Judge dismisses gov’t antitrust lawsuits against Facebook

Tech

FILE- In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York’s Times Square. Facebook’s recommendation algorithm amplifies military propaganda and other material that breaches the company’s own policies in Myanmar even though the social media giant says it’s treating the situation there as an emergency following February’s military coup, a new report by the rights group Global Witness has found.
A month after the military seized power in Myanmar and imprisoned elected leaders, Facebook’s algorithms were still prompting users to view and “like” pro-military pages with posts that incited and threatened violence, pushed misinformation that could lead to physical harm, praised the military and glorified its abuses, Global Witness said in the report, published late Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Monday dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of state attorneys general, dealing a significant blow to attempts by regulators to rein in tech giants.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled Monday that the lawsuits were “legally insufficient” and didn’t provide enough evidence to prove that Facebook was a monopoly. The ruling dismisses the complaint but not the case, meaning the FTC could refile another complaint.

“These allegations — which do not even provide an estimated actual figure or range for Facebook’s market share at any point over the past ten years — ultimately fall short of plausibly establishing that Facebook holds market power,” he said.

The U.S. government and 48 states and districts sued Facebook in December 2020, accusing the tech giant of abusing its market power in social networking to crush smaller competitors and seeking remedies that could include a forced spinoff of the social network’s Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services.

The FTC had alleged Facebook engaged in a “a systematic strategy” to eliminate its competition, including by purchasing smaller up-and-coming rivals like Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. New York Attorney General Letitia James said when filing the suit that Facebook “used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users.”

Boasberg dismissed the separate complaint made by the state attorneys general as well.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press

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