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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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White House Confirms It Is Looking Into Shutting Down Oil Pipeline Amid Fuel Crisis

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Gas Pipeline

The Biden administration confirmed that it is considering shutting down an oil pipeline in Michigan despite the ongoing fuel crisis in the country.

“Revoking the permits for the [Line 5] pipeline that delivers oil from western Canada across Wisconsin, the Great Lakes and Michigan and into Ontario, would please environmentalists who have urged the White House to block fossil fuel infrastructure, but it would aggravate a rift with Canada and could exacerbate a spike in energy prices that Republicans are already using as a political weapon,” Politico Pro reported. “Killing a pipeline while U.S. gasoline prices are the highest in years could be political poison for Biden, who has seen his approval rating crash in recent months.”

Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked about the report during Monday’s press briefing, asking, “why is the administration now considering shutting down the Line 5 pipeline from Canada to Michigan?”

“So, Peter, that is inaccurate,” Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed. “That is not right. So, any reporting indicating that some decision has been made, again, is not accurate. … So, again, I would — it is inaccurate what you just stated, but —”

“What’s inaccurate?” Doocy asked.

“The reporting about us wanting to shut down the Line 5,” Jean-Pierre said.

“I didn’t say ‘wanting.’  I said, is it being studied right now?  Is the administration studying the impact of shutting down the Line 5?”

“Yeah. Yes, we are. We are,” Jean-Pierre admitted.

 

The news comes as gas prices have reached their highest since 2014, when Biden was vice president, and are currently about 50% higher than they were when Biden entered office.

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