The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has refiled an antitrust complaint against the social media giant, claiming it resorts to unlawful measures to maintain its market dominance
It was in December 2020 that the FTC first filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, arguing that the company had employed anticompetitive practices to ensure its privileged market position. In the filing, the FTC argued that the company should be forced to divest itself of Instagram and WhatsApp, two competing social media platforms that the company purchased for billions of dollars over the past decade.
However, in June, the federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, arguing that the FTC had not presented sufficient evidence that Facebook had a monopoly over the social network market.
Now, the FTC is redoubling its efforts, refiling its antitrust complaint against Facebook, this time with additional evidence that it claims demonstrates Facebook’s market dominance.
In the filing, the FTC says Facebook followed a policy of “buying or burying” its market rivals when they had grown to become a threat.
“Facebook lacked the business acumen and technical talent to survive the transition to mobile. After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat,” said the filing.
“This conduct is no less anticompetitive than if Facebook had bribed emerging app competitors not to compete. The antitrust laws were enacted to prevent precisely this type of illegal activity by monopolists. Facebook’s actions have suppressed innovation and product quality improvements. And they have degraded the social network experience, subjecting users to lower levels of privacy and data protections and more intrusive ads. The FTC’s action today seeks to put an end to this illegal activity and restore competition for the benefit of Americans and honest businesses alike.”
In particular, the filing suggests that Facebook “lured” app developers to the platform and surveilled them, burying them when their success became a problem.
“Lacking serious competition, Facebook has been able to hone a surveillance-based advertising model and impose ever-increasing burdens on its users,” said the filing.
Facebook, naturally, has defended its position, arguing that “there was no valid claim that Facebook was a monopolist — and that has not changed”.
The company has until October the 4th to formally respond to this new case.
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