Are We Right To Fear “Too Big”

In the last few weeks the names Facebook and Google have come up a lot in conversations around the world. To many it’s for different reasons; to me, it’s for the same exact reason. Yes, it’s time for a minor rant.

by Henri Bergius via Flickr

People have been talking about Facebook for two things; going public and having their stock price not meet expectations, and of course for the privacy issue. For Google, it’s been their Penguin and Panda updates and a changing of SEO rules that have been standard for many years, rules they actually gave to us to follow.

However, what it boils down to in the end is our distrust for entities that have gotten too big, so big that they affect our lives even if we’re not a part of them. For instance, it’s my belief that every person in the U.S. is on either Google or Facebook, whether they know it or not. Either they have voluntarily “outed” themselves to establish a presence online or someone else has outed them. My grandmother never looked at a computer in her life, yet before I mentioned her when she got sick I could look up her name and find at least cursory information on her.

Why do we fear “too big” and should we? I tend to believe we should. After all, “too big” is what’s responsible for us being in the financial mess we’ve been in for the last 6 years, and trust me it’s been 6 years. The mega-banks were responsible for the housing crisis, and those same banks, along with many mega-international banks, were responsible for so many countries having their countries credit ratings drop and have some of those countries go into default.

In some countries Microsoft and Google are considered a monopoly. In this country, AT&T was broken up decades ago because they pretty much monopolized telecommunications, and they’re slowly working their way back into that same position. And have you wondered why so few cable companies control more than 95% of our cable access? Is there anyone in the country that actually has more than one cable choice in their area?

When companies get too big, they tell us it’s in our benefit because they can offer us services to make our lives easier. What we find in reality is that we pay more money for things and that they decide how to control our lives. Without Google being such a big deal, do you really think our traffic would have fallen do drastically over the past year? After all, there are other search engines; does a Google change in algorithms change how they work? And has anyone else noticed that at the same time the initial changes went through that Google reduced the amount they pay on your Adsense account per click?

There has never been a single company that’s grown big that’s benefited anyone. The auto industry needs to have multiple car makers so prices stay relatively low. We need multiple gas stations to help keep gas prices low. We need multiple mobile phone operators to help keep those prices low and offer choices when it comes to the services we want to avail ourselves of. We need multiple airlines so that they’ll compete for our business, even if the government is doing what it can to make air travel unpalatable.

Think about this; why don’t we trust our government, the people we elect to represent us? Because they’re too big, to the point where the majority of people that get elected have no idea what most of us go through because they haven’t been “us” in years, if ever. That goes for all branches of government, even some local town governments, which in my mind we don’t really need because it just means there are more levels of government to deal with and everyone passing the buck when we have specific issues we need addressed.

Unfortunately, I’d have to agree that we do have to worry about “too big”. I’d also have to say that there’s not much we can do about it either. Big government stinks, but look at what the Tea Party has done to it as a small group of politicians. Big cable stinks but look at all the services they can offer as opposed to the other companies that can offer some comparable channels, but nothing like what the big boys can. There aren’t a lot of options when it comes to operating systems for either computers or cellphones, and usually only the one option in a community for landlines.

Ah, but we do have some online options don’t we? There are other search engines, and if we stop catering to Google as much they’ll come around and start treating us fairly. You don’t have to use Facebook, as there are new networking opportunities coming up every day. You don’t have to use Twitter and based on figures an overwhelming number of people who sign up aren’t using it. If there’s the one place all of us really have options, it’s online. Sure, the big boys offer things we can’t get anywhere else as far as completeness goes, but there are multiple companies that offer at least pieces of things we want.

In other words, there are always choices online, and when we start thinking that one company has too much leeway over us we can choose someone else and help them grow. or create something yourself and become the player you were always meant to be.

Just stay humble; otherwise, we’ll have to think about leaving you as well. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Are We Right To Fear “Too Big””

  1. Facebook only has to make one wrong move with mobile advertising and its gone… Google+ is ready in the shadows to take over…

    As for Google I think we’ve had it… I can’t seem them being dislodged… they are the internet.

    1. I’m not so sure Liam. After all, way back when I thought the new leader was going to be Alta Vista, and that was before Google came around. Stay tuned; things could get interesting.

  2. Those companies have grown big for number of good reasons, should we fear, well I don’t think so, every empire that have stood strong in the past have fall. I don’t think that big boys and companies have lead the world into this deep crisis, but people themselves.

    1. Carl, for once I have to almost totally disagree with you. Whereas it may be true that people end up needing to make decisions for themselves, I don’t think it’s people that end up being responsible for what these large companies become. For instance, when Google came out, all we knew were search engines. None of the other stuff had ever been imagined, and even now, when they come up with new stuff, most of us would have ever imagined it could happen. When the housing markets crashed in the last few years, most people who suffered wouldn’t have had a chance to have the education to figure out just how dangerous those adjustable rate mortgages could be because in the U.S no one teaches kids in school how to manage their money, and in the 80’s there was no internet to research these things and in the 90’s that information wasn’t online yet.

      So, I don’t fault anyone for these companies getting so big except for the companies and the governments for allowing it to happen. I’m not against big companies per se, but I think it’s been proven that at a certain level their altruism goes out the window in favor of dollars at any cost.

      1. I started doing Internet marketing and SEO, during the time Google was established. Before that it was Yahoo, Yahoo was loading for about 1 min, Google for less than 2-3 sec. They introduced better and faster search and for first time algorithms that really show some top 10 results different that exact domain match with different extension, so they continue development in right direction. Before Facebook it was MySpace, Myspace was huge, but never found a way to fight Spam, Facebook introduced simple system for phone verification and limit on friends request, simple but it worked.

        About the economy crash – well 90% of world population is living on bank loans, mortgages, payday loans. It is not a rocket science to figure out that this money need to come from somewhere. It is better to fasten seat belt a bit and own your own things, not to repay banks all your life.

        I also not blame people, but I am mad about the salary collectors from government organizations that don’t do anything to put a bit of control. We hear more often, USA is in debt, EU is dept, Japan is in dept? Dept to who? Where are the money of tax payers?

      2. Carl, I think a part of the issue is that people talk out of both sides of their mouths. They want less government, but let something happen where they are and they’re looking to the government for help. We can’t have it both ways. I think the other problem is that, at least in the U.S., no one is taught how to manage money, and the math skills of our young are getting worse.

        For instance, years ago when my wife and I were first thinking about buying a house, this realtor did some calculations and said we could afford to buy a home worth $250,000. Other couples might have gone looking for a house at that price but I knew my wife and I didn’t make that kind of money and that if we bought a house at that price we wouldn’t be able to pay for anything else, which meant food, utilities, etc. It was ridiculous and I knew it, being a numbers guy, but so many other people didn’t, and they probably trusted these real estate folks.

  3. Totally agree – big companies do get arrogant once they reach a point and ‘become’ the market which gives them the license to ramp up prices as they see fit – anyone who has tried FB advertising would be testament to this.

    This has also happened to our food supply in the UK – half a dozen big players including Tesco and Asda have monopolized the markets even venturing into clothes and toys etc which has resulted in small empty shops all over the country – not only can they influence prices, they also become the ‘go to’ organizations so you end up with less choice.

    You can say the same with our water and electricity – all supplied by big players.

    Don’t get me started with the banks – we saw the previous government sucking up to the big banks and letting them buy each other out and do what they wanted which was the primary cause of the crisis over here. RBS has got so big its balance sheet was bigger than the UK economy – this should never have been allowed to happen.

    Much of this happened because Gordon Brown tore up current banking regulations when the labour party came in and created a ‘tri-partate’ system of sharing responsibility between the FSA Bank Of England And Government so everyone could just pass the buck. I believe labour knew banks were leveraged but the money was flowing in so they left alone in order to continue their spending splurge on big government, funding crony capitalism and socialism.

    Unfortunately you cant turn anywhere online if you are marketing without using Google or Facebook’s services – be it search PPC and even you tube, they are just too big.

    I don’t worry so much about Facebook/Twitter because social networks whilst they probably hold a lot of information on us have probably nowhere near the size of the big G’s fangs – I think the fact Google has invested in so many diverse services to complement search they have a powerful and influential machine with little competition.

    1. Great stuff Peter. I actually blame Reagan here with all his deregulation stuff in the 80’s, which allowed banks to do what they did and kill finances of the country. And look what the big banks are still doing to everyone and how it’s impacted housing and so many other things around the world. I bet you have the same problem with cable access in Europe, with cell phones, etc. For all the talk about stopping monopolies, all that means here is that one company can’t own too much, but nothing about 3 companies owning it all.

      We’re at their mercy in a way; that’s a shame.

  4. It’s frightening the way we rely on services like cable and Google. Some of us would not know what to do without them. While we can look at them as taking over most of the industry, we should also realize, as in Google’s case, the amazing opportunities it allows. While Google is big, there is no other service as good. As for cable, we will see in the coming years.

    1. Elena Anne, they do offer a lot but there are ways we can at least make them respect us a little bit more. As a matter of fact, I’m mentioning one of those ways in a few hours on this blog. 🙂

  5. Just take for example Facebook’s Privacy issues on photos and apps, and Google’s issues on the use of their service. They both have major privacy flaws yet millions of people still use them

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