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Facebook accused of shutting out mobile competitors in lawsuit

Facebook accused of shutting out mobile competitors in lawsuit


Company allegedly ‘identified’ and ‘extinguished’ companies

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Facebook is facing 20200116_FB Class Action Complaint - Final for Filing (1).pdf from mobile app developers that allege the company revoked access to data in an attempt to stifle competition.

The suit, which is seeking class-action status, argues that the company “identified and categorized potential market threats, then extinguished those threats” by cutting them off from access to data on its platform. Facebook, the suit alleges, “moved aggressively to shut out entirely direct competitors,” like WeChat, by revoking access to its platform.

“One of the largest unlawful monopolies ever seen”

“The net effect of Facebook’s anticompetitive scheme is one of the largest unlawful monopolies ever seen in the United States—one protected by a far-reaching and effectively impenetrable barrier to entry arising from feedback loops and powerful network effects,” reads the suit, which was filed by attorneys representing four developers.

Facebook has faced questions both about its market power and how it has provided data to developers on its platform. Prominent politicians around the world have suggested the company has gained too much dominance through acquisitions of competitors like Instagram. In the past, the company provided data widely to developers, an issue that became contentious in 2018 after it was discovered that data firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested that user data.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson pushed back on the allegations in the suit. “We operate in a competitive environment where people and advertisers have many choices,” the spokesperson said. “In the current environment, where plaintiffs’ attorneys see financial opportunities, claims like this aren’t unexpected but they are without merit.”