A narrative analysis of big tech in U.S. Media and Congress
Recent narratives around U.S. technology giants have fluctuated between scathing criticism, including significant legislative movements towards regulation, and international applause for big tech’s decisive action limiting platform services in Russia and removing Russian state media content in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the month of March, big tech has both endured international criticism for monopolization, censorship, and invasion of user privacy and enjoyed international acclaim for siding with Ukraine in the Ukraine-Russia war.
Kudzu’s big tech brief on U.S. Media displays a significant and sustained concern with big tech regulation near the beginning of March, with amplifications rising and falling during workweeks and remaining subdued over weekends.
The narrative analysis includes a spike in narratives surrounding big tech between March 24-25. This spike reflects legislation debated in the European Union which aims to restrict large U.S. technology companies like Meta, Amazon, Apple, and Google through the Digital Markets Act. While this proposed regulation would not apply to geographic regions outside of the European Union, its passing may prompt similar legislation to be drafted and implemented in the United States.
The European’s Union’s Digital Markets Act resembles antitrust legislation as it seeks to open digital markets currently dominated by Meta, Apple, and Google to smaller digital platforms.
The pie chart above visualizes primary keywords in the narrative surrounding big tech among U.S. news media outlets. A significant emphasis on “Russian state media” and “invasion of Ukraine” reflects digital conversation trends flowing out of the Russia-Ukraine War. In response to Russian activity in Ukraine, many tech companies have restricted their services in Russia, ceased hosting Russia state media content on their platforms, and shut down company offices within Russia. As a retaliatory move, Russian state media has attempted to censor many media platforms still available to its citizens.
Interest in Congress’s actions regarding big tech regulation and expansion remain relatively consistent. Narrative trends have declined since February, but occasionally rise as discussions surrounding amendments to U.S.C. 47, Section 230, and the EU’s Digital Markets Act take place. Congress remains concerned about big tech market monopolies, platform censorship, and user privacy.
The Congress brief on big tech displays that Republican legislators are amplifying triple the narratives than their Democrat counterparts (30 from Republicans, 10 from Democrats). Republicans clearly have the most interest in regulating big tech, with trend keywords such as “big tech censorship” only further illuminating the narrative that right-leaning legislators feel like tech companies are impeding free speech on their platforms.