Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a coalition of 48 state attorneys general filed two separate lawsuits against Facebook. The complaints argued that the company maintained a monopoly position in the “personal social media networking” market through a series of acquisitions over the past decade intended to buy up potential rivals and by imposing restrictive policies to hinder companies that present competitive threats. Both suits call for the divestiture of Instagram and WhatsApp, along with other proposed remedies.
These lawsuits raise broader questions. Critics argue that both suits rely on hypotheticals that fail to demonstrate consumer harm, are politically driven, and fail to consider the negative impact venture capital investments and procompetitive merger activity. And if successful, these retroactive challenges to consummated mergers would represent a major change in antitrust law, shifting the current enforcement framework to ex-post merger review.
Our panel of experts will discuss the lawsuits, the merger review process and FTC enforcement, and assess the implications for consumers, companies, and the law.
Steven J. Cernak
Partner at Bona Law PC
Deputy General Counsel and Competition Counsel, TechFreedom
Director, Lone Star Policy Institute and Partner at McCullough Sudan PLLC
Ashley Baker (moderator)
Director of Public Policy, Committee for Justice