It has been a rough couple of weeks for the world’s tech giants. Last week, Facebook and Twitter censored a bombshell New York Post story that reflected poorly on Joe and Hunter Biden. That case has reinvigorated a debate about whether Big Tech has too much power to regulate information.
Now Google is being sued by the Department of Justice over claims that the company wields too much market power and that the tech giant uses this market dominance to stifle competition.
The Washington Post reported the following:
“The federal government’s landmark lawsuit caps off a roughly year-long investigation that concluded Google wielded its digital dominance to the detriment of corporate rivals and consumers. The complaint contends that Google relied on a mix of special agreements and other problematic business practices to secure an insurmountable lead in online search, capturing the market for nearly 90 percent of all queries in the United States.
Google gained its ‘grip on distribution,’ the Justice Department said, by paying billions of dollars to become the default search application in Web browsers, on smartphones, and across a wide array of other devices and services, including those offered by some of its competitors, such as Apple. This vast, unparalleled reach allowed Google to enrich itself through lucrative ads, maintain its online foothold, and render it impossible for other search engines to compete, the federal lawsuit alleges.”
The lawsuit will determine the extent to which tech companies can hold market power. It is the age-old question of the lawfulness of monopolies: when is it illegal for a company to have so much market power?
There are antitrust laws on the book that are meant to prevent corporations from obtaining too much power and keeping other companies from entering the market by creating barriers to entry.
This question has been debated since the times of the Rockefellers and the Carnegies. Microsoft suffered a blow in the courts after it was determined they had too much market power.
Competition is good. The more of it there is, the better the market is for consumers. However, should a company be punished for developing a product that consumers value?
Even if the company does have a monopoly, they must continue to produce high-quality goods and services to maintain their monopoly.
So, how do Americans feel about Big Tech’s power to regulate news content? Let’s just say that they aren’t too keen on it.
Three out of four registered voters believe social media companies have too much influence over what news the public reads, according to a new poll, with a majority also seeing these platforms as politically biased.
A Washington Examiner/YouGov poll found that 76% thought social media companies had too much influence, compared to just 6% who said too little and 11% who picked about the right level of influence. The majority includes 82% of Republicans, 71% of Democrats, and 73% of independents.
The debate on whether to regulate or possibly even break up big tech businesses will rage on, and the question won’t be solved anytime soon, but this case is most certainly a step in the right direction.