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The FTC is 'preparing possible antitrust lawsuit against Facebook' following probe

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is preparing a possible antitrust lawsuit against Facebook after a year of investigating whether the social media giant is stifling competition through acquisitions, according to a source.  

The consumer trust watchdog is gearing up to file a suit against the social media giant before the end of 2020, an unidentified person familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal

The FTC, headed by Republican chairman Joseph Simons, has spent more than a year carrying out a probe into Facebook’s practices and whether the company has broken antitrust laws and used its dominant position in the tech sector to stamp out competition.

News of a possible suit comes after founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was brought before the commission last month to testify under oath for two days as part of the investigation.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is preparing a possible antitrust lawsuit against Facebook after a year of investigating whether the social media giant is stifling competition through acquisitions, according to a source. Pictured Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is preparing a possible antitrust lawsuit against Facebook after a year of investigating whether the social media giant is stifling competition through acquisitions, according to a source. Pictured Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

The source said a final decision has not been reached on whether the FTC will sue Facebook and acknowledged that preparations for suits do not always lead to cases being brought, reported the Journal. 

For example, in 2013, the FTC backtracked on filing an antitrust complaint against Google despite having already made preparations to do so.  

The FTC, made up of three Republicans and two Democrats, will need a majority vote in order to bring a lawsuit against Facebook.   

In August, Facebook confirmed Zuckerberg had been interviewed at an FTC investigative hearing as part of the antitrust probe.

‘We are committed to cooperating with the US Federal Trade Commission’s inquiry and answering the questions the agency may have,’ the social media company said in a statement. 

Zuckerberg is said to have testified under oath for two days in testimony that could be used to build a case against the social media giant he founded back in 2004. 

This came one month after he was hauled before Congress to testify about antitrust allegations as part of mounting scrutiny on the actions of several Silicon Valley tech giants. 

The heads of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook all faced a congressional hearing in July where they were questioned for hours about antitrust allegations as well as political bias.

The FTC, headed by Republican chairman Joseph Simons (pictured), has spent more than a year carrying out a probe into Facebook's practices and whether the company has broken antitrust laws and used its dominant position in the tech sector to stamp out competition

The FTC, headed by Republican chairman Joseph Simons (pictured), has spent more than a year carrying out a probe into Facebook’s practices and whether the company has broken antitrust laws and used its dominant position in the tech sector to stamp out competition 

The FTC first told Facebook in June 2019 it was probing whether the company had engaged in unlawful monopolistic practices.

Much of the probe has centered around Facebook’s prior acquisitions of potential rival firms such as social networking or social media services, digital advertising, and mobile applications – and whether the buying up of such firms has enabled the firm to monopolize the industry.

The company has maintained that its acquisitions are not anticompetitive and said the merging of rival services into its own has been done to improve user experience. 

The FTC previously gave Facebook the green light for some of its most high-profile acquisitions including of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.  

Facebook is currently facing similar probes by the Justice Department and by state attorney generals.  

Last year, the social media firm agreed to pay a record $5 billion fine to settle a separate FTC probe around data privacy.   

News of a possible suit comes after Zuckerberg last month testified under oath for two days as part of the FTC investigation

News of a possible suit comes after Zuckerberg last month testified under oath for two days as part of the FTC investigation

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