Oct 5, 2019 - Technology

The brewing storm for Big Tech

Illustration of a storm cloud interrupted by cubes and glitches

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The backlash against Big Tech is on track to escalate around the world in 2020 and with more concrete consequences.

Driving the news: Just this week The Verge published leaked audio of Mark Zuckerberg's internal Facebook meetings, wherein he claimed Facebook would win the legal challenge posed by Elizabeth Warren if she were elected president.

The big picture: Pressures are coming to bear as the growth of smartphones stalls and innovators vie to figure out what will replace them. Platform transitions always make tech incumbents quake.

  • In Washington, regulators and lawmakers are finally getting the details they've wanted about the full power of tech companies — and how to fight back.
  • In state capitals, attorneys general and legislators are stepping in to investigate and counter anticompetitive practices.
  • On the campaign trail, liberals assail the power of big tech and call for breaking up Facebook and Google, while conservatives decry their power and accuse them of silencing their voices.
  • In newsrooms, investigative reporters are following more threads and leads to expose the power of tech giants and the false promises of new startups.
  • On Wall Street, investors have lost patience with money-hemorrhaging startups and loose-cannon founders.

Yes, but: Tech giants today control vast hoardes of cash, armies of talent and troves of data, and they provide billions of customers around the world with convenient, personalized, often free services.

  • Unlike their predecessors, they might have the resources to outmaneuver and outlast government assaults.

The bottom line: Partisan political battles dominate the headlines, but this is the conflict that will shape our economy and society.

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