Silicon Valley tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are finding themselves targets of antitrust probes by both the Trump administration and Democrats, in what appears to be a power struggle ahead of the 2020 election.
Although the committee did not name any companies, chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) spoke of “a handful of gatekeepers” who gained control “over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications.”
House Republicans, usually at odds with Nadler over his investigations into President Donald Trump, seem to have embraced the probe with enthusiasm.
Mere rumors of a Justice Department probe of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation of Amazon and Facebook, caused a massive drop of major technology stocks on Monday, with billions of dollars in market valuation wiped out in minutes.
Alphabet stock was down by more than 6 percent, Facebook went down 7.5 percent, and Amazon dropped 4.6 percent by market closing time. Apple stocks were also down one percent amid rumors of an antitrust probe, even as the company got a bump due to new product announcements.
Conservative journalists and commentators were quick to point out that the antitrust investigations were likely related to the persistent censorship on social media platforms, though there is no direct evidence to that effect.
ONLY a @realDonaldTrump could bring the Big Tech Cartel to heel. No other Republican and certainly no Democrat.
This is what many of us saw in him. And why so many are deranged about him.
— Ron Bassilian (R) (@Ron4California) June 3, 2019
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) June 3, 2019
Silicon Valley tech giants have maintained that they have every right to police their platforms for “hate speech” and other “unacceptable” content, the definition of which keeps expanding by the day.
Democrats have put pressure on Big Tech to be more censorious – under the guise of rooting out “Russian bots and trolls” – after the 2016 election, when Trump used Twitter and Facebook to bypass the overwhelmingly negative mainstream media coverage and win the presidency. However, it then drew the anger of Republicans, who argued that the suspensions and bans have disproportionately targeted conservative voices.
Most recently, Facebook banned any mention of Alex Jones or Infowars from its platforms, including Instagram, unless the posts were critical or hostile. The company also threatened to ban anyone who shared any Infowars content. Several other conservatives were removed in the same purge, and there were reports even photos and mentions of them would get deleted in the aftermath.
Facebook maintained that the ban was part of an ongoing campaign against “individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology.”
For some Democrats running for the 2020 presidential nomination, breaking up big tech has become a trendy rallying cry as they attempt to recruit those unhappy with the online expression monopoly. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has so far been the most aggressive in her offensive on tech giants, launching a social media campaign to break Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple up. Other Democratic hopefuls jumped in, with the latest being Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who last month said that he would “of course” back the proposal to disband Facebook. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has sided with Warren, while a number of other Democrats, including presidential race frontrunner Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said that the idea is worth a serious look at least.
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