October 27, 2021

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Lesson of the Day: ‘U.S. and States Say Facebook Illegally Crushed Competition’

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6. How strong is the legal case against Facebook? Do you think the company has engaged in anticompetitive behavior? Who do you think will prevail in the courts: Facebook or the government?

Option 1: Share Your Thoughts and Experiences

  • Are you a Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp user? What kinds of activities do you tend to engage in on these platforms? How much time do you typically spend on these sites? Would you ever consider deleting your Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp accounts?

  • If you are not a Facebook user, why not? What social media sites and apps do you use instead?

  • How concerned are you about your digital privacy? Should Facebook and other Big Tech companies do a better job to protect its users’ data? Or do you think it is the responsibility of users to decide what to share? Why?

  • What role does Big Tech play in your life? In what ways does it make your life better? In what ways does it perhaps diminish it? How would your life be different without it?

  • How do you think the case against Facebook might affect you?

Option 2: Research Past Antitrust Cases

The antitrust cases against Facebook and Google are nothing new. The U.S. government has challenged corporate power and monopolies since the landmark Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890. Along with the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Clayton Act — both passed in 1914 — these three core federal antitrust laws have sought to curb concentrations of power that interfere with trade and reduce economic competition.

Choose an antitrust case from U.S. history to research, and compare and contrast it to the current lawsuits against Facebook.

You can also find a comprehensive list of antitrust cases on the U.S. Department of Justice website.

How are the Facebook lawsuits similar to or different from the past antitrust case you researched? What did you learn about competition, the free market and the government’s role in the economy from your research? What does the past example you explored suggest about the outcome of the Facebook case?

Option 3: Should the Power of Big Tech Be Curbed?

On Oct. 20, The Times reported:

Two weeks ago, House lawmakers concluded a 16-month investigation into Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook and called for sweeping changes to curb their market power. The lawmakers’ verdict: Traditional antitrust laws aren’t up to the challenge, and the laws need their biggest overhaul in more than 40 years.

How concerned do you think we should be about Big Tech’s role and power in society? Or will government intervention hurt innovation, consumers and a free market?

To help you argue the case for or against the tech giants, you might start by looking at The Times’s Technology topic page, the individual topic pages for Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple, or these recent articles:

Beyond The Times, you might also look at these resources:

After conducting your research, consider having a classroom debate or mock trial on Big Tech. Or, if you have strong personal views, you might try writing your ideas in the form of an editorial, and then submitting your final draft to our Eighth Annual Student Editorial Contest that will run from Feb 23 to April 13, 2021.

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