Big Tech is top of mind as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle look to reign in companies like Amazon and Meta, but NetChoice CEO Steve DelBianco says efforts to do so could backfire.
NetChoice, a trade association that advocates on behalf of tech companies to keep the internet free and competitive, says they try to defend free speech. But as sites like Facebook and Twitter decide what qualifies as misinformation or hate speech, some argue that Big Tech needs stronger regulations.
“The First Amendment actually protects Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter from the government. It doesn’t force them to carry content that they don’t want to carry,” said DelBianco to The National Desk’s Jan Jeffcoat. “What is the right way to regulate that? Well, the First Amendment says that Congress in the states cannot regulate speech on private platforms.”
But DelBianco argues there are other ways to ‘regulate’ companies — through boycotts from advertisers and users. “You can hold these companies to the promises they make in their terms of service,” said DelBianco. “Social media has got a lot of competition, and I think that provides the best way to regulate.
Some lawmakers might disagree, such as Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., who has sworn off using Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter, saying they hurt smaller competitors.
“I don’t have a problem with Big Tech. I have a problem with monopolies and how they use their monopoly power,” said Buck in a recent interview.
DelBianco says that these tech giants, however, are the most popular institutions in America and “more popular than the government.”
“If you’re a small business, think about the benefits that a platform like Amazon, Google deliver. You’re a small business, you can get onto Amazon as a third-party merchant. You can reach customers not only around the corner but around the world. And that platform itself is impossible to replicate for a small business that couldn’t possibly advertise and handle so many commerce transactions,” said DelBianco. “Small businesses and consumers benefit so much from the platforms that they use them extensively.”
Over a year ago, Amazon Web Services suffered a major outage, disrupting access to many popular sites. The outage brought up concerns on monopolies among Big Tech companies, but DelBianco said there’s “no shortage” of platforms for companies to choose from.
“But when a business chooses one of those platforms, the switching costs are significant. So a business has to choose one wisely. They need to have backup capabilities,” said DelBianco. “The most important element is that consumers, whether you’re a business or as an individual, you will make the choices based on the characteristics that you seek from the platforms that serve you.”
DelBianco said he understands those who are upset with large social media platforms.
“But that anger has translated into rather irrational calls for big government to step in and replace Big Tech,” said DelBianco.