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Judge Allows FTC To Move Forward With Its Antitrust Lawsuit Against Meta

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A federal judge has rejected Meta’s request to dismiss the Federal Trade Commission’s latest antitrust lawsuit against the company. United States District Court Judge James E. Boasberg ruled that the FTC has a plausible case and can move forward with it. The same judge had dismissed the agency’s original lawsuit last June saying the complaint is “legally insufficient”.

The FTC first filed its antitrust lawsuit against Meta back in December 2020, when the company was still known as Facebook. The lawsuit targets the social media giant’s alleged monopoly power in the market. The agency alleges that Meta abused its power by acquiring firms that could challenge its monopoly. Particularly speaking, we are talking about Facebook’s 2012 and 2014 purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp, respectively. FTC wants to unwind those acquisitions.

However, Judge Boasberg dismissed the lawsuit in June 2021 due to a lack of evidence. He said the FTC failed to ascertain its claims that Facebook has a monopoly over the US social media market with supporting facts. The judge did not fully agree with the company’s contentions but suggested that the agency itself cleared those acquisitions years ago.

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The FTC came back with an amended lawsuit in August 2021. Facebook expectedly asked the court to dismiss that as well, arguing that the agency only added more pages to its original complaint without providing any “valid factual basis” for its claims. But in a major blow to the company, the same judge has now ruled in favor of the Commission.

“Second time lucky?” Judge Boasberg wrote, adding that the amended complaint is “more robust and detailed”. However, he suggested that the FTC still has a lot of work to do. “The agency may well face a tall task down the road in proving its allegations,” he said. The judge also narrowed the scope of the lawsuit. The FTC cannot move forward with its complaint against Facebook’s interoperability policies.

Facebook aka Meta sounds confident that the FTC cannot win this lawsuit

Despite the federal judge refusing its request to dismiss the FTC’s lawsuit, Meta sounds confident that it will eventually come out on top. The company emphasized the judge limiting the scope of the lawsuit as well as his comments that the agency faces a tall task down the road.

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“We’re confident the evidence will reveal the fundamental weakness of the claims,” said Chris Sgro, a Meta spokesman. “Our investments in Instagram and WhatsApp transformed them into what they are today. They have been good for competition, and good for the people and businesses that choose to use our products.”