The FTC filed an amended antitrust complaint against Facebook, alleging the company bought two main rivals and engaged in illegal "buy-or-bury" and "opened-first-closed-later" schemes. The amended complaint follows a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia's recent decision to dismiss the original FTC complaint.
In the amended complaint, the FTC alleged that Facebook took actions to "cement" its monopoly by buying rivals Instagram and WhatsApp during the 2010s - a transition period to a mobile-first communication era. The FTC alleged that Facebook employed anticompetitive conditional dealing policies to app developers, by granting access to its platform for developers subject to their agreeing to (i) not compete with the company's core services and (ii) not facilitate potential rivals' growth. The FTC alleged Facebook "supplemented its anticompetitive shopping spree" with "buy or bury" and "open-first-close-later schemes" that hamper[ed] the ability of rivals and would-be rivals to "compete on the merits," thereby "harming the competitive process and limited consumer choice."
The FTC alleged that Facebook violated Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act and Section 2 of the Sherman Act.
FTC Commissioner Christine S. Wilson dissented from the filing because the amended allegations focus on the acquisitions of rivals, transactions previously evaluated and permitted by the FTC under the Hart-Scott-Rodino premerger notification process. Ms. Wilson stated that it is "bad policy to undermine the integrity of the premerger notification process established by Congress and the repose that it provides to merging parties that have faithfully complied with its requirements."