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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

German elections: After close result, jockeying to replace Merkel begins

Data: Preliminary results from German Federal Returning Officer; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) pulled off a come-from-behind victory in Sunday’s elections, 10 seats ahead of the Christian Democrats (CDU), which failed to finish top for the first time in 16 years.

State of play: SPD leader Olaf Scholz has said he’ll seek to form a government, but so too has Armin Laschet, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor as CDU leader.

2 hours ago - Health

Biden gets COVID-19 booster shot on live television

President Biden received a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine booster shot on live television on Monday, while also urging Americans to get vaccinated.

Driving the news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week recommended Pfizer booster shots for millions of people, including those 65 years and older and individuals at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

John Hinckley, who shot Reagan, wins unconditional release

John Hinckley Jr. sitting on the back seat of a car in 1981. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

A federal judge on Monday approved the unconditional release of John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate former President Reagan in 1981.

State of play: U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington ruled that Hinckley can be freed from all court supervision in 2022 if he remains mentally stable and continues to follow rules that were imposed on him after he was released from a Washington mental health facility in 2016 to live in Virginia, AP reports.