That’s not what the AT&T breakup did. The breakup was vertical, not horizontal: it created seven companies that were all competing for the exact same market with the same product. If you had twenty competing social networks, they might still be evil, but they will, individually, be much less powerful than the original monopolist.
The broken up bell companies did not actually compete with each other they were just assigned a territory where they could operate. And that is still true. The trouble with all of that is that cellular phone service isn’t regulated by any of those rules which is why AT&T, which is really Southwestern Bell based in Texas which was then allowed to merge with Pacific Bell, and then bought AT&T (which by then had been reduced down to just a name with the right to make computers that didn’t Sell much and, most importantly, AT&T was the beginning of there wireless business). Because of wireless, and the overall reluctance to put any constraints on gigantic corporate businesses, I think the state of phone service in the US is not quite monopolistic but getting closer. I guess this is a digression in a sense from the main topic. But I think my point is that breaking up the company did have some big effects but I don’t think that we the consumers made out all that well in the bargain considering we now pay on average something like five times as much for phone service as we used to.
Hmm. I recall that, at the time, the idea was that after a grace period the Baby Bells would be allowed to compete for each other’s market. This would drive tariffs down.
Competition on cellphone service in Europe worked very well to keep the prices low.
They all had a right to go after what they called long distance service. That was the competition. But again mobile phones obliterated all of that soon enough. Still without the break up of AT&T there would be no Internet as we know it today. (The big reason being before the breakup AT&T owned the lines and all the equipment. Part of the breakup was allowing other companies to make phones and modems that ran on the lines that had formerly been the exclusive and complete domain of AT&T.) And for that alone it was worth it. Even though we know how flawed the Internet is, but still…