After much criticism of the biggest technology firms, such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon for alleged prevention of competition in their fields, the Justice Department has commenced a huge antitrust review.
Attorney General William Barr is spearheading the effort, which is expected to penetrate more deeply into the companies’ practices than the intentions of the Federal Trade Commission. Justice Department antitrust chief Makan Delrahim stated, “Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands. The department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”
In late June, President Trump accused social media companies like Google and Twitter of attempting to “rig the election” and suggested they should be sued, saying, “I tell you what, they should be sued, because what’s happening with the bias— and now you see it, with that executive yesterday from Google, the hatred for the Republicans. It’s not even like, ‘Gee, let’s lean Democrat.’ The hatred! And actually, you know, I heard that all during my election. It’s hard that I won. They were swamping us with negative stuff.”
Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo stated, “These companies have an enormous amount of power if they can even stop the president of the free world from getting his message out.” Trump responded:
What am I going to do about it? These people are all Democrats. It’s totally biased towards Democrats. If I announce tomorrow that I’m going to become a nice liberal Democrat, I would pick up five times more followers. I was picking up a hundred thousand followers every few days, and all of a sudden — I’m much hotter now than I was a number of months ago, a number of months ago, then all of a sudden it stopped.
As The Wall Street Journal explains, “The two agencies, which share antitrust enforcement authority, in recent months worked out which one of them would take the lead on exploring different issues involving the big four tech giants … The Justice Department will examine issues including how the most dominant tech firms have grown in size and might — and expanded their reach into additional businesses.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2015, “Officials at the Federal Trade Commission concluded in 2012 that Google Inc. used anticompetitive tactics and abused its monopoly power in ways that harmed Internet users and rivals, a far harsher analysis of Google’s business than was previously known.”
The Wall Street Journal noted that the DOJ recently spoke with critics of Facebook who wanted the company broken up.
When Barr underwent his confirmation hearing, he asserted, “I don’t think big is necessarily bad, but I think a lot of people wonder how such huge behemoths that now exist in Silicon Valley have taken shape under the nose of the antitrust enforcers. You can win that place in the marketplace without violating the antitrust laws, but I want to find out more about that dynamic.”