Facebook wants FTC Chair to recuse herself from antitrust probe

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Facebook asked the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to recuse Chair Lina Khan from any antitrust actions against the company, arguing that her history of criticizing big tech companies means she cannot be impartial. 

The company pointed to Khan’s academic writing, in which she said the company “foreclosed competitors from its platform,” as well as her work for the Open Markets Institute, an anti-monopoly advocacy group that wanted Facebook to sell off subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram.

“When a new commissioner has already drawn factual and legal conclusions and deemed the target a lawbreaker, due process requires that individual to recuse herself from related matters when acting in the capacity of an FTC Commissioner,” Facebook wrote in a 27-page petition of recusal filed with the FTC.

The FTC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The move follows a nearly identical request by Amazon, which said two weeks ago that Khan should recuse herself because she had written negatively about the company in the past. 

Mark Zuckerberg testifying
Facebook argued that FTC Chair Lina Khan’s history of criticizing big tech companies means she cannot be impartial. 
Getty Images

In Facebook’s request, the company also pointed to public appearances and social media posts in which the 32-year-old legal prodigy criticized the company, including one tweet in which Khan said the company took a “copy-acquire-kill” strategy toward its competitors. 

“Chair Khan has consistently made well-documented statements about Facebook and antitrust matters that would lead any reasonable observer to conclude that she has prejudged the Facebook antitrust case brought by the FTC,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Post. 

Facebook and Amazon’s moves against Khan, who was nominated by President Biden in March and confirmed in June, show the companies plan to aggressively play defense against increasingly pugnacious antitrust authorities. 

Joe Biden and Lina Khan
FTC Chair Lina Khan was nominated by President Biden in March and confirmed in June.
REUTERS

In June, a federal judge tossed a Trump-era FTC complaint against Facebook that accused the company of monopolization and anticompetitive conduct, giving the agency until July 28 to file a new complaint in the case. 

With two weeks to go before that deadline, Facebook’s recusal request could be an attempt to get ahead of any new FTC filing. 

Amazon, meanwhile, filed its request for Khan’s recusal after reports emerged that it was facing an FTC probe over its $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM Studios. 

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“When a new commissioner has already drawn factual and legal conclusions and deemed the target a lawbreaker, due process requires that individual to recuse herself from related matters when acting in the capacity of an FTC Commissioner,” Facebook wrote in a 27-page petition of recusal filed with the FTC.
Getty Images

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