The Monopolization of Social Media

By Terry Canales, Staff Writer

   Social media, from the very start, has changed our lives. It’s only really been around for about twenty-five to thirty years, but the impact it’s had is immeasurable. It has connected millions of people around the globe, and along with the internet as a whole, has come to ease the quick spread of information in ways unheard of before.  

A Short History 

    Not so long ago, there used to be many small, independent startups. However, today, the control of all social media, and just entertainment in general, is in the hands of fewer than ten huge companies. While it has drastically improved the quality and the interface of these apps, it has created a huge problem, as all monopolies do. 

     The idea of social media is as old as the internet itself, with colleges around the U.S. experimenting with the idea of social networks connecting colleges on opposite ends of the country in the mid-1960s, with the U.S military experimenting with a network called ARPANET, with the purpose of allowing their scientists to easily share data and research across the nation.  

     However, it would take a bit longer for it to really take its current form. By the early 1980s, the computer had started to become a home commodity like a television, shifting away its previous use as just a giant office calculator. With that, came a need for things to put and do on them, and so small “social sites” began to spring up, but most ended up being short-lived. That continued throughout the 1990s.  

    However, everything changed with the technological revolution of the 2000s, in which technology pretty much became a staple of everyday life. It was the decade that brought us the smartphone, the USB, HD televisions, Bluetooth headsets, and the further improvement of existing technology, such as laptops, operating systems, and game consoles.  

    It was also the decade in which social media really came into its own, with the release of MySpace in 2003. It eased the quick spread of information, and much like those small sites of the 80s and 90s, helped connect lots of people on opposite sides of the globe. What made MySpace so unique, though, was its easy interface. That smooth interface and experience made it begin to boom in popularity.  

    However, another shock to the web came a year later in 2004, when a couple of college students in Massachusetts released a new social media site called Facebook. Facebook took what had made MySpace so successful and upped it all, which quickly made its popularity explode, even dethroning Myspace. According to Statista, at the end of 2004, Facebook had 1 million users, and less than five years later, in 2009, it had over 150 million users.  

     In 2005, some other college students in Pennsylvania founded a site called YouTube. YouTube, unlike Facebook or MySpace, was all about creating random, unique and creative videos to upload for the whole world to see, with no restrictions whatsoever. By the end of the decade, social media became an essential part of daily life, with no rules or control over what you posted. However, with the dawn of the  2010s came, it was all soon to change.  

The Rise of Today’s Players 

        By 2010, social media was usually owned by small, independent startups with no financial purpose, with newcomers coming all the time, such as Twitter and Reddit in 2006, Instagram in 2010, and Snapchat later on in 2011. However, many companies began to see it as a lucrative market that they could exploit, and so the biggest ones began to buy up the smaller ones and crushing any competition that tried to change that.  

    It soon formed a “Big Three” of social media giants, which were Twitter, Facebook, and biggest of all being Google. According to Between 2011 and 2015, Twitter went on a shopping spree of buying out over 50 small social media companies and shutting them down or integrating them onto their existing site. According to, Facebook bought many others, not just social media sites, such as Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, and according to some leaked private emails from its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, he bought them out, but more specifically Instagram, because he saw that it was becoming a threat to Facebook.  

   Finally, there was Google. Google, once just a small search engine from the late 90s, became the biggest of them all in a few short years, buying up small companies such as YouTube in 2006, and creating its own apps that made it impossible for all those other ones to compete, and so they went out of business or got bought up. However, this wasn’t a problem at all, as all that extra profit and stability went into further improving those sites, and created a golden age for the internet, which lasted from 2004 to 2014. In 2014, though, is when all the problems of the modern internet began.  

Their Impact on Modern Society 

    In November 2014, YouTube began a massive demonetization campaign against small, independent YouTubers, as YouTube wanted to appeal more to advertisers than to their users. AdSense, their advertising department, was created as a financial incentive for YouTubers to come on to the platform and upload and spread the word about YouTube, as long as they stuck to their very basic guidelines and allowed for ads to be shown on their videos. However, in 2014, Google began to assert its control over YouTube by placing stricter guidelines that rendered many small YouTubers ineligible for the AdSense program.  

     That caused YouTubers who uploaded repulsive but unique content, such as Filthy Frank, to pretty much get kicked off the platform. Despite getting their own separate app for children, Google began pushing for YouTubers to upload more “family-friendly” content or leave. The same thing began to be done for political commentators with different opinions and even history YouTubers, demonetizing any videos having to do with the Second World War and Nazis, even if they weren’t necessarily promoting them, and were just telling the events that happened. New demonetization campaigns happened again in 2017 and 2019.  

    Facebook quickly became a den for fake information and research, and conspiracy theories. Twitter soon became a political dumpster fire where people from all over the spectrum: leftists, socialists, Communists, anarchists, neo-Nazis, right-leaners, conservatives, and even just ordinary people just duked it out on the site.  

    It’s not just limited to social media, though, as a similar monopoly formed in the regular media, from news chains to movie studios being owned by less than six companies, with those being Comcast, CBS, Disney, The News Corporation, AT&T, and Viacom. The problem with them is that much like social media, they began dividing the country by pushing their own leftist or right-leaning agendas, and the seeds of a political division that were laid long before Trump announced his candidacy for president.  

    While Trump and his divisive rhetoric certainly didn’t help matters, he wasn’t the cause of it.  Also, it meant the final death blow to traditional newspaper companies, who had been struggling since the 1980s. The problem with cable news is that it isn’t ethical, as events don’t happen that much, so they re-tell the same news over and over again just to get to the viewer(s) stuck until the advertisements come. Not only does it cause people stress and mass hysteria, it also creates the perfect environment for school shootings, as those mentally deranged people are left with no reason to live, and choose to do those things and kill themselves as they know it’ll bring them attention as the media covers it almost non-stop, causing the cycle to repeat itself again and again.  

     That monopolization of all media brings a lot of power to those individuals who are in control over those companies, which they use not only to destroy the competition but also spread their own agendas, and wipe out those who oppose them on the internet. The idea of being “disappeared” from the internet and having no way to spread your opinion is a thought that was unthinkable a few years ago, and that companies would never do such a thing.  

    However, those companies proved who they really were after the January 6th storming of the Capitol Building. Trump had made some comments on Twitter which incentivized his most loyal and extreme followers to do what they did a few days prior to the storming, so he was pretty much wiped out completely off the internet, with all his accounts being deleted and/or blocked. Many were quick to applaud that, especially from the left, and I do agree that his comments and posts were a big factor that led to those events, but it sets a bad precedent and raises a question: If even the president, who had an opposing opinion, could be wiped off the web, then what could happen if an ordinary person or a group of people said something that they didn’t like?  

    It poses a huge threat to free speech, which is something we all take for granted, and perhaps to free Western society as a whole. Many people argue that having your account deleted or getting your videos demonetized isn’t as bad as being arrested, beaten, and killed by the government to silence your opinions as in some countries, but with the internet and social media being the only effective way of sharing your opinion and gaining a following, silencing opinions that way is just as bad because an opinion being silenced is one person who has no way of telling others on his/her view on the world, no matter how bad or incorrect it may be.  

    The best way to counter those opinions is by debating them and proving them wrong with facts and logic. If you silence someone’s opinion, it also gives them a reason to think that their opinion may be right, and it could be something that those tech barons and the government don’t want spreading out, and that led to massive disinformation and radicalization. 

My Opinions 

    In conclusion, the monopolization of the media is something harmful to our society that must be stopped. It destroys competition and stifles innovation and new, creative ideas, in which companies, rather than individuals, have more of a say on the media. This could be seen in how PewDiePie, an independent YouTuber loved on the internet, was overthrown from his spot as the most subscribed YouTuber, by a huge Indian media company. YouTube has become a site in which small YouTubers cannot gain a following as huge YouTubers and companies are always at front, mostly thanks to their algorithm.  

    These companies have shown that they don’t care about morality or ethics, as long as it doesn’t affect their wallets in a negative way, such as with Google collaborating with the Communist Chinese government to erase things that they don’t want their citizens to know about, such as the concentration camps in Xinjiang, the massacre of unarmed students who were protesting for freedom by the army in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the suppression of Falun Gong, and the beatings of protesters and stripping away of freedoms of the citizens of Hong Kong, or with Facebook and Google as well collaborating with the U.S. government to spy on American citizens using the Patriot Act and trying punish the one who exposed all of it.  

    This is just as bad as with other companies’ actions, whether it be Disney using slave labor of political prisoners to film Mulan in China or Nestle killing babies in Africa with milk and taking away the water supply of regions that need it. I’m not saying that these companies should be banned and disappeared, but I do think that we need to put the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to good use and break these companies up into dozens of smaller, independent ones. No matter what you do to break them up, it is clear that something needs to be done. 

The Power These Corporations Have 

    The power and influence that these companies have on daily life is almost immeasurable. As I said earlier, the Big Three earn their bottom line from acquiring potential competitors, by creating improved versions of their apps to make sure no others can compete in terms of speed and quality, and by simply using their huge brand image and recognition. So, thanks to this, almost all market share on the internet is in their hands.  

   According to the website T4, in 2019, Facebook owned a whopping 72.2 percent of all the market share of worldwide users, including Instagram, with Twitter owning 8.2 percent, and finally YouTube (Google) owning 3.9 percent, meaning that the Big 3 control almost 85 percent of all social media.