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👨⚖️ Facebook notches a victory in the antitrust wars
The FTC’s biggest antitrust case in years has landed with a thud.
On Monday, a federal judge threw out the FTC’s action against Facebook, as well as a similar case brought forward by states. Here’s how it all went down.
The FTC’s lawsuit argued Facebook had a monopoly over social media: It pointed to acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp as evidence of Facebook’s overly dominant position.
But the judge didn’t agree: James Boasberg ruled that the FTC had essentially not provided enough facts to illustrate that Facebook held a 60%-plus share of the market. This was a stunning move, given the hype surrounding reforms to major tech companies over the last couple of years.
As for the states’ lawsuit: Boasberg said their claims about unwinding Instagram and WhatsApp all stemmed from years ago and were not nearly recent enough. He noted that the action was premised upon things that occurred “when Kevin Durant still played for the Oklahoma City Thunder and when Ebola was the virus dominating headlines.”
The potential solution for the FTC
Stop if you’ve heard this before, but legal analysts say that antitrust laws, relics of the early 20th century, must be reformed for anything to stick against Facebook and other companies.
It could potentially happen: Republicans and Democrats and Congress have signaled support, and this judicial decision may solidify their interest. “This is going to strengthen the case for legislation,” Herbert Hovenkamp, an antitrust expert at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, told the NYT. “It seems to be proof that the antitrust laws are not up to the challenge.”
The judge gave the FTC a month to refile its complaint.