Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on “An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors” in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC on October 23, 2019.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg accused other tech companies of “stifling innovation” with high fees and little choice for consumers during a live stream on Thursday, all while his company faces an antitrust lawsuit from the federal government and heightened pressure from Congress over recently-leaked internal documents
He also laid out the company’s plans to build a metaverse — a virtual reality experience where people can meet online. His comments seemed to allude to mobile operating systems like those created by Apple and Google, though he did not mention any company by name or specify the types of platforms he was talking about.
Still, the comments show how the company is trying to position itself as distinct from other Big Tech peers as the industry faces intense pressure from several branches of government and it fights charges of its own alleged anticompetitive conduct. They also recall a long history of tension between Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook, in particular.
Zuckerberg said during his presentation at Facebook Connect that the last few years have been “humbling.” That period has included the revelation of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy practices, allegations that Facebook amplified misinformation fueling false claims that the U.S. presidential election was stolen, and more.
Zuckerberg said he’s learned that “building products isn’t enough. We also need to help build ecosystems so that millions of people can have a stake in the future, can be rewarded for their work and benefit as the tide rises, not just as consumers, but as creators and developers.”
He added that as big as Facebook is with billions of users, it’s also been humbling to learn to build for other platforms.
“And living under their rules has profoundly shaped my views on the tech industry,” Zuckerberg said. “Most of all, I’ve come to believe that the lack of choice and high fees are stifling innovation, stopping people from building new things and holding back the entire internet economy.”
That language seemed to echo complaints that many app developers have waged against Apple and Google, though Zuckerberg did not say so himself. Fortnite-maker Epic Games has sued both companies over the fees they charge developers for payments made through their apps once they’re downloaded from the platforms’ app stores. A judge recently ruled in the case against Apple that she could not find the platform to be a monopoly, but ordered that it can no longer force developers to use its in-app payment system.
Zuckerberg emphasized the “different approach” his company,