Facebook has offered the Federal Trade Commission an unusual offer to avoid antitrust measures of licensing its code and network to competitors.
In the wake of the committee’s lawsuit against Facebook, the Washington Post reported a raft of new details regarding the company’s negotiations with regulators in the lead up to the case.
According to a press report, Facebook was willing to drastically change its business practices in order to avoid litigation.
Among the proposed changes are licensing access to its robust code and network of complex user relationships to other companies so that they can create their own version of the social network more easily.
The Federal Trade Commission rejected Facebook’s offer, and the complaint was filed on December 9, alleging that Facebook used the power of its platform to stifle competitors and is seeking to reverse the WhatsApp and Instagram acquisitions.
It is not clear what the platform licensing looks like in practice, but it is a confusing suggestion for those looking for ways to make it easier for users to switch between platforms.
This type of licensing deal allows startups like TikTok to buy access to many of Facebook’s powerful tools, but it is not clear that they produce meaningful competition for the company.
As detailed in a case filed by the Texas state attorney against Google, the deal guarantees Facebook wins a certain percentage of bids through Google’s auction site, which could constitute collusion between the two companies.
According to newspaper reports, the deal was openly promoted by Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, who told CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the arrangement was a strategically big deal.
Facebook executives were also given detailed and explicit instructions on how to avoid antitrust violations.
Both companies deny the claim, although much of the state’s evidence has yet to be provided.
A Google representative said: “The claims of Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas, about advertising technology are inaccurate, and we do not tamper with open auctions nor do we prevent companies from participating in any auction.