Federal regulators intensified their antitrust attacks on Facebook. A revised complaint was filed Thursday by federal regulators. They claim that Facebook used a laser-focused strategy in order to “buy or burrow” competitors to suppress competition.
The Federal Trade Commission made it the second attempt after a federal judge dismissed in June antitrust lawsuits against Facebook. This was amid a multiplicity of efforts by state and federal regulators to restrain tech giants’ market power.
The new complaint details Facebook’s behavior since 2010, especially with the advent of smartphones and other mobile devices. It also highlights the rise of rivals to Facebook.
FTC wants “any relief necessary”, including the possible forced divestiture assets like Instagram and WhatsApp. or a restructuring.
A separate request by Facebook for FTC Chair Lina Kan — an outspoken critic and advocate of Big Tech, was denied by the agency. This is due to her previous public statements. Facebook claims Khan’s critique of the agency’s market power as an academic and legal director at an anti-monopoly thinktank, along with her recent work on a congressional probe, makes it impossible for her not to be impartial.
After reviewing the petition, the FTC’s general counsel’s Office dismissed it on the grounds that the company’s due process rights would be fully protected by the federal court proceeding.
Khan’s vote could have caused the FTC to abandon its case against Facebook. The vote was split between the four other commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans. Two Republicans voted against the amended complaint, and the vote was 3-2.
In June, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled that the lawsuits were “legally inadequate” and did not provide sufficient evidence to show that Facebook was a monopoly. Although the FTC was not allowed to proceed with the case, the ruling did allow the agency the opportunity to file a revised complaint.
Boasberg claimed that the FTC failed to demonstrate that Facebook has monopoly market power. The FTC also failed to give an estimate of the company’s market share for the past ten year. He rejected the separate complaint from the States.
The FTC filed a new filing to support its claim of monopoly power. The complaint states that the allegation is supported by “direct evidence” (including historical events and market realities). It claims that the absence of competition caused harm to consumers “is especially severe.”
The public filing includes internal Facebook emails that include material intended to demonstrate dominant market share.
As Facebook, Google and Amazon fall under intense scrutiny and legislative pressure, the FTC and the Justice Department, European regulators and lawmakers in Congress, state legislatures and, most recently, an executive order issued by the Biden White House, the agency presented its case again Thursday.
In December 2020, the FTC and 48 districts sued Facebook. They claimed that Facebook was abusing its market position in social networking to crush smaller competition and sought remedies that could include the forced spinoff of popular messaging apps WhatsApp and Instagram.
FTC alleges that Facebook used a “systematic strategy to eliminate its competitors” by buying smaller, up-and-coming competitors like Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp 2014