US govt hits Facebook with landmark antitrust lawsuit

In a landmark antitrust action headlined by bipartisan support, the US government and 48 states have sued Facebook, accusing it of abusing its market power to kill off competition.

The US is pushing for a spinoff of Facebook owned Instagram and WhatsApp.

The backlash comes 16 years after Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook from his Harvard dorm. From that time, Facebook has grown to become the world’s biggest social network with 2.7 billion users and a market value of nearly $800 billion while Zuckerberg has become the world’s fifth-richest person.

This is the second big government led offensive against Big Tech this year. The first was when the US Justice Department sued Google in October, just before the US elections, accusing the company of capturing the entire online search and advertising market.

The case against Facebook was announced by the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

“It’s really critically important that we block this predatory acquisition of companies and that we restore confidence to the market,” James said at a briefing on Wednesday.

“Personal social networking is central to the lives of millions of Americans,” said Ian Conner, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.

“Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition. Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”