2020 Oct 22, 9:36am
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I just read the US antitrust “Complaint” against Google. This is obviously just the first chapter of a very long story, but here are early observations.Don’t get upset that this is going to take years to work through. Figuring out how to unclench Google’s stranglehold on the Internet wouldn’t be easy even without their army of excellent lawyers fighting tooth and claw every step of the way, which they will be. It’s still worth doing.I found the Complaint document to be well-written and well-argued. You don’t need to be an antitrust attorney, or any kind of lawyer at all, to understand its argument. I recommend reading it; It’s not that long and I certainly learned a few things about the shape of the search and advertising business, and you probably would too.To my surprise, a few members of my tribe were pushing back against this lawsuit. The first argument was “This is an operation of the corrupt and malevolent Trump administration, whose real target is their dorky notion that social media is biased against conservatives.” Well, no. Even granted the cosmic awfulness of the current administration, the complaint is still coherent and sensible, and none of the anticonservative-bias fantasyland makes an appearance. Sometimes bad organizations do good things; deal with it.
Google has used the insanely-effective AdTech machinery they’ve built around Search to go after the rest of the online advertising market. They and Facebook now enjoy an effective duopoly, which they’re using to ingest a larcenous proportion of the money flowing through the system, thereby wreaking devastation on the publishing industry. Which is to say, intellectually impoverishing our civilization. ...The Complaint says that mobile traffic in the US is 60% iOS vs 40% Android, which I hadn’t known. Apple routes all the search traffic to Google, which in return routes billions of dollars to Apple. The arrangement works great for both of them. As for the advertisers and publications, they’re just roadkill.