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How Should Big Tech Be Reined In? Here Are 4 Prominent Ideas

How Should Big Tech Be Reined In? Here Are 4 Prominent Ideas

Typically, regulators challenge mergers when they give a company a big share of an established market. That was not the case when Facebook paid $1 billion for Instagram, a start-up with 13 employees in an emerging field.

Instead, the three argue, the strategy was to buy out budding threats. “We think that’s the better perspective of what was going on — maintenance of monopoly in the social network market,” Mr. Hemphill said.

In Facebook’s case, Mr. Wu said, “the remedy is straightforward: Unwind the acquisitions.”

But an issue in spinning off a unit like Instagram is whether doing so enhances competition. Would a stand-alone Instagram be a real rival to Facebook, or would consumers simply stay with the dominant social network, Facebook, and Instagram suffer?

Getting breakups approved by the nation’s courts, which are generally conservative on economic matters, would be a stretch. Besides, some experts argue, a more comprehensive way to police the big tech companies would be with a beefed-up force of regulators.

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