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After years of lethargy, the US government authorities have decided to act against the hegemonic and monopolistic position of Facebook at kissanime.

Yesterday, 2 different lawsuits were filed against the company: one by the Federal Telecommunications Commission (FTC) and another co-signed by 48 of the 52 States of the American Union and led by the Attorney General of New York, Tish James.

The basis of both demands is the same: Facebook has taken advantage of its dominant position to eliminate any competition, either through the acquisition of startups (such as Instagram or WhatsApp) or by blocking critical integration functionalities that have led that other social network companies (like Vine) cannot grow and threaten Facebook’s business.

It is something that has been called “Buy or Bury Strategy” (a strategy to buy or bury) and that is supported, among others, in several emails sent in 2012 by Mark Zuckerberg to the then CFO of Facebook, David Ebersman, in which it is explicit by indicating that the purchase of small competitors allows the company to “buy time” by neutralizing possible competitors and that they were revealed a couple of months ago after a hearing led by the antitrust subcommittee of the House of Representatives of the United States.

The other pillar of the lawsuits focuses on whether consumers were affected by the acquisitions, especially in terms of privacy, and how the company has used the information it collects from each of the platforms it has acquired to further increase its power. .

Moreover, in the case of the lawsuits of the States, the concern about the way in which Facebook “spies” on its users even from outside the platform is clear (something that Facebook and Apple are fighting precisely at this moment) .

Unlike previous lawsuits, which sought the imposition of fines, these have a clear and specific purpose: to declare the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp as illegal and force the company to separate into 3 different entities.

It would be the first time, since 1984 when the North American Government led to the dissolution of the monopoly known as the Bell (Telephone) System and its split into 7 different companies, in which a process of this magnitude was opened.

The lawsuits also seek that any future acquisition by Facebook be reviewed and approved, a priori, by the FTC and that there be stricter supervision of the company’s compliance reports of antitrust activities.

Different voices from the American legislative spectrum have celebrated the demands, among which Senator Elizabeth Warren stands out, who based her (failed) campaign for the presidency of the United States precisely on dismembering the technological giants.

Facebook has responded by stating that this is “revisionist history” and promising to uphold what they have labeled a successful business model.

“Antitrust laws exist to protect consumers and promote innovation, not to punish successful companies. Instagram and WhatsApp became the amazing products they are today because Facebook invested billions of dollars and years of innovation and experience to develop new features and better experiences for the millions who enjoy those products. The most important fact in this case, which the Commission does not mention in its 53-page complaint, is that it authorized these acquisitions years ago. The government now wants a new version, sending a chilling warning to American companies that no sale is final. Individuals and small businesses choose not to use Facebook’s free advertising and services because they have to, but because our apps and services offer the most value. We will vigorously defend the ability of people to continue making that decision ”
– Jennifer Newstead, Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Facebook

However, as Tim Wu, a journalist and professor at Columbia University, points out, the FTC never approved the purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp; it simply declined, at the time, to take action, which does not prevent it from taking action today and less so when it has collected evidence of the – illegal – reasons behind the acquisitions and the harmful effects of the same for final consumers, for customers of the platform and for competitors.

A major mistake that the press is making about Facebook: The FTC @FTC never “approved” the mergers of Instagram / WhatsApp. It declined to bring an enforcement action at the time. As in any law enforcement, that is irrelevant to futur

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