I. Introduction 1. Disputes around big technology companies often revolve around the major internet platforms’ illegal acquisition of small competitors, their character as monopolies, and the preference given to their own related products through network algorithms, resulting in harm to competing producers. Moreover, there are concerns around the size and reach of the platforms, highlighting risks such as suffocation of progress, intensification of inequality and exacerbation of social and political polarization. To address these harms, policymakers have maintained that antitrust and competition laws should be employed to break the companies up or to divest them into previously acquired entities. Proposals such as these, however, contain a complex tension: since the dominant
Consumers increasingly make decisions passively, through implicit or explicit product matching and personalized recommendations rather than through active search. This creates opportunities for big technology companies to misalign the preferences of consumers with the products actually sold. But antitrust and competition laws are often thought to be inadequate to remedy the significant consequences of such market failures because policy disputes around the harms that big technology companies cause typically revolve around their size and magnitude. This essay critically analyses this perspective and points to a different issue: the law’s purported deference to leading actors’ product design choices.
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