In the year 2020, there are very few things that are generally agreed upon. The United States seems to be split down the middle on nearly every topic, except one - Facebook is a problem, though we cannot agree on the exact problem. Some see Facebook's actions as allowing "hate speech" to thrive, while others believe that the platform censors viewpoints it disagrees with. No matter the reason, it seems that most everyone believes that the platform has too much power over the spread of information in the country.
As evidence of this unusual cultural agreement, a pair of antitrust lawsuits have been filed against the company. The first was filed by the Federal Trade Commission, and the second was filed by a coalition of 47 out of the 50 States. In particular, the two suits allege that the company has gone out of its way to ensure that any competition is eliminated, often through acquisition.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, speaking for the States, said,
By using its vast troves of data and money, Facebook has quashed or hindered what the company perceived as potential threats. In an effort to maintain its market dominance, Facebook has employed a strategy to impede competing services.
That suit is asking that the States have approval over any new acquisition valued at over $10 million. That number is far below the level that the government usually gets involved with but is intended to stop the practice of purchasing and shuttering services that could cause them trouble in the future.
FTC Bureau of Competition Director Ian Conner, speaking for the FTC, said,
Facebook's actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition. Our aim is to roll back Facebook's anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.
The FTC is hoping to pull apart the company into some of its individual pieces. For example, it looks like a win for the FTC would end with Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp being three independent, unrelated corporations. This split would require an unbelievable amount of disintegration internally, as internal features have been completely merged, potentially in an attempt to prevent just such a move from the US government.
Both of these cases will be long and arduous, though they seem to have far more general support than many of the previous antitrust cases brought against tech companies, including Microsoft and Google.