Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google Reject U.S. Antitrust Report That Said They Wield 'Too Much Power'

Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google have rejected the findings of an antitrust report that accused each of abusing monopoly powers.

Published by the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, containing conclusions from a 16-month probe, the 450-page report alleged each company is a "gatekeeper" of their respective market, using lofty positions to keep competitive advantage.

Likening their control to the era of "oil barons and railroad tycoons," it said: "Whether through self-preferencing, predatory pricing, or exclusionary conduct, the dominant platforms exploited their power in order to become even more dominant."

Antitrust subcommittee chair David Cicilline said on Twitter each company uses that dominance to control distribution, protect their positioning and expand their powers.

Newsweek previously covered the full release, which broadly alleged:

  • Facebook has monopoly power over social networking, using "data advantage" to identify competitive threats and "acquire, copy, or kill these firms."
  • Amazon has monopoly power over many small and medium-sized businesses that "do not have a viable alternative to reaching online customers."
  • Google has a monopoly over general online search and search advertising, adding its own content and advertising to main search results pages.
  • Apple oversees all software and operating system distribution to its iOS devices, controlling access to more than 100 million iPhones and iPads in the U.S.

"These firms have too much power, and that power must be reined in and subject to appropriate oversight and enforcement. Our economy and democracy are at stake," the committee wrote. It said "forceful agency action" is now critical.

The four technology and social media companies named in the antitrust report swiftly reacted to the release with carefully-crafted legal responses, with all indications that it will not be easy to take control from their grasp. Here's what each firm said:

Facebook

The Mark Zuckerberg-led social media goliath fell back on the claim that acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp—key aspects of the antitrust investigations—were compliant with regulators at the time and therefore it should not be a problem.

A spokesperson told Newsweek yesterday both popular apps had "reached new heights of success because Facebook has invested billions in those businesses."

It bought picture sharing Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, and chat service WhatsApp for $22 billion back in 2014. "A strongly competitive landscape existed at the time of both acquisitions and exists today. Regulators thoroughly reviewed each deal and rightly did not see any reason to stop them at the time," the official statement said.

Amazon

Amazon released a lengthy blog post describing the findings of the House Judiciary Committee as "fringe notions" that would ultimately harm U.S. consumers.

It said: "Large companies are not dominant by definition, and the presumption that success can only be the result of anti-competitive behavior is simply wrong. And yet, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, those fallacies are at the core of regulatory spit-balling on antitrust.

"The flawed thinking would have the primary effect of forcing millions of independent retailers out of online stores, thereby depriving these small businesses of one of the fastest and most profitable ways available to reach customers. For consumers, the result would be less choice and higher prices."

Google

In a shorter statement, the search engine giant said it had invested billions of dollars to provide a suite of "free" products, including Search, Maps and Gmail.

The company continued: "We compete fairly in a fast-moving and highly competitive industry. We disagree with today's reports, which feature outdated and inaccurate allegations from commercial rivals about search and other services.

"Americans simply don't want Congress to break Google's products or harm the free services... antitrust law is to protect consumers, not help commercial rivals.

"Many of the proposals bandied about in today's reports—whether breaking up companies or undercutting Section 230—would cause real harm to consumers, America's technology leadership and the U.S. economy—all for no clear gain."

Apple

Technology giant Apple said it strongly opposed the findings of the new antitrust report, denying in a lengthy rebuttal that it does not hold a monopoly market position.

It said the App Store was walled off to provide a "safe and trusted place for users" while noting it "facilitated $138 billion in commerce" inside the U.S. alone last year.

"We have always said that scrutiny is reasonable and appropriate but we vehemently disagree with the conclusions reached in this staff report with respect to Apple. Our company does not have a dominant market share in any category where we do business... competition drives innovation, and innovation has always defined us."

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testifies before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law on Online Platforms and Market Power in the Rayburn House office Building, July 29, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty