FTC Asks US Court Not To Grant Facebook Antitrust Dismissal Request

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FTC and US states ask US federal court not to grant Facebook’s request to dismiss their antitrust lawsuits filed against social networking giant

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a large group of US states have asked a federal court not to grant Facebook’s request to dismiss their antitrust lawsuits.

Last month Facebook had asked US District Judge James Boasberg in the District of Columbia to dismiss the antitrust lawsuits, filed by the US government and by a majority of US states.

The social networking giant said at the time that the lawsuits failed to show it had a monopoly or harmed consumers.

In December Facebook had been hit with two separate antitrust lawsuits from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a coalition of attorneys general from 48 states and territories.

Alan Turing mural at Facebook HQ

Antitrust complaints

Facebook was accused of alleged anti-competitive conduct by buying up rivals and stifle competition, and faces a risk of having to divest itself of Instagram and WhatsApp.

Facebook at the time slammed both lawsuits, claiming the lawsuits filed by the FTC and the US State Attorneys General was ‘revisionist history’.

Facebook then last month in its plea to dismiss, said that the US government had failed to show that Facebook had a monopoly in a clearly defined market or that it had hurt consumers.

The FTC, in its filing, was quoted by Reuters as saying Facebook had bought photo-sharing app Instagram because CEO Mark Zuckerberg believed it was “a large and viable competitor” and purchased the messaging app WhatsApp to neutralise a nascent threat.

The FTC has asked the court to order Facebook to sell those assets.

The states, which had filed a separate antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, said in its filing: “Deploying a buy-or-bury scheme of predatory acquisitions and exclusionary conduct, Facebook successfully squashes, suppresses, and deters competition, entrenching its monopoly power to this day.”

Tech clampdown

It is fair to say that Facebook (and other tech firms) have been facing a lot of criticism in recent years.

Indeed, even one of Facebook’s co-founders (Chris Hughes) in 2019 called for the breakup of Facebook, saying the firm he helped create was now a threat to democracy and that CEO Mark Zuckerberg welded too much power.

But it is not just Facebook that is being targeted by US authorities and US states.

In October 2020, the US Department of Justice sued Google, accusing the search giant of violating US competition laws to maintain a monopoly on internet searches and online advertising.

Google immediately hit back at the DoJ and published a hard hitting response to the biggest threat it has ever faced in its corporate history.

Google called the DoJ lawsuit “deeply flawed” and insisted that people had a choice of using different search engines, and were able to use different products from rival firms.

But Google is also facing multiple antitrust lawsuits from a number of US states.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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