eBay slams ‘alarming’ meta subpoena in FTC monopoly case

E-commerce platform eBay Inc on Monday asked a US judge to block a bid by Meta Platforms Inc for testimony from an eBay company official as the social media giant solicits information from competitors to support a federal antitrust lawsuit to counter trade commissions. eBay attorneys for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan said in a filing in federal court in San Francisco that Meta is seeking confidential business information about eBay’s privacy policies, data retention and other issues not relevant to the FTC’s monopoly claims.

The subpoena fight is the latest flash in Meta’s campaign to extract information from other tech and social media companies ahead of a possible trial against the FTC next year.

Meta met some resistance from other companies, who said their information requirements were too broad or invasive. In November, a judge ruled that Sequoia Capital could not overturn subpoenas from Meta for information about how the venture capital firm analyzed photo-sharing site Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp before Meta bought them.


“Meta’s discovery of gluttony confirms that its request to eBay is not worthy of the burden Meta seeks to impose,” eBay’s attorneys said in the California court. “The breadth of the subpoena,” they said, “is alarming.”

A Meta spokesman said in a statement that the company “is soliciting information from companies that we compete with or that we believe may have information regarding the FTC’s claims.”

The FTC sued Meta in federal court in DC in 2020, accusing the company of abusing its power in the “personal social networking services” market. The lawsuit aims to force Meta to sell photo-sharing app Instagram and messaging platform WhatsApp.

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Meta has denied the FTC’s antitrust allegations. Among other things, it contests the FTC’s claimed market for “personal social networking services.”

Quinn Emanuel’s lawyers at eBay derided Meta as a “plaintiff who grossly disregarded the limits of reasonableness and proportionality” when seeking information from third parties.

An eBay representative and his attorneys at Quinn Emanuel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The FTC declined to comment.

eBay’s lawyers claim that the company does not compete with Meta on social media, but competes through e-commerce service Facebook Marketplace.

eBay said it has already shared nearly 2,500 pages of internal records with Meta.

But the company said it “should not be compelled to disclose further confidential information to a competitor unless it clearly demonstrates that the information is relevant and necessary, which is not the case here.”