Facebook, Google absorb the pricks of US lawmakers in rare Big Tech hearing

Google and Facebook made the sharpest efforts on Wednesday over alleged abuse of their market power by Democrats and Republicans during a highly anticipated congressional hearing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBFDQvIrWYM&feature=emb_logo featuring four of America’s most prominent tech CEOs in the hot seat. Facebook Inc’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon.com Inc’s Jeff Bezos, Alphabet Inc’s Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Apple Inc’s Tim Cook – whose companies have a combined market value of about $ 5 trillion – countered a series of allegations from lawmakers via video conference for the House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Panel.

Although it was Bezos’ first testimony to the Congress, he seemed the least surprised at his whims. Cook drew fewer barbed questions than Bezos, but handled them efficiently while Zuckerberg took the most damage and tripped a few times when confronted with internal emails. Pichai took most of the attention from conservatives and he looked worse, repeatedly telling lawmakers that he would like to look at different situations and come back to them later.

Unfortunately, the Big Tech hearing was decidedly low-tech. Bezos escaped interrogation for about 90 minutes in what was potentially a technical problem, and was caught reaching for what appeared to be a snack. Poor audio quality, flat-screen televisions turning off, and chefs appearing together as thumbnails on a large screen frustrated viewers and led to mock virtual setup on Twitter.

U.S. Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat and chair of the antitrust subcommittee, began accusing Google of theft. “Why is Google stealing content from honest companies?” he asked.

Cicilline claimed Google stole reviews from Yelp Inc company and said Google threatened to remove the company from search results if it objected. Pichai mildly replied that he would like to know the details of the accusation. “We are acting to the highest standards,” he added, disagreeing with the characterization that Google steals content from other companies to keep users on its own services.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg answered a series of questions about the company’s purchase of Instagram in 2012 and whether it was acquired because it posed a threat. Zuckerberg replied that the deal had been reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission and that at the time, Instagram was a small photo-sharing app rather than a social media phenomenon. “People didn’t think they would compete with us in that space,” he said.

The hearing marked the first time the four CEOs appeared together before lawmakers. Representative Pramila Jayapal urged Amazon’s Bezos whether the company used data from third-party sellers in making sales decisions. In a previous hearing, an Amazon executive denied this under oath and it was contradicted by a later news report.

Bezos cautiously replied that the company had a policy against such actions. “If we found out someone violated it, we would take action against them,” he said. On the Republican side, Representative Jim Jordan accused the companies of taking a long list of actions he said were trying to stop conservatives from reaching their supporters.

“Big Tech is out to get conservatives,” he said. The companies have denied allegations of political censorship. Jordan and Cicillin had a heated discussion within 30 minutes of the start of the hearing, confusing about Jordan’s request to allow another member of Congress to join the panel.

Jordan’s allegations come after President Donald Trump, who clashed with several of the biggest tech companies, threatened to take action against them on Wednesday with Executive Orders. ‘STREET FIGHT’

CEO Cook rejected the idea that nothing prevents Apple from increasing the commissions it charges in the App Store. “I don’t agree at all,” he said. “The competition for developers – they can write their apps for Android or Windows or Xbox or PlayStation. We have fierce competition on the developer and customer side, which is essentially so competitive that I would describe it as a street fight for the market in the smartphone business. “

In his opening address, Zuckerberg told lawmakers that China is “building its own version of the Internet focused on very different ideas, and that they are exporting their vision to other countries.” Cook pointed out that the fiercely competitive smartphone market includes China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, which has been a focus of significant concern over US national security.

A detailed report containing antitrust allegations against the four technology platforms and recommendations on how to tame their market power could be released by the commission by late summer or early fall, which separately collected 1.3 million documents from the companies, said aides from the companies. the senior committee.

Facebook Inc’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon.com Inc’s Jeff Bezos, Alphabet Inc’s Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Apple Inc’s Tim Cook – whose companies have a combined market value of about $ 5 trillion – countered a series of allegations from lawmakers via video conference for the House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Panel. Although it was Bezos’ first testimony to the Congress, he seemed the least surprised at his whims.

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