North Texas Daily

The case for breaking up Big Tech

The case for breaking up Big Tech

The case for breaking up Big Tech
January 28
11:45 2021

For at least the past three years, one of the biggest political talking points on both sides of the aisle has been the issue of Big Tech. The terms “Big Tech” or “the Tech Giants” refer to the top five largest technology companies in the United States: Amazon, Apple, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Facebook and Twitter.

Political activists, thought leaders and candidates on both sides of the aisle, ranging from progressives such as Bernie Sanders to nationalists such as Josh Hawley, have made stricter regulations against these corporations a policy priority and political goal. While this agreement between factions of the left and right may seem surprising, it really shouldn’t be upon further consideration. Because of the corporate practices, political influence and sheer power of the Tech Giants, the progressive left and the conservative right both have cause to pursue the break-up of these large corporations.

It is important to mention that the Democratic Party establishment has little incentive to break up Big Tech. Most of Big Tech’s 2020 political contributions went to Democrat candidates and Super PACs. However, progressives have a lot of incentive to break up Big Tech. In 2019, a PAC tied to Jeff Bezos and other Amazon senior leaders spent over $1 million trying to unseat Kshama Sawant, an open socialist and Bernie Sanders supporter, from the Seattle City Council.

The largest of the Tech Giants is an open opponent to progressivism, and it’s no mystery why: Big Tech is the embodiment of what progressivism aims to fight.

When progressives like Bernie Sanders talk about the problem of the wealth-gap and needing to hold the “top-tenth of the one percent” accountable, he’s talking about Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, Jack Dorsey and Tim Cook. These are the people who will be most affected by policies such as a wealth-tax and an estate tax, and they know it. The corporations like Amazon are the corporations that oppose the unionization of their workers so much that, and this is not an exaggeration, they used heat maps to track pro-union sentiments in their Whole Foods locations. Big Tech is the enemy of progressivism, and progressives should struggle hard against them if they are serious about their beliefs.

The leadership of the American right will probably have the hardest time accepting the reality that the Tech Giants need to be broken up because of their on-principle support of market noninterventionism. However, they are the side that has the most to gain from breaking the Big Tech monopoly. First and foremost, the Republican Party has deep roots in antitrust legislation.

The Sherman Antitrust Act was a product of the GOP and pursued under the administrations of great Republican presidents like Teddy Roosevelt, who went after the railroad companies and Standard Oil, and Ronald Reagan, who broke up AT&T’s Bell System. The Tech Giants are more than comparable to these corporations. Big Tech not only uses its influence to buy out competition, as Facebook did with Instagram and Google did with Waze (a GPS app which could have threatened Google Maps), but they have the power to outright stamp out competition, as we saw recently with the coordinated takedown of the social-media alternative Parler by the combined might of Apple, Google and Amazon.

From a socially conservative standpoint, the effects that social media has on our social and relational lives, as well as on our brain chemistry, contributes to the decay of the social fabric and to the breakdown of family and culture, which the right claims to support above all else. From a free-speech point of view, Big Tech has shown that it has the power to censor conservative personalities and threatens to continue this trend. Twitter has permanently banned conservatives of all varieties from its platform: up-and-comer John Doyle, far-right personality Milo Yiannopolous and even former President Donald Trump have felt the wrath of Twitter censorship. Even mainstream conservative personalities such as Charlie Kirk have been temporarily suspended from Twitter for even the smallest violation of Twitter’s ever-changing and inconsistent terms of service.

Conservatives need to realize that Big Tech is not their friend and that dogmatic adherence to market fundamentalism is destructive to their values and their political movement.

The call to break up Big Tech is universal and has real potential to unite the two sides of the political spectrum. When progressive politicians like Elizabeth Warren and nationalist commentators like Tucker Carlson can both recognize the same problem and agree on the solution, you know that the solution is bipartisan. It’s time that we heed the call: the heads of Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter are modern-day robber barons and corporate oligarchs. Their power must be taken away.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Jackson Sweet

Jackson Sweet

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