The Trump Administration Attacks the Stigler Report on Digital Platforms

President Trump’s 2020 Economic Report finally confronts the issue of antitrust enforcement both in the traditional economy and in the digital one. While it criticizes the demand for more antitrust enforcement on the ground of insufficient evidence, it dismisses the conclusions of the Stigler Report on a purely a priori argument, ignoring all the evidence contained in the report. 

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Facebook’s Enduring Control Over Social Media Markets

According to the British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Facebook accounts for 75 percent of the UK’s social media market. Over the past 10 years, only three companies succeeded in obtaining at least a 5 percent market share of social media users’ time: Instagram (which Facebook bought), WhatsApp (which Facebook bought) and Snapchat (which Facebook tried and failed to buy).

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Google’s and Facebook’s Grip on Digital Advertising Markets

Since July 2019, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has been conducting an extensive investigation of the digital advertising market. In its preliminary report on the investigation, the CMA expresses concerns that Google and Facebook have grown so “large and have such extensive access to data that potential rivals can no longer compete on equal terms.”

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A Majority of Americans Don’t Trust Facebook, One Third Supports Breaking It Up

The annual Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index survey shows that 73 percent of Americans disapprove of Facebook’s policy not to fact-check political ads. More than 50 percent of respondents do not trust Facebook to choose the news in their feeds, but only 37 percent think Facebook should be broken up into smaller companies. 

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How Allowing a Little Bit of Dissent Helps the Chinese Government Control Social Media

A new study on three major social networks in China finds that tolerating small, relatively free platforms helps the Chinese government maintain sufficiently high market-level censorship in an overall low-pressure environment. However, larger platforms censor more content than small competitors.

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How to Change Section 230 and Make Digital Platforms More Accountable

If elected, former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden promised to “revoke immediately” the 1996 provision that gave tech companies like Facebook protection from civil liability for harmful or misleading content published on their platforms. The Stigler Center Committee on Digital Platforms has a proposal to fix the problem.   

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Should We Let Facebook Decide the Next President of the United States?

Facebook admitted that only a binding regulation on political ads could prevent private corporations from influencing the outcome of US presidential elections. Without such regulation, digital platforms can favor a candidate by altering (or maintaining) their policies on digital advertising. Trump’s campaign was much more effective than Clinton’s in using micro-targeting to shape voters’ preferences in 2016, a new study shows. Facebook decided to confirm the same policies for the 2020 election.  

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High-Priced Acquisitions of Tech Startups Do Not Always Stimulate More Innovation

What seems to be a big reward to innovation ultimately reduces the incentive to innovate, argues a new Stigler Center working paper by Krishna Kamepalli, Raghuram Rajan, and Luigi Zingales. Their analysis of Google and Facebook’s acquisitions shows that “It is dangerous to apply twentieth-century economic intuitions to twenty-first-century economic problems.”  

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