by Brooke Medina
Vice President of Communications, John Locke Foundation
One of the most fascinating developments in the digital age is the advent of social media. Nearly 80% of Americans have at least one social and according to Pew Research, 90% of 18-29 year olds have a social media account, with that percentage decreasing a bit with each ascending age bracket.
But considering just how far we have advanced, technologically, have you ever thought about what it would be like to explain Instagram to Alexander Graham Bell? To be sure, Bell was an innovator in his own time, but telephones of the late 19th century aren’t quite the same as an iPhone 12. Think about the central role such a device plays in one’s social life, especially during a pandemic when most interactions are digital.
To the point of innovation, I know Facebook’s current dominance seems like it’s cemented in stone, but Zuckerberg (and the rest of us) would be wise to consider the rise and fall of MySpace. This 2007 op-ed, Will MySpace ever lose its monopoly?, serves as a warning to anyone that would think a business is untouchable in a free-market system.
Check out this article and video at Visual Capitalist to see how much the social media landscape has changed since 2003.
Many are debating whether tech companies should be regulated by the government. I don’t see that issue being settled anytime soon, but we do know that lawmakers as seemingly polar opposite as Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have called for increased scrutiny of companies like Facebook.
As the anti-trust and regulation debates rage on the tech front, it’s helpful to remember that MySpace no longer holds the dominance it once did and odds are Facebook will meet its share of challengers, like Clubhouse, provided the market remains free and unimpeded by cronyism and over-regulation. And that gives me hope that consumers will have better choices in the coming years.