Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison is calling on the federal government to break up Facebook and other monopolies.
In a tweet, Ellison said the U.S. economy “needs real antitrust enforcement to prevent monopolies like Facebook from killing competition, buying influence, and handing out our personal data.”
A Democrat and the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, Ellison announced this week that he wants to become Minnesota’s next attorney general so he can challenge the policies of President Donald Trump.
The Federal Trade Commission should break up Facebook and other monopolies, Ellison tweeted, “to restore competition and prevent abuse.”
The FTC website claims that the agency’s purpose is to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices. The agency was without permanent leadership for more than a year and down several members until January, when Trump moved to fill the ranks.
Ellison has been the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district since 2007 and deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee since 2017.
Our economy needs real antitrust enforcement to prevent monopolies like Facebook from killing competition, buying influence, and handing out our personal data. To restore competition and prevent abuse, the FTC should break up Facebook and other monopolies.https://t.co/S3q504VXCT
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) June 8, 2018
Facebook seems to be in a similar position today to AT&T in 1984 when the government broke up the telephone system, according to New York Times Editorial Board.
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The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher, as opposed to the newsroom and the opinion pages:
“AT&T could count most citizens as customers and … it was arguably the best-run telephone company in the world (but that) was not deemed compelling enough to preserve its monopoly power. The breakup would unleash a wave of competition and innovation that ultimately benefited consumers and the economy.”
Except today, Facebook has far more power — with 2 billion monthly active users — than AT&T had back then.
” … and the way those accounts are linked and viewed by users and by third parties, have made (Facebook) the most powerful communications and media company in the world, even if its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, insists his is a technology business.”
Facebook has always insisted that it treats users’ data “as a sacred trust,” the NY Times asserted.
Yet just this week, fresh violations of that trust were reported by the New York Times:
Facebook shared data with at least four Chinese electronics firms, including one flagged by American officials as a national security threat. We learned earlier this week, thanks to a Times investigation, that it allowed phone and other device makers, including Amazon, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft, to see vast amounts of your personal information without your knowledge. That behavior appears to violate a consent order that Facebook agreed to with the Federal Trade Commission in 2011, after Facebook was found to have made repeated changes to its privacy settings that allowed the company to transfer user data without bothering to inform the users. And it follows the even darker revelation that Facebook allowed a trove of information, including users’ education levels, likes, locations, and religious and political affiliations, to be exploited by the data mining firm Cambridge Analytica to manipulate potential voters for its Republican Party clients.”
Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, have proposed rules to let consumers opt out and keep their information private while giving them more control over it.
At some point a government agency might be willing to break away some of Facebook’s components and chop it down to size, the New York Times Editorial Board wrote. It has happened before.