In a recent article, tech site The Information outlines former Google CEO and Clinton lackey Eric Schmidt’s worries about the increasing antitrust scrutiny that the Masters of the Universe are facing. According to Schmidt, affordable smartphones are a sign that Big Tech fosters competition.
In a recent article titled “Former Google CEO Fears ‘Chilling Effect’ of Antitrust Probes,” The Information outlines former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s fears surrounding the increased antitrust scrutiny that tech firms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have been facing in recent months.
Speaking to The Information founder Jessica Lessin at the outlet’s Future of Startups conference, Schmidt highlighted the availability of affordable smartphones and other devices, claiming that these were evidence that the biggest tech companies foster competition rather than shut it down.
Schmidt also discussed why he believes social media firms need to rank information in order to prevent the spread of misinformation across their platforms and diminish “harmful content.”
When asked what he thinks of the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Google and the increase in antitrust pressure towards U.S. tech firms, Schmidt replied:
My personal opinion is that the recent antitrust actions at the end of the Trump administration were largely political. This is not to take away from the fact that both the Democrats and the Republicans are concerned about the tech industry for different reasons. At the end of the day it’s social media. And the reason is that the politicians are incredibly sensitive to how their messages are treated and how people organize. And I think we can collectively, as a community, say to ourselves, we screwed this up. We allowed extremist groups—by the way, on both sides—to organize, using tools that we did not anticipate would be used. Put another way, just to make this as blunt as possible: There is a form of tech naiveté and tech optimism, which has sustained our industry for 40 years and is amazing. And I’m certainly guilty of it as well. And it ran smack dab into how human beings actually work. And part of the reason this happened is the people who were in the tech companies don’t behave this way.
Schmidt further seemed to imply that he believes that the fear of antitrust is going to encourage social media platforms to further limit speech and prevent the spread of misinformation, stating:
Whatever you want to say about tech people, they aren’t organizing to take over the government. They don’t think that way. They’re building new platforms and so forth. And so we’re now in a situation where the major tech platforms are going to be forced to…self-regulate. And by the way, Covid is a good example where, against many of their rules, they decided correctly to take down false Covid narratives. Well, why are they not also taking down false narratives in other spaces? Covid is deadly. But other things are deadly too.
The big companies, due to fear of antitrust, fear of regulation, good management, whatever, are going to change this. But new groups—Parler is the most recent one—are going to continue to show up because the internet essentially enabled people to self-assemble. Then when people self-assembled in a way we didn’t like, we complained. But the system is designed to allow new and relatively unmanaged social platforms, which are powerful and important and generally a good thing. We haven’t solved this problem.
Read more at The Information here.