The state of Montana has joined a lawsuit against Facebook, Inc. In a news release, the Montana Attorney General's office alleges "the company has stifled competition to protect its monopoly power." The U.S. Government and 46 states brought the complaint. The Montana Attorney General's office made the announcement Wednesday.

Montana Chief Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion said, "Over the last decade, Facebook illegally acquired competitors in a predatory manner and cut services to smaller threats. Facebook deprived users from the benefits of competition and reduced privacy protections and services along the way, all in an effort to boost its bottom line through increased advertising revenue."

The multistate lawsuit argues that Facebook, which has an estimated 2.7 billion users, has reduced users' privacy options and uses the personal information to further its business interests. It also says the company monitors and acquires new firms that might be a competitive threat, including the purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp.

The lawsuit alleges Facebook, the world's biggest social network, is in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act and various sections of the Clayton Act. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the court to halt Facebook's anti-competitive conduct now and in the future. It wants the court to restrain Facebook from any further acquisitions valued at $10 million or more without advance notice to the states filing the suit. In the 53-page document, it also asks for divestiture or restructuring of acquired companies.

In a response reported by the Associated Press, Facebook said the government plan was unfair and would punish a successful business.

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