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How big is too big? And when does a company become so big that the government is forced to step in and make it smaller? Politicians have been struggling with those questions for at least a hundred years. But as the latest generation of tech companies has taken shape, the questions are becoming more and more relevant to internet giants like Google and Facebook. There’s a new movement in Washington to break up those companies, whether through a Justice Department lawsuit or an old-school appeal to the Sherman Antitrust Act. It’s a struggle Microsoft fended off in the ‘90s, and it has only grown more urgent in the years since. As Amazon has taken a stranglehold of online retail, Jeff Bezos’ company has started to attract antitrust attention as well, with figures like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Lina Khan taking aim at Amazon’s cutthroat competitive strategies. If it succeeds, it would be one of the most ambitious government projects in a generation — but success is still a long way off.

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