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  • MaryGrace Lerin

Judge dismisses antitrust lawsuits filed against Facebook

A federal judge dismissed antitrust cases filed against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of state attorneys general on Monday, throwing a severe blow to regulators' efforts to reign in tech behemoths.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg concluded on Monday that the claims were “legally insufficient” and lacked sufficient evidence to establish that Facebook constituted a monopoly. The court dismisses the complaint but not the case, implying that the FTC may file a new complaint.

“These allegations -- which do not even provide an estimated actual figure or range for Facebook’s market share at any point over the past ten years -- ultimately fall short of plausibly establishing that Facebook holds market power,” he stated.

In December 2020, the United States government and 48 states and districts filed a lawsuit against Facebook, accusing the tech giant of abusing its market power in social networking to crush smaller competitors and seeking remedies that could include a forced spinoff of the social network's Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services.

According to the FTC, Facebook engaged in a “systematic strategy” to remove competition, including the purchase of smaller up-and-coming rivals such as Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. In submitting the lawsuit, New York Attorney General Letitia James stated that Facebook “used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and stifle competition, all at the expense of average users.”

The state attorneys general also filed a separate complaint, which Boasberg also dismissed.

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