The Federal Trade Commission and a large group of U.S. states on Wednesday asked a federal court to dismiss Facebook Inc’s request to dismiss major antitrust lawsuits filed against the giant social media in December.
The FTC said in its submission that Facebook bought the photo-sharing app Instagram because CEO Mark Zuckerberg thought it was “a big and viable competitor” and bought the messaging app WhatsApp to neutralize a budding threat. The FTC has asked the court to order Facebook to sell those assets.
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The states, which had filed a separate antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, said in their filing: “Implementing a buy-or-bury scheme with predator takeovers and exclusionary behavior, Facebook is squeezing, suppressing and discouraging competition successfully, and anchoring its monopoly power to this day.”
Facebook had asked the court to dismiss the two lawsuits, claiming that they were brought “in the environment filled with relentless criticism of Facebook for cases unrelated to antitrust and antitrust rules.”
It also said that in their case, the states could not show that they were harmed by Facebook and that they waited too long.
The FTC and states accused Facebook of breaking antitrust laws to keep smaller competitors at bay and snatch up rivals, such as Instagram for $ 1 billion. In 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 for $ 19 billion.
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In all, the federal government and states filed five lawsuits against Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google last year after bipartisan outrage over the use and misuse of social media, both in the economy and the political sphere.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Peter Cooney)