Facebook and Google’s stronghold in their respective markets threaten not just the free market of goods and services, but also the free market of ideas.
Facebook and Google’s recent ban on payday loan ads and bail bond ads points to a broader issue of censoring ideas, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.
Given Google’s near-complete monopoly of Internet searches and Facebook’s dominance in social media, the companies’ ability to effectively wipe out an entire industry raises concerns about anti-trust and anti-competitive behavior.
Google and Facebook’s ban of certain ads with which they disagree can “undermine competition for values and ideas,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
“[F]or-profit bail bond providers make most of their revenue from communities of color and low-income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable, including through opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years,” Google wrote in a statement regarding the ad ban on May 7.
The ban went into effect at the beginning of July. Bail bonds are not illegal, though they are regulated and politically divisive. (RELATED: REPORT: Facebook Gave Secret Access To User Data To Companies)
Facebook and Google are effectively data monopolies, centralizing most data on the internet. Data monopolies “can actually be more dangerous than traditional monopolies,” according to Maurice Stucke, a University of Tennessee, Knoxville professor of law who specializes in anti-trust.
Google is currently facing an anti-trust lawsuit from Yelp, who alleges the search engine giant engages in anti-competitive behavior by placing its content first in search results and Facebook receives criticism regularly for its data collection policies.
“They can affect not only our wallets but our privacy, autonomy, democracy, and well-being,” he wrote in Harvard Business Review March 27.
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