A dream of progressive legal activists for years just got one step closer to reality.
Two lawsuits filed Wednesday, from the Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general, accuse Facebook of being an anti-competitive monopoly that buys off or crushes potential rivals. One possible outcome of the suits could be to force Facebook to sell off its subsidiaries, like Instagram and WhatsApp.
“For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users” New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the suit from the attorneys general, said in a statement. “Today’s suit should send a clear message to Facebook and every other company that any efforts to stifle competition, reduce innovation, or cut privacy protections will be met with the full force of our offices.”
The suits specifically point to Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsAppp as examples of anti-competitive behavior.
In response to the suits, Facebook posted a statement saying it is “still reviewing the complaints & will have more to say soon.” However, the company indicated it would fight hard against the lawsuits, adding, “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.” The company has previously asserted that the social media sector is still competitive, including rivals like TikTok and Twitter.
Other big tech companies are also in the crosshairs of regulators. Last month, the U.S. Justice Department sued Google for monopolizing the search engine space, with another federal lawsuit expected by the end of the year. Challenging big tech has become a matter of rare bipartisan agreement in Washington and statehouses across the country.
The suits against Facebook come the same day as the company announced a new $150 million fund for very-low income housing in the Bay Area.