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Florida Attorney General joins new lawsuit against Facebook

Ashley Moody is one of 48 attorneys general suing the social media giant.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is one of 48 attorneys general suing Facebook. | [Times (2019)]
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is one of 48 attorneys general suing Facebook. | [Times (2019)] [ Times (2019) ]
Published Dec. 9, 2020|Updated Dec. 9, 2020

The Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general filed antitrust lawsuits against Facebook on Wednesday, alleging that the social media giant illegally pushed out competition. Ashley Moody, Florida’s attorney general, is part of the states’ lawsuit.

Filed in Washington, D.C., the states’ lawsuit said that Facebook illegally shut out competition. The Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit calls for the company to be required to spin off two of its largest purchases in recent years — social media platform Instagram and messaging app WhatsApp.

“One of the greatest benefits to owning a business in the U.S. is having the ability to operate and innovate in a free and fair marketplace,” Moody said in a statement. “The stifling of competition and predatory actions of Facebook are inexcusable, and as a result, its users, innovation and competition have all suffered.”

Stifling competition, the states’ lawsuit said, came through a “buy-or-bury strategy” where the Menlo Park, Calif., company kept an eye on any apps that it perceived as a threat to its dominance and either bought them or took steps to suppress their growth.

WhatsApp, which it acquired in 2014, and Instagram, which Facebook bought in 2012, illustrate the approach, the attorneys general lawsuit contends. Each, the suit says, “posed a unique and dire threat to Facebook’s monopoly” before it was acquired.

Facebook has faced criticism in recent years over its collection and use of personal data harvested from its 3 billion users, as well as what content it chooses display.

“Because Facebook users have nowhere else to go for this important service, the company is able to make decisions about how and whether to display content on the platform,” the lawsuit said.

“We’re reviewing the complaints and will have more to say soon,” the company said in a tweet from its newsroom account. “Years after the (Federal Trade Commission) cleared our acquisitions, the government now wants a do-over with no regard for the impact that precedent would have on the broader business community or the people who choose our products every day.”

The lawsuits come on the heels of an October report published by a U.S. House subcommittee that determined that the social media giant has a monopoly. The report followed a 16-month examination into Inc., Facebook, Google and Apple Inc.


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