Setback for Facebook: Judge allows US antitrust lawsuit

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The competition lawsuit, with which the US government wants to smash Facebook, has been accepted in the second attempt by a court in Washington. Judge James Boasberg dismissed the first version last summer, citing insufficient reasoning. In the amended lawsuit, he saw the allegation of unfair competition now much better justified, as was evident from Tuesday’s court documents. The judge also dismissed Facebook’s request to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that FTC chief Lina Khan was biased.

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) accuses Facebook, among other things, of a monopoly position in the market for online networks. Facebook also bought the WhatsApp chat service and the Instagram photo platform to protect this monopoly in an unfair way. Therefore, the takeovers would have to be reversed.

The original lawsuit was filed in December 2020 at the end of then President Donald Trump’s term of office. It was improved under the leadership of FTC boss Khan, appointed by his successor Joe Biden. The competition lawsuit against Facebook was then re-filed in August 2021.

As requested by the judge, the FTC provided more arguments in the amended lawsuit that are supposed to prove Facebook’s monopoly position. The authority relies primarily on the development of user numbers and analyzes of the time that people spend on the platform.

A spokesman for the Facebook group Meta said that Wall Street Journal after the judge ruled that it was convinced that the facts would refute the allegations. Facebook’s investments in WhatsApp and Instagram have been good for the competition and good for the people and companies who use Meta’s products.

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Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for around one billion dollars and WhatsApp in 2014 for around 22 billion dollars in the end. Instagram now has around a billion users, WhatsApp around two billion. The US competition watchdogs approved the takeovers of Instagram and WhatsApp. In addition to the FTC, an alliance of more than 40 states had filed a lawsuit against the deals, but Judge Boasberg dismissed it completely in June.

The judge stayed in the Justification of his decision propose to make a prognosis about the course of the now approved proceedings against Facebook. The FTC must substantiate their allegations in court. The process could take years to reach a decision.


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