Jayapal accuses Facebook of threatening to clone Instagram before buying it

In Wednesday’s House Judiciary hearing on antitrust issues in Big Tech, Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over his company’s practice of acquiring competitors and adapting popular rival products within Facebook’s infrastructure.

In a heated exchange, Jayapal pushed Zuckerberg on the details surrounding Facebook’s purchase of Instagram.

“I would just like to remind you that you are under oath and that there are quotes from Facebook’s own documents,” said Jayapal, who added that prior to acquiring Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, Facebook was in the process of developing its own mobile camera app called Facebook Camera.

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“Congresswoman, that’s correct,” said Zuckerberg in response to her question about developing a similar app to Instagram in early 2012. “I’ve said multiple times that we were in the space of competing with building mobile cameras with Instagram, that is what they did at the time.”

Facebook has long been accused of cloning features from competitors — Facebook turned Snapchat’s trademark disappearing photo messages into Instagram Stories and is currently in the process of making a product to rival TikTok, the fastest growing app in the world.

Jayapal went on to detail an exchange between Zuckerberg and Instagram founder Kevin Systrom that ultimately led to Systrom to believe that Zuckerberg would go into “destroy mode” if he did not sell Instagram to Facebook — a claim Zuckerberg denied in the hearing.

Before yielding her time, Jayapal said, “Facebook is a case study in, in my opinion, monopoly power because your company harvests and monetizes our data, and then your company uses that data to spy on competitors and to copy, acquire, and kill rivals.”

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