The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) closed its antitrust lawsuit against Facebook Inc. refreshed, added more details about the allegation that the social media company crushed or bought rivals and again asked a judge to force the social media giant to sell Instagram and WhatsApp.
At 80 pages, the new complaint is significantly longer than the original and contains additional data intended to support the FTC’s claim that Facebook is a monopolist. An extended section of the complaint states that Facebook dominates the US personal social networking market with more than 65 percent of monthly active users as of 2012.
The FTC voted 3-2 along party lines to file the amended lawsuit and turned down Facebook’s request to fire bureau chief Lina Khan. Khan participated in filing the new complaint.
The agency also reiterated its request to a court to order Facebook to order Instagram, which it bought in 2012 for $1 billion (about Rs. 7,445 crores), and WhatsApp, which it bought in 2014 for $19 billion (about Rs. 1.41. 467 crores). ).
The FTC accused Facebook of an “illegal buy or burial scheme to crush competition” in the headline of its press release about its complaint.
Facebook said it would continue to fight the lawsuit.
“It is unfortunate that despite the court’s rejection of the complaint and the conclusion that there was no basis for a claim, the FTC has chosen to pursue this unfounded lawsuit,” a company spokesperson said. “Our acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp were reviewed and approved many years ago, and our platform policies were legal.”
Not the same as Twitter
The FTC’s high-profile case against Facebook represents one of the most significant challenges the agency has brought against a tech company in decades, and is being watched closely as Washington looks to tackle Big Tech’s vast market power.
“Despite significant customer dissatisfaction, Facebook has made huge profits over a long period of time, suggesting that it has a monopoly and that its rivals in personal social networking are unable to overcome the barriers to entry and maintain its dominance. fight,” the amended complaint said.
In an effort to demonstrate Facebook’s dominance in personal social networks, the FTC’s complaint set it apart from the short video app TikTok and sites like Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest, which it said aren’t focused on connecting. from friends and family.
The amended complaint comes after Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said in June that the FTC’s original complaint filed in December provided no evidence that Facebook had a monopoly on the social networking market.
From 2007, Facebook invited apps on its platform to make it more attractive, but realized that some could develop into competitors, and in 2013 slammed the door on any app that could become a rival but pressured itself in Europe in 2018 reversed, the complaint said.
“After Facebook suspends its anti-competitive platform policy in response to anticipated public scrutiny, Facebook is likely to reintroduce such policies if such an investigation succeeds,” the complaint reads.
Facebook shares rose 0.2 percent in afternoon trading to $356.09 (about Rs. 26,500).
‘A better complaint’
John Newman, who teaches at the University of Miami School of Law, said the complaint clearly addresses Judge Boasberg’s concerns about the first draft. “There are no huge new bombs here.”
A second antitrust expert said he thought the court would have a hard time ordering the sale of Instagram or WhatsApp because they were bought years ago.
“It’s a better complaint because it states much more specifically that Facebook is dominant in social networks,” added Seth Bloom of Bloom Strategic Counsel.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, the chair of the antitrust panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was pleased to see the FTC hold Facebook responsible for a “long history of anticompetitive behavior.”
Alex Harman of the consumer rights group Public Citizen, in reference to the FTC’s new chairman, Khan, said that filing the case again “should be a message to Facebook and other monopolists that there is a new sheriff in town and that the party is over.”
© Thomson Reuters 2021