Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will tell a major antitrust hearing on Wednesday that the internet giant would not have succeeded without US laws fostering competition, but that the rules of the internet now need updating.
“Facebook is a proudly American company,” Zuckerberg said in prepared remarks ahead of what will be a closely-watched House Judiciary Committee hearing.
“Our story would not have been possible without US laws that encourage competition and innovation.” But Zuckerberg also acknowledged “concerns about the size and perceived power that tech companies have.”
“That’s why I’ve called for a more active role for governments and regulators and updated rules for the internet.”
Wednesday’s unprecedented hearing will also feature chief executives Tim Cook of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Sundar Pichai of Google and its parent firm Alphabet.
The CEOs of four of the most powerful companies in the world will testify remotely at the hearing, which comes less than 100 days before the US election.
The showdown in the House of Representatives comes amid rising concerns over Big Tech dominance, which has become even more pronounced during the coronavirus pandemic.
“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’s prepared remarks read.
Questions at the hearing are expected to veer into issues ranging beyond whether the technology titans are abusing their power in marketplaces.
Current US antitrust laws make it difficult for enforcers to target companies simply for being large or dominant without showing harm to consumers or abuse of market power.
In his written testimony, Zuckerberg argued that the social media company became successful the American way, by starting out with nothing and providing products that people find valuable.
We compete against the companies appearing at this hearing, plus many others that sell advertising and connect people. We also compete globally, including against companies that have access to markets that we aren't in,
Zuckerberg will tell a panel of lawmakers investigating how its business practices and data gathering have hurt smaller rivals.
He will also defend Facebook's acquisitions by saying the social-media platform helped companies like WhatsApp and Instagram grow. Both are owned by Facebook.
He will also remind lawmakers of the competitive threat US tech companies face from China, saying the Asian country is building its own version of the Internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries.”
“As I understand our laws, companies aren’t bad just because they are big. Many large companies that fail to compete cease to exist.
“We believe in values – democracy, competition, inclusion and free expression – that the American economy was built on,” Zuckerberg is to say.
“Many other tech companies share these values, but there’s no guarantee our values will win out.”