Courage to Learn: Google and Facebook

January 11, 2021 Anti-Monopoly Policies & EnforcementCourage to LearnTech

From 2004 to 2020, Google and Facebook concentrated the search and social networking industries by exploiting a pro-concentration policy framework across multiple administrations. They bought hundreds of companies and took advantage of lax privacy policy and weak enforcement of monopolization rules. These two multinationals now serve as middlemen in virtually all online advertising and much of our communications infrastructure, in turn eroding local and independent journalism, propagating disinformation, harming small businesses, and damaging the mental health of users.

Key Facts

  • Google has 94 percent of all general mobile search inquiries.
  • Google has 75 percent of the global mobile operating system market share.
  • Google has nine products with more than 1 billion users.
  • From 2004 to 2014, Google spent at least $23 billion buying 145 companies, including Maps, Analytics, YouTube, Gmail, Android, and, critically, its 2007 purchase of DoubleClick.
  • Facebook’s social media market share in the United States jumped from less than 13 percent when Obama took office to more than 70 percent when the administration left office.
  • According to 38 state attorneys general, “Facebook has a strong and durable monopoly in the Personal Social Networking Services market that has persisted for nearly a decade.”
  • Venture capitalists tend not to fund companies that operate in the similar spaces to Google and Facebook, referring to these areas as “kill zones.” Investments in a market “drop by over 40 percent and the number of deals falls by over 20 percent in the three years following an acquisition” by a tech giant.
  • Google and Facebook actively attempt to block innovation that might harm their business; one venture capitalist noted they also limit funding to products that enhance privacy online due to fear of these giants.
  • Survey results show Google provided ad services to 86 percent of the sites carrying coronavirus conspiracies.

Recommended Policies

  • Break up dominant platforms by expanding existing antitrust suits, passing stronger antitrust legislation, banning mergers by dominant corporations, and engaging in regulatory and statutory changes to explicitly break up platforms.
  • Implement non-discrimination rules, such as bans on self-preferencing, as well as interoperability requirements and equal treatment for terms and services.
  • Ban targeted ads through new rulemakings or through targeted reforms of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
  • Ban platforms from entering financial services and end local tax subsidies for platform facilities.

Further Reading