“Say you couldn’t communicate with loved ones because WhatsApp was down,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) Last night, she spoke on Instagram Reels. Instagram’s downfall may have had a negative impact on your business, or even your career.
She said that both Instagram and WhatsApp “were independent, successful apps before Facebook recognized them as a threat to their competitive position and purchased them because of monopolistic anticompetitive behaviour.” Perhaps we should question why one company is trying so hard to control the internet, digital commerce, and communication platforms. The final words were spoken closer by her to the camera and she lingered on each word for emphasis.
In yet another Instagram caption, last night’s congresswoman said that she thought it was “maternalistic”One billionaire who is a savage destroyer of democracies should not be allowed to have so much internet. Maybe that’s why there are antitrust laws that official shouldn’t take from billionaire-owned businesses. Facebook claims monopoly, but Monday’s outage was not caused by configuration changes made to backbone routers. These routers coordinate network traffic between data centers.
Politicians who want to regulate Facebook have another avenue to argue their point. However, this argument is grounded more in antitrust sentiment and moral panic than it is in any legitimate argument that the acquisitions would harm consumers welfare.
Ocasio-Cortez has a right to say that WhatsApp and Instagram are vital products for people living in developing countries who depend on them. But she seems to be assuming that, if independent, these platforms would never experience outages—an assertion that defies logic, and for which she supplies no proof.
Although there might be reasons for Facebook to go down, I am skeptical. However, if WhatsApp goes down, WhatsApp will go down too. Breaking up Facebook would be a bad argument, if an independent WhatsApp is not in danger of going down.
— Aaron Ross Powell (@ARossP) October 5, 2021
Ocasio-Cortez describes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a “billionaire who has a tendency to demolish democracies”. It could be a reference to the fact moderators haven’t stopped divisive rhetoric from landing a home at Facebook. Or it might be a allusion the Frances Haugen is a Facebook “.whistleblower,” recently told 60 MinutesIt was Facebook that organized the Jan 6 Capitol Riot. This would oversell the importance of Facebook’s content moderation policies and how Zuck personally manages them. Masnick’s Impossibility Theory says that content moderation on a large scale is not possible. Bad people will make use of communications technology to commit crimes. This doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t try to stop them. But content moderators can make mistakes and riots will happen. It will happen regardless of whether the rioters were on Facebook.
Mergers and acquisitions are a normal part of business. In many cases they don’t harm consumers. Ocasio-Cortez’s claims that Facebook is trying take over all of the internet, and that outages wouldn’t somehow affect WhatsApp if Facebook weren’t owned by it, aren’t supported by the facts.