Jun 28, 2021 - Technology

Judge dismisses FTC's antitrust complaint against Facebook

Illustration of the facebook logo sitting on a scale

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A federal district judge on Monday dismissed the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust complaint alleging Facebook engaged in anticompetitive practices.

Driving the news: The judge described the FTC's complaint as "legally insufficient" in making the case that Facebook has monopoly power in the personal social network market.

Details: The FTC suit, filed in December, asked the court to unwind Facebook's acquisitions of Instagram and Whatsapp, among other remedies.

  • In his ruling, Judge James Boasberg of the Federal District Court in D.C. wrote: "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. It is almost as if the agency expects the court to simply nod to the conventional wisdom that Facebook is a monopolist."

What's next: The order notes the FTC can refile its complaint.

  • The complaint lacked specifics on the metrics or methods the FTC used to calculate Facebook's market share, but the judge noted "this defect could conceivably be overcome by re-pleading."

Separately, the same judge dismissed a parallel antitrust lawsuit brought by a coalition of state attorneys general.

  • Boasberg wrote that the states had waited too long to challenge acquisitions that occurred nearly a decade ago.
  • A spokesperson for the New York Attorney General's Office said, "We are reviewing this decision and considering our legal options.”
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