A US federal court on Monday dismissed an antitrust lawsuit that threatened Facebook’s dissolution.
The FTC’s lawsuit was dismissed because the judge believed the regulator had not provided sufficient evidence to support its allegations of market abuse by the social network and falsely believed that the Washington DC court would simply agree, that Facebook is a monopoly.
A parallel case by attorneys general trying to “stop Facebook’s anti-competitive behavior” was also disposed of.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s market cap closed above the trillion dollar mark for the first time. The share price stands at $ 355.64 apiece, up four percent today and 52 percent last year.
The FTC’s high profile case alleged Facebook violated US antitrust laws by systematically taking over emerging competitors – mostly Instagram and WhatsApp – and imposing anti-competitive restrictions on software developers. This, we are told, left Internet users “few opportunities for personal social networking and deprived advertisers of the advantages of competition”.
However, Judge James Boasberg dismissed the lawsuit, saying the watchdog had failed to provide convincing evidence that Facebook was, in fact, a monopoly.
“The agency’s complaint is legally inadequate and must therefore be dismissed,” he said [PDF].
“The FTC has failed to provide enough facts to plausibly support a necessary element of all of its Section 2 claims – that Facebook has monopoly power in the Personal Social Networking (PSN) market. The complaint contains nothing in this regard except the bare claim that the company has and still has a “dominant stake in this”[at] Market (over 60 percent). ‘
“The FTC’s lawsuit says almost nothing concrete about the key question of how much power Facebook actually had and has in a properly defined antitrust product market. It’s almost as if the agency would expect the court to simply nod at conventional opinion, that “Facebook is a monopoly.”
The lawsuit was not fully dismissed: the FTC may file an amended lawsuit in the next 30 days that addresses the judge’s criticism if it wishes to continue the case. “The FTC is carefully reviewing the opinion and evaluating the best option for the future,” a spokesman told us.
Nobody on Facebook wanted to comment in time for publication.
Eventually, this sister case, filed by 46 attorneys general across the country as well as DC and Guam, closed with no prospect of return. The judge said that too much time had passed since Facebook took over Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014, respectively, and that states had failed to explain how the social network broke the law by “enhancing interoperability.” with competing apps ”. ®