Among the currently existing industries, the tech sector is one of the biggest. In an era when almost everything revolves around the internet, it is easy to find a reason why that is the case. People use the internet and technologies to make their lives easier. For instance, when a person wants to know about something, he no longer has to go to a library. Instead, he can search about it on the internet. Likewise, if one is searching for a specific item, he can visit online shops. That is more convenient than finding nearby shops which could or could not have what he is looking for. People love convenience, and tech industries offer services that give it to them.
Among the plethora of big tech companies, five are named to be the most dominant ones. It includes Google’s parent company Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook.
Facebook., The Biggest Social Media Giants
Most of the time people spend on the internet is spent scrolling their social media News Feeds. YouTube – also owned by Google, owned by Alphabet – is the world’s second-most visited website. But, it is not the king of social media networks. Instead, the crown belongs to Facebook, which owns WhatsApp and Instagram.
Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram have billions of monthly active users. Together, they put the value of Facebook to the summit, leading to its inclusion on the Big Five.
But, there is no story of success that has seen no difficulties. Many people have tried to knock Facebook down, even as other people buy Facebook followers for their profiles. Their reason as to why they think the growth of the titan needs to be stopped or at least controlled varies.
In recent cases, Facebook faced two anti-trust lawsuits. Fortunately, it won against the US regulators. Because of that victory, its value went above $1 Trillion. It is the last of the Big Five to reach that milestone.
FTC’s Anti-Trust Complaint
Nine states, along with the district of Columbia, claim Facebook has violated anti-trust laws. Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee are part of this investigation.
The anti-trust laws aim to protect consumers from predatory business practices. Furthermore, they regulate how companies operate their businesses. Anti-trust laws provide an equal playing field for similar companies that operate in a specific industry. But, while doing that, these laws also prevent them from gaining too much power over their competition. In summary, anti-trust laws ensure fair competition by not allowing businesses to play dirty to make a profit.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James accuses Facebook of violating anti-trust laws. She speaks on behalf of the coalition of representatives from several states.
Ms. James said they are going all out to get Facebook punished for not respecting the law. She said they would use every tool at their disposal to determine whether Facebook is guilty of the following:
- Endangering consumer data
- Reducing the quality of consumers’ choices
- Increasing the price of advertising
Ms. James stated that there is no exception to following the law and respecting consumers. Even the largest social media platform must obey.
In response to this, Facebook says people have many choices when it comes to using online services. So, if Facebook stops innovating, its users could easily leave the platform. “This underscores the competition we face, not only in the United States but around the globe,” said Will Castleberry. Castleberry is Facebook’s vice president for state and local policy.
Judge Boasberg wrote in the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruling why FTC’s complaint has to be dismissed. Boasberg says it was “legally insufficient” because FTC failed to present enough facts to back it up.
The FTC did not say anything concrete about how much power Facebook had and has in an adequately defined anti-trust market. There is conventional wisdom that Facebook is a monopolist. Boasberg said it was as if the FTC expected the court to just agree with it.
The watchdog has until July 28 to re-file the charges. And it must do so. Analysts say its dismissal can have repercussions for the future of anti-competition law in the US.
Too Late For This Complaint
In a separate lawsuit, a coalition of 45 states sued Facebook for alleged anti-competitive behavior. The coalition wants to break up the company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp.
Facebook, FB Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram are four of the most downloaded apps of the decade. The company bought Instagram for $1 Billion in 2012 and WhatsApp for a whopping $19 Billion in 2014. The FTC claims Facebook made these purchases to eliminate threats to its monopoly.
Officials are saying Facebook took a “buy or bury” approach, which hurt competitors and users. To support this claim, they cited internal messages from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. For example, one email from 2018 said it was “better to buy than compete.”
Facebook had asked a US judge to throw out the FTC anti-trust lawsuit. The company described the complaint as “nonsensical.”
Furthermore, Facebook says the case “ignores the reality of the dynamic, intensely competitive high-tech industry in which Facebook operates.”
Jennifer Newstead, Facebook general counsel, also said that what the government is pushing here is a do-over. According to her, it “sends a chilling warning to American business that no sale is ever final.”
Newstead also added that Facebook had spent so many resources to make the success of Instagram and WhatsApp. Therefore, it will defend itself vigorously.
Moreover, Facebook says anti-trust laws exist to protect consumers and promote innovation. Regulators should not use them to punish successful businesses.
Judge Boasberg also dismissed this anti-competition lawsuit. He wrote that the states did not provide “a reasonable justification” for why they waited for years to make this complaint. It has been six to eight years since the acquisitions. So, why did the regulators not file a complaint back then? Facebook has also previously pointed this out.
Boasberg adds that the system of antitrust enforcement does not exempt plaintiffs from the consequences of their choices. If they wanted favorable results, they should not have done anything over the last five years.
Investors saw the dismissal of both cases as an important victory for Facebook. That sent its share price higher, eventually leading to it breaking past the $1 Trillion-mark.