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FTC says Facebook ‘bought and buried’ rivals in renewed antitrust fight By Reuters 



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

By Diane Bartz and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Federal Trade Commission refiled its antitrust case against Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:) on Thursday, accusing it of illegally maintaining monopoly power after the regulator suffered a setback earlier this year when a federal judge threw out its lawsuit against the company.

At 80 pages, the new complaint is significantly longer than the original, 53-page complaint and includes additional data and evidence intended to support the FTC’s contention that Facebook is a monopolist. An expanded portion of the complaint argues that Facebook dominates the U.S. personal social networking market.

The FTC voted 3-2 along party lines to file the amended lawsuit and denied Facebook’s request that agency head Lina Khan be recused. Khan participated in filing the new complaint.

The FTC accused Facebook of an “illegal buy or bury scheme to crush competition” in the headline of the press release on its complaint https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2021/08/ftc-alleges-facebook-resorted-illegal-buy-or-bury-scheme-crush.

In a tweet, Facebook said it is reviewing the agency’s amended complaint and will have more to say soon.

The high-profile case represents one of the most significant challenges the agency has brought against a tech company in decades, and is being closely watched as Washington aims to tackle the growing market power of Big Tech companies.

In its new complaint, the agency once again asked the court to order Facebook to sell Instagram, which it bought in 2012 for $1 billion, and WhatsApp, which it bought in 2014 for $19 billion.

It also asked the court to require Facebook to obtain prior approval for acquisitions in the future and to cease all anticompetitive behavior.

“Despite causing significant customer dissatisfaction, Facebook has enjoyed enormous profits for an extended period of time suggesting both that it has monopoly power and that its personal social networking rivals are not able to overcome entry barriers and challenge its dominance,” the amended complaint said.

The amended complaint comes after Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said in June that the FTC’s original complaint filed in December failed to provide evidence that Facebook had monopoly power in the social-networking market.

Facebook shares were little changed at $355.58 in afternoon trading.

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