Fiona Scott Morton, a former top antitrust official in the Obama administration, is accusing Facebook of anti-competitive behavior in a paper that argues the social network deceived users and squelched competitors to build an unassailable monopoly, reported The Financial Times.
Morton, the chief economist in the US Department of Justice’s antitrust division from 2011 to 2012, wrote in a paper released on Tuesday, June 9, that Facebook had “fought for at least a decade to avoid competition on the merits in the social networks market.”
The paper, which draws on information from a 2019 report on online platforms by the UK’s antitrust regulator and was funded by Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder, adds to the growing bipartisan scrutiny of Facebook in the US.
The social media company, founded and led by Mark Zuckerberg, has faced criticism over its stance towards free speech, questions about the vast data it has gathered about its users, and ongoing antitrust investigations by the Federal Trade Commission and US state attorneys-general.
Ms Morton, now a professor at Yale who has called for tougher antitrust enforcement, and her co-author, David Dinielli, an adviser at the Omidyar Network, Mr Omidyar’s investment group, argue in the paper that the current social network market is “stagnant” and overwhelmingly dominated by Facebook.
“Without antitrust or regulatory intervention, it is unlikely that anything is going to change,” they write. “Facebook can collect monopoly rents, manage the flow of information to most of the nation, and engage in virtually unlimited surveillance into the foreseeable future.”
“It’s like having the old AT&T regulated monopoly back again. Only it’s not regulated,” Ms Morton told the Financial Times, referring to the telephone monopoly AT&T held until the US government broke up the company in the 1980s.
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