On Monday, a US federal court dismissed the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) antitrust complaint against Facebook. Filed in December last year, the lawsuit alleged the social media giant stifled competition by acquiring firms that could erode its monopoly. The complaint specifically sought to unwind Facebook’s 2012 and 2014 acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, respectively.
Judge James E. Boasberg of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, however, said the agency’s complaint is “legally insufficient” though the court does not agree with all of Facebook’s contentions either. He suggested those acquisitions happened years before this suit was filed.
The judge ruled that FTC failed to ascertain its claims with supporting facts. The agency contended the social media giant has a monopoly over the US social media market. However, it could not provide sufficient evidence to support that contention.
“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,” the judge wrote. “It is almost as if the agency expects the Court to simply nod to the conventional wisdom that Facebook is a monopolist.”
The ruling doesn’t mean the end of the case though. FTC can file an amended complaint within 30 days though, the judge said. The agency is very likely to come up with a stronger case over the next few weeks. It is “closely reviewing the opinion and assessing the best option forward,” an FTC spokesperson said.
The parallel antitrust case against Facebook from states entirely dismissed
Separately, the same federal court also dismissed a parallel case brought forward by 48 state attorneys general. Judge James cited an “unreasonable delay” in filing suit while dismissing the case in its entirety. While the ruling means the end of the case, a spokesman for the New York Attorney General Letitia James said the state is ” reviewing this decision and considering our legal options.”
This decision deals a major blow to the US government’s attempts to break down the Big Tech firms. Facebook, meanwhile, is happy about it, of course.
“We are pleased that today’s decisions recognize the defects in the government complaints against Facebook,” the company said in a statement. “We compete fairly every day to earn people’s time and attention and will continue to deliver great products for the people and businesses that use our services.”
Facebook’s stocks also surged significantly following this ruling. A four percent rise in share price means the company’s market capitalization cleared the $1 trillion mark for the first time in history.