Silicon Valley tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are finding themselves targets of antitrust probes by both the Trump administration and Democrats, in what appears to be a power struggle ahead of the 2020 election.
Although the committee did not name any companies, chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) spoke of “a handful of gatekeepers” who gained control “over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications.”
House Republicans, usually at odds with Nadler over his investigations into President Donald Trump, seem to have embraced the probe with enthusiasm.
Mere rumors of a Justice Department probe of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation of Amazon and Facebook, caused a massive drop of major technology stocks on Monday, with billions of dollars in market valuation wiped out in minutes.
Alphabet stock was down by more than 6 percent, Facebook went down 7.5 percent, and Amazon dropped 4.6 percent by market closing time. Apple stocks were also down one percent amid rumors of an antitrust probe, even as the company got a bump due to new product announcements.
Conservative journalists and commentators were quick to point out that the antitrust investigations were likely related to the persistent censorship on social media platforms, though there is no direct evidence to that effect.
Silicon Valley tech giants have maintained that they have every right to police their platforms for “hate speech” and other “unacceptable” content, the definition of which keeps expanding by the day.
Democrats have put pressure on Big Tech to be more censorious – under the guise of rooting out “Russian bots and trolls” – after the 2016 election, when Trump used Twitter and Facebook to bypass the overwhelmingly negative mainstream media coverage and win the presidency. However, it then drew the anger of Republicans, who argued that the suspensions and bans have disproportionately targeted conservative voices.