Why Big Tech is harder to rein in than tobacco – Axios

Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:57 am

Critics say the tech industry is having a "Big Tobacco moment," but limiting harms caused by giant tech firms is likely to prove even trickier than reducing the toll of smoking.

One key difference is that Big Tobacco was a relatively stationary target, with the big companies all producing roughly the same product and doing so year after year.

By contrast, products from Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and others differ widely from one another, as do the perceived harms. Meanwhile, the companies and their industry are all rapidly moving targets.

Driving the news: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has been comparing Facebook to the cigarette companies for quite a while.

The big picture: There are clear parallels, including companies hiding and then downplaying internal research warning of their products' harms.

The risk for would-be regulators is that much of today's discussion in their circles is focused on social media platforms that are in a constant state of turnover.

Of note: An analysis by Blair Levin of New Street Research points out that litigation drove the campaign against tobacco.

What to watch: Legislators and regulators will have to find consensus not just on which companies are causing problems, but also on what exactly the harms are and how to reduce them.

The bottom line: Despite "Big Tobacco moments" and ensuing regulation and restriction, tobacco smoking still causes 480,000 U.S. deaths each year, per the FDA.


Why Big Tech is harder to rein in than tobacco - Axios

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