FTC Files Lawsuit Against Facebook

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(Newswire.net — December 11, 2020) —

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit against Facebook concerning antitrust behavior. It was backed by a twin lawsuit from attorney generals of 48 states.

“Facebook has maintained its monopoly position by buying up companies that present competitive threats and by imposing restrictive policies that unjustifiably hinder actual or potential rivals that Facebook does not or cannot aquire,” read the opening page of the FTC lawsuit that was filed on Wednesday.

What the FTC specifically focused on is the 2012 buyout of Instagram valued at $1 billion and WhatsApp which was bought in 2014 for 19$ billion. They are seeking a permanent injunction from the federal court that would force Facebook to divest assets and sell Instagram and WhatsApp, breaking up the company.

Germany has also launched an independent lawsuit concerning the need for users of Oculus VR to log in with Facebook accounts – making it an “abuse of dominance”.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has already faced scrutiny from the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and he testified before congress in 2018 regarding the use of personal data of its users by Facebook.

Now he is being quoted for his 2012 comments as saying that “[Instagram] threatened to leave Facebook very behind in both functionality and brand”. He also called WhatsApp “the next biggest consumer risk [to Facebook]”.

Other than just buying out the emerging platforms like for those two services, Facebook leadership has also tried to stifle the competition in various ways. In 2013 they disabled cross connectivity with Vine, where users could find friends through Facebook.

New York attorney general Letitia James said that Facebook’s business practices have “squeezed oxygen” from the entire tech industry.

The lawsuit filed by the attorneys general is asking the courts to stop the anti competitive behavior of Facebook, as well as taking any other action the court sees fit. They have called what Facebook is doing in terms of personal social networking a “buy or bury” strategy, meaning that users who are dissatisfied with data usage and privacy options have nowhere else to go.

Facebook Vice President Jennifer Newstead responded by saying that at the time of the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions, both were approved by the FTC. While those sales were approved it was intended that they continue operating independently. Since then Facebook has worked towards integration of the apps into their own Messenger.