Breaking up Facebook is ‘on the table,’ says Letitia James, the New York attorney general leading the antitrust case against it

New York Attorney General Letitia James
New York Attorney General Letitia James. Andrew Lichtenstein/ Corbis

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading an antitrust case against Facebook, said a breakup of the company is “on the table,” Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

In an interview with the publication, James described Facebook as a monopoly and said the social media giant’s users have “nowhere else to go.”   

“Facebook’s monopoly hurts consumers, it hurts the marketplace, it hurts advertisers,” she said. Breaking up the company is “one of the many remedies that are on the table,” she said.

She also cited precedents, including the government mandated breakup of AT&T into eight smaller companies in 1984.

“We want Facebook to stop its anticompetitive conduct and undo the harm it’s caused,” James told Bloomberg.  

Facecbook did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read more: Facebook and Google plan to start paying publishers. That’s the wrong solution to a much bigger problem in media.

James filed the antitrust case against Facebook in December, alleging the company has illegally stifled competition to protect its monopoly power. She is leading a bipartisan group of 48 attorneys general from around the country. 

Users, she said, have no alternative to Facebook. The company acquired the photo-sharing app Instagram in 2012 and messaging app WhatsApp in 2014.

“Facebook used its power to suppress competition so it could take advantage of users and make billions by converting personal data into a cash cow,” James said in a December statement.

James is also leading several attorneys general in a bipartisan antitrust investigation against Google parent company Alphabet for its alleged monopoly. “These companies are not too big to fail or to break up,” she told Bloomberg. 

In early 2020, Democrats in the US House of Representatives concluded that Facebook, Alphabet, Apple, and Amazon had a monopoly of power. In October last year, the Justice Department introduced an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet. Google was then the first tech company to see major antitrust action, since the federal government sought to break up Microsoft in the 90s. The action posed a threat to other tech giants such as Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, who could face sweeping changes as a result.

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