17 February 2021: February is Social Justice Month. And quite fittingly, as social media giants and big tech players come under fire due to antitrust lawsuits in the US, Daniel Kibel, Co-Founder of CM Trading, discusses the possible ramifications for monopolies and the trading landscape.
“As alleged tech monopolies come under fire for being ‘too big’, many are speculating about whether breaking up giants like Facebook and Google could potentially create opportunities for smaller players in the market. I’m a bit sceptical. Even if they are forced to sell off assets, these are still established multi-billion dollar companies.
“The likes of Facebook and Tiktok are entrenched firmly in the social media space – and public consciousness. While there is a remote possibility that smaller competitors may find a gap, it seems unlikely that they will be able to compete, even though the thinking behind the antitrust lawsuits is to essentially provide opportunities for incoming competitors. More importantly, if antitrust laws are passed, the ultimate dilemma is, the markets could collapse. The companies that are currently pulling the markets up are the alleged monopolies like Google, Amazon and Facebook.
“This being Social Justice Month, there aren’t likely to be any benefits of breaking up these monopolies to the person on the street either. Invasion of privacy has been cited as a driver for antitrust investigations into these companies but our information has been readily available to Google and Facebook for years already. It’s also important to note that we don’t pay for Instagram, Google or Facebook. These companies are driven by advertising revenue based on the information we provide. Without that advertising revenue, they would potentially have to become paid services – and not many users want to pay for their social media and searches.
“The reality is, cracking down on monopolies at this stage could be damaging for the US markets in other ways, too. If the law rules in favour of the State, it’s entirely possible that global players like China could gain a competitive edge in the US markets. This could be a caution to US lawmakers in their decision-making processes. If antitrust legislation is successfully passed, China – having fewer regulatory barriers – would almost certainly capitalise on the opportunity to step in through the open door. With that in mind, America should consider the decision very carefully.
“The outcome of the Facebook lawsuit is likely to set a strong precedent. But there are so many factors to consider; so many grey areas. And China is just one of the many. Tax is another major standout issue. The fact is, these companies are not paying any tax. A probable outcome is that we may see tighter regulations that will see these ‘monopolies’ being hit with big tax bills. I certainly have a feeling that we are likely to see Facebook having to open their coffers to the IRS.
“Mark Zuckerberg has insisted that Facebook is still a competitive company. And this may not be the right way to define it. But it must be said, living in a capitalist society, where we can choose whether or not to use social media, despite what Zuckerberg says, it’s highly unlikely that we will ever recapture the ‘innocence’ that existed before social media.
“Social media has established itself as a daily influence in almost every individual’s lives. And monopoly or not, Facebook has weaved itself into the fibre of our global psyche, even more-so during the pandemic. The world has changed. And sometimes, as they say, ‘Better the devil you know’”.
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CM Trading is the brand name of Global Capital Markets Trading Ltd (A Seychelles company, company no. 104785).