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Facebook sued by 46 states, FTC for alleged antitrust violations

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In a bipartisan move, a group of 46 U.S. state attorneys general, led by New York’s attorney general, launched a colossal antitrust lawsuit against Facebook on Wednesday, alleging that the social media giant has been operating as an illegal monopoly. Separately, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched its own lawsuit, alleging antitrust violations, which The Wall Street Journal called “it’s most ambitious [case] in recent memory”.

The core of the allegations surround claims that Facebook’s purchasing of Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion and WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion, in addition to other tinier technology companies, were executed for the purpose of crushing the competition.

The FTC, in its filing, wants to make Facebook sell both social media apps.

The FTC’s lawsuit comes after a more than year-long investigation into the company, with the commission voting 3-2 in favor of filing the case in a Washington, DC federal court. The commission’s suit had been in the works for months, The Journal reports.

“After identifying two significant competitive threats to its dominant position—Instagram and WhatsApp—Facebook moved to squelch those threats by buying the companies, reflecting CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s view, expressed in a 2008 email, that ‘it is better to buy than compete,’” the FTC’s lawsuit states.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) announced on Wednesday the 46-state lawsuit, which also includes the District of Columbia and Guam, saying in a Twitter thread, “We are taking action to stand up for the millions of consumers and many small businesses that have been harmed by Facebook’s illegal behavior.”

“Facebook has used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users. Instead of improving its own product, Facebook took advantage of consumers and made billions of dollars converting their personal data into a cash cow,” James added.

Facebook responded to the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon on Twitter, saying that it is reviewing the complaints and will offer more information from its end “soon.”

“We’re reviewing the complaints & will have more to say soon,” the statement reads. “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.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Biden spends $1.65 trillion taxpayer dollars while vacationing in St. Croix

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Joe Biden

While vacationing in the island of St. Croix for the holidays, President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the massive $1.65 omnibus spending package.

The whopping 4,155 pages was supported by only nine House Republicans and 13 Senate Republicans. Majority of criticism from the GOP includes concerns that the bill was rushed and crammed with wasteful spending by a lame-duck Democratic-dominated Congress. The recourse will punish American families by adding to the national debt and exacerbate inflation.

“Today, I signed the bipartisan omnibus bill, ending a year of historic progress. It’ll invest in medical research, safety, veteran health care, disaster recovery, VAWA funding — and gets crucial assistance to Ukraine,” Biden tweeted. “Looking forward to more in 2023.”

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell “praised the bill on the grounds that it represents a real decrease in discretionary spending. He presented it as a positive that nondefense spending jumped by only 5.5 percent, from $730 billion to $772.5 billion, amid an inflation rate of 7.1 percent” writes National Review.

“The bipartisan government-funding bill that Senators Shelby and Leahy have finished negotiating does exactly the opposite of what the Biden administration first proposed,” he said. “This bill provides a substantial real-dollar increase to the defense baseline . . . and a substantial real-dollar cut to the non-defense, non-veterans baseline,” McConnell insisted as negotiations were wrapping up.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, however, stated his strong disapproval of the bill before it even advanced. Affirming a letter from 13 House Republicans, McCarthy demanded the bill is reckless, irresponsible, and a “purposeful refusal to secure and defend our borders.”

For example, it failed to incorporate protections for Title 42, the pandemic policy that allows illegal immigrants to be expelled on a public-health basis, which currently hangs in the balance at the Supreme Court.

National Review adds, “The funding in the bill, which averted a federal government shutdown before the new year, includes an allocation of $45 billion in defense assistance to Ukraine. Some Republican priorities, such as Electoral Count Act reform and a bigger military budget, were nested in with Democratic appropriations, such as increased funding for Medicaid and food stamps.”

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