In Zuckerberg’s testimony before a joint session between the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees today, the Facebook CEO was forced to confront whether his company was now effectively a monopoly. Concerns about Facebook’s monopoly status have surfaced over the last year, with growing calls to break up the company. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) first brought up the monopoly issue; later, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) noted that regulation “can cement the dominant power,” implying that in this case, Facebook is that dominant power.
“Who’s your biggest competitor?” Graham asked Zuckerberg. The CEO struggled to answer the question, naming Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft as “overlap[ing]” with Facebook in different ways.
“If I buy a Ford, and it doesn’t work well, and I don’t like it, I can buy a Chevy. If I’m upset with Facebook, what’s the equivalent product I can go sign up for?” Graham asked. When Zuckerberg attempted to again break down Facebook’s different types of services, Graham reiterated his question.
“I’m not talking about categories. I’m talking about real competition you face. ‘Cause car companies face a lot of competition. They make a defective car, it gets out in the world, people stop buying that car, they buy another one. Is there an alternative to Facebook in the private sector?”
Zuckerberg tried to give a longer answer about how the “average American uses eight different apps” to connect with their friends, attempting to frame Facebook as just one of many apps. Shortly thereafter, Graham cut to the chase and asked if Zuckerberg thought Facebook was a monopoly.
“It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me,” Zuckerberg replied, as laughter rippled through the room.