Fandango’s Provocative Question #93

FPQWelcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

Before I get to the actual provocative question, let’s talk about your favorite internet search engine.Google, right? Or maybe you’re one of the handful of people who use Bing. Or Yahoo. Or Duck Duck Go. I use Google. Why? Because it’s the best, in my opinion. But having been around since before personal computing was invented, I’ve used a bunch of search engines in my day. Infoseek, Yahoo, WebCrawler, Lycos, Excite, AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, and maybe even a few others. Most of them are history now and Google is the big kahuna of search engines. So much so that the word “Google” is now a verb. Do you ever hear anyone use “Bing” as a verb, as in “Did you try to Bing it?”

My personal opinion, given that there have been dozens of search engines since the beginning of the internet age, is that the cream always rises to the top. That’s why Google is the dominant player in search engines. That’s why Amazon is at the top of the online shopping heap. They didn’t necessarily invent the industries, but they have excelled at it.

Okay, with that said, you might have heard that the U.S. Department of Justice, along with eleven state Attorney Generals, have filed a civil antitrust suit in order to “stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets. The intent is to not only break up Google, but to “make it pay” for the “competitive harm” it has done. Interestingly enough, the eleven states that are participating in the suit are all red (i.e., Republican) states.

So, with that as a background, my provocative question this week is this:

Do you think that the government (federal and state) should break up Google for having a virtual monopoly in the search engine arena. If so, why? If not, why not?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

23 thoughts on “Fandango’s Provocative Question #93

  1. Sadje October 28, 2020 / 3:23 am

    I do want to participate in your FPQ but I have zero knowledge about this suit, it’s repercussions or what it even means by causing harm to other search engines!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rugby843 October 28, 2020 / 10:02 am

    You would think they would have better things to do, especially now.  My gripe is the no help with covid funds.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marleen October 28, 2020 / 11:46 am

    I don’t think of google as a monopoly.

    Yet, it would be possible for it/them to participate in monopolistic practices or “anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets.” I think that would be possible to do or be part of even if they aren’t a monopoly.

    I’m not in favor of breaking them up.

    I, myself, use more than one search engine.

    I’d have to know more to have any idea whether google has harmed any honestly competitive practices or created an exclusionary situation. Someone (not a righty or “red” type person), a couple or so weeks ago, told me that Bill Gates is participating in monopolistic practice all over again… the same* (or a very similar) way he did back when Microsoft lost a suit whenever that was. If it’s about Bill Gates exclusively pushing google, go after Gates.

    On the other hand, Bill is a favorite target of right-wingers. There could be a straight-up political motive. Still, it could be political but a well-based opportunity.

    * I don’t remember if the person mentioned google.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paula Light October 28, 2020 / 1:23 pm

    I’ve been using Bing on my new laptop and it’s great (so far). Still a Google fan in general though. But they aren’t a true monopoly. You don’t have to sign up for a Google account to email or save photos. I don’t think the gobblement should get involved there. Facebook is another matter entirely…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jenna Kirkpatrick October 28, 2020 / 4:41 pm

    I now search through ecosia, who plant trees as they make money.
    But I still say to people “let’s google it…” because if I say “let’s ecosia it” they don’t know what I am talking about!

    Like

  6. Marilyn Armstrong October 28, 2020 / 8:58 pm

    If google weren’t as good as it is, we’d have to use those other search engines. I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for, but none of the others are nearly as good.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango October 28, 2020 / 10:04 pm

      I agree. I used to like (a long time ago) AltaVista. It was fast and gave good results. But then Google came along and blew everything else away.

      Like

  7. Marleen October 30, 2020 / 1:18 pm

    It’s amazing the variation of articles on this general topic (including whether and how the concern and legal outcome made a difference or didn’t), but this is a decent start.

    This case serves as precedent, to one degree or another.

    https://www.seattletimes.com/business/microsoft/long-antitrust-saga-ends-for-microsoft/

    The company barely escaped being split up after it was ruled an unlawful monopolist in 2000 for using its stranglehold on the PC market with its Windows operating system to cripple competitors, such as Netscape’s Navigator Web browser.

    A court settlement approved in 2002 and a consent decree curbing some of its practices saved Microsoft.

    Both sides [the U.S. government and, from 1998, twenty states] will finally be at peace Thursday [in May of 2011], when the decree expires. “It was a great case, one of the most important antitrust cases of its generation,” said George Priest, a law professor at Yale.

    …………………………

    Herbert Hovenkamp, a University of Iowa law professor who advised the states, said the case broke new ground. “We’ve seen the emergence of an entirely new field called IP [intellectual property] antitrust,” he said. “It’s had a fairly dramatic impact.”

    ………….

    Two months after Jackson’s devastating initial ruling in November 1999, Gates said he was stepping down as CEO to become Microsoft’s chief software architect. …

    …………….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen October 31, 2020 / 7:12 pm

      Here’s an article that demonstrates how a lot can be left out from one writer to another, while something additional (here and there) is simultaneously included. I like this one because it illustrates how it might truly be odd to think of Bill Gates as an enemy against “the” right.

      https://www.wired.com/story/what-microsofts-antitrust-case-teaches-us-about-silicon-valley/

      Microsoft famously missed the rise of the web in the early ’90s, with Gates dedicating only a fraction of his mid-’90s tome The Road Ahead to the internet. Meanwhile, Netscape introduced millions to the pleasures of browsing and surfing, forcing Microsoft to do one of its notorious “fast follows” (i.e., rapid copycat product launches). The company introduced Internet Explorer in 1995 and wasted no time in browbeating and cajoling companies the world over …

      ….

      The case would last more than five years, and the trial had its share of Perry Mason moments, as the wily lead litigator, David Boies, arguing on behalf of the DOJ, dueled in cross-examinations with Micro­soft witnesses. The most damning evidence submitted at trial, however, was a videotaped deposition of Gates. Unlike robber barons of yore, he wasn’t a portly, cigar-smoking chieftain. He was a rumpled geek who testified about Microsoft’s past practices with an amnesiac level of vagueness and a truly Napoleonic persona. This wasn’t save-the-world techno-­optimism. It was sharp-­elbowed libertarianism, and the press coverage of his performance introduced audiences at home to a new character of the digital age: the ruthless tech tycoon. From Gates it was a short jump to Steve Jobs, infamous distorter of reality fields; Jeff Bezos, slayer of publishing’s “sickly gazelles”; and so many other dark lords with world-warping visions.

      …….

      ……

      Today’s titans tower over their kingdoms, secure behind their walls of user data and benefiting from extreme network effects that make serious competition from startups nearly impossible. US antitrust laws, written in the industrial age, don’t capture many of the new realities and potential dangers of these vast data empires. Maybe they should.

      Liked by 1 person

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