Four Big Tech CEOs – Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai of Google and Tim Cook of Apple – are testifying on their companies’ practices on the issue of market dominance in the industry. (July 29)
Many of us have had the feeling that technology, which continues to change at an ever-dizzying pace, may be leaving us behind. That was embodied this past week during a Congressional hearing, nominally convened to investigate antitrust concerns of four big tech titans: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
While the five-and-a-half-hour inquiry touched on a range topics from pesky spam filters and search results to how companies approached acquisitions, the House Judiciary subcommittee hearing laid one thing bare: A sizable disconnect appears to exist between the technology Americans are using and depending on in their daily lives and the knowledge base of people with the power and responsibility to decide its future and regulation.
“Consumers and investors walk away feeling like a lot of these lawmakers don’t really understand the business models to an extent that they could then navigate them and put laws in place that will dictate the future of where they go,” said Daniel Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.
The antitrust subcommittee hearing had been convened to look into the tech giants’ market dominance. While some questions asked and issues raised were pointed, others may have left constituents and the tech CEOs themselves scratching their heads.
Instead, the hearing primarily became a forum for Republicans to lament what is seen as a bias against conservatives on digital platforms and for Democrats to ask about issues such as the poor treatment of small businesses and third-party sellers online.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg why the social network recently took down Donald Trump Jr.’s post about hydroxychloroquine. “Why did that happen?” he asked.
Whoops, the platform that took that action was Twitter, Zuckerberg noted.
Twitter temporarily suspended the account for posting “misleading and potentially harmful information” related to COVID-19. Earlier in the week, tech platforms removed the video, which featured some doctors touting the malaria drug as a treatment for COVID-19 – it has not been found helpful and can be harmful – and suggesting masks aren’t needed in preventing the spread of the virus.
Zuckerberg said the video was removed on Facebook because the platform prohibits content “that would lead to imminent risk of harm. Stating that there is a proven cure for COVID when there is in fact none might encourage somebody to go take something that might have some adverse effects.”
Rep. Pramilla Jayapal, D-Wash., questioned Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about whether the online retailer uses any data from its third-party sellers…
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