Google has often used data acquired through their market position to start subsidiaries to unfairly compete with their ad customers.
The reason it’s unfair is because Google has not just the ad data but the web search data, this often results in a Google ad customer going from #1 google Organic search result for key terms, to #2 to Google’s competing subsidiary.
Worse from going from #1 to #2 to a google product, the natural instinct to save the business is to increase ad spend to be sure you are still the #1 ad to our place the google at the top of organic search, of course ad spend goes right into the pocket of your new competitors core business anyway, and in many instances googles subsidiary will start bidding for your same keywords so they literally can’t lose competing with your business rather the have basically acquired an off form of rent seeking equity or they kill your business and become the market incumbent.
Of course the kicker are those instances a google subsidiary gets a custom tool at the top of google results (such as Flights) above both organic and ads.
When random person X complains about, say, Google having a monopoly, there are two possibilities:
- Person X means something along "Google has a dominant market position and abuses its power", slightly abusing the meaning of "monopoly".
- Person X means Google is literally a monopoly, that it is not possible to get online ads otherwise and does not know that firms such as Facebook exist.
Somehow a lot of people choose to believe interpretation #2 is true, and spend a lot of time debating whether this or that company is a "monopoly" as if it is somehow more important than the substantive issues.
Not to accuse anyone here of this, but intentionally doing what you describe is an disingenuous but effective way of shaping the conversation to discourage scrutiny of more general kinds of anti-competitive behavior. I'm sure it's part of any monopolist's PR strategy (or large business engaged in anti-competitive behavior, to be more precise).
Furthermore, in the legal context the meaning is more clear-cut than you make out, though there is significant room for debate. I would not put it anywhere near “freedom” in terms of loose definitions. There are rigorous tests for determining whether a company should be deemed to be a monopoly within a specific market (which requires both a method for defining the boundary of a market, and what “dominant” means.)
This is also different by country, see
I think your general point is to stop focusing on monopoly and get more familiar with all of the different antitrust provisions, to which I would wholeheartedly agree.
Take the anti-trust case against Microsoft, for example, the market was defined as that for computer operating systems for stand-alone personal computers using microchips of the kind manufactured by Intel. This left out not only operating systems running on Apple computers but also other operating systems such as those produced by Sun Microsystems for multiple computers or the Linux system for stand-alone computers. In its narrowly defined market, Microsoft clearly had a “dominant” share.
Also lots of people use Amazon to search for products so it's not clear to me how there is a market failure here.
> "Monopoly" is one of such words (others candidate include: freedom, democracy, justice).
-- there is a much more rigorous definition of Monopoly than the other ones you listed. You're claiming that it is some undefined concept that varies from person to person, but I think that's only true in the sense that "encryption" or "space-time" has a loose definition; most lay people don't understand technical jargon, and often misuse the jargon when they think they know what they are talking about. But that doesn't mean there _isn't_ a well-defined meaning that is agreed upon by the specialists that actually work in the domain in question.
The other words you listed do not have clear-cut legal definitions in the same way; they are not technical jargon defining criteria for enforceable regulations with tests and case-law backing them up.
Google is the ONLY ad provider that give results, all others don't even get any clicks.
How that is not a monopoly on the classic definition? Every time Google has a bug and screw with my ads, the revenue of the company I work for tanks hard, and I am yet to find any solution for it.
It's true that if your looking at targeting users searching for something that it's basically just Google. But people are increasingly using apps and specific sites over general surfing. Reddit, tiktok, snap, etc. all have their own ads and collectively represent major competition.
Being effective doesn't make you a monopoly.
Keep in mind that search engine traffic is enormous, and can fairly be called a "trade" or "commodity/service" that can be monopolized in it's own right.
I don't think anybody is saying that google has a monopoly on all advertising.
Google owns extremely valuable ad space but that to me doesn't make a monopoly just because Bing or Facebook's ad space isn't as good for certain companies.
Monopolies are traditionally assessed in terms of product categories, not entire industries. Nobody ever said "standard oil isn't a monopoly, because you can also buy coal fuel"
Now, one might say "But users can choose other search engines." But users are the resource, not the customers. Right now, Google controls most of these resources. And the very nature of search means they're not sharing access with competitors.
You mean clearchannel? (Now iHeartRadio)
If I google search for "koop ebike" and you're not on the first page you might as well close your shop.
At a point when the cost of entry is too high and it's not humanly possible to beat it, isn't it essentially impossible to compete, thus make it a monopoly?
And what data would that be? All search engines crawl the same web.
Being the search engine, if I search Asus computer, do you think it's the fact that there's Asus computer in the crawled content that will be used for targeting, or the fact that I searched Asus computer? When I click on the first link that say "Asus computer for cheap", do you think it's the existence of the page "Asus computer for cheap" that will help in targeting my ads, or the fact that I clicked on a page where it's about the value of Asus computers?
What matter isn't the content, it's knowing what each individual click and read. That data come from Google Analytic and Google Ads.
Why do you think Android exist? Why do you think Google Chrome exist, why do you think 126.96.36.199 exist. You are really mistaken if you believe they are for the good of customer (even though it's true they do bring some good), they are there to get that data and be the one that exclusively get that data.
If you want to compete with them, you'll need to beat Android, beat Chrome, beat their search engine, beat EVERYTHING that make Google what they are. Not saying it's not possible, but the cost of it make it nearly impossible.
> You are really mistaken if you believe they are for the good of customer
You are responding to a bunch of strawman arguments I never made. All those data you mention is plausibly increasing their targeting and revenue, but claiming that it is the biggest differentiating factor is a stretch and I don't think is likely. Facebook has more ground truth demographic data that Google has to infer or outsource for their billions of users, yet they weren't able to dominate competition solely on that basis.
> If you want to compete with them, you'll need to beat Android, beat Chrome, beat their search engine, beat EVERYTHING that make Google what they are. Not saying it's not possible, but the cost of it make it nearly impossible.
No, if you want to compete with them, you just need to have a damn good product that billions of people use multiple times a day. Turns out search engines are a pretty good fit for that. You can have a platform that can profile users to their genes, you still need raw the engagement numbers to make money out of it. At the end of the day it is accumulation of commissions for bits and bobs sold over internet ads.
FWIW my dad ran a few FB ads for his SME and it was alright, although nothing stellar either. He didn't run on Google though so I can't really draw a comparison.
If the allegations are true then I can't see a solution that does not involve breaking Google up. The incentives to cheat are likely just undeniable over a time scale of years.
So fine, Google doesn't have a monopoly on online ads, but they do have a monopoly on search ads.
> Courts do not require a literal monopoly before applying rules for single firm conduct; that term is used as shorthand for a firm with significant and durable market power — that is, the long term ability to raise price or exclude competitors. That is how that term is used here: a "monopolist" is a firm with significant and durable market power.
Some violations (price fixing, bid rigging) are considered so egregious that they are illegal regardless of market share.
Other violations (tying) require some degree of market power.
Violations related to monopolization or attempted monopolization do require monopoly power (or the dangerous probability of obtaining it it).
Anti-trust isn't about defeating theoretical monopolies. It's about protecting consumers, new businesses, the market from abuses through overwhelming market power.
So your first possibility seems right on the money and appropriate.
People wanting to nitpick about the word monopoly should be educated (first offense) or mocked and shunned (repeat intentional offenders).
Google has a 73% share of online advertising, according to a random study from 2019.
It's almost impossible to have rational discourse these days because accurately describing things is no longer required (and if you care to try you are "mocked and shunned") so everyone is arguing without a common set of understandings or facts or even language that is consistent.
Kind of pathetic.
Your water company may be a monopoly. You may have no choice but to use it (in cities you cannot even drill your own well or in some cases are banned from collecting rainwater). That is a monopoly. As someone who grew up using a well, this is a clear difference and impact.
There are other words, but it is a bit of a mouthful.
Because of these exact issues, the way that I describe the situation is usually as follows "Company X has significant market power, and is engaging in anti-competitive actions".
I have yet to have someone object to that definition.
It's not that clear how much that helps. The places where Google won (Maps, Gmail, Chrome) they had a pretty clearly better product. Other places where they didn't (Duo/Hangouts, Plus, Gsuite, Chromebook, GCloud) they don't dominate the market.
It's clear that it helps enough to subsidize the entire rest of the Google operation (enough to run a more computationally and sophisticated business like search). AdTech is all about targeting by extracting context and minimally about tracking events.
Leveraging search to power ad targeting is the most efficient means. I'm not sure how this is a topic of debate other than to split hairs on what measuring stick to use.
You need to read like 8 paragraphs deep to get to that and there is no real explanation as to why it is objectively better - just a link to an article where some journalists apparently thought it was better.
DeepL German: “The allegedly "objectively" better translator is DeepL.”
Google Translate German: “The alleged "objectively" better translator is DeepL”
DeepL Spanish: “The allegedly "objectively" better translator is DeepL.”
Google Translate Spanish: “The best translator "objectively" that is claimed is DeepL.”
As a native English speaker, the DeepL results seem clearly clearer and cleaner to me. If broad consensus isn’t evidence to you, you could also compare quantity of languages instead of quality of translations, in which case you’d find that Google Translate is missing languages that Microsoft Translate has. Either way, Google certainly doesn’t have “a pretty clearly better product.”
Let's consider a few more examples of abuse of market dominance
1) Retail Me Not
Google through Google Venture secretly invested in them and didn't disclose that
Then for next 3 years, Retail Me Not was #1 for EVERY SINGLE deal and coupon search term on Google
Is that an abuse of market dominance? Pretty Sure
Is it illegal? According to US Anti Trust Law - not sure. A lawyer can step in
2) A market we are in
The largest 2 players (us and another company) are #40 and #41 when people search for the biggest key word
Not #2, Not #10
At #40 and #41
Who is in the Top 10?
companies that advertise A LOT on Google, even though they are distant 4th and 6th in the market
Not only that, they do it in blatant ways
Last year, they pumped up organic traffic to one of our competitors THIRTY TIMES over night
So, the top two companies (another company and us) saw ZERO CHANGE
However, a company that is a distant 4th in the market suddenly got its organic search engine traffic increased 30 times
Pretty sure in 3 or 4 years it will be revealed that Google invested in them or did some tie up
Google is basically using Search as a weapon
Before Google Flights we were mostly competing against Expedia/Kayak/etc. Now Google Flights indirectly gives the airlines the top rank again, and we're competing against the OTA's for the secondary spots with ads and SEO. I can also anecdotally attest that Instagram ads work very well for airlines. (Well... worked very well, pre march 2020 and all).
I do agree with your main sentiment though, and the case could totally be made that google flights is doubly screwing over the OTA's now. Just wanted to share some interesting anecdata.
I can remember combing through page after page looking for the results I wanted. Try that today and Google is likely to temporarily block you, accusing you of having "strange activity" coming from your computer, or looking like a "bot".
The more Google has tried to "solve" the problem of finding the appropriate results for the particular searcher within the raw results returned from the query, the more they have manipulated the raw results to suit their own perspective. There is no option to get those raw results and search within them the way you want. There is only Google's way -- reorder them according to Google's "secret" processes. Do not dig into subsequent pages, stay on page one. This necessarily carries a Google bias. It also creates a "winner-take-all" contest to reach page one that Google's exploits for selling online ad services.
In other words, not only does Google manipulate searches through deciding the "1st search result", it actually created this concept of "1st search result" with respect to web search. The idea that Google could guess the "correct" search result, reorder the raw results and place the "best" one at the top of the first page of results was in fact Google's idea.
Thanks to Google, reordering the raw results has become commonplace so no one really thinks about this anymore, but it is this (biased) reordering that allows Google to profit.
Searching for flights is still a search. You wouldn't expect the first result of "cat pictures" to be Bing's search results for cat pictures, so it's also natural that the first result of "flight nyc la" would return actual flights as its first result would return actual flights rather than a link to Expedia.
Google was fined billions of euros for doing that.
There is an example at the end of the comment you are replying to, flights. Two other examples that took me only a couple of minutes to find: google 'smart thermostat' or 'corporate email providers'
Their large pool of advertisers also helps them command a higher return per search compared to other platforms, allowing them to outbid its peers to become the default search choice on devices, e.g. Apple products. Their lack of privacy sensitive policy also helps their ad targeting.
Generally to me it seems hard for new entrants to make any inroads for market share when there's a self-perpetuating cycle like that.
What I don't understand here is does this not just hand Google the monopoly but now with government protection? Because they're already in place, so who's gonna offer this public utility?
We see similar situations with, e.g. cellular carriers in the states, where wherever you live, you only get not-even-a-handful of choices.
And how does a country regulate an international "utility"? For Google to maintain its global position, it needs to consider not just local regulations, but also those in international markets. Public utilities so far have always had a limited area of operation.
A company that operates in a jurisdiction is regulatable by that jurisdiction. In this case, if Google weren't physically present, you sanction advertisers and local sites that use the ad service. In cases where there's no economic connection, the option is to force ISPs not to carry that traffic (and all the cat and mouse that entails).
Also, a lot of mobile carriers are international companies. In each country, they follow the local regulations. They have some economies of scale that may make it easier to compete with a network that's only in one country, but it depends on the size of that country how big the effect is.
Doubtful this would be done in the same way everywhere. Though big markets like the EU or US may regulate at the federal/union level to ease the burden on interstate commerce.
but back to the original idea of it being a utility: Ads are imo user hostile and harmful to a society. They do work, which make them invaluable in capitalism... But they're effectively mass manipulation. I don't think we will ever be rid of them, but a world in which this is considered a utility is extremely dark imo
By some logic the coffee shop in my block has a monopoly on coffee if their market is the block. They are irrelevant if you look at the entire city.
> Why not look at the entire ad spend and then see what % is controlled by Google ?
Because they would be reaching different customers, such that if the advertiser moved a dollar from e.g. online to print, they would lose customers, because the print viewers have already seen their ad from the existing print advertising they do, and the online viewers (who are different people) haven't. Which means they aren't adequate substitutes for one another.
But to successfully implement anti-competitive practices, you do usually need a significant portion of market share. Which is pretty much what’s being discussed here, even though it’s not a very accurate use of the word. You can also do it by acting as a cartel, which is another situation commonly (though not very accurately) described as a monopoly.
Of course there are numerous factors that may have contributed to the ad (and maybe Google wasn't involved) but they went with the smartass answer and the media ran with that narrative instead. It's not the greatest question but it's much more valid than what people are assuming it was.
Video of the question (and notice the title): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmuROTmazco&t=60
iPhone claims aside, that's just a terrible question. Doesn't know what type of phone it was, doesn't know what type of game they were playing, doesn't give any details on the sort of photo shown or the ad copy shown. By all likelihood it sounds like this was a Facebook ad because of FB's "Social Ads" policy does use profile pictures of people on your friends list in their ads. On top of that, kids are not the smartest or most honest. It could have been a picture of any old man that looks similar and she assumes it's her grandpa. It could be a made-up story entirely.
A reasonable, non-combative answer to this question may have been something along the lines of:
Senator, ad providers have little control over what the content of the ads that are going into these applications is. While I'm not sure what the specific ad that your granddaughter saw was, I can tell you that at google, there is a system where a user can report an ad as inappropriate. Again I'm not sure what the specific ad that you saw was, or if it was part of google's advertising platform, but if it was, you could have reported that to google for review, and I can understand why that would have been an uncomfortable experience for you.
> Senator, ad providers have little control over what the content of the ads that are going into these applications is.
This isn't really true, and also if interpreted in the most negative way it can be, this is opening up a big can of worms that isn't true. To say that they have little control over whether an ad somehow finds a picture of your grandfather and shows it to you is just straight up false. The only ad network where this is possible is Facebook and the advertisers do not get access to those images or know what names they are using to affiliate with their ads. Only that they can show names from a user's friends list.
I still think the most likely assumption is that the ad showed an old man and the 7 year old assumes any elderly man is her grandpa, or that the congressman made up the scenario based on something similar happening (seeing an ad in a facebook feed with a photo of the grandpa). It's a combative question and deserves a combative answer.
It's like when my mom calls me to say her iPhone is showing an error on the screen, but she can't remember what it was. So I ask her to write it down on a piece of paper and then call me next time it happens. It is always
"A new version of iOS is available for your device. Press OK to upgrade to iOS x.x.x."
Edit: If they were chatting at the bar about how ad networks work, it's one thing. But this is a congressional hearing and there's no reason you should need to potentially implicate yourself on a situation that doesn't even exist.
Question: "how does this show up on a 7 year olds iPhone".
>"How does this show up on a 7 year olds iPhone"
Senator, the iphone has a component on the front of it called an LED screen. LED stands for "light emitting diode", and the screen itself, which is similar in composition to a piece of glass, contains millions of these LEDs. The software in the phone selectively turns these LEDs (called pixels) on and off in patterns which your eyes interpret as images and text.
>"How does this show up on a 7 year olds iphone"
Senator, there is a complex system of interactions between the user and the device they are using which influences the things that show up on the phone. I'm not sure what specific actions your grand daughter took to cause that specific ad to show up on her phone; one of the goals of interface design is to allow the user to precisely indicate to the device or software system what it is that they wish to see, or have the system produce. Likely there were some actions that your grand daughter took that caused the ad you are concerned about to appear, and some of these actions were likely tracked as a part of an advertising network which takes into account previous actions, location, browsing histo..
<Speaker the senators time is expired>
Senator I am not sure how the age of your granddaughter is effecting that advertisements that she is seeing in this specific case, however I can tell you that at google, age is certainly a part of the algorithm we use to select which ads we show to children.
Senator my company doesn't make the iphone.
This is not how things work legally. If they want better answers they need better questions. It's not about interpreting what they meant but never actually said. Especially when what they said it accusatory of Google and very likely false. He asked a terrible question, and you're bending over backwards to interpret it in the most charitable way possible. That's fine on HN, or in a group of friends. That is not how things work at a congressional hearing. If I was Sundar, my answer would be that without photographic proof I don't believe this ever actually happened.
Cheers to whomever is downvoting my responses. It doesn't change the fact that it was a bad question and it got a deservedly snarky answer. I'm leaving this thread, it's clear most people here don't want to understand ads and just want to be angry at the big corp.
It’s worked out really well for me so far.
It's unfortunate but it shows just how bad the understanding is on all sides, and why these corporations can get away with so much. The most recent hearings this year revealed how much training these CEOs get and how adept they are at maneuvering around any real investigation.
Can you name one positive law with regards to tech that the government has passed in the last 20 years?
During the last hearing, many of the representatives were more concerned about Google and Facebook being “unfair” to conservatives. Well that and grilling Zuckerburg about Twitter’s practices.
And then there are the ones that were only stopped because of massive protests like SOPA and PIPA.
Not to mention regulations that killed the concept of net Neutrality.
There are also constant mumblings about passing laws against encryption that the government can’t decrypt.
The Snowden leaks should scare anyone about giving the government more power.
It was in 1996, but there is also the CDA.
They don’t have to be. Their staffers do.
I’ve worked with a number of staffers on these questions for about three years now. They’re some of the smartest people I’ve worked with in my career, which has centred around Wall Street and Silicon Valley.
(I know the system isn't perfect and not everyone listens to educated voices and in a perfect world, there would be a range of knowledge in the elected body itself).
Edited for a missed comma.
The house of commons has 600 more MPs for 5x less population.
That and trying to use the military to “takeover” Texas.
It's not a bad idea in theory, but you run into the classic problem of deciding how to define "good information".
Also senators can, and often do is have experts and have them provide sworn statements about given subject.
Or in the case of the FTC that gave the cable companies more power and upheld states blocking municipal broadband and got rid of net neutrality?
Google fought it, lost it, and then took its puny (in google terms) $1.5bn fine as a (affordable) cost of doing business. They certainly would have be happy to pay more than this for the gains they made by operating this way.
The issue with Antitrust as it is, is that the "crime" requires active proof and specificity. Essentially, the (practically) inevitable side effects of market dominance. You might need to prove specific violations like price fixing or (like with Adwords, Amazon and other current cases) using market data to gain an edge as a participant. You might need to prove market dominance by "proving" price effects and other microeconomic effects.
The problem is, these are hard to prove. You certainly can't prove all of them. But, they are a problem to the extent that monopolies exist. An occasional, multi year case ending in a fine <5% of annual revenue... this is a farce. Antitrust law is having almost no effects.
It doesn't help that software economics are very different, and that a lot of both theory and legislation practically assumes that the "market" is commodity-like. It just so happens that dominating literal "marketplaces" like adwords, amazon marketplace, etc. is an area with precedents.
Meanwhile, it's not like we particularly care if the adwords marketplace is efficient. There is simultaneously a massive public interest in 2020 monopolies, ooh. Otoh, the cases that prosecutors are making are very disconnected from the actual public interest. The public isn't all that interested in ad marketplaces being "better," cheaper or whatnot.
Example: back in the 90s when Microsoft found itself at the pointy end of an antitrust effort, they did things like:
- Restricting OEMs from installing non-Windows OSs
- When they didn't restrict it, they effectively did by having more favourable pricing per license if Windows was the only OS you shipped
- They did similar things with Office but it was less egregious
- Restrictions on preinstalling Netscape
- Restrictions on default browser
- Using Windows to hinder competitors by breaking existing applications, giving a head start to MS software or moving core functionality into the OS (as they tried with IE)
Here are some theoretical examples of what anticompetitive behaviour might look like:
- Making AdWords usage exclusive (ie you couldn't also use Bing's version)
- Making Doubleclick exclusive
- Making either effectively exclusive by providing preferential pricing for exclusive use
- Making use of one ad platform require use of another
Antitrust doesn't exist to protect competitors from competition. People forget that. There are (many) competing display ad platforms. There's less competition in search (and thus search ads). But you can create your own search engine as Bing and DDG are witness to (plus all the dead ones).
It's just that all the other search engines suck. Or, perhaps more accurately, Google is seriously good at search in a way that's hard to replicate.
I personally don't think we should go down this road of dismantling companies just because their competitors suck. That's the Yelp business model. Yelp hasn't changed in 10 years. They have so many missed opportunities. But no, "Google is stealing our content".
Microsoft has the financial muscle to fund a search engine. They do of course. But Google is much better. Just because Microsoft sucks it doesn't (necessarily) mean that Google is a problem.
That's in America. In Europe, it actually does.
There could be some merit in that argument.
But the way it is usually made ("Google (or Google+FB) monopolizes the digital ad market") seems easy to refute: just look at the demand for TikTok, and Snapchat is pulling in over $500M (revenue) a quarter and back to robust growth after some missteps a year or two ago.
And Twitch ads & sponsorships are huge.
Even the UK investigation found Google+FB only controlled 70% of the market (which I believe is less than the major newspaper publishers controlled in the newspaper heyday)
That way, once companies reach a certain size, they can expect a split.
I actually think this would be good for society, because it would shuffle things up consistently to force new ideas.
Also, smaller companies can grow more effectively, so the stock market should enjoy that as well.
The incumbents have trained users to expect everything on the internet for free. People think they pay $75 (or whatever their internet connection costs) and that should cover everything - news, search, email...
How many people even pay for super important stuff like email? No wonder ads are everywhere, like bad smell.
Google isn't a Monopoly as much as they just have the most eyeballs because they built a great company. But Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Reddit, and a few dozen smaller players, are all the answer to Google's monopoly.
I've just spent a few days testing different ad segments, and for the one I was doing, it turns out Reddit was 5x cheaper than the next cheapest source. Cool right?
What we need is more companies that are able to capture eyeballs, and an efficient mechanism to distribute ads among them.
I applaud anyone that can monetize the reddit audience. I've dabbled in their ad platform and had no luck at all.
It's not the design but the users and to a extend Europe itself. The US is one problem, but that Europe is not even capable to create it's own "cloud" is a sign...just look at Germany they really think 4600 euros is a good payment for top-IT personnel...that says everything. Having Internet-speeds like in the year 2000 too. It's impressive how slow, complicated and lame Europe is (in this sector).
I am completely confounded that I have not heard of any real legislative proposals to establish a clear separation of duties in regards storing data and selling it.
There is an obvious conflict of interest if you both have my data and are granted free reign to do what you want with it (via click through agreements that modern society is now dependent upon) you have unfair leverage over me.
If you are able to do this en mass without much competition... I'm thankful things haven't gotten worse than they are.
Something similar to Glass-Steagall is desperately needed in the digital era. Hopefully somebody is working on it...
So I guess that's another reason the existing concept of intellectual property needs to be torn down and rebuilt. Would winner-take-all effect be so strong if all user-provided data was owned by users, and data processors (like social network) were forced to implement protocols allowing for easy and unconditional sharing of all data (including metadata forming a relationship graph) with any other service the user desires? That is, force services like Facebook or Twitter to be just UI frontends to what would become an implicitly federated social graph. Then, social media companies would hold no power over people.
Right now this can't happen, because the companies own the data on their platform, so competitors are not free to create alternative services for perusing that data.
The data siloing concept doesn't make any sense on a networking and design level in the first place. It would call for the user to implement all data desired by the service in their form and pass it back and forth - which in practice would involve a lot of redundant dataschelping, especialally if everything was designed to be stateless by making websites not store any data permanently! Indeed the only point to the design is as a passive aggressive way to tell them to "fuck off, if I wanted you to have it I would give it to you".
On a technical level it is a bad reinvention/implementation of cookies and using them to store all state essentially.
I'm thinking more of "your car only accepts Exxon's gas", or even more accurately, "your car's engine only runs on a very specific type of fuel, and Exxon has a complete monopoly on producing and distributing it".
> especialally if everything was designed to be stateless by making websites not store any data permanently!
That doesn't follow. Websites should be able to store the data from the moment I give them consent, process it within the scope of my consent, and delete it when I revoke my consent. That doesn't imply they need, or should, be stateless.
> Indeed the only point to the design is as a passive aggressive way to tell them to "fuck off, if I wanted you to have it I would give it to you".
It's not about them having it, but about them taking ownership of my data and siloing it in.
And it's not (just) about telling them to fuck off, but about mitigating the strong positive feedback loop that causes centralization of the web - which is the topic in this subthread.
On a more abstract level, I'm thinking of ways in which "data intermediaries" could be made more transparent. For instance, I see no reason why Facebook should own the social network - which is defined fully by the graph of connections between its users. So e.g. if I friend you on Facebook, that edge in the graph is data that belongs to us both. If I share some photo to "friends only", you should be able to see it through an interface of your choosing. What happens instead is that it's Facebook that decides what interface you can or cannot use, and trying to disagree can cause them to terminate your account (and take away access to your data) or even sue you.
We could say that roads are a natural monopoly (since they have to intersect everywhere it would be inefficient to have competitors fight and negotiate about every intersection) ...however, the consequences of that natural monopoly can be limited or extreme. For example: do we get to own private cars that drive on those roadways? Or must we all rent a national transportation vehicle at a non-competitive price? etc. where exactly does the “natural monopoly” begin/end and how natural is it?
I caution against letting your thoughts rest on the words “natural monopoly”.
(I think it’s natural for gravity to bring things down to earth. It’s physics. But the NTSB don’t seem to be satisfied with the notion of “natural plane crashes” just being unavoidable.)
If the DNS was initially designed as such as https://handshake.org could be a better place to lay the foundation of Internet.
Was Bell bad for the consumer? Yes, probably. Was the benefit of the increase in innovation a net benefit for society when compared to deadweight loss incurred by monopoly pricing? I don't know.
There is almost no way to answer this question in a rigorous manner, and yet it's extremely important for policy. The only thing I can think of is experiment over a long period of time between distinct geographies and see what happens.
We should guard against monopolies and increase public funding of researchers.
Now, the monopoly profits AT&T may have been worth it, because without them, AT&T would not have funded Bell Labs creating among other things C, Unix, the transistor, the laser, and photovoltaic solar cells.
I will just note that if you want to measure it was worth it, consider what the GNU in GNU Linux is commonly held to stand for.
If a country has a king that is truly capable, caring and trusted, he can get a lot of things done that no other system can compete with. If he is Robert Mugabe, tough luck.
If the country has a democracy, there is limit to the amount of damage any one leader can do. And there is a hope that over time, the system will promote the "better" leader.
Similarly, when there is on a monopoly, and the leaders really care about developing the space, lots of good can come of it. Such as AT&T for a time, and IMO Google back in Sergey Brin's days as CEO.
But when they have gone south, it brings down the whole sector. Whereas with competition, there is a limit to the stagnation and anti-consumer behavior, and a hope that the favored companies will generally prevail.
Over the long run, I am pretty sure that democracies / competition is the better bet for progress.
<OT> Abrahamic religions pine for a king who will be perfect (a "Messiah"), since that has the benefits without the risk. Meanwhile, the religions compete with each other, which is a arguably better than if one had complete control.</OT>
What? Why? ISPs like Bell are "natural monopolies" because last-mile right of way is expensive and digging up the same street 10 times to lay 10 different lines is hugely redundant. There's nothing natural about Google's monopoly in advertising, Google just acquired most of their major competitors.
Original author unknown.
Antitrust agencies and governments in general need to set more pro-active ground rules that attempt to prevent monopolies from even happening in the first place.
Punishing them after the fact is both ineffective and too disruptive. I'd rather they didn't allow Google to buy AdMob instead of forcing them to spin it off now. I mean, sure, I'll take it. Still better than nothing. But this shouldn't have been needed because AdMob should have remained a competitor to Google in the mobile ads space, not a division of it.
If large corporations think they have made so much money from their core market that now it's time to spread to new markets, then they must also have the money to start their own competitor in that market from scratch. They shouldn't be allowed to just buy everyone up from that new market.
I think we'd have WAY healthier "free markets" - and more importantly, high competition - if this one thing was implemented.
This vertical integration in the space is what drives the anti-competitive behavior, if the Google buy-side were a separate company that happened to acquire AdMob there would be no real issues as they don't control the whole stack.
FB on the other hand sells a service and lets companies use their APIs to integrate as well as competing with them via their internal sales team.
These companies can do this only because you are forced to work with them because they own such a large part of internet traffic, not because they offer particularly good services or have better technology or prices.
The easiest and most effective way to reduce this tax burden is simply expanding your vertical. This is why tesla is so staunchly against third party dealerships or why hyperscalers and apple, google, microsoft, and amazon are all starting to make their own chips. Breaking up big tech won't accomplish anything in the long term without fixing the broken tax system and the incentives it creates.
The acquisition needed approval:
It's just that the current political climate (including democrats) seem to favour non-intervention.
Now of course, many arguments being made today are that where the negative effects of a monopoly are felt aren't primarily with consumers, but with smaller enterprises being squeezed out, and with workers at a monopoly deprived of choice, both commonly cited with Amazon. Bork's stance was that these aren't legitimate reasons to engage in antitrust and really end up protecting inefficient existing enterprises.
Anyhow, Bork's Antitrust Paradox (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0029044561/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_fab_...) was and is one of the most cited books in antitrust law, mostly to make the case as to why antitrust in a particular situation is not merited, and the Supreme and lower courts have adopted views from there directly dozens of times.
So it's not just a recent thing, it's a long running, over 40 years now thing
See the analysis on DoubleClick etc. there.