The judicial authorities of 48 states of the United States have sued Facebook on Wednesday for allegedly violating rules in favor of free competition and with the aim of ending its “illegal monopoly.”
The action, filed in federal court in Washington, has been announced by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the lawsuit. “Facebook has used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and end competition, all at the expense of everyday users,” said the prosecutor on his Twitter account.
States accuse Facebook of illegally acquiring competitors such as Instagram or WhatsApp, depriving consumers of the benefits of a competitive marketplace and better privacy protections.
Among the measures they seek is the possibility that the courts will force Facebook to get rid of these two popular applications, which it bought for billions of dollars.
The director of the Office of Competition of the FTC, Ian Conner, has pointed out in a statement that the objective of the Government is to stop the “conduct of Facebook” and “restore competition” in the market.
The lawsuits are the result of a long investigation, focused mainly on the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, which allowed Facebook to achieve a great dominance of social networks and instant messaging.
The Californian company paid in 2012 about 1 billion dollars to take over Instagram and in 2014 it disbursed 19,000 million to buy WhatsApp.
The authorities defend that with these purchases Facebook has been able to control the competition, dictate the terms for the developers who use these platforms and earn billions of dollars from the sale of advertising. “Instead of competing on merit, Facebook used its power to suppress competition and thus be able to take advantage of users and earn billions by turning personal data into a dairy cow,” James denounced.
After the lawsuits were announced, the company’s shares on Wall Street fell sharply, although shortly after they managed to stabilize and a half hour after the close they lost around 1.80%.