More than 40 attorneys general have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, with the federal government citing its own litigation.
The federal government and a coalition of attorneys general have filed two antitrust lawsuits against Facebook.
According to CNN, the Federal Trade Commission has been particularly vocal in calling for the social media company to be reformed and downsized. The agency is aiming for a permanent disposition that, among other things, could force Facebook to give up ownership of some of its most profitable purchases, including Instagram and WhatsApp.
The states, says CNN, are also calling for Facebook to be closed if the courts deem such a decision necessary.
Ian Conner, the director of the FTC competition bureau, suggested that Facebook was illegally using its resources and influence to eliminate or otherwise suppress its competitors.
“Personal social networks are central to the lives of millions of Americans,” Conner said in a statement. “Facebook’s actions to anchor and maintain its monopoly are denying consumers the benefits of competition. Our goal is to roll back Facebook’s anti-competitive behavior and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can flourish. “
CNN notes that the two lawsuits have similar claims. For example, both are particularly critical of the takeover of Instagram and WhatsApp by Facebook – two of the most widely used social media platforms worldwide.
Facebook bought Instagram for around $ 1 billion in 2012. Two years later, the company announced it would buy WhatsApp – a messaging service widely used outside of the United States – for nearly $ 20 billion.
Interestingly, the legal attack on Facebook does not appear to be partial. New York attorney general Letitia James has been investigating Facebook for more than a year. About 40 other attorneys general have since joined the lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday.
Facebook and Twitter icons together on a smartphone screen; Image by LoboStudioHamburg, via Pixabay.com.
“For nearly a decade,” said James, “Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and eliminate competition.”
“Using its vast amounts of data and money, Facebook has suppressed or hindered what the company perceives as a potential threat.”
However, Facebook lawyers have argued that it was the federal government itself that allowed the company to grow and acquire new platforms.
“The main fact on this case, which the Commission failed to mention in its 53-page complaint, is that it approved these acquisitions years ago,” said Jennifer Newstead, Vice President and General Counsel at Facebook. “The government now wants a revision and is sending a terrifying warning to American business that no sale is ever final.”
Newstead went on to claim that people choose Facebook not because they don’t have an alternative, but because Facebook simply offers the best user experience.
“People and small businesses aren’t choosing to use Facebook’s free services and advertising because they have to,” Newstead said. “They use them because our apps and services offer the greatest value.” We will vigorously defend people’s ability to continue making this choice. “
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