Google is undoubtedly one of the largest and clearest monopolies in the world. In fact, the company monopolizes several different markets, including search and advertising. Bing, its closest search competitor, has just 2 percent of the market — hardly a significant threat to Google’s 90 percent.1 Google also controls about 60 percent of the global advertising revenue on the internet.
One of the primary reasons smaller advertisers cannot compete is because they don’t have the user data Google has. As noted by digital media expert Jonathan Taplin, “They know who you are, where you are, what you just bought, what you might want to buy. And so, if I’m an advertiser and I say, ‘I want 24-year-old women in Nashville, Tennessee, who drive trucks and drink bourbon,’ I can do that on Google.”
Indeed, what many fail to realize is that Google’s primary business is the harvesting of user data, and this data gathering goes far beyond what most people realize was even possible. Google catches every single thing you do online if you’re using a Google-based feature, and this data is then used to build powerful personality profiles that are sold for profit and used in a variety of different ways.
Google Has You Pegged
As previously reported by Gawker:2
“Every word of every email sent through Gmail and every click made on a Chrome browser is watched by the company. ‘We don’t need you to type at all,’ [Google co-founder Eric] Schmidt once said. ‘We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.’”
If that level of “mind reading” sounds far-fetched, it’s worth considering that Google also owns Deep Mind, the world’s greatest artificial intelligence (AI) company, which has more than 700 AI researchers in its employ. With all this AI power on the job, it is not hard for them to sort through all your data with their deep learning algorithms to detect patterns that can be exploited for profit.
As noted by Gary Reback, a prominent antitrust lawyer who has taken up the battle against Google’s monopoly, “People tell their search engine things they wouldn’t even tell their wives. It’s a very powerful and yet very intimate technology. And that gives the company that controls it a mind-boggling degree of control over our entire society.”
The Power of Google
Reback is featured in a recent 60 Minutes report focused on the power of Google — a company currently worth more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars — the power and wealth of which is built on its enormous data gathering capabilities. Alphabet, the holding company that owns Google, has over the past 14 years also acquired more than 200 other companies, further expanding and diversifying its monopoly over our everyday lives. This includes:
- YouTube, the largest video platform on the web
- Android, which operates about 80 percent of all smartphones
- DoubleClick, one of the largest digital advertising companies
As noted by CBS News, these acquisitions barely raised an eyebrow with regulators in Washington. How come they were not more closely scrutinized by the Department of Justice’s antitrust division? According to Reback, “Some were investigated, but only superficially. The government just really isn’t enforcing our antitrust laws. And that’s what’s happened. None of these acquisitions have been challenged.”