For the second time this week, two of the most ideologically opposed members of the Senate, Josh Hawley and Bernie Sanders, are arguing essentially the same thing: that Facebook, which is currently the defendant in antitrust lawsuits involving dozens of states, should be broken up. This has the makings of an amusing old-fashioned buddy comedy.

One thing we will get used to hearing from Facebook and its allies over the next few months is that because we have done virtually nothing in the last two decades to check the power of the tech monopolies, we cannot possibly consider doing so now. It would be unsporting, you see.

But Facebook (like Google and Amazon) has not been left to its own devices because there was no good antitrust case to be made against the company four or eight years ago. It has been allowed to pursue horizontal and vertical integration simultaneously by gobbling up potential competitors and companies in adjacent industries because everyone in power was either indifferent to or actively in favor of what it was doing.

Conservative politicians find antitrust law distasteful. During Barack Obama's presidency, the years in which Facebook transformed from a hobby website for college students to one of the wealthiest corporations on the planet, there was a blind faith in the redemptive power of technology. Is it really surprising that the president who became a Netflix producer upon leaving office was not inclined to challenge the rise of a tech monopoly?

What we have learned in recent years is that neither side really understood the implications of what it was allowing. This has been made clear over and over again in a series of increasingly farcical hearings. You know where you are when Sen. Roger Wicker asks Mark Zuckerberg whether it is, in fact, possible for a website to know what other websites you have visited. ("I am aware that cookies are used on the internet," Zuck gamely replied.) Meanwhile, now that Facebook is no longer just a tool for organizing "Yes We Can" door-knocking operations, as it had been in 2008, Democrats have done an about-face, insisting that gaming the user data that Facebook exists to sell is bad because the other team is doing it now too.

Now we find ourselves in a situation in which Facebook has vastly more resources at its disposal — legally, financially, and in every other relevant sense — than those ostensibly tasked with regulating it. The Federal Trade Commission, with its 1,000 or so employees and paltry $330 million annual budget, is the kind of operation Zuckerberg and co. are used to eating for breakfast. We are talking not about an American corporation in any sense that would have been recognizable 50 years ago but about a borderless feudal kingdom with immense wealth, one that will do anything to avoid being interfered with.

Still, the facts are not remotely in doubt. By predatorily acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp, by integrating its original message board-like function and its photo sharing and chat acquisitions into its data mining and advertising operations, Facebook has met all the established definitions of anti-competitive behavior. That it has not used its control of the industry to impose high monthly subscription charges is irrelevant; the lower the barriers are to using the website, the more money Facebook stands to make from selling users' data. The classic right-wing account of monopolies — companies that corner a market and quickly raise prices — is useless here.

The problem is not that Facebook could theoretically use its power to gouge customers but that allowing any private corporation to have so much control over vast swathes of human life — imagine a company 100 years ago having access to every piece of paper with writing on it anywhere in the world — is incompatible with the common good. An institution beholden only to its shareholders should not be the world's de facto publisher, censor, and private intelligence service.

The reason Facebook as we know it must be destroyed is not that it is making too much money (though it certainly is), but that its business is a bad and dangerous one. Like Google, it should not only be broken up; its core service should be replaced with some kind of free public utility in the near future.