In a long-overdue move, the Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google. Eleven Attorney Generals, all from Republican states, are joining the lawsuit as plaintiffs. They include Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.
The lawsuit alleges that Google is accounting for about 90% of the searches in the US and 95% of the searches on mobile devices. It also notes that Google pays billions to create exclusionary deals that have locked its competitors out of 60% of all search traffic. Because search algorithms are more effective when there is more data to parse through, Google’s sheer size makes it extremely difficult for a competitor to take them on.
Although Trump’s Department of Justice is launching the case and Republican Attorney Generals are backing it, people may be surprised to see some of the liberals supporting this effort. For example,
Two things can both be true: Bill Barr is a corrupt Trump crony who shouldn't be AG, and @TheJusticeDept has the power to pursue a legit antitrust suit against Google. The case is clear – in fact, it could have gone further. It must move forward without political interference. https://t.co/7S4trkbDOG
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) October 20, 2020
This case will likely take years to resolve, but the good news is that associate deputy attorney general Ryan Shores said, “Nothing is off the table,” including breaking up the company. As someone who wrote a piece for National Review in 2018 arguing that both Google and Facebook should be broken up, I have long found the amount of power we allow monopolistic social media companies to have over our lives and elections to be disturbing.
A study has also shown that Google search results can have a frighteningly large impact on elections:
Randomized, controlled experiments conducted with more than 10,000 people from 39 countries suggest that one company alone — Google LLC, which controls about 90 percent of online search in most countries — has likely been determining the outcomes of upwards of 25 percent of the national elections in the world for several years now, with increasing impact each year as Internet penetration has grown.
Keep in mind that we’re not talking about individuals or even whole industries here; we’re talking about unaccountable monopolies with detailed information about hundreds of millions of Americans, billions in cash reserves, and the capability to shape what is discussed and what is not discussed in America in a way that no book, radio show, television show or individual has ever had. Just to give you an idea of their dominance, 86 percent of web searches in America go through Google and 75 percent of Americans who are on the Internet are also on Facebook. Google in particular has leveraged its monopoly to swallow up larger and larger shares of the online market. The company controls YouTube, the go-to source for videos on the web. It also has the single most influential ad company online. Gmail is the most popular email provider. Then there’s Google maps, Google Play, Blogger, Android, Google Analytics — it goes on and on and on.
How do you take on monopolies with this sort of dominance and almost infinite levels of cash to buy out any rising competitor? That’s the question conservatives keep asking, and the answer is that realistically, you don’t.
The most powerful people in America today are Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Mark Zuckerberg & Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. Whatever you may think of Nancy Pelosi, at least she was elected. These social media companies have a frightening level of control over what information the general public gets to see and no one elected them to anything. Hopefully, Google will be broken up and if we’re lucky, the DOJ won’t stop there.