Online intermediaries have emerged as the railroad monopolies of the 21st century, controlling access to market and increasingly determining who wins and who loses in today’s economy. Their dominance drives inequality and afflicts citizens and business-owners in all corners of American society.
Facebook didn’t get where it is today by protecting your privacy. The company made $56 billion in 2018, in part by tracking people both on and off its platform and then selling targeted advertisements based on that surveillance. Yet when Facebook announced a shift to a “privacy-focused communications platform” in March and unveiled a redesign toward private messaging at its F8 developers conference on Tuesday, Facebook’s stock value did not even dip. How could that be, if surveillance is essential to Facebook’s business model?
“The FTC’s likely fine appears to be grossly insufficient to punishing Facebook for its outrageous behavior,” stated Open Markets Executive Director Barry Lynn. “By failing to stand up for its own authority, the FTC appears, in turn, to be demonstrating complete disregard for the fundamental interests of the American people.”
Open Markets Institute fellow Matt Stoller makes The New York Times’ Quotation of the Day on Apr. 24, 2019: “This would be a joke of a fine — a two-weeks-of-revenue, parking-ticket-level penalty for destroying democracy.”
The New York Times talks to Open Markets Institute fellow Matt Stoller about the rumored $3 to 5 billion dollar fine the Federal Trade Commission intends to levy against Facebook. His quote describing the fine as a “parking-ticket-level penalty” made the NYT’s Quote of the Day.
Open Markets Institute applauds Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) for calling for the break-up of the big tech platforms, and for accurately characterizing them as “engines for discrimination, harassment, misinformation and extremism.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), interviewed on the Recode podcast this week, said “There are clear lines that we see in…companies that maybe could be easily broken up, without any impact, one on the other. I’m a big believer in the antitrust laws.”