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U.S. lawmakers accuse Big Tech of crushing rivals

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics - Duration: 02:19s - Published
U.S. lawmakers accuse Big Tech of crushing rivals

U.S. lawmakers accuse Big Tech of crushing rivals

Google and Facebook took particularly sharp jabs for alleged abuse of their market power from Democrats and Republicans on Wednesday in a much-anticipated congressional hearing that put four of America's most prominent tech CEOs in the hot seat.

This report produced by Chris Dignam.

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The chief executives of America's largest tech firms -

Class="kln">Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook - faced harsh criticism on Wednesday from lawmakers who accused them of abusing their market dominance.

REP.

DAVID CICILLINE: "Simply put, they have too much power." Most Republicans concentrated on claims their platforms censor right-wing voices.

REP.

JIM JORDAN: "Big Tech's out to get conservatives." But both sides of the aisle appeared to agree that the four tech titans engaged in unfair business practices... to squash competitors.

REP.

PRAMILA JAYAPAL: "How many competitors did Facebook end up copying?" MARK ZUCKERBERG: "Congresswoman, I... I... can't give you a number of companies." JAYAPAL: "Was it less than five?" ZUCKERBERG: "Congresswoman, I don't know." Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced some of the toughest questions on Wednesday, as lawmakers - including Representative Pramila Jayapal - came armed with damaging internal emails about the company's acquisitions, including it's 2012 purchase of Instagram.

JAYAPAL: "Has Facebook ever threatened to clone the products of another company while also attempting to acquire that company?" ZUCKERBERG: "Congresswoman, not that I would... not that I recall." Google's Sundar Pichai fielded the most questions on Wednesday, and was accused by the Democratic chair of the House antitrust subcommittee, David Cicilline, of stealing.

CICILLINE: "Why does Google steal content from honest businesses?" PICHAI: "Uh, Mr. Chairman, with respect, I disagree with that characterization." Cicilline went after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, too... "'We called it Amazon heroin.'" ...citing a third-party seller who said the e-commerce giant "strings you along" until it crushes you.

CICILLINE: "Why on Earth would they compare your company to a drug dealer?" BEZOS: "Sir, I have great respect for you and this committee, but I completely disagree with that characterization." It was also a trying day for technology itself.

Bezos escaped questioning for about an hour because of technical issues with his video feed.

Poor audio quality and tiny thumbnails on a large screen frustrated viewers of the virtual hearing, which also featured CEO snacking.

At one point, the world's richest man appeared to reach off-screen for a nibble, while Zuckerberg could be seen munching on what looked like pretzel bites.




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