For years we have been working to hold tech giants to account. We had to go back to the drawing board in our 2016 lawsuit against these social media giants because welacked standing’ despite Facebook’s relentless attacks on our pages. The basis of our suit was challenging Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) under the First Amendment, which provides immunity from lawsuits to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, thereby permitting these social media giants to engage in government-sanctioned censorship and discriminatory business practices free from legal challenge.
Facebook and Google take in roughly half of all Internet ad revenue. According to the Wall Street Journal:
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In the U.S., Alphabet Inc.’s Google drives 89% of internet search; 95% of young adults on the internet use a Facebook Inc. product; and Amazon.com Inc. now accounts for 75% of electronic book sales. Those firms that aren’t monopolists are duopolists: Google and Facebook absorbed 63% of online ad spending last year; Google and Apple Inc. provide 99% of mobile phone operating systems; while Apple and Microsoft Corp. supply 95% of desktop operating systems.
Ma Bell was broken up by the government, albeit for different reasons. But it can and must be done.
AT&T has called for an “Internet Bill of Rights” and argued that Facebook and Google should also be subjected to rules that would prevent unfair censorship on their platforms.
AT&T, one of the largest telecommunications companies, called for Congress to enact an “Internet Bill of Rights” which would subject Facebook, Google, and other content providers to rules that would prevent unfair censorship on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Comcast or AT&T as well as content providers such as Facebook and Google.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson wrote, “Congressional action is needed to establish an ‘Internet Bill of Rights’ that applies to all internet companies and guarantees neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protection for all internet users.”
Stephenson posted the ad in the New York Times, Washington Post, and other national news outlets on Wednesday.
The US government has used anti-trust laws to break up monopolies. They ought to break up Facebook. Section 2 of the Sherman Act highlights particular results deemed anticompetitive by nature and prohibits actions that ‘shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations.’ Couldn’t the same be applied to information? The United States government took down Standard Oil, Alcoa, Northern Securities, the American Tobacco Company and many others without nearly the power that Facebook has.”
Tech companies such as Google and Facebook are also utilities of sorts that provide essential services. They depend on the free use of public airwaves. Yet they are subject to little oversight; they simply make up their own rules as they go along. Antitrust laws prohibit one corporation from unfairly devouring its competition, capturing most of its market, and then price-gouging as it sees fit without fear of competition. Google has all but destroyed its search-engine competitors in the same manner that Facebook has driven out competing social media.
Clearly Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt, and Jeff Bezos are contemporary but far less enlightened or talented “robber barons.” So why are they not smeared, defamed, and reviled like the robber barons of yesteryear? Says NRO:
Why are huge tech companies seemingly exempt from the rules that older corporations must follow? First, their CEOs wisely cultivate the image of hipsters. The public sees them more as aging teenagers in T-shirts, turtlenecks, and flip-flops than as updated versions of J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, or other robber barons of the past. Second, the tech industry’s hierarchy is politically progressive.
In brilliant marketing fashion, the Internet, laptops, tablets, and smartphones have meshed with the hip youth culture of music, television, the movies, universities, and fashion. Think Woodstock rather than Wall Street. Corporate spokesmen at companies such as Twitter and YouTube brag about their social awareness, especially on issues such as radical environmentalism, identity politics, and feminism. Given that the regulatory deep state is mostly a liberal enterprise, the tech industry is seen as an ally of federal bureaucrats and regulators. Think more of Hollywood, the media, and universities than Exxon, General Motors, Koch Industries, and Philip Morris.
The groovy t-shirt-turtleneck vibe may keep the great unwashed under their spell, but it’s the shared political ideology with the far left that keeps these corporate managers free from accountability.
FTC and 48 states file antitrust lawsuits against ‘anticompetitive’ Facebook
The Federal Trade Commission and 48 states and territories filed lawsuits against Facebook on Wednesday alleging that the company engaged in unlawful behavior to eliminate its competition in social networking.
By: Ryan Lovelace, The Washington Times, December 9, 2020
The FTC wants a federal judge to grant an injunction that could require Facebook to divest its assets, Instagram and WhatsApp.
“Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition,” said Ian Conner, director of the FTC’s bureau of competition, in a statement. “Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”
The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia argues that Facebook has enjoyed monopoly control for the personal social networking realm for much of the last decade.
“Since toppling early rival Myspace and achieving monopoly power, Facebook has turned to playing defense through anticompetitive means,” the lawsuit said. “After identifying two significant competitive threats to its dominant position — Instagram and WhatsApp — Facebook moved to squelch those threats by buying the companies, reflecting CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s view, expressed in a 2008 email, that ‘it is better to buy than compete.’ “
The 48 states, excluding Alabama and South Dakota, also filed a lawsuit in federal court in D.C. arguing that Facebook illegally maintained monopoly power via a “buy-or-bury” strategy.
“Facebook’s unlawfully maintained monopoly power gives it wide latitude to set the terms for how its users’ private information is collected, used, and protected,” the states said in the lawsuit. “In addition, because Facebook decides how and whether the content shared by users is displayed to other users, Facebook’s monopoly gives it significant control over how users engage with their closest connections and what content users see when they do.”
Facebook did not immediately comment on the FTC’s litigation. The company’s stock tumbled more than 2% on Wednesday as news of the FTC’s litigation broke.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers have also expressed an interest in cracking down on Big Tech and Wednesday’s litigation is the latest salvo against Facebook.
The House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee began investigating Big Tech last summer and questioned Mr. Zuckerberg at a hearing in July. The committee’s subsequent report on its findings called on the FTC to take action against Big Tech and recommended a revival of antitrust enforcement from the federal government.
Alongside the antitrust scrutiny, Mr. Zuckerberg has also faced grillings in multiple Senate committee hearings focused on election-related content and the efficacy of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 shields social media companies from legal liability for content posted by users on their platforms.
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