WASHINGTON DC – The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and nearly every state in the country sued Facebook Inc on Wednesday, saying it had violated laws protecting free competition and that the company should possibly split.
With the filing of twin lawsuits, Facebook becomes the second major tech company to face a major legal challenge this fall.
The FTC said in a statement that it would ask for a court order that “could, among other things: require the divestment of assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp.” In its complaint, the coalition of 46 states, Washington, DC, and Guam also called for Facebook’s takeovers of Instagram and WhatsApp to be declared illegal.
“For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals, eliminate competition, all at the expense of regular users,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James .
The official argued that the company used large amounts of money to acquire rivals before they could threaten its dominance. Facebook said it is reviewing the FTC and state complaints.
The company added that the government “now wants to undo without taking into account the impact that the precedent would have on the business community at large or on the people who choose our products every day.”
The US Department of Justice had sued Alphabet Inc.’s Google in October, accusing the $ 1 trillion company of using its market power to defend itself against rivals. The lawsuits are the largest antitrust cases in a generation, comparable to the litigation against Microsoft Corp in 1998.
The federal government ultimately settled that case, but years of lengthy court fighting and extensive antitrust scrutiny kept the company from keeping up with competitors and it is credited with paving the way for the explosive growth of the internet. Shares of Facebook fell as much as 3% after the news, but later trimmed their losses.