House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been leaving Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hanging.
Following Facebook’s decision not to take down an altered video of Pelosi that suggested the speaker had been drunk, Zuckerberg reached out personally to the speaker, which was first reported by The Washington Post last month.
In the time since, Pelosi has still not returned the powerful executive’s call, according to a source familiar with the speaker’s views. While spurning Zuckerberg, the speaker has since taken a meeting with Chris Hughes, an original Facebook founder who has made waves recently by calling for Facebook to be broken up.
And with the speaker’s blessing, the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust subcommittee launched a probe into whether too much power has been concentrated in a small number of U.S. tech firms. The investigation was launched just days after the altered video of Pelosi was circulating.
“We are living in a monopoly moment. And if you look at in particular the digital marketplace … there’s tremendous market concentration — and that presents special implications for workers and consumers and users of those platforms,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., who is leading that investigation as chair of that subcommittee.
He said the probe was part of the Democratic Party’s broader goal of looking at the growing concentration of economic power in America, which he said has contributed to wage stagnation in recent years.
Cicilline told NPR that Pelosi was consulted about the investigation before it was publicly announced and that “she’s been very supportive of it.” He added that he had met with Hughes recently, calling the former Facebook co-founder “a very eloquent voice about the urgency of this moment.”
These meetings with Hughes and the launch of what is expected to be an 18-month antitrust investigation are signals that Democrats on Capitol Hill are serious about curbing the power of Facebook and other big tech firms.
And it’s a reflection of how the once-cozy relationship between top Democratic leaders and social media companies have become increasingly strained as Silicon Valley grapples with how to deal with fast-growing concerns about privacy, disinformation and allegations of censorship.