Big Tech companies, including Google, Twitter and Facebook, are under Senate antitrust scrutiny for abusing monopolist policies to censure conservative publication views.
CEOs of all three were called before last week’s Oct. 28 Senate Commerce Committee hearings to question whether their organizations should remain eligible for legal immunity from user-related liabilities for content carried on their platforms under special protections afforded by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
As I have previously elaborated, Twitter and Facebook are experiencing special heat for blatant actions to squelch New York Post revelations regarding murky Biden family Ukrainian, Chinese and other foreign business dealings just before the election.
Among these numerous scandals are evidence that then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter was knowingly being paid for a no-show board position of a corrupt Ukrainian gas company while he threatened to cut off a billion dollars of U.S. military aid to the country unless the prosecutor looking into the matter was fired.
Alphabet Inc,’s Google is also on the defense against an antitrust action filed in federal court last month charging the company with unfair monopolistic advantages not afforded to search engine marketing competitors.
Committee Republicans are calling into question transparent and repeated biases that have resulted in censorship of conservative views, most particularly since the 2016 Trump election.
A 2016 study of "politically oriented searches from a diverse group of American voters" undertaken by Dr. Robert Epstein and reported by Fox News found a "very dramatic bias in Google search results favoring Hillary Clinton” whom the researcher "supported strongly."
Comparing more than 13,000 searches and 98,000 Web pages found on Google, Bing and Yahoo, those biased towards liberal views first popped up decidedly more frequently on Google.
Epstein calculated that over time Google had shifted "somewhere between 2.6 and 10.4 million votes to Hillary without anyone knowing that this had occurred."
Breitbart News has claimed that Google also deliberately worked to interfere with the 2020 presidential election by suppressing its content from search visibility which determines a publisher’s "findable content" by 99.7 percent since 2016.
Whereas on April 4, 2016 conservative-leaning Breitbart ranked in the top ten search positions (i.e., on the first page of Google search results) for 355 key search terms; as of July 20, 2020, Breitbart ranked in the top ten search positions for only one search term.
Then on April 4, 2016, Breitbart ranked in the top 100 search positions for 16,820 key search terms; but as of July 20, 2020, Breitbart ranked in the top 100 search positions for only 55 search terms.
After Google’s May core search update on or about May 5, 2020, Google search impressions and search traffic to Breitbart for “Joe Biden” and other Biden-related search terms dropped to zero.
A federal antitrust action filed on Oct. 20 in the District of Columbia by the U.S. government and 11 states charges Google with exercising unfair monopolistic advantages against other search engine providers.
Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas joined as plaintiffs against Google LLC of Mountain View, California in the suit.
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jess Rosen explained that as the gateway to the internet and search advertising behemoth, Google has “maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who described the legal action as "the most important antitrust case in a generation," told The Epoch Times, "Google and its fellow Big Tech monopolies exercise unprecedented power over the lives of ordinary Americans, controlling everything from the news we read to the security of our most personal information."
With its $1 trillion market value and annual revenues exceeding $160 billion, the Google of today is more than a gateway to the internet.
It also uses its clout as a gatekeeper.
The lion’s share of the federal lawsuit focuses on Google’s alleged foreclosure of competition to its general search engine, including a web of deals with Apple Inc. and others that make Google the default search on many devices.
A case focused on those issues could help companies with competing search engines, such as Microsoft Corp.’s Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo.
According to the plaintiffs, Google owns or controls about 80% of the market for search channels and accounts for 90% of all U.S. searches and 95% of all mobile searches.
Bing is the only major competitor to Google’s dominant product, though it has less than 7% of the market, leaving Yahoo with slightly more than 3%, and DuckDuckGo with less than 2%.
Google’s immense market dominance is supported by exclusive agreements with mobile phone service providers. Google pays Apple a fee somewhere between $8 billion and $12 billion a year to be the default search engine in iPhone, which represents 55% of the U.S. mobile market.
Added to this, a contract grants Google 35% of all Android user searches.
Through its search monopoly Google controls not only commerce, but communication as well with the ability to effectively “cancel” individuals and companies by de-indexing them from searches.
Any expectations of successful antitrust litigation against Google face steep uphill battles; previous court rulings and vague economic doctrines, provide nearly insurmountable obstacles.
The best hope to advance fair competition and free speech practices is through congressional passage of legislative rule changes in the spirit intended by the original 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act.
As Sen. John Sherman, after which the first antitrust statute is named, declared, "If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation and sale of the necessities of life."
Meanwhile, Republicans are also facing stiff opposition headwinds in pushing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to review and scale back liability Section 230 protections granted to other big tech titans as well.
Senate Commerce Committee chairman Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has declared that "given these internet platforms the ability to control, stifle and even censor content in whatever manner meets their respective 'standards,' the time has come for that free pass to end."
This presupposes, of course, that Republican control of the Senate doesn’t end before that occurs.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. Larry has written more than 700 articles for Newsmax and Forbes and is the author of several books. Included are: "How Everything Happened, Including Us" (2020), "Cyberwarfare: Targeting America, Our Infrastructure and Our Future" (2020), "The Weaponization of AI and the Internet: How Global Networks of Infotech Overlords are Expanding Their Control Over Our Lives" (2019), "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful" (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2011). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.
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