Federal regulators sharpened their antitrust attack against Facebook, alleging in a revised complaint Thursday that the social network giant pursued a laser-focused strategy to “buy or bury” rivals to suppress competition.
It was the second try by the Federal Trade Commission, after a federal judge in June dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the agency and a broad coalition of state attorneys general, amid multiplying efforts by federal and state regulators to rein in tech titans’ market power.
The new complaint lays out a detailed history of Facebook’s conduct, particularly since the arrival of mobile devices like smartphones in the 2010s, and the rise of innovative rivals to Facebook.
The FTC is asking for “any relief necessary,” including the potential forced divestiture of assets such as Instagram and WhatsApp. or a restructuring of the company.
Separately, the agency dismissed a request from Facebook that FTC Chair Lina Khan — an outspoken critic of Big Tech appointed in June by President Joe Biden — step aside in this case because of her past public statements. Facebook says Khan’s criticism of its market power when she was an academic and the legal director of an anti-monopoly think tank, and her more recent work on a congressional investigation, make it impossible for her to be impartial.