FTC Considers Deposing Top Facebook Executives In Antitrust Probe
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “is considering taking sworn testimony from Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg as part of its investigation into whether the social-media giant has violated U.S. antitrust laws.”
The company is planning for Zuckerberg’s scheduled July 27 appearance before the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, “where he and other top tech executives are expected to be grilled by lawmakers,” The Journal wrote. “The executives weren’t deposed in the FTC’s prior probe of Facebook for alleged consumer-privacy violations, a matter that resulted in a $5 billion settlement a year ago. FTC officials in announcing that agreement said they floated the possibility of deposing Mr. Zuckerberg as one way of extracting a bigger settlement from the company.”
A Facebook spokesman said the company “has continued to demonstrate to enforcement agencies that its ‘innovation provides more choices for consumers.’ The spokesman added that Facebook looks forward to sharing its views about the competitive landscape alongside other technology leaders,” The Journal reported.
“The FTC has been examining whether Facebook has engaged in unlawful monopolistic practices, including whether it had a strategy of buying up potential rivals for the purpose of heading off future competitive threats,” the report continued. “The Justice Department also is taking a broad look at dominant online platforms over antitrust concerns, creating friction between the two agencies,” and The Journal reported in May “that [the] Justice Department was preparing to sue Google as soon as this summer.”
Facebook is “increasingly preparing for the possibility that the government may seek to limit how its products and platforms interact or force the company to divest parts of its business—and is ready to litigate those points,” the report added.
Later this month, Zuckerberg will appear before the House antitrust subcommittee along with the chief executives from Amazon, Apple, and Google. “Lawmakers, who have sought documents and testimony from all four firms, are examining whether U.S. antitrust laws need to be updated to curb what some on Capitol Hill perceive as excessive power wielded by tech giants over the digital marketplace, such as online advertising, e-commerce and smartphone apps,” The Journal concluded.