- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Facebook fired back Wednesday after the Federal Trade Commission announced it will sue the company over alleged unlawful behavior to eliminate its competition in social networking.

The FTC and 48 states territories filed separate lawsuits in federal court Wednesday in D.C., with the FTC’s suit seeking an injunction that could require Facebook to divest Instagram and WhatsApp.

Jennifer Newstead, Facebook vice president and general counsel, said Wednesday that the FTC was engaging in an act of “revisionist history.”

“The most important fact in this case, which the Commission does not mention in its 53-page complaint, is that it cleared these acquisitions years ago,” Ms. Newstead said in a statement. “The government now wants a do-over, sending a chilling warning to American business that no sale is ever final. People and small businesses don’t choose to use Facebook’s free services and advertising because they have to, they use them because our apps and services deliver the most value. We are going to vigorously defend people’s ability to continue making that choice.”

It is not just the FTC looking for a fight with Facebook, however. The lawsuit from the 48 states — Alabama and South Dakota did not take part — argues that Facebook illegally maintained its monopoly power via a “buy-or-bury” strategy against its competitors.

“Facebook’s unlawfully maintained monopoly power gives it wide latitude to set the terms for how its users’ private information is collected, used, and protected,” the states said in their lawsuit. “In addition, because Facebook decides how and whether the content shared by users is displayed to other users, Facebook’s monopoly gives it significant control over how users engage with their closest connections and what content users see when they do.”

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