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Even Zuckerberg is unsure if Facebook is a monopoly

Numerous questions were fired from all directions at Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg as he attended a hearing in front of various Senate committees at Capitol Hill on Tuesday, in wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But the most interesting part of the hearing came on a topic outside the ambit of the scam when Senator Lindsey Graham grilled the CEO, who tried his best to maintain a composed demeanor, on the topic of monopoly.

“You don’t think you have a monopoly?”

Facebook ceo mark zuckerberg
Image courtesy: Obama White House Archives

The senator’s question could not have been more direct, and Zuckerberg took a couple of seconds to phrase a sentence that would make sure the valuation of his company would not tumble by billions. Zuckerberg’s response was that he does not “feel” like it, with no further explanation. When asked to name Facebook’s competitors, the 33-year-old billionaire mentioned Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOGL) and Amazon (AMZN).

Senator Graham was not yet done with very-pointed questions. “If I buy a Ford (F), it doesn’t work well, and I don’t like it, I buy a Chevy. If I’m upset with Facebook, what’s the equivalent product I can go sign up for?”

As Zuckerberg fished for an explanation in the categories of services it provides, the senator responded that he is looking for a more straight-forward reply. To this, the CEO said Americans use over eight different apps to stay connected with friends. Meanwhile, the CEO faltered a bit when asked who their biggest competitor was.

“Do you want just one? I don’t know that I can give one, but I can give a bunch.”

Not blaming here, we would have stuttered on that question as well.

The senator was quick to shift the conversation to government regulation, asking the CEO himself if his company embraced it, given the muddle it has ended up in. A hesitant Zuckerberg said he wasn’t against the idea of regulation; rather he supported “right regulation.” There was no further clarification on what he considered “right.”

Thanks to the fact that each senator was given only less than five minutes to question the CEO, the grilling ended there. In fact, Zuckerberg took complete advantage of this very rule, talking in detail of the company’s vision and philosophy whenever he faced a difficult question at the hearing. The market was, meanwhile, ecstatic at Zuckerberg’s performance, with the stocks gaining back a small portion of its earlier losses.

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