Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will tellon Wednesday that the social network is a “proudly American company” that has competition including from Chinese tech companies, according to his prepared remarks.
Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear before the House judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee on Wednesday via video along with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai in a highly anticipated congressional hearing.
For more than a year, members of that subcommittee have been looking into whether these internet companies stifle competition and harms consumers. Zuckerberg said in his 5-page prepared remarks, which were released on Tuesday, that the company faces “intense competition globally.” Some of Facebook’s competitors include TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, and US social media apps such as Twitter and Snapchat. Zuckerberg said Facebook competes with Apple, Amazon and Alphabet, which owns Google and YouTube.
“We believe in values — democracy, competition, inclusion and free expression — that the American economy was built on. Many other tech companies share these values, but there’s no guarantee our values will win out,” Zuckerberg said in his prepared remarks. “For example, China is building its own version of the internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries.”
He said he supports “strong and consistent competition” policy that ensures a level “playing field.” Facebook has also created new products in response to competition, contributes to the open-source community and creates new tools that helps nonprofits, people check if their loved ones are safe during a natural disaster and addresses user’s needs during the coronavirus pandemic, he says in the prepared remarks.
Calls to break up Facebook began to heat up last year after one of the company’s founders Chris Hughes published a lengthy op-ed in The New York Times about how the social network’s growing power threatens democracy. The company has faced several scandals including over data privacy and election meddling. Facebook owns popular photo-service Instagram and messaging app WhatsApp. Hughes and other critics wants Facebook to spin off Instagram and WhatsApp, allowing the services to compete as separate businesses.
Facebook is facing several antitrust probes, including from the Federal Trade Commission, the US Department of Justice, the House antitrust committee and a group of state attorneys general. The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly looking into whether Facebook’s acquisitions were part of the social media giant’s strategy to stifle competition, The Wall Street Journal reported. The FTC has declined to comment on their investigation.
Zuckerberg will tell lawmakers that its acquisitions have helped fueled innovation not hinder them. Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook all work together to combat spam and harmful content that violates the social network’s rules, he said.
“Our acquisitions have helped drive innovation for people who use our own products and services and for the broader startup community. Acquisitions bring together different companies’ complementary strengths,” Zuckerberg said in his prepared remarks.
Instead of breaking up the company, Zuckerberg has been pushing for more regulation around issues such as privacy and data portability.
“I understand that people have concerns about the size and perceived power that tech companies have. Ultimately, I believe companies shouldn’t be making so many judgments about important issues like harmful content, privacy, and election integrity on their own,” Zuckerberg said.
He also thinks that one day Facebook will be replace by another social network, noting that the company kept the sign of what used to be Sun Microsystems headquarters on its campus to remind them that the tech industry changes rapidly.
“I’ve long believed that the nature of our industry is that someday a product will replace Facebook,” he said. “I want us to be the ones that build it, because if we don’t, someone else will.”