Why the FTC Has a ‘Tricky’ Antitrust Case Against Facebook

The government has a “reasonably good case” against Facebook, according to antitrust experts

The Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook is a legitimate threat to the $800 billion social networking giant. Its chances for success, however, are unclear.

At first glance, the case appears straightforward: The FTC is claiming Facebook not only has a social network monopoly, but that it has maintained that position primarily through its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. (The FTC’s case also has the backing of 48 state attorneys general, underscoring bipartisan support for a breakup.) Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, and two years later, paid $19 billion for WhatsApp. Through those acquisitions, the FTC claims Facebook hampered competitors by preventing them from using its APIs, allowing Facebook to build an “unmatched position” in the social media space.

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Sean Burch

Sean Burch

Tech reporter • sean.burch@thewrap.com • @seanb44