Political Commentary: Google may be the scariest monster this Halloween

Politics

David O’Brien, Editor

CNN Money
Above is a political cartoon illustrating the mascot of the board game “Monopoly” leaping from the Google search engine, alluding to Google being a monopoly.

Many people enjoy the thrill and fear from the imaginary monsters that populate Halloween season, however, it seems that there is one much scarier and more powerful in our very own homes. On Oct. 20, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The DOJ’s lawsuit’s primary claim is that Alphabet is using its role as the number one current browser to stifle competition. Google has been using its vast wealth to secure as many deals as possible to become the default browser on most systems. The most recent agreement Google has made is a $10 billion deal to become the default browser on Apple’s Safari browser. The DOJ is arguing that Google is using its powerful position to gain special treatment for its search engine on numerous devices, leading to a self-reinforcing cycle that helps maintain Google’s position as the dominant browser. The Department’s goal for the lawsuit is to force Google to become restructured and to be put under government scrutiny until its behavior stops. The suit has no concrete idea or method for this solution, however, the DOJ claims that currently nothing is off the table. The suit could also result in the numerous other services and industries Google is involved with to become separate companies, thus the browser and phone-lines may become two separate companies altogether. The largest effect of the lawsuit, win or lose, is the end of Washington DC’s adoration for big tech companies. Many antitrust officials, like Gene Kimmelman, a former senior antitrust official, see this as the beginning of the end for the deregulated tech sector.

If the dangers of monopoly were not enough to make the average person afraid of Google, its place as the search engine used by 80 percent of Americans has also led to biased search results concerning media conglomerates and major election issues. Studies show that Google provides stories and articles from liberal news outlets 62 percent of the time. In contrast, conservative outlets only show up among articles and stories 11 percent of the time. Google provides liberal news networks as the answer to search results and news stories about five times more than their conservative counterparts. This extreme contrast in results can only mean one thing — partisan bias on platforms that are supposed to facilitate bipartisan answers to policy-related questions and bipartisan answers for questions surrounding current events. This leaves the question — can freedom of speech and freedom of press survive when one company controls 80 percent of organic search results? The idea that the most popular search engine uses its power to push its own political agenda is scary enough, and coupled with a monopoly it proves to be a dangerous threat for not only our politics but also our economy. With Google’s lack of competition and its ability to buy its way into becoming the default search engine on many different devices, one must understand the dangerous implication of allowing a single company to control the perspective of the news and stories themselves for the people.

obriend10@lasalle.edu

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