US trade body files new anti-monopoly case vs Facebook

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The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an amended its anti-monopoly complaint against Facebook on Thursday, accusing it of a “buy-or-bury” scheme against competitors to maintain its dominance in social media.

The FTC, which had its original suit dismissed in federal court in June, claims in the new filing that Facebook resorted to illegal tactics against up-and-coming app developers who had the potential of becoming rivals. The case was filed in U.S. district court in Washington, D.C.

“The complaint alleges that after repeated failed attempts to develop innovative mobile features for its network, Facebook instead resorted to an illegal buy-or-bury scheme to maintain its dominance,” the FTC said in a statement.

“It unlawfully acquired innovative competitors with popular mobile features that succeeded where Facebook’s own offerings fell flat or fell apart. And to further moat its monopoly, Facebook lured app developers to the platform, surveilled them for signs of success, and then buried them when they became competitive threats,” the agency said.

Facebook asked for FTC Chair Lina Khan to recuse herself from the case, pointing to public statements she made during a 2020 antitrust investigation by the House Judiciary Committee into competition in online markets, saying she has “prejudged” the case, according to Politico

“We compete fairly every day to earn people’s time and attention and will continue to deliver great products for the people and businesses that use our services,” a Facebook spokesperson said in June when the original FTC complaint was dismissed, according to Politico.

The lawsuit seeks to force Facebook to sell Instagram and WhatsApp, which Facebook purchased. If approved, it would be the first court-ordered breakup of a company since the 1980s.

“Facebook’s actions have suppressed innovation and product quality improvements,” Holly Vedova, the acting director of the FTC Bureau of Competition, said in a statement. “And they have degraded the social network experience, subjecting users to lower levels of privacy and data protection and more intrusive ads.”

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