Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Facebook and a host of lawsuits being filed.
40 attorneys general and the U.S. government are preparing to file antitrust lawsuits against Facebook on Wednesday, alleging that the tech company engaged in unlawful, anticompetitive tactics to buy or kill off its rivals and solidify its dominance in social networking.
The states lawsuit in particular is expected to allege that Facebook’s purchase of Instagram, a photo sharing app, and WhatsApp, a messaging service, marked a pattern of behavior to neutralize competitive threats allowing Facebook to become a market leader while depriving users of privacy protective alternatives.
State officials are also going to petition a judge to require Facebook to inform them before proceeding with any significant future transactions, according to the sources.
The states are coordinating their lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission, which joined the attorneys general in opening a probe into Facebook last year. The agency also plans to file as soon as Wednesday, and its case is expected to track at least the broad contours of the states claims.
Three people who are familiar with the matter, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a law enforcement proceeding, described the lawsuits and their timing while cautioning that the plans could still change. They claim Democratic and Republican attorney generals, led by New York’s Letitia James (D), are expected to ask a judge as part of the legal salvos to consider a wide array of potential redress including forcing Facebook to sell off some of its business to address competition concerns.
U.S. investigators initiated antitrust probes targeting Facebook last year. Dozens of attorney generals,promised a broad review, aiming to explore Facebook’s digital dominance and its ever growing efforts to siphon users data. The FTC, took aim at Facebook almost immediately after concluding an investigation into the company over its entanglement with Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, that forced the tech giant to pay a $5 billion penalty.
Facebook, for its part, has mounted a massive lobbying offensive to try to rebut the allegations. Publicly, the company and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, have sought to stress that Facebook’s purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp helped them grow into viable services in a larger market where newcomers, such as TikTok, are still able to thrive.
Investigators have focused on Facebook’s trove of information and the extent to which the tech giant has sought to weaponize it to quash potential rival developers. State and federal antitrust agencies have explored how Facebook’s power and reach and its unrivaled ability to occupy users time and eyeballs in the absence of alternatives have allowed the company to maximize its profits as advertisers gravitate toward the platform.
A spokesman for James declined to comment. The FTC also declined to comment. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.