The Boston Tea Party's warning for Facebook and Google

The recent surge of antitrust suits against tech giants points to a revival of a longstanding anti-monopoly tradition that goes back to the revolt against the East India Company

Antitrust suits against Big Tech could drag on for years in court and ultimately fail. But, the writer says, Facebook and Google shouldn't ignore the popular forces gathering power against them: Americans have a long history of viewing monopolies as
Antitrust suits against Big Tech could drag on for years in court and ultimately fail. But, the writer says, Facebook and Google shouldn't ignore the popular forces gathering power against them: Americans have a long history of viewing monopolies as inherently dangerous, no matter what benefits they bring.PHOTO: REUTERS

Back in November, it was possible to dismiss the Trump administration's antitrust suit against Google as too weak, too narrow and too late. But now more than 40 states - and the Federal Trade Commission - have filed suit against another tech giant: Facebook.

It seems unlikely to be the last major lawsuit against technology giants. Though these cases are ostensibly about antitrust violations, they are a sign of something bigger: the revival of a longstanding anti-monopoly tradition in the United States. This particular view of large, powerful corporations - as threats to the political order - has repeatedly played a significant role in the nation's history.

Please or to continue reading the full article.

Get unlimited access to all stories at $0.99/month

  • Latest headlines and exclusive stories
  • In-depth analyses and award-winning multimedia content
  • Get access to all with our no-contract promotional package at only $0.99/month for the first 3 months*

*Terms and conditions apply.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2020, with the headline 'The Boston Tea Party's warning for Facebook and Google'. Subscribe