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Here’s how the 2020 election could impact antitrust regulation

Sally Hubbard - Director of Enforcement Strategy at Open Markets Institute joins Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman and Akiko Fujita to break down how Big Tech is battling election misinformation.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Welcome back to "Yahoo Finance Live." We continue to track the markets as we await these results coming in from some key battleground states. Really, a lot of these mail in ballots just being counted right now. We just heard from the Secretary of State over in Michigan, at least according to ABC News, saying that the total number of ballots could be counted, they could have a total count by the end of the day. Looking at where things stand right now, the Dow is up nearly 800 points, the NASDAQ up roughly 500, and the S&P 500 up 111.

In terms of sectors are watching today, the tech sector one of those best performing. It is up about 4.5% broadly. There's a lot of questions here. We're moving forward on what all of this means, all of this as in the election results mean for big tech and regulation moving forward. Let's bring in Sally Hubbard. She's the Director of Enforcement Strategy at Open Markets Institute. And Sally, let's get right to that question-- how are you viewing these results right now in the context of what it means for these big tech names?

SALLY HUBBARD: Honestly, there's so much already in motion that I don't think the results of the presidential election are going to have a tremendous impact on what we're going to see in the near term regarding antitrust enforcement against the tech platforms. The Department of Justice case against Google is an incredibly strong case. I don't expect any change in administration to impact that case. If anything, there could be additional claims added to the complaint, you know, a broadening of the scope of that case, but we're already going to see that when the states bring their cases, which are expected in the coming weeks. We're expecting a group of state AGs to bring a case involving search and a group of state AGs to bring a case involving advertising. So all that is in motion. I don't expect it to be impacted by the presidential election.

AKIKO FUJITA: Sally, what about the issue of Section 230? We had that hearing last week. You certainly could see the divide between the political parties here with Republicans making those claims that they believe these social media companies, these platforms, have censored their content. How do you think that plays out in what we're looking at right now, which is a divided Congress and a potentially Democratic White House?

SALLY HUBBARD: Right, so I think the Democrats and the Republicans come to Section 230 with kind of different concerns, with the Republicans being mostly concerned about the idea that they're being censored, and the Democrats being concerned about the amplification of disinformation. I think in the coming weeks and months, we're going to see that the misinformation that was amplified and hyper targeted during this election cycle actually had a tremendous impact on the election. This is an issue that I am personally so concerned about that I have an entire chapter in my book, "Monopolies Suck," about it.

And I think we're going to start seeing more and more evidence that there was tremendous impact on our election from these business models that hyper target disinformation at people and allow for voter manipulation. So I think the pressure to rein in those business models is only going to increase. Whether it's coming from a view of being afraid of censorship or being afraid of misinformation, the problem is the same, and that's too much control over speech by these monopoly platforms.

ZACK GUZMAN: In your assessment though, I mean, when we saw this kind of play out, obviously, no one wanted to see a repeat of what happened in 2016 in terms of disinformation getting, you know, misinformation getting spread on these platforms. But how do you judge how things were handled this time? I know it's still early, but obviously moving past Election Day, did you see notable improvements there that might have investors a little bit more calm in terms of at least responding to some of those concerns?

SALLY HUBBARD: I think there were some attempts made by the platforms, but I think we're going to find when we actually are able to study what content was aimed at people, what videos and ads and messages got the most views, that disinformation really thrived. In fact, there was a study that showed that disinformation was up tremendously since the 2016 election. So the little changes that the platforms made just are not going to be enough when the problem is really the business model which allows for hyper targeting of content that's been made to, designed to make individuals react. So the most divisive, anger inducing, hateful content is going to get a boost under this business model. I think we're going to see evidence of that after in the months to follow when we look at what happened with this election.

AKIKO FUJITA: Sally Hubbard joining us there to talk about the impact of this election on big tech, although the caveat we've been giving for the last hour or so, which is we don't know all the results yet. But Sally Hubbard, the Director of Enforcement Strategy at Open Markets Institute, appreciate you joining us today.

SALLY HUBBARD: Thanks for having me.