Let’s Play Monopoly? #97

Deepnews Digest #97

Let’s Play Monopoly?

Editor: Christopher Brennan
In blockbuster lawsuits, U.S. authorities and many states are now suing Facebook under antitrust law, raising the idea that it could be broken up into separate businesses. The move comes after months of expectation and other anti-monopoly action against Silicon Valley giants such as Google, though the issue of antitrust affects areas far beyond tech. This week’s Digest explores all the angles from all over the world, all gathered with the Deepnews Scoring Model.

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Published every Friday

Financial Times ($)

EU v big tech: Brussels’ bid to weaken the digital gatekeepers

The digital services act will look to clarify the responsibilities internet companies have for taking down illegal content or counterfeit goods, with the large players facing more onerous requirements. It will also set out clear rules on ad transparency and disinformation.

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Institute for New Economic Thinking

Google Monopolizes Ad Markets Through Conduct Lawmakers Prohibit in Other Electronic Trading Markets

he United States and many other countries are investigating Google for violating domestic competition laws. Right now the U.S. Department of Justice is grabbing the most headlines with its decision to file formal antitrust charges against Google for monopolizing the search and search advertising markets. But the Department, U.S. states, and foreign governments continue to investigate the company for its dominance of online display advertising markets.

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Protocol

Lots of people are gunning for Google. Meet the man who might have the best shot.

Phil Weiser, a law professor, antitrust expert and Colorado attorney general, is co-leading the bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general investigating Google’s search dominance.

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Editor’s Note:

This last week’s action against Facebook was brought by the Federal Trade Commission and also many individual states. But who is running the show in all those states? Here our algorithm highlighted Emily Birnbaum’s profile of Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who comes from an antitrust background. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Reason

Sometimes Bigger Is Better

Mark Zuckerberg was having one of 2020’s worst Zoom meetings. It was July 29, and one of the most influential men in the world was sitting, pale and perspiring, in a sparse white room getting attacked by members of Congress from both parties. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and close ally of President Donald Trump, was scolding the Facebook CEO about the “content moderators that you employ [who] are out there disadvantaging conservative content.”

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Bloomberg

Facebook Accused of Squeezing Rival Startups in Virtual Reality

Virtual-reality startups are accusing Facebook Inc. of using a familiar playbook to muscle out rivals in what could be the digital platform of the future — prompting a new line of scrutiny from U.S. competition enforcers.

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The Atlantic

What Happens to Democracy When Mega-publishers Take Over?

The Penguin Random House-Simon & Schuster deal threatens the values that the book business champions.

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The Ink (Anand Giridharadas)

We can have democracy or we can have Facebook, but we can’t have both

A conversation with Matt Stoller about the new antitrust case and the real reason you should care about corporate monopolies

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The Telegraph (UK) ($)

How Mark Zuckerberg and his ‘super paranoid’ inner circle spent billions to keep Facebook on top

“This is the biggest threat to our product that I’ve ever seen in my five years here at Facebook,” the email read. “We’re all terrified.”

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Indian Express

Roll back law, not reform

In return, farmers should drop demand for a legal shield for MSP. A constituency for reforms can be built in BJP-ruled states, where agricultural prosperity can disprove fears that farm laws are a corporate plot

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Texas Standard

In Depth: How A Bill That Helped Hospitals Merge Could Cost Patients

In the spring, Austin King caught wind of big news in his hometown of Abilene. King is an ear, nose and throat doctor there, and the former president of the Texas Medical Association. He learned that Hendrick, the city’s biggest hospital, had plans to acquire its smaller competitor, Abilene Regional. Hendrick and Abilene Regional were the only two hospitals in town, so a merger would really shake up local health care. And King was concerned about that.

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Editor’s Note:

While tech gets all the headlines, this Digest also looks at the issue of monopolies in other areas, such as healthcare. Here our algorithm highlighted an in-depth analysis from the Lone Star State that digs into the effects after a hospital acquisition. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

New York Times

Justice Dept. Suit Says Facebook Discriminates Against U.S. Workers

The complaint, which targets the company’s hiring of immigrants on temporary visas, opens a new front in Washington’s battle against Big Tech.

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The Conversation

Commentary: Can Apple’s rumoured search engine compete with Google ?

CAMBRIDGE, England: Small corners of the internet are ablaze with the news that Apple has significantly ramped up its search bot activity.

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The American Conservative

A Populism Deferred

Trump was a transitional president, keeping at least one foot firmly within GOP orthodoxy. Sometimes this made his agenda incoherent.

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Techcrunch

Automattic, Mozilla, Twitter and Vimeo urge EU to beef up user controls to help tackle ‘legal-but-harmful’ content

Automattic, Mozilla, Twitter and Vimeo have penned an open letter to EU lawmakers urging them to ensure that a major reboot of the bloc’s digital regulations doesn’t end up bludgeoning freedom of expression online.

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Kaiser Health News

In Becerra, an HHS Nominee With Political Skill But No Front-Line Health Experience

Xavier Becerra, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services, is set to be a pandemic-era secretary with no public health experience. Whether that matters depends on whom you ask.

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Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Revealed: Mark Zuckerberg threatened to pull UK investment in secret meeting with Matt Hancock

Mark Zuckerberg threatened to pull Facebook’s investment from the UK in a private meeting with Matt Hancock, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.

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Editor’s Note:

Beyond the public interactions between officials and companies, there are also more private meetings. Here the Bureau of Investigative Journalism fought for years in court to get access to notes from a meeting between Mark Zuckerberg and Matt Hancock in 2018. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Financial Times ($)

Milton Friedman was wrong on the corporation

What should be the goal of the business corporation? For a long time, the prevailing view in English-speaking countries and, increasingly, elsewhere was that advanced by the economist Milton Friedman in a New York Times article, “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits”, published in September 1970. I used to believe this, too. I was wrong.

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Harvard Business Review

Uber’s Strategy for Global Success

As Uber entered unique regional markets around the world – from New York to Shanghai, it has adapted its business model to comply with regulations and compete locally. As the transportation landscape evolves, how can Uber adapt its business model to stay competitive in the long term?

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Wall Street Journal ($)

Google Spars With Barry Diller’s IAC on Marketing Practices

Alphabet unit considers penalties after its audit faulted IAC’s treatment of Chrome browser extensions

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Esquire

Joe Biden’s Staffing Choices Are Looking Great, Except for Those Two Guys

One economist weighs in on the president-elect’s picks for economic advisers in his new administration.

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Global Witness

How a company linked to Republic of Congo’s president stands to earn millions from a new fee

Congo has oscillated in and out of debt distress since the 1980s, receiving its fourth IMF bailout in 2019. This year’s oil price shock and the Covid-19 pandemic have sent the economy deeper into crisis, straining an already massively under-resourced healthcare system.

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Editor’s Note:

Part of the case against monopolies is that they can abuse their market position. Here an investigation from Global Witness looks at potential abuse from Copremar, which has a monopoly on towing operations at an oil terminal. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Jacobin

Resisting Amazon Is Not Futile

Amazon represents the pinnacle challenge to union organizers and socialists throughout the country. Are we in a 1919 moment, still a generation of failures away from breakthrough success? Or closer to 1935, approaching the tipping point of winning real worker power?

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The Hindu

Government seeks to silence online voices by bringing digital media under I&B Ministry

By bringing digital news media and OTT platforms under the I&B Ministry and tweaking FDI limits, the government seeks to smother any challenge to the dominant narrative by new age entities.

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Bloomberg

Facebook’s Next Trick Is to Turn WhatsApp Into a Real Business

On the final day of November, Facebook Inc. announced it had bought a customer service software startup most people had never heard of, in a deal valuing the company at more than $1 billion. Although it was the third-largest acquisition in Facebook’s history, slightly more than it paid for Instagram in 2012, the deal drew very little notice. In Washington, where regulators are actively pursuing antitrust lawsuits against Facebook and politicians condemn almost every move the company makes, the purchase of Kustomer Inc. was met with crickets.

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Mercury News

Opinion: California must join Europe as leading Amazon enforcers

California lawmakers have staked their claim as national leaders when it comes to regulating the tech industry in recent years, often demonstrating more in common with their European peers than they do those back home in reining in the power of these tech giants. Now, with the announcement of new allegations against Amazon coming from Europe, California lawmakers once again have an opportunity to send an unmistakable message and join alongside these regulators to address the unyielding power that Amazon has amassed.

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