The FTC is preparing a possible antitrust suit against Facebook report Brent Kendall, John D. McKinnon, and Ryan Tracy at The Wall Street Journal. They write:
WASHINGTON—The Federal Trade Commission is gearing up to file a possible antitrust lawsuit against Facebook Inc. FB -1.09% by year-end, according to people familiar with the matter, in a case that would challenge the company’s dominant position in social media.
The case preparations come after the FTC has spent more than a year investigating concerns that Facebook has been using its powerful market position to stifle competition, part of a broader effort by U.S. antitrust authorities to examine the conduct of a handful of dominant tech companies.
No final decision has been made on whether to sue Facebook, people familiar with the matter said, and the commission doesn’t always bring cases even when it is making preparations to do so, such as when it decided against filing an antitrust complaint against Google Inc. in 2013 after a lengthy investigation.
Facebook is still in the process of making its case to the commission, even as the probe has been progressing into its late stages, and recent efforts by FTC staff have included taking testimony from CEO Mark Zuckerberg, something the commission didn’t do during a prior probe of the company’s privacy practices. That matter resulted in a record-breaking $5 billion settlement.
A majority on the five-member FTC would need to vote in favor of any lawsuit. The commission comprises three Republicans, including Chairman Joseph Simons, and two Democrats.
Details of the FTC’s likely legal theories in any Facebook lawsuit couldn’t be learned. The company last year disclosed it was under investigation by the FTC, and The Wall Street Journal has previously reported that one focus of the agency’s probe is the company’s past acquisitions of potential competitors.
FTC staffers are continuing to ask questions about past acquisitions, as well as about issues related to how Facebook manages its platform with regard to app developers, some of the people said.
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