Following news that the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against Meta overcame a critical hurdle earlier this week, the agency is apparently also taking an interest in the company’s VR business.
Bloomberg reports that the FTC and several state attorneys general are investigating Meta’s virtual reality division for “potential anti-competitive practices.” New York reportedly leads the state-level investigation, which has been talking to outside software developers creating apps for Meta’s VR experience.
State and federal authorities are examining how the company may have engaged in anti-competitive behavior to suppress competition in the VR market. Employees were also interested in how the company subsidizes the price of its Quest 2 VR headset to push it to consumers and eliminate competition, according to Bloomberg.
The fact that the FTC is investigating Meta’s app store, hardware and software practices suggests that the company’s acquisitions are not its only angle on what could be a landmark antitrust case that will define the next era of internet business.
In December, The information reported that the FTC was considering a proposed acquisition of Meta from Supernatural, a VR fitness app, in a deal worth more than $400 million.
Earlier this week, a judge ruled that the FTC’s flagship antitrust case against Facebook (owned by parent Meta) could continue, dismissing the company’s effort to block it. In December, Facebook asked the court to drop the lawsuit and lobbied FTC Chair Lina Khan, an advocate of spin-off from big tech companies, to refuse.
In that lawsuit, the FTC accuses Facebook of abusing its market power to clamp down on rivals in the social media space and goes so far as to ask a judge to get parent Meta to get rid of Instagram and WhatsApp.
“The facts alleged this time to bolster these theories, however, are far more robust and detailed than before, particularly with regard to the contours of the defendant’s alleged monopoly,” the US District said. Judge James Boasberg wrote.
“…While the agency may face a major task on the way to proving its claims, the Court believes it has now canceled the order and can proceed with the discovery.”