Google and Facebook are starting to concern a lot of people–especially those of us who believe in free speech.
Facebook has been the biggest guilty party lately, banning conservatives like Alex Jones from the platform, as well as anyone it deems to have engaged in “hate speech”.
The site automatically blocks links from certain websites, so that users of the social media platform can’t freely share information with each other.
And while Google isn’t quite is big a culprit, it shares the same anti-conservative bias when it comes to search results and its video platform, YouTube.
Even if you take the position that Facebook and Google are private entities (or more accurately, corporations that are publicly held, but not public services), and therefore able to do what they want, you can’t deny that their effect on free speech is chilling.
Should the government step in and regulate the way that Google and Facebook regulate free speech?
There’s a good argument to be made either way. But before we step down that slippery slope, there is something else to consider.
It’s a factor that already has laws in place, and plenty of firm precedents when it comes to using these laws. And that is the anti-trust factor.
Anti-Trust, Google, and Facebook
Our readers are no doubt aware of anti-trust laws and the concept of a monopoly.
When any one company controls enough of the market to have an extremely unfair advantage, it stifles innovation and makes the free market…not so free.
Even the staunchest pro-business conservative knows that it’s sometimes necessary to break up a monopoly.
This helps keep the free market actually free, instead of controlled by a single vested interest.
It is one of the few laws that can help small businesses, instead of putting unnecessary burdens on them. But they have rarely been applied to Big Tech. At least in the U.S.
That’s a shame, because Google, Facebook, and a handful of other companies have become colossal in recent years. T
hey have grown from David underdogs to Goliath-sized giants. One way they’ve done this is to buy up smaller, more innovative companies.
These companies are usually highly specialized in their focus.
The common excuse that companies like Facebook and Google give for buying these companies up, is that they want to integrate this technical focus into their own companies.
But it could also be argued that they’re buying up the competition.
But Google and Facebook have clamped down more and more on what you can and can’t say on their platforms.
And it’s starting to look like an assault on free speech. Can anti-trust regulations stop these companies from quelling free speech–without getting into the sticky situation of telling businesses what they can and can’t do?
Who Owns What
Google–or rather, Google’s thinly-veiled parent company, Alphabet–owns about 200 different other companies!
The biggest one of these is YouTube.
That’s significant, since every day YouTube bans videos, channels, and users that it finds somehow offensive.
It has also demonetized most political videos. And while it’s true that YouTube has done this for liberal as well as conservative political videos, the anti-conservative bias is obvious on YouTube.
Facebook owns about a third as many companies–79 as of this writing.
But what they lack in numbers, they make up in significance. Facebook owns Instagram and Whatsapp.
That means it controls three of the five biggest social media players on the planet!
That means that any anti-free-speech decisions made by Facebook, affect much more than just Facebook.
Say the wrong thing and get booted from one platform, you’re probably going to have the same fate on the other two.
And since most anything can be counted as “hate speech” these days, conservatives have to walk on eggshells more and more every day.
Anti-Trust Solution to an Anti-Free Speech Problem?
Google has recently faced multiple fines in the billions of dollars from the European Union.
Right now, it’s staring down the same barrel in India. But how well do fines work when it comes to one of the world’s wealthiest companies?
Could it be that it’s time to quit worrying about fines–and start thinking about breaking up these gigantic tech monopolies?
There’s no guarantee that this will help the cause of free-speech.
After all, tech companies are notoriously left-leaning. And the left becomes more pro-censorship (of what they don’t like…) with every passing month.
But breaking up these Goliath’s could be a very good start.
If nothing else, it would bring anti-trust laws into the 21st Century.
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has even spoken up about this exact issue.
Big Tech needs to be held accountable just like any other industry.
And since they are allowed to flourish because of the 1st Amendment, they should respect our right to free speech as well.