The US Federal Trade Commission and 46 states have filed lawsuits accusing Facebook of violating antitrust rules and calling for sanctions that may include disbanding the social media group.
The FTC said Facebook had engaged in what it described as a “systematic strategy.” . . to eliminate threats to its monopoly, ”citing the social media company’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
The company has also been accused by the FTC of deliberately cutting its services to competing developers.
The FTC said it was seeking a permanent injunction in federal court that could potentially force Facebook to reverse its Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions, or seek approval before making future acquisitions.
In a separate lawsuit, a group of 46 states and two other jurisdictions led by New York Attorney General Letitia James alleged that the acquisitions of rivals by the Silicon Valley group and the treatment of its developers were illegal and “deprived users of the advantages of competition and reduced privacy and services along the way ”.
The lawsuits are the second major antitrust action against a large Silicon Valley group this year as regulators surround the tech industry. In October, the United States filed a lawsuit against Alphabet’s Google for using a “network of exclusionary agreements” to exclude competitors in the search industry.
“Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deprive consumers of the benefits of competition,” said Ian Conner, director of the FTC’s competition bureau. “Our goal is to reverse Facebook’s anti-competitive behavior and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can flourish.”