“It is better to buy than compete,” he allegedly wrote in an email in 2008, according to the lawsuit. Four years later, after Facebook purchased what he had called a “very disruptive” photo-sharing app, he celebrated by explaining to a colleague in another email: “Instagram was our threat. … One thing about startups though is you can often acquire them.”
As an antitrust professor preparing a new spring course called “Antitrust for Big Tech,” I read the FTC’s Dec. 9 complaint with great interest. I have taught my students for years that internal documents can come back to haunt antitrust defendants. But I have never seen a plaintiff’s case rely so heavily on a CEO’s own words.
As I read the FTC’s summary of the arguments it plans to make at trial, I began to highlight every direct quote from an internal Facebook communication. My highlighter ran out of ink.
Basing a monopolization case on a CEO’s own explanations of his conduct may seem like a…