Internal documents show that Facebook and Google are discussing platform strategies

Internal documents show that Facebook and Google are discussing platform strategies

New internal documents released on Tuesday describe how three of Big Tech’s most prominent companies favored their own products as a means of beating the competition. Their release comes as lawmakers are pushing to approve stronger antitrust legislation by the end of the year.

The documents were obtained by the House Judiciary Committee as part of its lengthy investigation into anti-competitive behavior from Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook’s parent company Meta. The investigation was completed in 2020, but the recently published emails, notes and reports provide new evidence that supports the committee’s calls to promote tougher competition rules for the technology industry.

“It’s time for Congress to act,” the rep said. David Cicilline (D-RI), chair of the antitrust commission, in a statement Tuesday.

In particular, the documents show how Amazon and Google pressured independent sellers and smartphone manufacturers to favor their own products and platforms over competitors. In an email from January 2014, a Google leader raised concerns about a potential new Samsung service that could compete with the company’s “core search experience”. In email chains dating as far back as 2009, Amazon executives are shown discussing whether to restrict a competitor’s opportunity to advertise on their site. Amazon later bought the competitor, Diapers.com, in a deal that House investigators claim helped the e-commerce giant secure market dominance.

In another email, Google executives discuss how Amazon’s engagement changed the market for personal voice assistants. “Amazon has changed the dynamics here,” it says in the heavily edited email. “Amazon has a built-in incentive to work with Alexa since they will pull you out of their store if you do not support it.”

Also included is a long-discussed Facebook memo called “Possible end states for the family of apps.” First reported by The information in 2019, the note describes a “tipping point” where users will start using other Meta-owned apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, more than its core Facebook platform. The 2018 memo was written for CEO Mark Zuckerberg and explained the ways the company could curb Instagram and WhatsApp’s growth so as not to take over Facebook’s dominance.

“WhatsApp and Facebook co-exist as broadcast sharing apps,” the memo said. “It’s still unclear if Instagram and Facebook can co-exist … It seems unlikely that three sharing apps could co-exist.”

The Tuesday documents were published together with the committee’s final report, which describes the findings from the survey and legislative solutions to the competition problems they discovered. Lawmakers have argued that the lack of competition in the technology industry has resulted in poorer online products over time. No Republicans have signed the report’s recommendations, sending a signal that it may be more difficult for Democrats to push through the antitrust reform this year.

“The damage from radical antitrust laws will put the United States at a global disadvantage and make Americans worse off,” Carl Szabo, vice president and attorney general of the technology industry group NetChoice, said in a statement Tuesday. “Its reach will extend far beyond just digital markets: to consumers of any business, in any industry, in any state.”

Anti-trust activists have continued to pressure lawmakers and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to support bills banning technological platforms from favoring their own products. Antitrust researchers and the Consumer Federation of America urged the Senate to pass the bipartisan US Innovation and Choice Online Act last week.

“From Amazon and Facebook to Google and Apple, there is no doubt that these unregulated technology giants have become too big to care about and too powerful to ever put people over profit,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) in a statement. Tuesday message.

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