World

Facebook may be forced to sell Instagram and WhatsApp

WASHINGTON/ PALO ALTO : Facebook could be forced to sell its prized assets WhatsApp and Instagram after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and nearly every US state filed lawsuits against the social media company, saying it used a "buy or bury" strategy to snap up rivals and keep smaller competitors at bay.

With the filing of the twin lawsuits on Wednesday, Facebook becomes the second big tech company to face a major legal challenge this year after the US Justice Department sued Alphabet Inc's Google in October, accusing the US$1 trillion (S$1.3 trillion) company of using its market power to fend off rivals.

The complaints accuse Facebook of buying up rivals, focusing specifically on its previous acquisitions of photo-sharing app Instagram for US$1 billion in 2012 and messaging app WhatsApp for US$19 billion in 2014.

Federal and state regulators said the acquisitions should be unwound - a move likely to set off a long legal challenge as the deals were cleared years earlier by the FTC.

"For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals, snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users," said New York Attorney-General Letitia James on behalf of the coalition of 46 states and Guam. - REUTERS

WORLD