The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly working on an antitrust lawsuit that it could potentially bring against Facebook

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2019.Reuters/Erin Scott
  • The Federal Trade Commission is preparing an antitrust lawsuit that it could bring against Facebook, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
  • The agency hasn't decided yet whether to sue Facebook, but is building its case as part of its year-long investigation into the company, according to the report.
  • The FTC has been looking into potentially anticompetitive behavior by Facebook, which has reportedly included examining past acquisitions and interviewing CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Lawmakers grilled Zuckerberg in July during a congressional antitrust hearing, focusing specifically on Facebook's acquisitions of competitors like Instagram and WhatsApp.

Officials at the Federal Trade Commission have started building a potential legal case against Facebook as part of the agency's year-long antitrust investigation into the company, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The FTC has not yet made a decision on whether it will ultimately sue Facebook, according to The Wall Street Journal. Preparing legal arguments for a possible lawsuit is often part of investigations, but also signals that the agency may be nearing the end of its probe.

Facebook declined to comment, and the FTC did not immediately reply to a request for comment on this story.Advertisement

In July of last year, Facebook disclosed in an earnings report that it was under investigation by the FTC, which came amid existing antitrust probes from the Department of Justice and members of Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reported later that summer that the FTC was specifically interested in Facebook's past acquisitions and whether it made those purchases to head off potential competition, and had been speaking to the founders of several companies bought up by Facebook.

During a congressional antitrust hearing this July, those deals became the focus for lawmakers, who grilled CEO Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook's acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp and published documents revealing how some competitors feared being crushed by Facebook if they didn't sell.

Politico reported last month that the FTC also took testimony from Zuckerberg for its investigation, something the agency declined to do when it previously investigated the social media giant over allegations of privacy violations, for which ultimately fined Facebook $5 billion.

The FTC could pursue a range of options as part of its current probe, including forcing it to unwind past mergers, placing restrictions on how it does business, or fining it, though the agency would first need to prove its case in court or reach a settlement with Facebook.