With the pandemic raging outside, we have few places to safely go, because the government botched its response to the contagion. But Facebook and other technology platforms have probably made some aspects of the crisis worse. Inside my home, there’s little I can’t do, thanks to the profusion of technology all around me. I can write articles to be promoted on Facebook or books to be sold on Amazon. I can make apps and games for Apple or Google devices. I can start a business, “the next Apple or Amazon,” perhaps, a future beneficiary of this antitrust inquiry, according to Jayapal.
But instead I’m just scrambling to get through today and every day, hoping for a reprieve. I zeroed the volume on the hearing and unmuted my mic to weigh in on the work video call: “I think if we’re going to do more things, we need to eliminate some of the other things to make room for them,” I mustered. Antitrust is supposed to do the same thing, except for business: encourage competition by breaking up or regulating companies that grow too large—a demand Representative Cicilline issued. But just as the pandemic’s public-health disruption feels endless and out of control, the technology sector’s disruptive innovation seems too entrenched to upend easily. In both cases, nothing appears to change, only to persist, even as spectacles like this one demand intervention. Through the speakers of my computer, Representative Ken Buck of Colorado intoned, “Capitalism is the greatest instrument for freedom this world has ever seen.”