FTC Files Renewed Anti-trust Lawsuit Against Facebook

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday filed a new antitrust complaint against Facebook Inc. (FB), as the regulator continues its fight with the social networking behemoth despite a federal judge dismissing its previous anti-trust lawsuit.

In the latest amended complaint, the FTC alleges that Facebook has “resorted to an illegal buy-or-bury scheme to maintain its dominance.”

The complaint continues to allege that Facebook unlawfully acquired innovative competitors with popular mobile features that succeeded where Facebook’s own offerings fell flat or fell apart.

FTC complaint also state that Facebook lured app developers to the platform, surveilled them for signs of success, and then buried them when they became competitive threats.

Facebook has until October 4 to respond to the FTC’s amended complaint.

Meanwhile, FTC Chair Lina Khan did not recuse herself from the vote on the complaint after Facebook petitioned her to do so based on her past critical statements of the industry.

In a statement, the agency said that its Office of General Counsel “carefully reviewed Facebook’s petition to recuse Chair Lina M. Khan. As the case will be prosecuted before a federal judge, the appropriate constitutional due process protections will be provided to the company. The Office of the Secretary has dismissed the petition.”

In June, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington had dismissed complaints against Facebook filed by FTC and state attorneys general led by New York’s Letitia James. The complaint was seeking to break Facebook’s monopoly in social networking, which could have resulted in divestiture of Instagram and WhatsApp.

In the complaint, FTC and the states had claimed that Facebook violated antitrust laws by buying photo-sharing app Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp to eliminate any competition and continue its monopoly.

However, the court stated that the FTC did not prove Facebook controls over 60 percent of the market -a monopoly.

Facebook, which was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in his dorm room in 2004, has recently found itself under siege by American regulators and politicians, who want to keep the company under a tight rein. Facebook boasts of nearly 2.85 billion monthly active users as of the first quarter of 2021, while Instagram has nearly 1.074 billion users worldwide and WhatsApp is reported to have more than 2 billion monthly active users globally.

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