Members of the European Parliament asked Mark Zuckerberg today if Facebook was a monopoly that potentially needed to be broken, echoing concerns expressed in the United States. In a conference with Zuckerberg, the German MEP Manfred Weber asked if the Facebook CEO could name a single European alternative to his "empire", which includes applications such as WhatsApp and Instagram in addition to Facebook. "I think it's time to discuss the break-up of Facebook's monopoly, because it's already too much power in one hand," Weber said. "So I just ask you, and that's my last question: can you convince me not to do it?"
The question was then picked up by the Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt. "You can not convince him, because it's really nonsense," said Verhofstadt. "He has given the example of Twitter, he has given the example, I think, of Google as some of his competitors, but it is as if someone who has a monopoly on car manufacturing says:" Look, I have a monopoly on making cars, but It is not a problem. You can take a plane, you can take a train, you can even take your bike! & # 39; "He asked if Facebook would cooperate with the European antitrust authorities to determine if the company was really a monopoly, and if it was, if Facebook would accept splitting WhatsApp or Messenger to remedy the problem.
The panel format allows Zuckerberg to respond selectively to the questions at the end of the session, and does not address the Verhofstadt points, instead he described how Facebook sees "competition" in various spaces. "We exist in a very competitive space where people use many different tools for communication, "said Zuckerberg." From where I'm sitting, it seems that there are new competitors every day "in the messaging and social networking space, he also said that Facebook did not have a publicity monopoly because it only controlled 6 percent of the global advertising market. (It's worth noting: this is still a huge number . And he argued that Facebook promoted the competition by making it easier for small businesses to reach a wider audience, which is basically not related to the question of whether Facebook is a monopoly.
As Weber observed, antitrust questions emerged in the first hearings of the US Congress of Zuckerberg. A coalition of activists has also just launched a "Freedom from Facebook" campaign urging the US Federal Trade Commission. UU To split Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. So, although many people came out of today's meeting with their unanswered questions, the monopoly problem will not go away.