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Federal lawsuit against Meta given go-ahead by court

A judge has ruled the US Federal Trade Commission can proceed with its revised antitrust lawsuit against Facebook owner Meta, seven months after its initial complaint was thrown out.

Federal lawsuit against Meta given go-ahead by court
Photograph: Muhammad Asyfaul on Unsplash.

Judge James Boasberg said the amended suit contained “more robust and detailed” evidence, concluding: “Although the agency may well face a tall task down the road in proving its allegations, the court believes that it has now cleared the pleading bar and may proceed to discovery.”

Boasberg added: “In short, the FTC has done its homework this time around.”

In October, Meta urged the court to dismiss the suit, arguing that the FTC had “no valid factual basis for alleging monopoly power.”

The amended lawsuit is longer than the previous one, but contains many of the same arguments. Specifically, the FTC alleges that Meta’s acquisition of Instagram in 2021 and WhatsApp in 2014 secured the company’s dominance of the social media market.

“Today’s decision narrows the scope of the FTC’s case by rejecting claims about our platform policies. It also acknowledges that the agency faces a ‘tall task’ proving its case regarding two acquisitions it cleared years ago,” a spokesperson for Meta told Engadget.

“We’re confident the evidence will reveal the fundamental weakness of the claims. Our investments in Instagram and WhatsApp transformed them into what they are today. They have been good for competition, and good for the people and businesses that choose to use our products.”

The court’s judgement has been welcomed by anti-monopoly campaign groups.

“A few years ago, the thought of Facebook actually being broken up in courts was seen as nuts,” Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, told the Washington Post. “Today a judge is saying it is anyone’s guess whether this corporation is going to continue to operate under the same structure. I am pretty energized by that.”

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