The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed an amended complaint against social media giant Facebook, amid ongoing allegations that the company is breaking antitrust laws. The filing doesn’t appear to differ extensively from its previous complaint, which was summarily thrown out in June. But the FTC has addressed at least some of the larger concerns that led to the dismissal.
In short, the initial filing failed chiefly, according to U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, because the agency didn’t prove its case that Facebook is a monopoly in its industry. The FTC alleged that Facebook’s used anticompetitive acquisitions to consolidate its monopolistic power. While also blocking potential rivals from accessing its API. And the claims here are, by-and-large, the same.
But the FTC has also gone further than its initial claim. That stated that Facebook has market power “in excess” of 60-percent without clarification on the competition’s figures. Now, it’s providing further numbers to back that up. Including a claim that Snapchat is th enext-largest provider in Facebook’s category.
That’s alongside further clarification and explanation of other figures, many of which have been redacted for the time being. Although the agency does now say that Facebook’s share of monthly active users “of apps providing personal social networking services in the United States has exceeded 65% since 2012.” With its numbers already approaching that in 2011.
Facebook has responded to the FTC filing
In terms of its response, Facebook appears to have taken a two-pronged approach to the FTC filing. The company says that the FTC’s complaint is “meritless” but also claims that the FTC is attempting to rewrite antitrust laws.
Moreover, Facebook says that the agency is attempting to “upend settled expectations of merger review,” claiming the FTC is working to declare that no sale in the business world is ever final. Specifically, speaking on its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.
Given the FTC’s complaint centers on the alleged monopolization of the social networking industry, those acquisitions are central in the complaint.
Facebook also tried to stop the complaint from being filed, to begin with
Further, the company petitioned FTC Chair Lina Khan to recuse herself from the vote to bring the case, to begin with. Citing Ms. Khan’s past criticisms of the company and the industry. The FTC Chair did not recuse herself, ultimately leading to a 3-2 vote resulting in the case being brought to court.
The Office of General Counsel released a statement on the matter, indicating that Ms. Khan’s vote would not impact the case since it would be overseen by a federal judge. Effectively ensuring that the appropriate constitutional due process protections would be provided.
Facebook now has until October 4 to respond to the amended FTC complaint.