The Federal Trade Commission sued Facebook for its anticompetitive actions on Wednesday. In a statement, the FTC accused Facebook of "illegally maintaining its monopoly on private social networks through a years-long course of anticompetitive behaviour." 48 attorney generals filed a separate complaint against the social media giant following the FTC accusations. The lawsuit by the FTC and 48 attorney generals centres around the purchases of smaller companies such as WhatsApp and Instagram by Facebook to remove competition from the market. The complaint argued that by using anticompetitive practises, Facebook has stifled competition. "Facebook has used its supremacy and monopoly power for nearly a decade to smash smaller competitors and snuff out competition. Before they could challenge the supremacy of the organisation, Facebook used large sums of money to buy possible competitors," said New York Attorney General Letitia James during a press conference. The alliance of 48 general attorneys is headed by James.
In a separate lawsuit, the Federal Trade Commission has highlighted Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram to stifle market competition. "The FTC is seeking a permanent federal court injunction that could, inter alia: require divestitures of assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp; prohibit Facebook from imposing anti-competitive conditions on software developers; and require Facebook to seek prior notice and approval for future mergers and acquisitions," FTC said in a statement. In its lawsuit, FTC alleges that initially Facebook is seeking prior notice and approval for future mergers and acquisitions. The lawsuit further alleges that Facebook employees and CEO Mark Zuckerberg knew that the monopoly control of Facebook was an existential threat to Instagram.
Likewise, the then-emerging WhatsApp messaging app was also seen by Facebook as a challenge to its monopoly power. The lawsuit charges that Facebook acquired its WhatsApp hazard in 2014 for $19 billion rather than compete with it. The acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook allegedly both neutralises the possibility that WhatsApp itself could challenge the hegemony of Facebook's personal social networking and ensures that any potential threat in mobile messaging will have a harder time gaining scale," the FTC statement read. The FTC further alleged that Facebook not only acquired its biggest threats on the market, but also imposed a threat on the market." Facebook has made main "APIs available to third-party apps only on the condition that they refrain from developing competing features and connecting with or promoting other social networking services," as per the complaint.
The lawsuit alleges that by cutting API access to blunt perceived competitive challenges from competing personal social networking sites, mobile messaging apps, and other social feature apps, Facebook has implemented these policies. Twitter, for instance, introduced the Vine app in 2013, which allowed users to shoot and upload short video segments. In response, Facebook shut down the API that would have allowed Vine to access friends via Facebook, the FTC statement read, according to the complaint.