From Warren to Trump: How Big Tech became fashionable to hate

Mar 2012
New Hampshire
Big Tech has become a big target on Capitol Hill.

The shots have come recently not just from Trump and his Republican compatriots, but also from the likes of Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and disillusioned liberals. Last year, during a joint Senate judiciary and commerce hearing, Booker grilled Zuckerberg about "how technology platforms Facebook can actually be used to double down on discrimination" by running ads that exclude certain groups.

On Tuesday, Congress launched the first of a series of antitrust hearings targeting internet giants, part of a display of bipartisan condemnation that has marked a shift in how mainstream politicians across the political aisle view the largest online corporations dominating cyberspace. Lawmakers have vowed to place regulatory frameworks around the industry, if necessary.

"Politics is fashion," said Rebecca Allensworth, who teaches antitrust law at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. "Ten years ago, it was all about being champions of these companies. Now it's very fashionable to hate on them." The sheer size of companies like Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, invite deep scrutiny, Allensworth said. The company's expansion has raised flags about its labour practices, while Google has faced privacy and data-protection issues. Apple has been dogged by antitrust concerns.

"It's about the amount of information these corporations are gathering and the sloppiness with which they care for that information," she said. "It's the revelations that these corporations interfere in the distribution of news and information within our society and sort of choke off trustworthy journalism by stealing their advertising revenue."

Harper Reed, who helped lead voter-data collection as Chief Technology Officer for Barack Obama's 2012 presidential campaign, also cautioned that regulation could send the wrong message to a generation of entrepreneurs.