After all the investigations into whether Russia interfered in our elections and whether the ads Russia posted on Facebook had any effect, only a much deeper question arose: whether Facebook can influence an election, isn’t this a matter of equal concern than the one on Facebook? Outside influence? And what about Google and other popular online companies? Can they also influence public attitudes?
In June 2019, Google had 88% of the US search engine market share. Yahoo came in not even a second place with 6.45 percent.
Microsoft’s Bing had a 4.1 percent parent stake.
Facebook had 52% of the US social media market share as of December 2018. Its closest competitor, Pinterest, had just 28%.
The enormous potential of online services to influence the public is quite disturbing. But when you add to that the well-known fact that many of these services lean to the left, it becomes downright disturbing.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, “Congress passed the first antitrust law, the Sherman Act, in 1890, as a ‘comprehensive charter of economic freedom intended to preserve free and unrestricted competition as the rule of commerce.’
The goal of antitrust laws is “to protect the competition process for the benefit of consumers by ensuring that there are strong incentives for businesses to operate efficiently … The Sherman Act prohibits any” monopolization, attempted monopolization or conspiracy or combination to monopolize “. ‘”
In the past, the monopolization of a market used to be the result of the merger of large companies or the fixing of prices by several companies. And, in some cases, it would take more than one generation.
In 1974, the United States Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against AT&T, which was the sole provider of telephone service in most of the United States, and most of the telephone equipment in the United States was produced by its subsidiary, Western Electric. As a result of the lawsuit, AT&T was divided into more than one company.
In today’s cyber world, a company will grow into a giant in less than a generation. And while they may not necessarily have benefited as much from unfair competition, there are some well-known cases of these companies, including Facebook and Google, that have political leanings that lead people to their point of view. This in itself may not be illegal. But when a company is this huge in size, this should be cause for concern.
If we have laws that protect fair competition, shouldn’t we have laws that protect the most important aspect of a free society: clean elections?
What’s more, these huge online services also have the power to put people out of business or bankrupt. All they have to do is close the account of someone who may have millions of clients or followers; This would put this company or person out of business and push their competitors up some steps, or maybe even to the top. And there are very few legal recourse for a business or individual that may have been wrongfully shut down.
These huge online companies currently operate with almost no government oversight. Unprecedented power needs to be closely regulated. Ideally, companies the size and influence of Google and Facebook should be divided into smaller companies, each of which serves smaller sections of the U.S. Without such competitive resources, consumers and voters are at the mercy of the The whim of companies that push their own agenda and justice is not necessarily their top priority.