46 States, Federal Trade Commission Sue To Break Up Facebook

The US Federal Trade Commission and the Attorney Generals of 46 state governments plus Guam and the District of Columbia have sued Facebook, alleging the company maintains market dominance with anticompetitive conduct that stretches back years.

The complaint alleges that Facebook engaged in a systemic anticompetitive strategy to prevent the rise of potential rivals, including its 2012 acquisition of Instagram and the 2014 acquisition of mobile messaging app WhatsApp.

The suit also alleges that Facebook imposes anticompetitive conditions on software developers designed to limit the potential development of potential threats to its market dominance, leaving consumers with few options.

“Personal social networking is central to the lives of millions of Americans,” said Ian Conner, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition. Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”

Through the suit, the FTC is seeking a permanent injunction in federal court that could, among other things, require Facebook to divest itself from major assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp, block the imposition of anticompetitive conditions, and require Facebook to seek pre-approval for future mergers and acquisitions, the FTC said.

The lawsuit comes a year after the FTC imposed a $5 billion dollar fine — the largest in the FCC’s history– on Facebook for privacy violations and imposed new restrictions and oversight on the company.

Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform, with a more than 2.7 billion users around the world and a market capitalization of almost $800 billion.

However, the company has increasingly been a lightning rod for controversy, including accusations that Facebook user data and advertising platform were used to manipulate in elections around the world, including the U.S. presidential elections and the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Facebook described the FTC’s lawsuit as “revisionist history.”

Share on: