The most significant moment in the US Senate’s interrogation of Mark Zuckerberg came when Senator Lindsey Graham asked the Facebook boss: “Who’s your biggest competitor?” It was one of the few moments in his five-hour testimony when Zuckerberg seemed genuinely discombobulated. The video of the exchange is worth watching. First, he smirks. Then he waffles about Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft “overlapping” with Facebook in various ways. It’s doesn’t look like he believes what he’s saying.
Eventually, Senator Graham cuts to the chase and asks Zuckerberg if he thinks Facebook is a monopoly. “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me,” the lad replies.
Laughter ripples through the room, as well it might. Here, at last, was something that every senator at the hearing understood. What’s less clear is whether they grasped the scale of the problem the company poses to society. For Facebook is a new kind of monopoly. We’re accustomed to the idea of companies becoming dominant in some jurisdictions. But we have never before encountered a corporation that has a global monopoly. Because wherever you go on the planet these days, Facebook is the only social-networking game in town. It has no serious competitors – anywhere.