On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission filed a new complaint in a Washington-based federal court, alleging that Facebook violated antitrust laws by buying Instagram and WhatsApp to eliminate them as competitors. As the earlier lawsuit implied, the FTC asked the court to dissolve the takeovers.
In a statement to the agency, Holly Vidova, acting director of the Competition Bureau, said: “[Facebook] illegally bought or buried the new innovators, after it failed as a company to compete with them and their popularity threatened its very existence. Such anti-competitive behavior is no less than if it introduced ( Facebook) bribed its emerging competitors to stop their competition.
Facebook said on Twitter that it was reviewing the complaint. Facebook’s stock reduced its previous gains and changed slightly at the level of $355.32 at 12:09 pm New York time. But the stock is up about 30% this year.
The agency is trying to revive the case after US District Judge James Boasberg dismissed it in June, saying the agency had failed to provide enough detail to support its claim that Facebook had a monopoly on the social media market.
The judge gave the FTC 30 days to fix the error and re-file the lawsuit, winning the commission an extension until August 19 thereafter.
The lawsuit is part of a broader effort by lawmakers and competition enforcement to constrain the power of major US tech companies. The Department of Justice and the country’s attorneys general have several pending lawsuits against Google in addition to this Facebook case.
Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, but the legal doctrine that applies to states does not apply to the Federal Trade Commission.