FTC Grills Jeff Bezos Over Use Of Signal's Auto-Delete Feature Amid Amazon's Antitrust Suit: 'I Can Make A Mistake'

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, faced intense questioning by the Federal Trade Commission or FTC over his alleged use of the encrypted messaging app Signal and its auto-delete feature.

What Happened: Last week, FTC accused Bezos and other top Amazon executives including CEO Andy Jassy of intentionally deleting Signal messages that could be relevant to an ongoing antitrust lawsuit against the company.

Now newly reported transcript from the complaint revealed that Bezos, in his testimony to the FTC in October 2022, mostly denied or refused to answer the agency’s questions. However, he also indicated that he may have continued to use Signal and the auto-delete function until 2022 for sensitive company issues unrelated to the lawsuit, reported Business Insider.

“I don’t know exactly when I stopped using it,” Bezos said, according to the transcript. “But I tried very hard to be careful not to use it, to preserve messages and only use disappearing messages on things that were not, you know, responsive to these document preservation requests.”

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The Amazon founder admitted to receiving a document-preservation notice regarding the FTC’s investigation but refrained from confirming whether Signal messages were included in the notice. He also stated that he couldn’t recall the precise timing of receiving the notice or the legal advice from Amazon’s lawyers regarding Signal (“a year-ish ago maybe,” he said).

“I may have made mistakes in that regard from time to time,” Bezos said. “I never would have used Signal under any circumstances with disappearing messages on or off to discuss any complicated business issues. It just doesn’t make sense.”

The FTC lawyer highlighted that despite receiving legal advice on document preservation in both 2020 and 2021, Bezos continued to use Signal’s disappearing messaging feature until 2022.

In response, Bezos stated that he wouldn’t have taken such action, emphasizing his adherence to the guidance of legal counsel as long as he comprehends it. “I’m human. I can make a mistake,” he said, adding, “But my practice would be – when it comes to legal matters, my practice is to have smart counsel and to listen to them.”

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Why It Matters: Amazon had a strong first quarter in 2024, The company disclosed net sales of $143.3 billion, marking a 13% increase compared to the last year. This figure exceeded the Street consensus estimate of $142.5 billion, according to data from Benzinga Pro.

Amid the FTC probe, the potential impact on Amazon's various businesses was brought into question. However, Eric Jackson, the founder and president of EMJ Capital, perceives the actions of the federal government as an attempt to “make a lot of noise” by singling out companies such as Amazon.

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Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of Benzinga Neuro and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

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