FTC can take Facebook lawsuit to court

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Biden administration received another chance to sue Facebook over claims that it is a monopoly.

A federal judge rejected parent company Meta Platforms’ attempt to throw out the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust complaint.

The Tuesday ruling of US District Judge James Boasberg reverses his decision last Summer to dismiss the initial FTC case.

Boasberg, who called Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. to ask for an amended complaint, granted the agency permission to file it. “more robust and detailed.”

“Second time lucky?”Boasberg wrote his ruling. He stated that the FTC lawsuit was his first. “stumbled out of the starting blocks.”

The news doesn’t appear to have affected the company in the eyes of investors. Meta Platforms shares rose nearly 2% in Wall Street trading Tuesday.

In Tuesday’s ruling, Boasberg acknowledged that the FTC complaint could “plausibly establish” that Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp constituted “anti-competitive conduct.”

Facebook wanted Boasberg to dismiss the complaint, just like he did last summer. “no valid factual basis.”

The Federal Trade Commission and Lina Khan, its commissioner, have won the ruling. Lina Khan has vowed that she will rein in Big Tech. POOL/AFP

The amended complaint attempts to define the meaning of “personal social media.”

The FTC argued that Facebook’s sphere of competition is separate from online platforms like YouTube or TikTok, which users do not primarily use to communicate with friends and family.

While the amended complaint was an improvement over the initial lawsuit, Boasberg, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Barack Obama, said the FTC faces a daunting task – proving that Facebook is indeed a monopoly.

“Although the agency may well face a tall task down the road in proving its allegations, the Court believes that it has now cleared the pleading bar and may proceed to discovery,”Boasberg wrote.

A spokesperson for Meta told the Post: “Today’s decision narrows the scope of the FTC’s case by rejecting claims about our platform policies.

“It also acknowledges that the agency faces a ‘tall task’ proving its case regarding two acquisitions it cleared years ago.”

The spokesperson added: “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.”

But the agency tasked with protecting consumers doesn’t see it that way.

“Facebook holds monopoly power in the provision of personal social networking in the United States and has held such power continuously since at least 2011,”The FTC submitted an amended complaint.

Facebook has slammed the FTC’s “meritless”Getty Images

The FTC’s core argument that Facebook was engaging in a crime of violence is preserved in the amended complaint. “buy or bury”scheme to eliminate competition such as Instagram and WhatsApp, helping the firm obtain an illegal monopoly that harms consumers.

“Unable to maintain its monopoly or its advertising profits by fairly competing, Facebook’s executives addressed this existential threat by buying up the new mobile innovators, including its rival Instagram in 2012 and mobile messaging app WhatsApp in 2014, who had succeeded where Facebook had failed,”The FTC claimed.

Boasberg also rejected Facebook’s contention that the FTC’s vote to file the amended complaint is invalid due to Chair Lina Khan’s past statements critical of Big Tech.

Khan was told by the company to refrain from speaking on Facebook-related matters because of an alleged inherent bias.

Boasberg was not pleased and wrote: “The Court believes that such contention misses its target, as Khan was acting in a prosecutorial capacity, as opposed to in a judicial role, in connection with the vote.”

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

“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.”

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