Facebook Antitrust Lawsuit

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Dozens of states and the federal government sued Facebook (FB) on Wednesday in twin antitrust lawsuits, alleging that the social media giant has abused its dominance in the digital marketplace and engaged in anticompetitive behavior.

The Federal Trade Commission, in particular, is seeking a permanent injunction in federal court that could, among other things, require the company to divest assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp, effectively breaking up Facebook as we know it. The agency also wants to require Facebook to seek prior notice and approval for future mergers and acquisitions.

"Personal social networking is central to the lives of millions of Americans," said Ian Conner, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, in a statement. "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."

The parallel lawsuits, months in the making, represent an unprecedented challenge to one of Silicon Valley's most powerful corporations. The complaints zero in on Facebook's acquisition and control over Instagram and WhatsApp, two key services in its social media empire.

Facebook was hit with a pair of blockbuster lawsuits on Wednesday, becoming the latest tech giant to be hit with an antitrust case.

Both the Federal Trade Commission and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from 48 US states — led by New York AG Letitia James — are suing Facebook, accusing the social networking giant of engaging in anticompetitive tactics to eliminate potential rivals. 

The states’ lawsuit alleges Facebook pursued two of its biggest acquisitions — a $1 billion purchase of Instagram in 2012 and a $19 billion tie-up with WhatsApp in 2014 — in order to cement its position as the world’s biggest social media platform.

“By using its vast troves of data or money, Facebook has squashed or hindered what the company perceived as potential threats,” James said in a Wednesday statement that made the allegations public.

U.S. antitrust officials and a coalition of a states sued Facebook Inc. for allegedly abusing its dominance to crush competition, the second time in less than two months the government has brought a monopoly case against an American technology giant.

The Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general led by New York filed antitrust complaints against Facebook Wednesday, alleging conduct that thwarted competition from rivals in order to protect its monopoly. The FTC lawsuit seeks a court order unwinding Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp.

The case represents the biggest regulatory attack against Facebook in the company’s history. If the FTC and the states are ultimately successful in proving Facebook violated antitrust laws, a judge could order the breakup of the company, including separating its main social media platform from Instagram and WhatsApp.

The attorney general of New York has filed a massive antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, seeking to force a divestiture of acquisitions such as Instagram and WhatsApp.

The suit filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is spearheaded by New York Attorney General Letitia James, and joined by 47 other state attorneys general. 

The lawsuit alleges that, over the last decade, Facebook illegally acquired potential competitors in a predatory manner in order to dominate the market, and seeks to potentially split up the company by unwinding those deals.

Facebook blasted the litigation in a statement, saying: '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.' 

'We're reviewing the complaints & will have more to say soon,' the company said.

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