Technology Policy

FTC files a fresh anti-trust complaint against Facebook

The United States, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has refreshed its anti-trust case against Facebook. FTC has filed a fresh complaint of 80 pages. The new complaint is significantly more thorough on the details of the accusation. It said the social media company crushed or bought rivals and once again asking a judge to force the social media giant to sell Instagram and WhatsApp.

The new complaint contains additional evidence intended to support FTC’s contention that Facebook is a monopolist. Further, the complaint argues that Facebook dominates the U.S. personal social networking market with more than 65% of monthly active users since 2012. In their press release, the FTC accused Facebook of an “illegal buy or bury scheme to crush the competition.”

Developments so far

Earlier, the FTC filed an antitrust case against Facebook in December 2020. At that time, Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said FTC failed to provide evidence that Facebook has monopoly power in the social networking market. However, soon after, the company hit the $1 trillion value mark. This is why the agency has filed this amended complaint.

This is FTC’s high-profile case against any tech giant. This case is closely monitored as the U.S. aims to tackle Big Tech’s extensive market power. The complaint further mentioned, “Despite causing significant customer dissatisfaction, Facebook has enjoyed enormous profits for an extended period suggesting both that it has monopoly power and that its social networking rivals are not able to overcome entry barriers and challenge its dominance.”

In 2007, Facebook invited apps to its platform to make it more presentable. Later it realized that these apps could act as its competition. Then in 2013, the company slammed the door to any app that could be a potential competitor. However, the company reversed this policy in 2018 under European pressure, the complaint added.

Facebook’s argument

Facebook is determined to fight the lawsuit. The company spokesperson said, “It is unfortunate that despite the court’s dismissal of the complaint and conclusion that it lacked the basis for a claim, the FTC has chosen to continue this meritless lawsuit. Our acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp were reviewed and cleared many years ago, and our platform policies were lawful.”

Experts’ opinion

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel appreciated the FTC’s efforts. Further, she added she was pleased to see the FTC hold Facebook accountable for a “long history of anti-competitive behaviour.”

Alex Harman of consumer rights group Public Citizen said, this case “should be a message to Facebook and other monopolists that there is a new sheriff in town and the party is over.”

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Pukhraj Biala

I am an undergraduate student at Symbiosis Law school, NOIDA, pursuing B.A.LL.B. I am a problem solver who believes in reaching to a conclusion by weighing all the options and identifying the best possible one. I find Technology Laws quite fascinating and I continue to follow and learn the subject.

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