Is big tech getting too big to fail? Last year the five biggest tech companies in the United States, nicknamed FAAMG, were responsible for revenues equal to 68% of US GDP growth. Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google boasts revenues in the billions, and with that kind of money comes a tremendous amount of power. There has been a bipartisan political backlash against the power these companies have to control the exchange of information, leading many to question whether they should be broken up into smaller companies.
Nearly all Americans conduct searches using Google-owned platforms – 88% on Google itself and 73% on YouTube. Facebook also owns a massive amount of the traffic share of global internet traffic: 61% to Facebook, 26% to Instagram, 16% to WhatsApp, and 3% to Messenger. These companies own the information you send, search, and share, and they can block it, too.
Antitrust laws were created in 1890 in order to promote free competition in the marketplace after consumers complained about exorbitant prices and competitors being shut out of the marketplace. Monopolies and cartels were outlawed in order to promote the common interest. In 1914 these laws were strengthened and clarified and enforcement was put into place. It remains to be seen how these laws will be applied to these tech giants, but breaking them into smaller companies is one of the options on the table.
In 1998 Microsoft went up on antitrust charges and after two years of deliberations, the company was broken into two parts, one to handle the operating system and the other to handle ancillary software programs. The ruling was softened on appeal, but Microsoft had already lost ground to competitors.
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Last Updated on February 3, 2021.