Big time tech companies Apple and Facebook are under major government scrutiny, this week, as government regulators have decided to oversee antitrust complaints about the two firms. The United States Department of Justice will look into the complaints over Apple and the Federal Trade Commission will investigate Facebook.
This very recent ruling is actually part of a broader effort to divide antitrust enforcement activity between the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission in order to better detect and deal with issues that could be widespread across the industry’s biggest companies. This, of course, includes both Apple and Facebook, but includes Amazon and Google as well. In terms of Google’s activities, regulators seem to be most interested in their advertising and search engine businesses. Of course, some consumer groups also contend that Amazon obstructs competition from outside vendors; so they will be scrutinized as well.
Divvying up these antitrust enforcement responsibilities does not mean that anyone has already opened any official investigations. In fact, there are no cases right now; but dividing the work is supposed to help make it easier to stay ahead of any potentially questionable activity. More importantly, this move illustrates regulatory understanding of growing consumer return over the massive power held by the biggest properties in Silicon Valley.
Indeed, federal regulators have had a hard time keep up with the progress these technology companies have made over the past few years. Technology grows somewhat exponentially, so when these economically dominate offices pick up momentum, catching up to them can be near impossible. After all, Google is where most people start their web searches and Apple has a masterful hold over app developers. Similarly, Amazon is—by far—the leader in online retail; and Facebook is so engrained in most people’s lives that it is almost unheard of to go a single day without it.
All this in mind, then, competitors and academics alike continue to introduce complaints that these biggest companies of the tech world are only going to continue gaining more ground while competition falls by the wayside.
While this ruling has not been made in reference to any particular investigation, the fact that the its simple reveal resulted in FANG stocks falling between 4 and 7 percent is a testament to just how powerful—and potentially unstable—their hold is in this economy.