US attorneys general sue to break up Facebook
Facebook has just been slapped with two lawsuits that attempt to break it up into parts. The Federal Trade Commission and dozens of attorney generals filed the lawsuits to separate Facebook from WhatsApp and Instagram.
In our recent report, a Facebook data breach allowed a hacker to extract the data of roughly 500 million users, release their private phone numbers, and sell it off using a Telegram bot. This is a lapse on Facebook’s part, but their problems aren’t limited to privacy issues.
Since 2020, the social media giant has been probed because of antitrust claims. The recent lawsuits claim that Facebook has been eliminating its competition by buying out the companies and social media platforms that pose a threat to its dominance. Such a practice is explicitly against the United States antitrust laws, particularly the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act.
To quote the Sherman Act, it is supposed to function as a “comprehensive charter of economic liberty aimed at preserving free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade.” Judging by Facebook’s practices, it certainly doesn’t seem like it’s preserving “free and unfettered competition.”
The tech giant purchased Instagram for a relatively small sum of $1 billion back in 2012, and then acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014. With these two companies in tow, Facebook was able to raise its collective value to over $800 billion. (Read: Facebook launches Instagram Reels, but can it reel in TikTok users?)
New York Attorney General Letitia James took to Twitter to air out her sentiments:
“Facebook has used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users… Instead of improving its own product, Facebook took advantage of consumers and made billions of dollars converting their personal data into a cash cow.” James is leading the efforts to split up Facebook.
For years, @Facebook has been illegally crushing competition and building a powerful monopoly.
No company should have this much unchecked power, period. pic.twitter.com/yTKXpYht4N
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) December 10, 2020
Other attorneys general agreed with James and claimed that Facebook is indeed committing unethical business practices by pressuring smaller, but potentially great, companies to sell, such as its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. It’s time that Facebook was held accountable for its actions.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already described that the split, should it happen, would be an “existential crisis.” After all, the company has been making moves to integrate all three platforms over the last few years.
Big Tech like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple have faced a barrage of lawsuits and inquiries for the amount of power and influence they have over their respective enterprises. Imagine – each company has millions and millions of users, each one under the spell of social media. Should the attorneys general and Federal Trade Commission win their case, this might spell a new era for Facebook and could signal the beginning of the (slow) end to the monopolization of these tech companies.
Then again, it might take more than that to shake Big Tech. Still, it would be interesting to see how the whole thing plays out.
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