Internal documents show Facebook and Google discussing platform strategies

Internal documents show Facebook and Google discussing platform strategies

New internal documents released Tuesday detail how three of Big Tech’s most prominent companies favored their own products to weed out the competition. Her release comes as lawmakers push to pass tougher antitrust laws by the end of the year.

The documents were obtained by the House Judiciary Committee as part of its lengthy investigation into anticompetitive behavior by Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook’s parent company Meta. The probe closed in 2020, but the newly released emails, memos and reports provide new evidence supporting the committee’s calls to push for tougher competition rules for the tech industry.

“It is time for Congress to act,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chair of the antitrust subcommittee, said in a statement Tuesday.

Specifically, the documents show how Amazon and Google have pressured independent sellers and smartphone makers to favor their own products and platforms over those of their competitors. In a January 2014 email, a Google executive expressed concerns about a potential new Samsung service that could compete with the company’s “core search” experience. In email chains dating back to 2009, Amazon executives are shown debating whether to limit a competitor’s ability to advertise on their site. Amazon later acquired competitor, in a deal that house investigators claim helped the e-commerce giant secure its market dominance.

In another email, Google executives discuss how Amazon’s involvement has transformed the personal voice assistant market. “Amazon has changed the dynamic here,” the heavily redacted email reads. “Amazon has a built in incentive to work with Alexa as they will pull you out of their business if you don’t endorse it.”

Also included is a long-discussed Facebook memo titled “Possible End States for the Family of Apps.” First reported by The information In 2019, the memo describes a “tipping point” where users would start using other meta-owned apps like Instagram and WhatsApp more than the core Facebook platform. Written for CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the 2018 memo outlines how the company could slow the growth of Instagram and WhatsApp to avoid overtaking Facebook’s dominance.

“WhatsApp and Facebook coexist as broadcast sharing apps,” the memo said. “It remains unclear whether Instagram and Facebook can coexist… It seems unlikely that three sharing apps can coexist.”

Tuesday’s documents were released along with the committee’s final report, which describes the findings of its investigation and legislative solutions to the competition concerns identified. Lawmakers argued that the lack of competition in the tech industry has resulted in inferior online products over time. None of the Republicans co-signed the report’s recommendations, sending a signal that it may be harder for Democrats to push through antitrust reform this year.

“The damage from radical antitrust laws would put the United States at a global disadvantage and Americans worse off,” Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of technology giant NetChoice, said in a statement Tuesday. “Their reach would extend well beyond digital markets: to consumers of every business, in every industry, in every state.”

Still, antitrust advocates have continued to pressure lawmakers and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to support legislation banning tech platforms from favoring their own products. Antitrust scientists and the Consumer Federation of America last week asked the Senate to pass the bipartisan American Innovation and Choice Online Act.

“From Amazon and Facebook to Google and Apple, there is no question that these unregulated tech giants have become too big to care and too powerful to ever put people ahead of profits,” said MP Pramila Jayapal (D-WA ) in a statement Tuesday.

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