What Mark Zuckerberg did at Facebook is engage in systemic criminal behavior, and he was able to do so because law enforcers refused to enforce the law against the powerful. That era is over.
Yesterday, 48 state attorneys general, plus Trump’s Federal Trade Commission, filed antitrust suits against Facebook. There are two complaints, one from the states and one from the FTC. The state AG complaint is stronger, but both tell the same story. Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp to stop nascent competitors from challenging its monopoly power in social networking. It also used a variety of other tactics to foreclose competitors it could not buy from entering the market and challenging its dominance. Then, after it became a monopoly, it increased prices or downgraded user experiences to profit from the conspiracy it had arranged.
America is learning to govern again. It’s slow and halting, and there will be steps backwards as well as victories. But today, 48 elected officials, plus three FTC commissioners confirmed by the Senate, made the case to break up one of the largest companies in America, just two months after the Department of Justice made the case to break up a different and even larger corporation. And there will likely be more suits soon, against Google.
This was a good day.
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