The Federal Trade Commission ratcheted up the rhetoric in its lawsuit against Facebook Inc. in a filing late Wednesday, calling it a “personal social networking” monopoly that is “violating the antitrust laws by maintaining its monopoly through means other than competition on the merits.”
In urging the judge handling the agency’s antitrust lawsuit against the social networking giant to proceed despite Facebook’s
request last month to dismiss it, the FTC argued Facebook is trying to get the fight thrown out “before it even begins.”
“Congress has explicitly provided that the FTC need not challenge an acquisition at its first opportunity to do so,” the FTC said in a filing in Washington federal court. “Instead, the FTC can challenge an acquisition at any time, under any provision of law.”
Facebook’s “repeated observation” that the agency could have challenged the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp several years ago is irrelevant, the filing said.
The legal broadside was in a response to a Facebook motion in March that dismissed antitrust lawsuits by the FTC and state attorneys general last year as “misguided.”
“These complaints do not credibly claim that our conduct harmed either” competition or consumers, Facebook then argued.
The FTC’s lawsuit is seeking to force Facebook to peel off acquisitions Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook also faces a lawsuit from dozens of attorneys general who claim it violated antitrust law by scooping up competitors.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading that lawsuit, has contended Facebook’s conduct has harmed hundreds of millions of the states’ residents.
Facebook shares were down 0.6% in early afternoon trading.