Saturday, May 25, 2024

Mark Zuckerberg Questioned Under Oath in F.T.C. Antitrust Inquiry

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, answered questions under oath on multiple days this week as part of the Federal Trade Commission’s inquiry; into whether the company broke antitrust laws, the company said on Thursday.

The interview with Mr. Zuckerberg, reported earlier by Politico, was the first known time that regulators directly questioned a chief executive of one of the tech companies being scrutinized for potential antitrust violations. Either the F.T.C. or the Department of Justice is also investigating Google, Apple and Amazon.

In July 2019; Facebook agreed to pay a record-breaking $5 billion fine to resolve a separate FTC probe into the company’s privacy practices.

The FTC probe that resulted in the $5 billion settlement uncovered a wide range of privacy issues.

The investigation has focused on whether Facebook bought start-ups like Instagram and WhatsApp; in order to squash young and potentially dangerous competitors.

One round of document collection wrapped up in the spring. The trade commission has also contacted the founders of start-ups that Facebook bought; a sign that the agency is focusing on the company’s acquisition practices. But the investigation is expected to stretch beyond the November presidential election.

Mr. Zuckerberg and the other chief executives — Sundar Pichai of Google, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Tim Cook of Apple; testified last month before a House panel investigating their market power.

Mr. Zuckerberg was confronted with emails showing that a Facebook executive had referred to Instagram during the acquisition process as a “competitive threat.”

Mr. Zuckerberg said Instagram’s runaway success was a result of its acquisition by Facebook and not preordained.

Facebook says it faces robust competition from other American tech giants as well as foreign companies like TikTok, the viral video app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

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