News roundup: Facebook’s looming D-Day, another Huawei scandal, and a fiery end to SpaceX’s Mars-bound rocket

A round up of this week's technology news including a huge antitrust battle for Facebook, a trio of exciting tech IPOs, and a new COVID-tracking app for California.


Facebook hit with massive antitrust lawsuits

In what has been an incredibly tumultuous week for Facebook, the United States has launched two huge antitrust lawsuits against the social media giant, calling for the company to be broken up over allegations it has used its dominant position to quash competitors. The suits have been described as having set the stage for what might be the biggest legal battles against a US company in decades.

The first of the two suits is being led by Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, who has garnered the support of 47 of her state AG counterparts in rallying against the tech giant. As part of the suit, James has accused the social network of abusing its “dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals, snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users.” She said she would not rest until the courts ordered Facebook to sell off WhatsApp and Instagram.

It’s funny she mentions that, because that’s exactly the overarching goal of lawsuit number 2, which has been filed against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission. In the FTC’s complaint, it accuses the company of operating a “systematic strategy to eliminate threats to its monopoly,” while leveling blame at Mark Zuckerberg for using the sale of Instagram as a means to “neutralise a competitor”.

The real smoking gun provided as part of the FTC’s suit is a series of emails from Zuckerberg where he discusses the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp in what appears to be an anti-competitive tone. In one such email, he offers justification for the Instagram buy as a way to “buy time” so that it could “integrate their dynamics before anyone can get close to their scale again.”

“Within that time, if we incorporate the social mechanics they were using, those new products won’t get much traction since we’ll already have their mechanics deployed at scale,” Zuckerberg explained.

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