Yo! ✌️ I’m Brett! I am a Product Manager and former Cognitive Science researcher. Social Studies is a semi-weekly newsletter for people building great products for humans. It includes recaps of what happened on Tech Twitter every week plus deep analysis using frameworks from Psychology, Economics, and the other Social Sciences.
⚔️ Congress threatened antitrust against Big Tech - The hearing last week amounted to a ton of nothing. It did serve as a reminder of how confusing antitrust in tech is.
🇺🇸 Trump threatened banning Tik Tok - It’s a real national security risk but banning Tik Tok wouldn’t be smooth. Some think Zuck has been working with Trump on this.
💰Microsoft considered buying Tik Tok - The surprise is that this wouldn’t be a huge surprise. Microsoft already owns Xbox and Minecraft. This would slot in nicely.
🌱 The Ecology of Antitrust puts it in perspective - Antitrust and Tik Tok bans are the equivalent of a comet crashing into Earth. They disrupt order and allow new competitors to emerge.
⚔️ Congress threatened antitrust against Big Tech
The CEOs of Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon testified before congress around anticompetitive practices. Interest in regulating Big Tech seems bipartisan at this point with both Bernie Sanders and Trump tweeting out similar sentiments before the hearing.
As you can imagine, the hearing was wildly inadequate at uncovering anything interesting other than how ignorant Congress is to how the internet works. That said, Tech Twitter shared out some interesting perspectives.
This is the biggest challenge with antitrust in tech - consolidation is better for consumers in the short term.
🇺🇸 Trump threatened banning Tik Tok
Ben Thompson lays it out - TikTok answers to the CCP, which is hostile to the United States and particularly Trump.
As the ban looms, there’s been a frenzy around Tik Tok alternatives.
TikTok influencers are scrambling to move their audiences to platforms and platforms are scrambling to attract them. Here’s what’s been going on after India banned TikTok:
Tik Tok also went on a PR spree doing anything it could to prevent the ban from happening. After declaring “we welcome competition” they decided to go so far as to announce they’d make the Tik Tok algorithm public.
On that note, there’s a fascinating conspiracy theory that Zuck is pushing for this ban behind closed doors to allow Facebook to maintain social media dominance.
Think about it: he’s been meeting with Trump on and off for the last several months, refused to speak up during the Black Lives Matter protests, and has been the only CEO that has vocalized concerns with China.
Bans like these could become the norm. Why stop at Tik Tok when WeChat and Tencent have a strong presence in the US as well? Seems like we’re moving towards more nationally aligned internet platforms.
💰 Microsoft considers buying Tik Tok
The alternative to a ban would be M&A. Trump confirmed that he’s entertaining the notion of Microsoft buying Tik Tok for over $30M. While this may seem preposterous, Microsoft already owns two successful products that appeal Gen Z: Minecraft and Xbox.
This could be a creative solution for antitrust.
But it would be super hard to pull off. TikTok shares infrastructure with its parent company, ByteDance, that would take years to unravel. If Trump is seriously concerned with CCP interfering with the November election, this may not be a viable solution.
✌️Other great tweets
Check out these tweetstorms and links:
Rishi Mandal @rmandal👉 https://t.co/kG2rSJCBIr We crossed $1m ARR within 1 month of launching. And without marketing. Who else? https://t.co/bNugKjnwdC
And one more thing…