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HOT TOPIC Elizabeth Warren: Break up Big Tech

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MJ DeMarco

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Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren (Pocahontas if you're a fan of Trump) wants to break up big tech.

I don't like this politician much less her political orientation (she's a typical "pay your fair share nutjob") but I have to say, I like the idea.

Elizabeth Warren Imagines Big Tech After the Breakup

Incidentally, she posted an ad on Facebook advocating the breakup of Facebook and Facebook promptly removed (censored) the ad, hence, proving her point. FB only later put it back. Did I say recently how much I hate Facebook?

What are your thoughts to the break up idea?

(Please try and keep politics out of it.)
 

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G-Man

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She's pre-texting.

The way legislation starts out, or how it's stated that it will be implemented is almost never what the final version looks like. My gut feeling is that this is pre-text to regulate speech on social media or in marketplaces. In Elizabeth Warren's world, calling someone a "pay your fair share nutjob" is probably hate speech. If you put that in a book, she'd probably have it yanked from the marketplace she considers a utility. The internet will become public school.

I agree that big tech is a threat to democracy, but ending the threat to democracy isn't the real goal to someone like Warren. Controlling democracy under the guise of protecting it is probably what's really going on.

I could be wrong. Just my gut feeling.
 

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It's about time.


Its time we break up everything, we have market failure and these large companies cannot be trusted, especially with all of the fake news and the agenda they are pushing.

Twitter, Google, and Facebook should be on the chopping block and heavily regulated. These 3 companies can literally brainwash the masses and control society.
 
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The way legislation starts out, or how it's stated that it will be implemented is almost never what the final version looks like. My gut feeling is that this is pre-text to regulate speech on social media or in marketplaces. In Elizabeth Warren's world, calling someone a "pay your fair share nutjob" is probably hate speech. If you put that in a book, she'd probably have it yanked from the marketplace she considers a utility. The internet will become public school.
Very true. Kinda like the "affordable care act" which turned my health insurance payment into a mortgage payment for a $900,000 house I didn't own.
 

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I think it's a good move, mostly. I saw a report a little while ago that Facebook mods were auditing users' messages and poking fun at people who were talking to friends about being suicidal. There is no accountability, Facebook is large enough to string around Capital Hill like a puppeteer.

Not to mention the privacy issues and censorship issues (i.e., them censoring Warren's ad), monopolistic tech is so embedded that it controls entire cultures. In India the word "internet" is the same as the word "Facebook". An entire generation suckles on social media's teet like a young calf on it's Mom's udder.

What the breakup would look like in practice is beyond me and my four years of consulting experience. That is an industry-riveting move. It changes advertising strategy for most businesses. It creates new opportunities for smaller players with new angles on an old theme. I think in the case of social media it would cause masses to become disinterested, since there would be no single social unifier. The downside is if breaking up successful companies becomes a habit of the government it wouldnt be hard for them to start suppressing the success of emerging companies also. Give them an inch and they will take 10 miles and turn private enterprise into a socialist shitstorm. It's unlikely the government would publish a "You're too big if..." rubric, since they need to leave a backdoor open for companies who play ball. So I could see it creating insane rifts in the consistent implementation of the rule.

I could see Zuckerfuck going to Warren and saying "Hey old bat, I'll give you a few million to cool your shit.", and I have little doubt she'd accept the offer.
 
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MTEE1985

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I personally view it as a populist opinion for her to try and steal votes from anti-corporation grandfather Bernie.

Her basic view is that these companies need to be broken up because they are “too big”. Which should not be a form of punishment. Just like the Amazon monopoly thread we had going here...I just don’t see this happening as they don’t fit the definition of monopolies.

She says her “administration would make big, structural changes to the tech sector” too much government involvement for my taste.
 

404profound

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I think it's a good move, mostly. I saw a report a little while ago that Facebook mods were auditing users' messages and poking fun at people who were talking to friends about being suicidal. There is no accountability, Facebook is large enough to string around Capital Hill like a puppeteer.

Not to mention the privacy issues and censorship issues (i.e., them censoring Warren's ad), monopolistic tech is so embedded that it controls entire cultures. In India the word "internet" is the same as the word "Facebook". An entire generation suckles on social media's teet like a young calf on it's Mom's udder.

What the breakup would look like in practice is beyond me and my four years of consulting experience. That is an industry-riveting move. It changes advertising strategy for most businesses. It creates new opportunities for smaller players with new angles on an old theme. I think in the case of social media it would cause masses to become disinterested, since there would be no single social unifier. The downside is if breaking up successful companies becomes a habit of the government it wouldnt be hard for them to start suppressing the success of emerging companies also. Give them an inch and they will take 10 miles and turn private enterprise into a socialist shitstorm. It's unlikely the government would publish a "You're too big if..." rubric, since they need to leave a backdoor open for companies who play ball. So I could see it creating insane rifts in the consistent implementation of the rule.

I could see Zuckerfuck going to Warren and saying "Hey old bat, I'll give you a few million to cool your shit.", and I have little doubt she'd accept the offer.
 

wordwarrior

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Lots to unpack in this.

They broke up AT&T in the '80s. It seemed to be the right decision at the time, but the old AT&T has mostly reconstructed itself.

They were going to break up Microsoft in the late 90's. At the time it seemed like a good idea, but the marketplace has changed (Apple's resurgence, Linux dominating the server market, and the rise of smartphones) nullified Microsoft's previous dominance.

On the other hand, Google, Amazon and Facebook wield enormous power and are in many ways vertically integrated. Amazon has a dominant position in distribution, and leverages that power, and the data it gathers, to favour its own products. It also dominates self-publishers but forcing them into a narrow price band, otherwise they lose 70% of their royalties. Google and Facebook similarly leverage their dominant positions to favour other products non-core to their business against disadvantaged competitors.

BTW, she recently added Apple to her list based on the App Store: Apple joins list of Elizabeth Warren's tech breakup targets

It's hard to predict the future. Based on the future, she's either right or wrong:

a) There will be some new internet tech paradigm shift, such as blockchain or the obliteration of the internet advertising business model, that renders those companies' dominance irrelevant, making any breakups unecessary.
b) There is no paradigm shift in the foreseeable future, and these companies continue to dominate, stifling opportunities for internet entrepreneurs.

So I really hope that a) comes to pass.
 

rogue synthetic

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I agree with the idea. We don't need to rehearse all the reasons why having these gigantic platforms controlling and filtering social reality is a net long-term Bad Thing.

I don't agree with letting axe-grinding politicians bring in the bloated bureaucratic beast of Federal Government™ to make it happen.

That's running for the 55-gallon drum of nitroglycerine when you see your house is on fire. They'll find a way to make all the problems worse while completely failing to address the root cause.
 

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I do think that there are pretty good arguments for treating some internet services as utilities, but this is 100% about headlines and 0% about passing legislation. It has as much useful intent behind it as the Green Leap Forward. Aside from that, it's not exactly clear to me how splitting up the tech giants is going to benefit society, but there are a bunch of pretty clear ways that it will hurt. I'm not big fan of any of them, and I do by best not to rely on any of them, but there's something to be said for having a common platform and shared standards. It's terrible that any one of them can deplatform you or your business, but it's also pretty terrible to think about having to build businesses on 50 different platforms to reach the same audience (or from the consumer perspective, to go to 50 different sites to buy what you're currently buying from Amazon, or your music, or videos, or books, etc.). It's nice having things bundled up for consumption, but there's a price to be paid either way.

I'm not sure what we gained from the breakup of AT&T. Maybe someone else could enlighten us, if there were benefits? Although, breaking up a company that's based on physical infrastructure sounds far more plausible than trying to break up something like Facebook or Google. Trying to do that in a way that results in 50 financially sound and competitive companies sounds like a complete farce.
 

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Way way way too much government for me. Left alone, our issues with all of these companies will work themselves out. Unless our problem is not enough government.

This sounds a like some "greater good" nonsense from Atlas Shrugged. If I owned one of these giants I would blow it to bits, burn every building and fire every employee before I let the government take it.
 

ExaltedLife

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Incidentally, she posted an ad on Facebook advocating the breakup of Facebook and Facebook promptly removed (censored) the ad, hence, proving her point. FB only later put it back. Did I say recently how much I hate Facebook?
What's wrong with them doing that?

The thing people forget about 'facebook censoring' is that Facebook owns the platform you post your ideas on. It isn't 'censorship' to refuse to publish the opinions of those who wish to advocate for your destruction. Censorship is when Big Gov outlaws your newspaper, not when your newspaper refuses to publish the article you wrote on how vaccines cause Alzheimers.
 

ExaltedLife

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Way way way too much government for me. Left alone, our issues with all of these companies will work themselves out. Unless our problem is not enough government.

This sounds a like some "greater good" nonsense from Atlas Shrugged. If I owned one of these giants I would blow it to bits, burn every building and fire every employee before I let the government take it.
Exactly what I was thinking.

This is the same nonsense they did to Rockefeller with the "Anti-Trust" act, which was the beginning of the end for capitalism as we know it.

Here's a reference for those ignorant of the issue:

Antitrust Laws —Ayn Rand Lexicon
 

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Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren (Pocahontas if you're a fan of Trump) wants to break up big tech.

I don't like this politician much less her political orientation (she's a typical "pay your fair share nutjob") but I have to say, I like the idea.

Elizabeth Warren Imagines Big Tech After the Breakup

Incidentally, she posted an ad on Facebook advocating the breakup of Facebook and Facebook promptly removed (censored) the ad, hence, proving her point. FB only later put it back. Did I say recently how much I hate Facebook?

What are your thoughts to the break up idea?

(Please try and keep politics out of it.)
I think it is a great idea but the truth is the Government has a way of turning a good idea into a costly ineffective bureaucratic nightmare.

The reason why I think it is a good idea because these powerful companies have powerful platforms that have the power to influence elections and public opinion (Just to name a few things they influence). Their platforms have given them a monopoly with competitors falling way behind. Their competitors are basically not existent.
Having that power but not being an elected officially undermines what this country is supposed to be about.
The power they currently have is by then being the ultimate decision maker or moderating the content that comes off their platforms. Although they have the ultimate decision on the content that comes off their platforms they are immune to any repercussions they may result from the content. Which does not seem fair in my opinion.

It is a good idea but the Government has a hard time doing anything right. What comes to mind is when the Government tried to break up Standard Oil because of the monopoly they had over the oil industry. On paper, Standard Oil was broken up into 34 companies but, The Rockefeller family who owned Standard Oil still owed the majority of the stock throughout the entire history of the companies. When the Government sued Standard Oil under federal anti-trust laws that just doubled the wealth of the Rockefeller family. This also pushed the company to establish a bigger international presence.
John Rockefeller just appointed close families that he trusted to take over the 34 companies which were referred to as "Baby Standards"
So basically John D Rockefeller still had control over the companies but on paper, it had looked like 34 companies.

So, in essence, the Government just made The Rockefeller family more rich and powerful. The company still acted as a monopoly after the breakup.
 

404profound

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I think it is a great idea but the truth is the Government has a way of turning a good idea into a costly ineffective bureaucratic nightmare.

The reason why I think it is a good idea because these powerful companies have powerful platforms that have the power to influence elections and public opinion (Just to name a few things they influence). Their platforms have given them a monopoly with competitors falling way behind. Their competitors are basically not existent.
Having that power but not being an elected officially undermines what this country is supposed to be about.
The power they currently have is by then being the ultimate decision maker or moderating the content that comes off their platforms. Although they have the ultimate decision on the content that comes off their platforms they are immune to any repercussions they may result from the content. Which does not seem fair in my opinion.

It is a good idea but the Government has a hard time doing anything right. What comes to mind is when the Government tried to break up Standard Oil because of the monopoly they had over the oil industry. On paper, Standard Oil was broken up into 34 companies but, The Rockefeller family who owned Standard Oil still owed the majority of the stock throughout the entire history of the companies. When the Government sued Standard Oil under federal anti-trust laws that just doubled the wealth of the Rockefeller family. This also pushed the company to establish a bigger international presence.
John Rockefeller just appointed close families that he trusted to take over the 34 companies which were referred to as "Baby Standards"
So basically John D Rockefeller still had control over the companies but on paper, it had looked like 34 companies.

So, in essence, the Government just made The Rockefeller family more rich and powerful. The company still acted as a monopoly after the breakup.
As someone who lives in DC and has consulted the gov I can attest that there should be zero faith for the gov to execute - anything - effectively. Our country would disintegrate without contractors holding up the cubicle zombies.
 

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I'm pretty sure Amazon and Google have what's called a monopoly and last I checked those were illegal
 

GPM

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I've noticed that the government generally messes up everything that they try to put their hands on. Maybe they should just get out of the damn way and let ingenuity thrive.

If they didn't make it so damn difficult to start anything of substance, maybe there would be more innovation and competition out there.

I am not sure what makes "the government" so fantastic that they become an automatic business partner that you have no choice but to fork a massive portion your time and productivity over to.
 

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GPM

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I'm pretty sure Amazon and Google have what's called a monopoly and last I checked those were illegal
How much does Amazon account for in the retail space? A 5 second internet search tells me that in 2017 they accounted for a whopping 4% of retail in USA. 4% does not sound like a monopoly to me.

How much of the video rental space did Blockbuster count for in 1995? I think looking back the government should have broken them up for their monopoly.
 

Kak

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One thing I don't think anyone has considered... These companies all operate all over the world. Not just in the USA. Each of them literally balance trade in our favor.

So "Murica" gets to decide what is best for the entire world? (Yeah, I guess Murica does that all the time, maybe we should stop.)

Google literally provide so unbelievably much value to our lives in exchange for so little money. They are amazing to me and get high praise in my book. Should they be punished for excellence?

Amazon... I have been very critical of the terms some are willing to accept, but every single transaction has been and continues to be voluntary. I don't see the problem here either.

Facebook? I don't like it and because of that I chose not to have one. I don't want to hand it over to Pocahontas either.

As @ExaltedLife said so fittingly... What gives her the right?
 

MTEE1985

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How much does Amazon account for in the retail space?
As of June 2018: 49% of ecommerce and only 5% of all retail.
Amazon’s share of the US e-commerce market is now 49%, or 5% of all retail spend
Again, as you said @GPM , not much in the grand scheme AND to address below

I'm pretty sure Amazon and Google have what's called a monopoly and last I checked those were illegal
Monopoly is when you’re literally the only game in town. It is not a monopoly to have a majority of market share. The Antitrust folks in our government (if doing their job correctly) are looking out for who is using a lack of competitors to take advantage of consumers via high prices and poor service. Think a telecom company that is literally the only option in a rural town so treats people like garbage and charges an arm and a leg, now that shit is annoying.

These major players all do the opposite. Amazon is big because of the lowest prices and being the most convenient. Facebook is free until you choose to make it not free by utilizing their services to try and benefit yourself. Same with Google.
 

splok

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Google literally provide so unbelievably much value to our lives in exchange for so little money. They are amazing to me and get high praise in my book. Should they be punished for excellence?
From the top two hits on Google (irony intended):
Google is responsible for 94% of total organic traffic.
In 2017, Google accounted for over 79% of all global desktop search traffic
Of course, they are dominant because they provide massive value, so no complaints about that. However, that dominance gives them huge leverage, literally over the world's perception of reality. I think that should give anyone pause, even if you think you and Google have aligned interests.
 

Kak

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From the top two hits on Google (irony intended):



Of course, they are dominant because they provide massive value, so no complaints about that. However, that dominance gives them huge leverage, literally over the world's perception of reality. I think that should give anyone pause, even if you think you and Google have aligned interests.
So government control of our perceptions is the rational alternative? They already have schools, healthcare, and the media. Look how well that has worked out.

"Introducing search.gov! From the same people who brought you healthcare.gov. We get the propaganda right so you dont have to read alternative viewpoints assembled by an evil business. Remember, we know what's best for you."

I'll take Google for my search needs please and thank you. I know the motivation of private industry. The motivation of power hungry politicians? That is an ever changing question mark.

Realistically... These companies should just move HQs to a more politically reasonable country and call it a day. There are countries that would and should feel privileged to have them and welcome them with open arms.
 
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Her argument is...(paraphrasing)

Competition suffers b/c of these tech giants. They eat up all of the data, by buying up all of the small players. You shouldn't be allowed to own both a platform and a business that competes on that platform.

Except there are more people with their own businesses now than ever. These platforms allowed the whole entrepreneurship craze to flourish. Many people, including myself, have Google, FB, LinkedIn, YouTube etc, to thank for their success.

upload_2019-3-13_0-56-7.png
upload_2019-3-13_0-56-21.png


HOWEVER...her rhetoric aside...

Where do we draw the line between private companies, and conglomerates so large they influence democracies by selectively propagating their own ideologies?

So government control of our perceptions is the rational alternative? They already have schools and the media. Look how well that has worked out.

I'll take Google for my search needs please and thank you. I know the motivation of private industry. The motivation of power hungry politicians? That is an ever changing question mark.

Realistically... These companies should just move HQs to a more politically reasonable country and call it a day.
I remember a time when you could search a topic, and you'd get 10 completely different ideas. Some contrasting, some reinforcing your biases. Others from across the globe.

Then in Jan 2012, Google forever changed the internet. With other platforms following suit.

"Search plus your world" as it is called. Catering to what you care about. What your immediate friends, family and local community think.

Creating what we now call echo chambers.

Within these echo chambers live the people who moderate the platforms. Pushing their own ideas onto the rest of the population.

Have you ever searched for a topic and the top 5 results were similar? Some even identical?

Or the YouTube search, populating the results with 99% mainstream news outlets? Search for Elizabeth Warren.

While it's nice to think that all companies are predictably rational. Focusing on increasing that bottom line. There are others on the inside, with secondary motives and agendas.
 

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I'd like to think there's a middle ground somewhere between orthodox Stalinism and Galt's Gulch fan-fiction. But there's a big problem here that hasn't even stepped on stage yet.

Big Tech does provide immense value through efficiencies of scale and network effects. I don't think anybody argues against that.

There's ugly downside that can't be addressed as long as we're speaking as if the only choices are letting the circus in DC manage all our communications* or leaving it up to the marketplace which has every incentive to create (some might say pervert) the desires that fuel it.

Heroin pushers also provide immense value to addicts. There's something to be said for considering the quality of the desires that are fulfilled, and how convenience itself has second-order effects. (Does anyone ever consider what the ability to manufacture emotional states and desires at scale does to the models of economic rationality? You should think about this.)

This isn't to say there's an easy solution. No, the problem here is that this is a damn hard problem because it doesn't have any easy historical parallels.

Even in this thread much of the arguments are (and will continue to be) phrased in language that would have been right at home between 1950 and 1980 in the Cold War debates about capitalism and socialism.

That's not enough anymore.

These are different beasts because of the scale involved. Not just size. Sure, they're big companies...which are worming their way into every part of your life.

Public spaces under surveillance, every thought you outrage about put in front of your lying eyes by the tablet in your hand, an Alexa telescreen in every home listening to every word.

We don't even have the vocabulary to ask the right questions yet. Policy decisions about how to tackle it will be even more fanciful than the usual fantasies we call politics.

* They're already doing that, in case anyone was under the impression that Facebook, Google and company don't already have deep ties to the State.
 

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