A Senate committee voted last week to advance a bill that will prohibit companies like Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook from promoting their own products over those of their competitors. Addressing the outsized and ever-growing power of the technology giants and putting in place an appropriate regulatory framework is certainly on POTUS’ to-do list. With the mid-term elections still some time away, now is the perfect time to focus on this brewing issue. Antitrust reform will likely take a backseat if the GOP were to regain control of the House following the November mid-terms.
Ever since President Biden took office, he has been wanting to put in place antitrust legislations to curb the stranglehold of the tech majors over their markets. I hope that over the next six months or so, our lawmakers (under largely the leadership of Senator Klobuchar and Majority Leader Schumer) can have the bill on POTUS’ desk – ready for his signature.
Over the past few years it has become clear to me that our biggest problem as a nation today is the threat of disinformation. Big Tech websites today are full of junk news. There is mounting evidence around the algorithmic spread of hate speech. And conspiracy theories spun by major internet platforms have undermined an already politically polarized nation.
The scale of disinformation in our nation is staggering, to say the least. FaceBook supposedly removed over six billion fake accounts in 2019 alone. A USC study revealed a few years ago that somewhere between 9% to 15% of tweets come from fake accounts. Bots have proliferated everywhere – and their multiplier effect on disinformation is hard to even conjure. According to a SparkToro analysis from 2018, 61% of Donald Trump’s 54 million-plus Twitter followers were either Bots, or Spam, or Inactive or simply Propaganda.
There are other reasons to curb the powers of Big Tech. From safety to privacy to fostering competition to securities laws. But most importantly, we must curb the menace of disinformation. This is the very first step towards what I feel will be a long journey ahead.