Top line

In a rare example of bipartisan collaboration in hyperpolarized times, Democrats and Republicans have come together to support antitrust allegations against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and an alliance of attorneys general from 48 states to reverse previously approved acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.

There is cross-party support for antitrust claims against Facebook.

The Washington Post via Getty Images

Key factors

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Applauded the effort, posting on Twitter that Facebook’s “Greed knows no bounds and that they have used their power to try to control too much political and economic life around the world … that only thing that will stop facebook is saying “enough is enough” and breaking it open. ”

MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) agreed, describing the social media giant as “an out of control monopoly” that “has abused its market power to stifle competition, manipulate democracies and the.” Smash Journalism “.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who has been calling for big tech to break out for years, said Facebook should never have bought Instagram and WhatsApp, adding, “More competition means more options for consumers and consumer content creators and more print on companies like Facebook to address the obvious problems with their businesses. “

Colorado Republican Ken Buck, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said Facebook had “crushed competition by breaking the law” and wrote on Twitter that “Big Tech’s reckoning has only just begun.”

Tech insiders also support the government’s efforts to break up big tech. Gabriel Weinberg, founder of the search engine DuckDuckGo, wrote on Twitter that “Facebook tore societies apart … (and) would never repair itself.”

Not everyone is in favor of the lawsuit, as Jessica Melugin of the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute claims the question is going to “so what?” From a consumer harm perspective and Facebook “closes Instagram from a humble and flawed app” makes one with a billion users 2018. “

further reading

46 states, FTC antitrust charges against Facebook (Forbes)

Facebook Must Be Disbanded, Says U.S. Government In Groundbreaking Lawsuit (CNN)

What to look for

Unsurprisingly, most of the largest tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft, are keeping very quiet as this lawsuit takes shape. In the days, weeks, and months to come, it will be possible for some to begin to make their positions known, as will a number of smaller actors who may feel affected by the dominance of a few large companies.

Key background

The antitrust allegations made against Facebook go far and wide and pose an almost existential threat to the company. They are by far the greatest regulatory challenge the company has ever faced. Regulators accuse Facebook of pursuing a “systematic strategy … to eliminate threats to its monopoly” through acquisitions, specifically to reverse two of its greatest goals: Instagram and WhatsApp. The FTC itself had actually approved these acquisitions in the past, which Facebook used in its initial defense, calling it an act of revisionism.

Chief critic

In a quick counter-argument, Facebook General Counsel Jennifer Newstead criticized the agency’s attempt to achieve a “do-over” many years after the company’s acquisitions were approved, “regardless of established laws or the consequences for innovation and investment.” Newstead went on to claim, “That’s just not how antitrust laws are supposed to work. No American antitrust officer has ever brought such a case before, and with good reason. “