Facebook petitions for FTC chair’s recusal in antitrust case

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Facebook is seeking Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina KhanLina KhanHillicon Valley: Biden warns Putin on Russian ransomware attacks | Biden signs sweeping order to boost competition| TikTok updates automated takedown system A new view of digital rights: Make them part of digital infrastructure Court ruling sets up ever more bruising fight over tech MORE‘s recusal from participating in decisions about how the agency proceeds with its antitrust case against the social media giant, according to a petition the company filed Wednesday. 

The company argues Khan must recuse herself over public statements she made before she was confirmed to the commission and named chair earlier this year when she accused Facebook of conduct that “meets the elements of an antitrust offense.” 

Facebook’s petition calls out Khan’s time working for the advocacy group Open Markets Institute, her academic writing, and, most recently, her time as an aide on the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust investigation into tech giants. 

“These statements – which Facebook vigorously disputes as unsupported and contrary to law – convey to any disinterested observer that Chair Khan, well before becoming a Commissioner, had already decided the material facts relevant to Facebook’s liability in the Commission’s pending antitrust lawsuit and already reached legal conclusions that Facebook was liable under the antitrust laws,” the petition states. 

Facebook’s petition seeking to recuse Khan comes after Amazon sent a similar request to the FTC last month.

Amazon requested Khan be recused from any antitrust investigation into the company over her past critiques of the e-commerce giant. 

Facebook’s decision, however, comes at a pivotal moment when the FTC is weighing options to move forward with an antitrust lawsuit against the social media platform.  

A federal judge dismissed the FTC’s complaint, arguing the agency provided insufficient evidence to prove that Facebook controls over 60 percent of the market share as the lawsuit alleges. 

But the agency has until the end of the month to file an amended complaint in an attempt to better make its case. 

A spokesperson for the FTC declined to comment on Facebook’s petition for recusal. 

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