After all the investigations into whether Russia interfered in our elections and whether the ads Russia ran on a major social media platform had any affect, a far more profound question hardly came up: If this social media giant can influence an election, shouldn’t this be at least of equal concern as outside influence? And how about Google and other popular online enterprises? Can they also influence public attitudes?
As of June 2019, Google had 88 percent of the U.S. search engine market share.
Yahoo came in not even a close second at around 6.45 percent.
Microsoft’s Bing had a mere 4.1 percent share.
The social media giant had 52 percent of the U.S. social media market share in December 2018. Its closest competitor had only 28 percent.
The enormous potential of online services to influence the public is unsettling enough. But when you add to that the well-known fact that many of these services are left-leaning, it becomes downright disturbing.
We have antitrust laws to prevent market monopolization. In 1982, the United States Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against AT&T and forced it to break up into more than one company.
If we have laws protecting fair competition, shouldn’t we have laws protecting the most important aspect of a free society — fair elections?
What’s more, social media giants also have the power to put people out of business or in business. All they have to do is shut down the account of someone who may have millions of customers or followers. This would put this company or person out of business and move their competitors up a few notches, perhaps even to the top. And there is very little legal recourse for a company or individual who may have been shut down unjustly.
These huge online companies currently work with almost no government oversight. Such unprecedented power needs to be closely regulated.
Ideally, companies of the size and influence of Google and others should be split into smaller companies, each serving smaller sections of the U.S. Without such competitive resources, consumers and voters are at the mercy of the whim of companies pushing their own agenda, with fairness not necessarily being their highest priority.