And Governments have broken up powerful companies before.
The difference between modern tech giants and erstwhile powerful companies like standard oil is that tech giants are much closer to people's daily lives and occupy some much of their time. This way people are attached and strong feelings about Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc. that they didn't have towards Standard Oil.
That's incorrect. Read the history of Standard Oil. They aggressively sought to get into people's daily lives. In fact, they may have been the first massive corporation to ever do so at an all-encompassing national level. They leveraged every bit of their power and wealth to distribute down to the town -> household level, with their fuels and free lanterns to burn their fuels. They waged Edison-style fear PR campaigns at that micro economic level, trying to get into people's homes commercially (correctly noting their product was mostly safer than the older alternatives). Their distribution channels by design reached into the daily lives of nearly every person in America (this is before the automobile had reached such distribution). Their in-your-home position was drastically more important in its day, as a critical basic needs upgrade, than the position Facebook occupies today. I would specifically suggest you research Standard Oil's numerous consumer oriented businesses.
But favorable to which corporate interest or outside agency (Russian hackers)?
The corporate interests won't align on every issue or candidate, so they won't be influencing votes all the same. What's good for Google won't always be what's good for Amazon, or the Chinese government.
It's the various competing interests that somewhat cancel out. And it's not like other interests with power and money aren't aware of the reach of tech companies, and won't seek to use that to their advantage. Consider how traditional media has been used.
Or do you think the news organizations and tv/radio stations had all the power before?
Trump being elected wasn't the will of any of the tech giants. It's more of a platform that's used for whatever interest has the means to abuse it, such as pushing fake news.
Undue "influence" is a gross understatement.
Some people pointed out the more abstract type of influence (this is correct and meaningful); I'll point out the material: the list of, let's say, "indirect ability to make laws" is neverending, and it is directly proportional to a given company size.
Small and random, but significative, sample:
- Mickey mouse laws
- HSBC money laundering
- Massive tax dodging in Europe
The latter one is about to change, at least for certain non-vital topics. We see privatization in law enforcement for copyright, free speech / personal rights, and so on.
When Facebook marks "fake news" or handles "hate speech", and when Google/Youtube removes "copyrighted material", there is neither the police nor any judge in the loop. Also, there are often false positives such as removing creative commons videos with no clear path to dispute.
There will soon be laws that require companies to interpret the law, which is a very worrying trend.
Let's not forget forced arbitration. Companies that wrong you can now deny you your day in court if they just add a forced arbitration clause into the fine-print. They are removing conflicts from the justice system into a private system where the incentives are much more murky.
And what about countries that don't have 'fair' laws? Tech giants don't have many barriers if they decide to operate overseas.
And don't understate the influence on governments and voters either, just look at the tobacco industry. It is practically forcing itself on children in parts of the world. If that's tobacco, how much easier would it be for facebook to penetrate markets that don't really want them.