Court Dismisses Facebook Antitrust Suits, But Says FTC Case Could Be Revived

A federal court in Washington, D.C. has dismissed a pair of antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general—but left open the possibility that the FTC could revive its case. The lawsuits allege that Facebook has illegally stifled competition to maintain its social networking monopoly, driving down "the quality and variety of privacy options" available to users (among other harms). But Judge James E. Boasberg ruled that the FTC and attorneys general had waited too long to challenge aspects of Facebook's Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions, and that the FTC had failed to adequately define the social networking "market" in which Facebook exercises monopoly power. Judge Boasberg noted that the FTC may be able to correct the second issue in an amended complaint and move forward with its case. EPIC has long urged the Federal Trade Commission to block or unwind Facebook's acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. In 2014, EPIC and the Center for Digital Democracy warned the FTC that Facebook incorporates user data from companies it acquires, and that WhatsApp users objected to the acquisition. Despite these problems, the FTC allowed the merger to go forward.

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