Forty-eight U.S. Attorneys General led by New York filed a lawsuit against Facebook Wednesday arguing that the social media giant violated antitrust law by engaging in anticompetitive practices through buying out smaller rivals. The group of state law enforcement executives were joined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filing a separate lawsuit.
Both suits center on Facebook’s purchases of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 for $1 billion and $19 billion respectively, while also targeting smaller firms. The acquisitions, plaintiffs allege, illegally stifled online competition. The FTC is seeking to force Facebook to sell Instagram and WhatsApp.
“Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition,” said FTC Director of Bureau Competition Ian Conner. “Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”
Facebook reigns as the world’s dominant online networking giant boasting 2.7 billion monthly active users across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, according to Yahoo Finance.
Testifying before Senate lawmakers in November, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg rejected the idea his company was manipulating its power to take over the internet through its billion-dollar purchase of Instagram.
“People at the time mocked our acquisition because they thought that we dramatically spent more money than we should have to acquire something that was viewed as primarily a camera and photo sharing app,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook has been targeted by the FTC before when they were fined a record $5 billion last year over privacy issues related to its scandal involving data firm Cambridge Analytica.