Market Power and Democracy
The Landscape: When it comes to Big Tech, antitrust enforcers have focused narrowly on price and output rather than consumers’ broader interests. The result has allowed large technology and social media companies to exploit our data, stifle competition, and wield unprecedented power over our public square. For example, Facebook and Google control more than three-quarters of the digital political ad market. They leverage that market power and the behavioral data they collect to sell political advertisers the ability to target narrow subsets of voters with perfectly tailored messages. Big tech companies also increasingly control the news market, where they curate content to maximize engagement, often amplifying sensational and false information.
While internet users do not pay to use social media or search engines, they are still harmed by the lack of competition. Not only does the absence of meaningful alternatives force users to accept harmful data collection and use practices, it also damages the information ecosystem underpinning our democracy. Congress should move beyond an enforcement standard that ignores the economic reality of the internet and establish an antitrust standard that includes the impact of market concentration on our civil rights and democracy.