How Big Tech Monopolies Stifle Online Competition and Innovation

It's challenging to introduce a brand without touting it as "the Amazon of" or "the Facebook of." But, unfortunately, the spotlight shines too brightly on a few stars on the stage.

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In 1890, Senator John Sherman of Ohio authored a paper described as "a comprehensive charter of economic liberty aimed at preserving free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade." Nearly the entire Senate heralded it as what would become the first anti-trust law. In less than 25 years, two other antitrust laws would come to fruition: the Federal Trade Commission Act, which formed the FTC, and the Clayton Act, which governs over such things as mergers and acquisitions.

Perhaps it was hoped by most Americans that these laws would be enforced by the book and to the letter. The problem is, the masters of Big Tech — the Amazons, the Facebooks, the Apples, etc. — have used their might and constant loopholes to bend the laws. As an example, do you remember when Amazon announced they were taking over Whole Foods? Did anyone really think of the repercussions of this venture, or did most Americans simply say, "Thank goodness, my grocery bills will be smaller now?"

The fact is, these Big Tech monopolies have managed to, through the might and magic of information technology and the internet, stifle other companies. They have kept innovators from creating, let alone competing, with many of the major industries we have, such as airlines, banking, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications.

As a result, Facebook now wields the power over social media. At the same time, Amazon controls most of the online shopping of the free world. A joke during the 1980s and '90s was that no one wanted to jump too far into the computer software world because Microsoft would immediately buy them out or perform a hostile takeover. Today, the very idea of someone even suggesting they had an idea for a better Facebook platform is enough to rattle cages and sabers.

Brand new ideas move economies and always have. However, individuals and organizations are now limited to what they can bring to the public. First, there is the real fear of being hammered to death with questions and arguments from the Big Tech boys demanding to know how the concept will be presented and how it could affect them.

Then there's the terrifying possibility of massive lawsuits deliberately filed to delay and obstruct progress. This, in turn, creates another problem. The concept may be incredible enough for a Big Tech to take interest and then take it over themselves, often with dire results. For example, when Skype, a once-massively popular chat service, was bought out by Microsoft, it quickly became far less interesting to use, bowing to the likes of Telegram and Discord.

Another factor that plays against competitors is seemingly one of the most damning of all: the lack of notice. The internet is alive and constantly humming with news about one company or another. However, the bigger, the more popular or, in some cases, the more notorious they are, the more attention they receive. Indeed, there was a time when Amazon was nothing more than an online bookseller and Google was just a search engine. However, the marketing power they received and still receive today from the internet exploded them into the mega-corporations they are today, swallowing one industry after another.

It's challenging to introduce a brand without touting it as "the Amazon of" or "the Facebook of" as LinkedIn or even my company, AutoParts4Less, are attempting. But, unfortunately, the spotlight shines too brightly on a few stars on the stage. The only real solutions to the problem seem to be either mass-marketing and advertising. Perhaps we need to finally enforce our anti-trust laws once again.

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