Color me fully mature enough to remember the days when the U.S. government considered breaking up Microsoft. Windows over here, Office and Internet Explorer over there. Remember the Yankees? They were such a dominant baseball team back in the day, racking up pennants and World Series wins so frequently there were calls to break up the Yankees.
Such break ’em up considerations come to any entity which seems to dominate the competition in a monopolistic manner. These days there are calls to break up Google.
Who wants to break up Google?
You should want them broken up, too, because the company dominates online advertising and tracking in such a way as to harm competition with anti-competitive practices, and to harm users of their free software and services by stripping them (us) of private information which can be used against us (them) in ways we do not fully understand.
Check out this Boston Globe editorial:
Never in the history of the world has a single company had so much control over what people know and think.
Whoa. Strong words, right? Maybe, much for the same reasons, we could add Facebook to the effort to break up Google and save on lawyer fees.
Wait. First, what’s the problem with Google’s search monopoly? After all, it’s not illegal to have a monopoly, right? It’s only illegal to abuse the monopoly. Microsoft did it. IBM did it. The Yankees did it.
Google accounts for about 90 percent of all Internet searches; by any honest assessment, it holds a monopoly at the very gateway to information in the modern world.
Again, is there evidence of monopolistic abuse? Yes, but it has yet to catch the eye of those whose eyes should be watching Google’s every move because monopoly. Duh.
Instead, Google marches on, like a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking up personal information and using it in ways we do not know.
That’s wrong. We have a right to know how we are being abused, don’t we?
[Google’s]power radiates outward, dominating everything from maps to smartphone operating systems to video distribution — vacuuming up huge quantities of highly specific data about users along the way.
This is the issue we must confront.
Apple tells us up front that they do not capture much information, but then they tell us about what information they do capture and how it gets used and, oh, not to forget– the information is not personally identifiable, and does not get used to influence our behavior or motivate us to change political affiliation.
Thank you, Apple. Would you help pay for the legal expenses to breakup Google and Facebook?
Along with Facebook, Google owns sites and services that, by some estimates, influence 70 percent of all Internet traffic. Not coincidentally, the two companies also form a duopoly that gets 73 percent of all digital advertising in the United States, and virtually all the growth in ad spending, on the Internet.
All those advertisements you see on Google, Facebook, and nearly every website you visit across the interwebs come from a handful of entities.
Google and Facebook get 73-percent. All other advertisers get the rest. Anybody got a problem with that?
Once the lifeblood of a vital free press, and later of a vast array of independent sites serving every possible interest, ad dollars increasingly flow to two tech giants that organize information produced at other people’s expense.
It’s the Golden Rule, folks. Them with the gold get to rule.
So, why are not the politicians running the good old U.S. of A. doing anything about Google?
Last year, it spent more on federal lobbying than any other company.
Oh. Yeah. Money talks. I get it.
I know that promoting such thinking will knock NoodleMac down a few notches on Google’s search results, but this makes sense:
Google is a monopoly because we’ve allowed it to become one. We’ve allowed it to grow at the expense of copyright holders. At the expense of rival search and advertising ventures. At the expense of startups that might someday challenge the giants. At the expense of a narrowing of the way a society acquires information. Today, the act of searching for an answer is synonymous with Googling.
Who wants to break up Google? Me. And people smarter than me.