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Highlights from the tech-antitrust congressional hearing

Mak Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos answer some difficult questions; Tim Cook comes out relatively clean

The five-hour-long tussle between the Congress and tech CEOs had many tense moments. Even as the executives from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) dodged some of the difficult questions from the lawmakers, Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline, who led the hearing, made sure the CEOs were not left unchecked.

Also read: Has Alphabet lost charm after its revenue and profit skid

His background of leading investigations in the operations of the tech-giants and their alleged antitrust practices gave way for some strained conversations. Here are some key moments from yesterday’s hearing that you should definitely not miss.

Zuckerberg speaks about competition

In his opening remarks, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about how Facebook faces competition from big and small players, many of whom were performing much better. He asserted the need to innovate to survive, especially in a scenario where many Chinese tech firms are taking over market share from American firms.

Zuckerberg on purchase of Instagram

Congressman Jerrold Nadler dug into Facebook’s purchase of Instagram, calling it an attempt to thwart a potential competitor by buying it. He asked whether Facebook saw Instagram as a potential competitor at the time of purchase and questioned the moral principles behind the decision.

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Tim Cook on the transparency of App Store

The Apple CEO came out relatively unscathed from the allegations raised against the company by lawmaker Hank Johnson, who criticized the firm for using data to deleverage apps that compete with its own ones. Cook stressed the transparency offered by the company, elaborating on the levels of revenue generation from App Store.  

Jeff Bezos on using seller data for product development

Pramila Jayapal shot a pointed question at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos whether the company uses third-party seller data when making business decisions. Bezos gave a rather vague response, even as he admitted that the company may have done so in the past. Bezos was also visibly uncomfortable responding to the follow-ups.

Sundar Pichai on data use

A question that is posed at Google a lot cropped up during the congressional hearing as well – how does Google use data for its business and what it means to user privacy. The tech giant was also questioned the moral backing behind the acquisition of Double Click.

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Bezos on Amazon allegedly bullying small sellers

Sharing the anecdote of a bookseller on Amazon, representative Lucy McBath enquired how the e-commerce major was treating its sellers, and whether any amount of bullying was involved. Bezos replied that he wasn’t aware of the specific incident in question.


Also read: Market cap comparison: Apple vs. Amazon


Bezos answers Amazon’s products competing with third-party sellers

David Cicilline quizzed the Amazon CEO about its own products appearing on the platform, and how that would negatively affect the small companies selling similar products. He asked why a company with strong values would want to sell products in a place where it is the sole rule maker, if not for competitive advantage.

Zuckerberg on “threatening” Instagram founder

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said Instagram founder Kevin Systrom had confided with an investor that the Facebook CEO would go into “Destroy Mode” if Instagram wasn’t sold to him. She also grilled Zuckerberg on the conversations with Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel when the Facebook approached for a takeover.

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