Is Big Tech Too Big?
US authorities accuse Big Tech of destroying competitors in order to increase profits
Google and Facebook were particularly keen on accusations of abuse of their market power by Democrats and Republicans on Wednesday at a highly anticipated Congressional hearing that called for four of the most prominent high-tech CEOs to answer.
The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives competition commission who conducted the hearing said afterward that the four CEOs had admitted their respective behavior..
«What we heard from witnesses at the hearing confirmed the evidence we have gathered over the past year.», – a Democratic spokesman told Reuters David Sicillin.
Vs Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook Inc, owner of Amazon.com Inc Jeff Bezos, Google owner Sundara Pichai from Alphabet Inc and Tim Cook Apple Inc., whose companies have a combined market value of about $ 5 trillion, have made a number of accusations that they have wiped out the businesses of smaller competitors in a bid to gain market share..
For the first time in a videoconference, four CEOs appear before lawmakers.
While this was Bezos’s first congressional testimony, he looked the least puzzled. Cook raised fewer prickly questions than Bezos and dealt with them effectively. Zuckerberg suffered the most, stumbling at times when it came to internal corporate communications.
Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, caused the most discontent among conservatives and looked the worst of all, having repeatedly told lawmakers that he would be happy to sort out different situations and then return to them..
Sicillin set the tone for the hearing when he accused Google of stealing. «Why Google steals content from honest companies?», – he asked. According to him, Google stole reviews from Yelp Inc and threatened to exclude Yelp from search results if the company objects..
Pichai softly replied that he would like to know the details of the charges. «We work to the highest standards», – he added, disagreeing with the characterization.
Facebook’s Zuckerberg was asked a series of questions about Instagram’s 2012 purchase.
Zuckerberg responded that Instagram was a tiny photo-sharing app at the time, not a social media phenomenon..
Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal asked Zuckerberg if Facebook has ever copied its competitors. «We have certainly adapted the features that others have developed», – he answered.
«How many companies did Facebook copy? she asked. – Is it less than five? Less than 50?»
«Congressman, I don’t know», – admitted Zuckerberg.
Jayapal asked Bezos if the company used third-party seller data to make sales decisions. The Amazon executive has previously denied this practice under oath and denied it in the news..
Bezos cautiously replied that the company has a policy against such actions.. «If we find that someone has violated this, we will take action against them.», – he said.
By the Republicans Jim Jordan accused the companies of preventing conservatives from reaching out to their supporters. Jordan insisted that Google is helping the former vice president Joe Biden, prospective Democratic presidential candidate, win in November.
«We support both campaigns. We approach our work from a non-partisan perspective», – Pichai answered.
Republican Matt Goetz asked Zuckerberg if Facebook’s moderators were biased towards conservative content. Zuckerberg said they are trained to be neutral.
Apple CEO rejects the idea that nothing is stopping his company from raising the fees he charges on the App Store.
«I strongly disagree with that, ”he said. – Developers competition – they can write their apps for Android or Windows or Xbox or PlayStation. We have fierce competition from outside developers and consumers, which is inherently so competitive that I would call it street fighting».
A detailed report with antitrust allegations against the four technology platforms and recommendations on how to curb their market dominance could be released by late summer or early fall.