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Home / Business / Zuckerberg’s new enemy: European lawmakers – Axios

Zuckerberg’s new enemy: European lawmakers – Axios



Mark Zuckerberg this year told Facebook officials that the company is at war. He is right. Facebook is facing a new kind of existential threat, not from competitors, but rather from an adversary that can neither be acquired nor opposed: governments, particularly in Europe.

Leading the news: The decision by Damian Collins, a British parliamentarian, to publish highly sensitive and unremarked internal Facebook emails, is aggressive, uncompromising and further intensifies the European battlefield – a 39; arena in which Facebook has little or no political support.

  • Facebook has addressed such threats nationwide and responded by taking attack dogs in D.C. He also has on his side friendly Facebook senators like Chuck Schumer of New York. Europe has few equivalents.
  • The emails published by Collins could not be published in the United States, where they are under a seal ordered by the court. But Collins is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and has happily sent the United Kingdom Serjeant-at-Arms to request the material. The move was legally dubious, but it worked.
  • The lesson, for Zuckerberg: Foreign adversaries do not play with the rules of the United States.

Facebook was already facing a formidable threat in the form of Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition. After all, Facebook already includes half of a duopoly that controls 75% of the digital advertising market and is growing rapidly. Requests for dissolution are increasingly taken.

Internally, Facebook considers to be a business, as do companies. The defense of Mark Zuckerberg, in large part, comes down to "Managing a development platform is expensive", in a world where Facebook needs to make money. (Facebook had $ 43.7 billion of gross profit over the last four quarters and $ 24.4 billion of operating income.)

But the company is grappling with a growing confidence deficit with its users: people who elect politicians like Damian Collins. The size and influence of Facebook on global communication have pushed governments to control their power.

For example: On January 24, 2013, Twitter launched Vine, a shortened video service acquired during the pre-launch phase. Later that day, Mark Zuckerberg personally signed a scheme to make it impossible for Vine users to find their friends via Facebook. Zuckerberg's explanation for his action is that "he did not allow developers to use our platform to grow their services virally in a way that creates little value for people on Facebook."

  • In the United States, such behavior can be defended as a healthy, capitalistic competition with red teeth.
  • For European eyes, however, it seems more an anticompetitive attempt to strangle Vine – a potential competitor – at birth.

Do not forget : There is a fundamental difference in the way legislators see monopolies (and duopolies) on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • U.S .. the antitrust law evaluates monopolies in terms of potential direct harm to consumers, such as the price increase following the domination of a company. The simple monopoly is not illegal.
  • In Europe, regulatory authorities act to preserve competition, regardless of whether there is evidence of direct damage to consumers.

The Bottom Line : Mark Zuckerberg signaled his contempt for the governance structures of Europe when refused to appear in front of the Collins committee last month. This affront will not soon be forgotten. Zuckerberg has made an enemy of European lawmakers, who may not be wise. Those legislators have a dreadful arsenal.

Go deeper: What we learned from Facebook documents


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