Their big unfair advantage comes from the network effect of consumers using their products and the closed access to those customers.
Open integration benefits everyone except those with the monopolies.
The best remedy for these tech giants would be to kill the ad-supported business model. The reason users get treated like second-class citizens by the tech giants is that they are second-class citizens; they aren't the customers.
Unfortunately, you can't kill ad-supported businesses with regulation. Only users can kill them, by refusing to let their eyeballs be used as a free resource.
Whose profit? And is it worth the cost?
The only way we move forward is if a) open standards have a business advantage or b) all players are forced through regulation to use open standards.
(My initial thought was "more ads?")
The ability to foster rapid, zealous competition is the strength of capitalism and it's what we have over China. We need to get the established corporate entities using their market power to harm competition out of the way.
The only way I could see the US being able to regulate non-US competitors who grow too large is to fine them, such as what the EU does. Although that may not be enough to stop them from acquiring market dominance and may cause retaliation (such as the current trade war).
To be clear, I'm not a shill for these big tech companies. I don't currently work in any of them nor have stock in any. I'm concerned about their dominance, stifling of competition and their use of market position to render consumers powerless just as much as you may be.
I'm not interested in what it'll take to compete with China because we'll have to act like assholes to do it.
Google isn't even in the top 25 of employers in the US - it's theoretically a large revenue source but losing it would be nothing to the US economy when compared to losing a company like Walmart.
1. US employees at Google probably do pay some substantial income taxes - Google evades corporate taxes much like other corporations, but seems to be a bit less ridiculous in its effort than, say, Amazon.
They can split these companies up but eventually some piece/s will gobble up the rest through dark mergers and aggressive business dealings and become bigger than their predecessor.
There are plenty of gigantic corporations who are probably looking forward to eventually acquiring parts of Google. I wouldn't put it past Verizon, who has not only partnered with Google but also fought for telecom control against them. Don't we also need to break these companies up as well? Or do they have too much influence in the government? Ajit Pai, for example, famously worked for Verizon before government.
I'm not trying to protect Google. But I just think that the government needs to find a way to enforce these breakups more evenly or else it just leads to further consolidation, as you pointed out.
Pai worked at Verizon for two years between 2001 and 2003. He was appointed as FCC member in 2012. How much loyalty do you have to a job you held for two years, nine years ago?
But you shouldn't be so sure that it has had zero influence, either.
I think we need a better solution than breaking up monopolies. Perhaps something like caps on profit margins and/or asset taxes that apply to companies which carry too much market share.
The main obvious cuts for Google and Amazon are to fully split up the technical infrastructure and Web hosting technologies from the consumer marketplaces. For Google, they would force Alphabet to spin off Google Cloud along with Google's own datacenters into a new datacenter host, and force Google/Alphabet to purchase hosting services at arms' length. Similarly, Amazon would be forced to be fully at arms' length with AWS.
As an aside, Facebook could not be directly split up in this direction, but instead regulators would probably choose to unwind their M&A spree of the past decade, in particular spinning off Instagram and WhatsApp.
Your question now can be reframed: What stops Alphabet from becoming big anyway? Nothing, really, aside from the same regulators that have the responsibility of splitting them up right now. Nothing short of legislative action will work, after a certain point.
Edit: instead of downvoting me, you may want to argue why AT&T is any different than Amtrak, The Postal Service, and the TSA.
It isn't. But that's not an argument for nationalizing AT&T; it's an argument for privatizing the others. In fact, two out of three of them already have private competitors in the US; the only one that doesn't is Amtrak.
So what? That has nothing to do with the fact that private companies have proven, through the entire history of the United States (including before the USA was even an independent country), that they can provide postal service. So there is no need for the government to be doing it.
> as for the TSA, it used to be private, do I really have to argue why that was a bad idea?
If you have such an argument, you should make it to the airports that use private screeners today.
Um, what? Rent seeking is one way of taking advantage of government-granted privileges. How are FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc. rent seeking?
I think our industry as a whole would benefit from Google being broken up.
It'd be like if Microsoft rigged Windows to run .NET applications twice as fast as anything else, and made it very difficult to open any other type of application... where second-class applications are unavailable from being found in desktop search, can't have custom icons or be in Program Files.
I don't need an intermediary popup page between me and the destination I seek.
> the real one, not the AMP one
Is that the mobile URL or the desktop URL? This problem has existed for ages. It's the user agent's problem to give a UI to share the canonical URL if that's what the user wants.
Actually it ends up being my problem. I don't want multiple versions of the same thing. AMP is yet another format and it's one that is outside of normal web browsing workflow.
Then don't make AMP, mobile-optimized web pages, RSS, Apple News, Facebook Instant Articles, etc.
If you want wide distribution, you have to support multiple formats. At least AMP, like RSS and mobile-optimized pages, is open, meaning that anybody can (and many link aggregators do) consume it.
It's also convenient Google is trying to delete the url bar and take away the only means for other sites to become a destination on mobile. Controlling all the apps and getting their 30% cut wasn't enough, they have to make it so you have no idea where you are anymore on the web so you forever stay in Google's walled garden.
Do you have the same complaint about RSS aggregators? About transit feeds? About microdata? About showing page summaries in search results? Why not? All of these keep users on the search engine just like AMP, but they give a better experience to the user. If one search engine didn't prerender AMP, it would lose users to the other search engines that do.
> Centralizing the way everyone browses the web is how censorship happens.
I can see how this applies to Apple News, which requires direct integration with Apple, but anybody can ingest AMP and the other formats I listed above, and many companies do.
> It's also convenient Google is trying to delete the url bar and take away the only means for other sites to become a destination on mobile.
This is separate from AMP, but if a user doesn't like it or anything else a particular browser does, they can easily switch to another one (as long as they're not on iOS).
This is true, but my point was that just doing that will still leave it slower than AMP, so the search engines will still prefer AMP results.
AMP pages can be safely prerendered, which is what makes all other options slower. If you defined your own HTML subset that allowed safe prerendering, you will have simply reinvented AMP, and you might as well contribute to the AMP project instead to get all the existing search engines to use it.
If you are a publisher and a big one, you have to use Google Ads Manager (formerly known as DFP) because it's the only way to have full access to Google AdExchange which allows you to have access to demand coming from Google Ads (ex Adwords).
And because they had dominant market share in all these markets, they could get to be the first in line whenever there's was a request for ad on the exchanges. This has changed recently but put simply, you can't escape the Borg if you are in this industry.
Both of these are effectively surveillance capitalist companies. Their primary business is spying on people and using that data to target them for ads and other forms of manipulation.
When big bloated "Soviet bureau" corporations are broken apart the result is generally an explosion of innovation and growth in a sector.
Do we really want an explosion of innovation and growth in that sector? Maybe it would be a good thing if the surveillance capitalist behemoths are allowed to continue to get stagnant and bloated. If and when an alternative paradigm for sustainable business on the Internet emerges it would make them easier to displace.
Breaking up these companies would also vastly increase the surface area exposed via surveillance. Instead of two or three companies spying on us we'd suddenly have dozens of former divisions of these companies.
Edit: lastly I must echo others in their lack of trust for this justice department. I think this is likely to be a political cudgel deployed to force these companies to stop filtering out or de-prioritizing extreme far right propaganda.
I am not sure you could (or even should) split Search and Ads, but there may need to be some significant rules laid down on Google's ability to tie their other products and services to search. Strict rules should be laid down on allowing ads to sell placement above trademark holders for their own trademark, as that kind of shakedown is insane.
But also make Google Search an open auction system (like it sort of is on Display) where other players can integrate with and Google (search) takes a fixed % for each click.
Pipe dream I suppose but best way to avoid Google from being able to be truly dominant.
If I'm Result Source X, why would I ever bid on answering an unprofitable search, even if I know the answer?
Then again, I'm working at Google this summer, so maybe I'm biased ...
If the ads don't work, companies will stop buying them.
Google is a tool, the user is trying to do something specific with the tool, and Google is deciding to not honor the intention of the user. It's clearly not something good for the user (whereas other uses of ads arguable are). Google can get away with it because they are a monopoly and, shrug, what are you going to do?
Google is free to run their business as they please, but let's not pretend that this practice is somehow enriching the user's experience.
Anyway, I'm totally not against ads. I worked in ads. Ads are important because it lets companies reach new markets and grow. But ads are not all the same, and there is a certain time and place for them. When you have a tool, like google does, and it is clear that the user has a very specific thing in mind for the tool, and you circumvent that, then that seems like the wrong time / place for an ad.
I like the trade, but it isnt for the faint hearted.
This is usually what 3rd world type "banana republic" corruption looks like.
What bothers me about this line of thinking is its suggestion that because corruption is common, observers and interested parties should do nothing about it and remain uncritical towards abuses of power.
In particular, it discourages criticism in partisan ways: "Your politicians did it so our politicians should be able to do it. Everyone is corrupt so what are you complaining about?" When partisan ideology normalizes corruption all you end up with is more corruption.
Is an implicit comparison between X & an unstated Y
1. Linguistically speaking, humans tend to save energy. Every utterance is designed to provide new information, to describe what is different from the norm. Going on a rant on how this administration suffers of problems a, b, and c, weakly implies that other administrations suffer much less of problems a, b, and c. Otherwise it would be common knowledge that all administrations suffers of problems a, b, and c roughly in the same degree, and why bother wasting time repeating common knowledge?
2. Arguments that focus specifically on one administration, carefully avoiding anything that could be construed as a negative reflecting onto opposing party administrations, come across as partisan. It is the hallmark of the USA media environment that most what we hear in the political news is technically true, but carefully curated to further one of the major two narratives. Also known as "information bubble". "Democrats: saviors, Republicans: evil" OR "Democrats: corrupt, Republicans: straightshooters".
If we truly are to move past partisan criticism, it is on us to fairly depict deplorable behavior on both side of the aisle, regardless of our own political leanings. Otherwise, we risk engaging in the usual half-blind partisan discourse that is tearing this country apart.
However, when you claim that your own party is the bastion of righteousness and the only possible solution because the other party does bad things that you do as well, it undermines your argument.
People fundamentally want government that's fair.
One problem with diminishing enforcement is that whenever you DO pursue enforcement action, it will inevitably look extremely political.
Corruption is bad, period. There's no "someone else did it" get-out-of-jail card.
Also, why didn't we hear all these accusations of corruption against Obama during this presidency? I heard tons about Benghazi, and Fast and Furious, both of which were epic screw-ups that deserved a strong response, but nothing about this supposed corruption. I find it hard to believe that the GOP Congress was willing to let a little corruption go during the Obama presidency.
I even agree with the assessment that GOP during Obama years would certainly cry foul if there was even a perception of inapproriety. Frankly, it kinda was their job to be a check ( though I would argue that they failed then as well ).
There is a but coming. But, Obama had a decent team, which kept unapproved leaks from surfacing, had a cover from friendly media so even if there was something there, it was tightly held under wraps.
Now compare it to current administration where everyone is out to leverage their current position for something better in the future ( book deal, friendly energy company or just extra business for your daughter ).
I guess what I am saying is, Obama, HRC, Biden et al are just waaaaay better at covering their tracks.
As an outsider (I'm Canadian), it seems to me that the left-wing of America invented "whataboutism" because their hypocrisy is off the charts.
>It is the type of excuse you expect from an elementary school child.
The idea that you criticize someone for something you yourself are doing is something I'd expect of a child.
Anyone crying "that's whataboutism!" in the face of their blatant hypocrisy.
I'm not talking about justifying corruption because the other guys do it. But I am talking about things like holding up bills, or filibusters, or whipping the vote, or leaking information, or any other of a multitude of things that one party always seems to lose their mind when it happens like it's never happened before.
One party uses something as a political strategy one year, then the next year cries foul like the Union is coming undone when the other side does the same thing. It's stupid.
It seems that pretty much all of the FAANG corps would require serious invesigation into their walled garden and anti-competitive practices to allow for smaller players to again enter the market and compete. Having a single search provider is extremely dangerous. As dangerous as having an OS where no 3rd party browsers can exist and no software without Tim's approval can run.
Edit: downvoters, mind explaining the reasoning?
> Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!
Trump promised he'd take action against Google. Now action is being taken against Google. Maybe there's no connection, but Trump has given everyone a very good reason to suspect that there might be one.
It's certainly not a forgone conclusion that investigations led by "friendlier" administrations are necessarily fairer. I doubt there's any way to have a purely unbiased investigation into an entity as prominent and influential as Google.
It's an Obama-era policy that has been shown to have wide, bi-partisan support across the country. Bringing it up here is a means to say "Look, Obama also did bad stuff. You can't call Trump out on his bad stuff" which is an asinine way to frame anything.
It reminds me of an old conservative response to progressive/leftist ideas about American foreign policy.
Leftist: "... and that's why the current administration should be considered as war criminals"
Conservative: "By that logic every administration since World War 2 were war criminals"
Whether or not the argument posed by the above comment is even valid is, for the purposes of this comment, irrelevant. What is more interesting is knowing why the supposed crimes/overreach of the Obama administration excuses the overreaches of the Trump administration.
Edit: Also, poor form or not, I see the same patterns here as I do on threads about china and the people that took over bitcoin - votes up in increments, then all comments are downvoted multiple times in batches. That and lots of whataboutism.
When secret FISA courts were first introduced, I'm sure many people wondered how long it would take before they're used illegally, for political purposes...
I guess it's just the sign of the times that two people, probably relatively similar in most regards, can have precisely opposite feelings.
While you may believe he is taking on the FISA court, and there are abuses there to fix, by Barr's own admission he doesn't seem to think there are any restraints on an Executive's power in the realms of national security or foreign policy. It seems to me the motivation around FISA is strongly motivated not by sincere belief in the limitations of executive authority, but because of a sense that they (read: the President) were wronged.
When Attorney General William Barr spoke to the Federalist Society in a memorial lecture just a few months ago he lamented the transparency Congress has forced upon the Executive, "There is no FOIA for Congress or the Courts. Yet Congress has happily created a regime that allows the public to seek whatever documents it wants from the Executive Branch at the same time that individual congressional committees spend their days trying to publicize the Executive’s internal decisional process. That process cannot function properly if it is public, nor is it productive to have our government devoting enormous resources to squabbling about what becomes public and when, rather than doing the work of the people."
Barr then attacked the judicial branch directly, claiming they are "encroaching on Executive responsibilities in a way that has substantially undercut the functioning of the Presidency" and in particular, those darned judges keep finding that they can review the acts of the Executive! Isn't that frustrating?
He writes in such an example: "Courts are now willing, under the banner of judicial review, to substitute their judgment for the President’s on matters that only a few decades ago would have been unimaginable – such as matters involving national security or foreign affairs.
"The Travel Ban case is a good example. There the President made a decision under an explicit legislative grant of authority, as well has his Constitutional national security role, to temporarily suspend entry to aliens coming from a half dozen countries pending adoption of more effective vetting processes."
Do you think that a surveillance state reformed by Barr would really rein in the courts, or simply remove them from the picture?
 - https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-william-...
Yet. If I start feeling like Google operates as a compromise with the Trump administration, it super freaks me out. Kind of like what happened with Facebook?
Maintain solid products? Google kills more products than they run.
Stewardship of customer information? They're the biggest advertiser and have had multiple scandals.
Good customer service? Not in this universe.
Clear rules? Ask anyone that's lost their entire google account, email included, for a BS accusation of click fraud.
I think I trust my phone company more than I trust Google.
> Maintain solid products? Google kills more products than they run.
Google Search, Youtube, Gmail, Google Maps are all amazing free products that have immensely benefited the world. Yeah, they kill a bunch of products, but that doesn't mean they don't maintain solid, if not amazing, products.
> Stewardship of customer information? They're the biggest advertiser and have had multiple scandals.
Do you have any evidence that Google sells non-anonymized customer data to advertisers? Can you cite a Google scandal about selling your data? Complying with subpoenas or government authority notwithstanding.
> Good customer service? Not in this universe.
Yeah, I agree with this one lol.
> Clear rules? Ask anyone that's lost their entire google account, email included, for a BS accusation of click fraud.
Yeah, I agree on the rules being opaque.
> I think I trust my phone company more than I trust Google.
I don't know what country you live in, but if you're in the US, do you mean the people making your phone (Huawei, Xiaomi, ... or you know Google) or the carriers who have been selling your location data ?
By carriers, I meant the mobile carriers. I can at least avoid them. Avoiding Google is significantly more difficult.
>Do you have any evidence that Google sells non-anonymized customer data to advertisers?
That's a rather specific subset of "multiple scandals" that I didn't say or imply. As to what they've been doing wrong, we could start with the recently uncovered uniquely generated tracking ID in Chrome (currently on the front page), or the Google+ data leak that led to the service being shut down, or the email scanning for ad targeting that was happening as late as 2017, or when they had to fire an engineer for snooping through people's gmail accounts. All of these tell me that their internal controls are not that great.
What puts the topping on the shit sundae for me is that they're an advertising company at the end of the day. Their user's privacy interests and their own interests will be perpetually at odds. That by itself makes them unworthy of trust in my eyes.
Perhaps I was just lucky?
Searching? Again, Google in clear first place, everyone else tied for last.
Video? Nobody uses Vimeo, and their content rules are even more strict than YouTube's.
A couple of those names I've never even heard of before.
And why does it matter what place Google is if you're searching on Bing? Do you use products only because they're popular? Bing will find all the same stuff, I promise. Give it a try.
If Vimeo sucks and their rules are even more strict, why aren't you complaining about that too? If YouTube sucks and the competition is even worse, what exactly are you comparing it to? Why aren't you petitioning the competition to pick up the slack? The alternatives are just fine and plentiful, you just don't want to have a worse experience and yet you are quick to criticize the option that provides the best one. I don't get it.
I use Google search to this day, despite trying to avoid Google as much as possible, precisely because Bing/DDG doggone well does not find all the same stuff.
>why aren't you complaining about that too
I mean.. I just got done complaining about how trash most of the alternatives are, so I'm not sure what you're getting at here.
This goes back to my original point. Just because these "other options" technically exist does not make them viable options for use.
Also I don't think in this case that the determination that something requires action to mitigate anti-competitive behavior means that the government declares what happens. Not a lawyer, and have not read any precedent but I'd imagine a first step would be to ask these companies about a structure that would work best if business units were separated, with some guidance, rather than some declaratory thing.
Yeah, I'd definitely say it didn't work out.
The Standard Oil breakup was mostly useless, their monopoly power had mostly dissolved as they weren't anywhere near a monopoly by the time it happened, and for that matter, it rewarded Rockefeller by making his wealth skyrocket.
In the country, we had a party line up to that point. Same location today is still rural but has digital telephony, high speed Internet, and multiple cellular providers.
This is a great answer on Quora from a few years back to a question on why call audio hadn't improved, where the author explains that it hadn't just not improved, it had actually declined over time:
There was also a great IEEE Spectrum post from a bit before the takeover of VoLTE and wideband audio as to why the decline had happened (and was probably going to accelerate as providers moved to switch from the PSTN to VoIP internally):
As required by law, though, definitely not by choice.
Most of the RBOCs were purchased...by other RBOCs, or AT&T itself. The research output of AT&T halved. The well-regulated monopoly was sacrificed for what is now more or less unregulated yet governmentally-defended triopolies in every area AT&T was touching, and then some. The quality of the service has dropped dramatically, even if there was cost reduction (which arguably is tied to said decline in quality).
There was a great book written by two engineers working on the Bell System a few decades ago with a rather rotten title, but a subtitle that'll allow you to find the book just the same: The Criminal Wrecking of the Best Telephone System in the World. I found it really fascinating in many ways, although I'll admit that it served to justify my own beliefs, rather than making me change them, so I could be biased.
In theory, breaking up monopolies increases competition which allows better companies/products to spring up that would otherwise be crushed by anti competitive practices. If you agree with that theory, then the act of breaking up monopolies actually makes the US more competitive.
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22229806.
How that is not a more of an impeachable offensense is beyond me. But no, he can milk taxpayers money. The redline is if he dares to cross another power center..
What does that even mean? If you're implying that he was rich before becoming president (which is already on shaky ground), are you saying that rich people aren't looking for more money?
Edit for clarification: For all we know, he's just keeping the lie running long enough that it hasn't caught up to him yet. Just because I have lines of credit worth thousands of dollars doesn't mean I have thousands of dollars.
It's pretty clear, to me, the reason that Trump might want to hide his tax returns: because there is shady stuff in them.
Regardless, tax returns are not in indication of wealth; they measure income.
>For all we know, he's just keeping the lie running long enough that it hasn't caught up to him yet.
For 40+ years of continuing to amass global assets? DJT took over Trump Org in the 1970s.
>because I have lines of credit worth thousands of dollars doesn't mean I have thousands of dollars.
What banks are handing out massive lines of credits with no assets support them? He isn't buying hundred-million dollar real-estate with an unsecured credit card...
I'm replying to someone calling Donald Trump's wealth "shaky ground". How is the original comment not the "flamebait" here?
This is the second time you've used the word "unsubstantive" to refer to a comment I make, yet I don't see it in the guidelines. I can't for the life of me understand how calling Donald Trump "poor" (obviously wrong) is substantive, but calling him "not poor" is unsubstantive and flamebait?
>personal swipes to HN
I don't believe this is true upon perusal of my comment history, which is pretty benign.
>have to ban you again
It's become clear that some opinions are not tolerated by the userbase, so this is not surprising.
> for someone who's already a multibillionaire
> Dumb people do not win presidential elections
in particular stand out as quite dubious.
That said, four or eight years is still quite Lot of opportunity cost.
Bloomberg did it and he was only Mayor of NYC.
Reagan won in 84 when his mind was already mostly gone, and it's debatable how smart he was to begin with.
"It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it," Trump said...
His inauguration party alone rented out his own $5k ballroom for $150k. He rented his own offices for triple their cost to his campaign. The list goes on and on until you realize it isn't here or there, but all the time, non stop that these grifts are happening.
The bill for golf playing is over $100 million. His super bowl party alone was $3.5 million and even though it was on the official schedule a reporter asking about it was berated for implying 'that the president wasn't always working'.
Once he leaves office the rest of his life will be lived in court.
The security extra is where the $100 million in golf comes from. Local police security is also why his campaign owes millions to the cities he has used to hold rallies and refused to pay.
The true innovation in this field was all defense spending in the first place. Not going to shed a tear over a setback to a bunch of grifters who cashed in on the public's investment.
That, combined with having a massive ad network and the most browser marketshare, Google has the ability to unduly influence the opinions of millions of people, if they so chose.
Too much power for a single corporation...
I trust them far less than I trust the Trump administration. Google is proven themselves to be pretty evil. They're so much worse than Facebook or Microsoft.
So, let them be broken up. I'll feel a little safer.