Facebook Joins Amazon in Calling for FTC Chair to Step Aside on Antitrust Cases

2 weeks ago 8

Updated July 14, 2021 2:50 p.m. ET / Original July 14, 2021 2:48 p.m. ET

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Lina Khan, nominee for Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

Facebook petitioned for Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to recuse herself from engagement successful the stalled antitrust lawsuit against the company, arguing Khan’s past of criticizing the institution and others would contradict it owed process.

Facebook made the petition Wednesday, weeks aft Amazon.com (ticker: AMZN) asked for Khan to recuse herself from its pending acquisition of movie accumulation and organisation institution MGM Holdings and immoderate different antitrust matters involving the tech giant.

Facebook said successful the petition that Khan has already concluded Facebook violated antitrust laws based connected years of diary articles written by her, nationalist statements, now-deleted Twitter posts, and her enactment connected the 16-month congressional probe into tech companies.

“For the entirety of her nonrecreational career, Chair Khan has consistently and precise publically concluded that Facebook is blameworthy of violating the antitrust laws,” Facebook wrote.

The FTC declined to comment.

Last year, the FTC voted 3-2 to writer Facebook, seeking to interruption disconnected Instagram and WhatsApp from the company, among different things. Should Khan recuse herself from engagement successful the litigation that resulted, it’s apt the committee wouldn’t person capable votes to proceed with the case. Two Democrats and 2 Republicans service connected the committee with Khan.

Last Month, Facebook attorneys notched a courtroom triumph erstwhile a national justice dismissed the FTC’s lawsuit. But the justice gave the FTC—now nether Khan’s leadership—a accidental to rethink its arguments and amend its suit. Any amended Facebook litigation volition apt beryllium taxable to a ballot successful the coming weeks and months. Facebook main enforcement Mark Zuckerberg has described breakup attempts arsenic an existential menace to the business.

Installing Khan arsenic FTC seat past period is portion of a wider propulsion by the Biden medication to reign successful firm power. The president signed an enforcement bid past week that instructed the FTC to make a caller argumentation for net level mergers that appeared to people Facebook specifically. The Biden administration’s efforts people Big Tech and a big of different industries specified arsenic agriculture, healthcare, and transportation.

Khan has been an outspoken professional of Big Tech companies. In a 2019 insubstantial published successful the Columbia Law Review, Khan argues that platforms, including Facebook, person go excessively powerful. In a 2017 article for the Yale Law Journal, Khan argues that Amazon poses anticompetitive concerns but has “escaped antitrust scrutiny.”

In its petition, Facebook said it was incorporating Amazon’s arguments and the morals investigation offered by Amazon’s expert, prof Thomas Morgan. The main quality is that Amazon hasn’t yet acquired MGM, whereas Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp years ago.

To win successful either petition, the tech companies indispensable amusement that a disinterested perceiver could find that the FTC seat had already travel to a factual and ineligible decision earlier immoderate proceeding. According to The Wall Street Journal, disqualification requests haven’t seen large occurrence successful caller years.

Facebook shares fell 1.1% to $348.36 successful Wednesday trading. The societal media company’s banal has precocious 28% truthful acold this year. The S&P 500 index has gained 17% implicit the aforesaid period.

Write to Max A. Cherney astatine max.cherney@barrons.com

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