Press Release

Fines for Facebook Aren’t Enough: The Open Markets Institute Calls on FTC to Restructure Facebook to Protect Our Democracy

Thursday, March 22, 2018

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Fines for Facebook Aren’t Enough: The Open Markets Institute Calls on FTC to Restructure Facebook to Protect Our Democracy

The Senate should move immediately to confirm the Federal Trade Commission’s nominees so they can do their jobs and protect the public.

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Open Markets Institute called on the Senate to confirm pending nominees to the FTC immediately so the agency has the capacity to address the clear danger Facebook presents. In an op-ed published today in The Guardian, Executive Director Barry Lynn and Fellow Matt Stoller also call on the FTC to go further than simply carving away some of Facebook’s enormous profits. Instead the government should begin now to fundamentally restructure Facebook’s monopoly.

“Facebook has too much power over America’s communications infrastructure. And Facebook’s failure to manage that power responsibly has made it too easy for Russian hackers to spread propaganda and disinformation, even while making it too hard for trustworthy American journalists and editors to do their jobs. This is a direct threat to American democracy, and the government must act now,” said Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Open Markets.

Open Markets calls on the FTC to take the following actions as part of a comprehensive solution to address Facebook’s dangerous levels of monopoly power:

1) Impose strict privacy rules on Facebook, perhaps using Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation as a guide.

2) Spin off Facebook’s ad network, eliminating most of the incentive that Facebook now has to amass data and to interfere and discriminate in the provision of information and news.

3) Reverse the approvals for Facebook purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram, and reestablish these as competing social networks.

4) Prohibit all future acquisitions by Facebook for at least five years.

5) Establish a system to ensure the transparency of all political communications on Facebook, similar to other major communication networks in the United States.

6) Require Facebook to adopt open and transparent standards, similar to conditions the FTC imposed on AOL Messenger in the AOL-Time Warner merger settlement in 2001.

7) Establish whether Facebook violated the 2011 consent decree and, if so, seek court sanctions.

8) Threaten to bring further legal action against Facebook unless top executives immediately agree to work with the FTC to restructure their corporation to ensure the safety and stability of our government and economy.

9) Establish whether top executives enabled, encouraged, or oversaw violations of the 2011 consent decree and, if so, pursue personal fines against them.

The Senate must first make sure the FTC has the staff it needs to do the job. The Senate and the White House are in the middle of replacing all five FTC commissioners and they must speed up that process. If the Senate is not yet ready to approve all five commissioners, it must appoint at least two, one Republican and one Democrat. The logical choices are Joe Simons, a Republican who has been nominated to chair the FTC, and Rohit Chopra, the only Democrat now in position to move immediately into office.

You can read Lynn and Stoller’s op-ed at The Guardian.

If you are interested in speaking with our team, please reach out to [email protected].


The Open Markets Institute works to protect our economy and democracy from extreme concentrations of economic and political power. We do so by researching and reporting on the political and economic dangers posed by monopolization and advocating for ways to reestablish America’s political economy on a more fair, secure, and stable footing.