Ohio among 48 states seeking to break up Facebook’s messaging services

U.S. & World

FILE – This March 29, 2018, file photo shows the Facebook logo on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square. Facebook has removed a large group called “Stop the Steal” that supporters of President Donald Trump were using to organize protests, including some members calling for violence, while falsely claiming that Democrats are “stealing” the election from Republicans. Though the group amassed more than 350,000 members before Facebook took it down Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, it was just one among others, though smaller, that popped up as vote counting remained underway in several battleground states. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators asked Wednesday for Facebook to be ordered to divest its Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services as the U.S. government and 48 states and districts accused the company of abusing its market power in social networking to crush smaller competitors.

The antitrust lawsuits were announced by the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James. Ohio, under Attorney General Dave Yost, is part of the effort.

“It’s really critically important that we block this predatory acquisition of companies and that we restore confidence to the market,” James said during a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

In its lawsuit, the FTC is seeking the separation of the services from Facebook, saying Facebook has engaged in a “a systematic strategy” to eliminate its competition, including by purchasing smaller up-and-coming rivals like Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. James echoed that in her press conference, saying Facebook “used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users.”

Facebook is the world’s biggest social network with 2.7 billion users and a company with a market value of nearly $800 billion whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the world’s fifth-richest individual and the most public face of Big Tech swagger. Facebook did not have immediate comment.

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