States expected to file Facebook antitrust lawsuit targeting Instagram, WhatsApp purchases

Forty state attorneys general are expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook Wednesday, alleging that the company engages in anticompetitive behavior, people familiar with the lawsuit told Fox News.

Lawmakers have previously pressed Facebook on its 2012 and 2014 purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp, respectively, which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) vetted at the time. The lawsuit will accuse Facebook, which has more than 2.7 billion users, of buying out its competitors and leaving consumers with fewer social media alternatives, those familiar with the matter said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company's lawyers have previously defended the company's purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram.
"I don't think we or anyone else viewed Instagram as a competitor -- as a large, multi-purpose social platform," Zuckerberg said during a November censorship hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "In fact, at the time, people at the time kind of mocked our acquisition because they thought that we dramatically spent more than we should have on something that was ... primarily a photo and camera-sharing app."

New York Attorney General Letitia James is leading the bipartisan charge, people close to the matter said, which was first announced in September 2019 and expanded to include 40 attorneys general in October of last year.

Facebook paid a $5 billion fine to the FTC in July of 2019 over its privacy and data practices following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that came after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The FTC also opened an investigation into the company's antitrust practices in June 2019, and the Justice Department announced a month later that it would be conducting an antitrust review of the tech giant.

The social media platform has also faced probes into its anticompetitive behavior in Canada and Europe.

Since Facebook was launched in 2010, it has created an online user marketplace with its own checkout process, a similar marketplace on Instagram for businesses, its own gaming community, a short-video feature rivaling TikTok on Instagram and its own line of smart devices that work with Amazon's Alexa. Facebook also briefly considered introducing its own cryptocurrency called Libra in 2019.

Facebook told Fox News it does not have a comment at this time.
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