An unbiased and free speech platform is what made social media amazing. If those voices were being controlled, manipulated or able to be persuaded though, then that would give Attorney General William Barr a legitimate reason for concern. In fact, that would give the AG 224 million legitimate reasons to investigate suspicions of antitrust violations.
Before looking at this latest probe into the world of social media, it might be helpful to put this fun and playful social world into perspective. From Twitter to Facebook, Instagram, and others these social media platforms over the past couple of decades have morphed. These are no longer platforms where people only fish for their soul mates or get together to play games. This has also become a forum for politics, politicians, and a megaphone for a variety of agendas.
Somewhere along the lines as social media powers like Facebook and Twitter, for example, continued to grow someone realized the reach and size of audience garnered by these social media powers. Statistics say that somewhere in the vicinity of 80% of the U.S. is connected to one or more social media platforms. That equates to roughly 224 million people.
The issue here though isn’t the size of the largest social media platforms, that is where the power lies. The problem lies in the control and or manipulation of these platforms – or in this case the concerns surrounding such activity. Simply put, if any sites chose to delete, ban or disallow any negative material toward candidate “x” then Houston we have a problem. The same is applicable in the other order as well if a site allowed the promotion of candidate “x” but prohibited the promotion of any other candidate.
Of course, this is politics so that can’t be said, at least not at face value. So we have something that looks like this antitrust investigation which will delve into issues such as monopolization and pricing standards. The financial business information site Investopedia defined it this way: “Antitrust laws are regulations that monitor the distribution of economic power in business, making sure that healthy competition is allowed to flourish and economies can grow.”
Getting back to that probe from the Attorney General, one story said: “the Justice Department intends to investigate Facebook Inc. after prodding from U.S. Attorney General William Barr… over whether it has harmed competition in violation of antitrust laws.” This looks even more credible and reasonable in light of Facebook’s recent acquisition of What’s App and Instagram.
We shudder to think that a few controlling bodies could dominate the online world of dating and gaming! How frightening it would be if a small group could control so many relationships or impact the pricing for gamers and gaming packages – scary isn’t it? The Attorney General certainly hasn’t thought twice about the influence and power of so many in the hands of so few but is honed in on making sure other social media competitors have a chance.
Barr probably isn’t at all concerned by the idea that 80% of the voters – sorry, we meant U.S. population is plugged into some type of social media outlet. It is more likely, however, that the AG has some concern about the impact that 224 million daters and gamers could have on the elect – sorry, we mean economy than anything else, right? And of course, that those other social media companies have a chance to compete.
Social media is a major player in shaping views and opinions in society today. It is, as President Trump has shown us, a platform from which those with a voice can use to speak – to many. So long as that speech is free, unaltered and that platform is offered freely, there is no worry. So long as those who run, administer, and control those platforms are monitored, watched and regulated.
The Attorney General William Barr is starting an investigation into companies like Facebook and the social media world, for the good of competition – along with 224 million other good reasons.