Google

Justice Department Files Federal Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

Government claims Google uses its power to force users and advertisers on board. Google says that its popularity is not anticompetitive.

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Today the Department of Justice, joined by the governments of 11 states, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google in which they accuse the internet search company of "unlawfully maintaining monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search advertising in the United States through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices … ."

The 64-page lawsuit contends that Google owns or controls roughly 80 percent of the market for search channels and accounts for 90 percent of all searches in the United States (and 95 percent of all mobile searches). The scale at which Google operates and its exclusionary agreements, the lawsuit argues, makes it a massive barrier to entry for rivals and innovators, which in turn makes it harder for newcomers to access its customer base, and essentially forces anybody who wants to do business online to use Google.

Mobile access via Apple phones seems to be a big deal in the lawsuit, as Google has an agreement with Apple that its search engine is the default iPhone web browser. The lawsuit acknowledges that while iPhone users are free to change the default search engine, few do. About half of the lawsuit seems to be focused entirely on Google's dominance over mobile phone search tools.

The lawsuit also notes that while Google once prided itself as the "turnstile" to the internet for "organic searches," its power to place advertising at the top of searches for those who are willing to pay money pushes those who aren't willing to pay down on the page of search results. As a result, these "organic links" (as in, links that appear without paid placement at the top of the page) are being demoted. This also crowds out third-party advertising providers from Google searches.

The plaintiffs are asking the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to declare that Google is operating in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act (the federal antitrust law), stop Google from engaging in the anticompetitive practices described in the lawsuit, and force Google to "restore competitive conditions in the markets affected by Google's unlawful conduct."

The Justice Department and attorneys general in several states have been investigating companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and others for potential antitrust lawsuits for years, and today's filing did not catch the company off guard. Kent Walker, a Google senior vice president and the company's chief legal officer, described the Justice Department's effort as "a deeply flawed lawsuit that would do nothing to help consumers." Walker writes, "People use Google because they choose to, not because they're forced to, or because they can't find alternatives."

About the accusations of a special deal with Apple, Walker explains:

Our agreements with Apple and other device makers and carriers are no different from the agreements that many other companies have traditionally used to distribute software. Other search engines, including Microsoft's Bing, compete with us for these agreements. And our agreements have passed repeated antitrust reviews.

Walker notes that in fact competitors Bing and Yahoo! Also pay to have their search tools featured on the iPhone's browser. (When I open my iPhone's Safari browser, the icons for both Bing and Yahoo! are right there next to Google. But if I just type words into the search bar above without clicking on an icon, it will automatically default to Google for searches, which the Justice Department complains about in the lawsuit.)

Walker also makes the case that customers use Google because they want to, not because they have to, by noting that people downloaded 204 billion apps in 2019. People are more than capable of figuring out how to access and use alternatives if that's what they want. As evidence, he notes the Mozilla Firefox users who quickly figured out how to switch their default browser to Google after Mozilla entered into an agreement to make Yahoo! the browser's default search engine.

In short, Google is arguing that its domination of the market is actually organic. It is giving people what they want and consumers' needs are being satisfied. Those claims will be important to the case because the Justice Department will need to prove that consumers and markets are being harmed by Google's domination.

Despite the length of the lawsuit, the focus is actually pretty narrow. The Justice Department seems really focused on opening up mobile browser access, advertising in searches, and fighting these exclusionary agreements. This doesn't actually appear to be a "break up Google" lawsuit, and it doesn't seem terribly interested in engaging in claims from conservatives that Google is censoring them by fiddling with search algorithms or otherwise hiding certain results.

But, as The New York Times notes, other attorneys general in other states may file lawsuits of their own. Some big states like Texas and Florida have signed onto the Justice Department lawsuit, but others, like California and New York, have not.

This shouldn't be taken to mean that leaders of these states aren't making plans of their own. As Andrea O'Sullivan recently observed, there's a push among Democrats to broaden antitrust law so that it can be used to enforce sociopolitical economic goals, not just to protect consumers from monopolies. It may well be that other states didn't sign on here precisely because the Justice Department isn't trying to dismantle Google.

Read the lawsuit here.

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  1. It’s really really easy to use a different search engine.

    1. They do more than just search engines.

      1. But that is what this lawsuit is about.

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        2. Crony capitalists got cronyed.

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      2. The Justice Dept is missing the truly dangerous and harmful and arguably more illegal Google activity. They censor egregiously.

        unGoogle.us

    2. It really isn’t, and this about far more than search engines.

      1. It really is, and the lawsuit is about search engines. One more swing and a miss, and you’re out.

        1. It is actually more than just search engines as it will also investigate anti-competitive practices. The focus ois on their search and advertising both, but it will go into more than just that.

          So a pop u out for you?

          Google engaged in anticompetitive conduct to preserve monopolies in search and search advertising that form the cornerstones of its vast conglomerate.

          The government alleged that Google uses billions of dollars collected from advertisements on its platform to pay mobile-phone manufacturers, carriers and browsers, like Apple Inc.’s Safari, to maintain Google as their preset, default search engine

          Or just read the brief.

          1. So it’s about search engines.

            1. It’s like the dumb leading the dumb with you and ABC.

              No it isn’t. I quoted the important parts. If they created a search engine and did nothing else, they wouldn’t be under investigation. It was their BUSINESS PRACTICES that have led to the lawsuit.

              Why are you so dumb? I literally quoted what the issue is. They are paying companies to force their engines into default configurations and to be non removable. It isn’t about just having a search engine, but the actual business practices.

              Just admit you don’t know crap, no reason to come in and prove it. It is their actual business actions that triggered the investigation, not having a search engine.

              1. Ok, so it’s about other search engines not getting a fair shake. Am I wrong in saying that service providers are allowed to do “business” with whatever manufacturers they choose?

              2. Business practices relating to their search engine. So it is about search engines. You don’t come here for the hunting, do you.

              3. It’s the same issue Microsoft got dinged for in the 2000s that gave Google a huge boost when developing Chrome.

                It’s essentially the same exact thing and Google profited mightily from that case and is now doing the same thing.

                Wasn’t “don’t be evil” a slam against Microsoft?

      2. It really is. And while the anti-Google debate might be about more than search engines, this lawsuit really isn’t.

        1. It really isn’t as the brief talks about their business practices.

          1. In any case, it is easy to use another search engine. I have no opinion on whether Google engages in anti-competitive practices otherwise.

            1. I believe the walls of their offices should be bathed/painted in the blood of their extremely evil execs… but yes, it is easy to use another search engine.
              I switched my phone default to duckduckgo

              1. ^This is what mental illness looks like, folks.

                1. No worse than being told with a citation on what the investigation is about and then claiming it is solely about a search engine like you did above. That is some intentional ignorance you have there.

                  1. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new… after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

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                2. Your arrow is pointing at your name.

            2. Why talk about the actual suit if you don’t have an opinion on the business practices under investigation?

              1. I’m not talking about the actual suit. I will read more about it when I have time and then I might have an opinion.

    3. It’s easy to use a different search engine, but only after you first learn that they exist and that you can change the default.

      It’s not something that’s asked in the setup phase. You have to proactively go into the safari settings.

      But I use duck duck go only for the libertarian cool points. It really sucks in comparison.

      1. Really? For the last couple of years, I’ve always gotten better results from duckduckgo than from google when I’m forced to use google.

    4. When conservatives realize that the free market does not support conservative positions, they will not abandon their conservatism. They will abandon their support for the free market.

      1. When you realize we don’t live in a free market currently, you’ll still say the same stupid insipid comments you always do where you ignore reality because it is too complicated for you.

        Nothing these companies are doing is considered a free market. They are behaving in an anti-competitive manner and you are too ignorant to realize it.

      2. Um, ok but what’s the point of keeping principles that lead to your destruction?

        Only a fucking idiot would do that.

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    7. I’m a software guy. I’m always searching for terms that are either uncommon, or mean something entirely different in English vs. programming language.
      Google’s search has always been far superior than others.
      Also Google’s shopping (price search) has always been superior (even when Bing falsely claimed they find the lowest prices).
      And all it cost me to use the service is my soul! What’s not to like?

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  2. I use Google and MySpace all the time because I want the kids to think I’m cool and hip. The blacks and trannies love me. – Joe Biden

    1. Joe’s still got a CompuServe account.

      1. That’s not what I read on Prodigy.

      2. I still have the box CompuServe came in

    2. Joe uses Google and MySpace on his WebTV.

  3. Hmmmm, wonder if this initial charge is more about getting into the companies files to find more things to charge with, or if this is the plan all the way.

    1. I’m guessing this lawsuit has been in the planning probably since the Obama administration. This is an example of career DOJ officials who transcend a specific administration. This anti-trust lawsuit looks and feels a lot like the IE4.0 lawsuit against Microsoft in the 90s. Due to agreements and an outsized marketshare in a particular area, people default to the Google service without making specialized efforts to go around it. The options are there, but the consumer has to ‘work’ at it.

      I’m not really comfortable with these lawsuits– just as I wasn’t with the 90s efforts against Microsoft… because markets have a funny way of doing endruns around long-time dominant companies. And Microsoft was an excellent example of exactly that. We went from “every consumer is FORCED to use IE4.0 on their desktop computer sitting in the livingroom!” to “What desktop computer?” in just a few short years.

      Google will not be dominant forever, because some other company or idea will simply do an end-run around the search engine as we look at it today.

      “But… but… what IS that end run? What exactly will it look like”?

      If I knew that, I’d be the next tech billionaire. But it will happen, just like it happened to Microsoft- who was believed at the time to be poised to become the ONLY tech company, gobbling up everything around it, owning every piece of electronics you used, and everything forced to run through its services and OS.

      1. because some other company or idea will simply do an end-run around the search engine as we look at it today.

        Not unless Google buys them early on and strangles them in the cradle. I’m sure they have some VP who has that as a shadow responsibility.

        1. If they do, someone else will do the same, and Google hasn’t got enough money to buy off everybody.

          1. So they can continue anti-competitive practices at will as long as one maybe escapes at some undefined time? Seems very libertarian of you.

            1. Market forces cause prices to skyrocket when google decides to buy all of a good no matter how much it costs.

            2. Like Microsoft, there’s a short period of market pain. There’s a (non libertarian) argument to be made whether or not there should be any remedies during that period of pain… or as some people say, during a market squabble. But effects of ‘fixing’ the problem are likely to result in rules that look bizarre or nonsensical in ten years, let alone the negative second order effects.

              This type of anti-trust becomes highly technical and doesn’t age well. The fight over section 230, on the other hand is less technical and has broader, more philosophical consequences.

              1. The fight over section 230, on the other hand is less technical and has broader, more philosophical consequences.

                2 things:
                1. What makes you think s230 isn’t bizarre, reactionary nonsense? It was passed as a bill to rid the internet of trolling and has since been explicitly retconned into the law without which the internet couldn’t exist.

                2. Microsoft arguably won the IE 4.0 case. Even if you think the settlement wasn’t a win for MS, surely your libertarian sensibilities would favor a settlement with no legal precedence/binding to passed legislation (retconned or other)?

                1. 1. I’m making no statement against or for section 230. Section 230 is a far more simply worded piece of legislation than your typical anti-trust directive.

                  I have problems with 230 because I agree, it’s been retconned, and while I’m reluctant to agitate for its elimination, there is, in my opinion, a clear problem with the major tech companies acting as publishers while claiming to be neutral platforms. A neutral platform doesn’t need an ‘elections integrity division’.

                  Yes, Microsoft did, but at the cost of a kajillion dollars of wasted legal efforts. I don’t favor the MS solution OVER section 230 (I think you’ve misunderstood me), it’s the precedent that gets set by even attempting it I’ve got a problem with.

                  My point was section 230 should be easier to deal with than the deep complexities of an anti-trust lawsuit with far and wide reaching technical implications requiring thousands of experts and millions of pages of documents.

        2. Not unless Google buys them early on and strangles them in the cradle. I’m sure they have some VP who has that as a shadow responsibility.

          Which was Exactly the concern about microsoft back in the 90s. Microsoft bought Nokia to win the mobile wars.

      2. While I tend to agree with you, the fact is that these Anti Trust suits are a great way to entrench a company. Despite the damage done to Microsoft, they came out quite well- being “punished” by getting their OS donated to schools around the country. Microsoft went from a company that bragged about keeping its lawyers out of DC, to one of the larger lobbyists in the country- and this left its mark on legislation like DMCA.

        I agree that the market will likely take care of Google in the long run (and if it doesn’t, it is probably because they are doing quite a bit to bring consumers value). However, Sarbanes-Oxley (and other legislation) has made it harder and harder for small companies to raise the capital necessary to challenge entrenched companies. We are becoming more and more like Europe, where big companies stay big and small companies stay small.

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  5. Google and FB utilize anti-free market behaviors such as buy and kills, collusion, and rate setting. They use their dominant position to harm competitors. This has been a long time coming. There are also dozens and dozens of claims of outright theft for both companies, ideas stolen from sales pitch meetings. One case had them string along someone seeking to sell an application for a year until they had created a competing app of their own.

    This as well as the walled gardens going up to keep competitors off of their market places is also an issue.

    1. If your accusations are true, then why didn’t the DoJ charge them with that? What you allege would be actual harm. Instead, the DoJ charged on an unwinnable search engine allegation.

      Much as I want to believe that there is some magical app that Google is suppressing that an anti-trust suit would break free, I also wanted to believe in the 1970s that the big oil companies were sitting on a carburetor patent that would let existing cars get 100 miles per gallon. Conspiracy theories about ‘buy and kill’ are a dime a dozen. When you dig into them, they always turn into ‘buy and realize we got rooked so we stopped throwing good money after bad’.

      1. “If your accusations are true, then why didn’t the DoJ charge them with that? What you allege would be actual harm. Instead, the DoJ charged on an unwinnable search engine allegation.”

        Possibly because Google is up to its eyeballs in cronyism with Daddy Gov, and this is all for show?

    2. I don’t believe the real purpose of this consent decree is to address any of those issues.

    3. I don’t really feel damaged by google services.

      Which one hurt me the most?

      1. Search engine. Especially if you are a writer and you don’t necessarily march in lockstep with the global megacorp’s political views:
        https://ungoogle.us

  6. It’s creepy when it’s done by the right too. But…teach the controversy?

    https://twitter.com/rklein90/status/1318290368329371648

    An Ohio school has been assigning kids PragerU videos for class. The site has videos like ‘the left ruins everything’ & ‘playing the black card’

    Turns out, PragerU is amid a new push to get into K12 schools. They say ‘so many’ teachers have signed up

    1. I’m not sure which is worse, Prager U teaching kids how the left ruins everything, or Federally Funded Accreddited U teaching kids the unvarnished benefits of Marxism. the destruction of the Nuclear Family and rejecting your ancestry because of complicity in White Hegemony.

      1. Whichever one is worse, it’s all creepy.

        1. I don’t like any school adopting politically motivated ‘lesson plans’. I think most of what is fed to the schools by activist groups regarding “climate change” is incredibly damaging to the culture.

          I’m not defending Prager U, but I’m going to guess its scope and impact will be a drop in the bucket compared to reach of Critical Race Theory and Climate Change story time.

    2. Just what do you think kids should be taught about the left? I think “they ruin everything” is a pretty truthful statement. Don’t you?

      1. Whether they’re taught about leftism or not isn’t the issue. It’s creepy when organizations with political agendas infiltrate schools so they can make their pitch to a captive audience. But if you’re going to let one in, you open the door for others to swoop in with their counter narrative and classrooms essentially turn into giant Twitter bitchfests.

        1. It’s creepy when organizations with political agendas infiltrate schools

          What are you gonna do? They’re teachers, they got an agenda and a union to back them up.

          1. I’m shocked that any teachers would accept anything from Prager U. I mean, what’s the old joke about the Democratic National Convention:

            Q: What’s the most common greeting at the DNC?
            A: Where do you teach?

        2. Then your problem is with government running schools

        3. “It’s creepy when organizations with political agendas infiltrate schools so they can make their pitch to a captive audience.”

          So… all education and media is creepy

          1. Unless you think that everything is political and math is racist, I think it should be possible to educate without political indoctrination.

            1. It should be.
              But that’s not the trend over my lifetime (and probably longer).

      2. I tend to think so, but there is considerable disagreement on that point and kids should be allowed to figure out their political positions on their own. Which of course isn’t really happening now since the left has ruined public education.

        1. We started teaching children WHAT to think instead of HOW to think.

          1. ^^^ That is a critical point that gets lost in the discussion.

          2. In all fairness, with few exceptions, modern schools have never taught students HOW to think.

  7. “The focus is actually pretty narrow. The Justice Department seems really focused on opening up mobile browser access, advertising in searches, and fighting these exclusionary agreements. This doesn’t actually appear to be a “break up Google” lawsuit, and it doesn’t seem terribly interested in engaging in claims from conservatives that Google is censoring them by fiddling with search algorithms or otherwise hiding certain results.”

    The purpose of the action is to force a consent decree. The purpose of repealing Section 230 is to force a consent decree. The government wants to set the standards and monitor content, and in order to do that, they need a consent decree.

    In the tobacco settlement, they did the same thing. If you don’t want us to tear you apart and you want us to protect your from liability, you need to accept this consent decree–sign away protection for your First Amendment rights, and we’ll protect you from liability. Now the tobacco industry 1) can’t advertise and 2) is forced to fund advertisements that encourage people not to smoke.

    This is what they want for social media.

    They didn’t want to destroy tobacco either, especially not with all that sweet tax revenue they generate. The government doesn’t want to destroy social media either. They just want to control the content. For those of us who can’t see the difference government control of the content and destroying social media, they do even if you don’t.

    They want control, and Google (and Facebook) are probably only too happy to let them set the standards–so they can stop pretending they have standards of their own.

    Procedures were followed. That’s the world they both want. It’s just that if the Biden administration controls the White House when those procedures are put in place by way of the consent decree, we’ll get a very different set of procedures than we would if President Trump were in office. Now that the antitrust case is official, this is now a legitimate campaign issue. Who do you want to write the rules for social media, Biden or Trump?

    1. “The restrictions specified included bans on outdoor billboards, advertising on transit vehicles, as well as restrictions on sports marketing, event sponsorships and promotional products.”

      —-Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_Master_Settlement_Agreement#Restrictions_on_youth_targeting

      Consent decrees are the way you get around the First Amendment–and it works that way with other amendments, too.

      On Joe Biden’s campaign website, he’s promising to repeal a law that protects the gun manufacturers from liability for crimes committed with their guns. It’s the same thing. On the one hand, Biden and the Democrats might really want to bankrupt the gun manufacturers. On the other hand, he can force them to, say, stop manufacturing AR-15s and such with a consent decree.

      1. “Senator Biden voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but gun manufacturers successfully lobbied Congress to secure its passage. This law protects these manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products – a protection granted to no other industry. Biden will prioritize repealing this protection.”

        —-Joe Biden Campaign Website

        https://joebiden.com/gunsafety/

        He also wants to ban “assault weapons” and ban the sale of gun and ammunition online. All of those things can be accomplished with a consent decree–once the Democrats strip gun manufacturers of their liability protection.

        Using the coercive power of government to force people to make sacrifices for what they say is the great good is what it means to be a progressive. They’re working to force us to sacrifice our freedom to say what we want online, and they’re working to force us to sacrifice our right to bear arms. It’s all for the greater good, and if you don’t like it, well . . . elections have consequences.

        1. P.S. Biden’s campaign website seems to suggest in that quote that no other industry enjoys protection from civil liability for their products, but that isn’t true. The tobacco industry is one example, the vaccine industry is another example, and social media enjoys protection from civil liability for their industry, too. In fact, half the purpose of regulation everywhere is relieve industries of liability because “procedures were followed”, but in those three instances, liability protections were spelled out specifically.

          1. Still not clear on a) what those exact protections, enacted by Congress, are and b) why the libertarian position is/would be to support them for tobacco, vaccines, tech, etc. and not for bakers, hotels, landlords, etc.

            Moreover, regardless of “libertarian” backing, not at all clear how government protections for tobacco, vaccines, tech, backers, hotels, landlords, etc. doesn’t constitute a form of not-so-soft fascism.

            Convince me that the term ‘troll’ isn’t a völkisch Dolchstoßlegende.

            1. a) The protections are listed in the consent decree for tobacco I linked above.

              The protections for vaccines are there because if they weren’t, profit seeking enterprises would be reluctant to develop vaccines.

              The fact is that vaccines will harm and/or kill a certain percentage of the people who use them in a pandemic, and the developers of vaccines are acutely aware of that–to the point that they seek to minimize the issue but understand that some innocent people will die when their product is used as directed. Under normal circumstances, knowingly releasing a product with the thorough knowledge that it will harm and kill some people when used as directed isn’t just a civil case. That’s practically negligent homicide. I’m not sure there’s anything libertarian about laws that are put together in such a way that 99.999% of the people should be deprived of the benefit of a vaccine if it hurts 0.001%, but our lawmakers have apparently decided that the rights of those who want to use the vaccine in a pandemic are such that liability laws should be pushed aside in that case–regardless of whether we agree with their decision.

              “why the libertarian position is/would be to support them for tobacco, vaccines, tech, etc. and not for bakers, hotels, landlords, etc.”

              It should be noted that limiting liability is also, practically, the entire basis of corporate law–in every company. Because I own stock in Boeing in my retirement portfolio shouldn’t mean I risk any of my personal savings because Boeing executives were negligent in the design and construction of one of their airplanes. There are a number of good reasons for that, one of which is because I had nothing to do with the design or manufacture of that airplane. That is very similar to the protections afforded social media by way of Section 230, mind you, since it says that social media companies aren’t required to respond to defamation claims in court for things they didn’t write.

              1. a) The protections are listed in the consent decree for tobacco I linked above.

                No they weren’t. They were described summarily or in the abstract or even contrary to your claims:

                In the forty years through 1994, over 800 private claims were brought against tobacco companies in state courts across the country. The individuals asserted claims for negligent manufacture, negligent advertising, fraud, and violation of various state consumer protection statutes.

                There were no protections for tobacco, they were sued under consumer protection statutes that applied to any/all businesses. Moreover, *THEY WENT TO COURT AND WON*. Tobacco wasn’t “let off” because of legislated immunity to the statutes, it was “let off” because telling your consumers smoking makes you cool (but gives you cancer) isn’t a provable lie.

                This is completely contradictory to the section 230 argument where no single business or collection of businesses faced more than a handful of lawsuits. The fact that you conflate the two is between erroneous and a lie.

                Let’s be clear here Ken, are you or would you be OK with 800 claimants being able to sue Big Tobacco into the ground but not OK with 800 “claimants” being able to sue Big Tech? Why?

                1. Not sure I get what you’re saying anymore.

                  “Let’s be clear here Ken, are you or would you be OK with 800 claimants being able to sue Big Tobacco into the ground but not OK with 800 “claimants” being able to sue Big Tech? Why?

                  Okay with it?

                  It doesn’t matter whether I’m okay with it. They did this to the tobacco companies by way of consent decrees, and they’ll do the same thing to the social media companies, too–and whether I’m okay with it or whether you’re okay with it doesn’t matter one bit.

                  What I want to happen is over here.

                  What has happened in the past and what will happen in the future is over there.

                  Whether I want it to happen or how I feel about it has almost nothing to do with whether it will happen. You understand that, right?

                  Premise 1) The general aim of an antitrust action is typically a consent decree.

                  “Violations of antitrust law are typically resolved through consent decrees”

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consent_decree#Antitrust_law

                  Premise 2) A consent decree will allow the regulation of speech like it did in the tobacco settlement.

                  Conclusion) If Biden is in the White House and running the Department of Justice when the consent decree is negotiated, the consent decree with reflect the Democrats’ concerns about social media.

                  Corollary 1: If we don’t want the progressives to write those rules, we better vote for President Trump.

                  Corollary 2: Apart from my ability to persuade others to vote for President Trump, the conclusion will happen (or not) regardless of how Ken Shultz feels about it.

    2. Consent decrees seem the worst result that could happen. Dems want social media companies to behave the way they are. It’s there dream to be able to have every story that is unflattering to them blocked. Any decree signed would be easily altered or interpreted later to make mandatory the actions that Twitter and Facebook pulled in the last week.

      1. You call them “stories that are unflattering to them”. They call them “conspiracy theories”.

      2. If it’s any consolation, you’ll still be able to say what you want about your cat.

        1. I won’t be surprised if hate speech against cats is outlawed in my lifetime.

        2. I’m actually already off Facebook. Very Democrat mother drove me off with her constant posting of political memes, and I’ll be off twitter as soon as the Fanexus is up and I can go elsewhere to connect with fandom types.

          1. I keep off of both of them, as well.

            Still, I want other people to be able to call the politicians bullshit out.

            I mean, holy moly, think what the world would be like if the only thing people thought was true was whatever the progressives let us say on Facebook!

            I thought the kind of noble lie bullshit we were subjected to about Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs ahead of the Iraq War might never threaten us again because of social media calling the bullshit. The progressives want to make the noble lie great again.

            1. WMDs were teeny tiny potatoes compared to the last 5 years.
              Even just the past year.

              1. “WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe it is likely that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, says a poll out almost two years after the terrorists’ strike against this country.

                Sixty-nine percent in a Washington Post poll published Saturday said they believe it is likely the Iraqi leader was personally involved in the attacks carried out by al-Qaeda. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents believe it’s likely Saddam was involved.

                —-USA Today, 9/6/2003

                https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-09-06-poll-iraq_x.htm

                Six months after we invaded Iraq, 69% of the American people still believed that Saddam Hussein was personally complicit in 9/11. That wasn’t because they were stupid or insane.

                That’s largely because of the anthrax attack–and Bush Administration bullshit about Saddam Hussein’s WMD program and his collaboration with Al Qaeda. That’s what noble lies are all about.

                We never should have fought that war, and all those dead Americans, squandered treasure, those benefits to Iran, and all those dead Iraqis are a much bigger deal than anything that’s happened over the past five years.

                George W. Bush was an evil shithead.

                1. “All those dead Americans, squandered treasure, those benefits to Iran, and all those dead Iraqis are a much bigger deal than anything that’s happened any [noble lie] over the past five years.”

                  —-Ken Shultz

                  Fixed!

                  1. New normal, comrade

    3. In the tobacco settlement, they did the same thing.

      Show me the s230 or CDA that nominally protected the tobacco industry from trolls and frivolous litigation. If none exists, explain the disparity.

      1. Section 230 protects social media from frivolous lawsuits.

        The tobacco settlement was driven by smokers who sued the tobacco companies, with the smokers claiming they didn’t know smoking was bad for them.

    4. Neither, preferably. But Facebook already has an elections integrity division run by former Biden and Obama staffers, so it seems the draft consent decree is probably 90% there.

      1. Yeah, the ship where nobody is writing the rules for online discussions has already sailed–but they won’t get the rules they want in the consent decree if Trump is reelected.

        I’d like to say that the good things about the consent decree is that it will only apply to those social media platforms that sign onto it, but that isn’t what happened with tobacco.

        “Since 1998 [the date of the settlement agreement], approximately 41 additional tobacco companies have joined the Master Settlement Agreement. These companies, referred to as the Subsequent Participating Manufacturers (SPMs), are bound by the Master Settlement Agreement’s restrictions and must make payments to the settling states as set forth in the Master Settlement Agreement.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_Master_Settlement_Agreement#Subsequent_signatories

        100% of the tobacco companies eventually signed.

        If and when they repeal Section 230, the only way to avoid answering lawsuits for the speech of third parties will be to sign on to the consent agreement. If and when we see this consent agreement, everybody who was so sure before about repealing Section 230 will suddenly find they have questions about whether that’s really such a good idea.

        1. As I have said before: it took 15 years for Democrats to weaponize Bush’s Patriot act against republicans. How long will it take the Dems to weaponize whatever Trump does to Facebook against republicans?

          1. How is/would that be different from the status quo now?

    5. Now do Pharma!

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  9. go get ’em government! lol

  10. In short, Google is arguing that its domination of the market is actually organic. It is giving people what they want and consumers’ needs are being satisfied

    Agree.

    The lawsuit is just a warning shot to Google to tell them the feds can regulate them if they don’t back down on some other stuff that bothers them.

  11. In other acts of stupidity, Facebook Demonetizes Babylon Bee over Monty Python spoof of Mazie Hirono.

    1. Who are you, who are so wise in the ways of science.

      1. And that, my liege, is how we know the earth to be banana-shaped.

    2. Thanks for the post! Tee-Hee!

      HOWEVER, MeThinks ye be as heavy as a duck, so your posts should be BANNED, ye WITCH, ye!

    3. oh wow you’re serious. that Hirono/Duck thing is hilarious.

      1. Hirono weighs more than a duck, but the duck’s brain weighs more that Hirono’s.

        1. Wait a minute, now, that means Hirono (or at the very least, her body) is a WITCH, whereas the duck’s BRAIN is a witch, compared to Hirono’s brain! A heck of a conundrum… Perhaps even some very dicey-spicy duck stew, you might say… That ye have crookedly cooked up for us!

          It seems to me, that a solution MIGHT be, to transplant brains between the two of them, such that the witchy duck’s brain is in the witchy body or Hirono. THEN the COMBINED witch… BURN HER!!!

          The whole topic of “brain transplants” scares me though… WHY?

          “Body taxes” are coming!!!

          Today, if I sink my own labor into my house and yard, and thereby increase my assessed tax value of my property, I have to pay more taxes! If I cannot pay my taxes, they take my house! They tax me out of my house, so that a richer person can buy it!

          Very soon now, brain transplants will be a “thing”. If you cannot pay your body taxes, they will tax you out of your body! It’s only fair!!! I sink my labor into my house, house taxes go up. Hollywood star or athlete sinks labor or money into body (working out, cosmetic surgery, etc.), assessed tax value of their asses (AKA Hollywood assessed-asses-values gentrification) should go up! They should live under threat of being taxed out of their bodies, as I live under threat of being taxed out of my house!

          Through this set-up, rich geezer Bill Gates will get a tax-condemned “fire sale” on the buff young body of your 20-year-old son!

    4. Cardinal Fang, fetch… the comfy chair!

    5. Wait, I thought Facebook was all pro-Trump. That’s all you hear from liberals, about how Zuckerberg is a Trump supporter and how Facebook depends on conservative ad money and conservative users. On any given day, half of the top ten shared posts are some kind of Foxnews or talk radio talking point.

  12. This and all the noise about Facebook, Twitter, and so many others, is just partisan government oppression. It’s no different from the history of light rail, which makes a pretty good example for the repeated innovations triggering repeated partisan corruption — horse-drawn buses were the devil until cities realized they could tax them, then horse-drawn rail was the devil because it threatened the horse-drawn bus revenue until they realized they could tax both, ditto for electric rail, electric trolleys, gas buses, gas rail, and so on.

    The government smells independent companies not paying taxes and wants some. Taxes show control and submission, and that’s the primary story.

    The news media haven’t helped themselves with their partisanship. It just gives the politicians glimpses of more influence they can control, and doesn’t matter which side the media take. There are as many Democrats as Republicans yelling to rein in section 230 and cleanse the media.

    This is just government as usual.

    1. I would imagine tech companies pay a lot of taxes. If they didn’t, California would have gone tits up 20 years ago at least.

      This has nothing to do with taxes. This is about the tech companies becoming partisan entities.

      1. This is entirely about revenue and control of it. Governments hate competition and free markets because it provides no ready excuse for regulating the dominant player. With just one giant, they can think of all sorts of way to shake it down, to regulate it, to tax it in special ways. Pot legalization is always accompanied by special sales taxes. Prohibition didn’t end by repealing the amendment, but by adding a new amendment with lots and lots of control.

        That special tax for google, facebook, twitter, and all the others may be in the Eueopean mold of multi-billion dollar fines, or it may be turning them into regulated utilities, or it may be something entirely different.

        1. So if Google broke the law the only reason to enforce a fine is because the government wants the money?

          If they broke the law, fuck them. They deserve to be fined.

          1. OPEN QUESTIONS FOR ALL ENEMIES OF SECTION 230, AND MICRO-MANAGERS OF OTHER PEOPLE’S WEB SITES

            The day after tomorrow, you get a jury summons. You will be asked to rule in the following case: A poster posted the following to social media: “Government Almighty LOVES US ALL, FAR more than we can EVER know!”

            This attracted protests from liberals, who thought that they may have detected hints of sarcasm, which was hurtful, and invalidated the personhoods of a few Sensitive Souls. It ALSO attracted protests from conservatives, who were miffed that this was a PARTIAL truth only (thereby being at least partially a lie), with the REAL, full TRUTH AND ONLY THE TRUTH being, “Government Almighty of Der TrumpfenFuhrer ONLY, LOVES US ALL, FAR more than we can EVER know! Thou shalt have NO Government Almighty without Der TrumpfenFuhrer, for Our TrumpfenFuhrer is a jealous Government Almighty!”

            Ministry of Truth, and Ministry of Hurt Baby Feelings, officials were consulted. Now there are charges!

            QUESTIONS FOR YOU THE JUROR:

            “Government Almighty LOVES US ALL”, true or false?

            “Government Almighty LOVES US ALL”, hurtful sarcasm or not?

            Will you be utterly delighted to serve on this jury? Keep in mind that OJ Simpson got an 11-month criminal trial and a 4-month civil trial!

            1. Completely irrelevant

              1. Anti-trust, thought control, speech control, they are all the same here… Do YOU want to serve on an 11-month or 4-month anti-trust trial over who thought-controlled who?

                At the end of the day, authoritarians left, right, and middle have HUGE punishment boners! PUNISH-PUNISH-PUNISH all who disagree with MEEEE! TALK about that all day long is OK with me…
                As long as it is talk and talk only! But when you recruit Government Almighty force and coercion, to HELP you and your punishment boners punish those of us who’d like some free speech… At the end of all this UTTER CRAP, you are STEALING MY FREE SPEECH so that YOU can have a punishment boner! Pay for your own punishment boner, you evil asshole, and punish yourself! Leave me OUT of it!

              2. Lavrentiy Beria … “Show me the man, and I will show you the crime”

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavrentiy_Beria = chief jackbooted thug faces-stomper for Stalin. If Beria had a punishment boner, he would find (or creatively interpret) SOME law, with which he could satisfy his punishment boner!

                Show me the internet company or social media company, and I will show you the crime!

                Just like the suppressors (certainly including hide-bound Trumpistas) of “wrong-think” today! Nadless Nardzi the Nasty NAZI, are you perhaps the reincarnated Lavrentiy Beria?

          2. Way to change the subject. If Santa Claus broke the law, let’s prosecute him. If Andrew The Hoplite skipped three times on Sunday, let’s change the calendar.

            See? Anyone can change the subject. You ain’t special when yu do so.

  13. Taxpayer-subsidized corporations that police speech deserve to have their trusts busted.

    I wish Theodore Roosevelt were here. He’d be proud.

    1. You are the dumbest motherfucker alive.

  14. Off topic, Conner Friedersdorf on Jeffrey Toobin and Zoomdickgate

    When Occam’s Razor suggests someone humiliated himself through a combo of technological error, pandemic circumstances, bad judgment, & bad luck, it seems like we should react w/ empathy, politeness, & forgiveness, as we would want to be treated, rather than punitive mockery

    https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/408081/

    If anyone knows about humiliating themselves it would be a writer for the Atlantic. And we now know what Friedersdorf is doing on Atlantic zoom calls. Let’s just hope that video never leaks.

    1. When Occam’s Razor suggests someone humiliated himself through a combo of technological error, pandemic circumstances, bad judgment, & bad luck

      WTF? When Occam’s Razor suggests a vague and hideously contrived explanation that the author finds useful…

      Millions of kids manage to go through months school with zero zoomdick incidents, but science dictates that we shouldn’t act like schoolchildren and mock poor Mr. Toobin mercilessly.

    2. I initially read that as ‘pandemic circumcisions’.

      seems like we should react w/ empathy, politeness, & forgiveness, as we would want to be treated, rather than punitive mockery

      Well, it’s nice to see the Cancel Culture Warriors are finally starting to call for a truce.

    3. That guy Toobin is a real fucking piece of work. He perfectly demonstrates the ideological and moral rot of progressives.

  15. I would be curious as to how many people on the “antitrust” side could even articulate basic arguments about why monopolies can be problematic.

    1. Monopolies are problematic for several reasons. First, monopolies have pricing power beyond that which is available in a competitive market. It is true that monopolies do not have unlimited pricing power. The alternatives to a product including just not using it limit even the most powerful monopoly’s pricing power. But, any monopoly is able to charge a higher price for the good that it monopolizes that it could in a competitive market. That extra price is just profit that comes at the expense of consumers. It isn’t the result of generating any value. It is strictly wealth they get to take from consumers that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to take. And that is not good.

      Second, monopolies discourage and devalue innovation. A company that has a monopoly on a product have little or no incentive to innovate or improve the product. Their customer base is captive. So, they don’t have to care and don’t. In fact, it is not rational for a monopoly company to invest much in R&D and innovation since it is money spent that can’t increase market share. They already have 100%. So, there is nowhere to go but down. You want competitive markets where prices are at their natural level and companies have a reason to innovate and provide better services to their customers.

      Lastly, companies that have monopolies and are the size and power of social media companies can have a debilitating effect on your politics. Once they start buying influence, and they inevitably will, they can make themselves immune from regulation and use regulation and laws to preserve their monopoly position very regulatory capture.

      In a nutshell, that is why monopolies are bad. And they are bad. Whether Google really is a monopoly is a different debate.

      1. “First, monopolies have pricing power beyond that which is available in a competitive market.”

        This has only been proven in cases where the monopoly is enforced by the government. There is no indication that a functional monopoly with unrestrained competitors has any more leeway than others. In fact the classic Anti Trust case, Standard Oil, had a dominant market share precisely because its business practices allowed it to have the best pricing.

        “Their customer base is captive.”

        And this is why you make these mistakes. The customer bases are not captive. Unless their monopoly is government enforced.

    2. They’d have to first establish that google, facebook, twitter, amazon, and all the others are monopolies. They aren’t. The only true monopolies are those created by government.

      1. That is not true. The only lasting monopolies are those created by the government. But monopolies can and do exist in the free market. They just don’t last forever usually. And once a company becomes a monopoly, it usually has enough political clout to ensure the government shows up to cement it’s monopoly.

        1. Nothing lasts forever, John. Not even the cold November rain.

          1. Even the Vastly-Exalted Trumptatorshit will NOT last forever! Let us ALL Hail and THANK Government Almighty, for at least that much!

    3. Monopolies are problematic but they won’t last long an an unregulated… or minimally regulated environment.

  16. Here’s an article about what happens if you block google’s servers from your phone / home network:
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2019/04/09/heres-the-shocking-reality-of-completely-blocking-google-from-your-life/

    “Here are some of the unexpected consequences that unfolded:

    *When trying to get across town for a meeting, Hill discovered that her Uber and Lyft apps were essentially useless. That’s because they rely on Google Maps.
    *Hill was unable to stream her favorite on songs on Spotify. Yep. Spotify hosts all its music on the Google Cloud.
    *Attempting to simply browse the web created flashbacks of the internet in the 90’s. “On Airbnb, photos won’t load,” Hill says. “New York Times articles won’t appear until the site has tried (and failed) to load Google Analytics, Google Pay, Google News, Google ads, and a Doubleclick tracker.” Many of the sites she visited were also dependent on Google Fonts. . .
    *When trying to share video journals to her colleagues at Gizmodo, Dropbox refused to let her log in because the service uses an invisible CAPTCHA — hosted by Google — to verify that real humans are trying to access it.”

    “Hill discovered that after only a few hours into her experiment, her various devices had tried to ping Google servers more than 15,000 times. After one week, that number had ballooned to more than 100,000. “

    1. Those are all infrastructure services that are competitive markets. If Google doesn’t offer the price/service you want, you can go to AWS, or Microsoft or…

      https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-top-cloud-providers-of-2020-aws-microsoft-azure-google-cloud-hybrid-saas/

      1. I say this as someone who’s nominally against these anti-trust actions, but Google is SO pervasive that you begin to realize that everything you do, every website you go to– even websites that have fuckall to do with Google won’t load right because so many people use google’s services and systems. Load the source code on nearly any website and you’ll find calls to googleapis and googleanalytics. Block those, and the websites either fail to load or become frustratingly slow.

        This is why western websites in china are painfully slow or fail to load completely while in mainland china.

  17. I wish people would just admit this is about punishing influence and success. Consumers haven’t been hurt by google, but people really hate success.

    1. How do you know consumers haven’t been hurt by Google? Just because they use Google doesn’t mean that Google isn’t a monopoly or that it doesn’t engage in anti competitive practices.

      1. How has google hurt you?

        1. Since when am I the only consumer in the world? Moreover, I don’t know if it has or has not. If it engaged in anti competitive practices, it hurt me or some other consumer by depriving the market of the innovation and lower prices that come with competition.

            1. Yes. Anyone who uses the internet uses google in one way or another

              1. This. The level of technical savvy necessary to avoid Google while using the internet is well beyond even the average web geek. Lay users are literally at their mercy.

              2. So we don’t know that you’re a consumer hurt by Google?

        2. You are not being sued. This notice affects your rights. Please read it carefully.

          On June 10, 2020, the Honorable Edward J. Davila of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, granted preliminary approval of this class action Settlement and directed the litigants to provide this notice about the Settlement. You have received this notice because Google’s records indicate that you may be a Settlement Class Member, and you may be eligible to receive a payment from the Settlement. Please visit http://www.GooglePlusDataLitigation.com for more information. The Final Approval Hearing on the adequacy, reasonableness, and fairness of the Settlement will be held at 9:00 am on November 19, 2020 […] You are not required to attend the Final Approval Hearing, but you are welcome to do so at your own expense.

          1. Google+ went out of business.

            That isn’t a very good example of monopoly or anti-competitive practices.

            1. How many shares of Google+ did you buy? Dumbass.

              The fact that you don’t seem to recognize that Google+ and Google are not separate businesses doesn’t surprise me. Especially after you dismiss the no-shit facts *that you asked for* as anything other than rock-solid evidence that a company can/should stand trial in a court of law for no-shit damages to large numbers of people without being effectively put out of business.

              1. The damages are:

                In 2018, Google announced that the Google+ platform had experienced software bugs between 2015 and 2018, which allowed app developers to access certain Google+ profile field information in an unintended manner.

                I don’t see how this has hurt me, and I had a Google+ profile.

                Did this hurt you?

      2. The onus is on the accuser to prove the harm. Innocent until proven guilty applies to commerce too.

        Why are you so enamored of government power and so angrified by free markets and individualism?

        1. Sure. The government is going to prove it’s case. No one would say otherwise. I don’t know that they will or will not and neither do you. You just assume they can’t and wont because it is google and Google is fucking awesome and above reproach. God damn it you are a libertarian and libertarians think tech companies and Google in particular are God like and above all accountability.

          I disagree. I am withholding my opinion until I see just what the government can prove.

          1. On something this big, I think AG Barr feels pretty confident about his chances in court. He is going after specific behaviors, and I am quite sure the level of documentation of Google’s malign behavior is voluminous.

  18. Screw the feds. Their end goal is to make encryption illegal and will use any means or methods at their disposal to get to that final goal.

    1. DOJ v Google is a “please let both of them lose” situation if there ever was one. I hope it is a protracted, bitter struggle that costs Google tens of billions of dollars and results in as much misery on both sides as is humanly possible.

      1. Diane Reynolds (Paul.) keeps pointing to the MS/IE 4 case. I don’t exactly see how that’s a bad thing. Rather than ending up with legislation on the books that says “Don’t build profitable search engines.”, Google and every company thereafter winds up with lawyers and HR casting sideways glances at executives every time they want to hold a mandatory all-hands-on-deck meeting to address their strategy in responding to the election.

        Until, 10-20 yrs. from now, when search engines are obsolete and all the Generation Delta lawyers keep asking “What’s a Google?”

        There are certainly better ways out but, considering that people today aren’t asking “What’s a Microsoft?” *or* analogizing Microsoft as a wholly captive entity of the government, this option (assuming it proceeds as indicated) doesn’t seem particularly terrible.

        1. Is it wrong to chill free speech that chills free speech (especially via the courts)? I’m not sure the answer is a solid ‘No.’

  19. There is no monopoly. Google will eventually fail from its own inertia as it gets too big and too woke. Right now they have a superior product that people are choosing to use.

    1. It’s not superior it’s loaded with ads and bad results. Some of the results aren’t direct ads but placements based on search engine gaming. More and more I end up on the 2nd or 3rd page to find what I really wanted.

      Google is shit, they will eventually fail, and good riddance.

      1. And yet you continuously use them over the many other products out there.

        CE didn’t say they are Perfect. Just superior, and the evidence seems to support that.

  20. Real-life instance here. Boomerang is a piece of software used by parents to put on their children’s phones to control and monitor their cell phone activities and access. The creators of the software have been through he!! the past several months, after having been approved for years, staying approved on Google Play to be downloaded. Multiple emails as to what needed to be done to correct the situation went unanswered or directed to the wrong parties. Even when reasons were given, Google then implemented their own similar software, that “violated” the same policies that Boomerang was supposed to have violated. In other words, Google spotted some pretty good software, engineered something similar themselves, then blocked out the original software. If that’s not anti-competitive, I don’t know what is. You can easily find articles on what they’ve gone through, even Googling, ironically, though that might have changed in the past couple of weeks …

    1. I hope the cure isn’t worse than the disease.

  21. This column is just news, I wanted to see the libertarian opinion of this type of anti-trust suite.

    I think that anti-trust is the wrong road to take. Section 230 of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides tools to use when platforms turn into publishers https://www.eff.org/issues/cda230 .

  22. When you do buy up your potential killers it and then shut down their technology from ever seeing the light of day….is that actionable by govt? Why did Google be allowed to buy Youtube?

    I think the real issue is funding of start ups…if it is controlled by the small few hedge funds who get money from the Fed at artificially low rates the system is corrupted. Any pro libertarian or conservative tech firm will never be funded by the funds…given their majority socio demographic. A small firm started up by say an italian american conservative who graduated from a state school will NEVER get funding by the NYC liberal art ivy league class that runs the hedge funds…believe me if google or FB was started by someone like a Murphy or Rizzuto they never would have received funding by the bigots on wall street.

    1. If you’re unhappy with Facebook and Google, just call them up and tell them you want your money back.

      How much are you are you spending on them anyway?

      P.S. The idea that people shouldn’t be allowed to invest in startups without permission is absurd.

  23. “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”

    The delusion is real. That’s like saying people choose network broadcast sports because it comes with cable. People get rid of cable and surprise, viewership drops. It’s almost like bundled services inflate the userbase and don’t reflect genuine interest in the product!

  24. Govt clearly hasnt learned since they failed to take down microsoft. I do enjoy these politicians showing how little they know about tech though.

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  28. This was always on the card. I’m pretty much pleased the DOJ has taken this key step in holding Google accountable for the ways it has blocked competition.

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