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Steve Bannon Wants to Change How the Law Treats Google (theatlantic.com)
32 points by gmays 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

I find the idea of breaking Google and Facebook up under antitrust law kind of intriguing.

You could plausibly separate some of Google's verticals, though most that aren't ads would probably go away (GMail, etc).

How could Facebook be partitioned? Will the government decreee that we must use separate social networks for text vs. images vs. video vs. events?

"How could facebook be partitioned?"

I've considered this, and I think only mild partitioning would be effective. For example, separating Instagram from facebook instead of integrating it further. This would do nothing to the site itself, though.

My solution would be to have facebook be more willing to work with other social networking sites. Right now facebook is like a telephone company that only allows folks to talk to others on the same network.

Minimally, the chat programs would need to communicate with each other, even if they didn't share all features (still needs to be very useful). Further changes would be things like allowing other social networks to view "public" things one posts or being able to friend across platforms.

This is unlikely to happen, though, if it is possible at all. I'm assuming that a standard would need to be agreed upon and they'll be quite the fight from facebook. Not to mention the sheer amount of work it would involve upfront or at least I'm assuming, as I'm one of the non-tech folks that are reading here.

Indeed, separating Facebook as is would be close to impossible.

However, a first step would be imposing FB to expose all features and user data using an open protocol to be defined.

That would be a good thing on its own, given that it would make possible for other networks to federate with Facebook. (And when you think about it, it's much closer to the usual Internet, think of SMTP, BGP... A monolithic service like FB is actually the exception!)

Moreover, it would set the ground for splitting Facebook into two (or possibily more) federated networks.

> How could Facebook be partitioned?

Geographically, same as Bell.

If you want to utterly destroy social networking as a product category, why attack it in such a roundabout way?

This would destroy social networking. If you live in the same geographical region as someone, Facebook is adding little value to your interactions. Maintaining relationships between people who are too far away to interact regularly in person is kind of the point.

How are you assuming the split would work? The networks would be isolated from each other? That's not how I imagined it at all. When Bell was split up, you could still call people on other networks.

I'm interested in different ways of doing it, but in almost any scenario I think the networks would all be federated. Like email. You would still have all your distant friends, their messages would just originate from a different server than yours, with different corporate ownership. You could live in Japan and use the Central American product if you wanted. Many would switch around, that would be the point... some competition. If any network got too big it would just split again.

Geography would force users under a specific service provider only at the moment of the split. After that it's a market-based free for all again.

There would just be n forks of the Facebook source with n corporations in n regions, and shareholders would get 1/n shares of each stock. I think it would be a boon to both social networking and shareholder value.

How did breaking up the telephone companies work out? I would also think Google and Facebook would consider relocation to another country if such an idea ever gained traction.

>How did breaking up the telephone companies work out?

The monthly costs for a landline phone certainly dropped. With the same amount of calls it would be lower today than the 1980's, without even adjusting for inflation.

> How did breaking up the telephone companies work out?


Also, extremely well.

After the MFJ in United States v. AT&T, several new long-distance carriers entered into the market using existing rights-of-way leading to an enormous decrease in long-distance telecomms costs. Several of these new long distance comapnies competed aggressively under the MFJ bidding to provide U.S. government telecommunications services ranging from data networks (notably several generations of NSFNET backbone services, network access point Internet exchanges, and numerous research networks). The loss of the monopoly right to carry international traffic dropped the price of a circuit between the USA and a foreign country through the floor, such that the U.S. grew into the center of the hub-and-spoke model of the global Internet, which still brings benefits to the USA. The loss of the monopoly access to local circuits lead to a proliferation of specialized carriers targetting radio and television distribution.

The regional Bell operating companies were forbidden to insist on being the sole supplier of end-user telecommunications equipment ranging from telephones to answering machines to modems (both for computers and for fax machines). The end of the equipment monopoly led to an explosion of innovation in data telecomms equipment.

The regional bell operating companies still faced no direct competition for most of their services, and while the consumer costs of long distance fell through the floor, the consumer costs of local connectivity rose. With this cash flow the RBOCs have been re-consolidating, and this has markedly eroded the advantages the U.S. telecomms market had as other large economies have terminated the incumbent monopolies in their markets; with the evolution of the almost-a-duopoly market and predictable attempts to consolidate all the local carriage options in many markets in the U.S., it is likely that U.S. telecomms users will face ever-increasing fees for far-from-globally-competitive levels of service. It's a brake being put on the whole U.S. economy for the benefit of the parties with direct interests in the former monopoly's descendants.

> Google and Facebook would consider relocation to another country

I doubt either would ever abandon the U.S. market entirely. On the other hand, I'm sure that the telecomms monopolists would very much like to extend their local telecommunications monopolies (especially with the demise of network neutrality) into advertising and other areas where they are not serious market players. Using their captured pet regulator, the FCC, to help them achieve that is a pretty obvious goal.

They would never abandon the US market, but they'd certainly consider moving HQ to another country and making it the base of their parent company. They already are based in one of the highest corporate tax rate countries in the world (with CA taxes they pay about 42% on US profits, which is why these companies don't repatriate profits from foreign subsidiaries to the US).

I think it's more likely there'd be operating restrictions/conditions put in place instead.

This would be such a trainwreck if enacted in the way Bannon wants. That being - he wants the ridiculous unsubstantiated drivel on his website to be given the same priority in searches as ACTUAL journalism. You know "to be fair". Because, for instance, someone searching for the history of the earth should be greeted by Bible passages being treated as a valid alternative theory to dinosaurs.

One of the challenges is to separate out our group identification from our worldview, different aspects of our worldviews, and our support of individual policies from all of the above.

We can agree with Bannon about competition problems but disagree about some weird religious ideas or whatever.

A typical belief is that there is just a plain trade off between centralized planning and decentralized less organized entities. Given our technical capabilities, this is a false dichotomy. Beyond models like the public utility, we can replace the function of many of these companies with modular, versioned software that can provide platforms and protocols that are holistic on a common level but also easily evolved and without central control. Think P2PSemanticSearch, BitTorrent, Ethereum, Bitcoin, IPFS, TaxiProtocol, RetailIntegrationFullfillmentP2P, etc. with something like a decentralized npm for ease of deployment, integration and iteration.

>This means they would get treated less like a book publisher and more like a telephone company.

Huh..how about we start treating cable companies more like telephone companies first?

I see the argument for more anti-trust regulation against FB and Goog, but considering how this administration views Net Neutrality the irony and hypocrisy is beyond absurd here.

Google owns or nearly owns: phone, search, email, maps, web video, banners, working:desktop, cars, fiber, social, chat, vidchat.

What don't they own? How is this centralization healthy?

If you let your company reach 90 percent monopoly, and the entire world uses you every day, and the entire world relies on you...You are a utility.

Google's monopoly has lead to censorship in youtube, no customer service for any of their products unless maybe you pay 100k a year, maybe someone will answer the phone.

Through adwords they take a percent of all web commerce and make sure to mix up the results so you have a reason to pay. The only place you can get traffic that isn't them is amazon, and that's jumping from the pan into the fire.

Inb4: Government is worse, whole world doesn't have net, better them than 4 evil corps, stick with devil we know, etc.

Bannon lays out his basic worldview in this talk at the Vatican. It is pretty kooky


A guy that is part of a group that drove a car into innocent people and hates anyone that is not a white, hetro male wants to break up Google and FB and it is something actually discussed on HN?


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