The Intercept reports that former Breitbart News Executive Chairman and current White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has called for tech companies such as Google and Facebook to be regulated in a similar way to public utilities as the influence and reach of these companies grows. The Intercept cited three anonymous sources that have reportedly discussed the issue of internet regulation and tech companies with Bannon.
Bannon reportedly stated that companies such as Google and Facebook have become so essential to the internet and to the everyday life of many U.S. citizens that they should be regulated as a natural monopoly. Bannon’s position is becoming an increasingly popular one amongst tech experts. Jonathan Taplin, the author of Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy, recently claimed that tech companies like Google and Facebook have become too big and may need to be broken up.
Google and Facebook have been dominating the online advertising industry in recent years, with analysis company Pivotal Research reporting recently that Google and Facebook combined accounted for 99% of all online ad industry growth in 2016. Traditional news outlets recently requested an antitrust exemption for congress in order to negotiate with companies like Google and Facebook in relation to advertising partnerships.
David Charen, the chief executive of the News Media Alliance, wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on the matter where he explained some of the financial figures behind the traditional media group’s complaints. “The problem is that today’s internet distribution systems distort the flow of economic value derived from good reporting,” said Charen. “Google and Facebook dominate web traffic and online ad income.”
“Together, they account for more than 70% of the $73 billion spent each year on digital advertising, and they eat up most of the growth,” he explained. “Nearly 80% of all online referral traffic comes from Google and Facebook. This is an immensely profitable business.”