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Sarah Grillo / Axios

Smaller competitors to Google and Facebook that for years kept their legal grievances about the companies silent are beginning to speak up, as regulators crank up probes into anti-competitive behavior by the two Silicon Valley giants.

Why it matters: Many smaller tech companies once hesitated to call foul on Facebook and Google's dominance, fearful that doing so would make them look weak or unable to compete. Now that regulators are reaching out for information, more smaller rivals are stepping up.

Driving the news: Facebook competitors, including Snapchat, are gathering intelligence for Federal Trade Commission officials about ways the tech giant may have exploited its dominance to punish Snapchat, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • Snapchat's legal team has reportedly kept a set of documents dubbed "Project Voldemort" for years with evidence of the allegation.
  • According to the report, Snapchat executives have suspected that Instagram was "preventing Snap content from trending on its app."
  • While some Google competitors, with Yelp in the lead, have long charged the search giant with monopolistic behavior, the current wave of antitrust investigations means those complaints may get a thorough examination.

Be smart: A similar scenario broke out earlier this year with YouTube when the Justice Department was considering an antitrust investigation into Big Tech companies.

  • Bloomberg reported that YouTube competitors AppNexus and Vevo were beginning to speak out publicly against the video giant's anti-competitive practices.
  • The report details several examples in which YouTube stifled competitors who were looking to compete against it in video advertising sales.

The big picture: The news comes a day ahead of a critical Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington that will examine the market dominance of companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.

  • Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been holding a series of hearings into potential anti-competitive practices of the companies, alongside federal probes into the companies' dominance.

What to expect: Look for tech giants to point to the successes of smaller upstarts as proof that their dominance isn't absolute.

  • During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the same topic this summer, for example, Facebook's head of global policy development cited TikTok as an example of an app that was growing rapidly and threatening its own business model.

Meanwhile, per the New York Times, the House Judiciary Committee has requested information from more than 80 companies about how they may have been harmed by Facebook, Google, Apple, or Amazon.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”