Federal Judge Rejects Facebook’s Request to Dismiss FTC’s Latest Antitrust Lawsuit

Brent Kendall

This article by Brent Kendall appeared in The Wall Street Journal on January 11, 2022.

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled the Federal Trade Commission can move forward with its revised antitrust case alleging Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook unit is abusing a monopoly position in social media, rejecting the company’s request to dismiss the government’s amended lawsuit.

“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,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., said in a 48-page opinion.

The FTC first filed its antitrust case against Facebook near the end of 2020, but Judge Boasberg dealt the commission a legal blow last June, dismissing the lawsuit on the grounds that it didn’t offer sufficient allegations that the social-media giant engaged in unlawful monopolization.

The FTC responded with a new version of its complaint, which offered longer, more detailed allegations against the company.

The judge’s Tuesday ruling said the FTC can proceed with its core allegation that Facebook unlawfully sought to suppress competition by buying up potential rivals such as the messaging platform WhatsApp and image-sharing app Instagram. The commission is seeking to unwind those deals.

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