by Richard John Stapleton, PhD, CTA
From the perspective of individual users since Facebook is free how could you know if having more Facebook-like companies to choose among would be better, or even know what better is?
Looking back at the breakup of ATT in 1984, how much has telephone service improved? My wife and I used to spend about fifteen or so dollars per month on telephone service, which was basically good enough. Now we have our own cellphones but still have a landline phone. Counting Internet charges we now spend about two hundred fifty dollars per month on telephone service, about three thousand dollars per year, compared to about two hundred dollars per year before the breakup of ATT, and we were better off then than we are now in terms of basic telephone service, especially considering the robo call situation, causing us to be subjected to unregulated con artists invading our space numerous times daily interrupting our lives with random calls touting scams.
I cannot see how ordinary users would get better off by breaking up Facebook, especially considering they would probably have to pay for what they now get free. On the other hand breaking up Facebook would definitely make it easier for new tech startups to capture some of Facebook’s advertising business.
As this article, “It’s Time to Break Up Facebook,” points out Facebook is a natural monopoly. Zuckerberg and his buddies at Harvard accidentally hit upon a business model of vast potential playing around with their laptops in their dorm rooms, primarily thanks not to what they invented, but to what had evolved and been invented by others, including governments funded by taxpayers. They were very lucky to be the first to connect the dots and get a patent giving them monopoly power to use nothing more than computer code, that enabled them to develop one of the most profitable and powerful businesses in history, enabling humans all around Earth to communicate with one another at no charge about any subject, in writing, visually, and auditorially. How much better can it get than that?
The main agitation now, as was the case in 1984 with ATT, is that jealous, hungry, and powerless would be competitors would like to enjoy some of Facebook’s revenues.
Rather than break up Facebook as a natural monopoly it should be run like all natural monopolies should be run, natural monopolies such as electric power companies, through government regulation that makes sure they are run in such a way as to produce the greatest good for the greatest number. Unfortunately when any organization, government or private, gets too much power it can be used in harmful ways. Running Facebook by government regulation, however, would be far better for ordinary humans than breaking Facebook up and subjecting them to the machinations of smaller organizations that will exploit them several orders of magnitude more than Facebook has, assuming Facebook has exploited users by selling their personal data. If so then cure the exploitation through governmental regulation, not by breaking up Facebook.
It’s not Facebook’s fault they accidentally got monopoly control of one of the greatest golden egg-laying geese of all time.
Richard John Stapleton, PhD, CTA, Editor & Publisher, Effective Learning Report, June 24, 2019