FTC Antitrust Probe of Facebook Scrutinizes Its Acquisitions

The Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust investigation of Facebook Inc. is examining the social media giant’s acquisitions to determine if they were part of a campaign to snap up potential rivals before they could become a threat, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company’s acquisition practices are a central component of the FTC probe, the people said. Facebook disclosed the FTC’s antitrust investigation in its earnings announcement last week, but provided few details.

FTC investigators are looking for evidence on whether Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg purchased startup technology firms to keep them from challenging Facebook’s empire, the people said.

The FTC has begun reaching out to people who founded companies that Facebook purchased, some of the people said.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. In its announcement last week, Facebook said that the FTC was investigating “in the areas of social networking or social media services, digital advertising, and/or mobile or online applications.”

An FTC spokeswoman declined to comment. The investigation comes on the heels of a separate case in which the commission fined Facebook $5 billion for alleged privacy missteps.


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