Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Podcast of the week: Amazon, Google, and Facebook as the new monopolies

Last Monday, EconTalk posted an interview about the 'new monoplies',  in which host Russ Robert spoke with Matt Stoller about the increasing danger of Google, Facebook, and Amazon.  Stoller is of the opinion that three companies are not only so large that they've consumed their respective markets, but they're starting to overshadow political spheres as well.  Roberts was more concerned about the effect that Google and Facebook had on controlling and filtering available information, and asserting that there's never been a better time to be a producer . One vital point that Stoller makes is that these companies have grown so enormously, so quickly, that they're not even aware of everything that's happening under their aegis; he points to the alleged Russian use of facebook to propagate fake news. Another key point is that these companies are increasingly unavoidable; even if someone is an absolute crank who insists on running Tor and using DuckDuckGo as their search engine,  software like Google is used as the basic infrastructure of some institutions: Stoller uses the example of a father who tried to keep his kid off of YouTube, only to be thwarted by the fact that his kid's school used free Chromebooks from Google -- and with those books, Google's services. 

Although Stoller faltered a bit under questioning, the interview came to mind immediately when I read an article from Wired UK that Amazon and Facebook will soon be allowed (in European and UK markets) to conduct inter-personal financial transactions, like a bank.  We're getting closer to The Circle, it seems. The link above directs readers to the episode highlights page, just in case someone is curious but doesn't have time to listen to a hour-long conversation.


  1. food for thought... but i wonder if it's a real problem and how can it be fixed?

  2. Of the three, Google concerns me the most. Facebook at least has competition for its social messaging parts, but what real rival is there to the google engine, youtube, etc? As far as fixing goes, Stoller's first suggest is to forbid these companies from more acquisitions, but I'm not sure myself. The key problem is that this kind of power is really new...we are just starting to understand the importance.


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