Ross Douthat: Warren is right go after Google and Facebook

But she’s wrong to lump them with Apple and Amazon, says the New York Times’ most conservative columnist.

Transcribed from the March 13 episode of The Argument: “One-on-One With Elizabeth Warren

Douthart: I think Warren is making a mistake by trying to go after Silicon Valley in full.

I think the smart version of what Warren is doing would separate Google and especially Facebook from Amazon and Apple, and make a bigger issue of Facebook and Google’s stronger monopolies and their control over the flow of information, which is something that Apple and Amazon don’t exercise.

And say: “Look, we’re not going after all of Silicon Valley, we’re going after these specific bad actors who have a different kind of monopoly than what Amazon is trying to build.”

I think Warren is right to go after Silicon Valley, but she and all Silicon-Valley crusaders need to do a better job of sort of dividing and conquering, rather than trying to take on the full tech panoply, as it stands.

David Leonhardt: Oh Ross, whenever you go populist I like to end the segment.

My take: I highly recommend this weekly podcast from the New York Times. Every Thursday three op-ed columnists take on an issue of the day, pitting Douthat on the right against Michelle Goldberg on the left with Leonhardt somewhere in the liberal middle. I don’t often agree with Douthat. This may be the first time.

7 Comments

  1. David Emery said:

    I don’t understand why he’d give Amazon a bye on this. The reasoning for FB and Google would apply to Amazon’s AWS, too.

    1
    March 14, 2019
  2. Fred Stein said:

    Reading, “is right to go after Silicon Valley”, I should be wise enough to say no more.

    0
    March 14, 2019
  3. Peter Kropf said:

    At this point, although AWS is strongest, it is not a monopolist.

    (Bezos is bright enough to make sure Google and Microsoft are competitive just as Gates made sure Apple stayed alive.)

    2
    March 14, 2019
  4. David Emery said:

    Some of you might have heard about the reporter who tried to live without the ‘big 5 Internet companies’. There were alternatives to everything but AWS. AWS has gotten so pervasive that if you block it, the Internet basically falls down. https://www.wpr.org/trying-live-without-five-big-tech-companies (no transcript here, unfortunately.)

    It’s an interesting legal discussion about how much ‘market share’ you need to become a monopoly: https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/monopoly The original measures were associated with price controls (a monopolist can set prices), but what we’re also seeing develop is control of information. (That’s definitely building on the “Aggregation theory” of Ben Thompson.

    I’m no fan of Elizabeth Warren, but she does occasionally hit at really critical areas where government interference is warranted. It’s just she then takes those good ideas way too far, in what I often see as a preference for government control (because “the government knows better than you’)

    0
    March 15, 2019

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