Facebook hit with antitrust lawsuits by FTC State Attorneys General and 46 states


Facebook faces antitrust allegations over deals for Instagram and WhatsApp including acquisitions, other claims target the company’s tactics against competitors, as it is being sued by FTC, State Attorneys General, and 46 states.

Imagine your posts are visible only to people in your real-life community as not only does the company not use tracking cookies, but it promises it never will it even announces that future changes in the privacy policy will be put to a vote by users before implementation. Facebook’s journey from privacy-focused startup to mass surveillance platform is at the heart of the long-awaited antitrust case filed today by a group of 46 states, along with the District of Columbia and Guam. The bipartisan coalition led by New York State Attorney General Letitia James alleges that Facebook achieved its dominance through a year-long strategy of anti-competitive tactics, including its acquisitions of budding rivals Instagram and WhatsApp. The two cases which were filed in the District of Columbia federal district court and will likely be combined into one, come after more than a year of coordinated investigation into the company.

The agency is seeking Facebook to divest itself of Instagram and WhatsApp which it acquired in 2012 and 2014 respectively. But how do you prove people are being harmed by a product that’s offered for free?

As the company grew Facebook tried to backslide on its privacy commitments, but it faced discipline from a market that it still hadn’t cornered.  In 2007, it rolled out Beacon, a product that reported your purchase habits on friends’ NewsFeeds and allowed it to track user activity even when they were off the site. The company discontinued Beacon after a year as Zuckerberg called it a mistake.

Today Pixel tracks users all around the internet just as Beacon did but without the ill-considered NewsFeed posts.

The privacy argument will at least get the enforcers’ foot in the door although Facebook may not charge users a fee, that does not mean users haven’t been paying a price.