Research paper argues that Facebook increased user surveillance as its competitors exited the market, makes the case for antitrust action against the company (Cory Doctorow/Boing Boing)


In 2017, a 28-year-old law student named Lina Kahn turned the antitrust world on its ear with her Yale Law Review paper, Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox, which showed how Ronald Reagan’s antitrust policies, inspired by ideological extremists at the University of Chicago’s economics department, had created a space for abusive monopolists who could crush innovation, workers’ rights, and competition without ever falling afoul of orthodox antitrust law.

Now, Dina Srinivasan, a self-described technology entrepreneur and advertising executive who trained Yale Law School has done it again, with a magesterial, deftly argued paper for the Berkeley Business Law Journal called The Antitrust Case Against Facebook. It’s one of the most invigorating, significant contributions to a new theory of antitrust for the digital age that I’ve ever read, ranking with Kahn’s 2017 paper.

Srinivasan’s paper is especially important in light of Shoshana Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism thesis, which dismisses the idea that monopoly is the reason that Big Tech is able to control our behavior so thoroughly — Zuboff posits that machine learning creates devastating behavior modification tools that allow tech companies to manipulate us so thoroughly that we’re in danger of losing our free will.

But Srinivasan shows how Facebook