If they were acting like common carriers, it would be a completely different issue. But they're not; they have business models that necessitate the manipulation of communication.
The internet providers are de facto pretty close to the common carrier status (except maybe in cases of huge scale, like Netflix or google, where explicit net neutrality might be desirable). There are no huge technical or financial barriers to entry if you want to build a platform for communication over the internet, nothing comparable to e.g. telecom networks (either in 1950s or now).
The cost of acquiring a millions-strong audience, operating at that scale, and becoming essential for large swaths of society can be pretty low, both in financing and manpower; if Instagram is not a good example for you, take more extreme examples of Wikipedia or SciHub.
Would you like newspapers (e.g. that very NYT) be governmentally regulated because they are "too important for society"? It's dangerously close to the late Soviet Union. How effective NYT would be e.g. in uncovering the Watergate case were they regulated "for the common good"?
There's a particular fallacy that makes people think that some centralized regulation would be more efficient and lead to better outcomes than self-regulation on a level playing field. The efficiency is there in very few cases, mostly those that seriously defy common sense (e.g. control over antibiotics), or set safety guidelines against mass illness (e.g. food safety control). In most other cases, a bureaucratic body has as skewed incentives as a for-profit corporation, but much fewer reasons to improve anything.
I don't really want media companies regulated too heavily, I want them broken up into many smaller companies. Same thing for big banks and big agriculture and the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies and for data-harvesting tech companies like Google and Facebook. Break them up, force them to compete. I think to the extent that regulation is necessary in tech it should be regulating a common standard by which you can export your social media profile and move it to any other and then mandating complete access to all information a company has on me and a minimum damage value for all information leaks (say $10 per person).
Not every regulation has to be a giant bureaucratic mess. Instead we should look to government to set markets back to their rightful states - lots of information, lots of alternatives, lots of competition between those alternatives and little lock in.
$10 for an email, name or other semi-common info.
$100 for a hashed password
$1000 for social security, credit card numbers, unhashed password
I can agree with the first part of your argument, but you're going overboard here by declaring any form of regulation to be totalitarian in nature. Considerations on the interests of companies versus the interests of society as a whole can be made (and are made) in well-functioning democracies. It's continually difficult to strike a balance, and overzealous mistakes may be made or the process might be corrupted. Still, you can't wholly dismiss governmental regulation as the modern world simply functions on it.
It would be like ammending the constitution to allow punishing the supreme court for making bad decisions - technically it holds others accountable but that is not what it will be used for.
If we replace newspapers with other media, especially more peer-to-peer media like Facebook or Twitter, the effect only gets more pronounced. Look at Turkey or Russia for examples.
If something can be done, it will eventually be done.
Specious argument. Internet providers are not content providers. Regulating content is not what's proposed. Those who provide access to content most certainly SHOULD be regulated. They're a common carrier, and no one with a profit motive has any business constraining access to content provided by others. That attitude befits each castle independently taxing passer-by river traffic.
If we're going to allow ISPs to tax us arbitrarily, we'd damned well better have more of them to choose from than the monopoly most of us 'enjoy' now.
I also find it ironic that this is from the NYTimes when one could argue that 60 years ago that they were the too powerful one. The easiest source of information is always going to have an unfair advantage and drive the narrative. The only thing that has changed is that this is cheaper to do and scale now then in the old days. You can't stop people from being lazy.
That's really a stretch. In 1968 there's no question the NYT was among the top 3-4 national newspapers, but it's not even a remotely close comparison.
First of all you're still talking about a rather bulky collection of papers that had to be distributed daily in order to have any persuasive ability. The NYT never had daily sway over the residents of Colorado Springs or Salt Lake City, and as a practical matter pretty much every American had never picked up an issue.
Their reach internationally was minimal at best, and even within NYC they had half a dozen very serious competitors. And of course the three major broadcast networks (both radio and TV) were of equal or higher reach as well.
Comparing their reach 60 years ago to Facebook today is actually incredibly instructive, but not at all in the way you're implying.
Such a short-sighted effort to identify a singular bad apple seems disingenuous. Hardly anyone on this site is blind to the FTC’s corrupt motivations for cooperating with the tech corporations. Is this an effort to soothing some personal guilt? I can’t make sense of it.
>The only thing that has changed is that this is cheaper to so and scale now then in the old days.
Not true or helpful. Why even try to make such a comparison?
What about the FTC allowing mergers? You said it yourself!
And nobody here will have trouble finding examples of businesses not participating in these dystopian and authoritarian practices. Very odd minimalization of these issues as laziness. I can’t imagine who you think you’re fooling.
The only reason people are talking about it now is that newspapers are no longer in a position to dictatate terms and that, gasp, ugly discusting nerds have finally gotten a say.
Of course there are problems with the current crop of corporations in charge (and it is going to get worse, since you could have many large newspapers in the US, but there is only going to be one dominating social media platform, although which one it is can change and most certainly will), but that doesn't mean the solution is to hand power back to NYT.
The social media companies effectively propagandize ordinary communication for whatever's most profitable, and the effects can be individually subtle, with large overall effect. While this tends to be accepted at the for-profit media creation level, it seems quite inappropriate and socially unhealthy to apply these to personal communication on social media, because the cultural buy-in to these sorts of things means individuals put themselves into monopolized systems.
Social media is very new in the grand scheme of things, and there are things to figure out. Certainly education on these topics and their effects is important, and possibly more declarations of rights (as opposed to specifically prescriptive regulations) of people's personal communications might be in order.
Would you please stop posting like this to HN? Ideological flamewar tropes are not welcome here.
Control information and you control the populace. You don't need to use guns because the people don't know whats going on, you can prevent people from organizing, you can use misinformation and propaganda to control people. Control of information and control of speech is a massive amount of power. I'd rather google had access to a few nukes, honestly.
Obviously lots of people are mad at those companies too, but it's frustrating to see "hit Google with antitrust suits!" getting high-profile NYT billing while "hit Comcast with antitrust suits!" doesn't.
Facebook and Google have are far more powerful and inescapable for writers than for the general public, as those companies are the primary way the public discovers and consumes news media online. A regular person can easily delete their Facebook profile and switch to Duckduckgo, but the same would be suicide for a newspaper: they have to go where the eyeballs are.
This is insightful. Sometimes I forget that journalists occasionally have points-of-view that are not quite aligned with the public - I think they forget that too. I suspect that's also why middle-aged, balding men (frequently English professors) who are somehow irresistible to (much) younger women are over-represented in novels as heroes.
I think there's your problem. The FANG companies have such a higher profile than ISPs, and universal exposure among readers (vs. anyone who might live outside the US, or where Comcast doesn't have a monopoly), so articles on them will attract more attention.
See $argument-about-the-decline-of-journalism and so on.
I can stand up an encrypted session to prevent ISPs from having incidental access to my data. I get the exact same service (a dumb bit pipe). Moving from one ISP to another is a lightweight operation that doesn't limit what I can do beyond throughput and latency. I've already switched between 3 different isps today without even noticing, and it will be 5 by the time I go to bed.
The Facebook/Apple/Googles of the world are all designed around vendor lock-in, designing tools such that they always get incidental access to my data, then exploiting that access to the hilt.
Oh, and ISPs get beat up plenty too.
Google and Facebook (and Amazon, to a lesser extent) are for-profit surveillance systems at their core. How could you not demand oversight and regulation of such systems in a democracy?
All of that applies unchanged to Verizon, Comcast, et al, even if they aren't currently doing so.
"My broadband and mobile providers see a much slimmer cross section of my life"
I'm not sure this is true in general? I agree that Google and Facebook have a fair bit of data about me. They have vastly more data about average users who use Facebook sign-in, don't block tracking, leave location services on, etc. But broadband and mobile providers see every site most users visit (even if your DNS isn't your ISP), along with metadata about those interactions. And mobile providers track location effectively non-stop, even if location services are off, plus extensive metadata on calls and texts.
And that's before we get into the monopoly issues; Verizon now owns the scraps of data-hog Yahoo so it's operating in both domains. I'm not sure why I would assume Oath is any less scary as an aggregator and warehouse than Google. (Less secure, undoubtedly, but that's not a mark in its favor. "Verizon sucks at technology" does not make me feel better.)
"How could you not demand oversight and regulation of such systems in a democracy?"
Again, my argument isn't "Facebook and Google are beyond reproach", it's "why are we more worried about FANG than their analogues who also have monopoly control over users and in-depth access to people's locations and call records?"
The other issue with regulation, of course, is that a key concern for all of these companies is that they hand data to the government, often without so much as a warrant. (And yet again, mobile providers are noticeably worse about this than any other player - except Yahoo, which is now tied to a mobile provider.) That doesn't make regulation a bad idea, but it certainly cripples my faith in it as a full solution.
There's no law of the universe saying one has to address bad actors in a specific order or sequentially.
Furthermore, Equifax is a problem that the US needs to solve by themselves. Google & Facebook are a global problem.
Don't lump Google in there.
It's easy to criticize things, but it's harder to come up with an alternative system that would provide many of the same benefits. I'm not defending the current legal and regulatory system that large corporations operate in. I think they receive large amounts of corporate welfare from the government that are harmful overall, but that's an economy wide problem, not one confined to the tech industry. It also has more straightforward solutions: begin eliminating some of the subsidies these businesses receive.
The tech giants' business models strongly incentivize maximizing the time a user spends within their app. To do that, their algorithms try to find the most engaging content to show you.
The most engaging political content is often hyper-partisan, outrage-driven, and unconcerned with truth. These algorithms encourage bad faith participation by all players: media outlets, individuals, and politicians. Political ideas are often shared not out of deep seated belief, but in hopes of distribution.
Democracy seems predicated on the idea that most participants will engage in good faith. Whether we like it or not, our civic discourse has moved over to platforms that seem to incentivize bad faith participation. I think that's cause for alarm.
Maybe it's age? How old are you? Not to be that old guy (I'm not even old) but I'm old enough to remember a time when I didn't have the internet, and I didn't have a smart phone, and I didn't even have a computer. And life was... well actually okay. It was fine. I got by day to day and I lived. Today, anyone under 25, all they know is life with the Internet and smartphones. I can't even begin to comprehend that worldview.
I still use Google regularly and I have a smartphone, but I would give up a smartphone if there were a decent phone with email and google maps as built in applications.
I agree that giving up personal data can be concerning for many people, but at the same time, people don't want to pay for the services, so it's a catch-22.
Are there some downsides to being connected in the modern digital age? Of course! But on a personal level they are miniscule and the gains outweigh the losses by a huge margin.
> giving up your personal data
You just described precisely why it's not free.
You forgot about the elephant in the room: the imminent danger of cyberwarfare.
The reason the Holocaust was so efficient at mass murder was because of "giving up your personal data".
These tech companies have aggregated the most detailed demographical and psychological profiles in history on billions of people.
Let's not pretend they're impervious to hackers.
The "weapons of mass destruction" of the future will be algorithms loaded with the dual-use munitions we call "big data".
The only difference is that now tech, which had till recently been on the very fringe of this, is starting to upset the established order.
I know it seems pedantic, but it's annoying to watch people rewrite history. The industrial revolution weakened the power base of a strong American aristocracy, the majority of which had already been crippled after a brutal civil war. These were the ashes upon which corporate America was built.
The transcontinental railway was chartered in 1862 and completed in 1869. During that period BOTH companies (Union Pacific and Central Pacific) significantly influenced public policy in order to extract the most money from the deal. (everything from disingenuous surveying and geology to lobbying). That was almost 150 years ago, and ~80 years after the establishment of the bill of rights, the vast majority of american history.
I'd say America has our history inexorably linked with abuses by powerful corporations. From the treatment of the chinese by the railroads, to the steel/coal worker strikes (pinkertons/ludlow massacre), to the robber barons, and the impact left by Carnegie and Rockefeller and their ilk.
While I'd agree that there was certainly an upper class (aristocracy) in America around and after the founding, I think there are fair complaints in calling it as such when compared to "Traditional" aristocracies of the time (in England), with a much more significant wealth delta and a history of generational wealth/power/landholdings outside of business.
Finally, the civil war really only devastated the south economically, the north was pretty much untouched and served as the industrial power base eventually leading to the examples I cite above. So while the southern planting aristocracy may have been "hard reset" I've heard nothing but that the north prospered afterwards in their relative position of newfound power and intactness. (I've similarly never heard the connection drawn to WW1 where the british aristocracy was gutted due to the casualty levels of this war coupled with their tradition of military service)
Actually, I'm pretty sure that a large part of the civil war/southern resistance on the anti slavery front was motivated by the largest planters, who could be considered the "business powerhouses" of that space and time.
So while this turned into a bit of a wall of text, I'd tie it up with a polite disagreement. America and corporate power have almost always gone hand in hand, for better and (very often) for worse.
The modern corporate form did not develop until later - a managerial class emerged starting around World War II (see: James Burnham) and is, I think, a big explanation for why the previous Gilded Age saw massive labor organizing that eventually drove American policy change, but this era has not - the ruling class bought their own organizers this time.
Can you explain how this works? Why would anyone care about Jamaican patents if they apparently don't play properly?
Jamaica and some other countries don't maintain searchable databases, allowing companies to register trademarks abroad in secret and then point to those registrations when claiming the mark in the US.
Certainly seems that way.
There are a lot of less well known technology giants elsewhere in the world. E.g. ARM from the UK (now owned by Japanese giant SoftBank) has pretty much total domination on the smartphone CPU market (licensing anyway - lots of manufacturing is done by e.g. Samsung of Korea)
My mum will have heard of Facebook and Google, but I guarantee that she and probably most other people's mother's have never ever heard of ARM.
Just one example - countless others.
Sure, our mothers probably haven't heard of ARM but that's more like saying they haven't heard of x86. Our mothers have almost definitely heard of Samsung and Apple, both of whom manufacture a large number of ARM chips.
There's even a decent chance they've heard of a company like Qualcomm that's not as well known as Apple or Samsung.
Edit: Not nvidia. Realised OP was asking for None-US companies
If you wanted to influence a US presidential election, a 100% monopoly on the printing press would be much more useful than a 100% monopoly on zipper manufacturing.
The former is presumably what newspaper opinion writers are worried about.
These companies only work for making money and are not around to help people.
This other day a journalist asked a big computer game producing company why they are selling in-game stuff to kids (like Overwatch). They refused to answer. They are not around to help people.
A hospital in Tanzania was in dire need for an upgrade of there IT-system connecting a X-ray machine to doctors for image analysis. They had no budget. 2 helpful guys from Europe searched the Webb for free software. On there free time they built a system which they installed themselves. The big companies are not around to help people.
Microsoft - $135 million in cash, $922 million in product
Cisco - $41 million in cash, $245 million in product
AT&T - $112 million in cash, $7 million in product
Verizon - $56 million in cash, $32 million in product
While these companies are around primarily to make a profit, I'm sure that their $460 million dollars in cash donations sure helped a lot of people. Not to mention all the jobs they create (also helping people), the wealth they generate for their shareholders (also helping people), and the individual charitable donations of those shareholders.
Another approach might be to take the charity money away from the companies, and have those funds distributed to worthy causes by a democratically appointed body instead: giving the money to causes that benefit everyone, not just the company's PR department. You could call this system 'taxation'.
A case study: Flint water. Nobody's done anything about it for years. Now there's a PR opportunity so Elon's going to fix it. The people of Flint will get drinkable water (hopefully) and Elon will get another PR lift. This problem could have been fixed years ago (and perhaps should never even have happened), but the people who decide when these big social problems get fixed is no longer the people (almost all of whom think it's an unacceptable travesty, especially in a rich, developed nation), but the billionaire class, who require something back in return.
They are more likely to spend it on things that make them look good, which has absolutely nothing to do with my point that these companies are helping people, even if their primary goal is not to help people.
> Another approach might be to take the charity money away from the companies, and have those funds distributed to worthy causes by a democratically appointed body instead: giving the money to causes that benefit everyone, not just the company's PR department. You could call this system 'taxation'.
All of these companies are taxed, according to the rules set by the democratically appointed body you mention. I don't understand why you included this part of your comment.
> This problem could have been fixed years ago (and perhaps should never even have happened), but the people who decide when these big social problems get fixed is no longer the people (almost all of whom think it's an unacceptable travesty, especially in a rich, developed nation), but the billionaire class, who require something back in return.
Just so I have this straight - you're saying the reason that the people of Flint haven't had their water problems fixed yet is because the billionaire class only cares about getting something in return from such an action?
I'd like you to tell me what exactly you think should have been done in Flint and how the billionaire class subverted the will of the American people by not doing it.
I'm sure the people that received Google's millions of dollars would disagree with that statement.
> If these companies truly cared for the people they are helping, they wouldn't even bother with the PR side of it at all.
Why? Does getting good PR from helping someone diminish the help that said person receives?
> if they intend to aid their own purposes, that is what will see the most benefit from their efforts.
I have not once disagreed with this statement - companies primary goal is to make a profit. However, they also provide a tremendous amount of help to those who need it and I don't think people should dismiss that so easily.
> They don't seem to be helping the little people like that Tanzanian hospital the way the developers did who found a free software solution.
It's easier for us to grasp a situation in which a few developers help out a few people who need it. It's not easy for us to parse "$150 million in charitable donations" in the same way, but I assure you there are thousands of "helping the little guy" stories you can craft out of $150 million.
Musk could have easily acted back when it happened. He didn't.
Even so, many would agree that Facebook and Google are charitable for giving their products away for free even if they extract value from them in other ways.
I specifically said "product" donations.
>Even so, many would agree that Facebook and Google are charitable for giving their products away for free
And they would be ignorant of the value of their information, attention spans, and technology in general. Many such people would also agree that "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about"
If you don't agree with a given company, stop giving them profit. Don't like Facebook? Stop using it. Don't care for Microsoft? Stop buying Windows and Office.
The only other option for controlling companies is government control - that has never worked out well longterm.
Add in a government compulsion to crack down on "bad speech" and we've circumvented free speech. Facebook has a right to not allow some content, but when Governments start setting standards across companies, what then?
In the UK, firearms talk is basically verboten. In the US, that's protected speech. Whose rules does Facebook follow? Or do we have a separate UK facebook?
Where is this written?
Unless you have a clear argument that all people have a prima facie duty to always do social good (mandatory volunteering?) then it seems very difficult to claim there's a special duty when multiple people group together. Does that duty affect the bake shop up the road? The bookshop that employs 20 people?
The idea that they are legally obliged only to maximise shareholder value is also a myth I'm pretty sure.
We can blame hacks like Friedman for that. His warped ideology doesn't jive with reality.
The CEO and other officers of a company have a stated, legal requirement to act in the companies best interest in regards to the shareholders. All commercial companies (let's ignore non-profits and such for a moment) are founded to generate profit for their shareholders since that is what in turn attracts shareholders.
> I believe everybody part of a society has a responsibility minimise or prevent the harm they do
That's a nice belief and it'd be great if it was true - but that's not an argument for an a priori duty to do social good. Let's just imagine for a moment that you, yourself, are legally obligated to do social good. What does that look like? Do you have a minimum amount of hours per week you're forced to do free work (eg, forced labor)? Can you get out of that by being forced to give some money to charity (eg, taxes)? What are the punishments if you don't execute your duty? Jail?
Imagine that system scaled up and applied just to everyone - each person individually. Forced labor, some kind of weird mandatory charity tax thing, and the threat of punishment if you don't comply - is that the kind of world you want to live in?
It's easy to demand other people do good. It's much harder to do good ourselves when it's our own time and money.
Tech is especially dangerous since it can automate vast amounts of things with very few people if capital is there.
It just makes me really sad how non-existent Seattle startup industry is compared to the valley. Almost everyone here works at the Big Cos Microsoft and Amazon.
This has nothing to do with tech companies.
But tech giants have the potential of becoming too powerful as they "collude/merge" with media and government. It's worrisome that giant techs are now moving into news media and working so much government.
Facebook has the analytics information and wealth to buy any competitor.
IBM gave itself away to Microsoft when an exec handed Bill Gates a sweetheart deal for DOS.
Microsoft is still the dominant force in its original industry (desktop computing) which is still significant.
The Internet disrupted companies that weren't ready for it. Do you think something new is coming alomg to replace the Internet?
Even so, when one giant replaces another, so what? What problem does that solve? "When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers."
Yes, this is the way of technology and it's happening faster and faster. One of the biggest reasons Microsoft ended up on its back foot in the 2000's was because it disregarded the threat of Linux, and woke up too late to the mobile revolution. In all these cases there's hubris mixed with inertia and when the landscape shifts these giants aren't paying attention.
There is no responsibility attached to it, at least not legal responsibility. Even that isn't enough for anyone that gets to powerful and beyond enforcement.
The truly sad thing is that you expect them to act responsibly. Companies will (and have) work children to death if it helps maximize output, if you expect them to act benevolently then prepare for disappointment.
That's not true at all. There is always responsibility attached to power.
"The truly sad thing is that you expect them to act responsibly"
Why? Why is it sad that a person would expect other people to act responsibly? Why is it considered fine to have such a low opinion of everyone?
"Companies will (and have) work children to death if it helps maximize output"
And society put pressure on them to change that. And in much of the world, that doesn't happen anymore.
In an ideal capitalist free market companies are almost necessarily amoral (Friedmann doctrine ), they can only make choices based on profit. In real life you have barriers to entry and PR concerns that let companies at least pretend to waste some profit-making opportunities on doing good.
I don't know if the right answer is consumer unions, or benevolent government regulation, or giving up and making do with what we have, but this discuss I see on this issue seems so polarised (not unique) that progress will be hard to come by.
That said, decades of social pressure led up to those laws being passed. It's not enough to sit idly by and let Congress solve these problems on their own.
I think the question is what to do about it, not whether it's happening. We have reams of evidence that it's happening, and "doing good" for PR reasons is just more of the same - it's more important to look good than to be good, and looking good without being good is more profitable and thus more desirable.
Unfortunately, because so much of our media runs in the same system, it can be difficult to have a clear conversation on the topic.
The current (capitalist) system uses self interest and profit as an incentive, and we see where that got us. We can mitigate some issues with tweaks like regulation, but it's also valuable to ask more fundamental questions. Is there a different incentive other than profit we can use? What are the effects on society of the incentives we use? What values do we want to promote? How can we do that?
The difficulty of having this complex and nuanced discussion shouldn't discourage us from having it. We must find our way together.
Is it though? We've got a couple of hundred years of case history now and been proven time and time again they kind of depravity companies will do.
It seems we finally kind of got the balance right post world war 2 and it's all been backwards since.
I can usually see the other sides point of view but it's starting to feel like the other side are anti-vaxers where I understand their fears (the same corporatism fear I'm expressing here) but can't grasp how they reached their conclusion.
The whole debacle around Cambridge Analytica and political ads on Facebook is basically the consumers saying; "Congratulations Facebook, you conquered news publishers by piggy backing my cousin's puppy pictures! Did you know I expect responsibility from publisher's? As in, when I see slanderous information slung around at near the speed of light, someone better take responsibility for it."
To do otherwise is to guarantee regulation, and then Facebook would really care.
Do I think there should be more privacy reform? Yes. Do I think there should be more banking reform? Yes. Do I think for a minute that the current state of the world will persist for a decade? Not really.
The New York Times never asks this question because it doesn't make for news and the answer has basically been the same since the emergence of banking giants. Asking if banking is too powerful will always yield an affirmative, and the discerning NYTimes reader will react with a justified, "No shit Sherlock".
> I am also not sure why the NYT feels compelled to bash the Bay Area
The issue is cultural. Folks from the Bay Area tend to couch their money-making schemes with nonsense about making the world a better place. Finance workers in NYC have no need to sugarcoat what they do and are unabashedly trying to make ludicrous amounts of money. In New York, calling people out on their bullshit is deeply culturally ingrained, and the Bay Area is clearly full of it. :. The NY Times gives its primary demographic what it wants.
Everyone knows that the financial sector is too powerful, and attempts have been made to take action on it (i.e. regulation, albeit relatively unsuccessful). I think this is the first time we're really seeing a public conversation about the power of software fueled by advertising and its implications on privacy and speech - discussion about regulation and policies is coming around for the first time, making it pretty important news to cover.
Here's (imo) the most obvious reasons.
Political Power- We used to complain about Rupert Murdoch's power. Media and journalism are a leg of democracy, so having a corporate oligopoly controlling it was worrying. Zuck's influence is way bigger. There have already been a handful of revolutions that started on FB, a dozen attempts at revolutions, full scale coups and thousands of elections where fb played a bigger role than any past media company. They didn't even notice this until it was Trump and/or stuff FB-ers cared about personally.
(1) This is too much power. (2) FB are pretending this has nothing to do with them. They don't care about journalistic integrity, or feel it applies to them. They let anyone with a credit card sign up and run political ads. extremely irresponsible, at best.
Monopoly - Thiel put it best, startups are about monopoly-or-bust. Uber wants to be the only ride app. YouTube the only free video site. FB the only networking app.
The pattern is often: Innovate. Win. Then milk it with ads and spying and/or stop innovating. YouTube for example, it's nowhere near as good as it could be, but why bother.
Data - data gets different qualities as it grows. A lot of the creepiness of targeted ads have more to do with how many people's data they have, not how much data they have about you. It locks in monopolies. It's also the newest category of "IP," which is (imo, but not gonna support it here) a current and future driver of wealth disparity.
We're now (definitely in Europe) in a period where the public/legislators are very keen on regulating. This will likely lock these monopolies further into place. 4 out of 5 times, regulation is incumbent friendly.
I’m that case I’ll believe that they’re “too powerful” when a tech company mismanages itself to bankruptcy and gets a bail out from tax payer funds. Or when other companies are forced by the government to use (and pay more for) software and tech from a specific company or group of companies (maybe software from “defense” contractors counts?).
Until then i’ll continue to believe that banks, coal, and oil companies have too much power.
In the US, liberals / Democrats hate them because: Tech is the biggest reason behind the decline of existing publishing business model and people in those industries lean liberal, Tech's contribution to rising inequality (due to automation etc), very apparent gentrification by Tech workers in places like SF / NYC.
Conservatives / Republicans hate Tech because of its perceived liberal bias - see Facebook controversy in 2016 about suppression of Conservative topics, or Eric Schmidt campaigning for Hillary, or overwhelming majority of left-leaning people in these companies.
Apart from US, other countries (eg. EU) hates Tech because they are foreign companies who are blind to local cultural sensitivities (eg. privacy, right to be forgotten, free speech to a near-absolute degree), and also the reasons why US left hates Tech (see above).
Countries like China hate US Tech co's maybe because geopolitical reasons and CCP wants to nurture local Tech giants instead of rolling out a red carpet to American Tech.
American Tech giants should really be nervous.
If your company's website is banned from Google, that can effectively be game over for the company, especially if you can't get reconsidered. Same if they move into your industry in many cases.
For entrepreneurs, the monopolistic stranglehold these companies have, make them impossible to beat with a better product. The best possible outcome is acquisition. You may join, but never beat them.
For Free Software hackers, the giants turning away from open standards, and towards DRM and abuse of the CFAA, is chilling.
For a free society, surveillance capitalism needs to die.
If you have ambitions in life beyond RSUs and a regular massage, yes they are too powerful.
Isn't this exactly what everyone said about IBM until Microsoft came along, and then what everyone said about Microsoft until Google/Apple/Facebook/Amazon came along?
Why is this time different?
Often people don't look at the product, but the marketing. E.G. It's not a problem that SquareSpaces has an awesome site-builder, but it is a problem that they can afford to use [Keanu Reaves](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqnhN2Rzaqc) as their mascot.
Every DRM needs two sides: A company implementing it and a mass of customers willing to tolerate it.
The serious problem that I see is not the DRM itself, but the laws that prohibit people to develop and distribute cracks for the DRM.
Some of the biggest support to the recent copyright law rejected by the EU, came from traditional news outlets.
Some comments here and elsewhere indicate that some pitchforks wielding folks are conflating this issue with the outcomes of recent political contests, the source of this confusion is poor-old media companies that keep feigning powerlessness while conveniently pointing the finger at business rivals.
Jobs were outsourced overseas decades ago and few blamed the business owners because that is what they do and the foreigners were too far away to be a punching bag. Just pretend it is a force of nature. Not to mention the desire to be one of the "rich kids". To be one they don't need to change anything about themselves - just have more money (so they think).
Gentrification by hipsters? They are either producing a good restuarant restuarant in this dump for a change and neat or there to be laughed at as fools dressing up like their grandparents.
Automation? They are ruining everything and it is all their fault! High prices due to companies moving in? It is the fault of those damn techies! Let's ignore all of the lawyers, marketers and managers though it is all the needs' fault! Those nerds aren't there to be mocked or out of sight and mind. It is their fault!
Unlike the other "problem causers" the blamers don't want to be like them and they threaten their inherent sense of superiority.
Not to mention how people blindly go along with norms like holding the rich and powerful less responsible. A rich kid crashing his car into someone drunk made a mistake. A poor kid doing so is inherently worthless trash.
Break 'em up!