There is a debate going on in a lot of different circles around the power of certain tech companies. Some people think that they influenced the election because Russians took over their platforms. Liberals I know think they should be broken up because they think the election was stolen from Hillary. Others think the platforms are biased towards liberals and conservative film maker James O’ Keefe is currently doing an expose on Twitter. Facebook routinely suppressed conservative speech. Conservatives have called for Google to be broken up, and conservatives are suing Google for bias.
I have blogged about breaking them up periodically here, and here. The leftist newspaper The New York Times wrote about it here. The right leaning Wall Street Journal wrote about it here. Liberal VC’s talk about it here. It’s pretty clear that Facebook and Google dominate ad spend. Some estimates are 25% of global ad spend go to those two companies.
Amazon is getting more and more dominant. Should they be regulated heavily too? Politicians focus on companies like AirBnB, Uber, and Lyft along with technologies like Bitcoin because it challenges incumbents and honey pots that they are used to receiving funds from.
My personal opinion is to regulate very very lightly and carefully. I prefer to let free markets and innovation work. Even if there is discrimination, or bias. As long as it is all transparent, people can decide to make up their own minds. Competitors can enter. I don’t particularly care if Silicon Valley is left leaning. They still have to build for an entire market. If you let politics enter your corporate culture you will be vulnerable to competitors. When I was on CME’s political action committee, we gave 50/50, right down the middle. I encourage all startups I am invested in to leave their personal politics on the doorstep when they walk into work. Why alienate 50% of your customers?
The linked podcast is Russ Roberts EconTalk. He engages in a very lively conversation about it. Because it’s EconTalk, a lot of free market economics is injected into the conversation. I think you will benefit from thinking about it after listening to this no matter what your political persuasion is.