The push to break up tech giants Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN), and Apple (AAPL) took a major step forward on Tuesday, when a recommendation of that approach featured prominently in a 449-page report from Democratic members of a House subcommittee tasked with investigating the companies.
The report warned of monopoly power wielded by each of the firms, citing for instance the “firmly entrenched” dominance in social networking held by Facebook’s collection of apps and services.
In a new interview, left-leaning author Kurt Andersen called Facebook a “different beast” than other tech giants, arguing that its problems extend beyond market control. Andersen contends that Facebook’s immense platform is causing societal damage, and that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has failed to take any worthwhile steps to reduce it.
“You have the problems of monopoly, which is one set of problems,” said Andersen, who made the comments on Sept. 29, prior to the release of the House probe’s report.
“But then in the case of Facebook, you have a founder and CEO, who has made it clear, he is unwilling to make any meaningful attempts, really, to figure out how this new, incredibly powerful platform will not be worse for society and humanity than better,” he adds.
“It seems pretty clear to me that it’s a net bad right now,” he says.
In response to the House subcommittee’s report, Facebook told Recode in a statement: “Facebook is an American success story. We compete with a wide variety of services with millions, even billions, of people using them. Acquisitions are part of every industry, and just one way we innovate new technologies to deliver more value to people.”
‘Twitter is making its efforts’
Facebook has faced elevated criticism in the run-up to the 2020 election. In May, Zuckerberg reiterated that Facebook wouldn’t interfere with inflammatory posts from President Donald Trump, prompting protests from employees. Some advertisers also boycotted Facebook over its refusal to stop hate speech, prompting Facebook to add labels to some posts.
More recently, the social networking giant has further acted to prevent the spread of misinformation, including by announcing that it would block new political ads in the final week of the race. On Tuesday, the company blocked a Trump post falsely stating that the coronavirus is less deadly than the flu. Twitter (TWTR) also blocked a similar post.
On the whole, Twitter has taken a more aggressive approach to addressing posts from Trump that violate its rules. Alerts attached to his posts have warned users about issues that range from misleading to manipulated content.
“Twitter is making its efforts,” Andersen says.
Andersen, the founder of “Spy” magazine who for two