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App developers sue Facebook over alleged 'anticompetitive scheme'

Image: Facebook
Attendees stand in the demonstration room during the F8 Developers Conference in San Jose, California, on April 30, 2019.   -   Copyright  David Paul Morris Bloomberg via Getty Images
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SAN FRANCISCO — A group of companies behind now-defunct Facebook apps is suing the social media giant, claiming illegal monopolistic behavior.

The proposed class-action lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court is based entirely on previously secret documents that NBC News and international journalistic partners obtained last year.

That trove of more than 7,000 pages was leaked from a still-ongoing lawsuit brought by another now-defunct startup known as Six4Three, which made a short-lived app known as Pikinis. The documents showed CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top officials used their market position to squeeze potential rivals and competitors from 2011 through 2015.

"This action seeks to halt the most brazen, willful anticompetitive scheme in a generation — a scheme that verges on final, irreparable completion as of the date of this Complaint," the new complaint alleges. "Facebook stands today as a paragon of unbridled market power."

Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday evening.

However, in an April 2019 statement, Paul Grewal, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, said the documents had been "cherry-picked."

"The set of documents, by design, tells only one side of the story and omits important context," he said. "We still stand by the platform changes we made in 2014/2015 to prevent people from sharing their friends' information with developers like the creators of Pikinis."