FTC Complaint Against Facebook, Amazon Warns of Antitrust Reforms, Tesla Under Investigation

FTC mounts another complaint against Facebook, Amazon warns third-party sellers about antitrust, Tesla autopilot investigated.

FTC Complaint Against Facebook, Amazon Warns of Antitrust Reforms, Tesla Under Investigation
FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan

August 19, 2021—The FTC submitted an amended complaint for relief against Facebook for alleged anticompetitive behavior, arguing that Facebook “holds monopoly power” and engaged in “anticompetitive acquisitions [strategies] with anticompetitive conditional dealing policies.”

Though the FTC had their original complaint against the company thrown out, this renewed argument is focused on a “buy or bury” scheme.

In a statement, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition Holly Vedova alleged, “Facebook lacked the business acumen and technical talent to survive the transition to mobile. After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat.”

Vedova compared this behavior to simply bribing competitors to simply not compete and argued that it is cases like this one that are precisely why antitrust laws were created.

“Facebook’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.”

Facebook has until October 4 to respond to the amended complaint.

Amazon warning third-party sellers on antitrust reforms

Leaked Amazon emails sent to third-party sellers instruct them to be mindful of antitrust reforms that are circulating in Congress.

CNBC confirmed with Amazon that the email was sent out instructing sellers to contact Amazon’s policy team to get more information, though at this time the nature of what would be discussed is not clear.

There is a perception among much of the public that the Biden Administration has made a hard pivot from the Trump Administration regarding antitrust policy, however as FTC Chairman Noah Phillips pointed out during Technology Policy Institute’s 2021 Aspen Forum, the FTC under the Trump Administration blocked the highest number of mergers and acquisitions since 2001.

During the same panel, Phillips also voiced concern for a broader aperture of what should fall under the purview of antitrust.

Tesla autopilot feature invites federal investigation

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration announced that it would be conducting a probe into eleven crashes since 2018 that occurred while Tesla drivers were using Tesla’s Advanced Driver Assistance System, otherwise known as the “autopilot” feature. The accidents in question resulted in 17 injuries and one death.

Because the software that the autopilot feature uses is present in Tesla Model Ys, Xs, Ss, and 3s, all approximately 765,000 thousand vehicles are a part of the investigation—which could potentially result in mass recalls.

All these models were produced between 2014 and 2021 and were engaged in crashes where the vehicles in question “encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes.”

The report appeared to indicate that because most incidents occurred in dark conditions and included “scene control measures” such as flares, emergency vehicle lights, road cones, etc., these features may have played a role in the causing the autopilot feature to cause or contribute to an accident.

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