Big Tech companies have been under attack across the country over the past several months, culminating in a case brought against Google by the Department of Justice, which, unfortunately, the state of Georgia has joined. Federal regulators also have their sights set on Facebook and Amazon.
Antitrust cases are supposed to be about preventing consumer harm caused by monopolies. While these companies are certainly successful and have tremendous market power, they are not monopolies, and there’s not a strong case to claim consumer harm. Many of the digital tools provided by Big Tech companies – from Google Search or Maps to Facebook and Twitter – are free to consumers.
The antitrust case against Google asserts that it has a monopoly in digital advertising, but Google’s market share in digital ads is less than 30%. That’s just slightly more than Facebook, and Amazon is making a strong move in the digital advertising space as well. This strong competition has lowered the cost of digital ads by 40% over the past decade. That’s great for small businesses and consumers.
While the Big Tech companies of today might seem invincible, history suggests otherwise. Not long ago, Yahoo was the top search engine, AOL was the dominant email provider, and Netscape reigned supreme among internet browsers.
During this year of COVID-19, we’ve seen how consumer choice can outweigh the power of Big Tech. Zoom’s product has so outperformed the teleconferencing products offered by the Big Tech companies that “Zoom meetings” have become a generic phrase. More recently, conservatives concerned that Twitter was censoring their viewpoints have defected to another platform, Parler, that markets its commitment to free speech.
These examples demonstrate the dynamism of America’s tech sector. Antitrust cases take years to prosecute, burn through tax dollars, and rarely deliver a win for consumers. Big Tech isn’t perfect, but a government solution isn’t the fix.