The FTC's antitrust suit against Facebook is cleared to move forward

A federal judge said the agency presented "more robust and detailed" evidence.

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Lina Khan, nominee for Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), arrives to testify during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S. April 21, 2021.  Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS
Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can move forward with its latest antitrust lawsuit against Meta, a US district judge ruled on Tuesday. The decision is a significant win for the regulator, which had seen its first complaint thrown out by Judge James Boasberg last June.

Per The Washington Post, Boasberg now says the agency can move forward with its complaint thanks to the “more robust and detailed” evidence it presented with its amended suit, which the FTC filed in August. “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,” the judge said.

In October, Meta asked the court to dismiss the suit, arguing the FTC had failed yet again to present a “factual basis for alleging monopoly power.” The agency’s amended complaint is approximately two dozen pages longer than its original one, but it puts forward many of the same arguments. Specifically, the FTC alleges Facebook used the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014 to secure its dominant position in 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.”

Update 5:43PM ET: Added comment from Meta.

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