Social media CEOs (in unison): First, we would like to say that we know corporations aren’t people, but if they were, our corporations would all be patriots who work hard every day to provide the best user experience possible. Also, we have no idea about anything that goes on at these companies that might be bad or anti-competitive, or just in general. You’re asking the wrong people.
Apple CEO Tim Cook: I’m honored and thrilled that people still think of Apple as maybe a large, predatory company that is crushing people out of the market! Please, ask me questions about the App Store! Remember the App Store, everyone?
Questioner: Mark Zuckerberg, why did you kick Donald Trump Jr. off Twitter?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Congressman, yes. I do not own Twitter. But I can answer this question from the perspective of Facebook’s policies. Please ask me again in six months, when I hope to be able to answer it from a perspective of owning Twitter.
Questioner: I have several follow-up questions, but first: Did you buy Instagram because it was a competitor?
Zuckerberg: Congressman, yes. Unless it was not legal that we did that, in which case, no, but an unconvincing no. To be clear, Instagram was competitive with us in some ways, but complementary to us in others. It was competitive in the sense that it competed with us, but complementary in the sense that owning it instead of having it compete with us was a good complement to the service we at Facebook provide of being a worse Instagram that everyone hates. I am being stopped now by what looks like an angry lawyer.
Questioner: Mr. Pichai, why did Google elect Hillary Clinton with their “silent donation”?
Google CEO Sundar Pichai: There are about 18 misunderstandings embedded in this question and I am not sure how to begin to untangle them.
Questioner: Can you promise you will not use Google’s powers to help Joe Biden?
Pichai: I — this feels like a trick question. Can you please define ‘help’? I feel like I’m being set up to say ‘yes’ so that months from now I will have to apologize for the fact that Biden used Google Maps.
Questioner: Moving back from fringe conspiracy theories —
Other questioner: MY CONSPIRACY THEORIES ARE NOT FRINGE! THEY ARE MAINSTREAM, THANKS TO THE TIRELESS EFFORTS OF THE COMPANIES SITTING HERE! So Mr. Bezos: Why did Amazon destroy Diapers.com?
Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos, who also owns The Post: With complete respect. With — absolute, maximum, total respect. What a beautiful question! I love that question. I just want to say that I, personally, remember nothing about the matter you have just described and also I reject the premise of the question. My maximum respect to you.
Questioner: I know a man who used to love to receive all my campaign emails! But now he says he doesn’t get any of them and they go to spam.
Pichai: That isn’t how email works.
Questioner: The man who no longer gets my campaign emails is my FATHER!
Pichai: I actually don’t think the algorithm is at fault here. I think this sounds more like a you problem. Have you tried sending your father normal emails?
Questioner: Google has ruined my relationship with my father.
Other questioner: No, no. Facebook has ruined my relationship with my father.
Zuckerberg: Congressman, yes. That is a valid statement. We are also trying to buy Google, unless that is not legal, in which case that was a joke. I love to make jokes. Jokes are a way of connecting to other people, and people-connecting is a space I seek to dominate by whatever means necessary.
Questioner: Mr. Zuckerberg, is it true that it’s Facebook’s business model to make elections less secure, people generally creepier and worse, and to purchase any competitors?
Zuckerberg: What a wonderful question. I’m so glad you asked, because this is a good opportunity to clarify our thinking around that. Congressman, yes.
Cook: Does anyone want to ask more questions about the App Store?
Read more from Alexandra Petri: