Going against the current effort from Congress to rein in Big Tech, a federal judge dismissed and threw out a series of antitrust lawsuits that had been slated against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission along with a group of more than 40 other states.
Back at the end of 2020 in December, a group of 48 states, alongside the Federal Trade Commission, slung accusations at Facebook of “buying up its rivals to illegally squash competition” and “cement its dominance over social media,” as reported by The New York Times.
This series of lawsuits were based upon the idea that Facebook’s conquest and acquisition of Instagram back in 2012 for $1 billion and WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion, along with a large series of other much smaller companies, were all part of a larger plan seeking to establish a complete monopoly on the market.
This past Monday, A judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, James E. Boasberg, stated that the cases would need to be tossed out because “too much time had elapsed since the alleged offenses took place,” reported The New York Times.
“The states, led by Letitia James, the New York attorney general, accused Facebook in December of buying up nascent competitors like Instagram and WhatsApp — deals made in 2012 and 2014 — to cement its monopoly over social networking,” the report stated. “In a separate, 53-page opinion, he said the complaint by the Federal Trade Commission, also filed in December, failed to provide enough facts to back its claims that Facebook had a monopoly over personal social networking.”
“Although the Court does not agree with all of Facebook’s contentions here, it ultimately concurs that the agency’s Complaint is legally insufficient and must therefore be dismissed,” reads the filing from U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “The FTC has failed to plead enough facts to plausibly establish a necessary element of all of its Section 2 claims — namely, that Facebook has monopoly power in the market for Personal Social Networking (PSN) Services.”
“The Complaint is undoubtedly light on specific factual allegations regarding consumer-switching preferences” stated the court. “These allegations — which do not even provide an estimated actual figure or range for Facebook’s market share at any point over the past ten years — ultimately fall short of plausibly establishing that Facebook holds market power.”
As noted by CNBC, the filing brought to light that the FTC’s complaint “seemed to assume that the court would agree Facebook is a monopoly.”
“The FTC’s Complaint says almost nothing concrete on the key question of how much power Facebook actually had, and still has, in a properly defined antitrust product market,” read the filing. “It is almost as if the agency expects the Court to simply nod to the conventional wisdom that Facebook is a monopolist.”