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Consumer Reports statement on federal and state antitrust lawsuits against Facebook

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Consumer Reports released the following statements in response to today’s antitrust lawsuits by the Federal Trade Commission and a bipartisan coalition of 48 states against Facebook. 

Justin Brookman, director of technology policy for Consumer Reports, and former FTC official said, “We welcome the lawsuit by the FTC and the coalition of states against Facebook for its pattern of anti-competitive actions. For years Facebook has grown its dominance and power by acquiring emerging companies seen as a threat to its business and imposing unreasonable conditions on third-party developers. These actions have limited consumer choice, insulated the company from competitive pressures, and resulted in a worse online ecosystem. We hope that actions like this one will start to hold tech giants like Facebook accountable, limiting the amount of power they have on our communications and commerce online, and strengthen digital rights.”

Sumit Sharma, senior researcher for tech competition said, “Better late than never. Facebook’s acquisition and assimilation of alternative business models based on subscriptions, like WhatsApp, and those which do not thrive on content virality and its monetization, like Instagram, means consumers today only have one bad choice. Facebook’s move to unify the technical infrastructure for Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram could make a breakup harder. But we must have remedies that allow different business models and more diverse innovation to thrive. We hope this lawsuit kick-starts this process.”

CR’s President and CEO Marta Tellado recently published an op-ed in The Seattle Times about the consumer harms caused by the concentration of tech power and the need to hold Facebook accountable, writing “Facebook swallows up potential competitors — acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp, for example — so that it can dominate one of the essential industries of the digital age: defining our reality, our connections and our time.” The op-ed is part of a Seattle Times project called Facebook Is Everywhere to explore the outsized market power of Facebook and put forward possible solutions to address the antitrust issues.

Consumer Reports recently released a nationally representative survey that found clear majorities of consumers are aware of this growing platform power, are concerned about it, and support increased government action to address these concerns. 

Media contact: Cyrus Rassool, cyrus.rassool@consumer.org