In Zuckerberg's testimony before a joint session between the Judiciary Senate and today's Commerce committees, the Facebook CEO was forced to face if his company was now effectively a monopoly. Concerns about Facebook's monopoly status have emerged in the last year, with increasing calls to divide the company.
"Who is your biggest competitor?" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Zuckerberg. The CEO struggled to answer the question, naming Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft as "overlay [ing]" with Facebook in different ways.
"If I buy a Ford, and it does not work well, and I do not like it, I can buy a Chevy." If I'm upset with Facebook, what is the equivalent product to which I can sign up? "Graham asked. When Zuckerberg tried to analyze again the different types of Facebook services, Graham reiterated his question.
"I'm not talking about categories, I'm talking about the real competition you're facing because car companies face a lot of competition, they make a defective car, it comes out in the world, people stop buying that car, they They buy another: Is there an alternative to Facebook in the private sector?
Zuckerberg tried to give a longer answer on how the "average American uses eight different applications" to connect with his friends, trying to frame Facebook as one of many applications. Shortly after, Graham got to the point and asked if Zuckerberg thought Facebook was a monopoly.
"I certainly do not think so," Zuckerberg replied, while laughter ran through the room.
A transcript of the exchange follows below:
Senator Lindsey Graham: Who is your biggest competitor?
Mark Zuckerberg: Uh, senator, we have many competitors.
LG: Who is the greatest?
MZ: The categories … do you want only one? I'm not sure I can give one, but can I give you a lot? There are three categories in which I will concentrate. One is the other technological platforms: Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, we are superimposed on them in different ways.
LG: Do you offer the same service you provide?
MZ: In different ways.
LG: Let me say it this way. If I buy a Ford, and it does not work well, and I do not like it, I can buy a Chevy. If I am upset with Facebook, what is the equivalent product to which I can register?
MZ: Well, the second category I was going to talk about …
LG: I'm not talking about categories. I'm talking about the real competition you're facing. Because car companies face a lot of competition. They make a defective car, it comes out in the world, people stop buying that car, they buy another one. Is there an alternative to Facebook in the private sector?
MZ: The average American uses eight different applications to communicate with his friends and keep in touch with people ranging from text to email.
LG: What is the same service you provide?
MZ: Well, we provide a number of different services.
LG: Is Twitter the same as you?
MZ: It overlaps with a part of what we do.
LG: Do not you think you have a monopoly?
MZ: It certainly does not seem that way.
LG: Instagram. Then you bought Instagram. Why did you buy Instagram?
MZ: Because they were very talented application developers who made good use of our platform and understood our values …
LG: It's a good business decision. My point is: a way to regulate a company is through competition, through government regulation. Here is my question, what do we tell our constituents, given what happened here, why should we let them self-regulate? What would you say to people in South Carolina, given everything that happened here, why would it be a good idea to let you regulate your own business practices?
MZ: … well, senator, my position is not that there should not be regulation … I think the Internet is becoming –
LG: Do you accept the regulation?
MZ: I think the real question, as the Internet becomes more important in people's lives, is what is the correct regulation:
LG: As a welcome rule for the company?
MZ: If it is the correct regulation, yes.
LG: Do you think Europeans are right?
MZ: I think they get … things … good.