On December 9, 2020 the Federal Trade Commission brought suit against Facebook alleging that the company is illegally maintaining its personal social networking monopoly through a years-long course of anti-competitive conduct.
“Personal social networking is central to the lives of millions of Americans,” said Ian Conner, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition. Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anti-competitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.” – FTC
It seems that everywhere you go on the internet these days, Facebook seems to just show up. Site owners apply the social networking scripting to their sites, everyone seems to have Facebook on their phones, and even ads appear for Facebook on multiple gaming apps across operating system platforms. On the surface it might seem somewhat innocuous, but if you dig a bit deeper, it could all come around to being downright creepy.
Imagine, if you will, a creepiness to the extent that the guy at Walmart follows you home every day, follows you around your house, or sits with you over your morning coffee constantly nagging you to buy a cheap plastic utensil that will fail after only a few uses. Or further still, a guy camped out in your front yard constantly asking you where you’re going when you leave, and asking where you’ve been when you return. I’m pretty sure that most of you would never settle for such a dysfunctional relationship, but yet here we are, intelligent people accepting such a one sided relationship with a touch of the screen or the click of a mouse with a smile on their face. People in general fail to realize that their private life online should be about as closely guarded as their in person real life is, and at the end of the day, they should never settle for anything less than that.
Illegal monopolization has been going on for years and this whole business with Facebook isn’t anything really very new at all. In 1974 the United States Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against AT&T. The breakup of the Bell System was mandated on January 8, 1982.
And again we discover all of the anti-competitive conduct with regard to Microsoft in 1995, with many cases still being litigated to this very day.
In each of the cases involving Microsoft and AT&T, they were allowed, by the government, to come up with a solution that might best suit the company itself in the long run, while at the same time, satisfying the government complaint. Companies worried more about their bottom line than they did with any real consumer protections — Fines were paid and these companies moved along their merry ways unhindered. It should be noted however that after AT&T’s divestiture, the company’s book value was reduced by approximately 70%.
This most recent news of the FTC going after Facebook isn’t something that’s new. Though the company name is different, all else remains the same. Here we have the age old scheme of monopolization being played out on the same time honored stage of greed, by a new generation of modern day Robber Barons.
As the case against Facebook moves forward, the company will be allowed to pretty much come up with it’s own deal, thus mirroring the AT&T and Microsoft deals that came before. Facebook isn’t going to go away because the government can’t make it go away. About the best the government can do is to rule itself another huge pay day, just like it’s always done.
Are you tired of big tech and it’s unfair trade practices? Well, deleting an app, not logging in, or not signing up in the first place, is probably just a few of the very most effective ways to counter or otherwise shift the tide on the big tech bottom line.