Facebook is too big to control. That simple reality becomes clearer with each passing day. The most recent example is the news this past Friday of a security breach that allowed hackers to access at least 50 million accounts; earlier that week, Facebook admitted to sharing phone numbers users provided to improve their account security with advertisers.
Over the past year, the social media giant has experienced scandals like these on a regular basis, often of massive scale and tremendous real-world consequence. Those facts — plus its ability to survive these scandals — is leading to a growing recognition that Facebook is one of the world’s most dangerous monopolies.The range of extraordinary harms deriving from Facebook’s monopoly power are why the company must be broken up — and competition restored — as a fundamental component of a solution.
This is certainly not hard to do, technically speaking. And the power to do so lies with the Federal Trade Commission, which upholds competition in the economy. In 2011, Facebook signed what’s known as a consent decree with the FTC, pledging to protect user privacy. That decree has clearly been violated: In one incident alone, data from up to 87 million users was unknowingly shared with the Cambridge Analytica research firm attached to the Trump campaign — resulting in up to $2 trillion in fines.
That broken decree gives the FTC the power to fine Facebook, but more importantly, the leverage to impose other, far more effective remedies, such as spinning off WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger and interoperability standards to end Facebook’s network dominance, allowing other companies a chance to compete for users. [Continue reading…]