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The Week Big Tech Lost Power

 |  June 25, 2020

By: Matt Stoller (Big)

Something changed this week. I’m not sure what, but it feels more and more like significant policy action against big tech is inevitable, probably break-ups but certainly restructurings of their business models. Though it’s impossible to pinpoint a shift in the political consensus, the signs are unmistakeable. It’s not just the constant drumbeat of announced investigations and leaks of potential antitrust suits. It’s the change in opinion leaders.

Two days ago, Joe Scarborough on MSNBC went on a seven minute rant straight to camera on Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, accusing them of destroying American democracy in return for money, and screaming into the camera that Congress needed to stand up to billionaires in Silicon Valley. Scarborough is as close as you can get to representing Washington, D.C. conventional wisdom, his morning show often sets the terms for legislative action and political chit-chat.

Scarborough’s rant is part of a broader upsurge of rage at Google, Facebook, and interestingly for the first time, Apple. There are other signals of political anger; yesterday 60 groups, mostly progressives and unions but also the conservative Internet Accountability Project, sending letters to the House Antitrust Subcommittee asking for subpoena’s of critical documents to compete the big tech investigation. (My organization signed onto both letters.)