Facebook controls 85% of the personal social networking market thanks to its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, making it an unlawful monopoly that has hurt consumers and competitors, the Federal Trade Commission argued in court documents released Wednesday.
The commission’s analysis of Facebook’s user metrics is critical to its case for breaking up Facebook.
A federal judge rejected the commission’s first antitrust lawsuit against Facebook earlier this year, saying that the FTC hadn’t made a persuasive case regarding the company’s dominant market share and unfair monopolistic behavior.
The tech giant’s anti-competitive behavior has hurt the social media market by significantly reducing innovation, quality improvements, and consumer choice in regards to advertising and privacy options, the trade commission said in a newly released version of its antitrust complaint against the company.
“Facebook has hindered, suppressed, and deterred the emergence and growth of rival personal social networking providers and unlawfully maintained its monopoly in the U.S. personal social networking market through means other than competition on the merits,” the trade commission said in its court filing.
Facebook maintained control of 85% of the personal social networking services market from 2012 to 2020, based on the FTC’s analysis of Comscore time spent data.
The analysis showed that even if only half the time U.S. users spent on Facebook and Instagram was spent on personal social networking services, the company would still have maintained its dominant share of the market.
The new trade commission complaint also highlights that more than 200 million U.S. users visit Facebook every day and over 80% of all American internet users visit the website each month.
“Facebook’s course of conduct has eliminated nascent rivals and extinguished the possibility that such rivals’ independent existence might allow other internet platforms to overcome the substantial barriers to entry that protect Facebook’s monopoly position,” the trade commission complaint said.
By monopolizing the personal social networking market, Facebook has particularly deprived advertisers of the benefits of competition, such as lower advertising prices and increased choice, quality, and innovation related to advertising, the lawsuit outlined.
The suit also says that consumer choices have been diminished in regards to data protection privacy options including, but not limited to, options regarding Facebook’s controversial data gathering and data usage practices.