Major Bipartisan Investigation of Tech Giants Reveals Monopoly Power Harms News Industry

After its yearslong investigation into the online marketplace, the House Judiciary Committee released a groundbreaking staff report detailing the tech giants’ exploitation of monopoly and market power to undermine competition, harm consumers, and weaken our democracy. This historic and bipartisan investigation began with a hearing focusing on the tech giants’ negative impact on the journalism industry, and several key findings in this report show how Google and Facebook in particular have abused their power to siphon off billions in advertising revenue that used to go to the journalism industry. 

These companies use their dominant platforms–on which news articles are accessed, viewed, and shared–to collect massive amounts of data on news outlets’ readers. Google, which “runs the leading ad exchange, while also running buy-side and sell-side intermediary platforms trade on the exchange,” uses its dominance of the marketplace to allow advertisers to target any news outlets’ readers, driving down the value of the ad space on news websites. As the committee noted, the “dominance of Google and Facebook allows them to ‘pick winners’ online by adjusting visibility and traffic.” These moves often cement their dominance and have catastrophic consequences for news outlets, like when Facebook changed its News Feed or when Google forces publishers to use AMP or its plan to eliminate third party cookies. 

Antitrust Subcommittee Chair David Cicilline (D-RI), Ranking Member James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and the Chairman of the full Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), successfully conducted a truly bipartisan investigation in which there is strong agreement across the Committee on the factual findings that the tech giants abused their monopoly and market power. 

The following is a statement from Laura Bassett, former Senior Politics Reporter for HuffPost who was laid off in January 2019, and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project:

We applaud the bipartisan agreement from the Committee that Google and other tech giants have monopoly control over the online marketplace. Already, over 1,800 communities have found themselves in a news desert lacking any local newspapers because the tech giants have flouted antitrust laws with impunity. But this report is not simply about findings of fact, it’s also a blueprint for action. These recommendations would help reset the competitive landscape and restore fairness to the online marketplace. The implementation of these recommendations cannot come soon enough for the journalism industry, which has been brought to the brink of collapse by the onslaught of the tech giants and the health and economic impact of the pandemic.