Facebook hit with massive antitrust lawsuit by the U.S government and 46 states

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The United States government and 46 states of the U.S have filed a lawsuit against Facebook, accusing the social media giant of using illegal tactics to enjoy monopoly.

“For nearly a decade, Facebook used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals, at the expense of users,” New York Attorney General Letitia James who leads the States’ lawsuit, said in a press conference on Wednesday.

The attorney said that Facebook has employed a buy-or-bury strategy to impede competing services.

“No company should have this much unchecked power over our personal information and our social interactions,” James added.

The Federal Trade Commission, FTC, also filed a lawsuit same day. Both suits are asking the federal courts to force Facebook to separate from Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as to prevent them from making such mergers in the future without seeking government approval.

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The lawsuits particularly cite Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of the photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion and a $19 billion deal for the messaging app WhatsApp in 2014 as examples of its efforts to dominate. Those acquisitions let Facebook eliminate competitors, according to the lawsuit.

“After identifying two significant competitive threats to its dominant position — Instagram and WhatsApp — Facebook moved to squelch those threats by buying the companies, reflecting CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s view, expressed in a 2008 email, that ‘it is better to buy than compete,'” the FTC said in its suit.

“To further entrench its position, Facebook has also imposed anticompetitive conditions that restricted access to its valuable platform — conditions that Facebook personnel recognized as ‘anti user[,]’ ‘hypocritical’ in light of Facebook’s purported mission of enabling sharing, and a signal that ‘we’re scared that we can’t compete on our own merits.'”

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The suit was filed Wednesday on behalf of 46 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Guam. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and South Dakota did not join.

Facebook said on Twitter that the FTC previously cleared the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions.

“We’re reviewing the complaints & will have more to say soon. 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,” the Social Media giant tweeted.

400 politicians worldwide write Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to pay more taxes, increase wages

Last week, we reported that a group of U.S. states led by New York was investigating Facebook Inc for possible antitrust violations

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In October, the U.S Justice Department filed a similar lawsuit against Google for antitrust violations, alleging that it abused its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and harm consumers.

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