Facebook, owner of Instagram, as well as Google and Amazon are the targets of a Justice Department Antitrust Investigation, according to multiple reports.
The purpose of this investigation is to determine whether there is enough evidence to prove that the platforms willfully participated in the practices of suppressing innovation, hurting competition, or causing other harm to their consumer base. Centrists and Conservatives alike, including President Donald Trump, have been raising the red flags concerning big tech suppression of their voices through unfair practices implemented by big tech giants.
In a Fox News interview with Trump, Tucker Carlson spoke on the magnitude of power wielded by big tech.
“Google by some measure is the most powerful company in the world,” Carlson said. “All information flows through it.”
He questioned if the influence of Big Tech will disrupt Trump’s chances for re-election. Although Trump acknowledges that he has heard of and experienced such censorship dating back to his election campaigning for 2016, he does not appear to think that the effects will be catastrophic enough to cost him the next election. Although the confidence of the President is reassuring, the bigger question remains: what effect does big tech suppression have on the average person’s internet use, and is it criminal?
In 2018, the Daily Caller pointed out perceived targeted suppression directed towards conservative sites. They alleged that Google was disrupting fact-checking by attributing false statements to known conservative sites and groups on Facebook. The misrepresented quotes made these individuals or groups appear to be hate-oriented or otherwise unscrupulous.
That is where the Antitrust investigation comes into the picture. Antitrust law is in place to protect consumers from corporations taking advantage of their public reach to harm said consumer. The Antitrust laws also prohibit these companies from conspiring to fix prices or suppress competition through anti-competitive action.
The Department of Justice’s decision to open this investigation is a result of the increase in public demand for stricter regulations on, or the separation of, big tech companies. Although the DOJ did not release any specific companies in the public announcement they made a declaration to follow up on these “widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online.” The “department’s Antitrust Division is conferring with and seeking information from the public, including industry participants who have direct insight into competition in online platforms, as well as others,” the DOJ said.
Now the DOJ further objectively assess the conditions of the competition in the online marketplace, ensuring the American people have access to free markets.
“If violations of law are identified, the department will proceed to seek redress,” it said.
Among numerous lawmakers who have raised concern, Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks out against the censorship largely targeted towards conservative sites, and individuals as well as political sites that implement the Christian faith.
“Google can, and often does, control our discourse.”Cruz said. “The American people are subject to overt censorship and covert manipulation” by Google’s algorithms.
Google’s Vice President of Global Government Affairs and Public Policy, Karan Bhatia acknowledges that the company has censored or removed some content, but argues that the motivations of the company were not political.
According to Bhatia, no such political bias exists in an manner on Google, nor is there any monitoring of content posted on their platforms.
“We work hard to fix our mistakes,” Bhatia said. “But these mistakes have affected both parties and are not a product of bias. We are not censoring speech on our platforms… We do have community guidelines against uploading, for example, videos that have violent imagery.”
CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, was quoted saying he didn’t think that “anyone reasonable” would even think of Apple as a monopoly.
When the Washington Post reports on the FTC, it was alleged that Facebook misleads its consumers about their privacy practices. Furthermore, the FTC has established its cooperation with the Antitrust investigation by sharing the efforts of their own probing on big tech companies in the beginning of the year
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