For a long time, the big tech companies in their home market, the USA, were only exposed to lax competition regulation. That is changing rapidly now. And in Europe they want to try to establish new rules for the industry instead of quickly digested billions in fines.
The breaking up of Facebook has a lot of symbolic power
The decision of the US government to continue striving to break up Facebook, even after an initial setback in court, has a great deal of symbolic power. The antitrust watchdogs of the FTC trade authority could have given up, after all, the complaint, which had been rejected as weakly underpinned, came from the last days of Donald Trump’s previous government. But the new FTC boss Lina Khan, a well-known critic of tech giants, preferred to amend the lawsuit and step into the ring for a second round. Plans are being made in Europe too. The following is an overview of the central sources of conflict in the struggle for the marketplaces of the future.
FTC versus Facebook
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) argues that the online network bought the Instagram photo platform and the WhatsApp chat service to protect its monopoly position from emerging competition. Therefore, the takeovers would have to be reversed. The key question is: Does Facebook even have a monopoly? The group denies this and emphasizes that the FTC waved through the deals at the time.
In the new lawsuit, the Commission is now trying to narrow down the market for social networks. There are platforms in which users can maintain contact with friends and family and at the same time publish contributions. Twitter, TikTok and YouTube therefore fall into other categories because the social component is less pronounced. It is unclear whether the court will follow this definition.
US Department of Justice versus Google
The second front of the largest competitive campaign against tech companies since Microsoft was almost smashed a good two decades ago is directed against the search engine giant. Google is illegally protecting its dominant position in Internet search and related advertising, according to the lawsuit filed in October 2020. One example are deals with Apple, Samsung or the Firefox provider Mozilla, with which the Google search is preset as the standard in the web browser.