In this article published in the Summer 2023 issue of Antitrust, the authors review recent economic research on digital platforms and explore the potential implications of these findings for antitrust enforcement. Even though interactions between multiple sides of a digital platform bring additional complexities and challenges to antitrust analyses of digital platform markets as compared to traditional markets, recent economic research demonstrates traditional economic analysis tools can be modified to accommodate the unique characteristics of digital platforms. In addition, findings from this literature illustrate the complexity of interactions between the various sides of the platforms, and potential differences among the incentives and strategic responses of consumers, suppliers, and platforms. The literature demonstrates that antitrust policies intended to have pro-competitive effects may in fact have adverse unintended consequences—even reducing competition and consumer welfare. Thus, antitrust regulators need to make a careful evaluation of the overall impact of the policy instead of focusing only on the targeted side of the platform.
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