FTC sues Facebook to divest of WhatsApp and Instagram

(Image credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Facebook has just been slammed with major lawsuits from 48 state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission accusing it of anticompetitive actions.

The FTC and the state attorneys general on Wednesday filed antitrust lawsuits against Facebook, which centered around the company's acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp and asked the court to potentially require they be sold, The Washington Post reports.

The FTC accused Facebook of "a years-long course of anticompetitive conduct," alleging its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram were part of a "systematic strategy" to "eliminate threats to its monopoly." The agency said it's seeking a court injunction that could "require divestitures of assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp." This would amount to "effectively breaking up Facebook as we know it," CNN notes.

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"Our aim is to roll back Facebook's anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive," said Ian Conner, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition.

A lawsuit brought by 48 state attorneys general and led by New York Attorney General Letitia James also accused Facebook of having "illegally acquired competitors in a predatory manner." This lawsuit is asking the court to "provide any additional relief it determines is appropriate, including the divestiture or restructuring of illegally acquired companies," a statement from James said.

These lawsuits, the Post wrote, present "the most significant political and legal threats to Facebook in its roughly 17-year history." Facebook in a statement said, "Years after the FTC cleared our acquisitions, the government now wants a do-over with no regard for the impact that precedent would have on the broader business community or the people who choose our products every day."

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