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The Federal Trade Commission and 46 states sued Facebook Inc. on Wednesday, accusing the social-media giant of buying and freezing out small startups to choke competition.
The FTC’s sweeping antitrust case seeks to force Facebook to unwind its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, two of its landmark deals. The states filed a separate and similar lawsuit, alleging a lack of competition has harmed consumers, including by weakening privacy protections.
The lawsuits come weeks after the Justice Department brought a case alleging Google was illegally maintaining a monopoly in its search business. Collectively, the cases reflect U.S. concern about the power of dominant online platforms.
“Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition,” said Ian Conner, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”