Four tech titans go before Congress

By Brian Fung, Rishi Iyengar and Kaya Yurieff

Updated 7:00 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020
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6:21 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

'Mr. Bezos, I believe you're on mute'

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

It only took four and a half hours, but as the hearing neared its close, it finally happened: “Mr. Bezos, I believe you’re on mute.”

Tech titans, they're just like us!

5:55 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Zuckerberg grilled over viral video with false coronavirus claims

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

Zuckerberg was pressed on a video that went viral this week containing false and misleading claims about coronavirus. Though Facebook eventually took it down, the video racked up millions of views.

“Doesn’t that suggest, Mr. Zuckerberg, your platform is so big that even with the right policies in place, you can’t contain deadly content?” Rep. Cicilline asked.

Zuckerberg said he didn’t think so.

“We have, on Covid misinformation in particular, a relatively good track record of fighting and taking down lots of false content,” Zuckerberg said, “as well as putting up authoritative information. We have built a Covid information center with authoritative information from health officials.”

A Facebook spokesperson acknowledged on Tuesday that it took "several hours" for the company to enforce its standards and remove the video. The spokesperson said Facebook will conduct "a review to understand why this took longer than it should have."

5:49 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Zuckerberg pressed on how Facebook grants competitors access to its platform

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

Rep. Demings cited an employee who said: “I am 100% in favor of removing [Facebook’s API access] from Pinterest, but I am not recommending removing it from Netflix going forward.”

“Why would Facebook product managers want to restrict Pinterest’s access to Facebook, but not Netflix?” Demings asked Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg responded that Facebook “used to have a policy that restricted competitors from using our platform, and Pinterest is a social competitor with us.”

Demings said Zuckerberg’s reply seemed to indicate that Facebook is willing to use its platform policies to discriminate against and undermine competitors.

5:09 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Amazon defines data as aggregated -- even when there are only two sellers involved

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

Rep. Kelly Armstrong asked Jeff Bezos a series of important questions about how Amazon uses data from third-party sellers.

While Bezos had previously said it is against the rules for employees to give Amazon’s own products an advantage using data from individual sellers, they are not prohibited from using “aggregate” data — that is, data compiled from multiple sellers.

Armstrong drilled down, getting Bezos to concede that “aggregate” could mean as few as two sellers — implying that it might be possible for employees to guess at which data was whose when trying to position Amazon products more advantageously.

4:51 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Entering hour three

We're back for a third round of questions after a brief recess.

4:52 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Bezos on counterfeit goods on Amazon: I'd rather lose a sale than lose a customer

From CNN Business' Kaya Yurieff

When pressed by Rep. Hank Johnson about counterfeit goods available on Amazon -- from bogus medicine to car tires and dangerous kids products -- Bezos said the company does "a lot" to prevent the issue, including investments of "hundreds of millions of dollars" into systems to prevent it and a team of more than 1,000 people who address what he described as a "scourge."

Johnson said third-party sellers and brands have said the company has used knockoffs as leverage to pressure sellers into doing what "Amazon wants." For example, the founder of PopSockets testified in January that Amazon itself was selling knockoffs of its product. The company reported the issue, but said it wasn't until PopSockets committed to spending $2 million on ads that Amazon appeared to stop diverting sales to the knockoffs. Bezos responded: "That's unacceptable. ... I will look into that."

Bezos also said he would rather "lose a sale than lose a customer" when Johnson pointed out that Amazon profits from counterfeit sales.

4:49 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Here are winners and losers of the tech hearing, so far

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

As the hearing enters its third hour, here are a few quick impressions of which CEOs are having the best and worst day so far:

Jeff Bezos has done himself the fewest favors. He acknowledged, albeit earnestly and transparently, that Amazon may have improperly used third-party seller data -- a key concern over the company's approach to competition.

Tim Cook has gotten off pretty lightly. Despite some earlier questions about whether Apple favors certain developers on its App Store, there have been relatively few questions about Apple’s App Store guidelines for developers, which have been a main complaint among critics.

Mark Zuckerberg has received much of the lawmakers’ attention, particularly on Facebook’s acquisition strategy. There have also been some damning documents and emails introduced that could pose problems for Facebook in the months ahead. But Zuckerberg, who has been grilled by Congress before, appears comfortable and eager to engage.

Sundar Pichai’s performance has been marked by a struggle with how to deflect conservative lawmakers’ allegations of anti-conservative bias -- an issue that is not directly relevant to the antitrust probe.

On the lawmakers’ side, some of the most effective questioning has come from Reps. Cicilline, Jayapal, Raskin and Neguse, who have demonstrated a clear grasp of the economic issues and how they may relate to antitrust law and competition.

4:14 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Bezos acknowledges that Amazon devices are sometimes sold below cost

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

Rep. Jamie Raskin sought to show that Amazon enjoys dominance in the market for smart assistants.

Several companies, Raskin said, told the committee that Amazon prices its Echo devices below cost, “making it nearly impossible for them to compete” and making it likelier that Amazon will “own the smart home.”

Bezos acknowledged that Amazon Echoes may sometimes be sold below cost, particularly if they are on sale.

4:22 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Zuckerberg grilled on whether he pressured Instagram into acquisition

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

Mark Zuckerberg came under fire on Wednesday over whether he used Facebook's power to pressure Instagram to agree to an acquisition.

Rep. Jayapal cited Zuckerberg’s dealings with Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom. “In a chat, you told Mr. Systrom that Facebook was, quote, ’developing our own photo strategy, so how we engage now will also determine how much we’re partners versus competitors down the line.’”

Jayapal then added that Systrom interpreted the remarks as a threat, telling an investor that he worried Zuckerberg would go into “destroy mode” if he didn’t agree to sell Instagram.

Zuckerberg denied that that was his intent. “It was clear that this was a space we were going to compete in one way or another,” he said. “I don’t view those conversations as a threat in any way.”

Jayapal also pressed Zuckerberg over his company’s acquisition strategy more broadly, saying he has “used Facebook’s power to threaten smaller competitors and to ensure you always get your way.”