After writing about the potential breakup of Facebook for years, it’s somewhat surreal for me to see the prospect actually arrive. But it’s here: the Federal Trade Commission voted 3-2 to sue Facebook for illegally maintaining a monopoly in social networking, arguing it has used acquisitions and harsh restrictions on third-party developers to prevent competitors from ever gaining a foothold.
If successful, the FTC’s case — which was joined by 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam — could force the company to divest itself of Instagram and WhatsApp, radically reshaping the digital economy. The move comes less than six weeks after the Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing Google of also maintaining an illegally monopoly on search.
“For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users,” said Letitia James, New York’s attorney general. “Today, we are taking action to stand up for the millions of consumers and many small businesses that have been harmed by Facebook’s illegal behavior.”