The ongoing antitrust case against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been amended in a new complaint that alleges that the social media giant’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp violated federal antitrust laws, according to a press release by the agency on Thursday (Aug. 19).
The new complaint is a more detailed version of the original charge that was thrown out by the courts in June due to a lack of evidence.
The amended FTC complaint against Facebook alleges that the social media giant failed to create another avenue for its mobile features. Instead, the complaint alleges that Facebook “resorted to an illegal buy-or-bury scheme to maintain its dominance.”
Among the allegations is that Facebook also bought rivals that exceeded is own technological capabilities. Further, the FTC said in the release, is that Facebook persuaded app developers to work for its platform, watched them and then “buried them when they became competitive threats.”
Without rivals, Facebook was in the driver’s seat of capitalizing on a “surveillance-based advertising model,” the FTC said, which in turn presented users with more hurdles.
“Facebook lacked the business acumen and technical talent to survive the transition to mobile. After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat,” said FTC Bureau of Competition Acting Director Holly Vedova.
Vedova added that what Facebook did in that circumstance is no different from anti-competitive behaviors that might have had the social behemoth offering bribes to up-and-coming developers to step aside and not compete, per the release.
“The antitrust laws were enacted to prevent precisely this type of illegal activity by monopolists. Facebook’s actions have suppressed innovation and product quality improvements,” Vedova said.
Moreover, she said that Facebook “degraded the social network experience” and served up less privacy and data protection, and more targeted advertising.
“The FTC’s action today seeks to put an end to this illegal activity and restore competition for the benefit of Americans and honest businesses alike,” Vedova said.