Attorney General Maura Healey joined a national lawsuit filed against Facebook on Wednesday alleging that the social media giant started in a Harvard University dorm room in Cambridge became a monopoly by illegally buying out competitors and snuffing out competition.
The antitrust lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. along with a separate suit brought against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Healey was one of 48 attorneys general to sign on to the suit led by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“For nearly a decade, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg ran an illegal monopoly in the social media sphere by buying out companies that showed promise as potential competitors and blocking others – and they did this at the expense of their users’ time and privacy,” Healey said. “We are suing to stand up for the millions of consumers and small businesses that have been harmed by Facebook’s illegal business practices.”
The states allege that Facebook created its social media monopoly by buying up competitors like Instagram and WhatsApp, acquisitions that were approved by the FTC, using tactics that denied consumers choices for social networking. The attorneys general said Facebook bought companies seen as potential rivals by offering huge sums of money that overvalued the competition, and companies that refused to sell were punished by being denied access to Facebook’s platform. Instagram, for instance, was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion, despite the company not having any revenue and valuing itself at $500 million, according to Healey’s office.
The lawsuit threatens to break up one of the largest companies in the world. The case in being handled for Massachusetts by Assistant Attorney General and Antitrust Division Chief Will Matlack and Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Division Chief Michael MacKenzie.