The state of antitrust and consumer protection law and enforcement, and their development, since the Pitofsky hearings #FTC-2018-0048-D-0096

Submission Number:
Karl Hubert
Initiative Name:
The state of antitrust and consumer protection law and enforcement, and their development, since the Pitofsky hearings
Regarding high-tech, it is unacceptable for the major tech firms involved in social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google) payment processing (i.e. PayPal, Stripe), and content creation/distribution (i.e. YouTube, Spotify, Apple) to completely cut off users based on political leanings or adherence to or rejection of dominant social narratives. Compared to alternative providers of these services, the platforms listed earlier hold a majority stake in their particular spheres of influence. Removing users whom they deem "unacceptable" is akin to exiling them to a far off island, rendering them unable to interact or conduct business with their current clientele, as well as negating the possibility of new business opportunities with potential new consumers. If nothing is done about this conspiratorial censorship involving global tech firms that are within the same metropolitan area, then the future of e-commerce and the internet looks bleak. While new platforms will undoubtedly arise, the stability and integrity of both the old and new sites will remain in doubt as consumer trust will have long since withered and died. While I do understand why some of these platforms have made these decisions to remove users they deem "problematic", they have been setting a dangerous precedent in their actions. Consumer confidence in these services has been falling, which will affect the global economy as users will switch to platforms that hold ideals such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association - all ideals codified in the First Amendment. As these platforms are not responsible for user activity, they have nothing to lose by allowing these "problematic" users to remain. All of these platforms provide each consumer with a method to block or not be exposed to the content or products of other users deemed "problematic" by the consumer, not by the platform. As long as no laws are violated, there is no harm in allowing these alternative entities to remain, as they will undoubtedly find consumers willing to engage with them. Diversity of ideas is one of the keystones of Western civilization - if an idea is deemed poor or without merit, then it is discarded after robust and honest discussion. Allowing a handful of tech firms who share the same ideological, philosophical, or spiritual tenets is fine as long as they are not penalizing those who disagree with them. History is riddled with examples of this sort of totalitarian behavior, and while the political "woke" Left may be in control of these entities now, the chief executives may change to far less forgiving ethoi in the future that could enact similar restrictions on the very people inflicting this abhorrent censorship at this moment across their platforms. Unless this is thwarted now by the FTC, the future of the internet, as well as global commerce, is at stake. Thank you for investing the time in reading my comment. I trust you will consider my views, as well as all other Americans who have taken the time to comment on this critical matter.