This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post, dealing with the suggestion of breaking up and regulating the social-media giants.
I think there’s a good case for a breakup (see the Soros article that prompted the discussion in the first place), but I don’t yet understand technically how that would work.
Would it be measures like, say, pulling YouTube (and Blogger) apart from Google?
Or breaking up Google itself?
The second one seems very hard to do, because a function like "search" is one where there are real advantages to having one giant. If you break up that search engine, does it actually function less well as a search engine?
Splitting off items like YouTube seems much more technically feasible. And maybe it would partly address the underlying concern about social-media platforms having undue social control, but it's not clear that it would.
Particularly in the case of Facebook, the undue social control comes primarily through Facebook itself, not the ancillary businesses it has acquired. And even more than Google’s search engine, it seems to me that Facebook is effective for its users in part because it is the go-to site for that sort of social sharing.
If half of the people I want to share with stay on Facebook, and the other half end up on the new spin-off, “Footbook”, which one should I be on?
I certainly can’t claim to have done anything remotely resembling thorough research on the topic, but I did read some articles calling for a breakup, and none of them explained how that would actually be carried out.
Here’s one in favor of it, but with a very different argument than Soros’s concern with tearing the social fabric. The problem this writer sees is the monopolists’ effect of slowing innovation.
And here’s a summary of responses to a discussion of breakup in a Harvard Business School publication. The social damage perpetrated by the giants seems not to be on the respondents’ radar at all, and they are basically pro-giant: these guys got where they are by being good capitalists, so punishing them for their success would be fascism.
OK, I’m ready. How do we actually carry out the breakup?