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In Federal Lawsuits, FTC and 48 States Argue that Facebook is an Illegal Monopoly

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Has Big Tech gotten too big? The States are beginning to think so.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 48 state attorneys general filed a pair of federal lawsuits on Wednesday, alleging that Facebook is an illegal monopoly. The suits claim that, by acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the world’s largest social media and messaging platforms, Facebook has engaged in illegal, anticompetitive conduct.

FTC Suit

According to the FTC, Facebook has systematically eliminated any potential threat to its social media dominance. In addition to buying up its competitors, the FTC alleges that Facebook imposes anticompetitive conditions on the software developers it employs.

“Personal social networking is central to the lives of millions of Americans,” said Ian Conner, director the Bureau of Competition within the FTC. He claims that Facebook intentionally maintains a monopoly by denying consumers the “benefits of competition.”

“Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anti-competitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”

State Coalition Suit

Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James spoke on behalf of all of the states and territories that signed onto the suit. At a press conference, she described Facebook’s efforts to swallow up its rivals as “predatory.”

In fact, James says that Facebook has “used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition” for nearly a decade. All the while, she says, this has been done “at the expense of everyday users.”

“Instead of competing on the merits, Facebook used its power to suppress competition,” James said. “[All] so it could take advantage of users and make billions by converting personal data into a cash cow. Almost every state in this nation has joined this bipartisan lawsuit because Facebook’s efforts to dominate the market were as illegal as they were harmful.”

Potential Outcome

So what kind of remedies are the plaintiffs seeking? First, the FTC and attorneys general have asked the courts to force Facebook to divest itself of assets. That could potentially mean cutting ties with Instagram or WhatsApp. Furthermore, they hope to prevent Facebook from placing certain anti-competitive conditions on software developers. And finally, they want to require Facebook to seek approval before future mergers and acquisitions.

As for Facebook, the company says it is reviewing the complaints, and would issue a full statement sometime in the future. But its communications office did release this brief tweet on Wednesday:

“Years after the FTC cleared our acquisitions, the government now wants a do-over with no regard for the impact that precedent would have on the broader business community or the people who choose our products every day.”


Reprinted with permission from

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