Federal Court Dismisses FTC Antitrust Suit against Facebook

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Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., October 23, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

A D.C. federal court on Monday dismissed lawsuits by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 U.S. states seeking to break up Facebook over its engagement in ‘anticompetitive practices.’

The FTC had alleged that Facebook engaged in “anticompetitive conduct” through its acquisition of messaging app WhatsApp and social-media app Instagram. However, Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote in his opinion that the FTC was unable to detail its methods for concluding that Facebook held a dominant market share of social networking services.

“The FTC has failed to plead enough facts to plausibly establish a necessary element of” its claims, “namely, that Facebook has monopoly power in the market for Personal Social Networking (PSN) Services,” Boasberg wrote. “The Complaint contains nothing on that score save the naked allegation that the company has had and still has a ‘dominant share of th[at] market (in excess of 60%).’”

Boasberg granted Facebook’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but gave the FTC time to file an emended complaint if the agency chooses to do so. The FTC will be able to file an emended complaint within 30 days.

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“The Court will grant Facebook’s Motion to Dismiss, but it will dismiss without prejudice only the Complaint, not the case,” Boasberg wrote.

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