Fb supplied to license the code earlier than antitrust charges

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, testifies before the House’s Energy and Trade Committee at the Rayburn House office building on Capitol Hill on April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Yasin Ozturk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Before federal and state investigators filed sweeping antitrust lawsuits against Facebook in federal court this month, the company’s top lawyers reportedly expanded an olive branch to show it could boost competition.

Facebook lawyers told investigators it could help a new social network establish itself by licensing its own code and users’ networks of relationships with another company, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Investigators ultimately declined to approach Facebook about the proposal, the Post said, but the offer shows what Facebook was and wasn’t willing to give up in order to get out of the lawsuits. Facebook has denied allegations of anti-competitive behavior.

Part of the lawsuits focus on the concept of network effects, which describes how an industrial network can become more and more “sticky” to users as it gets larger. For example, if most of a user’s friends and family have joined a single social network, that user will have less incentive to move to a new platform with fewer users, even if it has some more desirable features.

The offer reported by Facebook may not have fully taken this effect into account. As a result of the lawsuits, regulators believe that Facebook’s stamina is not only due to its technology, but also to its already well-established place in many people’s lives.

Facebook did not comment on CNBC, but a spokesman for the Post told the Post in a statement: “We will vigorously defend the ability of people and businesses to continue to defend our free services, advertisements and apps because of the value they bring.”

An FTC spokesman declined to comment, and a representative for New York attorney general Letitia James, who leads the states’ efforts against Facebook, did not respond immediately.

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

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