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How Facebook Turned Its Market Success Into a Culture War on America

(Ryan McMaken, Mises Institute) In twenty-first-century America, millions of Americans—Christians and social conservatives especially—are finding that the nation’s most influential institutions appear to be implacably hostile toward them.

These institutions include universities, public schools, the news media, and government bureaucracies. Moreover, corporate America has increasingly embraced a posture of hostility toward groups considered to be “right wing” or conservative.

Recent examples are numerous, to say the least.

Major League Baseball, for instance, recently moved its all-star game out of the state of Georgia with the explicit purpose of punishing voters and policymakers who supported policies MLB didn’t like. These “objectionable” policies were mostly supported by conservatives.

Meanwhile, YouTube—owned by Google—bans content creators who express opinions Google’s employees and leaders disagree with. These opinions are usually ones we would consider to be “conservative” or at least “anti-Leftist.”

Twitter and Facebook employ a similar bias when actively intervening to ban users and opinions deemed unacceptable by corporate personnel.

In other words, corporate power is being used to wage ideological battles far beyond the usual issues of minimizing the firm’s tax burden or avoiding regulatory compliance costs. Corporate America has chosen a side in the culture war.

This evolution from market entrepreneur to exploitive plutocrat illustrates a problem with the interventionist state in a mixed economy: economic power tends to be converted into political power. 

Moreover, so long as consumers continue to pour resources into powerful firms through the marketplace, these firms’ exploitation of competitors, taxpayers, and ideological adversaries is likely to continue.

But it is hard to deny that firms like Google and Facebook got to where they are by winning “votes” in the “consumers’ democracy.”

Nonetheless, some critics of today’s corporate jihad against ideological adversaries insist that these firms are only successful because they are “monopolies” or that they only gained so much market share by dirty tricks and corporate welfare schemes.

These claims are generally unconvincing.

Certainly, these firms are today able to gain some advantages by manipulating the policy environment through lobbying and other political efforts. Yes, these firms have likely managed to increase profits and diminish competition through intellectual property laws, through tax breaks, and through regulations that favor large firms over small firms.

These are bad things, and these firms increase the profitability of their companies at the expense of both competitors and taxpayers. 

But the primary and most fundamental reasons that these firms became large and powerful in the first place is the fact they were skilled at the game of market democracy. 

Direct competitors to Google, Facebook, and Twitter exist. Few people choose to use them.

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