SAN FRANCISCO, AP – Facebook has asked a US court to dismiss state and federal antitrust lawsuits that accuse it of abusing its market power in social networking to crush smaller competitors.
The social media giant said on Wednesday the complaints “do not credibly claim” its conduct harmed either consumers or market competition.
The antitrust suits, filed in the US District Court by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 states in December, seek remedies that could include a forced spin-off of the social network’s popular Instagram and WhatsApp services.
“As we said when the FTC and the state attorneys-general announced these lawsuits, people around the world use our products not because they have to, but because we make their lives better,” Facebook said in a statement.
The FTC suit asserts Facebook has engaged in a “systematic strategy” to eliminate its competition, including by purchasing smaller up-and-coming rivals such as Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.
New York Attorney-General Letitia James, in announcing the states’ complaint, echoed this sentiment, saying Facebook “used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users”.
The FTC declined to comment.
In a statement on Wednesday, James said Facebook was “wrong on the law and wrong on our complaint”.
“We are confident in our case, which is why almost every state in this nation has joined our bipartisan lawsuit to end Facebook’s illegal conduct,” she said.
Big tech companies face growing bipartisan opposition on the power they have amassed in the past decade. President Joe Biden has said a break-up of tech giants should be seriously considered.
Lawmakers and consumer advocates have accused Facebook of anti-competitive behaviour, most starkly in buying up smaller rivals such as Instagram and WhatsApp and by copying competitors.