In a move celebrated by progressives, the Federal Trade Commission filed a revised antitrust lawsuit against Facebook on Thursday, providing additional data and stronger details to back up its allegations that the corporation has maintained a monopoly on social media services for the past decade by \u0022illegally acquiring innovative competitors and burying successful app developers.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022While Facebook could buy or bury competitors, it can neither buy nor bury the revitalized FTC under new Chairperson Lina Khan.\u0022\r\n—Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG\r\n\r\nThe amended complaint (pdf) comes about two months after the FTC\u0026#039;s initial case was dismissed because, a federal judge said in late June, the regulatory agency had failed to present sufficient evidence to support its claim that Facebook has monopolized the social networking sector.\r\n\r\nPolitico noted that \u0022the suit seeks to force Facebook to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp, in what would be the United States\u0026#039; first court-ordered breakup of a company on antitrust grounds since AT\u0026amp;T in the early 1980s.\u0022\r\n\r\nWhile the FTC\u0026#039;s overall argument hasn\u0026#039;t changed much, the updated lawsuit is almost twice as long and includes more statistical analysis and facts to bolster the government\u0026#039;s accusation that \u0022after repeated failed attempts to develop innovative mobile features for its network, Facebook instead resorted to an illegal buy-or-bury scheme to maintain its dominance.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Facebook lacked the business acumen and technical talent to survive the transition to mobile,\u0022 Holly Vedova, acting director of the FTC\u0026#039;s bureau of competition, said in a statement. \u0022After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022This conduct is no less anti-competitive than if Facebook had bribed emerging app competitors not to compete,\u0022 Vedova continued. \u0022The antitrust laws were enacted to prevent precisely this type of illegal activity by monopolists. Facebook\u0026#039;s actions have suppressed innovation and product quality improvements. And they have degraded the social network experience, subjecting users to lower levels of privacy and data protections and more intrusive ads.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAccording to the FTC, Facebook \u0022unlawfully acquired innovative competitors with popular mobile features that succeeded where Facebook\u0026#039;s own offerings fell flat or fell apart.\u0022 The most prominent examples include Instagram,\u0026nbsp;its one-time photo sharing rival, and the messaging app WhatsApp, which Facebook purchased in 2012 and 2014, respectively.\r\n\r\n\u0022And to further moat its monopoly, Facebook lured app developers to the platform, surveilled them for signs of success, and then buried them when they became competitive threats,\u0022 said the FTC, which added:\r\n\r\n\r\nAfter starting Facebook Platform as an open space for third-party software developers, Facebook abruptly reversed course and required developers to agree to conditions that prevented successful apps from emerging as competitive threats to Facebook. By pulling this bait and switch on developers, Facebook insulated itself from competition during a critical period of technological change. Developers that had relied on Facebook\u0026#039;s open-access policies were crushed by new limits on their ability to interoperate. Facebook\u0026#039;s conduct not only harmed developers such as Circle and Path, but also deprived consumers of promising and disruptive mavericks that could have forced Facebook to improve its own products and services.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\r\nOnce Facebook lacked serious competition, the FTC noted, it was \u0022able to hone a surveillance-based advertising model and impose ever-increasing burdens on its users.\u0022\r\n\r\nFacebook on Thursday called the new lawsuit \u0022meritless,\u0022 and noted that the FTC approved the company\u0026#039;s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp years ago. The agency, however, is under new leadership now. President Joe Biden appointed Lina Khan, a 32-year-old \u0022antitrust trailblazer,\u0022 to lead the FTC and she was confirmed\u0026nbsp;by a bipartisan Senate vote in June.\r\n\r\nKhan, who was just days into her role as FTC chair when the first antitrust lawsuit against Facebook was thrown out, \u0022represents a wave of new thinking about the industry among administration officials and many lawmakers, arguing that the government needs to take far more aggressive action to stem the power of technology giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple,\u0022 the New York Times reported Thursday. Biden, meanwhile, \u0022has appointed multiple regulators with similar aims and lawmakers proposed updates to antitrust laws to target the power\u0022 of Big Tech.\r\n\r\nThe FTC\u0026#039;s new lawsuit was met with praise from progressives lawmakers and advocates.\r\n\r\nRep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted that she was happy to see Khan and the FTC \u0022continuing to hold tech giants like Facebook accountable while taking on their monopolistic practices.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn a statement, Ed Mierzwinski, senior director for consumer programs at U.S. PIRG, said that \u0022fortunately, while Facebook could buy or bury competitors, it can neither buy nor bury the revitalized FTC under new Chairperson Lina Khan.\u0022\r\n\r\nAnd in a series of tweets, the American Economic Liberties Project (AELP) applauded\u0026nbsp;the FTC\u0026#039;s amended complaint, describing it as \u0022a huge and promising step toward restoring the promise of the American economy.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe anti-monopoly group added that \u0022it shows the new leadership of the FTC is committed to pursuing economic fairness and meaningful competition, no matter how powerful the enemies it makes doing so.\u0022\r\n\r\nAccording to the Times:\r\n\r\n\r\nThe criticisms of the first version of the Facebook case levied by the judge, James E. Boasberg of the District Court of the District of Columbia, showed the steep challenges regulators face. Although the companies dominate the markets they are in—social media, in the case of Facebook—the courts often look at whether prices are rising as an indication of monopolization. Facebook\u0026#039;s most popular services are free.\r\n\r\n\u0022No one who hears the title of the 2010 film The Social Network wonders which company it is about,\u0022 Judge Boasberg wrote. \u0022Yet, whatever it may mean to the public, \u0026#039;monopoly power\u0026#039; is a term of art under federal law with a precise economic meaning.\u0022 He instructed the FTC to back up claims that Facebook controlled 60% of the market for \u0022personal social networking\u0022 and that it blocked competition.\r\n\r\n\r\nIn the past, Facebook has defended itself from charges of anti-competitive behavior by pointing to the success of other companies, including new entries like TikTok, as proof that it doesn\u0026#039;t engage in monopolistic practices.\r\n\r\nWhile many of the statistics in the public version of the suit have been redacted because the data are proprietary, the FTC \u0022refuted Facebook\u0026#039;s claims that it has many competitors in social networking, instant messaging, and entertainment,\u0022 the Times noted.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe company\u0026#039;s closest competitor is Snapchat, which has tens of millions fewer users per month than either Facebook or Instagram, the top social media platforms in the U.S. As for other apps, the FTC asserted they are not comparable to Facebook, which exists in a league of its own.\r\n\r\nBecause Facebook\u0026#039;s products are for \u0022personal social networking,\u0022 the FTC said they are distinct from specialized sites or neighborhood-based apps like LinkedIn and NextDoor. The agency added that Facebook\u0026#039;s products are also \u0022different from messaging services like Signal and iMessage because users don\u0026#039;t typically use those services to send notes to big groups, nor do they use those services to find contacts,\u0022 the Times reported.\r\n\r\nFinally, the agency said that Facebook must be distinguished from Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok because content on those sites is meant to be consumed by the broader public, including strangers, unlike content created on Facebook, which is typically shared with a smaller circle of friends and family.\r\n\r\n\u0022By reining in anti-competitive behavior, we can protect consumers, innovation, small businesses, and our democracy.\u0022\r\n—Rep. Pramila Jayapal\r\n\r\n\u0022Facebook has today, and has maintained since 2011, a dominant share of the relevant market for U.S. personal social networking services, as measured using multiple metrics: time spent, daily active users, and monthly active users,\u0022 the FTC said in its amended complaint. \u0022Individually and collectively, these metrics provide significant evidence of Facebook\u0026#039;s durable monopoly power in social networking services.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Without meaningful competition,\u0022 the agency added, \u0022Facebook has been able to provide lower levels of service quality on privacy and data protection than it would have to provide in a competitive market.\u0022\r\n\r\nAs Common Dreams has reported, Facebook and Amazon responded to Khan\u0026#039;s appointment by pressuring her to recuse herself from antitrust cases involving the tech giants, prompting Jayapal and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to send a letter earlier this month telling the CEOs of the companies to stop trying to \u0022strip... Khan of her authority to enforce antitrust law.\u0022\r\n\r\nIn their new complaint, the FTC made clear that Khan will not be recusing herself from the lawsuit against Facebook. \u0022As the case will be prosecuted before a federal judge, the appropriate constitutional due process protections will be provided to the company,\u0022 the agency said.\r\n\r\nEchoing the AELP\u0026#039;s call for lawmakers to strengthen antitrust laws, Mierzwinski said that \u0022Congress still needs to give our antitrust enforcers better tools, but it\u0026#039;s clear that this FTC will fight to protect consumers and competitors with the tools it has.\u0022\r\n\r\nFacebook has until October 4 to respond in court to the amended complaint.