Hoping to convince lawmakers to keep their hands off Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg will appeal to their shared sense of nationalism and fear of the Communist Party of China.
That’s according to prepared remarks, which Facebook’s cofounder/CEO is expected to give during a scheduled appearance before Congress on Wednesday.
“Although people around the world use our products, Facebook is a proudly American company,” according to an opening statement obtained by Politico. “We believe in values -- democracy, competition, inclusion and free expression -- that the American economy was built on.”
“Many other tech companies share these values, but there’s no guarantee our values will win out,” Zuckerberg is expected to warn. “For example, China is building its own version of the internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries.”
Along with Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Google’s Sundar Pichai are set to appear before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI), said the time had come to reexamine the massive market dominance of Facebook and other tech giants.
“Since last June, the subcommittee has been investigating the dominance of a small number of digital platforms and the adequacy of existing antitrust laws and enforcement,” they noted at the time. “Given the central role these corporations play in the lives of the American people, it is critical their CEOs are forthcoming.”
In June 2019, the subcommittee launched a bipartisan investigation into what it then described as “the growth of monopoly power across our economy.”
Yet, rather than stifling domestic competition, Zuckerberg will argue that Facebook is promoting American interests and values around the world.
“As Congress and other stakeholders consider how antitrust laws support competition in the U.S., I believe it’s important to maintain the core values of openness and fairness that have made America’s digital economy a force for empowerment and opportunity here and around the world,” he is expected to declare.
Despite their issues with Facebook, lawmakers are loath to see Chinese technology companies assume greater prominence in the U.S. In addition to national pride, many fear that these companies could be gathering user data on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, and presenting risk to national security.
For that reason, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said he was “looking at” a nationwide ban of TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based tech giant ByteDance.
Just last week, The House also voted to prohibit federal employees from using TikTok on government phones as part of a broader defense spending bill.
Whether or not Bezos, Cook, and Pichai assume a similar position remains to be seen, but their companies face a similar threat of dismantling by lawmakers.