FTC gives the green light to meta monopoly case

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Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the US Federal Trade Commission, has granted permission for Facebook to be taken to court under antitrust regulations.

Facebook, now known as Meta by the competition regulator, is trying to sell Instagram and WhatsApp.

An earlier version of this same action was unsuccessful last year due to a lack in detail.

Since then, the FTC has revised the case. A federal judge has ruled that the claim is “far stronger” and can be continued.

Meta claimed it was confident it would prevail at court.

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FTC alleges that Facebook had bought rivals in order to eliminate competition. This effectively gives Facebook a monopoly.

These were Instagram, WhatsApp and other key examples that Facebook bought in 2012 and 2014.

FTC wanted “divestiture”, which is the sale of companies in order to end the alleged monopoly.

Judging the June 2021 case, Judge James Boasberg stated that neither the FTC provided sufficient evidence nor a reason for delaying its investigation.

He wrote that it was almost like the agency expected the court to accept the common wisdom that Facebook was a monopolist.

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In the wake of the case being thrown out, Facebook’s stock price surged and the company achieved a trillion-dollar (£0.7tn) market value for the first time.

On Tuesday Judge Boasberg gave the green light to the amended case. He wrote, “In stark contrast to its predecessor, the complaint provides reinforcing and specific allegations that all point towards the same conclusion: Facebook maintained a dominant market position during the relevant period.”

He said, however: “The agency might well face a difficult task down the road when it comes to proving its claims.”

Meta asked for the dismissal of the case, claiming Lina Khan, a vocal critic and chairperson of the FTC, was biased against Meta.

Judge Boasberg said that Ms Khan is not impartial, but more like a prosecutor.

Khan undoubtedly has expressed opinions on Facebook’s monopoly powers, however these views are not indicative of the type of axe to grind’ that is based upon personal animosity and financial conflict of interests that disqualified prosecutors in past.” he wrote.

The judge however told the FTC to drop certain allegations regarding Facebook’s platform policies. However, he stated that Facebook had made changes already.

Meta stated that: “Today’s decision narrows scope of FTC’s case, rejecting claims regarding our platform policies.

“It acknowledges also that the agency has a tall task to prove its case for two acquisitions it made years ago.

Source: BBC.com

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