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Facebook Asks FTC Head For Recusal In Antitrust Case

Facebook is asking Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Lina Khan to recuse herself in an antitrust case, the second Big Tech company in as many weeks calling for the FTC head to step away from her agency’s investigation.

As The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday (July 14), Facebook is arguing that Khan could not remain impartial due to her history of criticizing Big Tech companies.

“Chair Khan has consistently made public statements not only accusing Facebook of conduct that merits disapproval, but specifically expressing her belief that the conduct meets the elements of an antitrust offense,” the company said on Wednesday in a petition filed with the FTC. “When a new commissioner has already drawn factual and legal conclusions and deemed the target a lawbreaker, due process requires that individual to recuse herself.”

According to the Journal, the FTC did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Khan has said she would consult with her agency’s ethics officials on the question of recusal.

The request by Facebook comes two weeks after Amazon filed a similar recusal petition. “Given her long track record of detailed pronouncements about Amazon, and her repeated proclamations that Amazon has violated the antitrust laws, a reasonable observer would conclude that she no longer can consider the company’s antitrust defenses with an open mind,” Amazon said in its 25-page motion filed June 30.

“The FTC soon must decide whether to file a new antitrust lawsuit against Facebook after a judge threw out the FTC’s previous complaint as legally insufficient,” the WSJ reported.

As PYMNTS reported last month, that complaint would have forced the breakup of Facebook from its Instagram and WhatsApp holdings. However, the Federal Court in the District of Columbia ruled that the FTC had not shown that Facebook has monopoly power in the personal social networking services market.

The Journal story noted that the ruling gave the FTC 30 days to amend its complaint, which could force Khan “to confront the recusal issue on an accelerated timeline.”

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