U.S. states to sue Facebook for antitrust violations on Wednesday, sources say

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration
FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

December 9, 2020

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A group of U.S. states led by New York will file a lawsuit on Wednesday afternoon accusing Facebook Inc of violating antitrust law, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office has said she will make a major “business related” announcement on Wednesday afternoon. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein’s office announced a press call about “a technology company.”

The lawsuit will be filed in federal court in Washington, one source said.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has been probing Facebook, as have state attorneys general. More than 40 are expected to join the lawsuit.

If the lawsuits are filed, Facebook would be the second major tech company sued this year. The Justice Department sued Alphabet Inc’s Google in October.

A spokesman for Facebook declined comment on Wednesday.

In congressional testimony this summer, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg defended much-criticized acquisitions like Instagram and WhatsApp, saying that his social media platform helped them expand from small, insignificant companies into powerhouses. He has also argued that Facebook has a range of competitors, including other tech giants.

Facebook settled a privacy probe with the FTC in 2019, paying $5 billion to resolve allegations that it violated a 2012 consent decree by inappropriately sharing user information with the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica, whose clients included President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz, David Shepardson and Karen Freifeld; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker)