BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has joined a multi-state lawsuit Wednesday that seeks to end Facebook's alleged monopoly and anti-competitive conduct.
According to a release from the attorney general's office, Landry joined a bipartisan coalition of 48 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against Facebook Inc., alleging that the company has and continues to illegally stifle competition to protect its monopoly power.
The lawsuit alleges that, over the last decade, the social networking giant illegally acquired competitors in a predatory manner and cut services to smaller threats, depriving users from the benefits of competition and reducing privacy protections and services along the way – all in an effort to boost its bottom line through increased advertising revenue.
The release states that, since 2004, Facebook has operated as a personal social networking service that facilitates sharing content online without charging users a monetary fee, but, instead, provides these services in exchange for a user’s time, attention, and personal data. Facebook then monetizes its business by selling advertising to firms that attach immense value to the user engagement and highly targeted advertising that Facebook can deliver due to the vast trove of data it collects on users, their friends, and their interests.
The release states that two most utilized strategies Facebook uses to maintain market dominance in social networking have been to acquire smaller rivals and potential rivals before they could threaten Facebook’s dominance and to suffocate and squash third-party developers that Facebook invited to utilize its platform – allowing Facebook to maintain its monopoly over the social networking market and make billions from advertising.
Facebook’s unlawful monopoly gives it broad discretion to set the terms for how its users’ private information is collected and used to further its business interests, the release states.
As for remedies sought by the lawsuit, the multi-state coalition asks the court to halt Facebook’s illegal, anticompetitive conduct and block the company from continuing this behavior in the future.
Additionally, the coalition asks the court to restrain Facebook from making further acquisitions valued at or in excess of $10 million without advance notice to the state of New York and other plaintiff states.
Finally, the court is asked to provide any additional relief it determines is appropriate, including the divestiture or restructuring of illegally acquired companies, or current Facebook assets or business lines.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
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