The four giant technology companies are the most powerful in the world, names on people’s lips every day.
Now a report by the US House of Representatives has accused the four of abusing their power.
The report describes how each company began as a “scrappy” start-up and turned into “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons”.
Congress said the companies have abused their dominant positions by dictating prices and setting the rules for commerce, search, advertising, social networking and publishing.
They forced competitors to use their technology and if they didn’t the Big 4 then bought them out.
The report makes several recommendations. One is to make it tougher for tech giants to buy up smaller companies. Another aims to stop platforms from prioritising their own products over those of rivals.
“Although these firms have delivered clear benefits to society, their dominance has come at a price,” the report says. “These firms typically run the marketplace while also competing in it – a position that enables them to write one set of rules for others, while they play by another.”
Amazon disputed the findings of the report and called the subcommittee’s thinking “flawed”.
Facebook, Apple and Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.