Jonathan Taplin worries the “unfettered monoliths” of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon undermine democracy and should be broken up. In Europe and elsewhere, this combination of companies is referred to collectively by the pejorative “GAFA,” a ubiquitous bogeyman and symbol of American cultural imperialism. Never mind that all four got where they are by creating tremendous value for consumers. Google organizes information, Apple makes the best phones, etc. They aren’t harming us, they’re making our lives better.
They also aren’t actual monopolies. Amazon faces off with online retailers operating on razor-thin margins. The iPhone only has 18 percent market share. Google has thousands of competitors in digital ads. Facebook could go the way of Myspace. None of these companies is free from competition, or in a position to exert monopoly power callously.
The author wants us to embrace precautionary regulation like the EU’s. But there’s a reason few big tech firms start there. It’s a good thing America’s best companies don’t have to ask permission to innovate or forgiveness for succeeding.