It’s neither a secret, nor a surprise, that President Donald Trump doesn’t like Jeff Bezos or his online retail giant, Amazon. His attitude, and the response, has made it clear the great battle of our lifetime will be held as pen and paper versus code.
President Trump, since before his campaign even launched, has been critical of the digital sales and – probably most important – the affect those sales have on the post office. All the while, Bezos’ empire continues to expand into new markets and innovations.
What came of those hearings? Not much, as it was quite clear that most of the lawmakers understood very little about how the actual tech sausage is made. Facebook made some “court of public opinion” gestures of good faith, then went back to business as usual.
Even Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren stated that Facebook and Google were “dangerous” and “too big.”
All of this as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been furiously trying to repeal “Net Neutrality” laws passed during the Obama administration. Those laws prevent Internet service providers from charging “a la carte” for web access at varying levels, on both the web site side and consumer end.
Even Twitter President/CEO Jack Dorsey has testified to the Securities and Exchange Commission that he, literally, “has no idea how to fix (monetize) Twitter.” Why does the SEC care? Because Twitter is a publicly-traded company that also seeks private investment funding to continue operation, and the SEC must determine if Dorsey is misleading investors – i.e. the American public.
The result of those hearings? Nothing.
There’s a very iconic set of photos from the Zuckerberg hearings that bear a Google search (See, there they are). During Day 1, Zuckerberg initially appeared nervous, he was even sweating. By the end of the day? Not so much. Day 2 saw the Facebook CEO ease into questioning, only to be bored and petulant by the end of the day – and through the rest of the interviews.
The series shows a guy who very clearly goes through a level of understanding that the men and women sitting above him, peppering him with questions, have such a limited knowledge of his product to be inconsequential – a waste of his time.
On Thursday morning, however, the current administration has decided to take the fight to Facebook. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson has spearheaded the fight against advertising practices, as Facebook owns 20 percent of the “marketing” pie in the United States. The issue? Real estate agents were able to, very quietly, issue discriminating advertising practices via Facebook by removing demographics and neighborhoods based on race, income, political leanings – basically, everything they teach Realtors they cannot discriminate against.
Now, so far there’s no concrete proof this is as rampant as the initial claims suggest, or if it happened at all, but at least the government is giving it a shot?
The question mark is placed for a simple reason – this single part of Facebook’s advertising offering, if prosecuted, will be tied up in courts for years because Facebook has the money. Meanwhile, the social media platform keeps moving in the direction of rampant growth.
Right now, the top 10 largest companies in the world are mostly technology-based and include Facebook, Google, and now Apple is moving away from hardware into software. That’s several trillion dollars’ worth of capital – more than the U.S.’s GDP, by the way – against lawmakers who are woefully behind.
Throw in Amazon and the power is skewed toward tech companies, and it’s not even close. Remember that it took 60 years for the radio to become a household item; 40 years for the dishwasher; six years for the smart phone; and two years for social media. How much faster can innovation go? Well, with exponential growth of tech hardware and software performance, combined with trillions in capital – how about as fast as tech giants want it to go?
It appears these captains of industry will be able to embrace “free market” policies simply because lawmakers have no idea what a good policy is in the technology industry. Much like Mr. Zuckerberg skipped the whole “having to answer pertinent questions” step, it appears Congress will have to skip policy and jump straight into “market busters.”
But with company mobility and the ability to move to different countries, split up corporations, or simply move faster and spend more money than the federal government – that’s a tough battle, and it’s just getting heated.