The CEOs of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple have pledged to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, which is continuing its inquiry into allegations that these large companies dominate the online advertising market, Fox News confirmed.
The move has the support of both the Republicans and Democrats, in addition to British regulators who are also calling for new rules to encourage other companies to compete in a fair manner.
Antitrust laws generally attempt to prohibit corporations from abusing the power of a monopoly to harm consumers and also prohibit companies from fixing prices or suppressing competition through unethical practices.
Experts point out that the fact that Facebook and Google unquestionably dominate the online advertising market results in higher prices for hotels, flights, electronics, and other goods and services.
In the United Kingdom alone in 2019, Facebook and Google accounted for 80% of the profits in the digital advertising industry. Google controls more than 90% of the search ad market, while Facebook has more than $4.4 billion of the ads, according to a report released by the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority).
For the CMA it is necessary to introduce new “digital markets units” with powers that could ask Google to share its data with other search engines so that they can improve their algorithms, which in turn would limit Google’s ability to dominate in both home browser and mobile searches, allowing for healthy competition.
With the proposal of these new rules, for example, Facebook would be ordered to increase its ability to operate with other social networking platforms and to allow users to choose whether or not they want to receive personalized notices.
Amazon was also criticized in 2019 by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for creating products from other vendors, reportedly using data from vendors’ activities on Amazon. That is, by spying on the purchasing patterns of its competition, it created similar products to compete with them on its own platform.
The case of Facebook
According to Dailymail.co.uk recently, Platform Partnerships’ vice president, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, admitted that some 5,000 applications received data from Facebook that they should not have received, including email addresses, birthdays, language, and gender of users.
This is not the first time that Facebook has been criticized for violating the privacy of its users, the main reason these antitrust inquiries have received international support.
In December 2018 a report found that Facebook allowed some 150 companies, including Netflix, Spotify, and Bing, to access an unprecedented amount of information from its users, including private messages.
In March 2018, Facebook made headlines again when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica accessed data on 87 million of its users. The political consultant later said it played a key role in the presidential election, which today is considered election interference.
In July 2019, Facebook was fined $5 billion for inappropriately sharing user data.
Facebook and Google, owner of YouTube, have been strongly criticized by the conservative side, because with this ability to dominate the digital market, they have also interfered with public discourse, especially in social media, where political debate takes place. Terms like shadow banning began to circulate in the conservative media, where YouTube and Twitter either eliminate subscribers or do not directly suggest the videos of certain channels. In addition, many YouTubers or conservative channels such as Prager U and The Epoch Times were directly demonetized or prohibited from receiving ads on their channels. Creating even more distrust in users who differ from mainstream media’s narrative.