Federal Judge Rejects Facebook’s Request to Dismiss FTC’s Latest Antitrust Lawsuit

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The ruling allows the agency to proceed with the amended case accusing the meta platform entity of abusing its monopoly position in social media

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The FTC first filed its antitrust case against Facebook in late 2020, but Judge Bosberg dealt a legal blow to the commission last June, dismissing the lawsuit on the grounds that it had not made enough allegations that social-media giant company was engaged in illegal monopoly

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The FTC responded with a new version of its complaint, which offered longer, more detailed charges against the company.

The judge’s Tuesday ruling said the FTC could proceed with its original allegation that Facebook tried to stifle competition by buying out potential rivals such as the messaging platform WhatsApp and the image-sharing app Instagram. The commission wants to keep those deals open.

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The judge said the FTC’s rewritten lawsuit did a better job of alleging that Facebook had monopoly power and maintained it through deliberate antitrust conduct. For the purposes of deciding to dismiss the case prior to trial, Judge Bosberg had to believe that the government’s allegations were true.

The judge also rejected Facebook’s argument that new FTC chair Lina Khan should have recused herself from participating in the commission’s decision to refile the lawsuit, which was based on a party-line 3-2 vote. had come. The company had argued that Ms. Khan, a prominent progressive critic of large tech firms, could not be impartial and had made up her mind before joining the FTC that the company had violated the law.

“While Khan has undoubtedly expressed views about Facebook’s monopoly power, these views do not suggest the kind of ‘grinding with an ax’ based on personal animosity or financial conflicts of interest, which have disqualified prosecutors in the past.” given,” Judge Bosberg wrote.

The commission filed the first version of its suit before Ms Khan joined the commission, and the judge said there was no reason to think that her vote to reinstate it later “other than her belief in the validity of the allegations.” Was based on something else. There is no need to be isolated for this kind of behavior.”

However, the judge sided with Facebook on another issue, ruling that the FTC could not proceed with allegations that the company used strong-arm tactics to undermine competitors, such as third-party app developers. Blocking access to Facebook’s platform.

A META spokesperson said the decision narrowed the scope of the FTC’s case. “We believe the evidence will reveal the fundamental weakness of the claims,” ​​the spokesperson said. “Our investments in Instagram and WhatsApp turned them into what they are today. They have been good for the competition, and good for the people and businesses who choose to use our products.”

Holly Vedova, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said agency employees “submitted a strong amended complaint, and we look forward to testing.”

The timeline of the case is unclear, but the trial could take years.

Write Brent Kendall at [email protected]

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