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FTC May Sue Facebook On Antitrust Violations By Thanksgiving

 |  November 8, 2020

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may have narrowed down the time frame for an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. Politico sources claim the Commission is “likely” to sue Facebook before November is over. It might not be the quick, public legal battle some would hope for, though. Officials are reportedly leaning toward an “internal” case that would put the matter in front of an administrative law judge rather than letting states join in. That would increase the chances of a successful action, but could also involve a years-long process.

The long-in-the-works suit is expected to accuse Facebook of using acquisitions and control over data to squelch competition. It won’t necessarily force the company to offload Instagram or WhatsApp. Those are options, however, when officials have argued that much has changed since the FTC slapped Facebook with a privacy order in 2012.

FTC Chair Joe Simons favors keeping the suit in-house by bringing it before the agency’s administrative law judge, Politico reported.

Simons will need to persuade at least two of his fellow commissioners to agree to administrative litigation and if a President Joe Biden takes office, a new chair could reverse the plan.

An in-house suit would cut out states from joining the litigation. Dozens of states are also investigating Facebook and are on the verge of filing their own suit in federal court. They have been trying to persuade the FTC to join them in a combined effort that would give them all greater resources and clout in asking for big changes to Facebook’s business, such as court-ordered spinoffs of Instagram and WhatsApp.

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