Facebook Urges Dismissal Of Lawsuits From US Government, US States

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Social networking giant Facebook asks a US federal court to dismiss three antitrust lawsuits, saying there is no evidence or basis for the action

Facebook is asking a US federal court to dismiss antitrust lawsuits, filed by the US government and by a majority of US states.

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

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

FTC lawsuit

Facebook is being 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’.

And now Facebook is taking its argument to a federal courtroom, and logged its plea to dismiss with US District Judge James Boasberg in the District of Columbia.

“By a one-vote margin, in the fraught environment of relentless criticism of Facebook for matters entirely unrelated to antitrust concerns, the agency decided to bring a case against Facebook,” Facebook was quoted by Reuters as saying in response to the FTC complaint.

Facebook argued that the government failed to show that Facebook had a monopoly in a clearly defined market or that it had hurt consumers.

“None of the harms typically alleged in antitrust actions is alleged here,” it said.

Facebook also reportedly dismissed emails cited in the FTC lawsuit written by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives expressing worry about the competitive threat posed by Instagram and WhatsApp.

“Lacking facts to establish either unlawful conduct or harm to consumers, the FTC attempts to bolster its claims with a grab-bag of selectively quoted internal emails and messages from Facebook executives, which are offered to show that Facebook was concerned about competitive threats from Instagram and WhatsApp – but also many, many other firms,” Facebook said in its response.

US States lawsuit

Facebook also responded separately to the lawsuit brought by dozens of states and territories.

The social networking giant argued that the state case should be dismissed because the states failed to show that they were harmed by Facebook and because they waited more than four years.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said that Facebook was “wrong on the law and wrong on our complaint.”

“We are confident in our case, which is why almost every state in this nation has joined our bipartisan lawsuit to end Facebook’s illegal conduct,” she was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement.

Reuters reported that the FTC had no comment regarding Facebook’s response.

But the both the FTC and the US states have until 7 April to formally respond to the court.

Tech clampdown

It is fair to say that Facebook has been facing a lot of criticism in recent years, given the size of the firm and its reach into the daily lives of 2.5 billion people.

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.

And the political environment has certainly turned against big tech over the past three years.

In the summer of 2020, the CEOs of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple were forced to testify before the US Congress, as part of a bigger investigation of their influence on the market.

And then in October 2020, the 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.

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

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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