Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s grand plan to merge the social media giant’s various apps has brought about yet another lawsuit from industry peers who demand that he sell his majority stake in Facebook and give up control over the company’s key decisions, Bloomberg first reported.
Filed in a San Francisco court on Thursday, the complaint accused Facebook of running “the most brazen, willful anticompetitive scheme in a generation.”
The four plaintiffs are Reveal Chat, a messaging app acquired by the music-streaming service Rhapsody in 2015; Lenddo, a financial-services provider; Cir.cl, a now defunct social network; and Beehive Biometric, an identity verification provider.
“The net effect of Facebook’s anticompetitive scheme is one of the largest unlawful monopolies ever seen in the United States,” they said in the lawsuit.
To prevent Facebook from doing more harm to its smaller social media rivals, the plaintiffs said breaking it apart is the only way. “There is no adequate remedy of law to prevent the irreparable harm that has—and will continue—to result from Zuckerberg’s continued control of Facebook,” they argued, alluding to the CEO’s plan to integrate Facebook (the site), WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram into one service.
Facebook has been working on this integration for the better part of 2019 under a set of “interoperability policies.” Zuckerberg has said that merging these apps will help improve user experience and enhance privacy protection.
Neither his rivals nor federal regulators seem to buy this argument. Aside from the lawsuit this week, Facebook is already under three separate antitrust investigations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the House Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department.
In response, Facebook insists that the social media space has no shortage of competition. “We operate in a competitive environment where people and advertisers have many choices,” the company said in a statement on Thursday. “In the current environment, where plaintiffs’ attorneys see financial opportunities, claims like this aren’t unexpected but they are without merit.”