State AGs, DOJ Target Facebook, Google for Creating 'a Virtual Fence Around the Free Market'
Just under two weeks from now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will meet with state attorneys general (perhaps as many as 24) to discuss legal strategies to curb the immense power of huge technology companies like Facebook and Google. While many social media companies seem to have stifled free speech by suppressing conservative ideas, these companies face direct legal trouble for violating anti-trust and consumer protection laws.
"Today, these social media platforms have created a virtual fence around the free market," Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry told PJ Media. "They're deciding who comes in, who goes out, what you leave with, and what you don't."
With increasing concerns about the power of big tech, some have called for companies like Facebook and Google to be regulated like public utilities. These AGs reject that strategy in favor of a more free market approach.
Anti-trust laws date back to the early 1900s, when President Theodore Roosevelt led the charge to break up monopolistic companies. Landry emphasized the lack of competition Facebook and Google face, suggesting that an anti-trust case against them might be fairly easy to establish.
"When you look at these platforms and whether these platforms in the free market have competition, you find that they don't," the AG told PJ Media. "Every day, they grow bigger and bigger, exponentially."
While Google and Facebook do have competitors in their spheres, the competitors are too small to be anything like a real threat. Facebook claims to have 2 billion users. Google's basic search function has dominated Internet traffic, to the degree that Yelp — once reliant on Google traffic — filed two legal complaints after the search engine stopped linking to Yelp near the top of results.
When a company has that much power, other questions arise as to whether or not it is abusing its consumers. Landry brought up the issue of personal data. "While all that activity is going on inside the market, they're collecting data from the consumer and they're monetizing that data. The consumer doesn't understand the value their data has," he explained.
"The amount of data that Google collects from an android phone, the value of that data would enable a consumer to never purchase a phone again or pay another cell phone bill," Landry argued. While this claim may overstate the value of the data collected, that data certainly carries a much larger value than most consumers suspect.
"What is the consumer getting for that?" the AG asked. "Nothing."
The issues get even thornier when a company like Facebook engages in partisan censorship of conservative ideas. Just this week, Facebook blocked an article about countering jihad — on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks!