THE NEUTRAL ZONE
Facebook is developing a new feature called Neighborhoods that aims to connect people within communities via Facebook groups. The feature places Facebook in competition with Nextdoor, a company that provides a platform for neighbors and local businesses to provide services, news updates, recommendations and items for sale. The new feature is currently only available in Calgary where it is being tested. Facebook’s efforts come as Nextdoor is seeking a possible IPO via SPAC at a $4–$5 billion valuation.
Nextdoor has come under scrutiny for minority users reporting instances of racism, harassment and exclusion. Facebook has also been dealing with its own controversies around banning racist and harmful content, which raised questions from tech watchdogs about Facebook’s ability to compete with Nextdoor without creating another environment that fails to prevent bullying and exclusion.
Facebook entering this space to compete with Nextdoor strengthens the House Antitrust Subcommittee’s allegation that Facebook is acting as a monopoly that buys, copies or kills competition. Facebook also received criticism over privacy violations, which will likely renew privacy concerns as it seeks to control more elements of user data.
Facebook is testing mini social networks focused on you and your neighbors – The Verge – 10/21/2020
Facebook’s critics say its new focus on groups has amplified a number of unpleasant trends, from the growth of the anti-vax movement to militias using Facebook groups to incite violence. Moderating these groups has required more effort than Facebook is willing to give, and the same damaging dynamics could easily repeat themselves in neighborhood-focused enclaves.
The Justice Department just slapped Google with a landmark antitrust lawsuit. That could be bad news for Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. – Business Insider – 10/21/2020
Google is the first tech giant to see major antitrust action since the US government went to battle with Microsoft in the late ’90s. It’s also not the only company being probed over antitrust concerns. Earlier this month, House Democrats concluded a yearslong investigation, accusing four of the biggest tech companies — Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet — of monopoly power.
Is it too late to stop Google and Facebook? – San Francisco Chronicle – 10/21/2020
When I began covering tech in the 1990s — yes, this is another Tech Chronicle where I tell you about the days of yore — the pursuit of antitrust charges against Microsoft was a big story. Gary Reback, a Palo Alto lawyer who helped marshal evidence against the software giant, made the cover of Wired. When the Department of Justice finally filed a Sherman Act lawsuit in 1998, it gripped Silicon Valley.