Post Misrepresents Democrats’ History of Opposing Platform Monopolies


Quick Take  

Elon Musk’s $44 billion offer to buy Twitter was criticized by several prominent Democrats. But a social media post misleadingly claims Democrats didn’t speak out against companies buying out competitors and creating monopolies until Musk bought Twitter. Democrats have opposed monopoly power and encouraged competition for years. 

Full Story   

On April 25, Twitter’s board of directors agreed to sell Twitter to Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk for roughly $44 billion. Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” announced his move was a way to loosen restrictions on the social media platform.

The deal — which still needs approval from shareholders and U.S. corporate regulators — is not yet complete. Several Democrats, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, expressed their opposition by saying Musk’s deal is “dangerous for our democracy” or a cause for concern.  

But Common Sense, a Facebook page that says it “pokes fun at hypocrisy,” posted an image that falsely suggests Democrats didn’t speak out against platform monopolies until after Musk agreed to buy Twitter. 

monopoly consists of a single company that dominates an industry and excludes competition. Platform monopoly refers to a single digital platform, like Facebook or Google, that dominates an industry. 

The Facebook post shows a tweet from Robert Reich, the U.S. secretary of labor under former President Bill Clinton, criticizing “platform monopoly” in a tweet shared the same day that Twitter’s board approved Musk’s offer to acquire the platform.

“It’s called platform monopoly. It’s bad for our democracy as well as our economy,” Reich tweeted.

A screenshot of the tweet was posted to Facebook with the comment, “Disney buys out Marvel, 20th Century Fox, Lucasfilm, Miramax etc. Lefists: *silence.* Facebook buys out Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, etc. Leftists: *silence.* Google buys YouTube, Motorola, Waze, Fitbit, etc. Leftists: *silence.* Musk buys Twitter. Leftists: [shows image of Reich’s tweet].” 

The post was then shared to the Common Sense Facebook page in a screenshot with the comment, “Hmmm. Situational stance (aka hypocrisy).”

But this wasn’t a “situational stance.” Democrats — including Reich and Warren– have criticized monopoly buying for years. 

Big Tech Companies Buy Out Competitors 

Let’s look at the timelines in which Disney, Facebook and Google acquired the companies listed in the post. 

On Oct. 9, 2006, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. Google purchased Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion on Aug. 15, 2011, but went on to sell the company to Chinese smartphone manufacturer Lenovo for $2.91 billion in cash and stock three years later. Waze, a social mapping location data startup from Israel, was bought by Google for about $1 billion in 2013. Google then closed the acquisition of Fitbit, a fitness tracking company, on Jan. 14, 2021, for $2.1 billion

The Walt Disney Company bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009, for about $4 billion in stock and cash. The company then went on to buy Lucasfilm — the firm that produced the Star Wars franchise — for $4.05 billion in stock and cash on Oct. 30, 2012. Disney completed its deal to buy 21st Century Fox on March 20, 2019, for about $71.3 billion. 

In a two-year time span from 2012 to 2014, Facebook— which is now called Meta — acquired several platforms. It bought Instagram on April 9, 2012, for $1 billion in stocks and cash, Oculus VR for $2 billion on March 25, 2014, and WhatsApp for $19 billion on October 2014.  

Although we could find no evidence of Democrats being outspoken against tech companies from 2006 to 2014, the opposition became clear at least seven years before Musk agreed to purchased Twitter. 

Reich — whose tweet against platform monopolies was used in the Facebook post  —  has been publicly against this issue since 2015, when he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times with the headline “Big Tech Has Become Way Too Powerful.” He wrote about Amazon, Facebook and Google being the top spots for shopping and news consumption. 

Other prominent Democrats, including Warren, have also been outspoken prior to Musk acquiring Twitter. 

Democratic Party’s History of Opposing Monopolies

The Democratic Party has a history of opposing big tech monopolies. The 2016 Democratic Platform had “the strongest antitrust platform language in decades,” Vice reported in a July 2016 article.

The platform laid “the foundation for what some party leaders hope will be an aggressive effort to curb the growing power of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple and Amazon,” the website wrote. 

It was the first time an anti-monopoly plank had been included in a platform since 1988, according to Vox and ProMarket at the University of Chicago.

“Large corporations have concentrated their control over markets to a greater degree than Americans have seen in decades — further evidence that the deck is stacked for those at the top,” the Democratic document said. “Democrats will take steps to stop corporate concentration in any industry where it is unfairly limiting competition.”

Warren also delivered a speech in June 2016 at the New America’s Open Markets Program event, where she said “competition is dying” and concentration threatened “markets,” “economy” and “democracy.”

“Take a look at the technology sector — specifically, the battle between large platforms and small tech companies,” Warren said. “Google, Apple, and Amazon provide platforms that lots of other companies depend on for survival. But Google, Apple, and Amazon also, in many cases, compete with those same small companies, so that the platform can become a tool to snuff out competition.”

After federal intelligence and congressional investigators revealed the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the media documented Facebook’s failure to prevent it, Democrats took a stronger position against platform monopolies.

In 2019, Reich testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, where he spoke about stifled innovation, misinformation, privacy and concentration of data and power.

“Big Tech’s sweeping patents and copyrights, huge and growing data collections, dominant networks and platforms, and capacities for predatory behavior — combined with legions of lawyers ready to sue for infringement of intellectual property, or the poaching of employees — have become formidable barriers to new entrants,” Reich said. 

The Democratic staff of the subcommittee issued a 449-page report in 2020 that documented the “monopoly” that Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple each enjoy. 

During the investigation, Subcommittee staff found evidence of monopolization and monopoly power. For example, the strong network effects associated with Facebook has tipped the market toward monopoly such that Facebook competes more vigorously among its own products — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger — than with actual competitors,” reads the report

So, contrary to the suggestion that “leftists” such as Reich have been quiet about “platform monopoly” prior to Musk’s bid to take over Twitter, prominent Democrats have been opposing monopolies for years. 

Editor’s note: is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.


Allyn, Bobby. “Elon Musk bought Twitter. Here’s what he says he’ll do next.” NPR. 25 Apr 2022.

Bolton, Alexander. “Musk buying Twitter alarms Democrats.” The Hill. 26 Apr 2022. 

Choudary, Sangeet Paul. “The Dangers of Platform Monopolies.” Insead Knowledge. 8 Mar  2017. 

Confessore, Nicholas, et al. “Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis.” New York Times. 14 Nov 2018.

Confessore, Nicholas and Matthew Rosenberg. “Facebook Fallout Ruptures Democrats’ Longtime Alliance With Silicon Valley.” New York Times. 17 Nov 2018. 

Feiner, Lauren. “Democrats circulate draft antitrust bills that could reshape Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google.” CNBC. 9 Jun 9 2021. 

Google. “Google To Acquire YouTube for $1.65 Billion in Stock.” Press Release. 9 Oct 2006.

Google. “Facts about Google’s acquisition of Motorola.” Press Release. Accessed 5 May 2022. 

Heater, Brian. “Google’s Fitbit acquisition is official.” Tech Crunch. 14 Jan 2021.

Kastrenakes, Jacob. “Google sells Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.” The Verge. 29 Jan 2014. 

Katcher, Will. “‘Dangerous for our democracy’: Sen. Elizabeth Warren sharply criticizes Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter.” MassLive. 26 Apr 2022.

Keating, Gina and Paul Thomasch. “Disney to acquire Marvel in $4 billion deal.” Reuters. 31 Aug 2009. 

Meta. “Facebook to Acquire Instagram.” Press Release. 9 Apr 2012. 

Meta. “Facebook to Acquire Oculus.” Press Release. 25 Mar 2014. 

Moore, Victor L. “Over 50 years of dominance.” Mesa Press. 18 Nov 2021. 

Olson, Parmy. “Facebook Closes $19 Billion WhatsApp Deal.” Forbes. 6 Oct. 2014. 

Osterloh, Rick. “Google completes Fitbit acquisition.” Google. 14 Jan 2021. 

Reich, Robert. “Big Tech Has Become Way Too Powerful.” New York Times. 18 Sep 2015. 

Reich, Robert (@RBReich). It’s called platform monopoly. It’s bad for our democracy as well as our economy.” Twitter. 25 Apr 2022. 

Robert Reich” webpage. Accessed 5 May 2022. 

Senate Judiciary Committee. “Does American Have a Monopoly Problem, Testimony from Robert B Reich.” ???. 5 Mar 2019.

U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission. “Facebook to Acquire WhatsApp.” Press Release. 19  Feb 2014. 

U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission. “Twitter, Inc.” Accessed 5 May 2022. 

The Walt Disney Company. “Disney’s Acquisition of 21st Century Fox Will Bring an Unprecedented Collection of Content and Talent to Consumers Around the World.” Press Release. 19 Mar 2019. 

The Walt Disney Company. “Disney To Acquire Marvel Entertainment.” Press Release. 31 Aug 2009.

The Walt Disney Company. “Disney to Acquire Lucasfilm Ltd.” Press Release. 30 Oct 2012. 

Warren, Elizabeth. “Here’s how we can break up Big Tech.” Medium. 8 Mar 2019. 

Warren, Elizabeth (@SenWarren). “This deal is dangerous for our democracy. Billionaires like Elon Musk play by a different set of rules than everyone else, accumulating power for their own gain. We need a wealth tax and strong rules to hold Big Tech accountable.” Twitter. 25 Apr 2022. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *