Reply to post: Capitalism at work

FAANGs for the memories: Breaking up big tech's biggest isn't a matter of if, but of when


Capitalism at work

It's not like this is anything new. I'm more surprised that certain mergers/buyouts were allowed, such as FB acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp.

Part of the problem is that once certain companies enjoy a monopoly (or duopoly) on a market, the best way to maximise profits is to milk the customer while buying out any new entrants. You can also make the entry harder, but that takes active collusion from the regulators. Buying all the competition is perceived as being better. Hence FB's dominance in social media.

Google has already restructured, so there are obviously some benefits.

Amazon needs reigning in much the same way as Walmart does. I'd argue they provide quite a good service, in terms of running a mail order business, since they do a cracking job of warehousing and inventory management. AWS is pretty solid, YMMV and all that, but for cloud it's pretty good value. Damning with faint praise and all that. Again, the parts of Amazon could work separately.

Not sure any streaming service needs much in the way of regulation at the moment.

We've seen some big mergers in the last few years, so I'm not sure the appetite is really for killing off the monoliths. More regulation, sure, but probably not breaking up companies.

What the legislatures are gearing up for is finding a way to regulate and hold accountable social media, in the same way traditional media is. I'll grant you that the traditional media is perfectly capable of drumming up bullshit that people believe because it feels right, but they at least side step around the facts rather than outright falsify them. "In a recently published hit piece disguised as a memoir, some bloke* claims that he heard from a friend that David Cameron...." as compared to "David Cameron shagged a dead pigs head". But many of us wanted to believe the worst about him, so it's an accepted truth. Even if you show it's false, you still kind of want it to be true.

We've been here before with regulation of newspapers, it's why journalists have different protections in different countries, and there are different libel and personal damage laws. Exactly what is free speech, what are allowed to publish etc. So it's (generally) illegal to report a falsehood as true, but it's generally legal to present selected facts (and deliberately omit others) in order to create a narrative. What's the control on social media? Is it public or private speech, or does it not matter? Is there allowance for context and hyperbole** or should your posts be held fully accountable? Who decides what is and isn't acceptable, the Department of Unity?

It'll be interesting to see how this all pans out. At least some congress critters are young enough to know the difference between instagram and facebook :D

*who when asked, claimed he couldn't remember who told him the story

** saying "I'm going to fucking kill you" in person when angry can be judged to mean very different things based on tone of voice and situation. Those words written down are more threatening than most situations that we encounter them in verbal communication.

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