FTC Refiles Lawsuit Against Facebook

The Federal Trade Commission has refiled its lawsuit against Facebook, arguing that the social media giant is a monopoly.

The refiling comes after a federal court judge dismissed the FTC’s complaint in June.

The FTC and attorney generals from 48 states argued in their original complaint that Facebook deliberately sabotaged attempts to prevent a monopoly during its acquisition of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.

The court originally held that the FTC failed to meet its burden of proof that Facebook has a monopoly over social media in the U.S.

“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,” the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held. “The 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 added that the FTC failed to provide sufficient proof that Facebook had market power over personal social media platforms.

“The Complaint is undoubtedly light on specific factual allegations regarding consumer-switching preferences,” the court said. “These allegations — which do not even provide an estimated actual figure or range for Facebook’s market share at any point over the past ten years — ultimately fall short of plausibly establishing that Facebook holds market power.”

This time, the FTC seeks to make it clear why it believes Facebook has monopoly power. Lina Khan is just two months into her tenure as chair of the FTC.

“Facebook lacked the business acumen and technical talent to survive the transition to mobile. After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat,” Holly Vedova, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said.

The lawsuit has supporters from both sides of the political aisle in Washington.

“Facebook’s long history of anticompetitive behavior is no secret,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the chair of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, said. “I’m glad the FTC is taking renewed action to stop Facebook’s anticompetitive behavior and I encourage them to continue to consider all available options under the law to hold Facebook accountable.”

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