Image from Alex Castro in The Verge.
IN A MAJOR case against Facebook, the US government is defining "harms" in a holistic way. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleges harm occurs if a company buys another company specifically to hinder its ability to compete.
Facebook's dominance in the market has degraded privacy, eroded user experience, increased the number of fake accounts, and facilitated misinformation. Each of these side effects is harmful. The FTC seems to be arguing that all of these harms would not have occurred if Facebook had to compete with the services it now owns. One of those services is Octazen, an exceptionally capable data scraping service that I wrote about 10 years ago.
The Octazen deal is one exhibit among many in America's blockbuster case for the break-up of the world's largest social media giant. Rory van Loo, an antitrust professor at Boston University told the Sunday Times of Ireland, "I have a hard time imagining this not going to trail, or settling without Facebook conceding something major." Lina Khan, a Columbia law professor said, "We've been living in a bit of an antitrust ice age. For the first time, we're seeing signs of a thaw."
I believe one of the best things for modern civilization is for a new set o rules to be promulgated governing how Facebook and other Big Tech platforms operate. I hope to write about those new rules before another 10 years lapses.
[Bernie Goldbach teaches creative media for business on the Clonmel Digital Campus for the Limerick Institute of Technology.]