State Attorneys General Sue to Break Up Facebook

State Attorneys General Sue to Break Up Facebook

Attorney General for New York Letitia James is leading a bipartisan coalition that calls for the breakup of Facebook.

The lawsuit by the states is being carried out in coordination with the Federal Trade Commission, the Post reported.

"For almost 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" James said on Wednesday. States and the DOJ are expected to file additional suits against Google in the coming weeks.

Facebook became a prime target for President Donald Trump in the last two months of his administration.

Facebook pushed back against the claims.

"No company should have this much unchecked power over our personal interaction and social interactions".

Whether Instagram and WhatsApp will be cleaved off from Facebook will now be decided in the courts - and these antitrust lawsuits take time. NY state's Democratic attorney general, Tish James, revealed two months laterthat she was leading a multistate coalition probing antitrust concerns involving the company.

The lawsuit will be filed in federal court in Washington, one source said. Either way, the final outcomes of the state and federal lawsuits could be years away.

In its lawsuit, the FTC is seeking the separation of the services from Facebook, saying Facebook has engaged in "a systematic strategy" to eliminate its competition, including by purchasing smaller up-and-coming rivals like Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. It is also seeks Facebook giving notice and gaining approval for future mergers and acquisitions as well as end its alleged anticompetitive conditions for software developers.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging service, for $19 billion.

The Facebook case comes on the heels of the Justice Department's October complaint against Alphabet Inc.'s Google for allegedly abusing its monopoly in internet search by using exclusive distribution agreements with phone manufacturers and wireless carriers to lock out competitors from the market. When Facebook bought WhatsApp, it said it "fosters an environment where independent-minded entrepreneurs can build companies, set their own direction and focus on growth while also benefiting from Facebook's expertise, resources and scale".

Facebook said the deals under scrutiny were approved by regulators years ago. At the time, the photo-sharing app had about 30 million users and wasn't producing any revenue.

Facebook used data from Onavo to help justify its acquisition of WhatsApp the following year.

The suit alleges that "Facebook is the world's dominant online social network".

Facebook has long denied it's a threat to competition. Users are now able to link accounts and share content across the platforms.

In a Senate hearing in November, Facebook's CEO downplayed the significance of the company's Instagram acquisition. In other words, don't punish Facebook for building strong American companies.

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