Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are Testifying Before Congress Virtually

Democrats and Republicans in Congress came out swinging against Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google on Wednesday, needling the tech giants’ top executives for their size, power and approach to a wide array of issues, including the content they allow online.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the chairman of the House’s top antitrust subcommittee, opened the wide-ranging hearing by stressing that lawmakers’ year-long investigation into the industry had informed his growing belief that the country’s largest technology companies have

“wielded their power in disruptive, harmful ways,” risking not only competition but the future of democracy itself.

Republicans, meanwhile, have sought to shift the focus of the hearing to allegations that major Silicon Valley companies censor conservatives online, levying charges of political bias that many experts have said is unsubstantiated — and social-media companies denied.


  • Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai each began the hearing by standing, raising their right hand and swearing an oath to tell the truth, all over video-conferencing software due to the coronavirus. (Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)
  • Each of the tech executives sought to tell their own versions of a rags-to-riches story, stressing their importance to U.S. consumers and the American economy as a whole. And all four tech companies emphasized they face healthy competition in advertising, search, shopping and social networking. “We compete hard, we compete fairly, we compete to be the best,” Zuckerberg said.
  • At times, lawmakers have raised some tech executives’ past emails to raise questions about whether they sought to stifle rivals. With Facebook, for example, Rep. Jerold Nadler (D-N.Y.) pointed to 2012 messages in which Zuckerberg apparently said the company purchased Instagram, a photo app, to neutralize it.
  • The hearing is supposed to inform lawmakers’ efforts to rethink federal antitrust laws, perhaps making it easier for the federal government to probe and penalize tech giants and other large businesses. The inquiry coincides with a federal and state law-enforcement probes targeting Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. A lawsuit against Google, in particular, could come as soon as this summer.
3:54 p.m.

Top Republican says he doesn’t think it’s time for Congress to change antitrust laws

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), the top Republican on the antitrust subcommittee, says he doesn’t think Congress needs to update its antitrust laws after more than year of investigation into the tech industry’s power.

Instead, he thinks that it’s time to take a closer look at whether regulators, including the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission, are enforcing existing laws effectively.

“I think the law is good and we don’t need to throw them in the wastebasket,” he said.

His remarks show that while this committee began this as a bipartisan investigation, partisan fault lines are emerging. Democrats have been presenting evidence, such as executive communications and interviews with third-party sellers, that they’re arguing underscore abuses of power in the tech industry. The Democratic-led committee is expected to compile a report, based on testimony they gather today and through document requests to the companies.

3:53 p.m.

Bezos challenged on Amazon’s dealings with third-party merchants on its marketplace

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testifies before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law during a hearing on "Online Platforms and Market Power" in the Rayburn House office Building on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., July 29, 2020. Mandel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testifies before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law during a hearing on “Online Platforms and Market Power” in the Rayburn House office Building on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., July 29, 2020. Mandel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS (Pool/Reuters)

The subcommittee chairman Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) pressed Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos over its power to compete against the third-party merchants who sell in its marketplace.

“We have heard so many heartbreaking stories of small businesses who sunk significant time and resources into building a business and selling on Amazon, only to have Amazon poach their best selling items and drive them out of business,” Cicilline said.

Both he and McBath brought up examples of sellers who accused Amazon of stealing their ideas or suspending their selling accounts. In one instance, Cicilline quoted a seller describing the relationship it had with the marketplace as “Amazon heroin, because you just kept going, and you had to get your next fix, your next check.”

“I have great respect for you in this committee, but I completely disagree with that characterization,” Bezos replied.

McBath confronted Bezos with a seller who was restricted, she alleged, because it competed against Amazon in text book sales. And when the seller tried to get answers, she heard nothing from the company.

“Do you think this is an acceptable way to treat someone that you described as both a partner and a customer?” McBath asked.

Bezos said it was not, but that he was unaware of the specific case.

“I appreciate that you showed me that anecdote and I would like to talk to her,” Bezos said. “It does not at all, to me, seem like the right way to treat her.”

3:42 p.m.

Unearthed Zuckerberg emails show he aspired to buy Google

Lawmakers continued pressing Facebook on its acquisitions, with Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) highlighting internal emails from Zuckerberg and other executives saying that Facebook aimed to buy Google and describing the company’s acquisition strategy as “a land grab.”

The exchange highlighted how some of the most interesting parts of antitrust hearings are unearthed documents detailing a CEO’s own mind-set and words. Experts say a CEO’s mind-set can be key evidence in an antitrust case.

Zuckerberg said the email — in which he said that he would one day be able to buy any competitors but that it would take some time to buy the behemoth Google — was probably “a joke.”

Neguse noted that he did not think it was a joke and added that many of Facebook’s competitors a decade ago, including Myspace, no longer exist.

Zuckerberg reiterated that the social media landscape was very competitive.


3:36 p.m.

Bezos pressed on using Amazon’s ability to withstand long losses to compete with rivals

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testifies remotely during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testifies remotely during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing. (U.S. House Judiciary Committee/Reuters)

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) pressed Bezos on Amazon’s ability to withstand long periods of losses to defeat competitors that don’t have the financial wherewithal to match the strategy.

She brought up Amazon’s acquisition of Quidsi, whose site competed against Amazon. Scanlon said the committee’s work uncovered plans by Amazon “to bleed over $200 million in diaper profit losses” to weaken Quidsi. The strategy, she said, worked, as Quidsi ultimately agreed to be acquired by Amazon in 2010 for around $500 million.

Bezos replied that the acquisition was a long time ago and that he couldn’t recall specifics.

“This is going back in time, I think maybe 10 or eleven years or so,” Bezos said.

Bezos and Scanlon talked over each other as the lawmaker tried to make points in her allotted time.

“You said that Amazon focuses excessively on customers,” Scanlon said. “So how would customers, especially single moms, new families, how would they benefit when the prices were driven up by the fact that you eliminated your main competitor?”

Bezos replied that he didn’t agree with the premise.

“Diapers is a very large product category sold in many, many places,” Bezos said.

Bezos replied that he didn’t agree with the premise.

Lawmakers weigh in with conservative-bias accusations against Google

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies before a House Judiciary subcommittee.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies before a House Judiciary subcommittee. (Pool/Reuters)



Google CEO Sundar Pichai once again defended his company’s search tool against claims from Republicans that it is biassed against conservatives.

Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) told Pichai that he Googled the name of a conservative news site this year and couldn’t find the website, but when he tried to do so again Wednesday morning, he found it. He suggested that was because Pichai and Google fixed the problem before testifying.

Pichai said he would look into the specific issue but said: “We approach our work with a deep sense of responsibility in a nonpartisan way.”

Steube also said he is having issues with emails going to his spam folder, something he thinks might be politically motivated.

“There’s nothing in the algorithm which has anything to do with political ideology,” Pichai said.

Lawmakers are still interrupting chief executives, even in video conferencing hearing

Lawmakers might not be able to grill the tech chief executives in person.

But they’re still skillfully interrupting the chief executives when they feel like they are trying to run out the clock during their limited five-minute rounds of questions.

Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) repeatedly cut Bezos off during a line of questioning about how Amazon may have leveraged its dominance to squash competition to a diaper retailer.


“I’m sorry Mr. Bezos, I need to press on here,” Scanlon said.

Republicans have been, as well. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) aggressively yelled during a tense grilling of Pichai, which focused on the lawmaker’s concerns that tech companies are biased against conservatives. The companies have denied those allegations.

3:24 p.m.

Lawmakers’ questioning underscores how personal tech’s power is for politicians

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) listens during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on antitrust on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) listens during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on antitrust on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. (Graeme Jennings/AP)

The lawmakers’ lines of questioning are exposing how deeply dependent they are on the giant tech platforms they’re questioning.

The major antitrust hearing, which comes just months before the critical 2020 election, has delved into issues that could have a major impact on politicians’ chances of reelection, especially during a pandemic where more and more campaigning is occurring online.

Take the recent line of questioning from Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.). He pressed Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai on why his campaign emails were being directed to users’ spam inboxes. Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the House Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, began pressing Pichai on whether he would ensure the company’s features weren’t tailored to support Joe Biden in the upcoming election. In both instances, lawmakers were attempting to bolster unproven claims that companies are biased against conservatives.

Meanwhile, Democrats have used time with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to press him on Russian interference that aimed to divide Americans during the 2016 election.

3:20 p.m.

Cook denies Apple treats some developers differently

In response to a question from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Apple CEO Tim Cook denied that his company treats some developers on its platform differently. Johnson alleged that Apple has assigned two employees specifically to help Baidu, a Chinese tech company often described as the Google of China, navigate the red tape and bureaucracy in the App Store. Cook said he wasn’t aware of that.

The uneven application of App Store rules has been a constant complaint from developers on the Apple platform. And Cook didn’t address the fact that Apple allows companies with special licenses to create apps that would otherwise run afoul of Apple rules on the App Store.

Johnson also accused Apple of collecting customer data from the Apple payments system, which Apple requires all developers who collect payments on the platform to use. Cook did not deny this but also did not directly answer the question.

Cook also denied that Apple retaliates against developers or bullies people who go against it. This is a constant fear of developers who have disagreements with Apple.

3:18 p.m.

Google faces concerns it collects too much data

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee.
Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee. (Mandel Ngan/Reuters)

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) questioned Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the company combining user data from its services with that from DoubleClick, an advertising company that Google bought in 2007.

Google had originally told Congress it would not combine the data, Demings said, but then it did in 2016.

Pichai confirmed that he signs off on all major decisions at the company, including the decision to combine the data.

“Practically, this decision meant that your company would now combine all of my data on Google, my search history, my information from Google maps, information from my email, my Gmail, as well as my personal identity with the record of almost all of the websites I visited,” Demings said. “That is absolutely staggering.”

By Rachel Lerman
3:12 p.m.

Bezos won’t guarantee that Amazon hasn’t used proprietary data to compete with sellers

Jeff Bezos testifies via videoconference during a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing. (Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner/Bloomberg News)
Jeff Bezos testifies via videoconference during a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing. (Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner/Bloomberg News)

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos testified that he couldn’t confirm that the company didn’t use data it collects regarding sales of products in its marketplace to launch its own private-label products.

Bezos didn’t face a single question for nearly two hours after the hearing started until Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) grilled him. Jayapal, who represents the Seattle area where many Amazon employees work, pressed Bezos on whether Amazon ever used third-party seller data to make business decisions. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

“What I can tell you is we have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private label business,” Bezos replied. “But I can’t guarantee you that policy has never been violated.”

Jayapal pressed the point, asking Bezos more directly if Amazon reviews sales data on third-party sellers and their products to create new products. Again, Bezos didn’t deny the allegation.

“We continue to look into that very carefully,” Bezos replied. “I’m not yet satisfied that we’ve gotten to the bottom of it. ”

Jayapal noted that, during a hearing a year ago, an Amazon attorney testified the company didn’t use such data.

“Now hearing you say, well, you’re not so sure that that’s going on,” Jayapal said. “And the issue that we’re concerned with here is, is very simple. You have access to data that far exceeds the sellers on your platforms with whom you compete.”

By Jay Greene


3:05 p.m.

Pichai reiterates claims that Google respects user privacy

Pichai told Congress Google is in full compliance with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy law, as Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) grilled him on data privacy concerns. Armstrong said GDPR has helped entrench large companies such as Google and been harmful for small businesses.

“We deeply care about the privacy and security of our users,” Pichai said. Google has been a main target of digital privacy advocates, who say Google collects far too much personal information on its users and uses it to bolster its dominant ad business.

Pichai repeated a common Google talking point that advertising prices have fallen, as Google helps increase competition. Google’s advertising business is thought to be a main focal point of the antitrust investigations into the company.

By Rachel Lerman
3:00 p.m.

Is this still an antitrust hearing?

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) speaks during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing in Washington.
Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) speaks during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing in Washington. (Graeme Jennings/Pool/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Today’s blockbuster tech hearing is supposed to be focused on the size and power of the tech giants.

But lawmakers are using their limited time with the chief executives in the hot seat to press executives on a host of other contentious issues, ranging from how they moderate politicians’ content to their business ties in China.

The questions have come from Democrats and Republicans alike. In a recent round of questioning, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) pressed Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on the company’s struggles to address misinformation on its platform. He also asked about the recent ad boycott led by civil rights leaders.

Meanwhile, two Republican lawmakers also questioned Google CEO Sundar Pichai on the company’s ties with China and its contracts with the United States, suggesting the company is too close with China. The questions tread ground familiar to Pichai’s testimony before Congress in December 2018, where he confirmed, as he did today, that the company is not working with the Chinese military.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) accused Google of pulling out of the Project Maven project with the U.S. military based on pushback from employees who did not want Google engaged in drone warfare. Pichai said the company considers many factors, employee feedback being one of them.

Pichai also noted that the company works with the U.S. government on many projects, including cybersecurity.

Other topics that have come up include the company’s work with law enforcement and accusations that some social media firms are politically biased against Republicans. Companies have denied that allegation, and there has been scant evidence to support it.

By Cat Zakrzewski
2:45 p.m.

Zuckerberg is taken to task for his foresight in seeing Instagram as potential competition

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook testifies remotely before a House Judiciary subcommittee.
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook testifies remotely before a House Judiciary subcommittee. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

From the get-go, Zuckerberg received fierce questioning about the company’s 2012 purchase of the photo-sharing platform Instagram, which Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said was “exactly the type of acquisition that antitrust laws were designed to prevent.”

Nadler said that documents Zuckerberg provided to lawmakers revealed that the goal of purchasing Instagram was to “neutralize the competition.”

In effect, Nadler was taking Zuckerberg to task for his foresight. Very few people would have considered Instagram, which had roughly a dozen employees and fewer than 100 million users at the time, a threat to Facebook, which was about to go public with more than 800 million users. And Facebook wasn’t even seen as a platform for image-sharing.

The question of whether Zuckerberg’s decision counts in hindsight as harmfully anti-competitive raises bigger questions about some of the most common business practices in Silicon Valley.

Rep F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.), the top Republican on the subcommittee, also questioned Zuckerberg about a video involving a doctor who has touted misinformation discussing the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, and asked whether the company had censored President Trump in removing it. Zuckerberg pointed out that Trump retweeted the video on Twitter, not on Facebook.

By Elizabeth Dwoskin
2:30 p.m.

The charm and glitches of a virtual hearing

Tech executives attended their antitrust hearing virtually over Webex, their gird of faces shown on a giant TV screen mounted on the wall.
Tech executives attended their antitrust hearing virtually over Webex, their gird of faces shown on a giant TV screen mounted on the wall. (Mandel Ngan/Pool/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Lined up in little boxes on a giant TV mounted on the wall, the four executives all raised their right hands at the same time to be sworn in, mumbling their agreement at the same time. Due to the pandemic, the CEOs were attending remotely, over a competitor’s video chat app, Webex. Instead of being stuck at a table with nothing but water, notepads and a flank of video cameras around them, they were able to stream from their home bases.

Fittingly, even CEOs of the world’s most powerful technology company were not immune to teleconferencing issues. During their opening statements, Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai, Tim Cook, and especially Mark Zuckerberg, all suffered from slight audio delays that caused their words to be out of sync with their lips. The audio quality was clear, and the video quality high enough to see their faces clearly most of the time.

Inside the hearing, where many lawmakers and media were attending in person, with masks and social distancing, the CEOs appeared on multiple screens. The largest was on the back wall, under the U.S. eagle seal, sandwiched between two clocks counting down each speaker’s time limit.

After Bezos read part of his opening statement, the people behind the scenes figured out how to make a single speaker fill the screen so it was less like watching sentient postage stamps talk. Cook, who recently did an Apple product announcement entirely over video, seemed the most at home in the medium, speaking confidently and warmly to the camera for his intro.

When it was not their turn to talk the executives passed the time doing what normal people do on long video calls: sipped water and snacked.

By Heather Kelly
2:21 p.m.

Cicilline says Google uses services to ‘crush’ competitors

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) speaks during a hearing on "Online Platforms and Market Power."
Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) speaks during a hearing on “Online Platforms and Market Power.” (Graeme Jennings/Reuters)

David N. Cicilline, chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, used his first round of questioning of Big Tech CEOs to call out Google’s dominance in search and how much it controls basic navigation of the Internet.

Cicilline’s decision to direct his first questions to Google CEO Sundar Pichai was a surprise, as many were expecting the leader of the antitrust investigation to try to pin down Bezos during his first appearance in Congress.

Cicilline’s questioning could cast fresh light on long-running tensions between companies and the search giant. Google has faced antitrust scrutiny from regulators in both the United States and Europe. The Washington Post has previously reported that the Justice Department could bring antitrust charges against the company as early as this summer.

Cicilline told Pichai he has heard from many small businesses that Google “steals content” from smaller websites, to keep people on Google’s own sites.

“I disagree with the characterization of that statement,” Pichai said.

Cicilline passionately laid out concerns that Google has created a “walled garden” by cribbing information from other’s sites and putting it into its own products to capture even more Web traffic, and therefore making more money from ads.

“We have always focused on providing users the most relevant information,” Pichai said.

Cicilline concluded his questioning of Pichai with a summary of his concerns, casting doubt that Pichai’s responses budged his opinion at all.

“The evidence seems very clear to me: As Google became the gateway to the Internet, it began to abuse its power,” Cicilline said. “It used its surveillance over Web traffic to begin to identify competitive threats and crush them. It has dampened innovation and new business growth, and it has dramatically increased the price of accessing users on the Internet, virtually ensuring that any business that wants to be found on the Web must pay Google a tax.”

By Rachel Lerman and Cat Zakrzewski
2:08 p.m.

Tim Cook tells lawmakers Apple is not dominant in smartphones

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s opening statement at the Big Tech hearing
Apple CEO Tim Cook said he welcomes scrutiny and is approaching the Big Tech hearing with “respect and humility” on July 29. (The Washington Post)

Tim Cook’s opening statement largely followed the testimony that he posted Tuesday night. According to Cook, Apple is no a monopoly. Google, in fact, owns the dominant operating system around the world, and that’s Android.

Cook took credit for inspiring and growing the massive market for mobile software. He even used the “It just works” line to describe Apple products.

But Cook ignored what everyone knows: Apple’s is dominant in a couple of important ways. Its App Store is crucial for developers, forcing them to go by Apple’s rules and, until recently, stay mum about the company’s aggressive encroachment on their businesses. And Apple locks in its customers. Its business strategy is designed to make the use of alternatives painful. Anyone who’s ever bought an Apple product has experienced this.

The first two questions went to Google and Facebook. It’s unclear how much Apple will be targeted with questions during the hearing.

By Reed Albergotti
2:01 p.m.

Pichai keeps focus on opportunity that Google provides

Sundar Pichai of Google testifies before the House Judiciary Committee.
Sundar Pichai of Google testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off his prepared testimony by going slightly off-script. He offered a word of remembrance for the late congressman John Lewis, the civil rights leader and longtime lawmaker who died this month.

The Big Tech hearing was rescheduled so legislators could attend Lewis’s memorial services Monday.

Pichai, the soft-spoken CEO of Google and its parent company, Alphabet, calmly walked through his personal story of growing up in India and being impressed and inspired by easily accessible computers when he moved to the United States for graduate school.

He emphasized that Google is focused on giving people access to technology, to services that can give individuals and small businesses a leg up.

“Google aims to build products that increase access to opportunity for everyone,” Pichai said.

Google is being investigated not just by the federal government but also by a coalition of states and occasionally by the European Union for its tremendous size and dominant position in digital advertising and Web search. Lawmakers are increasingly focusing on what Google’s size means for its competitors, sidestepping Google’s argument that it is beneficial for users

By Rachel Lerman
1:54 p.m.

Bezos testifies customers ensure that Amazon does ‘the right thing’

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s opening statement at the Big Tech hearing
The Washington Post and founder and chief executive of Amazon addressed collaboration with small businesses in his opening statement on July 29. (The Washington Post)

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos noted in his opening statement that consumers press Amazon to do what’s best for them as he rebuts lawmaker claims that the company’s clout stifles competition.

“Customer obsession has driven our success, and I take it as an article of faith,” Bezos said as he read from his opening statement. “The customers notice when you do the right thing. You earn trust slowly over time by doing hard things well, delivering on time, offering everyday low prices, making promises and keeping them, and making principled decisions even when they are unpopular.

(Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Sitting in an office, wearing a tie and jacket, Bezos went on to wrap his success, and Amazon’s, in the promise of American opportunity. He talked about Amazon’s earliest days, when he dreamed about how “one day we might afford a forklift.” And he crowed about how Amazon now offers 1.7 million small and medium-size businesses the opportunity to sell their goods on Amazon.

“With all of our faults and problems, the rest of the world would love even the tiniest sip of the elixir we have here in the U.S.,” Bezos said.

By Jay Greene
1:48 p.m.

Republicans tee up anti-conservative bias accusations in opening remarks

Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), speaks during an Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee hearing.
Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), speaks during an Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee hearing. (Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner/Graeme Jennings )

It did not take long for Republican lawmakers to change the focus to alleged bias against conservatives, an accusation that politicians and conservative pundits have been lobbing at the tech companies for years without convincing evidence.

“I’ll cut right to the chase: Big tech is out to get conservatives,” Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, said in his opening remarks.

Jordan pointed to claims that Google was censoring Breitbart and other conservative news sites and that Amazon video streaming company Twitch suspended President Trump’s account. In fact, Twitch temporarily suspended the Trump 2020 campaign’s account for violating its policies on hateful conduct. The account has since been restored.

Jordan noted he invited Twitter to join the hearing, which would presumably have made the hearing’s focus even more centered on alleged conservative bias. Twitter, which is significantly smaller than the other companies, was not invited to the meeting by Democrats leading the panel. Twitter has so far labeled five of Trump’s tweets with warning labels for running up against its rules. On Tuesday, it suspended Donald Trump Jr. for tweeting a misleading video with misinformation about a coronavirus treatment. Trump Jr. was required to delete the tweet.

“If it doesn’t end, there have to be consequences,” Jordan said, signaling regulation could be coming to the industry.

Democrats have worried that such accusations would distract from antitrust issues at today’s hearing. Partisan fighting broke out over Jordan’s attempt to have Mike Johnson, the top Republican on the Constitution subcommittee, participate in the proceedings. He does not sit on the antitrust panel so Democratic lawmakers objected, sparking a back and forth between the two parties. Cicilline had to bring down his gavel to call order to the room.

F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), the top Republican on the subcommittee, raised the issue in his own testimony minutes before Jordan, signaling this could be a line of questioning for many members on the committee.

“Conservatives are consumers too, and they need the protection of antitrust laws,” he said.

By Rachel Lerman and Cat Zakrzewski
1:31 p.m.

Amazon antitrust critic at subcommittee chair’s side

Lina Khan, author of a Yale Law Journal article called "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox," at her home in Larchmont, N.Y., in 2017.
Lina Khan, author of a Yale Law Journal article called “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” at her home in Larchmont, N.Y., in 2017. (An Rong Xu/For The Washington Post)

As Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) read his opening statement questioning whether the markets in which the companies compete are open, a legal scholar who offered an innovative take on Amazon’s clout sat just behind him.

As a 28-year-old law student, Lina Khan penned a 24,000-word article for Yale Law Journal titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.” The article described how U.S. antitrust law isn’t equipped to deal with tech giants such as Amazon, even as the company has made itself as essential to commerce in the 21st century in the way that railroads and telephone systems had in the previous century.

Khan now works as counsel for the antitrust subcommittee. She has worked with Cicilline to develop his case against the tech giants, including Amazon. The company’s founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.

By Jay Greene
1:26 p.m.

Facebook has competitors. It doesn’t mean Americans can escape its services.

The Facebook Inc. application is displayed on an Apple iPhone in an arranged photograph taken in New York.
The Facebook Inc. application is displayed on an Apple iPhone in an arranged photograph taken in New York. (Johannes Berg/Bloomberg)

The question of whether Facebook is a monopoly — which is both the focus of an ongoing Federal Trade Commission investigation and today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing — is complicated by the fact that the social network’s services are offered free of charge. Antitrust scholars have historically determined if a company is a harmful monopoly by looking at whether the service caused consumers to pay higher prices than they would have otherwise.

But experts argue that the pricing lens is too narrow of a test of harmful market dominance.

“We are living with the greatest threat to democracy and individual liberty since the Civil War,” said Barry Lynn, director of the Open Markets Institute, a group that argues for breaking up the tech giants. “[The FTC] is worried about prices for consumers, but this is a company that is fundamentally manipulating the flow of information between publishers and citizens.”

Critics of Facebook, including the company’s co-founder Chris Hughes, say regulators should look at how Facebook has used its more than 80 acquisitions to achieve dominance in the social media market. The company acquired Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. It has 2.9 billion monthly users throughout the world.

The critics argue that in the current age, Americans can’t avoid being on one of Facebook’s services. That means they can’t escape its data collection, potential privacy violations, its ad targeting and its policies on speech, even if they disagree with them.

They point out as evidence of Facebook’s dominance the panic that ensues when Facebook encroaches on another company’s territory: When Facebook copied a key feature of its smaller rival Snapchat, called Stories, Snap’s stock price dropped. When Facebook announced it was building a dating app, the stock price of dating companies dropped, too.

Facebook’s argument is that it has plenty of competitors in the social media industry, including fast-growing TikTok. YouTube also has nearly as many users. And the digital ad market is a duopoly in which Facebook competes closely with Google.

By Elizabeth Dwoskin
1:09 p.m.

Cicilline to warn Americans should not ‘bow before the emperors of the online economy’ in opening remarks

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) speaks in Congress.
Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) speaks in Congress. (Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg)

David N. Cicilline, chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, will say in his opening remarks that the tech companies have too much power, comparing the titans to past monopolies such as Microsoft and the oil tycoons.

“Our founders would not bow before a king,” he will say, according to prepared remarks. “Nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy.”

He’ll warn that the companies stand to gain only more power as the world confronts the coronavirus pandemic

“Prior to the covid-19 pandemic, these corporations already stood out as titans in our economy,” he’ll say. “In the wake of covid-19, however, they are likely to emerge stronger and more powerful than ever before.”

Cicilline will say the committee’s year-long investigation has revealed common competition problems among the companies.

“First, each platform is a bottleneck for a key channel of distribution,” according to his remarks. “Whether they control access to information or to a marketplace, these platforms have the incentive and ability to exploit this power. They can charge exorbitant fees, impose oppressive contracts and extract valuable data from the people and businesses that rely on them.”

He’ll also argue the companies use their power to watch over other companies and use data to protect its power, allowing it to copy or cut off access to other potential rivals.

“Third, these platforms abuse their control over current technologies to extend their power,” according to his remarks. “Whether it’s through self-preferencing, predatory pricing or requiring users to buy additional products, the dominant platforms have wielded their power in destructive, harmful ways in order to expand.”

By Cat Zakrzewski
1:06 p.m.

And we’re off: Tech CEOs take the screen in front of Congress

Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google are sworn in before the House Judiciary Committee.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google are sworn in before the House Judiciary Committee. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

After two delays, weeks of anticipation and at least five separate live streams, the four Big Tech CEOs have taken the stage (or rather, screen) in front of Congress.

Images of the CEOs appeared on a screen in the room as the meeting was called to order.

The CEOs of Apple, Google, Amazon and Apple are expected to face tough questions about their companies’ size and what that means for competitors. But there will also probably be curveball questions, including about labor conditions for workers and alleged bias on social media.

It’s the first time the four executives have testified together and the first time Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has appeared in front of Congress at all. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

The CEOs are well prepared for the grilling after weeks of practice with their teams, but there could still be some unexpected fireworks as elected officials dig in on the company’s practices from advertising to iPhones.

By Rachel Lerman
1:02 p.m.

Tim Cook’s close relationship with Trump has helped insulate Apple from issues

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple speaks during a keynote at the 2019 DreamForce conference in San Francisco in November.
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple speaks during a keynote at the 2019 DreamForce conference in San Francisco in November. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Apple CEO Tim Cook has built a close and very public relationship with President Trump, and the coziness has paid dividends for the company, earning it exemptions during the U.S. trade war with China and so far shelter from the conservative-led attacks on other large technology companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.

“He calls me and the others don’t,” Trump told reporters about Cook last summer. “Others go out and hire very expensive consultants, and Tim Cook calls Donald Trump directly. Pretty good,” he said.

When Trump mistakenly called Cook “Tim Apple,” the CEO jokingly changed his Twitter name accordingly.

Cook joined Trump’s panel on artificial intelligence, his workplace policy advisory board and his advisory committee on reopening the economy.

And he has helped Trump score political points, such as when the president visited an Apple factory in Austin that builds Mac Pro computers. Cook stood by as Trump took credit for the factory’s opening, claiming it as a victory for U.S. job creation, even though it had been making Mac Pros years before Trump was in office.

Cook is no stranger to Washington, meeting often with influential decision-makers in the capitol. But he has largely avoided the hot seat that CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai have found themselves in.

He testified in 2013 about tax avoidance. Apple funneled profits to Ireland, keeping money sheltered overseas and out of the reach of U.S. tax collectors. Cook called for comprehensive tax reform. That overhaul happened early on in Trump’s tenure and allowed Apple and other companies to bring the money back from Ireland at a lower tax rate. Apple had argued that the infusion of capital would help spur economic growth, but it’s unclear whether that has happened. After the European Union ordered Apple to pay $15 billion in taxes for its moves in Ireland, a whistleblower revealed that Apple was secretly keeping money in a tax haven in Jersey, an island in the English Channel.

The European Union’s fine of Apple was reversed earlier this month by a E.U. appeals court.

By Reed Albergotti
12:52 p.m.

Delays, rescheduling shows CEOs are not always in control

Mark Zuckerberg listens during a House Financial Services Committee in 2019.
Mark Zuckerberg listens during a House Financial Services Committee in 2019. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Wednesday’s much anticipated congressional hearing with the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google has been pushed back an hour — a second delay that shows the four leaders are in a position they are not usually accustomed to: They have to wait.

CEOs, especially ones of companies as large as the four Big Tech giants, are used to being in charge of major meetings. But when it comes to Congress, the gears of government will change pace for no one, billionaire CEO or otherwise.

It’s unlikely Congress is staging a power play here. The first rescheduling, which pushed the hearing from Monday to Wednesday, was because of memorial services for the late congressman John Lewis. And Wednesday’s hour-long delay is simply a logistical issue as an earlier hearing runs long.

Still, the schedule changes could throw a slight wrench in the CEOs’ carefully curated plans.

By Rachel Lerman
12:42 p.m.

Trump calls on Congress to take action against Big Tech

President Trump leans in to hear a question as he speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on July 29.
President Trump leans in to hear a question as he speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on July 29. (Alex Brandon/AP)

President Trump urged Congress Wednesday to take action against Big Tech companies — and said if it didn’t, he would.

“If Congress doesn’t bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders,” Trump tweeted as Congress planned to hear testimony from tech leaders Wednesday. “In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!”

Trump has butted heads with social media companies in particular recently as Twitter and Facebook increasingly crack down on his posts that run up against their rules.

Twitter has so far labeled five of Trump’s tweets with warning labels, causing Trump to lash out and issue an executive order calling for the government to reconsider a law that shields Internet companies from much liability.

After facing criticism, Facebook said it, too, would label Trump’s posts that violate its policies but that it deems newsworthy enough to leave online. It has not yet used a newsworthy label on a post from Trump.

The president’s tweet underscores that today isn’t a test just for the companies but also for Congress. Lawmakers have been talking about cracking down on tech companies for a host of concerns, including privacy violations, for years but have not succeeded in passing legislation. Lawmakers on the committee want today’s hearing to signal Congress has reached a turning point, but it’s very unlikely that Congress will be able to meaningfully reform antitrust law in an election year.

By Rachel Lerman
12:32 p.m.

Amazon’s earliest ambition set it on a course for regulatory scrutiny

That Jeff Bezos considered naming the online marketplace he was about to launch in 1995 Relentless speaks volumes as to why he is testifying before lawmakers on Wednesday.

His aspiration for the company from the start, when it was just selling books, was to turn it into an online bazaar that carried every imaginable product a consumer might want. Bezos settled on naming the company after the Amazon River, in part, because it was the biggest in the world. (However, Web surfers who type into search engines are still redirected to Amazon’s marketplace.)

Today, the company sells batteries and bathtubs, nail clippers and nicotine patches, vacuum cleaners and vitamins. It accounted for 38.5 percent of every dollar spend on e-commerce in the United States last month, according to Rakuten Intelligence. And it has expanded globally, bringing its version of online sales to Japan, India, Mexico and widely across Europe.

To deliver goods around the world, the company has rapidly expanded its number of employees. At the end of March, it employed 840,400 workers, the vast majority of whom work in warehouses scattered around the world. The company has also moved into delivering its own packages, and owns a fleet of trucks and vans and leases dozens of airplanes to ship goods.

As it has grown, Amazon has become a threat in just about any market in which it operates. Beyond selling goods online, the focus of today’s hearing, Amazon also makes electronic devices such as its Kindle digital books and its Echo voice-activated speakers that compete against Apple and Google, among others. It acquired Whole Foods Market, which competes with Safeway and Kroger. Its Prime Instant Video goes head-to-head with Netflix. And the company pioneered cloud-computing, in which its Amazon Web Services battles with Microsoft.

The breadth of its business, and its ability to shunt aside rivals in markets it enters, has helped propel Amazon to be the third-most valuable publicly traded company, behind only Apple and Microsoft.

By Jay Greene
12:23 p.m.

Hearing start delayed

Today’s hearing, which was expected to start at noon, will be delayed until 1 p.m. as another hearing scheduled earlier ran longer than expected.

The largely empty hearing room is a sign of how different this event will be from previous Capitol Hill hearings. Only a limited number of chairs are set up, spaced several feet apart to comply with social distancing. Committee staff is offering hand sanitizer and gloves to reporters as they enter the room.

A throng of staffers is gathered in masks, and screens are set up around the room so that lawmakers and their staffers will be able to see the tech company executives as they testify virtually via Cisco’s Webex software.

By Cat Zakrzewski
12:11 p.m.

Partisan divisions will be on display at today’s hearing

Republican staffers on the House Judiciary Committee criticized the Democrats’ handling of the antitrust hearing and investigation in a recent memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post on Tuesday.

“Though this investigation began as a bipartisan endeavor, the majority’s approach is raising grave concerns about whether it can continue on that basis, or whether it simply reflects the majority’s efforts to promote predetermined conclusions under an unearned banner of bipartisanship,” the memo said.

The memo also indicated that Republicans on the committee intend to reiterate unproven claims that the tech companies exhibit a political bias against conservatives. Republicans have presented scant evidence to support such claims in the past, and the tech companies have repeatedly denied the allegations.

Democrats and tech policy experts are worried that a focus on political bias or other issues related to how companies moderate content on their services could distract from antitrust matters.

By Cat Zakrzewski
11:59 a.m.

Microsoft isn’t testifying today. But its rivals think it should also face antitrust scrutiny.

President Donald Trump greets Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, and Jeff Bezos, Chief Executive Officer of Amazon during an American Technology Council roundtable in the State Dinning Room at the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, June 19, 2017.
President Donald Trump greets Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, and Jeff Bezos, Chief Executive Officer of Amazon during an American Technology Council roundtable in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, June 19, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella is the only leader of a tech company valued at more than $1 trillion who is not testifying in front of Congress today.

The company’s absence from the blockbuster hearing with the chiefs of Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon underscores how the software provider has largely evaded the techlash in Washington. Microsoft was the poster child for antitrust problems in the tech industry in the 1990s, but today it is treated in Washington as something of a changed and more responsible industry elder.

A recent complaint from Slack could change that.

The workplace chat company last week filed an antitrust complaint with European regulators against the Washington state giant. Slack is alleging Microsoft illegally tied its Teams messaging service with its Office products, forcing people to install it.

Action in the United States is not off the table.

“We think that Microsoft is engaged in this behavior because they believe that Slack is an existential threat,” Slack General Counsel David Schellhase said in a conference call with reporters. “Slack, the product, threatens Microsoft’s hold on business email, the cornerstone of Office, which means it threatens Microsoft’s highly profitable lock on enterprise software.”

Microsoft did not comment on the allegations, but it said it would answer questions from the European Commission.

Read more in The Technology 202 newsletter. Subscribe here.

By Cat Zakrzewski
11:49 a.m.

Lawmakers have very distinct concerns about each company. That’s going to be a challenge

Lawmakers and consumer advocates hope this hearing will be a turning point that ushers in Silicon Valley regulation.

But that will be very challenging: Each company in today’s hot seat before the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee has a unique business model. And the ways lawmakers fear the companies could leverage their power to squash rivals and influence society are very distinct.

“One of the things that makes this hearing so complicated is they’re not interchangeable,” said Gigi Sohn, a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy.

Compared to other big events when lawmakers hauled in executives from other industries under scrutiny — such as tobacco or banking — the tech companies appearing today “all have different problems, though some of them overlap,” Sohn said.

Read why lawmakers are concerned about each company, and more about the companies’ defenses in The Technology 202 newsletter. Subscribe here.

By Cat Zakrzewski
11:40 a.m.

TikTok weighs in on hearing day

TikTok pledged Wednesday it will allow U.S. regulators and privacy experts to take a closer look under its digital hood, offering them the ability to “examine” its underlying software code in response to claims it is handing off data to the Chinese government.

The commitment from the company’s chief executive — Kevin Mayer, who recently arrived from Disney — is part of an enhanced push by the popular short-form video app to “show users, advertisers, creators, and regulators that we are responsible and committed members of the American community that follows US laws,” he wrote in a blog post.

“TikTok has become the latest target, but we are not the enemy,” Mayer added.

By Tony Romm
11:30 a.m.

What to watch for during the hearing

Wednesday’s tech antitrust hearing is an all-star, high stakes event for Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, and the politicians grilling them.

On paper, it might look like the least-compelling television ever: Four wealthy male tech executives log on to video chat and repeat sound bites about how their companies are good, while being asked by lawmakers if their companies are actually bad.

In reality, the event is the culmination of a year-long investigation of whether the companies have become too big and powerful. The executives are some of the richest people in the world, running four of the largest and most influential technology companies. They’re tasked with defending their respective companies’ positions as market-dominating tech giants, while playing down their size or framing it as nonthreatening and good for the country.

By Heather Kelly
11:21 a.m.

Google CEO deals with Congress in trademark measured manner

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google's parent company Alphabet, appears before the House Judiciary Committee to be questioned about the internet giant's privacy security and data collection in December 2018.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, appears before the House Judiciary Committee to be questioned about the internet giant’s privacy security and data collection in December 2018. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

During his first congressional testimony in December 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai faced a barrage of allegations that his company was censoring conservative voices. But the soft-spoken executive emerged unscathed from the nearly four-hour hearing, having politely defended the search and advertising giant as unbiased.

Pichai took over as chief executive in 2015, when parent company Alphabet was created and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin changed titles. Last year, Pichai also became chief executive of Alphabet, a role he had essentially already been filling. Known for being measured and technically minded, Pichai has worked for Google for more than 15 years.

He has a publicly civil relationship with the White House, and Google collaborated with them on coronavirus projects earlier this year.

Google executives had declined to appear at an earlier congressional hearing in 2018, and the company’s absence was theatrically represented by an empty chair. When Pichai showed up in December of that year, the audience was populated by a man dressed as the Monopoly mascot to represent moneybags and another person holding up a sign with the Google name on a Chinese flag.

Pichai navigated the politically charged hearing by sticking to company talking points and promising to follow up later on several points.

“We are a company that provides platforms for diverse perspectives and opinions — and there is no shortage of them among our own employees,” he said.

By Rachel Lerman
11:16 a.m.

Tim Cook arrives in Washington riding a historic wave of financial success

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the 2019 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the 2019 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Apple CEO Tim Cook will appear before Congress on Wednesday as one of the most successful corporate chieftains in U.S. history, having overseen the iPhone maker’s meteoric rise during his nine-year history at the helm, bringing the company from a market capitalization of less than $400 billion to $1.6 trillion.

Apple’s dominance cannot be overstated. Though iPhone sales have been on the decline, they still earned the company $56 billion in profit in the first quarter of the fiscal year, and Apple has replaced lost revenue from iPhone sales with “services” revenue on things like cloud storage fees and AppleCare Plus, an insurance product.

And Apple hopes to take its dominance into new markets such as health care, where it has already stuck its foot in the door of the clinical trial industry. As Apple adds sensors to its wearable devices, such as the Apple Watch, the data those sensors gather can be valuable tools for medical research companies looking to test new drugs or treatments.

Apple is now a full-fledged Hollywood studio. Though the studio is still new, it has quickly ramped up production of movies and television shows that Apple offers through its Apple TV Plus subscription service.

Cook’s most impressive feat as CEO is how tightly he has locked the company’s customers into its ecosystem. For an Apple customer to buy a Windows PC instead of a Mac, or an Android phone or tablet instead of an iPhone, they would have to endure prohibitive amounts of pain, no longer able to communicate with friends and family over iMessage and FaceTime or able to quickly access and share years of photos stored on the company’s cloud service and inaccessible without an Apple device.

In his prepared testimony, Cook argued that consumers can use Google’s operating system on a device made by Samsung or Google itself.

“The smartphone market is fiercely competitive,” according to the testimony.

On Wall Street, only the foolish have bet against Apple, which shows no signs of slowing down.

By Reed Albergotti
11:11 a.m.

Jeff Bezos is no stranger to Washington even as he makes his first Congressional appearance

While the four tech chief executives appear together, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the only one who has never testified before Congress.

Bezos has occasionally met with the Washington political elite, including President Trump. But he’s left dealing with lawmakers to other Amazon executives. Last summer, for example, Amazon’s associate general counsel of competition Nate Sutton was grilled over anti-competitive practices by the same House subcommittee that’s now questioning Bezos.

(Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)

The 56-year-old executive, though, is well-versed in the way Washington works. In 2017, Bezos bought a 27,000-square-foot home in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood for $23 million that had been the former Textile Museum. This January, he hosted a party at the home after the annual dinner of the Alfalfa Club, a social club for the city’s well-connected, that included Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Sen. Mitt Romney, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, among others.

Bezos is one of the two CEO panelists — the other is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — that founded the company he still runs. He incorporated the company in 1994, and debuted the e-commerce site in 1995. In that time, Amazon has become the largest online retailer in the country, accounting for 38.5 percent of U.S. e-commerce sales in June, according to Rakuten Intelligence. That dwarfs the share of the next-largest online retailer, Walmart, which accounted for 5 percent of U.S. e-commerce sales last month.

Bezos began his written testimony with a folksy refrain on his upbringing and the emergence of Amazon. He started by writing about his mother’s struggles giving birth to him when she was a 17-year-old high school student in Albuquerque. And he wrote about his decision to launch Amazon, an idea his boss at the time told him was “a better idea for somebody who didn’t already have a good job.” He worked in finance in New York at the time.

“When I’m 80 and reflecting back, I want to have minimized the number of regrets that I have in my life,” Bezos wrote. “And most of our regrets are acts of omission — the things we didn’t try, the paths untraveled.”

By Jay Greene
11:06 a.m.

Zuckerberg is coming to Congress as a seasoned pro

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in April 2018.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in April 2018. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will take the virtual stand on Monday — his fourth time testifying before lawmakers in two years — amid swirling questions about the company’s closeness with the Trump administration and an advertiser boycott over the social network’s hands-off approach to policing hate speech by politicians.

When he first appeared before Congress, in spring 2018, he defended the company’s mishandling of user data in the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, in which the company allowed the private profiles of up to 87 million people to be collected by the Trump-affiliated political consultancy.

At the time, Zuckerberg had spent years avoiding Washington, leaving lobbying and policy issues to the company’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and the company’s powerful Washington bureau.

Notably, Zuckerberg was asked at the time about Facebook’s market dominance. One of the key moments during the hearing came when Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) asked Zuckerberg to name his biggest competitor. Zuckerberg couldn’t name one.

By the time he was called to testify in 2019, over the company’s plans to launch a cryptocurrency, he was much more seasoned in the ways of the Capitol. And he had made an effort to build a personal relationship with President Trump.

At the hearing, Zuckerberg plans to emphasize Facebook’s value in connecting people and supporting businesses during the pandemic, and the fact that it competes with the companies at the hearing, according to his prepared testimony. He is also expected to emphasize that Facebook’s success has been grounded in the American values of democratic expression and competition, and compare that with the approach taken by China as a rising tech power. He plans to note that when Facebook moved its headquarters to the campus of a former tech giant, Sun Microsystems, he kept the company’s sign up front to remind employees to stay competitive because success can be fleeting.

By Elizabeth Dwoskin
11:02 a.m.

Today’s hearing could expose the challenges of virtual Hill testimony

Tech executives are expected to testify via Cisco’s Webex video conferencing software.

That could get awkward — and not just because the plans will force some of the makers of the most well-known video streaming services in the world to use a competitor’s product.

It’s going to be much more difficult for lawmakers to pin down the CEOs virtually.

“There’s just going to be a total lack of sentiment,” said Scott Galloway, the author of “The Four” and a professor at the New York University Stern School of Business. Videoconferencing calls “don’t make for great TV viewing.”

House committees have used video conferencing to enable more than 80 hearings during the pandemic, according to data provided by the House Administration Committee. Virtual hearings are increasingly a reality of the pandemic, and people such as Anthony S. Fauci and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have testified via video in recent months — once an unthinkable protocol in the analog world of Congress.

By Cat Zakrzewski