Judge Lets FTC Proceed With Antitrust Lawsuit Against Facebook

A federal judge will allow an antitrust lawsuit brought by the federal government against Facebook to move forward, concluding that the Federal Trade Commission met the threshold for putting forward a valid claim of the platform’s anticompetitive conduct.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg was a bit of a surprise, as last summer he tossed out the FTC’s lawsuit, calling it “legally insufficient.” But the FTC filed an amended lawsuit in August, and Boasberg wrote that it “has now cleared the pleading bar and may proceed to discovery.”

Boasberg wrote that the FTC’s new complaint contained more robust facts in backing up its claim that Facebook has monopoly power and “has willfully maintained that power through anticompetitive conduct — specifically, the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.”

“Ultimately, whether the FTC will be able to prove its case and prevail at summary judgment and trial is anyone’s guess,” the judge 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 under Section 2 of the Sherman Act.”

In June, Boasberg also tossed out a lawsuit brought by 48 state attorneys general, concluding that they waited too long to filed their case.

More to come.


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