Investors don’t seem to care

L ETITIA JAMES, New York’s attorney-general, could not be blunter in explaining the antitrust case lodged on December 9th against the world’s greatest social media network. “By utilizing its huge troves of information and money Facebook has squashed or impeded what the business viewed as possible risks. They’ve lowered choices for consumers, they suppressed innovation and they degraded personal privacy defenses for millions of Americans,” she declared, summing up the accusations. Forty-five states joined her bipartisan union against the giant. Independently, the Federal Trade Commission ( FTC) sued Facebook for monopolistic practices in social-networking and demanded treatments consisting of the firm’s break-up.

A couple of years ago co-ordinated action by 46 states and the FTC that might divide Facebook apart was unthinkable, says Lina Khan, an antitrust scholar at Columbia Law School. The case is about more than narrow competitors law. The controversies around Facebook’s privacy practices, the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories on the platform, and its exploitation by authoritarian regimes suggest regulators and political leaders are set on requiring change.

Will they succeed? The cases look strong. Specialists judge Facebook to be the lowest-hanging antitrust fruit, alongside Google (which America’s Justice Department took legal action against over declared monopoly abuses in October). Amazon and Apple remain in the crosshairs, however those cases will take longer, if they come at all, states an antitrust professional.

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