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Lawsuits may force break up of Facebook


‘Family’ of applications could be heading for a split

Facebook is facing two lawsuits in the US which accuse it of abusing its power and demand that it sells its WhatsApp and Instagram messaging services.

The social network is accused of breaking competition law by suppressing innovation, cutting privacy protections for users of its platforms and monetising data.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a coalition of 48 US states and districts allege that the social network company employed a “systematic strategy” to eliminate its competition.

Ian Conner, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said: “Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition.

“Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”

New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, said Facebook’s “predatory acquisition” of companies had sapped confidence in the market and the lawsuit would ask that Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp be judged illegal.

The federal case is seeking an injunction that “could, among other things: require divestitures of assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp”.

Mark Zuckerberg’s company bought Instagram in 2012 for $1bn and WhatsApp two years’ later for $19bn.

They have billions of users and are now part of the Facebook “family” of applications.

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