Google and Facebook earned to deal with competition differently than the very aggressive Microsoft of the 1990's. Instead of putting your competitor out of business, like Microsoft did with Netscape (and many others), Google and Facebook just purchase up and coming rivals for obscene amounts of money.
One example of this is Facebook's acquisition of Instagram. Just as Facebook replaced MySpace, Instagram was rapidly replacing Facebook due to it being optimized for mobile. At the time of the acquisition, Facebook was about to IPO and was facing skepticism on the health of the business due to losing share to Instagram and the fact that Facebook was optimized for desktop and not mobile platforms. Facebook paid $1 billion for Instagram, while just a month before a round of funding valued Instagram at less than $500M.
Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp was even more aggressive, a few months after a round of funding valued WhatsApp at $1.5B, Facebook paid $19B for the company. This eliminated the only real competitor of Facebook Messenger.
Do I think they should be broken up? Not really sure. But their road to dominance has not just been through innovation, its also been though showering competitors with cash and the trade commissions not understanding the tech business enough to question these acquisitions.
Treat them like a utility - something like a public service commission sets the rates and regulates activity. The electric company does not get to choose their customers or sell different quality electricity based on, for example, religious affiliation.
The network platform sells subscriptions to their search service or social media platform or whatever and they are not allowed to collect, sell or use subscriber data except for operational purposes, they are not allowed to manipulate content. Competition needs encouragement,. anti-competitive practices dissallowed, anti-trust laws applied. They are not immune to class-action.
I'm sure there is flaw in this, there is no perfect solution.
They do buy companies, and if you make an app/company and they buy you, you have nothing to complain about. To me that seems silly to try and break them up. But making them like a utility is what I was talking about a bit, and it makes some kind of sense.
What I can't see is subscriptions. Nope, people will just go somewhere else. I think it's unrealistic to chop of their head. They'll lose a big portion of profit if they're forced to respect privacy. But they already have subscriptions for users that need certain things like business email enhanced, data storage, etc. It's just the everyday person that won't do it.
To me it seems like it would be ok to advertise for whomever pays, but not run political based algorithms, and not prevent free speech. Basically make them uphold the rights of the US, and not be selling private stuff - as their responsibility as a semi-public utility that is privately owned. It really doesn't matter much to me if at the top they have some advertisements, or places to shop at, so long as they don't prevent you from scrolling through the results that are accurate to the search.
A perfect solution, well, there's no way to make everyone happy that's for sure.
Competition is a good thing. If a network platform offers what some want, provides actual value, then people will subscribe. If I have to pay to get an honest search, one that does not manipulate search results based upon a particular agenda without informing me, then I would. If I don't mind someone else determing what information I can access and not access, then maybe I'd use that service.
Lose a big portion of profit if forced to respect people's privacy? Boo-hoo. But it's not just respecting privacy, it's information manipulation and prevention of competition.
IANAL, but my vague understanding of anti-trust laws says they do not apply to 'free' services. But such law is the mechanism for getting a grip on anti-competitive behavior. That's a reason why a network platform needs to charge for its use.
A utility is a service not a business. But as a service (and not subject to anti-trust) it must act in a socially neutral way.
I have no problem characterizing all search engines as services. And yes, like other services you pay to use them. If such platforms started out that way it wouldn't seem odd, but in some cases what was once benign got supplanted by the need to presume moral authority. A tragic flaw as it were.
I haven’t come up with strict qualifiers, but the premise is if something gets to X size in some way, they must conform to rights laws. The thought is at some point you become so big that you’re not much different than public roads, or electrical company because you’re so intregal to modern life.
The internet is this way, you can’t live free of it, so it should be neutral as far as connections go. That is clear, and the anti net-neutrality is ridiculous stuff only people who no longer need to work can be ok with.
I’m proposing that Google is so big, so prevalent, that they are not really any different than the connection itself, to many respects. But that’s just me, and I was curious what others think.
I don’t believe my thought is totally unfair to private entities. We already did it to banks. And you only get the downsides to it if you’re so massive that realistically it hardly matters.
By and large I think we're pretty close in our thinking and recognition of "the problem".
I haven't thought much about solutions, probably because the possibility of such seems so remote. Some platforms have so much money they can buy or prevent any legislative effort they don't see in their interest. My choice for now is to not use them, best I can. My sense is most are simply unaware or prefer having someone else tell them a path to follow.