That more diplomatic approach -- and Buttigieg's avoidance so far of calling for breaking up companies like Facebook -- "has been a personal sigh of relief for a lot of people in the tech industry," said Jacob Helberg, a tech policy adviser who's hosted fundraisers for the candidate.
While most of the other top Democrats are also playing coy on the issue, Buttigieg's refusal to be pinned down has frustrated tech critics who see it as a defining debate in the party.
"He is going for Silicon Valley money and he wants to express some nod to the problems but he doesn't want to offend anyone powerful," said Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute and an advocate of splitting up the tech giants. "Take a position."
WHAT DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES SAY ABOUT BREAKING UP BIG TECH COMPANIES
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: "Today's big tech companies have too much power? -- ?too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. ... That's why my administration will make big, structural changes to the tech sector to promote more competition? -- ?including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google."
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I agree with Senator Warren on the need to break up big tech companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon. Will be introducing similar legislation in U.S. House."
On the fence:
Former Vice President Joe Biden: Breaking up Facebook is "something we should take a really hard look at," he told The Associated Press, saying Warren "has a very strong case to be made."
Sen. Kamala Harris: "We have to seriously take a look at that ... (Facebook) is essentially a utility that has gone unregulated. And as far as I'm concerned, that's got to stop."