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Judge says FTC’s anti-trust case against Facebook can proceed

AP – A federal judge has ruled that the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) revised anti-trust suit against Meta, formerly known as Facebook, can proceed, shutting down the social media company’s request for a dismissal.

In a revised complaint filed last August, the FTC argued that the company pursued a “buy or bury” strategy against rivals to suppress competition.

This is the FTC’s second antitrust run at the company. A federal judge in June dismissed anti-trust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the agency and a broad coalition of state attorneys general that were among multiplying efforts by federal and state regulators to rein in tech titans’ market power.

The FTC is seeking remedies that could include a forced spinoff of Facebook’s popular Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services, or a restructuring of the company.

United States (US) District Judge James Boasberg, who in June ruled that the FTC’s original lawsuit was “legally insufficient” and didn’t provide enough evidence to prove that Facebook was a monopoly, said in Tuesday’s ruling that the the first complaint “stumbled out of the starting blocks”.

Facebook’s Meta logo at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, California. PHOTO: AP

But he added that, though the “core theory” of the lawsuit – that Facebook is a monopoly engaging in anti-competitive behaviour – remains unchanged, the facts alleged this time around are “far more robust and detailed than before”.

Meta said in an emailed statement it is “confident the evidence will reveal the fundamental weakness of the claims.”

“Our investments in Instagram and WhatsApp transformed them into what they are today,” the company said.

“They have been good for competition, and good for the people and businesses that choose to use our products.”

Director of the FTC’s bureau of competition Holly Vedova said the agency presented a “strong amended complaint, and we look forward to trial”.

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