For years, the U.S. federal government has threatened to rein in Facebook. Some of the most extreme proposals have even involved breaking up Facebook by splitting off some of its acquired companies like WhatsApp and Instagram. And this week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 48 state attorneys general filed lawsuits to do exactly that.
The landmark case marks a rare moment of bipartisan consensus in Washington, D.C., as both liberals and conservatives agree that Facebook has acquired too much data and power.
“For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said. “By using its vast troves of data and money, Facebook has squashed or hindered what the company perceived to be potential threats.”
For its part, Facebook has spun a narrative that it welcomes regulation, but that breaking up its services could ultimately harm the progress of U.S. tech. The company has also enmeshed its services so thoroughly that many experts believe they could be difficult to disentangle. However, Facebook has left the door wide open to this kind of legislation by running roughshod over its competitors and openly buying them out instead of playing fair. How this affects user privacy remains to be seen, but this kind of accountability for the social media giant is long overdue.
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