Is It Time to Break Up Big Tech?

Is it Time to Break Up Big Tech?
By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 10, 2019 1:09 PM

Big Tech, to some people, is synonymous with Facebook.

And to that same some, Facebook is too big. Chris Hughes, who co-founded the company, is one of those people. But Facebook represents only 2.83 billion users, so how can he speak for the other half of the world? Oh, that's right. They don't have internet service.

Is Facebook Too Big?

With about 3.2 billion people using the internet, Facebook accounts for virtually everybody. So apparently Hughes can speak for Big Tech. Numbers change, of course, and in time more than half of Facebook users will be dead. Actually, everybody will be dead in about 100 years. But that's not important right now.

What Hughes says is important, at least when it comes to the world's largest social media platform. He says it's time to break up the company. Hughes told the New York Times that his co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has "breathtaking power." Zuckerberg, of course, is synonymous with Facebook. "Mark's influence is staggering, far beyond that of almost anyone else in the private sector or in government," he wrote. Zuckerberg has the power to make or break rival companies or political candidates.

Instead, Hughes wants to break-up  Facebook.

To Be, or Not to Be a Monopoly

The way Hughes puts it, Facebook is another Microsoft. Remember how the government tried to break-up that tech titan for monopolistic practices? It was a 21-year antitrust battle that ended in a settlement. The company barely escaped the carving knife for using its stranglehold on the market with an operating system that killed off other webrowsers. (A moment of silence for Netscape.)

Antitrust and monopoly, however, are not synonymous. An antritust violation can occur when a company with monoploy power abuses it to control the market. An antitrust violation called "monopoly leveraging" occurs when a company uses its monopoly to gain advantage in the market for "another type of product."

So does Facebook have a monopoly on social media or another product in the market? About 321 million daily Twitter users say not, especially since half of them are not dead. Instagram and Snapchat, speaking for another 600 million daily users, say definitely not. Oh wait, Facebook owns Insta.

Power to Make or Break

Anyway, Hughes blames himself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the company could change culture, influence elections, and empower leaders. Since its founding, the company has led an economic restructuring of economy and industry. More than 75 percent of American industries, he said, have increased concentration. The size of public companies has tripled.

"The results are a decline in entrepreneurship, stalled productivity growth, and higher prices and fewer choices for consumers," he said. The problem, the Times says, is most people can do nothing about it. Likewise, the newspaper says, there are no alternatives to Facebook.

Well, you could delete your account. But apparently old Facebook pages don't die, they just go the Facebook graveyard.

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