Tuesday, December 26, 2017 by Robert Jonathan
Calls are increasing for Big Social platforms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter to be regulated like public utilities given their immense influence over what people see, read, hear and ultimately think, as well as how they spend their money.
This online dominance has similarly brought forth the related issue of monopolistic control.
In the U.S., it is not in itself illegal to have monopoly power – when one company controls a market for a specific good. It is only illegal to try to acquire or maintain monopoly power in a way that excludes or hinders competitors – and is thus bad for consumers.
UTNews noted that Facebook and Google currently control about 70 percent of all online advertising. When asked if this could draw scrutiny from federal antitrust regulators, the professor had this to say.
If advertisers simply prefer placing ads on Facebook and Google to placing them on news websites, they are free to do so. What is a problem is using a position of market dominance to reduce competition either by excluding or cooperating with rivals. For example, if Facebook and Google got together and agreed on the prices they would charge advertisers, that would be illegal price fixing.
Health Ranger Mike Adams, founding editor of Natural News, has previously called for powerful Silicon Valley tech giants which abide by a leftist, progressive ideology to be regulated through a content neutrality law that would prevent them “from selectively silencing websites and video channels they don’t like for purely political reasons.”
A New York Times Op-Ed published in April seemed to agree with the Health Ranger, suggesting that the government may need to regulate these Internet giants given their gatekeeping sway over web traffic and e-commerce.
We are going to have to decide fairly soon whether Google, Facebook and Amazon are the kinds of natural monopolies that need to be regulated, or whether we allow the status quo to continue, pretending that unfettered monoliths don’t inflict damage on our privacy and democracy.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who led the successful effort to repeal net neutrality rules, has called out the big social media networks for blocking content that they don’t like while at the same time pushing for regulation of Internet service providers under the guise of advocacy for a free and open Internet.
Before he left his job as White House chief strategist for President Trump, Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon supposedly floated the idea of regulating Google and Facebook along the lines of public utilities, according to The Intercept, which clarified what that might mean.
Regulating a company as a utility does not mean that the government controls it, but rather that it is much more tightly regulated in what it is able to do and prices it is able to charge. And it doesn’t mean every element of the company would be regulated in that way. For Google… it may only be the search function that would be regulated like a utility.
As Natural News readers are well aware, Google has been suspected of manipulating search results for various reasons, political or otherwise, and its YouTube subsidiary also been accused of arbitrarily demonetizing the channels of legitimate conservative and libertarian commentators as a form of economic censorship. Twitter has similarly been accused of suspending or shadow banning Trump supporters and others as well as throttling tweets that don’t fit within a politically correct perspective. And Facebook has come under scrutiny for various practices. Last year, for example, Facebook implemented revamped curation procedures after it appeared to be censoring conservative-oriented news from its trending topics feed. (Related: Read more about online censorship at NewsCartels.com.)
Recall that Google fired software engineer James Damore for writing a 10-page essay from a centrist standpoint challenging the tech giant’s far left, diversity-at-all-costs culture, a progressive agenda that simultaneously rejects intellectual diversity. This is the same organization that creates the search algorithms upon which almost every Internet user relies.
Taken collectively, alleged anti-competitive methods by the social network giants may make some form of regulation from an anti-trust standpoint appropriate, but any form of oversight would have to be carefully crafted to avoid any infringement on the First Amendment, among other legal implications.
Parenthetically, the Health Ranger developed GoodGopher.com (which, unlike Google, doesn’t spy on the user), providing uncensored search results from thousands of independent media websites.