Ahead of a major anti-trust congressional hearing on the four corporate giants, their leaders have expressed positive sentiments that fly in the face of past hearings.
The CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google will face hard questions about their power, size and reach in front of the House of Representatives.
The virtual appearance by four of the world’s most powerful technology executives before the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee on Wednesday could be a defining moment for bipartisan efforts to rein in Silicon Valley.
On one hand, the hearing represents the Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee’s only chance to publicly question the executives, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai, during the course of its 13-month bipartisan investigation into each company’s business practices and whether those practices illegally stifle competition.
The executives have issued a plethora of positive remarks ahead of the hearings.
Zuckerberg aims to make the positive case his social media giant would not have succeeded without US laws fostering competition, but that the rules of the internet now need updating.
In a previous hearing, his case was not well received.
"Facebook is a proudly American company," Zuckerberg said in prepared remarks ahead of the 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."
Zuckerberg argues that "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 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."
Zuckerberg also renewed Facebook's call for government regulation. He has previously called for more laws in areas where the company has been criticized - such as harmful content in social media, election integrity and privacy.
"That's why I've called for a more active role for governments and regulators and updated rules for the internet."
Zuckerberg has been criticised by elected officials for failing to take action on known social media risks until pressed by congress.
Bezos will paint the online giant as a vibrant American "success" story while accepting a need for scrutiny.
"I believe Amazon should be scrutinised," Bezos said in prepared remarks posted online ahead of the unprecedented antitrust hearing.
Bezos says Amazon occupies a small share of the overall retail market and competes with retailers like Walmart, which is twice its size. He also says the coronavirus pandemic boosted e-commerce businesses across the spectrum and not just Amazon.
Bezos also lays out how small sellers have succeeded on its third-party marketplace, a practice that has come under scrutiny from lawmakers.
But he struck a defiant note too, saying that "when you look in the mirror, assess the criticism, and still believe you're doing the right thing, no force in the world should be able to move you."
Pichai faced his own congressional interrogation in 2018 over online privacy and data protection, the danger of digital monopolies, alleged bias against conservative viewpoints and censorship by China. He acknowledged some points but avoided the yes or no answers that lawmakers demanded. EU regulators already have concluded that Google manipulated its search engine to gain a n unfair advantage over other online shopping sites in the e-commerce market, and fined Google, whose parent is Alphabet Inc., a record $2.7 billion. Google has disputed the findings and is appealing.
Attorneys general from both parties in 50 states and territories, led by Texas, launched an antitrust investigation of Google in September, focused on its online advertising business.
Apple, whose iPhone is the third-largest seller in the world, faces EU investigations over the fees charged by its App Store and technical limitations that allegedly shut out competitors to Apple Pay . Cook is expected to lay out the case that the fees Apple charges apps to sell services and other goods are reasonable, especially compared with what other tech companies collect.