Monday, January 17

New era for Silicon Valley

Joe Biden moves into the White House and the Democrats take control of Congress. It could get even more uncomfortable for the tech giants.

A Google office in Manhattan

A Google office in Manhattan

WWhy did Twitter and Facebook kick Donald Trump out? The risk of further incitement to violence is too great, said Twitter. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the riots in Washington showed that Trump was trying to undermine the peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden. All of this sounds like good intentions. Of course, there is also the less honorable possible explanation that there is an ice cold calculation behind the decision. It came after Congress sealed Trump’s loss of power and also after it became clear that the Democrats would control that same Congress in the future. On this reading, Twitter and Facebook, which have long been very lenient with Trump, would be like the rats that leave the sinking ship. Perhaps there is something to both explanations. In any case, it is correct that a new political era is beginning for the American tech giants in their homeland, in which they have a lot to lose and it could be opportune to accommodate the Democrats around Joe Biden. The future government could make life a lot more difficult for them on issues relating to competition, data protection and liability for content.

When Biden was proclaimed the winner by the American media four days after the election in November, it was initially widely regarded as good news for the big tech companies. At that time, many observers still assumed that the Republicans could hold their majority in the Senate, but this has now been crushed after the runoff elections in the state of Georgia. The balance of power will henceforth be clearer than initially expected, and this increases the chances that political projects will actually be implemented instead of being stifled in party bickering. The industry is currently not very popular in either camp. So far, however, she could hope to be able to go about her business largely unmolested, while politicians blocked each other.