Platforms’ Power and Profit Model in the Crosshairs
The European Union is preparing to file formal antitrust charges against Amazon [[link removed]] . The DOJ and state AGs are readying antitrust lawsuits targeting Google’s advertising [[link removed]] business. Joe Biden [[link removed]] and Nancy Pelosi [[link removed]] made serious calls for revoking or reforming Facebook’s protections under Section 230, which could force an end to its surveillance and advertising-based profit model, while state AGs continue their own antitrust investigations. As the House Antitrust Subcommittee finalizes its recommendations for reining in the platforms, the underlying sources of their many harms — monopoly power and profit models — are increasingly at the center of the conversation.
Over the last few weeks, and alongside a growing network of allies, it’s a conversation we’ve been laser-focused on driving forward as tech’s summer of antitrust heats up [[link removed]] .
— In “As the Techlash Heats Up, Here’s Who’s Stoking the Fire,” Axios [[link removed]] credited Economic Liberties as a key driver of the “techlash” that’s stayed on message while the platforms attempt to profit off the pandemic.
— With the Freedom from Facebook and Google coalition, Economic Liberties launched digital ad campaigns targeting investors around Facebook [[link removed]] and Google’s [[link removed]] spring shareholder meetings. Our Executive Director Sarah Miller talked to Politico [[link removed]] about both campaigns’ efforts to draw attention to how their business models rely on supercharging toxic content.
— As Facebook and Google spread conspiracy theories about protesters and Black Lives Matter, Economic Liberties released “ Ending [[link removed]] Our Click-Bait Culture: Why Progressives Must Break the Power of Facebook and Google [[link removed]] ,” a straightforward Q&A profiled in Axios [[link removed]] that explains why antitrust, combined with changing the way that Facebook and Google make money, is the only way to sustainably address their range of harms.
— More than 200 experts and advocates (and tech lobbyists!) joined us for “Making Facebook and Google Safe for Democracy,” our virtual event [[link removed]] on reforming Section 230 which featured a lively conversation between Economic Liberties ED Sarah Miller and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) , who serves as Chair of the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce and is drafting new legislation, as well as a discussion with Karen Kornbluh, Senior Fellow and Director of the Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and Economic Liberties’ Research Director Matt Stoller . Read Bloomberg’s coverage here [[link removed]] .
— In his popular newsletter BIG [[link removed]] , Matt Stoller wrote about how Amazon is refusing to disclose basic information about its businesses to Congress, regulators, and investors to mask its monopoly power.
— We kept our eye on other platforms, too. Writing for The Washington Post [[link removed]] , Senior Fellow Maureen Tkacik exposed how restaurant delivery apps abuse restaurants, workers, and consumers by taking a page out of Amazon’s playbook. Our advocacy [[link removed]] helped train fire [[link removed]] on and ultimately derail [[link removed]] Uber’s planned merger with GrubHub.
— And Economic Liberties’ Research Director Matt Stoller dug into Spotify’s effort to control independent podcasting in ProMarket [[link removed]] , detailing why we should worry about their attempts to monetize and intermediate the podcasting market.
News From Around the Network:
— Gene Sperling, who led the National Economic Council under President Obama, talked to Kara Swisher [[link removed]] about breaking up Facebook and the importance of fresh, new thinking on antitrust for promoting economic dignity.
— In the wake of Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to allow President Trump to use the platform to incite violence against protesters for racial justice, Senator Chris Murphy called for breaking up Facebook [[link removed]] , while Public Knowledge and New America’s Open Technology Institute severed their financial ties [[link removed]] .
— Facebook and other tech platforms launched a new political organization, American Edge, to try to halt accelerating antitrust momentum, while the Washington Post [[link removed]] exposed Big Tech’s astroturf efforts to co-opt small businesses.
We’re expanding our Platform Power and Accountability team! Apply to be our Director of Government Relations or Director of Advocacy here [[link removed]] .
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