Mark Zuckerberg questioned for two days in Facebook competition probe

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Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testified for two days before the US competition czar this week as part of an ongoing investigation into the company’s practices.

The tech giant’s chief executive appeared before the Federal Trade Commission to answer questions about whether or not the company was abusing its outsized portion of the ad market.

The FTC is looking at whether Facebook abused its outsized share of the online advertising market, in addition to whether its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp and its copying of competing apps’ features violate antitrust laws.

Facebook has been criticised in the past for unveiling features like “Stories”, initially through Instagram, which mimicked similar features deployed by Snapchat. More recently, the company has released its answer to TikTok, a video feature called “Reels”.

“We are committed to cooperating with the US Federal Trade Commission’s inquiry and answering the questions the agency may have,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the FTC declined to comment.

The commission opened its probe into Facebook’s actions last year. It is one of a number of regulatory bodies looking at Facebook’s size and how it can potentially impact on competition in various markets.

In July, Zuckerberg appeared before Congress in the US where he was pressed about the company’s acquisition of Instagram.

During the proceedings, internal documents presented before the House Judiciary Committee showed how Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom feared Zuckerberg would go into “destroy mode” if the app rebuffed Facebook’s approach. The company eventually caved in a deal worth around $1bn in 2012.

Zuckerberg argued that Facebook was still facing up to plentiful competition. He outlined how Apple’s  iMessage and ByteDance’s TikTok were among the US’ most-popular apps and that Google was the world’s largest ads platform.

The FTC had been previously criticised for failing to meet Zuckerberg during a separate privacy inquiry in 2018.

“Sometimes it’s important to depose the CEO and sometimes it’s not necessary, but where it’s important and helpful, we try to do it,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons told a Senate panel earlier this month.

On September 2, Facebook will face another grilling, this time in its largest market India, over how it regulates extremist political content. – bbc.com

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