House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler grilled Mark Zuckerberg over documents obtained during the committee's investigation showing that Zuckerberg wanted to acquire Instagram in order to neutralize a potential competitor in 2012.
"The documents you provided tell a very disturbing story," Nadler said, addressing Zuckerberg during the blockbuster hearing. "That story is that Facebook saw Instagram as a powerful threat that could siphon business away from Facebook."
"Rather than compete with it, Facebook bought it," Nadler said.
Nadler cited one document in which said Zuckerberg told a colleague, "One thing about startups is you can often acquire them." Nadler also referred to a 2012 email message in which Zuckerberg told his chief financial officer that Instagram could be "very disruptive" to Facebook and suggested that Facebook consider an acquisition because "we're vulnerable in mobile."
Zuckerberg said he didn't have the "exact documents" in front of him. "But I've been clear that we viewed Instagram both as a competitor and as a complement to our services," he said. "At the time, almost no one thought of them as a general social network."
"This is exactly the type of anticompetitive acquisition that the antitrust laws were designed to prevent," Nadler concluded.
The FTC in 2012 green-lit Facebook's acquisition of Instagram.