by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – At a congressional hearing Wednesday, lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties questioned the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, to understand whether these dominant companies have become “corporate bullies” that systemically buy out or destroy competitors, CBS News reports. The hearing is especially pertinent as the COVID-19 economic disaster has crushed small and larger businesses worldwide while these tech giants have grown richer by the billions of dollars. The CEO of each company gave evidence virtually to the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust.
During the course of Wednesday’s hearing, Washington Democrat Pramila Jayapal questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbeg about his efforts to copy features provided by competitors like Instagram, which his company bought in 2012. Jayapal also asked Zuckerberg about Instagram founder Kevin Systrom’s statement to investors that Zuckerberg would "go into destroy mode" if Instagram did not sell out to Facebook. Drawing a conclusion, Jayapal said: "Facebook cloned a popular product, approached the company you identified as a competitive threat, and told them if they didn't let you buy them up there would be consequences."
Pennsylvania Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon questioned Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about his company’s 2011 acquisition of Diapers.com. Diapers had not wanted to sell, but Amazon aggressively cut baby product prices on its own site, eventually forcing the sale. "I don't remember that at all," Bezos said. Scanlon concluded: "Especially with the pandemic, one of the biggest needs I'm seeing with food drives and giveaways in my district is that families don't have diapers and we have to give them out. I'm really concerned that pricing might be driven up here by this tactic."
Ohio Republican Jim Jordan criticized the CEOs for apparent censorship of conservative voices. "Big Tech is out to get conservatives. That's not a suspicion, that's not a hunch — that's a fact," he said. Jordan referred to a number of examples of what he said was censorship of right-wing media outlets, including Google ad platforms threatening to ban libertarian-leaning financial blog ZeroHedge and YouTube restricting videos of content that goes against World Health Organization pandemic advice. "We all think the free market's great, competition's great. What's not great is censoring people and trying to impact elections. If it doesn't end, there have to be consequences. That's what I'm concerned about and so many Americans are concerned about," Jordan said.
The hearing was the culmination of a year-long investigation into the four companies by the House Judiciary Committee and was the last step before the subcommittee presents its final report.
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