Speed Reads

'buy-or-bury scheme'

FTC tries to break up Facebook a 2nd time in new antitrust lawsuit

The Federal Trade Commission wants to try that again.

On Thursday, the FTC filed a new complaint against Facebook, seeking to break up the social media giant after its original antitrust complaint was dismissed earlier this year. The agency accused Facebook of an "illegal buy-or-bury scheme to maintain its dominance," saying the company "unlawfully" acquired competitors with mobile features that "succeeded where Facebook's own offerings fell flat or fell apart," as well as "buried" app developers that became threats. 

"After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat," FTC Bureau of Competition Acting Director Holly Vedova said. "This conduct is no less anticompetitive than if Facebook had bribed emerging app competitors not to compete. The antitrust laws were enacted to prevent precisely this type of illegal activity by monopolists." 

The amended complaint came after a D.C. federal court in June dismissed an FTC antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, with U.S. District Judge James Boasberg saying it didn't adequately prove the assertion that Facebook controls more than 60 percent of the social networking market. The FTC said Thursday its new complaint provides new data and evidence to support its claim that "Facebook is a monopolist." 

In the original complaint, the FTC argued Facebook's acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram were part of a "systematic strategy" to "eliminate threats to its monopoly," and it sought a court injunction requiring "divestitures of assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp." The new complaint filed Thursday is almost twice as long as the original, The New York Times reports. Facebook said it was "reviewing the FTC's amended complaint and will have more to say soon."