While the rhetoric in Washington around breaking up high tech companies has become louder during the presidential campaign, it turns out that many American voters are in favor of this too.
This Statista chart shows that well, over 65% of Americans favor breaking up big tech.
Called the “tech lash,” some major tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and even Apple have faced some type of anti-trust scrutiny recently and calls for breaking them up in one form or another.
There is a lot of controversy around the breakup argument, but in the case of Facebook, a break up might not actually be a good thing.
Facebook has a formula that produces great revenue at the cost of hosting both good and bad material. And the bad material actually makes them more money than the good.
It is plausible that if you split them up, each as its own entity would be even more motivated to expand their own platforms using Facebook’s revenue models and could grow their programs to add more good and bad content. Facebook’s good content comes from allowing us to connect with family, friends and even long lost acquaintances. They let us see what each other is doing, look at peoples vacation pictures, and share in the even mundane things of life. But the bad comes in many forms like commentary, news feeds and false ads and have split us up into narrow audiences, and some people only gravitate to the bad. Ironically, Facebook’s revenues get propped up more from bad content than good content.
A better way to address the problems of Facebook would be to increase regulation on bad content, including falsified accounts, false news stories, illegal ads, hate commentary, and more. Facebook by themselves are doing a bad job at this, and they need to be forced to keep as much bad content as they can off of their sites.
I actually believe Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, understands that his company may need regulatory help, and has said so publicly. He fears to be the one to crack down on hate speech, accounts that are on the bubble that share false information or are used for inciting any action that could harm Facebook users. He knows that his quelling of some of this content would render cries of restricting free speech and would prefer the government play the role of bad cop through some form of regulation that allows him to legally restrict the kind of content that can be posted on Facebook.
The government needs to identify what is bad content and force them to be removed or perhaps even taxed if necessary, to keep any of these sites from expanding their reach by promoting bad content at will. Breaking Facebook into three companies with no regulation is not a good way to keep the bad from growing on each of these platforms in the future. In fact, it could make the problems worse if each group becomes even more powerful without proper checks and balances.
At this stage of the election cycle, politicians are bound to get on their soapboxes and push for tech company breakups. But breaking them up without proper regulations may not be worth it. Unchecked, spin-off companies could continue to use a formula for hosting good and bad content and possibly make our world even less safe, and even more divided.