This week has certainly been eventful for the tech industry’s biggest players. On Wednesday, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, were questioned by lawmakers against claims they held too much power and how they were taking advantage of this to stifle their competition.
While each company faced antitrust scrutiny for different reasons, Congressman David Cicilline, who led the committee, emphasised the similarities between them. He highlighted that a year-long investigation, which involved hundreds of hours of testimony and obtaining over 1 million documents, showed that these tech giants had “wielded their power in destructive, harmful ways in order to expand”.
Apple and Amazon were accused of using their power to decide which sellers get to put up apps and sell products. Amazon, for example, came under fire for its ability to “systematically” block sellers from selling products in specific categories. This came after interviews with a seller who believed she had been blocked from selling specific genres of books.
Facebook were scrutinised for its acquisitions of competitors such as Instagram, and Google was suspected to have stolen content created by smaller firms, like Yelp, to keep users on their web pages.
However, the chief executives of these tech giants all insisted they did nothing illegal, with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos defending that the world “needs large” firms, while Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook arguing that competition spurs innovation.
Together, these companies have a joint market value of more than $5trn (£3.8trn) dollars of the US economy. The latest earnings results from Amazon and Facebook further highlighted the stark differences between their successes and other firms. Given the impact COVID-19 is having on the economy, Amazon sales surged 40% in the three months ending June, to $88.9bn. Facebook saw a growth of 15% in their users on its platforms, which include WhatsApp and Instagram, while Apple reported a growth in their revenues, jumping 11% year-on-year to $59.7bn.
To put this all in perspective – $1 billion dollars can get you your very own private island! A decent sized island in French Polynesia would only cost you $8.6 million. No big deal. Or if you love dogs, you could buy tens of thousands of the most expensive dog breeds!
So, should these tech giants be broken up? Will tougher regulations spell an end to their monopoly power? While we won’t see the end of them just yet, there’s no doubt the whole world will be keeping a closer eye on them.
This week’s top social stories
Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter removed a COVID-19 video tweeted by Trump. Read more
TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer Issues Challenge to Facebook in First Public Statement. Read more
TikTok launches £54m fund for European creators to make videos. Read more
Snapchat Publishes New Study into Evolving Video Consumption Behaviours. Read more
Spotify tests visual quote cards for The Michelle Obama Podcast. Read more
Missing the festivals and concerts? Well, as if TikTok couldn’t get any cooler, they’re now hosting a live virtual concert from The Weeknd. The artist will be represented by a digital avatar in what TikTok is calling its “first ever in-app cross reality experience”
Twitter has come under fire for their slow action on suspending Wiley after he posted a series of anti-Semitic tweets. The delayed response prompted a 48-hour boycott of Twitter by many users.
With lockdown restrictions easing, Heineken reminds us that bars are open, with social distancing measures in place of course! From air hugs to elbow bumps to 1.5m cheers, we’ll certainly see more of this on our next night out!
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