Washington politicians may have struck a chord among voters with their calls to break up big tech companies. A new poll finds consumers are worried about an Amazon monopoly, Facebook or Google monopoly, as well as large tech companies' impact on data security, privacy, competition and other issues.
The IBD/TIPP poll, released Monday, found significant support for breaking up Facebook (FB), Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) and Amazon.com (AMZN).
Almost half of respondents — 48% — said they support breaking up social network Facebook. Some 26% "strongly support" it, while 22% "somewhat support" it. That's more than the 46% who oppose splitting up Facebook. The rest were undecided.
Weighing in on a potential Amazon monopoly or Google monopoly, 45% said they support breaking up Amazon and 43% favor breaking up Google. More are opposed to Amazon or Google breakups — 50% for each — but the size of those favoring a breakup still poses a concern for the two tech giants. Consumers had less concern with Apple (AAPL).
Data security is a major issue. Asked about the growing influence of large tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple, a whopping 89% of respondents said they are worried it will cause consumers' personal data to be misused or compromised. Also, 83% said they are concerned about having less privacy. Plus, 84% fear smaller businesses will be at a disadvantage if companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple continue to go unchecked.
On other issues potentially influenced by giant tech companies:
- 72% are concerned about consumers' ability to get news and opinions from different viewpoints.
- 70% are concerned about limitations on freedom of speech and expression.
- 66% worry that consumers will pay higher prices.
- 63% are concerned consumers will have fewer choices.
Big Tech Companies Are An Issue In 2020 Presidential Race
Presidential hopefuls at last week's Democratic Party debates criticized major tech companies. One of those candidates, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D.-Mass., has made breaking up giant tech companies a key plank of her campaign. For instance, she wants Facebook to divest its Instagram and WhatsApp businesses.
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.-N.Y., and other politicians have railed against Amazon for not paying enough taxes and strong-arming state and local governments for tax breaks and other incentives. Ocasio-Cortez protested Amazon's planned HQ2 project in New York City, leading the e-commerce giant to cancel its plans there.
With politicians smelling blood, expect to hear more rhetoric in the months ahead about the need to crush tech company monopolies, said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, IBD's polling partner.
"Across party lines, the consumer concerns are uniform," he said. "Historically Americans fear monopolies, from oil to telephony."
Facebook must address its data privacy problems now or it faces a serious risk of breakup, Mayur said. "Looking at this data, it's not whether they'll break up Facebook, it's when. People are really concerned about their privacy."
Democrats Fear Amazon Monopoly, Republicans Target Facebook
The IBD/TIPP poll showed high support among both Democrats and Republicans for splitting up large tech companies. But they differ on which companies they most want to break up.
Concerned about an Amazon monopoly, Democrats most want to break up the e-commerce behemoth, with Facebook in second place. Some 54% of Democrats surveyed want to break up Amazon, while 50% want to carve up Facebook. Google was third with 45% of Democrats supporting a breakup to foil a Google monopoly.
Republicans most want to split up Facebook, followed by Google. Some 48% of Republicans support breaking up Facebook, while 47% would bust up a Google monopoly. Amazon came in third with 43% supporting a breakup.
TechnoMetrica conducted a telephone survey of 900 U.S. adults June 20-27 for its latest poll.
Apple Gets Off Easy In Consumer Poll On Tech Companies
Apple fared the best in the IBD/TIPP poll, but still took some lumps. While 58% of respondents oppose breaking up the consumer electronics kingpin, 36% support a breakup.
"Apple as a brand has done a very good job on the issues that are concerning consumers," Mayur said. Apple has made data privacy and data security a tenet of its business, he noted. "Facebook should learn from Apple's example."
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