Social Media

Facebook files motion to dismiss US federal government, states antitrust lawsuits

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on March 11, 2021

The lawsuits had accused Facebook of abusing its market power to create a monopoly and crush smaller competitors.

Facebook has asked a US court to dismiss two antitrust lawsuits brought by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general in the United States.

The company has filed motions to dismiss the lawsuits. The FTC and 48 states had filed parallel antitrust lawsuits against Facebook in December 2020 accusing the social media major of anti-competitive behaviour.

The lawsuits had accused Facebook of abusing its market power to create a monopoly and crush smaller competitors. The move may force the social media giant to sell WhatsApp and Instagram, as per reports.

Facebook has now filed motions to dismiss the lawsuits on grounds that the complaints do not “credibly claim” that its conduct harmed either competition or consumers.

“Relying on a market definition that doesn’t make sense, these cases attempt a do-over — challenging acquisitions cleared by the FTC years ago, after enormous investment by Facebook to make them into the apps people enjoy today,” Facebook said in an official release.

The government ignores the realities of the fierce competition we face every day and sends a dangerous message that no sale is ever final.

In its motion to dismiss the FTC’s Lawsuit, Facebook argued that “the FTC has not alleged facts amounting to a plausible antitrust case.”

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“The FTC’s case against Facebook ignores the reality of the dynamic, intensely competitive high-tech industry in which Facebook operates,” it said.

Detailing arguments in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by 48 state attorney-generals, the tech giant said, “the complaint filed by the state attorneys general fails on multiple grounds. It does not and cannot assert that their citizens paid higher prices, that output was reduced, or that any objective measure of quality declined as a result of Facebook’s challenged actions.”

“Instead, the states, even more explicitly than the FTC, ground their lawsuit in public policy concerns — digital privacy, for example — that are not antitrust law concerns. And, like the FTC, the states focus their attacks on what Facebook did long ago. Their afterthought claims are brought by the wrong parties, are untimely, and are empty as a matter of antitrust law,” it added.

The FTC and the states, in their complaints, have alleged that Facebook’s Facebook chose to buy companies instead of competing with them, as per a Wall Street Journal report. The cases focus on major Facebook acquisitions such as WhatsApp and Instagram.

The tech giant will be required to meet a high legal standard for a federal judge to throw out the cases before they go to trial, as per the report.

The FTC has declined to comment on this, as per media reports. While New York Attorney General Letitia James said, “Facebook is wrong on the law and wrong on our complaint,” as quoted by the WSJ report.

“We are confident in our case, which is why almost every state in this nation has joined our bipartisan lawsuit to end Facebook’s illegal conduct,” James said in the statement as per the report.

The FTC and the states will be required to respond to the motions in April.

Published on March 11, 2021

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