Federal judge dismisses FTC and state antitrust lawsuits against Facebook

A federal judge on Monday dismissed antitrust lawsuits against Facebook brought by the Federal Trade Commission and by attorneys general from 46 states plus DC and Guam.

Judge James E. Boasberg dismissed the FTC and state cases, while blaming the government for failing to provide evidence to assert that Facebook is a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Act.

The reprimand by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia of claims by big tech critics highlights the challenges faced by regulators and litigants taking action against big tech platforms under existing federal law.

“Although the Court does not agree with all of Facebook’s arguments here, it ultimately agrees that the agency’s complaint is legally insufficient and therefore must be dismissed,” Judge Boasberg wrote in the dismissing decision. the case of the FTC. “The FTC has not alleged enough facts to plausibly establish a necessary element of all of its Section 2 claims, namely, that Facebook has monopoly power in the Personal Social Networking Services (PSN) market.”

The judge wrote that the FTC claimed that Facebook had a dominant share of more than 60% of the market for personal social networking services, but did not “provide any indication of the metrics or methods it used to calculate Facebook’s market share.” . “

If the FTC had in any way substantiated its claim of Facebook’s dominance, Judge Boasberg wrote that he viewed the plaintiffs’ other arguments as equally absurd. The FTC questioned Facebook’s policy of not making competing apps interoperable with its own products, but the judge wrote that “there is nothing illegal” about that policy generally.

Judge Boasberg wrote that the FTC and states also waited too long to file lawsuits investigating acquisitions of their Instagram and WhatsApp products.

“Although the Defendant bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, the Plaintiffs’ lawsuit, which generally seeks Facebook to divest one or both companies, was not filed until December 2020,” Judge Boasberg wrote in the decision that dismisses the states. case. “The Court is not aware of any case, and the Plaintiffs provide none, in which such a long delay in seeking such consequential relief has been approved in a case brought by a plaintiff other than the federal government, against which the fault does not apply and to which the federal antitrust laws grant a unique authority as executor of the sovereign law ”.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on the judge’s decisions.

As future legal challenges against big tech platforms advance, federal lawmakers are considering new antitrust proposals. Last week, the House Judiciary Committee reviewed a handful of new antitrust proposals with the intention of cracking down on technology companies.

Sign up for daily newsletters

Add Comment