A liberal nonprofit that advocates for market competition is urging federal authorities to investigate whether top executives including Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg broke the law, adding personal accusations to the allegations facing the company following disclosures from a whistle-blower.

The Washington-based American Economic Liberties Project is sending a letter Friday to the leaders of the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission offering examples of what it identified as potential wrongdoing and calling on the agencies to open inquiries. 

The allegations include that the executives inflated video metrics and misled advertisers; miscounted users and misrepresented advertising reach; failed to disclose inaccurate user counts; and lied to Congress about user control over data. The group said these allegations merit criminal investigation, but it’s unclear if the letter will spur federal authorities to act.  

Facebook declined to comment on the letter and a description of the allegations it contained.

The left-leaning nonprofit was founded in early 2020 by advocates for more robust antitrust enforcement. The group applauded the Biden administration’s appointment of Lina Khan to chair the FTC and Jonathan Kanter to lead the DOJ’s antitrust division. It has also supported bills to target big tech companies for their dominance, acquisition strategy and treatment of competitors. 

The group’s funding comes from foundations and individuals, including the Economic Security Project, the Omyidyar Network and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

Chris Hughes, who started Facebook with Zuckerberg and has since been an outspoken critic, is the co-chair of the Economic Security Project. Other entities associated with tech billionaire Pierre Omidyar also supported Frances Haugen, the former Facebook employee turned whistleblower.

Facebook, which announced on Thursday that it was changing its corporate name to Meta Platforms Inc., has been under fire on several fronts in Washington since Haugen turned a trove of internal documents over to the SEC, Congress and journalists. Friday’s letter cites documents related to two ongoing court cases, as well as Haugen’s files revealing internal Facebook discussions.

“It is clear that Facebook’s leaders simply do not believe they will ever face meaningful sanction for lawless behavior,” according to the letter, which was obtained by Bloomberg. “Facebook’s longstanding track record of unethical and potentially illegal behavior deserves criminal sanction.”

Haugen filed eight complaints with the SEC based on her documents, and the FTC was already challenging the company’s previous acquisition of Instagram and Whatsapp. But opening new investigations to hold executives personally responsible would be a new strategy for federal enforcers. 

First « 1 2 » Next