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Go-ahead for US watchdog’s Facebook suit

14 Jan 2022 / technology Print

Go-ahead for US watchdog’s Facebook competition suit

A US federal judge in Washington, DC, has allowed the country’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to proceed with a revised competition lawsuit against Facebook.

According to the ABA Journal, US District Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia had thrown out the FTC’s first suit in June 2021, because it lacked facts supporting its assertion that Facebook had monopoly power.

“Second time lucky?” Boasberg wrote in his latest opinion, before allowing the agency’s suit to proceed on one of two counts.

‘Monopoly power’

The ABA Journal says that the FTC may now seek to prove that Facebook has exercised monopoly power in the market for personal social-networking services through anti-competitive conduct – specifically, its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.

Boasberg did not allow a claim, however, that Facebook policies prevented inter-operability between its platform and apps that could become competitors.

Boasberg said that Facebook had abandoned these policies in 2018.

He warned that the FTC still had a long road ahead. 

Facebook confident

“Ultimately, whether the FTC will be able to prove its case, and prevail at summary judgment and trial, is anyone’s guess,” Boasberg wrote.

“The court declines to engage in such speculation and simply concludes that at this motion-to-dismiss stage, where the FTC’s allegations are treated as true, the agency has stated a plausible claim for relief.”

Chris Sgro, a spokesman for Facebook’s parent company Meta, was quoted in the US media as saying: “We’re confident the evidence will reveal the fundamental weakness of the claims.

“Our investments in Instagram and WhatsApp transformed them into what they are today.

“They have been good for competition and good for the people and businesses that choose to use our products.”

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland