Hey Social Media, Here Comes Anti-Trust Scrutiny

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By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

It has started with Google and this site has warned users of the Internet to stop using Google for years for various reasons. Now there are more. Oh, the Department of Justice may not stop with Google, so watch out Facebook, Yahoo News, Apple, Amazon, and Twitter. Why?

Have you noticed how twisted news stories are? Have you noticed selective search engine results? Have you noticed search intrusions? Have you noticed censorship that may affect politics, truths or even voting habits?

Well, it begins with these social media/tech companies stopping competition, free speech and lying by omission. Reliance on these investigative activities begins with the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. This is a law where the Federal government opposes monopolies when it comes to contracts, trade, and commerce. Add in the Federal Trade Commission Act and consider the timing as we move towards the 2020 General Election(s).

A short definition of the Anti-trust Laws is found here.

In part from C-Net:

The move by the Justice Department comes as Google and other Silicon Valley giants face renewed antitrust scrutiny in the United States. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, has made it a key part of her platform to break up the big tech companies, including Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Earlier this month, Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, also called for the breakup of the company he helped create.

In February 2018, President Donald Trump had signaled via his Federal Trade Commission leadership choice that he was open to investigating big tech companies.

Former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions last September reportedly met with state attorneys general to discuss whether Google and Facebook could be suppressing conservative views, after forming a task force to look into problems in the tech industry. However, once Sessions stepped down in November, the plan to follow up with the Justice Department was shelved.

The Journal report follows reports in March that Google could be facing an investigation over violations of antitrust or consumer protection regulations.

Google has also faced antitrust pressures from regulators in Europe. In March, the search giant was hit with a $1.7 billion fine from the European Commission for “abusive” online ad practices. The Commission said Google exploited its dominance by restricting its rivals from placing their search ads on third-party websites.

Last year, the EU’s executive arm fined Google a record $5 billion for unfair business practices around Android, its mobile operating system. The investigation focused on Google’s deals with phone manufacturers, requiring them to preload specific Google apps and services onto Android phones. After the EU announced the fine, Trump tweeted, “I told you so.”

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Earlier Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Trade Commission will examine how Facebook’s practices affect digital competition. The Washington Post reported over the weekend that Amazon has come under heightened scrutiny by U.S. regulators. And on Friday, the Journal reported that the Justice Department is preparing a probe of Google, sending shares of parent company Alphabet down more than 7% Monday.

The possible Apple probe is linked to the Google probe, Reuters reported and stems from meetings between the DOJ and the FTC.

The headlines together paint a daunting picture for Silicon Valley and the stock market’s most valuable companies. Big tech has long faced scrutiny from European regulators but has so far shrugged off calls for government regulation in the U.S.

Apple has drawn increased criticism in recent months for what some — including streaming giant Spotify — see as anti-competitive behavior in the App Store. Apple owns and operates the online marketplace, collecting subscription fees from developers.

The so-called “Apple tax” accounts for a sizable percentage of Apple’s burgeoning services revenue segment, but draws the ire of developers who, in some cases, compete with Apple’s own apps in the store.

Spotify’s EU complaint against Apple, filed in March, is pending investigation by European authorities. More here.

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