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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook asked a federal court Monday to dismiss the latest antitrust complaint against it from the Federal Trade Commission, arguing FTC chair Lina Khan shouldn't have been able to cast the deciding vote to bring the case.

The big picture: A previous version of this suit was thrown out by a federal judge in June, and the FTC returned with a revised version in August that Facebook is now responding to.

Catch up quick: The FTC's suit says that Facebook illegally bought up potential competitors WhatsApp and Instagram and thwarted other rivals' access to its platform.

Driving the news: In a motion to dismiss filed in a D.C. federal court, Facebook argues that the FTC's second shot at alleging the company is an illegal monopoly doesn't pass muster for several reasons.

  1. Facebook says the FTC cherry-picked competitors to define a "personal social networking services" market that the agency claims the company dominates. But FTC didn't use data specifically for that market to show Facebook's market share because "no reliable data exists for its contorted PSNS market, which is a litigation-driven fiction at odds with the commercial reality."
  2. The FTC also only offers "speculation" that WhatsApp and Instagram would have become better products had they remained independent, Facebook says.
  3. And Facebook says the complaint, brought by a 3-2 commission vote, is invalid because Khan should have recused herself given her previous tech antitrust work and public statements.

What they're saying: “The FTC’s fictional market ignores the competitive reality: Facebook competes vigorously with TikTok, iMessage, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, and countless others to help people share, connect, communicate or simply be entertained," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "The FTC cannot credibly claim Facebook has monopoly power because no such power exists."

What's next: The FTC has until Nov. 17 to respond to Facebook's filing.

Go deeper

Oct 26, 2021 - Health

FTC data: Annual cigarette sales increased for first time in 20 years

Floating cigarette butts in bucket in Arcadia, Florida. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The number of annual cigarette sales increased in 2020 for the first time in two decades, according to data from the Federal Trade Commission.

Driving the news: The number of cigarettes sold by the largest cigarette companies in the U.S. increased from 202.9 billion in 2019 to 203.7 billion in 2020, according to the most recent FTC Cigarette Report.

Oct 26, 2021 - Technology

"We're not Facebook" argument falls flat on Hill

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Senators weren't buying an effort by TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat to argue that they are different from Facebook and Instagram at a hearing on children's online safety Tuesday.

Driving the news: Senators from both parties spent the Senate Commerce consumer protection subcommittee hearing urging executives to go on the record supporting various legislative changes to laws covering online content liability, privacy and children's safety.

16 hours ago - Podcasts

Online romance scams are on the rise

The pandemic has had many older Americans feeling lonely and turning to online dating websites to find a connection, but many were left with broken hearts and empty bank accounts. The FTC reports that a record $304 million dollars were lost on online romance scams in 2020. How can the most vulnerable be protected?

Axios Re:Cap talks with Washington Post personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary, who’s been reporting on online romance scams.