Federal court dismisses FTC antitrust complaint against Facebook

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A federal court has dismissed an antitrust complaint against Facebook lodged by the Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states, citing a lack of evidence that the company is a monopoly in its market.

On Monday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted Facebook's request, to have the antitrust lawsuit dismissed. The court found that the FTC did not provide enough data to prove that Facebook held monopoly power in the loosely defined Personal Social Networking Services category.

"Although the Court does not agree with all of Facebook's contentions here, it ultimately concurs that the agency's Complaint is legally insufficient and must therefore be dismissed. FTC has failed to plead enough facts to plausibly establish a necessary element of all of its Section 2 claims — namely, that Facebook has monopoly power in the market for Personal Social Networking (PSN) Services," the court's filing reads.

However, only the complaint was dismissed, not the case. That means the FTC can refile the complaint in the future.

"The FTC's Complaint says almost nothing concrete on the key question of how much power Facebook actually had, and still has, in a properly defined antitrust product market," the filings reads. "It is almost as if the agency expects the Court to simply nod to the conventional wisdom that Facebook is a monopolist," the filing reads.

Back in December 2020, the FTC and the attorneys general for 46 U.S. states lodged antitrust complaints against the social media giant.

The lawsuits focused on Facebook's acquisition of social media companies like Instagram and WhatsApp, alleging that the company acquired the rising rivals to squash competition. One of the potential remedies could be forced divestment from those companies.

The dismissal represents a major blow to government attempts to reign in the power of Big Tech. However, antitrust scrutiny and potential legislation that could curb the power of Silicon Valley tech giants still looms.

Earlier in June, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a sweeping slate of bills that could, among other things, ban companies like Facebook from acquiring smaller competing firms and prevent them from competing in markets they operate. All pieces of legislation in the antitrust package have been approved, meaning they'll go before the full House for a vote.

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