SHOW MORE 

US government, 48 states bring antitrust action against Facebook

FILE - This March 29, 2018 file photo shows the Facebook logo on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. Facebook said Thursday Dec. 3, 2020, it will start removing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, in its latest move to counter a tide of coronavirus-related online misinformation. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
FILE - This March 29, 2018 file photo shows the Facebook logo on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. Facebook said Thursday Dec. 3, 2020, it will start removing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, in its latest move to counter a tide of coronavirus-related online misinformation. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) (AP)

Federal regulators asked Wednesday for Facebook to be ordered to divest its Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services as the U.S. government and 48 states and districts accused the company of abusing its market power in social networking to crush smaller competitors.

The antitrust lawsuits were announced by the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

“It’s really critically important that we block this predatory acquisition of companies and that we restore confidence to the market,” James said during a press conference announcing the lawsuit.

In its lawsuit, the FTC is seeking the separation of the services from Facebook, saying Facebook has engaged in a “a systematic strategy” to eliminate its competition, including by purchasing smaller up-and-coming rivals like Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. James echoed that in her press conference, saying Facebook “used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users.”

Facebook is the world’s biggest social network with 2.7 billion users and a company with a market value of nearly $800 billion whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the world’s fifth-richest individual and the most public face of Big Tech swagger. Facebook did not have immediate comment.

This story is developing.