Federal regulators and Attorneys General representing nearly every state in the country are now suing to force Facebook to divest in Instagram and WhatsApp in an antitrust lawsuit, accusing the company of buying up its rivals to squash competition and become a monopoly.
The lawsuit was brought by the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James, in coordination with 48 states, the District of Columbia and the territory of Guam.
The only states that did not join in on the lawsuit are Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota.
The lawsuit accuses the company of abusing its market power in social media to crush smaller competitors by illegally acquiring competitors in a predatory manner and cutting services to other companies that posed a threat.
The suit points to the company’s acquisition of both Instagram and WhatsApp for far more than either company’s valuation. Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, double Instagram’s stated value at the time.
"For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users," James said in a statement. "Instead of competing on the merits, Facebook used its power to suppress competition so it could take advantage of users and make billions by converting personal data into a cash cow. Almost every state in this nation has joined this bipartisan lawsuit because Facebook’s efforts to dominate the market were as illegal as they were harmful."
Facebook has long denied these kinds of accusations. Its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp were both approved by the FTC when they occurred.