New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. In it, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the United States and various states of the nation have alleged that Facebook has harmed its competition by buying companies such as Instagram and WhatsApp to get rid of possible threats .
The antitrust lawsuit against Facebook is especially focused on the acquisition of Instagram. With this purchase, Facebook had the specific objective of getting rid of a possible future competitor and gaining a presence on mobile. It is precisely what the company’s internal emails revealed a few months ago and that have come to light precisely as a result of this investigation.
Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for a billion dollars, a ridiculous figure today if we take into account how much it has grown in users and value. According to the prosecutor, “Facebook used large amounts of money to acquire potential rivals before they could threaten the dominance of the company.”
Facebook: Independence for Instagram and WhatsApp
Among the things the FTC is now asking for is that the court undo the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions. That is, it asks that they be independent companies. On the other hand, it also seeks to prohibit Facebook from imposing anti-competitive conditions on third-party software developers. Facebook may resort to this lawsuit in the coming weeks.
How the United States is going to do this is not entirely clear yet, what is clear is that they seek to eliminate any trace of possible anti-competitive practice. As they indicate, “any effort to stifle competition, harm small businesses, reduce innovation and creativity, reduce privacy protections, will be met with the full force of our offices.”
Another relevant aspect has to do with the address that Instagram and WhatsApp have followed since they were acquired. According to the US courts, they took the opportunity to use the resources of these two apps to benefit themselves, harming consumers and damaging the competition. For example, the fact that WhatsApp data was used to cross it with Facebook. Practices that have caused both the founders of Instagram and WhatsApp to abandon Facebook and openly disagree with what is being done with the apps .
The investigations into Facebook officially began in July 2019. However, all eyes turned to Facebook years ago, starting in 2017 with the Cambridge Analytica case and other violations of user privacy. For the Cambridge Analytica case, it already paid a total of $ 5 billion last year.
Currently the United States is also looking closely at Apple, Google and Amazon for possible anti-competitive practices. Interesting statements came out in a series of appearances by the Big Four before the United States Congress this past July. They want a better world, but one that doesn’t affect their business. Google already received a lawsuit recently for similar reasons.