The term “too big to fail” was coined back in the 80s and referred to big banks and corporations. The idea was that some institutions were so big and interconnected, their failure would be disastrous to the economies in which they operated.
Proponents of the theory argue that certain institutions are so important, they should benefit from protective government policies.
But what about companies whose reach extends beyond the borders of any state? Facebook and Google now have global monopolies over online advertising, are formidable news gatekeepers and pose a serious threat to trustworthy journalism.
With more than 90% of Americans now getting their news online, Google and Facebook have the power to turn readers off and on to media outlets at will.
Facebook and Google’s ad revenues are now at $95bn and $40bn respectively, while global newspaper ad revenue plummeted to less than $20bn for the same period.
There are 2.2 billion Facebook users globally and Facebook is now taking action through the US courts to make it harder for consumers to take it to court over privacy breaches.
Meanwhile in a message conversation with a representative from Facebook, I was recently told:
“Facebook reserves the absolute right to reject, approve or remove any ad account for any reason, in their sole discretion, including ads that negatively affect our relationship with our users or promote content, services or activities contrary to our competitive position, interests or advertising policy.”
When the network effect does more social harm than good, when a company’s interests no longer align with the public interest, when do we take a stand and take our dollars and our data and our eyeballs elsewhere?
In a two horse town, it’s going to take a movement of massive proportions.