(Bloomberg) — U.S. antitrust enforcers are preparing a possible antitrust lawsuit against Facebook Inc., according to a person familiar with the matter.
The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Facebook for more than a year over whether the social media giant has harmed competition and could file a case by the end of the year, said the person, who declined to be named because the probe is confidential. No final decision on the probe has been made, the person said.
A lawsuit by the FTC, which would require a vote by the majority of the agency’s five commissioners, would mark another major escalation by U.S. officials against America’s technology giants, which have come under intense scrutiny in Washington over their dominant market positions. The Justice Department is preparing to sue Alphabet Inc.’s Google in a matter of weeks.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The FTC declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on the agency’s lawsuit preparation.
Facebook Chief Executive Office Mark Zuckerberg was questioned last month by FTC officials as part of the investigation. The agency’s probe is focused on whether Facebook’s past acquisitions, like the deals for Instagram and WhatsApp, violated antitrust laws.
At a congressional hearing in July, alongside the CEOs of three other technology giants, Zuckerberg defended those deals and argued that Facebook faces a lot of competition.
Technology giants are coming under increasing scrutiny by federal agencies, Congress and state attorneys general. A Senate Judiciary panel Tuesday laid out a case for why Google is abusing the size of its online empire to harm competition and amass even more power, articulating arguments that could be central to the government’s upcoming antitrust case against the tech giant.
(Updates with investigation starting in fifth paragraph)
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