Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday attacked Google and Apple during an anti-trust hearing at the United States Congress, Bloomberg reported. The hearing was virtually attended by Google head Sundar Pichai, Apple CEO Tim Cook and his Amazon counterpart Jeff Bezos.
The Congressional hearing was held to confront the CEOs of some of the world’s top technology firms on alleged abuse of their market power, Reuters reported. The CEOs parried several accusations from legislators that they pursued unfair means with their smaller rivals in the race for market share.
“In many areas, we are behind our competitors,” Zuckerberg told the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Antitrust. “The most popular messaging service in the US is iMessage. The fastest growing app is TikTok. The most popular app for video is YouTube. The fastest growing ads platform is Amazon. The largest ads platform is Google. And for every dollar spent on advertising in the US, less than ten cents is spent with us.”
Representative Pramila Jayapal asked Zuckerberg if Facebook had ever copied its competitors. “We’ve certainly adapted features that others have led in,” he said. But he said he had no knowledge of how many companies Facebook had copied.
Zuckerberg was also asked if Facebook acquired photo sharing app Instagram in 2012 because it was a business threat. He answered that the deal had been reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission and that Instagram at the time was a tiny photo sharing app which could not compete with Facebook.
‘Why does Google steal content?’
Representative David Cicilline, a member of the Democratic Party and the chairperson of the committee, asked: “Why does Google steal content from honest businesses?” Cicilline alleged that Google stole reviews from Yelp Inc, an American public company that provides reviews of restaurants, dentists, bars, beauty salons and doctors.
In response, Pichai said he would like to know the specifics of the accusation. “We conduct ourselves to the highest standards,” he claimed.
‘Does Amazon use third-party sellers to make sales decisions?’
Jayapal asked Bezos whether the company used data from third-party sellers in making sales decisions. Bezos replied that Amazon had a policy against such actions. “If we found that somebody violated it, we would take action against them,” he said.
‘Will Google support Joe Biden in the upcoming US elections?’
Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican, accused the companies of taking several actions that prevent conservatives from reaching their supporters during election season. “Big Tech is out to get conservatives,” he claimed. Jordan asked Pichai whether Google would help Democratic candidate Joe Biden win the US presidential elections in November. Pichai replied that his company supports both candidates and acts in a nonpartisan manner.
Zuckerberg told Republican Representative Matt Gaetz that content moderators were trained to be neutral. “We aim to be a platform for all ideas,” he said. “I certainly don’t want our platform to be run in such a way to have a ... bias.”
Apple CEO comments on increasing commissions in App Store
Apple’s Tim Cook rejected allegations that there was nothing to stop his company from increasing the commissions it charges in the App Store. “I disagree strongly with that,” he said. “The competition for developers - they can write their apps for Android or Windows or Xbox or PlayStation. We have fierce competition at the developer side and the customer side...” He described the competition as a “street fight”.
The committee is likely to release a detailed report on antitrust allegations against the four technology firms and how to control their market power, by late summer or early fall, Reuters reported. The four companies have a combined market value of about $5 trillion (Rs 374 lakh crore).