Facebook seeks court to dismiss US government, states antitrust cases

On Wednesday, Facebook urged a federal court to dismiss major antitrust lawsuits filed by the US Federal Trade Commission and virtually every state in the nation, arguing that the cases failed to prove that the business had a monopoly or damaged customers.

“By a one-vote margin, in the tense environment of relentless criticism of Facebook for matters entirely unrelated to antitrust concerns, the agency decided to bring a case against Facebook,” Facebook said in responding to the FTC complaint.

“None of the harms typically alleged in antitrust actions is alleged here,” it further noted.

The Federal Trade Commission and states sued in December, asking that the court order the social media giant to sell two precious assets: its messaging app WhatsApp and photo-sharing app Instagram. The cases will be heard by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in the District of Columbia.


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The Federal Trade Commission and states accused Facebook of violating antitrust laws by acquiring social media rivals including Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 and WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014.

Following bipartisan concern about the usage and abuse of social networking clout in the economy and politics, the federal government and states brought five lawsuits against Facebook and Alphabet’s Google last year.

Facebook claimed in its appeal to the FTC case that the government refused to prove that it had a monopoly in a clearly defined market or that it had affected customers.

The company also rejected emails from Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives expressing concern about the competitive challenge faced by Instagram and WhatsApp, which were quoted in the FTC lawsuit.

“Lacking facts to establish either unlawful conduct or harm to consumers, the FTC attempts to bolster its claims with a grab-bag of selectively quoted internal emails and messages from Facebook executives, which are offered to show that Facebook was concerned about competitive threats from Instagram and WhatsApp – but also many, many other firms,” Facebook said in its response.

Separately, Facebook claimed in a lawsuit filed by dozens of states and territories that the state case should be dismissed because the states refused to prove that they were affected by Facebook and waited more than four years.

“Facebook was wrong on the law and wrong on our complaint,” according to New York Attorney General Letitia James.

“We are confident in our case,” she said in a statement, “which is why virtually every state in the country has joined our bipartisan lawsuit to end Facebook’s unconstitutional actions.”

The FTC declined to comment on Facebook’s response. The states and the FTC have until April 7 to respond to the court.