48 AGs and FTC to sue Facebook alleging illegal "power grabs" neutralizing rivals

Attorneys general from 46 states, the District of Columbia and Guam as well as the Federal Trade Commission filed much-anticipated lawsuits against Facebook on Wednesday. The suits accuse the social network of abusing its online dominance by gobbling up competitive threats that served to entrench the platform so deeply into the lives of billions of people that rivals could no longer put up a fight.

“For nearly a decade Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said.

The states’ lawsuit takes particular aim at Facebook’s blockbuster acquisitions of photo-sharing app Instagram and messaging app WhatsApp, posing a historic threat to Facebook’s grip on the two hugely popular properties the social network controls.

The attorneys general allege that Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp were done illegally and are asking the federal court to intervene over possibly spinning off those apps. The lawsuit also asks a court to immediately prevent Facebook from making any acquisitions worth more than $10 million as the case pends.