Gus Hurwitz on Facebook

Salon – ICLE Director of Law & Economics Programs Gus Hurwitz was quoted by Salon on an antitrust suit expected to be filed by the attorneys general of more than 40 states against Facebook. 

Gus Hurwitz, an associate professor of law at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, had a similar observation.

‘It’s hard to read the tea leaves, but most likely the AGs [attorneys general] are going to focus on what they see as anticompetitive acquisitions. I’d imagine this would include not just things like the Instagram purchase, but [Facebook’s] use of data from its acquisition of Onavo. Worst case is these states push to break up Facebook. That could go beyond trying to unravel specific mergers, but putting in place more substantial, ongoing, structural separation between the company’s various components. But that seems an unlikely outcome.’

He added, ‘As to why the states and DOJ are going after these companies, in part it’s just politics and response to understandable consumer concern. These companies are large and have made some seemingly concerning moves in recent years.’

Hurwitz pointed out that there is ‘an enigma at the core of the puzzle of competition law: in order to provide the pro-consumer services that they do, at the prices they offer (free!)” companies like Facebook need to sometimes behave in ways that are problematic.

‘These suits aren’t likely to improve upon the status quo, but they are just about the only tool that AGs have to respond to legitimate concerns,’ Hurwitz concluded.