Facebook reportedly offered to help another company build a rival social network to fight off an antitrust lawsuit

Facebook reportedly offered to help another company build a rival social network to fight off an antitrust lawsuit
Facebook may have offered to help competitors build a rival social media network to fight off an antitrust lawsuit.YouTube/House Judiciary
  • The Washington Post reported Facebook offered to give other tech companies access to its code through license agreements to help build a rival social media network.
  • Facebook lawyers proposed the idea to state and federal investigators days before they filed major antitrust lawsuits against the company.
  • The US Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general filed lawsuits against Facebook on December 9 seeking to break off Instagram and WhatsApp.
  • The suits signal a broader effort by the US to strengthen oversight and regulation over Facebook.

Facebook may have offered to help competitors build a rival social media company to avoid antitrust allegations.

The Washington Post reported Facebook had proposed creating license agreements with other companies that would in turn gain access to Facebook's code to more easily create a rival social network. Facebook lawyers reportedly presented the idea to state and federal investigators days before they they filed major antitrust lawsuits against the company on December 9.

The US Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general filed lawsuits against Facebook seeking to break off Instagram and WhatsApp. The suits claim Facebook neutralized competitors before they got big enough to pose a threat to the company's dominance.
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The pressure to break up Facebook has increased within the past few years. The European Union has been investigating Facebook's data practices and its Marketplace platform since 2019. Four tech firms, two of which are now defunct, sued Facebook in January and called on Mark Zuckerberg to resign over anticompetitive strategies.

State attorneys general recently sued Google in part for reportedly striking a deal with Facebook to give the social network unfair advertising advantages.
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Rep. David Cicilline, chair of the House antitrust subcommittee, has said Facebook should be broken up after displaying "classic monopoly behavior."

In preparation for the FTC lawsuit, Facebook hired former government antitrust lawyers and launched internal initiatives focused on "competition issues,"sources told the Post. Business Insider's Rob Price reported Facebook began hiring for competition lawyers and policy experts in May 2019. Read more: Google could already have been broken up under strict EU plans for Big Tech: 'What matters is enforcement'
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Facebook reported a decline of 2 million daily active users in the US and Canada for the third quarter, but generated $21.5 billion in revenue in the same time period.

Legal experts and Wall Street analysts doubt the court will break up Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, but told Business Insider's Katie Canales the suits signal a broader effort by the government to strengthen oversight and regulation over big tech.

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