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Trust-bust Social Media

December 14, 2018
Trust-bust Social Media

Recent revelations about Facebook’s use of its consumers’ data to press its own interests and Google’s death grip on internet searches has convinced some members of Congress, especially many in the incoming House majority, to press the Federal Trade Commission for antitrust action against those and other internet-based platforms. European regulators have been far more aggressive in enforcing consumer protections against the big American social media and tech companies. The FTC and Congress have been much slower to act, but their focus should be protecting American consumers rather than protecting American companies. Google now handles 90 percent of internet searches and Facebook is suspected of using consumer data to thwart competitors. The companies claim that their market dominance enables them to innovate and better serve consumers, but that is what monopolies always say as they thwart competition. Democrats seeking antitrust regulation might find some allies among Republicans who claim that the social media engines are biased against conservative viewpoints. They should be careful, however, not to use antitrust action as political retribution. Competitive issues are enough to prompt Congress to update antitrust laws and prod the FTC to take on the modern monopolies.

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