U.S. Revives Facebook Suit, Adding Details to Back Claim of a Monopoly

Cecelia Kang

This article by Cecelia Kang appeared in The New York Times on August 19.

The Federal Trade Commission took new aim at Facebook on Thursday, beefing up its accusations that the company was a monopoly that illegally crushed competition, in an attempt to overcome the skepticism of a federal judge who threw out the agency’s original case two months ago.

The suit submitted Thursday contains the same overall arguments as the original, saying that Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp were made to create a “moat” around its monopoly in social networking and arguing that the social network should be broken up. But the updated suit is nearly twice as long and includes more facts and analysis that the agency says better support the government’s allegations.

“Facebook lacked the business acumen and technical talent to survive the transition to mobile,” Holly Vedova, the acting director of the bureau of competition at the agency, said in a statement. “After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat.”

Facebook responded: “There was no valid claim that Facebook was a monopolist — and that has not changed. Our acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp were reviewed and cleared many years ago, and our platform policies were lawful.”

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